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Acquiring the 1995 Cleveland Indians

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Last year, we followed the team widely judged as one of the best never to win a title. This year on the 20th anniversary of the best team in recent memory, we will look back at another dominant Tribe team that ended up falling just a bit short.

Three of the tribe's powerhouse lineup, Lofton, Belle and Baerga
Three of the tribe's powerhouse lineup, Lofton, Belle and Baerga

In 1994, the Tribe finished with their first winning record wince 1968 and first shot at contention since 1959. And it wasn't a fluky season either as they had the division lead in late July and finished just 1.0 game back of the White Sox when the strike ended up canceling the end of the season.

The strike wasn't settled until late March and the season opened on April 27 after a truncated spring training. The season started with a bang as the Indians scored 6 or more runs in eight of their first dozen games. In fact, they only had a losing record after game 3 at 1-2. From that point on, they dominated. By the end of May, they were 21-9 and had built a 5.5 game lead over the Royals.

Another sizzling month in June had them at 41-17 and a nine game lead. By the All-Star break, they had a twelve game lead and coasted to a 30 game cushion at the end of the season. This Indians team was so on fire all season, they never lost more than nine games in any single month.

So how did the Indians reach this dominating level almost thirty plus years of ineptitude? Well it wasn't an overnight success as the record shows. There were plenty of smart moves, a few lucky ones, and some of Hall of Fame talent that was drafted for the first time in a generation.

As most know, John Hart gets the biggest kudos for making this team, but he did receive quite a bit of help. The first seeds of this team germinated in way back in 1965 when Gabe Paul drafted Ray Fosse. Paul left on July 1, 1969, giving the reins to manger Alvin Dark, who lasted just over two years, without a single move that shows up here. Paul returned to his role before sending a quite a few assets to the New York Yankees before he himself slinked over to them.

Phil Seghi took over in January in 1973 and stuck around through the 1985 season. He made quite  a few lopsided trades that hurt the Tribe, but as you can see below, he did make a few outstanding ones as well. Joe Klein was the general manager for just two seasons, but he and scouting director Jeff Scott the first actual piece of the 1995 team, Joey Belle.

Hank Peters presided over the role from 1988 to 1991 with Scott still around for the 1988 draft and Chet Montgomery leading the 1989 and 1990 drafts. They hit on Charles Nagy in 1988 and got lucky when Jim Thome blossomed out of the 13th round in 1990. But it was the Joe Carter trade in 1990 that Peters should get the biggest credit for, nabbing Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar. The 1991 draft, led by Mickey White, was fantastic as all four of  the top picks panned out, with Manny Ramirez the biggest coup.

While Peters was technically the guy in charge in 1990 and 1991, assistant GM Hart made most of those trades those two years. And just after his promotion in November of 1991, he stole Kenny Lofton from the Houston Astros. There were quite a few free agent signings in 1993, 1994 and 1995 to flesh out the roster used in that magical run.

Please see below for the full transaction list:

June 8, 1965 - C Ray Fosse selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 6, 1967 - SS Jack Heidemann selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 6, 1967 - IF Jack Brohamer selected in 34th round of amateur draft

September 4, 1967 - RP Jim Kern signed as an amateur free agent from Michigan

June 5, 1969 - 3B Buddy Bell selected in 16th round of amateur draft

June 6, 1972 - SP Dennis Eckersley selected in 3rd round of amateur draft

March 24, 1973 - Traded C Ray Fosse and SS Jack Heidemann to the Oakland A's for OF George Hendrick and C Dave Duncan

August 22, 1973 - SS Alfredo Griffin signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic

December 12, 1975 - Traded IF Jack Brohamer to the Chicago White Sox for SS Larvell Blanks

June 8, 1976 - C Ron Hassey selected in 18th round of amateur draft

December 8, 1976 - Traded OF George Hendrick to the San Diego Padres for OF Johnny Grubb, C Fred Kendall and IF Hector Torres

June 7, 1977 - SS Jerry Dybzinski selected in 15th round of amateur draft

March 26, 1978 - OF Mike Vail claimed off waivers from the New York Mets

March 30, 1978 - Traded SP Dennis Eckersley and C Fred Kendall to the Boston Red Sox for 3B/OF Ted Cox, SP Mike Paxton, SP Rick Wise and C Bo Diaz

