Since the Cleveland Indians are quite obviously not in the playoffs this Fall, I decided to look at some of the former Indians that are there with other teams. I feel almost like I’m forgetting some people, since this list was much shorter than I thought it was. Here are the players, listed with their respective teams:
New York Yankees (97-65)
CC Sabathia – We all know how he ended up with the Yankees. Sabathia was drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 1998 draft (20th overall) at the age of 18. He rose through the minor league ranks rather quickly, and made his Major League debut on April 8, 2001. The Indians traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson. The Brewers rode Sabathia’s arm into the playoffs that season, but he signed a 7 year, $152 million deal with the New York Yankees in December of that year.
In the 2001 ALDS against Seattle, Sabathia was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. Despite the rookie’s solid effort, the Mariners beat the Indians and advanced to the ALCS. In 2007, Sabathia was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in the ALDS against the Yankees, and 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA against Boston in the ALCS. His ALDS victory is likely contributed to the monstrous offensive numbers the Indians put up and less about his own skill. He didn’t have much more success in the 2008 playoffs with the Brewers – he was 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA as the Brewers lost the NLDS to the Phillies.
When Sabathia went to the Yankees in 2009, I expected him to crumple in the spotlight, especially during the postseason. His performance in 2007 and 2008 didn’t exactly encourage confidence, but he really seemed to rise to the occasion. In the ALDS he was 1-0 against Minnesota with a 1.35 ERA, 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels in the ALCS, and 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA against Philadelphia in the World Series.
In 2010 he looked more like the 2007 and 2008 playoff Sabathia where he went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA against Minnesota in the ALDS, and 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA in the ALCS against Texas.
He had a solid season this year, going 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA. He’ll face off against Justin Verlander tonight; Yankees fans better hope they see the 2009 postseason version of Sabathia, because Verlander will probably be pretty tough. (Sabathia’s already surrendered a first inning home run to Delmon Young).
Bartolo Colon– He’s had an incredibly resurgent season after it seemed like his career may be over. Colon was in the playoffs five different seasons; 1998, 1999, and 2001 with the Indians, 2004 and 2005 with the Angels. He pitched well for the Indians in 1998 and 2001, and struggled in 1999 against Boston(0-1 with a 9.00 ERA). He had a 4.50 ERA in the playoffs both season for the Angels; in 2004 he went 0-0, and in 2005 was 0-1. He did not make the Yankees’ ALDS roster though, so you may not see him unless the Yankees advance to the next round. I’m a little surprised that he did not make the roster, yet A.J. Burnett did.
Aaron Laffey – I keep forgetting that Laffey is even with the Yankees. I knew that Seattle designated him for assignment and that New York claimed him, but I thought they designated him as well. Laffey made an appearance in Wednesday night’s historic game in Tampa and has pitched respectably out of the bullpen for the most part this season. You won’t be seeing him in the ALDS since he didn’t make the Yankees’ ALDS roster.
Tampa BayRays (91-71)
Kelly Shoppach – Shoppach went to Tampa Bay in the trade for Mitch Talbot. A solid defensive catcher, he never had much pop in the offensive category. If I would’ve written this post earlier today, I probably would’ve said that I expected Shoppach to be a non-factor in the playoffs since he finished with a .176 average and a .268 on base percentage during the regular season. However, he was on fire during this evening’s game against the Rangers, 3 for 5 with 5 RBI in their 9-0 victory. He put together a decent performance in the 2007 playoffs, where he was 2 for 3 in one game during the ALDS, and 1 for 3 in one ALCS game against the Red Sox. He was 0 for 9 in 3 games against Texas in the 2010 ALDS though.
Detroit Tigers (95-67)
Jhonny Peralta – So who is this guy? His name is spelled exactly like the Jhonny Peralta that played for the Indians from 2003-2010, but he certainly doesn’t seem like the same player this year with Detroit. The Indians traded him to Detroit during the 2010 season, and Detroit re-signed him to a 2 year, $11.25 million deal in the off season. He finished the 2011 regular season with a .299 average and 21 home runs. During the 2007 ALDS he was 9 for 15 (.467 average) with 2 RBI. In the ALCS that year, he went 7 for 27 (.259) with 8 RBI.
