Last year I looked at the former Indians that were on the rosters of playoff teams. I guess I got the idea from discussion of the Cubs playoff theory – that the team with more former Chicago Cubs were less likely to advance. While silly, it still got me thinking about how many former Indians were on playoff rosters. We’ve traded, or let a number of players walk over the years and I was curious to look at how many teams’ success was built on the backs of former Cleveland Indians. I thought I would do it again this postseason, only unlike last year, I’ve also added the coaches with ties to the Indians.
New York Yankees (95-67)
CC Sabathia – The left-handed pitcher has had some elbow issues this year and while still very good, hasn’t been as unstoppable as other seasons – a 15-6 record, 3.38 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.14. He just signed a new 5-year, $122 million deal with the Yankees at the end of last season.
Derek Lowe – The caveat of mentioning all of these players is that they don’t always make the postseason roster. For example, for much of the postseason last year the Cardinals left Jake Westbrook off the roster. I’m not sure if Lowe will make their roster or not; I’m actually a little surprised that he survived the rest of the season with them. Since the Yankees signed him in August (after he was released outright by the Indians), Lowe was 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.268 WHIP.
Jayson Nix – Nix spent the second half of the 2010 season with the Indians after they claimed him off waivers from the Chicago White Sox. The utility infielder hit .234/.283/.422 with 13 home runs. Nix spent the 2011 offseason with Toronto before signing with the Yankees prior to the 2012 season. With New York he hit .243/.306/.384 and 4 home runs.
Tony Pena – Bench coach with the Yankees, Pena was a catcher with the Indians from 1994-1996. He’s probably best known for his dramatic, 13th inning walk-off home run in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. It was the Indians’ first postseason victory in 40 years.
Oakland Athletics (94-68)
Jeremy Accardo – A lot of fans (myself included) were upset when Accardo did not make the team out of spring training this year; Dan Wheeler got the final roster spot. Accardo eventually made his way to Cleveland and struggled by the end of summer. He was released in August, and signed by the A’s a few days later. With the Indians he was 0-0 with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.528 WHIP in 35.1 innings pitched. With Oakland he pitched just two innings – he was 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP.
Coco Crisp – Traded to Boston in the deal that brought Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, and Guillermo Mota to Cleveland in 2006, Crisp has been with Oakland since he signed there as a free agent in 2009. This past offseason he signed a two-year $14 million deal to stay with the A’s; he has hit .259/.325/.418 with 11 home runs this season. Crisp originally came to Cleveland in the Chuck Finley deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002; he stayed in Cleveland until the trade with Boston in January of 2006. He was one of the stars of the “Bernie Leans” video made with some of the Oakland players. (He gets hit in the head in the outfield and ends up like Bernie from the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.”)
Rick Rodriguez – The bullpen coach with the A’s, the right-handed pitcher threw 33 innings for the Indians in 1988. He went 1-2 with a 7.09 ERA and 1.818 WHIP and left as a free agent at the end of the season.
Bartolo Colon – Even though he will not be with the A’s in the postseason (his 50 game suspension for PED usage will run into early next season) I figured he was still worth mentioning. He was a big part of the A’s early in the season, when he was baffling hitters left and right. (At the time of his suspension, he was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 152.1 innings pitched). Even after his suspension, the A’s never really slowed down. They still manage to storm past the Texas Rangers to win the AL West.
Baltimore Orioles (93-69)
Jim Thome – After Thome’s triumphant return to Cleveland last season, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason. (This is kind of becoming a pattern in his career). The Phillies ended up trading him to the Baltimore Orioles on June 30 during their series with the Indians. He’s suffered from injuries this year, but could still be a powerful bat in the Baltimore lineup. After the trade he’s hit .257/.348/.396 with 3 home runs.
Buck Showalter – The Orioles manager was hired by the Indians in 2006 as a special adviser to their baseball operations. Showalter served in this position until he returned to his job as an analyst at ESPN. He was hired as Baltimore’s manager on June 29, 2010.
Rick Adair – The Orioles’ pitching coach spent two years doing the same job in the Indians organization – he was the Tribe’s pitching coach for the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
Wayne Kirby – Kirby is Baltimore’s first base coach, but he spent four seasons as part of the Indians’ player development staff, from 2002-2005. Kirby started as a coach with the Lake County Captains in 2002, and became a coach with the Kinston Indians in 2004. He was Akron’s hitting coach in 2005, before he left to join the coaching staff in the Texas Rangers’ organization.
Texas Rangers (93-69)
Ron Washington – As an infielder, Washington spent the 1988 season with the Indians, where he hit .256/.298/.363 with 2 home runs. He manages a Texas team that has back-to-back World Series appearances, but will face elimination in the one-game wild card playoff.
