Wait Till Next Year: The Tribe Is Officially Out of the 2008 Pennant Race

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 Wait Till Next Year: The Tribe Is Officially Out of the 2008 Pennant Race

C.C. Sabathia is officially gone. Let's talk about his trade and what the 2009 Tribe roster may look like.

C.C. first: It's tough to judge this trade until the player to be named later is named. The rumour mill has it that the player will be the second-best prospect involved.

What we do know: Matt LaPorta has hit 32 homers, driven in 97 runs and slugged .609 over his first 114 games, spanning 417 at-bats. He is a power hitter that could get a late season look this year and should be a factor in the 2009 roster.

Zack Jackson, LHP: He's 25 and has had a small taste of the Majors. Not a good taste, as he was sent down after a brief call-up by the Brewers. He's 28-23 with a 4.62 ERA in the minors.

Rob Bryson, RHP: A lower-level prospect with a strong arm. It's undecided as to his future as a starter or relief pitcher. He has a higher ceiling in my opinion than Jackson.

Taylor Green, a 3B prospect at Class A, or Michael Brantley, a Double-A OF, are believed to be the players Cleveland must choose between. Both are highly thought of prospects.

I'll hold off on judgement until the other player is announced.

Likely to be traded for a prospect or two: Casey Blake, Paul Byrd, and Dave Dellucci. Blake is someone I would like to see the Tribe re-sign and bring back.

Let's take a look at the 2009 lineup:

1B: Garko will be pushed by LaPorta,  and Victor Martinez may be playing more at first to keep him healthy, as Shoppach is showing he can be a quality starter.

2B: Josh Barfield or Asdrubal Cabrera.

SS: This gets tricky. Peralta is the starter, but Cabrera has been playing a lot of SS in the minors. He could take over at SS and Peralta moved to 3B or DH. I could see Peralta playing DH when Cabrera gets recalled until Hafner returns.

3B: Marte, Peralta, Blake (who is a free agent), or Garko if the Tribe thinks converting him back to 3B is an option. Morgan Ensberg, who is recovering from injuries at Triple-A Buffalo, is a possibility as well. Marte needs to show something quick or he'll be out of the 2009 picture.

OF: We have too many candidates at this position. Sizemore is a given. LaPorta if he's ready and not switched to 1B, a position he's played before moving to the OF because of Prince Fielder, gets a spot.

That leaves Gutierrez, Choo, Francisco, and a few others fighting for the third and fourth OF spots. And don't forget about Trevor Crowe, who is hitting .325 at Double-A Akron.

C: Martinez and Shoppach have a hold on this, but Victor may be playing 1B or DHing a bit more to keep him healthy and get Shoppach more at-bats.

DH: Travis Hafner has a long-term deal for big bucks. Unless he's not coming back from injury he'll be the 2009 DH. Peralta, LaPorta, and Garko may see time at the DH spot.

Starting Pitching: Lee, Carmona, and Laffey look like locks. Then we have Sowers, Adam Miller if healthy, Brian Slocum, Jeff Weaver, possibly Jackson from the C.C. trade, and Westbrook when he recovers sometime during the 2009 season.

Several Double-A pitchers could get a look as well.

Relief Pitching: With the release of Borowski, a closer looks like an offseason priority unless Tribe management thinks Kobayashi or Betencourt can handle the job. A few spots will change here, but not much unless a big name is brought in to close.

This is now 2009 audition time and Marte, Choo, Francisco, and Gutierrez, and a few others, better show their stuff.

Looking at the proposed 2009 lineup, it would seem like the Tribe would be open to offers right now for either Francisco, Choo, or Gutierrez.

The rest of the season promises to be entertaining regardless of wins and losses as the players fight for their spots in 2009.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave your thoughts on anything Tribe.

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