SEATTLE -- Oh the times, they are a-changing. And so too could the makeup of the Cleveland Indians next year.
|Kenny Lofton reacts after striking out during the sixth inning.
Kenny Lofton may have played his final contest in a Tribe uniform. The table setter who batted .261 this season and .105 in the series, leads the Indians in career stolen bases and ranks among the top 10 in runs scored (third) and hits (ninth). He is currently fourth in the majors in active steals.
The 34-year-old center fielder says he has no timetable yet for deciding his future.
Juan Gonzalez, who has a mutual option for 2002, had an impressive year in right field for the Indians. During the regular season, he posted a .325 average with 35 home runs, second on the team to Thome. In the postseason Gonzalez, who turns 32 on Oct. 16, batted .348 and led the team with three doubles.
Closer Bob Wickman will likely be a top priority for the Indians to re-up. With John Rocker relegated to a set-up role until he proves he can handle more responsibilities, Wickman has the closer position sewn up.
The players signed for next season and beyond are confident that no matter who the general manager is, the Indians front office is committed to keeping the organization a winning one.
"As far as what [the front office is] going to do, we don't know," first baseman Jim Thome said. "I'm sure they're going to do the right thing, they always have. They've always put us in a situation to win."
Most of the players, however, learned long ago not to believe anything until they see who does and does not walk into the clubhouse in the spring.
"I've never been one to concern myself with those things," Travis Fryman said. "My approach is to show up the first day of Spring Training, look around the clubhouse and see who I'm going to war with."
Executive Vice-President and General Manager John Hart leaves Cleveland after 10 seasons, six American League Central Division titles and two pennants. He is confident in the core that returns. But he also recognizes that there is a lot of uncertainty in baseball heading into the offseason.
The players' agreement, which expires in less than a month, is still unsettled. The economic future of the country and how much money the owners will be able to spend on free agents is another question mark.
"We've got a nucleus of really good players that are returning," Hart said. "We've got some good young pitching like you saw today with [Ricardo] Ricon and [Danys] Baez and [Paul] Shuey and [David] Riske. There are a lot of guys coming back."
The Indians are fortunate enough to have their top two hurlers -- who posted a combined 31-17 record -- returning to the rotation.
"[Bartolo] Colon and C.C. [Sabathia] -- that's a pretty good mix right there. So I think the club's in very good shape right," Hart said.
Dave Burba -- the Indians other double-digit winner at 10-10, is signed through next season as are injury-plagued veterans Charles Nagy (5-6, 6.40 ERA) and Chuck Finley (8-7, 5.54 ERA).
Heather Reader is a site reporter for MLB.com.