Saturday, March 11, 2006

Peralta's contract

The Indians must think the world of Jhonny Peralta.
Friday, owner Larry Dolan opened up his notoriously small wallet and came up with enough cash to give Peralta a five-year contract extension through 2011.
A five-year contract is something that rarely happens in Dolanville. Five years is more than Travis Hafner got last year, more than C.C. Sabathia got, and equal to Victor Martinez, if you factor in the option year.
Five years is something a free agent on the open market will never get from the Indians in a million years.
Five years is a huge vote of confidence in Dolan-speak. A big, fat "we know we didn't let Omar leave for just anybody."
While the fans were howling last spring as Omar Vizquel was suiting up in Giants gear for the first time, Peralta had the unenviable task of replacing one of the most beloved players in the history of Cleveland sports.
The vultures were most definitely circling, waiting for Peralta to flop. Not because of Peralta himself, but so fans could give the Indians front office both barrels for letting Omar leave.
Peralta committed four quick errors, then composed himself and made everyone shut up and take notice.
His glove steadied, and his bat was as advertised. The 2004 Class AAA International League MVP hit .292, drove in 78, and eclipsed the Indians' club record for home runs by a shortstop, hitting 24.
In July he settled into the third spot in the batting order. Once he produced there, he was a heart-fo-the-order major league hitter in the Indians' book.
Peralta proved himself in his first full big league season, and Dolan has rewarded him. Now it's up to Peralta to produce without the element of surprise working in his favor. He is no longer unknown. Pitchers will adjust to him, and Peralta must adjust back.
The ball is once again in Peralta's court to prove he's worth his new deal over the next five years.

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