Cleveland Indians: The Striking Similarities Between 2016 and 2007

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Roster Construction

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Take a look at the Cleveland roster that won the AL Central in 2007. You see names like Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and Jhonny Peralta in the lineup. C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, and Fausto Carmona (aka Roberto Hernandez) held down the mound. It’s a surreal trip back down memory lane for many fans of the team.

It also provides an interesting comparison to the 2016 club, how it was constructed, and who the major pieces are. That 2007 Indians team was the result of a rebuild that began after the disintegration of the historic clubs of the late-1990s and early-2000s, a youth movement that began when the likes of Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Roberto Alomar, and Bartolo Colon left then-Jacob’s Field for new cities via free agency and trades.

This year’s Tribe is the culmination of a youth movement as well, with a core of players that were signed long-term, most of whom were drafted by the organization or traded for as young players and developed. This is the same blueprint the franchise used a decade ago.

  • Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, Roberto Perez, Cody Allen, and Josh Tomlin were all drafted by Cleveland, as were Sabathia and Ryan Garko back then.
  • Jose Ramirez and Danny Salazar were signed as international free agents, which is how Martinez, Peralta, Carmona, and reliever Rafael Perez were added to the club.
  • Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Bryan Shaw, Carlos Santana, and Yan Gomes were all young players who came via trades of established big leaguers, as were Sizemore, Hafner, Westbrook, and a rookie named Asdrubal Cabrera.

The 2007 team also had a few veterans like Jason Michaels, Trot Nixon, and Paul Byrd that were free agent signings along the lines of Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, and traded midseason for a former fan favorite near the end of his career in Kenny Lofton, much as happened with Crisp in 2016.

The one glaring difference between this year’s Indians and that one is the willingness of the former’s front office to go all in at the trade deadline to acquire Andrew Miller. The 2007 club made no such splashy move, as impact players such as closer Eric Gagne (who went to Boston) and slugger Mark Teixeira were dealt.

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