Detroit Tigers (88-74)
Jhonny Peralta – Peralta had the unfortunate task of taking over the shortstop for the position for the Indians after the departure of Omar Vizquel. While he definitely had power, he did not hit for a high average most seasons and always looked stiff and awkward as a defender. I should add that Peralta always seemed to have a perpetual 0-2 count, and he loved to swing at pitches very low and very outside. Even though he eventually moved to third for the Indians, the Tigers put him back at short. He had a great 2011 season (he hit more than 30 points above his career average), but his numbers were much worse this season (about 30 points below his career average). Peralta hit .299/.345/.478 with 21 home runs in 2011, but hit just .239/.305/.384 with 13 home runs in 2012.
Tom Brookens – The first base coach with the Tigers, Brookens played his final major league season as a player with the Indians in 1990. The infielder hit .266/.322/.357 with 1 home run for the Tribe that year.
Washington Nationals (98-64)
Mark DeRosa – DeRosa has been crippled by injuries over the past few years, and his problems seemed to start after he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals from Cleveland in 2009 for closer Chris Perez and reliever Jess Todd. He’s battled problems with his injured wrist for several years now. There were rumors that the Indians had interest in him this offseason, but he ended up in Washington, where he hit .188/.300/.247 with 0 home runs in 85 at-bats.
Cincinnati Reds (97-65)
Brandon Phillips – It is still kind of painful for me to discuss Brandon Phillips and what could have been here in Cleveland. To be fair, he would have been on his way out the door recently anyway, since the Indians probably would have let him walk once he became a free agent. That still doesn’t change the fact that the Indians flipped Phillips to Cincinnati for reliever Jeff Stevens (who eventually went to the Cubs when the Indians initially traded for DeRosa). This season he hit .281/.321/.429 with 18 home runs.
Brook Jacoby – I don’t know how I keep forgetting that Jacoby is the hitting coach for the Reds. As a player, the third baseman spent the majority of his playing career in Cleveland (9 years, to be exact) where he averaged .273/.338/.412 over the course of his tenure during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Juan Lopez – The bullpen coach of the Reds, Lopez was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in 1983. He played in their minor league system until 1985.
San Francisco Giants (94-68)
Guillermo Mota – He was traded to Indians from Red Sox in 2006 with Andy Marte and Kelly Shoppach for Josh Bard, Coco Crisp, and David Riske. Mota, who was pretty terrible with the Indians (1-3 with a 6.21 ERA, 1.699 WHIP), was sent to the Mets in August of 2006. Not long after he left Cleveland, he was suspended for 50 games in the second half of the 2006 season. Earlier this year he tested positive again for PEDs, earning him a 100 game suspension for his second offense.
Atlanta Braves (94-68)
Chad Durbin – Indians fans most likely remember Durbin for his miserable stint with the team in 2011 (2-2, 5.53 ERA, 1.639 WHIP), but he also spent time with the Tribe in 2004. The return to the National League seemed to really help Durbin in 2012 – with the Braves he was 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.311 WHIP.
Eddie Perez – The bullpen coach in Atlanta, Perez spent one season in Cleveland as a catcher in 2002 – he hit .214/.252/.291 with 0 home runs. Outside of the 2002 season with Cleveland, and his 2003 season with Milwaukee, Perez spent his entire career with the Braves.
St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
Edward Mujica – Mujica was traded to the Cardinals from the Miami Marlins earlier this season; after the trade he was 0-0 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.873 WHIP in St. Louis. Mujica was originally signed by the Indians in 2001 as an amateur free agent and spent three seasons with the Indians – 2006-2008. Like Durbin, he’s pitched much better in the NL; over three seasons with the Indians he was 3-3 with a 6.04 ERA and 1.457 WHIP.
Jake Westbrook – Westbrook came to Cleveland in the David Justice trade in 2000, and was traded to the Cardinals in 2010 in a three-team deal that brought Corey Kluber to Cleveland. He struggled some in St. Louis last year and was left off the postseason roster through the first two rounds. Westbrook rebounded with a solid season this year, going 13-11 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.391 WHIP.
Derek Lilliquist – The pitching coach for the Cardinals, the left-handed Lilliquist spent the 1992-1994 seasons in Cleveland as a pitcher. His three season numbers are 10-10 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.174 WHIP.
Mike Aldrete – Aldrete, the bench coach in St. Louis, played part of one season with the Indians in 1991. The outfielder/first baseman hit .262/.380/.322 with 1 home run.
Dyar Miller – Miller is the bullpen coach with the Cardinals, but he served as the Indians’ pitching coach from 1991-1994.
With the inclusion of coaches, every team in the playoffs has at least one person that was connected to the Indians at one point in time. The only team that does not have at least one current player with ties to the Indians is the Texas Rangers, while two teams have nobody on their coaching staff with connections to the Indians – the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants.
Team with the most Cleveland connections overall: St. Louis Cardinals – 5. Two players and three coaches.
Team with most active former Indians: New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics – 3
Team with most coaches tied to Cleveland: Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals – 3