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Published: Sunday, 7/24/2011

Deadline unkind to Tribe

Bad deals litter past transactions


CLEVELAND -- Glitz and sizzle characterize the run-up to baseball's July 31 trade deadline, when players can be acquired without having to pass through waivers. Fans of contenders salivate at the prospect of seeing a big bat or big arm, "or a Christmas-in-the-summer combination" arriving to help down the stretch and, hopefully, in an extended playoff run.

Indians faithful has heightened anticipation this season, the Tribe's first as potential buyers since 2007.

Who will he be, general manager Chris Antonetti? Who will they be?

The better question, at least in the Indians' case, might be: Will it really matter?

Since realignment in 1994, which happened to be when the Indians contended for the first time in what seemed like forever, the franchise has been in position to buy more than sell. The Indians were contenders from 1994 through 2001, missing the playoffs once (2000). They tore down/rebuilt from 2002-04, contended in 2005, stumbled in 2006, made the playoffs in 2007, faltered in 2008 and rebuilt in 2009-10.

During those years as an American League Central power, and again when the opportunity presented itself in the lean early 2000s, the Indians made their share of deals in June and July with hopes of providing a boost. Problem is, the vast majority of players acquired did not distinguish themselves.

Here is a look at some of the significant trades involving Indians in June and July from 1994 through 2010:

1994 -- Acquired: Reliever Jeff Russell from Boston for Chris Nabholz and Steve Farr. (July 1)

Skinny: Whether Russell would have helped will never be known because the strike ended the season in August. Tribe was 66-47, second, one game behind White Sox in the Central. Russell had five saves and a 4.97 ERA with Cleveland.

1997 -- Acquired: Starter John Smiley and utility man Jeff Branson from Cincinnati for four players, including Danny Graves and Damian Jackson. (July 31) Acquired: Pitcher Jeff Juden from Montreal for Steve Kline. (July 31)

Skinny: Indians were leading the division by just three games; they eventually won by six with 86-75 record. Smiley pitched just six games (2-4, 5.54 ERA) for the Tribe before blowing out his arm preparing for a start at Kansas City in September. Branson and Juden did not do much in regular season or postseason.

2000 -- Acquired: Outfielder Ricky Ledee and two players to be named later from Yankees for David Justice. (June 29) Received: Pitcher Jake Westbrook to complete Ledee trade. (July 25) Acquired: Pitchers Bob Wickman, Jason Bere and Steve Woodard from Milwaukee for Richie Sexson and others. (July 28) Acquired: Infielder Wil Cordero from Pittsburgh for Alex Ramirez and Enrique Wilson. (July 28) Acquired: First baseman David Segui from Texas for Ledee. (July 28)

Skinny: Ledee, supposed to be a young star on the rise, cried over the reality that he had been traded from his beloved Yankees. His flameout (.222 in 17 games) was small part of reason Indians finished 90-72, second, five games behind White Sox in Central. Tribe narrowly missed wild-card berth. Rental Segui mitigated the failed Ledee experiment by hitting .332 in 57 games. Segui, of all people, is the most productive bat the Indians have landed before the deadline since 1994. Bere (6-3, 6.63 ERA) and Woodard (3-3, 5.67) were mediocre, at best. Wickman (1-3, 14 saves) was decent.

2002 -- Skinny: Indians flopped in first half and became sellers for first time in Jacobs Field era. On June 27, in what turned out to be a monster trade, the Indians sent Bartolo Colon and minor leaguer Tim Drew to Montreal for first baseman Lee Stevens and prospects Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips. Colon (Angels) and Lee (Indians) later won AL Cy Young Awards. Sizemore (Indians) and Phillips (Reds) became All-Stars in their 20s.

2008 -- Skinny: On July 7, CC Sabathia was shipped to Milwaukee for elite prospect Matt LaPorta, pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson and PTBNL (Michael Brantley, Oct. 3). On July 26, the Indians sent Casey Blake and cash to the Dodgers for pitcher John Meloan and upper-level prospect catcher Carlos Santana.

2009 -- Skinny: On June 27, reliever Chris Perez arrived from St. Louis for Mark DeRosa. As part of an epic sell-off over three days, Indians traded Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philadelphia on July 29 and Victor Martinez to Boston on July 31. Among those received: pitchers Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, and Nick Hagadone.

2010 -- Skinny: Rebuild continued with signs of improvement. Russell Branyan, Jhonny Peralta, Austin Kearns, Jake Westbrook, and Kerry Wood were traded.

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