Cliff Lee vs. C.C. Sabathia in the World Series

It’s hard to imagine a bigger nightmare scenario for Mark Shapiro and the Cleveland Indians. The collapse of the Indians as a contender led Shapiro to trade back-to-back Cy Young Award winners, and now they will be facing each other in game one of the World Series.

Mark Shapiro has done some very good things as the GM of the Indians. He got Cliff Lee in an incredible trade years ago when he traded Bartolo Colon in a salary dump and got back Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips (Shapiro and Eric Wedge managed to let Phillips go for nothing).

However, seeing these two pitchers facing each other in the World Series represents an epic fail for Shapiro and the Indians organization. Having Charlie Manuel managing the Phillies for a chance at his second-straight World Series makes it even worse.

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Indians fire Eric Wedge

This news was expected, though I’m surprised that they announced it before the end of the season.

There was no way that the Indians could go into next season with Eric Wedge as the manager. The fans are already in open revolt, and the Tribe needs something to get fans excited.

I have no idea who they should hire, but one factor ought to be charisma. The Indians need a voice that projects some level of optimism and enthusiasm. Let’s see what happens.

One name that will certainly get consideration would be Mike Hargrove. Hargrove isn’t a perfect manager, but he knows how to put together a successful team and pitching staff. Let’s see if he even gets an interview.

John Farrell will get plenty of attention, but he has a clause in his contract with the Red Sox that prohibits him from taking a manager job until 2011. Of course, the Tribe could provide compensation if they want him.

Indians keep winning

Go figure. This team only wins when they play the kids and have nothing to play for. I guess Wedge can’t get them all tight and nervous when it’s obvious the season is over.

They won 5-0 tonight behind Aaron Laffey who’s putting together a nice season.

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.

Indians Spring Training Preview

The Bleacher Report previews spring training for the Indians. The Tribe will open their new spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. Here are some highlights.

Michael Brantley, OF: People just want to see this kid play. Remember, he was in the CC Sabathia trade, but he was acquired after the season ended as the player to be named later. If anything, just pay attention to Michael Brantley, just to see what this kid is all about and if what they say about him is really true. Plus, you never know how much he’ll show that could make him a realistic option in 2009 at some point.

Carl Pavano, SP: Do we even need to go over this? Carl Pavano has had tons of injuries in his time with the Yankees, but he’s passed the rigorous tests the Cleveland Indians give to all their signings. If you don’t know, the Indians really make people jump through hoops for their physical and the fact that Pavano passed must tell you something. Carl Pavano finished the year with the Yankees and it looks like he has a clean bill of health.

Travis Hafner, DH: The biggest injury concern for the Cleveland Indians this offseason. It’s Travis Hafner and his ailing elbow. Hafner and the Indians opted for a shoulder procedure, much along the lines of Kelly Shoppach’s knee surgery. They cleaned out all the “junk” that was giving Hafner’s elbow an issue and reportedly, his strength is returning. Hafner won’t be ready to go right out of the gate in Spring Training, but Eric Wedge and Mark Shaprio expect him to be ready to go early and to be 100% for the start of the Regular Season.

There are plenty of “ifs” facing the Tribe, but this team can easily win the Central Division if several things break their way.