The story has been told again and again: In 2007
Going into last season,
You probably did not know this, but the 2009 Indians were just one short of the American League record with 10 different players who hit double-digit home runs. Of course, half of those players are gone, including
He's actually a familiar face -- Branyan was drafted by the Indians in 1994, and he hit 20 home runs for the Indians in 2001. He then began his long journey back, and what a journey: He was traded to Cincinnati, signed with Atlanta, was traded back to Cleveland, was traded to Milwaukee, was released and signed with Tampa Bay, was traded to San Diego, was released again, signed with Cleveland (third time with the Tribe), was sold to Philadelphia, was traded to St. Louis, was let go, signed with Milwaukee, was let go, and finally last year signed with Seattle. He had his best season as Seattle gave him 500 plate appearances for the first time in his career, and he hit 31 homers. And now, at age 34, he's back with Cleveland for the fourth time.
It's easy to forget that not only were the Indians one game away from the World Series in 2007, but they were also more or less the consensus choice to win the division title last year. Things went very wrong -- to the tune of 97 losses -- and now the Indians are a popular choice to be among the worst teams in baseball. The reason: that starting rotation. As Indians, Sabathia and Lee won the Cy Young Award in 2007 and 2008, respectively, but in 2009 Cleveland starters had a 5.30 ERA -- and that number is even worse when you take out Lee's half season. The Indians are counting heavily on a big Carmona bounce-back and the return of
One of the best prospects in baseball, catcher