It's Tribe Time...Sort of: Former Indians Make Postseason Impact
It was another disappointing October in Cleveland, as it has been each year since 1948.
It is perhaps a blessing that the Indians did not make it far enough to collapse on the big stage, as they routinely did throughout the '90s and again in 2007.
However, while the team as a whole did not reach the postseason, many Indians alumni got to experience the playoffs. Here's a look at the former hometown heroes who got a shot at glory.
Ronnie Belliard, Dodgers
It was big news when the Indians signed this portly second baseman before the 2004 season. While Belliard didn't make anyone forget about Robbie Alomar during his two-and-a-half years in Cleveland, he at least made fans push him to the back of their minds.
Belliard broke out in Cleveland, hitting .287 with a respectable 27 homers and a whopping 105 doubles in 390 games. He was named to the All-Star team in 2005.
The Indians sent him to St. Louis in July 2006 for utility infielder Hector Luna.
Now with the Dodgers, Belliard hit .300 in 30 postseason at-bats.
Rafael Betancourt, Rockies
While never named the Tribe's closer, Betancourt was a rare example of consistency through six-and-a-half seasons in the Cleveland bullpen.
Betancourt struck out 409 batters in 410 innings with the Indians, posting a 3.25 ERA.
He was traded to Colorado in July 2009 for prospect Connor Graham.
He made three appearances in the playoffs, holding opposing hitters to a run and two hits through 2.1 innings.
Casey Blake, Dodgers
Perhaps the most under-appreciated Indian in recent memory, Blake provided consistency and versatility for five-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland.
No one will ever confuse Blake for a superstar, but he was always a solid contributor, racking up 116 homers and 417 RBI while playing third base, first base, outfield, and even shortstop.
The Indians traded Blake to Los Angeles in July 2008 for catching über-prospect Carlos Santana.
Blake hit .167 in 30 playoff at-bats.
Paul Byrd, Red Sox
A career journeyman probably better known for his friendliness and resemblance to Kelsey Grammer than his skills, Byrd spent two-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland from 2006-2008.
Byrd was a solid, but mediocre pitcher during his tenure as an Indian. Good run support helped him to a 32-27 record in 84 starts, despite an unremarkable 4.68 ERA and 4.2 K/9 ratio.
An August 2008 trade sent Byrd to Boston for outfield prospect Mickey Hall (.612 OPS between AA-AAA in 2009).
After taking a hiatus for the first half of this season, he re-signed with the Red Sox in August. He went 1-3 with a 5.82 ERA in seven games.
While Byrd cracked the postseason roster, he didn't end up pitching in the playoffs.
Mark DeRosa, Cardinals
Of all the players on this list, DeRosa's time in Cleveland was the shortest; he lasted just 71 games before being traded to St. Louis.
He provided solid, though not extraordinary production at third base, hitting .270/.342/.457 with 13 homers and 50 RBI.
DeRosa went 5-for-13 with an RBI in the postseason.
Ben Francisco, Phillies
In parts of three seasons with the Indians, this young outfielder earned a reputation for his speed and glove.
That's not to say that he didn't do some damage at the plate, too; he hit .261/28/99 in the first 235 games of his career.
Francisco was sent to Philadelphia with Cliff Lee before the Trade Deadline.
Francisco went 0-for-10 in the playoffs, though a fantastic catch in Game Four of the NLDS might have made the difference against the Rockies.
Cliff Lee, Phillies
No one's Indians connection has been discussed as much this postseason as Cliff Lee's.
In seven-and-a-half seasons with the Tribe, Lee went 83-48 with a 4.01 ERA. His time in Cleveland included highs (his breakout 2005 season, in which he went 18-5 with a 3.79 ERA), lows (he spent much of 2007 in the minors and was left off the playoff roster), and even higher highs (his 2008 Cy Young-winning campaign, when he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA).
After weeks of speculation, Lee was dealt to the Phillies in July for a package of promising, but not elite prospects.
Lee pitched phenomenally in the playoffs, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 33 strikeouts.
Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
Ludwick never got much of a chance to establish himself in Cleveland. He hit .247 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 73 games from 2003-5.
The Indians let him walk after the 2005 season, and he signed a minor league contract with the Tigers.
Ludwick went 4-for-12 with an RBI for the Cardinals in the playoffs.
Victor Martinez, Red Sox
A fan favorite from the moment he touched down at Jacobs' Field in 2002, Victor Martinez spent five-and-a-half seasons as the Tribe's primary catcher.
In addition to being a clubhouse leader and providing a solid glove (if not arm) behind the plate, Martinez racked up 103 homers and 518 RBI as an Indian.
Martinez upped his game even further after a midseason trade to Boston, posting an incredible .336/.405/.507 statline.
V-Mart struggled in the 2009 playoffs, going just 2-for-11 with two RBI.
Carl Pavano, Twins
Carl Pavano's time in Cleveland lasted just four months, but a former Indian is a former Indian.
Pavano somehow managed to go 9-8 in 21 starts, despite an uninspiring 5.37 ERA. While his basic numbers might not show it, he greatly improved his skill sets in 2009; his 6.6 K/9 rate was his highest in eight years, and his 3.77 K/BB ratio was by far the best of his career.
The Indians dealt Pavano to the Twins in August for prospect Yohan Pino.
Despite holding the Yankees to just two runs on five hits and striking out nine in seven innings, Pavano took the loss in his only start, the decisive Game Three of the ALDS.
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
The centerpiece of the potent Indians' lineups during the '90s, Ramirez smacked 236 homers, collected 804 RBI, and hit for an incredible .998 OPS in parts of eight seasons in Cleveland.
Known locally for his off-beat antics before he came under the national spotlight, Manny had his best seasons in 1999 and 2000, when he hit .341/82/287 in 265 games.
The Indians couldn't afford to keep Manny when his contract expired after the 2000 season; the eight-year, $160 million deal he signed with Boston was (briefly) the largest in the history of Major League Baseball.
Manny hit .281 with a homer and four RBI in 32 postseason at-bats. He attracted lots of scorn for revealing that he had been in the shower during the Phillies' ninth-inning rally in Game Four of the NLCS.
CC Sabathia, Yankees
After winning a spot in the rotation in Spring Training 2001, Sabathia was the ace of the Tribe's pitching staff for most of his six-and-a-half-year tenure in Cleveland.
From 2001-5, he tantalized us fans with his talent, but struggled with inconsistency; he averaged 14-9 with a 4.10 ERA and a K/BB ratio of just 1.99.
He took a step forward in 2006, then emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2007, when he went 19-7 with a remarkable 3.21 and a jaw-dropping 5.65 K/BB ratio.
In July 2008, Sabathia was shipped off to Milwaukee in exchange for a gaggle of prospects, including Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. Last winter, he signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Yankees.
His performance in this postseason has made people forget about his meltdown in 2007. Sabathia went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA and was named ALCS MVP.
Jim Thome, Dodgers
Once voted the most beloved athlete in the history of Cleveland sports, Thome spent parts of 12 seasons hitting homers in the middle of the Indians' lineup.
While with the Tribe, Thome smacked 334 homers, collected 927 RBI, and put up a ridiculous .982 OPS.
One of the few players on this list who was not traded away, Thome put himself out of the Indians' price range when he hit 52 homers with 122 RBI and an OPS of 1.122 in his walk year of 2002. He signed a six-year, $85 million contract with the Phillies.
Primarily a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers, Thome went 1-for-3 in the playoffs.
Charlie Manuel, Phillies
Anyone remember where Manuel got his first managerial job? You probably do if you're from Cleveland.
After multiple stints as the Tribe's hitting coach, Manuel took over the managerial post in 2000, after Mike Hargrove's firing. In two-and-a-half seasons under his leadership, the Indians went 220-190 and won a division title.
Manuel's Phillies made it to the World Series, compiling a 8-6 record in the postseason.