Saturday, August 30, 2008

Browns Trim Roster to 53

The Browns made 22 necessary moves on Saturday to trim their roster to the mandatory 53 men allowable. Among the moves were some not so surprising but also some shocking cuts. Let's take a look.

Biggest Shock

Travis Wilson WR, and Shantee Orr OLB CUT

After a solid preseason finale I thought for sure that Travis Wilson would be the #3 wide receiver. After Saturday's cuts he isn't even on the team. The so-called "best WR" in the 06 draft and official busted Browns pick is now looking for work on the streets.

Orr on the other hand was a free agent pickup whom I thought would provide a nice pass rush this year. His release likely means the Browns are high on 7th rounder Alex Hall and are convinced Antwan Peek is healthy enough to contribute week 1.

Another Injury

Lennie Friedman was surprisingly placed on the injured reserve, ending his 2008 campaign. The versatile G/C was going to be a factor this year, but his spot will have to be filled by Seth McKinney, Isaac Sowells and Ryan Tucker.

DB Battle

In the battle to make the roster as a DB, Jereme Perry and AJ Davis lost and Gerard Lawson and Travis Daniels were the big winners. The Browns traded a draft pick to acquire Daniels over a week ago and Lawson is an undrafted rookie who will be relied on mostly on special teams. Perry and Davis had subpar preseason outings.

Former Savage Picks Gone

Gone are former Phil Savage 2nd day draft picks DL Chase Pittman and Melila Purcell, and LB David McMillan. The depth of the Browns has improved to the point where moves like this can be easily made.

Four Tight Ends

Phil chose to go with four tight ends this season: Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, the injured rookie Martin Rucker and roster bubble candidate Darnell Dinkins. I like this move and appreciate Dinkins' work on special teams. Brad Cieslak and Kolomano Kapanui were released.

2008 Draft Class

All picks of the Browns' rookie class made the roster: Beau Bell, Atyba Rubin, Alex Hall, Paul Hubbard, and Martin Rucker. Also making the team as a rookie is UDFA Gerard Lawson.

WR Battle

And last but not least, the vaunted wide receiver battle. As I mentioned earlier, Travis Wilson was surprisingly released, due in most part to the play of Syndric Steptoe who emerged as a special teams force this preseason. Also gone is area-native Steve Sanders who had a good preseason. Paul Hubbard made the team due to his size and potential because he had an up-and-down preseason and Joe Jurevicius will be eligible to come off the PUP Week 7. For now the Browns will go with 5 WRs.


OL Lennie Friedman


TE Brad Cieslak

DB A.J. Davis

WR Efrem Hill

TE Kolomona Kapanui

DB Travis Key

OL James Lee

WR Lance Leggett

LB David McMillan

DB Brandon Mitchell

LB Chase Ortiz

OL Jonathan Palmer

DB Jereme Perry

DL Melila Purcell

K Jason Reda

WR Steve Sanders

WR Travis Wilson

Terminated-Vested Veteran

LB Shantee Orr


OL Derrick Morse

OL Marvin Philip

DL Chase Pittman

RB Travis Thomas

Projected Depth Chart

QB: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey
RB: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Jason Wright
FB: Lawrence Vickers, Charles Ali
WR: Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, Syndric Steptoe, Josh Cribbs, Paul Hubbard
TE: Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, Martin Rucker, Darnell Dinkins
LT: Joe Thomas, Isaac Sowells
LG: Eric Steinbach, Scott Young
C: Hank Fraley
RG: Rex Hadnot, Seth McKinney
RT: Kevin Shaffer, Ryan Tucker

DE: Robaire Smith, Louis Leonard
NT: Shaun Rogers, Shaun Smith
DE: Corey Williams, Atyba Rubin
OLB: Kamerion Wimbley, Alex Hall
ILB: Andra Davis, Leon Williams
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Beau Bell, Kris Griffin
OLB: Willie McGinest, Antwan Peek
CB: Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Travis Daniel, Terry Cousin, Gerard Lawson
FS: Brodney Pool, Mike Adams
SS: Sean Jones, Nick Sorenson

K: Phil Dawson
P: Dave Zastudil
LS: Ryan Pontbriand
KR: Josh Cribbs
PR: Josh Cribbs

EDIT: On Monday, September 1st, the Browns claimed OL Scott Young off waivers from Philadelphia and announced their practice squad. OL Nate Bennett was waived to make room for Young on the roster.

