DeRosa’s Biggest Addition was by Subtraction

Mark DeRosa’s time with the Indians was brief, but his biggest impact came when he left.

DeRosa, who announced his retirement last week, broke in with the Atlanta Braves in 1998, when Turner Field was a shiny new ballpark modified from the Olympics and not the decrepit outdated mess team management says it is now. DeRosa, a New Jersey native who attended the University of Pennsylvania, broke in as a shortstop but proved himself as an adaptable player, playing anywhere in the infield or outfield – and even getting some designated hitter duty when the Braves were playing in an American League Park.

He signed with the Rangers in 2005, and then signed with the Cubs before the 2007 season. In 2008, he had a career year, hitting .285 with 21 home runs as the Cubs won 97 games to finish with the best record in the National League … and promptly got swept by the Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

At the end of the year, the Indians packaged draft picks Chris Archer and John Gaub along with Jeff Stevens to the Cubs for DeRosa. Stevens was the player to be named later that the Indians got when they dealt Brandon Phillips to the Reds.

DeRosa played in 71 games for the Indians, hitting .270 with 13 home runs before he was traded to St. Louis on June 27. At the time, the Cardinals were 41-35, tied for first with the Brewers, and just five games separated the top from the bottom in the National League Central Division.

“We feel our team has the pitching to contend, and if we can get the offense to produce at a more consistent level, then our overall performance should benefit,” said Cardinals Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak of the trade.

In return, the Indians got a relief pitcher that had a total of eight saves in his career: Chris Perez.

The Tribe’s closer at the time was former Cubs fireballer Kerry Wood. He would be traded to the Yankees the following season as the Indians made numerous changes under new manager Manny Acta. Perez took over the closer role, with 23 saves that season.

Perez’s penchant for inflammatory remarks and illegal smokeables aside, he’s been one of the best closers in team history. His Tribe career appears to be over, having been released Oct. 31, but he saved 124 games through this year, trailing only Bob Wickman (139) and Doug Jones (129).

DeRosa helped the Cardinals win the Central in 2009 and signed as a free agent with the Giants after the season. A wrist injury curtailed his productivity as the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010, but DeRosa played for the Giants in 2011 before ending his career with a year in Washington and a year in Toronto.

DeRosa’s role with the Indians was brief but important. He was an adaptable player in a number of roles, and brought the most successful closer in a decade to Cleveland.

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