The Tribe’s salary dump

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts July 17, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The trading of Cliff Lee is an embarrassment for the Dolan family and the Cleveland Indians, because they are giving up on 2010 along with this season for purely financial reasons. That’s the only explanation for this trade, and it feeds the long-standing criticisms of the Dolan family – that they don’t have the financial means to be playing in the big leagues.

The Dolans will counter that they have stepped up in the past and that the current payroll was substantial. In that respect they have a point, and Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge need to answer for the team’s performance. But that criticism will be left for another day. The point here is that they are not willing to spend money when the inevitable adversity faces a franchise. Even good front office people make mistakes, and teams need to adjust a retool. In that respect the Sabathia trade last season was much more defensible. The season was lost, and there wwas no way they were going to be able to sign C.C., who despite his bullshit expressions of love for Cleveland and Milwaukee ended up taking the highest offer on the market from the Yankees.

That deal makes sense, but this deal makes no sense. The Indians do have a solid core group of players, and they could contend if they had Cliff Lee at the front of their rotation if they made some key moves on the pitching staff and got rid of Wedge. But now we’ll never know because the Dolans cried “uncle.”

Trading Cliff Lee, a Cy Young Award winner, for a bunch of prospects when you have another FULL SEASON left on his contract is a disgrace. No amount of spinning from Shapiro can save this one. Sure, Shapiro might strike gold again with this deal, he does fairly well evaluating other teams’ prospects, but that doesn’t really matter. The Indians are giving up for now.

I’ve shared a season-ticket package with friends for 15 years. I will not be joining the group next season.

UPDATED with more recent photo of Cliff Lee.

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