Practice Squad

OL Nate Bennett*
LB Titus Brown
RB Omar Cuff
OL Christian Gaddis
S Travis Key*
WR Lance Leggett*
DL Melila Purcell*
WR Steve Sanders*

*Spent time with Browns training camp.

Source: Cleveland Browns Home Page

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Browns Make Roster Moves; Jurevicius to PUP

The Cleveland Browns made their aforementioned roster moves on Tuesday, two of which were expected injury list placements. Joe Jurevicius was placed on the PUP list meaning that he will not be eligible to play until after Week 7. His 2008 season in its entirety is in doubt after a serious knee surgery. Kevin Kasper, a fellow receiver looking to make the squad was placed on the injured reserve due to head/neck injuries, ending his 2008 campaign. Other moves included the waiving of DB Damon Jenkins, RB Austin Scott and DL Brian Schaefering (as I predicted). Travis Thomas, the beneficiary of the Scott cut, will get one last preseason game to prove himself to the Browns and/or the rest of the NFL.

Source: Cleveland Browns Team Website

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Round of Cuts Arriving Soon

It's the time of year that all players in the NFL dread, cut week. Starting tomorrow and ending before Week 1 of the regular season the Browns' roster will be shrunk from 80 players to 75 and to the final total of 53. Let's take a look at my first five cuts as the Browns approach Week 4 of the preseason.

Jason Reda, K

Kicker cuts are rarely indicative of the quality of performance, rather a situation where a veteran is already in place and has done nothing to lose his job. This is the case with Reda, the Illinois product who has shown a strong leg on kickoffs and solid accuracy putting the ball between the posts. Phil Dawson is the Browns' man and this cut will give Reda a shot to latch on elsewhere in the NFL.

Brian Schaefering, DL

The big man from tiny Lindenwood College is an NFL success story to just make it this far but his time may be up. With the depth additions to the DL this offseason and the emergence of last year's draft picks Melila Purcell and Chase Pittmann and this year's rookie Atyba Rubin, his chances of making the 53 man roster are slim to none.

Kapanui Kolomona, TE

The man with the coolest name on the Cleveland Browns likely will not survive past Tuesday. It's not his fault, per se, but Kolomona has been injured all of camp and missed virtually all of late practices and preseason contests. Everyone knows of the depth of Browns tight ends and out of the group including Winslow, Heiden, Rucker, Dinkins and Brad Cieslak, Kolomona is likely the one to go.

Lance Leggett, WR

Another victim of depth at an offensive skill position, the large Miami U product has performed decently enough in training camp and limited preseason action. However, I think the Browns want to see more of Steve Sanders, Paul Hubbard and the oft-injured Kevin Kasper who have more of a shot of making the actual 53 man roster.

Travis Thomas, RB

The Golden Domer (seen above) has bounced from runningback to linebacker back to runningback in his college career. The fact that the 5th year senior has made it this far is testament in and of itself but I'm afraid his time may be up. Thomas has shown limited vision and speed in games and fellow UDFA RB Austin Scott of Penn State surpassed him on the depth chart for the last exhibition game against Detroit. This is likely the end of Thomas' NFL run.

What's next for these cuts? Practice squad is a possibility as I think of the bunch Schaefering and Leggett are most likely as is latching on with another NFL squad. Most likely however, these men will play a lower division of football or go into the real world. Whatever the case, I'm sure their time with the Browns will be one to remember for the rest of their lives.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three Clevelanders Traded

The events of the last few days have left Cleveland pro sports minus three key veteran players. Paul Byrd of the Indians was traded to Boston for cash considerations and in a much larger deal Damon Jones and Joe Smith of the Cavaliers were traded to Milwaukee for Maurice Williams (Smith was then traded to Oklahoma City). All three players were veterans who were well-liked on their teams and by the fans. Let's take a look back on their time in Cleveland.

Joe Smith

The shortest tenured Clevelander played only 41 games with the Cavaliers last season (27 regular season, 14 playoff) before being shipped off in the Mo Williams deal. Smith was originally acquired as a "throw-in" in the Ben Wallace/Larry Hughes deal with Chicago but proved to be a valuable asset to the Cavs, averaging 8.1 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game with a reliable midrange jumper. Smith's best game as a Cavalier came in a 17-point effort in a Game 3 playoff win over Boston.

