When the Dolan family took over ownership of the Cleveland Indians in 2000, Larry Dolan told his fan base that the team would spend money when it was appropriate.
Many Tribe fans are still waiting for that day.
While we aren’t sure about the money situation, it is time for the front office to go for it at this year’s trading deadline, with the Indians sitting at 57-42 and a 4-1/2 game lead in the American League Central Division.
In the Dolan era, there have been four instances after 2001 where the Indians entered August in a full fledged pennant race.
The 2005 squad had a 51-48 record after 99 games, but remember that was the year the White Sox got off to a hot start, so really at that point in the year, the Tribe was hoping for a wild card spot.
No major moves were made unless you consider dealing Jody Gerut for Jason Dubois a big move. The Tribe came up one game short at the end of the season.
The closest situation to this year was 2007, the last time the Indians won the division. They were 58-41 at this point in the season, and GM Mark Shapiro dealt catching prospect Max Ramirez to Texas for Kenny Lofton, who did make an impact the rest of the year and in the playoffs.
Manny Acta’s 2011 team got off to a good start (30-15) and were 51-48. The Indians made a big deal moving their top two pitching prospects (Drew Pomeranz and Alex White) for Ubaldo Jimenez.
The new pitcher struggled the rest of the year, and the Indians didn’t make the playoffs or even finish .500 for that matter.
In 2013, Cleveland’s most recent playoff appearance, the team was 52-47 and GM Chris Antonetti made one move, getting situational lefty Marc Rzepczynski from St. Louis.
Of course, the team ran a 21-6 record in September to a spot in the wild card game, where they lost to Tampa Bay.
This year is different from the others though.
Only in 2007 was were the Tribe considered one of the best teams in the American League, and at that time, the farm system was a desert in terms of developing solid major league players.
Remember that from C.C. Sabathia to Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland’s first round picks were busts. None of them, save for Jeremy Guthrie (released by the team) ever had a meaningful major league career.
This time, the Tribe system has many young players that organizations’ covet and have some surplus to deal to get back a substantial player who can help the major league team right now.
They also need to gain the trust of the fans in Cleveland too.
This may irritate the legions of people who swallow everything the organization feeds them, but many fans in the area feel like the front office doesn’t make winning the highest priority.
A big move for an impact player will show those fans the Indians want to be the next team from Cleveland to have a championship parade downtown.
And if that sells some tickets in the process, than so be it.
There is no move in major league baseball that guarantees anything, all you can do is increase your chances to get to the World Series. And we certainly do not want to mortgage the franchise’s future to do that.
The time for the Indians to make a move that does just that is right now.
You just have to pull the trigger.