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Written by Paul Cousineau

Paul Cousineau
It was a wild weekend for Indians fans that all started with the Kenny Lofton deal, announced Friday afternoon.  The Tribe went on to lose two of three against the Twinkies, including a heartbreaking loss Sunday despite another stellar effort from C.C.  In Paulie C's Monday "Around The Horn" piece, he surfs the net for Tribe related trade deadline stories ... and also hits on the Cliff Lee demotion and Kenny Lofton acquisition.

Truthfully, there was not much of note in the local papers this weekend, which is a pretty telling commentary that the beat writers are given the Sunday paper to offer more than game recaps and "Notebooks" and are unable to offer anything compelling two days before the trade deadline. The only article of note is a nice piece by Terry Pluto on Bob Feller, though it has nothing to do with today's Indians. 
So, let down by the Indians' writers, how about a look outside of the North Coast? 

Ken Rosenthal
bangs the drum again on Dotel for Francisco, among other tidbits. He also touches on the Dan Wheeler to the Devil Rays move and other rumors out there. 
Up in Detroit, the Tigers
are looking at the same relievers as the Indians and are looking to upgrade their middle infield depth, which the Indians should be considering as well. 
It actually looks like the
Tigers are out of the Gagne sweepstakes and are looking at Kyle Farnsworth
Plenty of time left before 4 PM on Tuesday (the deadline time and date), so we'll see if Shapiro is able to make the move to bolster the team after making a couple of them at the end of the week. 
Speaking of which, the return of Kenny Lofton to the Indians, a move that caused the people who call radio stations to wonder if Sandy or Omar's return could be far behind, represents a nice little pick-up for the Tribe. While some have grandiose ideas of moving Grady to the #3 hole and hold hopes of Kenny Lofton performing the way he did 12 years ago, Lofton is simply an upgrade in the OF platoon situation over Trot Nixon and David Dellucci (should he return). 
Lofton is an excellent complement to the OF as he brings increased OBP, speed, and athleticism in lieu of Trot Nixon's presence in the lineup against RHP. But, truthfully, he's not much more than that. He's not going to be playing very frequently against LHP (and rightfully so) and there will certainly be an adjustment period in LF. 
Is he a nice complementary piece to add?  

Absolutely, he fills a hole on this team as a LH-hitting OF with speed. 
Is Kenny Lofton going to put this team into the playoffs by himself? 

No, not unless he's going to help out the back end of the bullpen during his down time. 
Lofton is the type of player that teams get to help them with their playoff push, not the "missing piece" that's going to make the difference. The fact that the Indians have acquired him should be received as good news, as long as people realize that he is, right now, a 40-year-old platoon OF with some veteran experience (10 out of his 12 seasons, he's been in the playoffs) and that Lofton is no longer the player that wowed the Jacobs Field crowd with his play in the mid-90's. 
The way he's been received the past few games, you would have thought that Bob Feller had returned to the mound and, while the 1995 Indians were a fantastic team (they finished 100-44, which would be like this year's club winning the next 40 after last night's loss), the fans need to show as much love to the Hafners and Sizemores on this team, as opposed to giving the prodigal son a welcome fitting of a bigger acquisition. 
Certainly a positive acquisition, but let's be more excited about the more important players on this team and appreciate their contributions and talent more than thinking that Kenny Lofton is the "masterstroke". 
On the pitching front, the demotion of Cliff Lee signifies that the Indians have realized that every game going forward is vitally important for their playoff pursuit. Having Lee take the hill every five days, giving the Tribe little chance of winning (particularly recently) became too much of a liability as the Front Office bit their lip and sent Lee down to Buffalo. 
How Lee reacts to this will determine his future with the organization as he could take it as the wake-up call he needs to return to his winning ways, or he could just as easily pout and display the stubbornness that is reported in the media and work his way out of the organization. 
Just like the Hernandez release, the Indians have shown that this year is different than the past few with the Lee demotion. No longer will a "wait-and-see" approach be taken to the detriment of the team. The Front Office is going to put the team they feel gives the club the best chance to win, contracts and guaranteed money aside. That can only be viewed as a positive decision and a necessary one as the team tries to get some momentum going into August after limping to the end of July. 
The Tigers are 3-7 in their last 10, giving the Indians a perfect opportunity to overtake them in the Central. However, the Tribe has started their homestand with a 2-5 mark and will have to play better to make up ground on the Tigers. The Rangers, the Twins (possibly without Torii Hunter), and the White Sox precede series against the Spankees and the Motor City Kitties in mid-August, so the time to rally is now.

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