June 6, 1978 - 3B Phil Lansford selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 15, 1978 - Traded OF Mike Vail to the Chicago Cubs for OF Joe Wallis

June 15, 1978 - Traded OF Joe Wallis to the Oakland A's for C Gary Alexander

October 3, 1978 - Traded RP Jim Kern and SS Larvell Blanks to the Texas Rangers for OF Bobby Bonds and SP Len Barker

December 5, 1978 - Traded SS Alfredo Griffin and 3B Phil Lansford to the Toronto Blue Jays for RP Victor Cruz

December 8, 1978 - Traded 3B Buddy Bell to the Texas Rangers for 3B Toby Harrah

June 5, 1979 - RP Larry White selected in 31st round of amateur draft

December 6, 1979 - Traded 3B/OF Ted Cox to the Seattle Mariners for SP Rafael Vasquez, RP Rob Pietroburgo and RP Bud Anderson (PTBNL)

December 7, 1979 - Traded OF Bobby Bonds to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP John Denny and OF Jerry Mumphrey

December 19, 1979 - OF Jorge Orta signed as a free agent from the Chicago White Sox

February 15, 1980 - Traded OF Jerry Mumphrey to the San Diego Padres for SP Bob Owchinko and OF Jim Wilhelm

June 3, 1980 - C Jack Fimple selected in 29th round of amateur draft

December 9, 1980 - Traded C Gary Alexander, SP Bob Owchinko, RP Victor Cruz and SP Rafael Vasquez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for SP Bert Blyleven and C Manny Sanguillen

December 9, 1981 - Traded OF Jorge Orta, C Jack Fimple and RP Larry White to the Los Angeles Dodgers for SP Rick Sutcliffe and 2B Jack Perconte

April 1, 1983 - Traded SS Jerry Dybzinski to the Chicago White Sox for Pat Tabler

June 6, 1983 - SP Rick Browne selected in 8th round of amateur draft

February 5, 1984 - Traded 3B Toby Harrah and SP Rick Browne (PTBNL) to the New York Yankees for OF Otis Nixon, RP George Frazier and RP Guy Elston (PTBNL)

June 13, 1984 - Traded SP Rick Sutcliffe, C Ron Hassey and RP George Frazier to the Chicago Cubs for OF Joe Carter, OF Mel Hall, RP Don Schulze and SP Darryl Banks

August 1, 1985 - Traded SP Bert Blyleven to the Minnesota Twins for SS Jay Bell, SP Curt Wardle, SP Rich Yett (PTBNL) and OF Jim Weaver

December 12, 1985 - SP Tom Candiotti signed as a free agent from the Milwaukee Brewers

June 2, 1987 - LF Albert Belle selected in 2nd round of amateur draft

June 1, 1988 - SP Charles Nagy selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 3, 1988 - Traded Pat Tabler to the Kansas City Royals for SP Bud Black

November 28, 1988 - Traded SS Jay Bell (PTBNL) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for SS Felix Fermin (PTBNL) and IF Denny Gonzalez

March 19, 1989 - Traded OF Mel Hall to the New York Yankees for OF Turner Ward and C Joel Skinner

June 5, 1989 - RP Jerry Dipoto selected in 3rd round of amateur draft

June 5, 1989 - C Jesse Levis selected in 4th round of amateur draft

June 5, 1989 - RP Alan Embree selected in 5th round of amateur draft

June 5, 1989 - SP Curtis Leskanic selected in 8th round of amateur draft

June 5, 1989 - 3B Jim Thome selected in 13th round of amateur draft

June 5, 1989 - OF Brian Giles selected in 17th round of amateur draft

December 6, 1989 - Traded OF Joe Carter to the San Diego Padres for C Sandy Alomar, 2B Carlos Baerga and OF Chris James

March 26, 1990 - RP Julian Tavarez signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic

June 4, 1990 - 1B Tim Costo selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 4, 1990 - SP Oscar Munoz selected in 5th round of amateur draft

