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Written by Andrew Clayman

Andrew Clayman

With the recent trades of Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, last year's deal of C.C. Sabathia, and the emergence of players like Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, Ryan Ludwick, and Brandon Phillips ... the exploits of former Indians has become regular fodder on our Cleveland Indians message board. Today, Andrew Clayman puts together his All-Star team of ex-Indians that Mark Shapiro has dealt to various teams since taking over as the team's general manager nearly a decade ago.


altWith all due respect to the Phillies and the Red Sox, the biggest winner in the 2009 Tribe firesale has clearly been that ever-popular ballclub from Hypothetical Land, the "Ex-Indians All-Stars." Discussed with a cult-like devotion on Cleveland sports message boards for years, the Ex-Indians have taken huge strides in the past two weeks, addressing some key needs in the form of a stud catcher and top tier starting pitcher, as well as some fine complementary pieces. Ex-Indians fans (not to be confused with those who are merely former fans of the Indians) have already been thrilled to see the contributions that new additions Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee have made to a team dead set on dominating the parallel dimension in which they play. Just take a look at the impressive roster that Mark Shapiro's evil, goateed doppelganger has put together over the past decade.  

The 2009 Ex-Indians All-Stars (aka "The Lost Boys")

Stats as of August 7 


Victor Martinez (Red Sox)

.287, 16 HR, 73 RBI

The Red Sox may have given up relatively little for this three-time all-star, but the Ex-Indians gave up absolutely nothing. And suffice it to say, Victor is more than a small upgrade for a team that's been forced to start the likes of Einar Diaz and Eddie Perez in past years.  

Helped Bring to Current Indians: SP Justin Masterson, SP Nick Hagedone (A), SP Bryan Price (A)

Ex-Indian Backup: Josh Bard (Nationals): .247, 1 HR, 21 RBI 

First Base: 

Russell Branyan (Mariners)

.259, 25 HR, 62 RBI

Now this one is kind of amusing. Even though Cleveland acquired and let go of Branyan on three separate occasions between 2002 and 2007, it's only now that the legendary whiff machine has earned his way in to the starting line-up of the Ex-Indians. He's having a solid, albeit Brook Jacoby-like season in Seattle at the ripe old age of 33. The real Indians shouldn't feel too bad about this development, though, as Branyan was originally traded to Cincinnati for Ben Broussard, who in turn wound up in Seattle (appropriately enough) in exchange for one Mr. Shin-Soo Choo. Advantage Cleveland for now. But fear not, Ex fans. If Choo keeps looking like a big money bat (or if the Korean government comes calling), he could eventually become a Lost Boy, too. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: RF Shin-Soo Choo

Ex-Indian Backup: Ryan Garko (Giants): .283, 11 HR, 42 RBI 

Second Base: 

Brandon Phillips (Reds)

.269, 16 HR, 70 RBI

Oops. Apparently the key player in the Bartolo Colon trade wasn't such a bust after all. Again, Mark Shapiro can't be blamed too much for observing Phillips' horrific struggles at the plate and considering alternative options. However, Shapiro's evil twin knew better, recognizing that Phillips was a supreme athlete who had already proven himself with the glove, and was certainly a more appealing long-term answer at second base than Ronnie Belliard. Now, some people say Brandon was traded to Cinci for a bucket of balls, but that bucket of balls was named Jeff Stevens, who became one of the minor leaguers sent to Chicago for Mark DeRosa, who in turn was sent to St. Louis for Chris Perez and Jess Todd. Not exactly an exact A, B, C progression, but via the butterfly effect, we'll say Phillips at least helped get Todd here. Meanwhile, the backup 2B on the Ex-Indians, former Akron Aeros standout Marco Scutaro, was the "player to be named later" in the 2000 trade that sent Richie Sexson to Milwaukee for Bob Wickman. Nine years later, Marco is having a career year up in Toronto. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: RP Jess Todd

Ex-Indian Backup: Marco Scutaro (Blue Jays): .294, 9 HR, 47 RBI 

Third Base: 

Casey Blake (Dodgers)

.291, 13 HR, 64 RBI

Third base, long considered a weak position for the real Indians, is ironically one of the strongest positions for the Ex-Indians (or maybe that's not so ironic). While not the flashiest of ballplayers, Casey Blake has certainly earned his big payout in Los Angeles, and he gets the edge over his Lost Boy teammates Mark DeRosa and Kevin Kouzmanoff. After walking the waiver wire for his first few years in the Bigs, Blake got his shot in the post-Fryman Cleveland infield, and despite the best efforts to replace him (Aaron Boone, Andy Marte, etc), he just kept winning his job back. This year, Casey at the Bat has been excellent again, proving to be one of the most consistent third basemen in baseball. The Ex-Indians scooped him up last July and are happy to have him, while the real Indians are hopeful that the guy they got for Blake, Double-A catcher Carlos Santana, will help Clevelanders forget about both Casey and Victor Martinez. Eventually.  