Victor Martinez– More than any of the other departed players, I miss Victor Martinez the most. I think that in addition to being a talented player, he brought so much to the clubhouse in terms of leadership. The Indians traded him to Boston in 2009 for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. He signed a 4 year, $50 million deal with the Tigers this off season. Martinez hit .330 with 12 home runs during the regular season this year, and was definitely a valuable piece in the Tigers lineup. He was solid in the 2007 postseason for the Indians; in the ALDS he went 6 for 17 (.353) with 4 RBI, and in the ALCS he went 8 for 27 (.296) with 3 RBI. He struggled with Boston in the 2009 ALDS, while he went 2 for 11 (.182) with 2 RBI.
Texas Rangers (96-66)
No former Indians
Philadelphia Phillies (102-60)
Cliff Lee – He had another stellar season this year, 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA as a member of the Phillies’ dominant starting staff. Even though the Indians didn’t trade him to the Phillies until 2009, he did not make an appearance for the Tribe in the 2007 playoffs (in fact, I don’t even think he was on the postseason roster). He’s been dominant in the playoffs with both Philadelphia and Texas, except that he had a rough time in the 2010 World Series as the Rangers lost to the Phillies (0-2 with a 6.94 ERA). In a starting rotation with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, it’s quite a formidable group to face if you’re the opposing team. The Cardinals are hot right now, coming off their dramatic Wild Card victory on Wednesday night. Whether they carry that momentum into the playoffs…we’ll find out.
Ben Francisco – Francisco went to Philadelphia in the same 2009 trade as Cliff Lee, although he didn’t bounce around between a variety of teams like Lee. Francisco is an average fourth outfielder; in 2011 he had a .244 average with 6 home runs. He’s been absolutely dreadful for the Phillies in the 2009 and 2010 postseasons – he only had 1 hit in 17 at-bats against 5 different teams. His lone hit came against the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NLCS.
No former Indians
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
Arthur Rhodes – The veteran left-hander out of the bullpen spent just one season with the Indians in 2005 when he went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA. I think Indians fans probably best remember Rhodes for the time that Omar Vizquel requested he remove one of his diamond earrings because it was distracting. (Rhodes was with the Mariners at the time) He’s been around for quite some time (he made his Major League debut in 1991) and he’s had a solid career. He pitched in 1996 and 1997 for Baltimore and only allowed one run in the ALDS and ALCS those years; ironically, the one run came from the Indians in the 1996 ALDS. He pitched for Seattle in 2000 and 2001 and had a dreadful appearance against the Yankees in the 2000 ALCS when he allowed 7 runs over 2 innings (31.50 ERA). He pitched a scoreless third of an inning in the 2010 NLDS against the Phillies.
Jake Westbrook – He hasn’t been spectacular since he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2010, but he’s pitched close to 200 innings in 2010 and 2011. He was 12-9 with a 4.66 ERA during the 2011 regular season. His only postseason appearance was in 2007 for the Indians; he went 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA against New York in the ALDS and 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA against Boston in the ALCS. I was at game 3 of the ALCS at Progressive Field and remember Westbrook’s fine performance against the Red Sox that night. It was a moment that things seemed to be looking up for the Indians, before everything really fell apart. He signed a 2 year, $17.5 million deal with St. Louis in the off season, with a mutual option for 2013.
Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68)
John McDonald – With the Indians from 1999-2004, he’s probably best remembered for his stellar defensive skills and mediocre offensive skills. This season he hit just .169, well below his career average of .238. McDonald has never appeared in the playoffs prior to this season.
Edit: Thanks to Chip P, I should also mention Charlie Manuel as manager of the Phillies and Charlie Nagy as pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nagy did a great job with the young pitchers at Columbus, and he seems to be doing a great job with Arizona’s staff. Manuel coached the Phillies to the best record in baseball this year with a very talented roster.
Additional edit: Thanks to Mary Jo, who also pointed out that former Indian Matt Williams was also a coach with Arizona.