June 4, 1990 - 3B David Bell selected in 7th round of amateur draft

June 4, 1990 - SP Dave Mlicki selected in 17th round of amateur draft

September 16, 1990 - Traded SP Bud Black to the Toronto Blue Jays for RP Mauro Gozzo, SP Steve Cummings (PTBNL) and SP Alex Sanchez (PTBNL)

November 6, 1990 - Traded SP Alex Sanchez to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Willie Blair

December 3, 1990 - OF Wayne Kirby signed as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers

Prior to 1991 season - IF Jesus Azuaje signed as a minor league free agent from Venezuela

Prior to 1991 season - OF Kyle Washington signed as a minor league free agent from the New York Mets

April 4, 1991 - C Eddie Taubensee claimed off waivers from the Oakland A's

June 3, 1991 - RF Manny Ramirez selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 3, 1991 - 1B Herbert Perry selected in 2nd round of amateur draft

June 3, 1991 - SP Chad Ogea selected in 3rd round of amateur draft

June 3, 1991 - SP Paul Byrd selected in 4th round of amateur draft

June 3, 1991 - RP Albie Lopez selected in 20th round of amateur draft

June 14, 1991 - Traded 1B Tim Costo to the Cincinnati Reds for 1B Reggie Jefferson

June 27, 1991 - Traded SP Tom Candiotti and OF Turner Ward to the Toronto Blue Jays for OF Mark Whiten

December 10, 1991 - Traded C Eddie Taubensee and P Willie Blair to the Houston Astros for CF Kenny Lofton and IF Dave Rohde

March 28, 1992 - Traded SP Oscar Munoz and SP Curtis Leskanic to the Minnesota Twins for 1B Paul Sorrento

April 3, 1992 - IF Alvaro Espinoza signed as a free agent from the New York Yankees

April 3, 1992 - SS Jose Hernandez claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers

April 9, 1992 - RP Eric Plunk signed as a free agent from the Toronto Blue Jays

June 1, 1992 - RP Paul Shuey selected in 1st round of amateur draft

June 1, 1992 - SP Matt T Williams selected in 4th round of amateur draft

March 3, 1993 - OF Mark Whiten traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Mark Clark and SS Juan Andujar

April 7, 1993 - RP Jason Grimsley signed as a free agent from the Houston Astros

June 1, 1993 - Traded SS Jose Hernandez to the Chicago Cubs for RP Heathcliff Slocumb

November 2, 1993 - Traded RP Heathcliff Slocumb to the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Ruben Amaro

December 2, 1993 - DH Eddie Murray signed as a free agent from the New York Mets

December 2, 1993 - SP Dennis Martinez signed as a free agent from the Montreal Expos

December 20, 1993 - SS Felix Fermin and 1B Reggie Jefferson traded to the Seattle Mariners for SS Omar Vizquel

February 7, 1994 - C Tony Pena signed as a free agent from the Boston Red Sox

June 2, 1994 - SP Rick Heiserman selected in 3rd round of amateur draft

June 2, 1994 - C Pepe McNeal selected in 5th round of amateur draft

June 22, 1994 - RP John Farrell signed as a free agent from the California Angels

July 14, 1994 - Traded OF Kyle Washington to the Baltimore Orioles for RP Jose Mesa

August 31, 1994 - DH Dave Winfield purchased from the Minnesota Twins

October 17, 1994 - RP Dennis Cook claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox

November 18, 1994 - Traded SP Dave Mlicki, RP Jerry Dipoto, SP Paul Byrd and IF Jesus Azuaje (PTBNL) to the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Jeromy Burnitz and RP Joe Roa

March 18, 1995 - RP Jim Poole signed as a free agent from the Baltimore Orioles

March 24, 1995 - RP Gregg Olson signed as a free agent from the Atlanta Braves

March 25, 1995 - IF Billy Ripken signed as a free agent from the Texas Rangers

April 8, 1995 - SP Orel Hershiser signed as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers

April 10, 1995 - RP Paul Assenmacher signed as a free agent from the Chicago White Sox

May 15, 1995 - Traded SP Matt T Williams to the Houston Astros for C Eddie Tucker

July 27, 1995 - Traded 3B David Bell, SP Rick Heiserman and C Pepe McNeal to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Ken Hill