Paul Byrd

Byrd played 2+ seasons for the Indians after being signed as a free agent in the 2006 offseason. He finished his stint with the Indians with a 32-27 record and an ERA under 4.75, impressive numbers for a man once thought to be a #5 starter for the Tribe at best. Byrd was 2-0 in last year's playoff run including the clinching game vs. the New York Yankees. Let's take a look at where his stats rank in Indians pitching history:

32 wins (72nd all-time)
84 starts (59th all-time)
84 games (141st all-time)
502.1 innings (80th all-time)
232 strikeouts (91st all-time)
4 complete games (162nd all-time)
2 shutouts (91st all-time)

Damon Jones

A well-liked character with a personality as large as his ego, Damon Jones once called himself the greatest shooter in the world. While maybe not that, DJ was a good three point threat who hit many great shots for the Cavaliers. In 2005-06, his first season with Cleveland, Damon was an ironman for the Cavs playing in all 82 games with 6.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. In his second campaign, Damon was selected to the All-Star Game's Three Point Shootout where he didn't win but finished a solid 5th. In his last season, 07-08, Damon shot a Cavalier-best 41.6% from three point range with 6.5 points a contest. Some of his most memorable moments come on the grandest of stages. In a key late-season game in 2006, Damon drilled the winning 3 pointer vs. the Raptors. He would go on to come cold off the bench, having not played a single second, and win Game 6 vs. Washington in the playoffs with a short jumper. Damon finishes 6th in Cavaliers regular season history with 344 three pointers made and 6th with 877 attempted. He finishes 15th in playoff history with 29 games played and 10th with 14 three pointers made. Let's take a look at some of Damon's more memorable moments:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vote Slider for Mascot Hall of Fame!

The Cleveland Indians' very own mascot, Slider, is up for induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame. You can help by going to and registering in one easy step. Choose Slider from the list of Professional Mascots and click vote, it's that easy.


More info

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Byrd Rolls - Does This Affect Indians '08 Rotation?

It seemed inevitable a month ago that Paul Byrd's career as a Cleveland Indian was winding down. The veteran was 3-10 after a loss on the 4th of July with an ERA over 5 and the most HRs allowed in the Major Leagues. Four straight wins later -- with no dingers given up -- the veteran is the hottest name pitcher on the waiver wire trade market. But do the Indians want to give Byrd up? With the trade of C.C. Sabathia, the loss of Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery puts his '09 campaign in question), the up-and-down nature of young hurlers Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers and the recent injury struggles of Fausto Carmona, would the Tribe consider bringing back the savvy Byrd for one, maybe two more seasons? It makes sense from a stability and leadership standpoint. Byrd has been consistent in the last 2+ seasons as an Indian being good for double digit wins and excellent control (230 strikeouts to only 90 walks) while bringing an excellent presence to the clubhouse day in and day out. It also makes sense from a monetary position. After being signed to a 2-year, $14 million contract in 2006, the Tribe picked up Byrd's club option for $7.5 million in 2008. There is no doubt that at 37 years old and towards the end of Byrd's career that he will be cheaper this time around. The simple fact may be that the Indians can't afford to take a chance on minor leaguers such as David Huff or youngsters such as Laffey and Sowers when they are looking to put this disappointing season behind them. Unless Mark Shapiro really feels confident about making a serious run at bringing back Sabathia (who rejected an Indians offer for $19 mil a year earlier this season) or picking up other Brewer ace Ben Sheets, it will probably be a guy like Randy Wolf of the Astros, an aging, relatively cheap back of the rotation starter. Don't we already one of those? Anthony Reyes may have pitched himself into the mix with 6.1 one-run innings, picking up the win in his Tribe debut last week vs. Toronto. However, like Laffey and Sowers, Reyes is young and has struggled in his recent career. If it were up to me, I would make a long run at the man who went 2-0 in last years' playoffs, Paul Byrd. It's not good to maintain roster stability on a team that misses the postseason, but Byrd is a winner, going 32-27 as an Indian. I have no doubt that he would help the Indians as a 4th or 5th starter next season as they look to reach the promised land once again.

