All-Time Indians: Sid Monge

Name: Isidro Pedroza Monge     Position: Relief Pitcher  
Nick Name: Sid               Number: 43    
Tribe Time: 1977-1981           DOB: 04/11/1951  
Accolades: 1979 All-Star    
Stats W L W% ERA G SV SVO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1979) 12 10 0.545 2.40 76 19 26 131.0 96 35 9 64 108 1.22 7.4 .196
Career 23 25 0.479 3.38 255 46 67 407.0 352 153 40 203 289 1.36 6.4 .224

Sid Monge only played five seasons as an Indian, but not only one of the best relievers in team history, but was probably the single best left handed reliever. Monge was originally drafted by the Angels as a starter, but was converted into a reliever in his third season (1977). After having no real success in California, he was traded to Cleveland for the Indians closer, Dave LaRoche. Things didn't change immediately for Monge, who finished out the season poorly with the Indians, but his career was about to turn around.

In 1978, Monge played his first full season with the Indians, throwing a career high 84.2 relief innings with an amazing 2.76 ERA. Unlike modern left handed relievers that are used almost exclusively against left handed hitters, Monge faced everyone and pitched multiple innings per outings. That year, Monge was the Indians second most used reliever behind closer, Jim Kern, but things were about get mixed around.

With Monge's success in 1978, the Indians took advantage and traded Kern to Texas for their next ace, Len Barker and super-star Bobby Bonds. Monge filled the vacancy and was not only the primary closer, but pitched in almost half the Indians games during the season. His 76 games are still in the top five games played in a single season and he saved 19 of 26 games while holding a 2.40 ERA through 131 innings. Of course, this was in the days when Dennis Eckersley was still a starter and hadn't revolutionized the closer role. Instead of exclusively using Monge in situations with a lead of three runs or less in the ninth inning, the Indians made use of Monge as often and as long as possible to take advantage of his great season.

For his effort, Monge went to his first and only All-Star game, where he ironically didn't play because Kern blew the save, pitching 2.2 of the final three innings. Sadly, Monge would never get another chance to pitch in a big game as each team he played with was in a long-time play-off drought.

Monge was retained the closers role in 1980, but was not longer obviously the top reliever in the bullpen. He threw another 94.1 innings, all in relief, and saved 14 of 21 games. In whole, the back-end of the Indians bullpen was impressive with both Monge and a young hurler named Victor Cruz, who saved 12 games of his own. Just as in 1978, the Indians couldn't afford to have two quality closers and Cruz was sent to the Pirates alongside Gary Alexander in exchange for Hall of Fame starter, Bert Blyleven.

The following season, Monge played his final year for the Tribe. Here, he struggled for the first time as an Indian and missed almost all of June and July due to injury. By the time he returned, he had been replaced as closer by Dan Spillner, who would retain that role for the next three seasons. At the end of the year, Monge was a free agent and resigned with Cleveland, but he was traded to Philadelphia for Bake McBride just prior to Spring Training in 1982 nonetheless. The Phillies really made out with this deal as Monge had two more great seasons left in him while McBride never did much for the Indians. After playing his first seven years with just two teams, Monge played with three teams in his final three seasons before retiring after the 1984 season.

Despite the changes in relief roles, Monge is still one of the greatest left handed relievers in Indians history and ranks among the top ten closers in total saves. After his playing career, Monge tried his hand at coaching, first as a minor league pitching coach for the Tigers in the 1995, then in the same role for the Cardinals from 2000 through 2006. He remains a coach in the Mexican Winter League for the Venados de Mazatlan. Monge was born in Sonora, Mexico and was entered into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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