Cleveland Indians: How Mark Shapiro Can Keep Fans Coming to The Park

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Cleveland Indians: How Mark Shapiro Can Keep Fans Coming to The Park
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Imagine this: You've traded your second Cy Young award winner in two years.  You've traded your three-time all-star catcher/DH.  Fans are upset.

Both deadline trades made by Indians GM Mark Shapiro did not net any major league talent.  In fact, three of the four players acquired walked from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal simply walked from the clubhouse at AAA Lehigh Valley to the visitors clubhouse, where the Columbus Clippers were already in town.

The fourth is just 19 years old and many years away.

In the Victor Martinez deal, Red Sox got Justin Masterson, used primarily out of the bullpen for Boston.  The other two headed to the Tribe were both minor-leaguers.

So now, C.C. Sabathia is gone, Cliff Lee is gone, Victor Martinez is gone, and so is Ryan Garko. 

On the team, Kelly Shoppach just went 4-for-7 to rise above the mendoza line.  Fausto Carmona replaces Cliff Lee in the starting rotation.  A .226 hitting catcher named Chris Gimenez is playing the outfield.

So, if you are a Cleveland Indians fan, why come to the ballpark?

This offseason, General Manager Mark Shapiro has a duty to bring excitement back to baseball fans in Cleveland.  

The solution is very simple: sign Jim Thome.

Jim Thome is an all-around class act with 558 career home runs.  By all accounts, Thome has steered clear of steroid controversy.  In fact, he may be the only slugger from the 1990s without a trace of juice. 

Thome was beloved as an Indian.  In fact, the fans were very upset when he left for Philadelphia, for what they considered selling out.  As a White Sox DH, Thome has been booed in Cleveland for such.

However, Cleveland fans would love the opportunity to have Thome on their team again.  Thome has a legitimate chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame. 

Would he enter as a Philadelphia Phillie?  No, Thome was only there three years.  

As a Chicago White Sox?  No, Thome was only there three years. 

Thome ending his career with the Indians would seal his entry into the Hall of Fame as a Cleveland Indian.

Thome would not cost a lot either.  

Sure, his average has hovered around .250 in this year and last.  Sure, he is hitting 30 home runs instead of 40.  He will no longer command a $15 million contract, but perhaps a contract similar to the $2 million Ken Griffey Jr. signed to in Seattle.

Fans would pay to see Jim Thome's farewell tour.  He has a little something left, and surely would love the chance to end his career with the team that brought him up. 

That No. 25 never looked right on Ryan Garko. 

To Thome and Shapiro: please make this reunion work, and we will never have to see No. 25 on any other player again.

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