The 2005 Indians are a phenomenon, coming from where they've been. Few teams have torn down and rebuilt this quickly. Few front-office types have accomplished the feat as boldly as Shapiro has. But if there's one thing the '05 Indians are not, it's the Indians of the late '90s. The '05 Indians are not a group of overpaid, aging veterans. They're not the high-scoring, slug-happy team of yesterday.
These Indians can score -- they're fifth in the league in runs -- but they are more balanced than the old Indians and probably the most hole-free team among the AL contenders. The Indians are stacked with young talent; switch-hitting catcher Victor Martinez (26), shortstop Jhonny Peralta (23), and center fielder Grady Sizemore (23), to name a few. They have a good mix of starters, including C.C. Sabathia (25), Cliff Lee (27), Jake Westbrook (27) and veterans Kevin Millwood (30) and Scott Elarton (29). They have an OK defense and the best bullpen in the league, with 36-year-old stopper Bob Wickman at the end.
And, of course, they're cheap. The 2001 Indians, who lost a heartbreaking five-game playoff series to Seattle, had a payroll of more than $93 million, fifth-highest in the majors. The '05 Indians started the season with a payroll around $41.5 million, fifth from the bottom, which makes Cleveland the lowest-rent franchise among the high-flying contenders.
Overall, a pretty good article, but I wonder how many Tribe stories are out there that DON'T mention Travis Hafner. Just sayin, he might be key part of this team...