The Indians have received a lot of criticism the past ten years for not locking up their key players. I can't say that I blame anyone for that scrutiny nor that I haven't played a part in it. They have lost all-star after all-star over the past ten years including several future hall of famers. Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Richie Sexson, Bartolo Colon, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Giles, and the latest two up and comers Brandon Phillips and Jeremy Guthrie have all been given away for essentially nothing, (with the exception of Bartolo whom we received Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips for).
That trend may be reversing itself, which should make all the Tribe fans out there very happy. Larry Dolan and Mark Shapiro have worked diligently over the past couple seasons to lock up our marque players for multi-year deals. We have Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko, Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Garko and Josh Barfield all signed past the 2010 season. This is a huge chunk of our core players which will hopefully bring this team its first championship in almost 60 years.
Yesterday we took another huge step in that process by signing Travis Hafner to a four year deal worth almost 57 million. "Pronk," as nicknamed by his teammates, is the Indians fiercest hitter and one of the best overall bats in the Majors. He is the central force in our lineup and our run production relies heavily on his presence in the middle of our lineup. Well, guess what Indians fans, he isn't going anywhere. He took a hometown discount (Oh yes, he could have signed for much more somewhere else) and decided to stay in Cleveland to help us win a title. Dolan shelled out the cash and signed a guy loved by the fans and crucial to the team's success.
I want to take this time and say thank you to Larry Dolan. THANK YOU for finally not letting one of our best players go to some other team and flourish. Instead of watching Hafner hit homeruns for some team I despise like the Boston Red Sox or Yankees, I can watch him continue to blast baseballs into Pronkville in right field at Jacobs Field.
Don't stop here. We have one more big hurdle to get over. C.C. Sabathia has this year and next remaining on his contract. He is going to command well over 100 million for probably 4-6 years in his next deal on the free agent market. He also has the most wins of any player age 25 or younger in the entire MLB. I know this is a huge chunk of cash for one player but I would love to see him cement his future hall of fame status wearing the Indians jersey. He has matured in our minor league system and at our major league ball club. He is an ace and a great guy in the clubhouse. His teammates love him. He could be that guy that wins 2-3 games for us in a World Series championship. Cleveland sports seemingly are taking a new approach and all the teams are heading in the right direction. Keeping C.C. Sabathia in an Indians uniform could continue that trend.