Helped Bring to Current Indians: C Carlos Santana (AA)

Ex-Indian Backups: Mark DeRosa (Cardinals): .256, 21 HR, 63 RBI; Kevin Kouzmanoff (Padres): .245, 14 HR, 60 RBI 


Maicer Izturis (Angels)

.308, 6 HR, 45 RBI

You might not remember Izturis in a Tribe uniform, because, like Marco Scutaro, he never got his shot with the big club. Instead, Maicer peaked at Triple-A Buffalo before getting dealt in one of the rarely discussed but undeniably awful trades of the Shapiro administration. Izturis, along with outfielder Ryan Church, was shipped to Montreal in 2004 for lefty reliever Scott Stewart, who was terrible that season and out of baseball a year later. Both Church and Izturis have gone on to very good, though somewhat low profile careers. This year, the pint-sized Izturis is already knocking on the door to career highs in homers, ribbies, runs scored, and batting average-a key cog in L.A.'s line-up, as well as the Ex-Indians. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one.

Ex-Indian Backup: Omar Vizquel (Rangers): .294, 1 HR, 11 RBI 

Left Field: 

Manny Ramirez (Dodgers)

.308, 12 HR, 41 RBI

One of the perennial stars of the Ex-Indians, Ramirez worried some Lost Boys fans this spring when he suggested that he and current Ex-Indian teammate Jim Thome might want to end their careers back in Cleveland as actual Indians again. The fact is, losing Manny would be a crippling loss for the Exies. This year, Man-Ram missed 50 games (for what I'm sure was a simple misunderstanding) and has still managed to put up better 2009 numbers than the Cleveland Indians' everyday left fielders (including Ben Francisco, whom the Lost Boys decided to acquire anyway, just for the hell of it). Why would Manny ever want to return to Cleveland when he can win infinite hypothetical championships as a member of the unbeatable Ex-Indians? 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one.

Ex-Indian Backup: Ben Francisco (Phillies): .253, 11 HR, 36 RBI 

Center Field: 

Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners)

.291, 12 HR, 46 RBI

After robbing Seattle of the likes of Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera, Shapiro tried to sneakily pilfer another building block in the form of Luis Valbuena last offseason. The jury is still out on Valbuena, but it certainly appears the Ex-Indians finally may have gotten something helpful out of a Seattle-Cleveland deal this time. To the surprise of most who watched him play every day in Cleveland, Franklin Gutierrez is a .290 hitter this year and looks to be the centerfielder of the foreseeable future for the M's. He'll also be holding down the fort for the Lost Boys, keeping center field warm for Grady Sizemore. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: 2B Luis Valbuena

Ex-Indian Backup: Coco Crisp (Royals, DL): .228, 3 HR, 14 RBI 

Right Field: 

Ryan Ludwick (Cardinals)

.268, 18 HR, 69 RBI

Likely reminded of Russell Branyan's failures, Shapiro let Ryan Ludwick leave to free agency in 2005. No one particularly cared at the time, despite the fact that Ludwick's power potential was obvious enough. He just didn't seem to have the type of swing that would be conducive to anything besides powering a windmill. As it's turned out, the Exies saw something that the real Tribe didn't, and Ludwick has flourished the past two seasons as Albert Pujols' right hand man in St. Louis. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one.

Ex-Indian Backup: Ryan Church (Braves): .283, 4 HR, 30 RBI 

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Jim Thome (White Sox)

.254, 20 HR, 67 RBI

Believe it or not, good ole' Jim is about to turn 39, and given his chronic back problems, it's somewhat remarkable that's he still putting up the quality numbers he is this season. Cleveland fans still have a lot of anger about Thome's departure (both with ownership and Thome himself), but the fact is, Jim just fit in better with the plans of the Ex-Indians. The real Indians needed to rebuild and spend their money on young core players. For those that say Cleveland would have won a championship with Manny and/or Thome getting big contracts, you probably would have had to have done so without a Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, or CC Sabathia. What, they're all gone now, too? Well, nonetheless... 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one. 