My Projected '09 Tribe Starting Rotation

Cliff Lee
Fausto Carmona
Aaron Laffey
Paul Byrd
Jeremy Sowers

Emergency Starters: Anthony Reyes, Adam Miller, David Huff
Disabled List to start season: Jake Westbrook

A lot of things depend on how Sowers and Laffey finish this 2008 season, but I see them having potential breakout years in 09. Reyes is a relative unknown right now but he could easily be in this mix, as could Adam Miller if he could ever stay healthy. David Huff could make an impact as a late-season call-up. Jake Westbrook would probably bump out Laffey or Sowers when/if he returns from the Disabled List.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Browns Preseason Week 1

I was at CBS last night and saw the Browns in action for the first time this year firsthand. A couple random thoughts and some analysis of the game:

  • Derek Anderson looked sharp but actually missed Braylon Edwards on his one-handed TD grab. Braylon came back to the ball and made an excellent play.
  • Jamal ran very hard behind an offensive line that hasn't missed a beat from last season and Jerome Harrison impressed with the 2nd teamers. I think he will pass Jason Wright as Lewis' primary backup with Wright on special teams.
  • It looks like it could be a season where we stop the run two times and give up a third-and-long though the air. The run defense was stout, led by Shaun Rogers at nose, but the DBs looked vulnerable, particularly Brandon McDonald and Terry Cousins.
  • If something ever happened to Josh Cribbs, Syndric Steptoe could fill in nicely. He had an excellent evening returning kicks but missed a Quinn pass that got tipped for an interception. I'm not sure if he will make the team, but Steptoe will be a solid practice squad candidate at worst.
  • Speaking of Quinn, the backup was sharp completing 13 of 17 passes for over 130 yards and leading the 2nd team offense to a TD (Jason Wright 1 yard plunge) against the Jets' first team defense. Ken Dorsey was not so fortunate. Given multiple chances to win the game in the final minutes, Dorsey failed finishing 8-26 on the night.
  • Dave Zastudil concerns me. He didn't have a great season last year after returning from a back injury and had two very mediocre punts in last night's game. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Browns draft a punter this coming offseason, but let's hope we won't need to see much of Zastudil this year.
  • On a final note, let's hope and pray that we receive no further injuries to the offensive line or secondary. From what I saw last night, there is not a lot of depth at either the cornerback or tackle positions.

The Browns' next game will be Monday Night against the Giants on ESPN

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Baxter to Undergo Another Surgery

Just saw a story reporting that Browns DB Gary Baxter has undergone another surgery on his knees, this one an arthroscopic. Baxter had been practicing in training camp for about a week but experienced some soreness starting a few days ago. The usual time-frame for this kind of injury is about a month but for Baxter could be even longer. That time-table would put his return at around the first regular season game, meaning he will miss the entire preseason, if he were to make the team. That chance of making the roster looks shaky at best for the Cleveland Browns or any NFL organization at this point. Perhaps the best shot for Baxter is if the Browns put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list (or PUP). That would make him inactive for the first 6 regular season games while he rehabs and continues to strengthen the knee, while not counting on the 53-man roster. Then when the time comes at Week 7, if a roster move is necessary or if he has proven himself ready, he can join the team.

Certainly not good news from a guy I was rooting for... If only he could have made it to Thursday to get back on that field for the Browns preseason home opener.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lee Wins #15, Makes Case for Cy Young

It took 115 pitches and 7 innings, 5 runs of support and 2 solid relief innings from Rafael Perez but that was enough to give the Indians a win Monday vs. the Rays. Wins these days are few and far between for the disappointing Tribe but this was an even more special one, not necessarily for the team, but for the starting pitcher. The win was Cliff Lee's 15th on the season, tops in baseball and three away from a career high -- in early August. Coupled with only 2 losses and an ERA under 2.60, Cliff is having the best season for an Indians pitcher in almost 30 years and is making his case to be the second Indian in as many seasons to win the Cy Young Award, the most prestigious for a pitcher in all of baseball.

Let's take a look at how Cliff stacks up against other competitors at this point of the season.

Cliff Lee, SP, Indians: 15-2, 2.58 ERA, 127 Ks, 22 BBs, 153.2 innings, 2 CGs, 1 shutout

It's hard to find flaws in anything Cliff Lee has done this year because, well... there aren't any. With an AL-leading 15 wins, AL-low (for starters) 2 losses, and 2nd best 2.58 ERA he has made as strong a case as any for the award. Did I mention his 127 strikeouts to only 22 walks -- a 6-1 ratio?!

