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Indians' trades could portend bright future

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 4, 2002

In at least one city Wednesday, keeping the phone lines open wasn't a major concern.

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro already had made five trades involving 16 players during a five-week sell-off of veterans representing unwanted payroll.

"Once we formulated our rebuilding plans, we went forward as quickly as we could without fear of criticism," Shapiro said.

"We wanted to acquire a galaxy of options, as many options as possible from which to build. The next stage for us now will be to determine where everyone fits and who are the guys we will ultimately build around."

The Indians, more than the Cardinals or Red Sox, could be the winners of the 2002 trade deadline sweepstakes.

Gone are pitchers Bartolo Colon (Expos), Chuck Finley (Cardinals), Ricardo Rincon (A's) and Paul Schuey (Dodgers) and outfielder Jolbert Cabrera (Dodgers). Shapiro received 11 players in return.

"We traded valuable players," he said. "But they are more valuable to a contending team than they are to a rebuilding team."

The Indians now have three of the Expos' top 11 prospects, shortstop Brandon Phillips, outfielder Grady Sizemore and pitcher Cliff Lee, the Cardinals' No.3 first-base prospect, Luis Garcia, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Oakland infielder Marshall McDougall.

Cleveland not only stocked its farm system, but cleared enough payroll to make a serious effort to re-sign Jim Thome, a free agent after this year.

The first baseman has expressed a desire to stay in Cleveland past this season.

"We are in a much better position to keep Thome now than we were before the trades," Shapiro said.

ROLEN ALONG: When the Cardinals got Mark McGwire from the A's in 1997, it took St. Louis only a few months before it signed the slugger to a long-term contract.

Jim Edmonds did the same.

Could Scott Rolen, the third baseman acquired last week from the Phillies, experience the same fate? He and team officials say such talk is premature but agree the possibility exists.

Rolen is happy to be playing for the Cardinals and being closer to his family in Jasper, Ind.

"I don't think there's any doubt that's the best place to play in baseball," he said. "If you can't get excited about putting that uniform on, then you'd better check your pulse, I guess. It's an opportunity I'm not willing to let pass me by."

POSTSEASON READY: The Yankees were content with their trades for Raul Mondesi and Jeff Weaver and appear set to make another postseason run.

"When I add up our 25-man roster, if we're all healthy, I don't have a spot that I believe we have to improve on," general manager Brian Cashman said. "I believe we have a championship-caliber club. We've made our bed, and it's time to sleep in it."

WOULDA, COULDA: Reds general manager Jim Bowden had deals in place to acquire pitcher Kenny Rogers, Finley and Rolen.

Rogers invoked a no-trade clause and remains in Texas, but Cincinnati owner Carl Lindner decided against making trades for Rolen and/or Finley because of payroll concerns.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Bowden said. "But maybe all isn't lost. Sometimes, heart means more than talent. And the team we have has an awful lot of heart."

ACT I: In what amounted to a prelude of the confrontation between Rays manager Hal McRae and pitcher Tanyon Sturtze in the dugout Friday, Brewers manager Jerry Royster had it out on the mound with pitcher Mike DeJean on July 24.

DeJean reportedly was fined $500 for not giving Royster the ball and another $500 for yelling at his manager.

ODDS AND ENDS: Cubs rightfielder Sammy Sosa says increasing the number of night games at Wrigley Field to 30-40 would help the Cubs' on-field performance. The Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs, just happened to agree. ... Rockies outfielder Larry Walker hit .410 in June and .438 in July, making him the first player to have consecutive .400 months since Paul O'Neill with the Yankees in 1994. ... Astros starting pitcher Dave Mlicki allowed seven runs in two-thirds of an inning Wednesday. The club record for runs allowed in an inning is 14 against the Reds during the first inning Aug.3, 1989.

THE LAST WORD: Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling has a computer database with files on 490 hitters and their tendencies.

"Curt Schilling could get 99 percent of the batters out if he were using a slide rule," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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