Dealing: The Cleveland Indians' New Ballgame: Inside the Front Office and the Process of Rebuilding a Contender

Dealing: The Cleveland Indians' New Ballgame: Inside the Front Office and the Process of Rebuilding a Contender

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Go behind closed doors in the Cleveland Indians' front office as award-winning sportswriter Terry Pluto analyzes the team's controversial recent moves to scrap a roster of popular stars and rebuild a new kind of contender.

Granted unprecedented access to the team's top management and financial data, Pluto delivers an up-close account of how decisions were made to radically reshape the franchise.

Indians fans grew accustomed to winning in the mid-1990s. They had an owner with deep pockets, a brand-new ballpark, and a team of high-priced all stars who delivered a division championship nearly every year.

But that glorious ride ended with a jolt of reality after savvy owner Richard Jacobs sold the franchise at the top of the market in 2000. New owners Larry and Paul Dolan and new general manager Mark Shapiro faced a challenge: an aging team, a mounting payroll, and a shrinking budget. First they made mistakes. Then they made bold changes. Stars such as Manny Ramirez, Roberto Alomar, and Jim Thome were gone, replaced with roster of unproven youngsters and veteran rehab projects. Fans were alarmed and dismayed. Then, in 2002, Shapiro boldly predicted that the Indians would return to contend for the playoffs after just three years of rebuilding. Critics scoffed.

Yet at the end of the 2005 season, the Indians were indeed back in contention, one tantalizing game away from a return to the playoffs. The core of an exciting young team was beginning to take shape, and Shapiro was voted American League Executive of the Year as his team won an impressive 93 games despite a payroll ranked in baseball's bottom five.

How was it done? In his familiar clear writing style, Pluto carefully explains the many risky moves made by management and tells which ones have paid off, which ones haven't, and why.

This rare behind-the-scenes look at a modern front office will intrigue fantasy leaguers and fans fascinated by baseball dealmaking. It will be an eye-opener for Indians fans who may still be wondering, What happened to my team?