Such are the trials of low budget outfits like the Indians. They can't pay enough keep their best players after the team-controlled six years, and are forced to trade them, or lose them in free agency.
The beneficiaries of such a system are high budget teams like the New York Yankees, who signed Sabathia for $161 million over seven years, and the Philadelphia Phillies who traded four prospects for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco this summer.
Meanwhile, the Indians, 2007 ALDS winners, dropped to a losing season in 2009 after trading Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers for Zach Jackson and three minor leaguers, and Paul Byrd for a minor leaguer in 2008. They lost Jake Westbrook to injuries in 2009.
All of which led them to trade Lee in mid season. With the trade of Carl Pavano to the Minnesota Twins, what's left of the rotation isn't much to write home about.
If key hitters "wake up" in 2010 after an uncharacteristically poor season, the Indians will likely have above average batting. But their pitching figures to be below average.
Meaning that the team as a whole will be no better than "league average" (as in 2008), possibly worse. Clearly, the Indians are a rebuilding team. Let's hope that the minor leaguers acquired in recent trades helped.
Pitching will be the key to the Indians' getting back to the playoffs. When their batting gets back to "critical mass," they might need to do something drastic in this regard.
Like sign Roy Halladay when his contract comes up. Unless, of course, some of their prospects become the next "C.C Sabathia" and/or "Cliff Lee."