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Wells trade? Just say no



Published: Sun, May 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



OK, maybe I've spent too much time in the rain this week, but I have question:

Why, in the wide, wide world of sports, would the Indians trade for David Wells?

I ask, because according to a variety of sources, Tribe manager Charlie Manuel reportedly thinks acquiring the portly left-hander would make a nice addition to the Cleveland rotation.

(I call him portly, because calling him fat would be mean and insensitive.)

Question 1: Let's examine this on a variety of levels.

For one, who would Wells displace in the rotation?

C.C. Sabathia? He might be the most consistent starter Manuel has right now.

Chuck Finley? He's been inconsistent so far, but remember the numbers he put up last September? He would be a logical choice to ship to the White Sox, but why give a division rival a quality starter?

Dave Burba? His ERA rises every time he steps on the mound, but he's still 7-2.

Jaret Wright? After all the time and money the Indians have invested in his rehabilitation?

Bartolo Colon. Don't think so.

Question 2: Can we agree that the Indians' starting five is pretty set? (And don't forget Charles Nagy is still working on his comeback, and Tim Drew is waiting in the wings.)

So, the first question that needs to be asked: What do we do with Wells if we got him?

Which leads us to the second question: Who would you send to the White Sox?

There's a couple of possibilities, in theory anyway. One would be one of the current rotation, as noted above. The alternative is a package of prospects.

I believe we can rule out Colon, Sabathia and Drew -- they are the cornerstones of the team's future.

Wright and Burba would be the logical choices, then, but I would hope the Indians' front office is more than a little wary of dealing a proven starter to a division rival.

Need the kids: I would also hope the Tribe's brass would resist dealing a package of youngsters -- Jolbert Cabrera, Russell Branyan and Jacob Cruz come to mind -- because of a couple reasons.

One, the frailty of the Indians' established starters like Kenny Lofton, Travis Fryman and Ellis Burks.

And two, the uncertainty over Juan Gonzalez's future with the team beyond this season.

Finally, for the first time in several seasons the Indians have a clubhouse in which the participants truly seem to get along with one another.

Why invite a troubling presence like Wells', whose backstabbing of teammates like Frank Thomas has made him a persona non grata in the Chicago and Toronto locker rooms?

Not good karma: I witnessed first-hand a crack in the Chicago clubhouse on Opening Day, after the White Sox and Wells defeated the Indians.

Wells entered the dressing area and was immediately surrounded by literally dozens of reporters and television cameramen.

Sitting a few feet away, in the middle of the room, infielder Jose Valentin said loudly, "That's right, it was all Wells. He beat the Indians all by himself. No one else did anything."

Whoa ...

Let us not ignore the Indians' fast start. They have the second-best record in the A.L. Why upset the apple cart now?

Which brings us to Wells' apparent disdain for Cleveland. He's been treated rudely by a few clods in Jacobs Field, to be sure, but as time goes by, Wells seems to believe the entire city has descended upon him.

He has said repeatedly he would retire rather than pitch for the Indians.

Frankly, I hope we don't have to see if he'll keep his word.

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at todor@vindy.com.




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