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10/22/2007 01:31:00 PM

ALCS Wrapup

Indians fans
Indians fans Nick Blum, right, and Anthony Mosinski watch a live telecast of Game 7 of the American League Championship baseball series between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox at Jacobs Field.
By Joe Lemire

Take solace, Cleveland: You're the American League favorites in 2008.

Those probably aren't comforting words now, but the Browns return from their bye week on Sunday and the season for LeBron and Co. is just around the corner. You'll have other sports to watch as you wait until spring training. Rest up and get ready to migrate South for your final spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., before the move out west to Goodyear, Ariz., in 2009.

Because when the Indians do report in February, you won't have many new names to learn -- I only hope I've mastered the spelling of Asdrubal by then -- as nearly everyone is returning. Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com breaks down Cleveland's roster situation, and the future is bright on Lake Erie's south shore.

Of the key position players, only Kenny Lofton and Trot Nixon are potential free agents. Though both, especially Lofton, contributed plenty down the stretch, Franklin Gutierrez is deserving to be an everyday starter at one of the corner outfield positions, and the Indians could do well in platooning the other spot, like they did at times this year with Ben Francisco, Jason Michaels, David Dellucci, et al.

Of the pitchers, the team holds club options on Paul Byrd, Joe Borowski and Aaron Fultz, but everyone else is under contract next year, and there could be a more prominent role for a top prospect Adam Miller. One of GM Mark Shapiro's priorities this offseason needs to be extending the contract of C.C. Sabathia, who only has one year left on his deal. Rafael Betancourt has two years left, but guys like Fausto Carmona, Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis are all under control through at least 2012.

In short, the Indians, who tied Boston for the best record in the majors this year, should only improve this offseason. This could be another Indians' run like they had in the 1990s, only with a little less power (Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez don't quite have the depth that a lineup with Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, David Justice and Albert Belle had) and a little better pitching (Sabathia and Carmona as a better 1-2 punch than Charles Nagy and Bartolo Colon).

Today rightfully is a day of mourning in Cleveland, and yes, no breaks went the Tribe's way last night, but 2008 will bring new promise.

  • Was last night's game another example of Cleveland sports being cursed? More on the same from Howard Bryant.

  • Indians starter Paul Byrd defended his use of HGH.

  • Small in stature but not in swagger: Pedroia does not lack confidence.

  • Here's a great blog post with a Q&A with Pedroia's coach at Arizona State, Pat Murphy. Sample comment from Murphy, who actually does like Pedroia, which is a great disclaimer to have to make: "He's 5-foot-6, he's can't run, he's not strong, his bat speed and his hands are tremendous because his arms are only about 11 inches long and so close to his body that he's not getting to anything hit 5 or 6 inches to the right or left of him and he doesn't have a lick of athletic ability."

  • Ryan Garko gave the Sox inadvertent bulletin board material. Also included is curiosity about the timing of the story leaked about Byrd and HGH.

  • Walks killed Indians pitching, writes the Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto.

  • The Globe's Dan Shaughnessy says the Sox are storming into the Series, having won their three elimination games by a combined 30-5.

  • Ever the historian, Bob Ryan notes that the Sox came back from down 3-1 in both 1986 and 2004.

  • The New York Times owns 17 percent of the Boston Red Sox, but you certainly wouldn't know it by reading this Selena Roberts column, who wonders why the Sox haven't been hit by any allegations of illegal performance enhancers. She wonders if Sen. George Mitchell is impartial, as he is a part owner of the Sox. Still, Roberts admits "there is no evidence -- or even an implication -- that Mitchell has in any way been part of a pro-Red Sox plot to keep the franchise clean."

  • The Sox have become miracle makers.

  • Boston GM Theo Epstein takes the hits and praise in stride.

  • The Sox have had their own recent third-base coach struggles -- courtesy of Wendell Kim and Dale Sveum -- but it was the Indians' Joel Skinner who made the fateful stop sign on Kenny Lofton last night. Skinner explains his decision.

  • Dice-K managed to do just enough, writes Tony Massarotti of the Herald.

  • Few ballparks have tradition of Fenway. Also notable is the photo of Jason Varitek leaping into Papelbon's arms -- the Sox are the only team whose catcher is held by the pitcher.