Joe Saunders, SP, Angels: 14-5, 3.03 ERA, 70 Ks, 41 BBs, 145.2 innings, 1 CG

Saunders presents probably the greatest challenge to Lee from another starting pitcher with his 14 wins and ERA just over 3, however his 5 losses and subpar strikeout-to-walk ratio will hurt his cause. The fact that he anchors the staff of the best team in baseball will make up for any statistical disadvantages to Cliff Lee, who is on a last-place team.

Mike Mussina, SP, Yankees: 14-7, 3.44 ERA, 90 Ks, 19 BBs, 133.1 innings

Mussina's resurgent season should not be discredited, however some of these statistics may be lying. The Moose has received excellent run support from the Bronx Bombers and has been bailed out by a strong bullpen. He also has 7 losses to his credit. However, 14 wins does stand for a lot as does his excellent control, only 19 walks in 133+ innings. Perhaps he should be in the running for keeping the Yanks in the playoff hunt in the absence of ace Wang.

Juistin Duchscherer, SP, Athletics: 10-7, 2.33 ERA, 78 Ks, 31 BBs, 1 CG, 1 shutout

Duchscherer's trouble is the opposite of Mussina's. He hasn't received anything remotely resembling run support from the A's. With a 2.33 ERA, best in baseball, he will be in the conversation for this award despite his team's lack of help and his average win-loss record. A stretch of 5 or 6 wins to finish out the season would be Duchsherer's only hope.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Red Sox: 12-2, 3.04 ERA, 94 Ks, 64 BBs, 106.2 innings

I will argue against Dice-K winning this award with any Red Sox fan alive, but his stats put him in the conversation. With one of the highest run supports in baseball, Dice-K has won 12 games with only 2 losses despite walking 64 men in 106.2 innings of work. He deserves some credit for pitching out of trouble but has also left some games due for a loss where he team has come back to win. His time on the DL will hurt his case for the Cy Young Award.

Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Angels: 1-2, 2.40 ERA, 51 Ks, 28 BBs, 48.2 IP, 45/48 saves

K-Rod has been the best closer in baseball this season with 45/48 converted save chances, by far the most in baseball. However his relatively high ERA and 1-2 record will count against him as will the question in voters' minds: should a reliever win this award? K-Rod is worthy for certain, but one has to remeber that saves only come from a team being in a save situation, something the Angels have had plenty of this year. Saves can be overrated as well. K-Rod has had a number of those this year with a 3 run lead and even a 1-pitch save against the Indians where he came in up 3 to spell another Angels reliever with 2 outs.

Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees: 4-4, 1.49 ERA, 58 Ks, 5 BBs, 48.1 innings, 26/26 saves

No that isn't a misprint. Mariano Rivera has a 100% save conversion and only 5 walks in 48.1 innings. However, he has been very average in non-save situations, picking up 4 losses that the competing Yankees could not afford. The other thing that will hurt Rivera is that he has 19 fewer saves than the AL leader, Francisco Rodriguez and his team is currently in third place. What will help Rivera? That 26/26 stat and the fact he plays in New York.

Joe Nathan, RP, Twins: 0-0, 1.18 ERA, 49 Ks, 11 BBs, 45.2 innings, 30/32 saves

If you asked my opinion, I'd tell you that Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball. Try telling that to the media. Nathan has yet to pick up a loss on the season, has the best ERA in baseball by any closer at 1.18 and has converted 30/32 save chances. He has been virtually unhittable for the Twins who don't score a lot of runs for him to carry into the 9th. Nathan probably should win this award over the other two closers, but his lack of save opportunities and the fact he plays in Minnesota will hurt him.

My Ballot:

1st Place- Cliff Lee
2nd Place- Joe Saunders
3rd Place- Joe Nathan
4th Place- Francisco Rodriguez
5th Place- Daisuke Matsuzaka

Welcome to the Launchpad

With a name inspired by Cavaliers announcer Michael Reghi, the Launchpad will be a source for everything Cleveland sports with my own unique spin and opinions. Feel free to add your comments to each post by clicking below them. You can subscribe to the blog by checking out the links at the very bottom of the page. Feel free to contact me with questions or opinions.

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