Starting Pitchers: 

CC Sabathia (Yankees)

11-7, 3.95 ERA

Having just watched Yankees ace CC Sabathia square off against Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez on Fox's Saturday broadcast, the destruction of a once mighty Cleveland team seemed complete. The best two players from the 2007 ALCS squad are now in Boston and New York. In another dimension, though, CC and Victor are teammates once again as Ex-Indians, a fact that probably won't make Tribe fans feel warm and fuzzy, but for sadistic Exies fans, it's fantastic! 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: LF Matt LaPorta (AAA), RP Zach Jackson (AAA), LF Michael Brantley (AAA) 

Cliff Lee (Phillies)

9-9, 2.95 ERA

With a year and a half left on his rather friendly contract, the Ex-Indians were pessimistic about being able to land a talent like Cliff Lee this season. Luckily, he fell into their laps and has revitalized a pretty weak pitching staff (until recently, Cleveland had been pretty good about not surrendering its good pitching). Now in Philadelphia, Cliff is in the midst of a rather sick streak of dominance that has seen his ERA dip under 3 and his record finally reach .500. With run support not likely to be an issue anymore, Lee could follow the example set by Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia when they landed in the National League and befuddle his new foes for the rest of the stretch run. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: SP Carlos Carrasco (AAA), C Lou Marson (AAA), SS Jason Donald (AAA), SP Jason Knapp (A) 

Kevin Millwood (Rangers)

9-7, 3.39 ERA

This is Millwood's fourth season with the Ex-Indians, but it's the first in which he's really rediscovered the form he showed during his one rental season in Cleveland back in 2005 (9-11, 2.86 ERA). At 34, he's always an injury concern and far from a true ace, but he's still quite a popular figure for Exies followers to bring up when discussing Mark Shapiro's inability to keep top talent. In fairness, for the amount of money Millwood would have commanded four years ago, Cleveland would have done themselves a great disservice by retaining his lackluster services. Though, I suppose, they might have won the World Series in '07. 

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one. 

Jeremy Guthrie (Orioles)

7-11, 5.28

The Cliff Lee pickup became all the more important for the Exies when it became clear that Guthrie, coming off two quality seasons in Baltimore, was starting to look a lot more like the bigtime bust he was in Cleveland. Hypothetically, if Guthrie hadn't been waived in 2007, he also could have been the missing arm the Indians needed to hold on against the Red Sox in that season's ALCS. As a member of the Ex-Indians, though, he's just a mediocre fourth starter at the moment.  

Helped Bring to Current Indians: No one. 
Carl Pavano (Twins)

9-8, 5.37 ERA

With Bartolo Colon on the DL again, the Lost Boys needed someone to eat some innings, and Cleveland was happy to oblige this past week by shedding the salary of their now unnecessary dice roll Carl Pavano. Pavano has been all over the map this year, but if he could face the Tigers every night, he'd be Bob Gibson, apparently.  

Helped Bring to Current Indians: A Player Yet to be Named 

Other Ex-Indian Starters: Brian Tallet (Blue Jays): 5-6, 5.07 ERA; Bartolo Colon (White Sox): 3-6, 4.19 ERA 


Rafael Betancourt (Rockies)

1-2, 3.00 ERA

Raffy has yet to allow a run since joining the Rockies and the Ex-Indians. Since most former Cleveland relievers rapidly vanish into obscurity, the Ex-Indians aren't exactly stacked with a great bullpen, making Betancourt a great pickup who adds some stability to an inconsistent group. However, this team will have to go with a closer by committee system, because in 2009, not a single former Tribe pitcher has recorded more than 1 save with another club. 

Other Ex-Indian Relievers: Arthur Rhodes (Reds): 0-0, 2.15 ERA; Danys Baez (Orioles): 4-5, 4.27 ERA; Edward Mujica (Padres): 3-4, 3.59 ERA; Bob Howry (Giants): 0-5, 3.92 ERA; David Weathers (Reds): 3-3, 3.32 ERA 

Ex-Indians Starting Line-Up

In the great tradition of baseball conjecture, there's nothing quite like seeing a hypothetical, never-could-have-been team take the field together for the first time (in your mind). So, without further ado, here's the line-up that manager Mike Hargrove (now in his 10th season at the helm) put together for the Lost Boys' next imaginary game. Go get ‘em, Ex-Indians! 

1. CF Franklin Gutierrez

2. 2B Brandon Phillips

3. C Victor Martinez

4. LF Manny Ramirez

5. DH Jim Thome

6. RF Ryan Ludwick

7. 3B Casey Blake

8. 1B Russell Branyan

9. SS Maicer Izturis

P CC Sabathia

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