  • Kevin Millar was probably the first active player to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. He even read Boston's lineup on FOX. I'm sure the Orioles organization was thrilled.
  • Labels:

    posted by SI.com | View comments |  


    Posted: October 22, 2007 3:10 PM   by Anonymous
    I don't buy that Cleveland will be back next year. Everyone's said that about AL Central teams for the past 3 years (it was 'The White Sox will be back in 06, the Tigers will be back in 07 and now the Indians will be back in 08). Please. It will probably be the Twins, who are still the class of the AL Central. And I hate to say that, because October of 2005 was the best month of my life.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 3:51 PM   by Anonymous
    Next year sucks. I'm tired of always losing. Just once I'd like to taste victory that every other city gets. Who cares about the World Series. Boston has won championships in baseball, football, basketball and even hockey in my lifetime. Denver has won in football and hockey. In my 37 years Cleveland has only won the wait til next year award.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 4:38 PM   by Anonymous
    As a tortured Cleveland fan it pains me to say this, but CLEVELAND WILL NEVER WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. It is just a matter of fact.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 7:47 PM   by Anonymous
    Call me sour grapes if you like, but the Indians (a terrific young team with talent developed within the organization and through smart trades rather than purchased by the highest bidder)stands a very slim chance of winning a world series championship (ever) over the likes of Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, or L.A. Take a look at the rosters of those teams and tell me that parody exists. Ask the fans of Pittsburgh, Kansas City, or Cincinnati sometime what the odds are of finding their way back to prominence is. The "system" as it stands is very good for "baseball" and the pockets of the owners (including those also rans noted above) but it is NOT good for the true fans that want to believe that honest competition is still possible. THAT would not be good for the proverbial bank accounts of media moguls and ownership that is simply willing to accept the "game" as a business and nothing more. It is all about television ratings and the fat advertising dollars that go with them. There is still competition in baseball, it's just that competition for the dollars far outweighs the competition on the field and the talent, athletic skills, and determination that used to be the game of baseball. "Parody" equates to don't upset the apple cart as long as the money keeps rolling in. Now before you attribute my tirade to nothing more than "sour grapes" I would like you to imagine something. Imagine you are a kid again and participiating in that age old ritual of picking teams for a game of backyard baseball. Now imagine that instead of trading picks back and forth, your rival has a fistful of dollar bills. He has soda and candy and maybe even team shirts. And for playing on his team, those players can earn a couple extra bucks doing a couple of menial "chores" when the game is done. Maybe your best friend sticks with you or the odd talented player that was taught that right is still right, but more likely than not you will be looking at all the undersized, (or oversized) kids that may have good hearts and a love for the game but realistically have very little chance of winning in the end. How much will you take? How long will you stay? And if you are that kid with the fistfull of dollars, how much satisfaction can there really be? Apparently more than I would like to believe because it happens every day. I am an Indians FAN and will continue to be because this is a team that inspires...but that is where my enthusiasm for the grand old game ends. One last thing...I wonder how the kids today do pick their teams.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 8:33 PM   by Anonymous
    Thank you for finally talking about Cleveland. We have a great city and great fans and the media needs to respect us. Go Browns!!!!
    Posted: October 22, 2007 8:35 PM   by Bill in DC
    Dear tortured:

    I'll bet you a Ghoulardi t-shirt the Indians win the Series either next year or 2009. Just one big tweak they have to make - Asdrubal (Omar Jr.) has got to go to short. Too much bad stuff happens on the left side of the infield, particularly for the sinkerballers. For the White Sox fan, sorry dude, the Twins have zilch hitting & will lose Santana, you guys are dead, the Tigers have dead weight or soon to be dead and/or injured weight (Sheffield, Pudge, Inge). KC is improving fast, but needs more bats. It is the Tribe's division.
    They're in the exact same spot as the Sox in 2003.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 10:09 PM   by Anonymous
    Rest assured, Indians fans. I'm a Red Sox fan and we had to wait 86 years. The Indians' future is bright. The Sox got beat in 7 in 2003 and won the WS the following year. You have a great, young team. You'll be back. And the Sox will be waiting for you.
    Posted: October 22, 2007 10:58 PM   by Anonymous
    In response to the negative person that stated "Cleveland will never win a championship", my only comment is, you're right!

    The city has a loser consciousness, a dark aura, if you will. It truly won't happen in Cleveland.

    God Bless you all!
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