Sunday, June 28, 2009

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello

TRANSACTIONS APLENTY for the Cavs and Tribe over the last two games. Let's take a look at who is coming in and who is going OUT.

First off, the one you all know about, Shaquille O'Neal traded to the Cavs for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, a 2010 2nd round pick and $500,000. Shaq brings his four championship rings to Cleveland with his massive presence in the middle and a natural chemistry with Lebron James. The move will push Z to the bench for the first time in his very solid career and will add some much-needed physicality to the Cavs interior defense.

Sasha Pavlovic ends a career with the Cavs that was up-and-down with minutes that, in my opinion, were unfair to him at times. He had some very memorable moments in the 2006 season including a chase-down block for the ages vs. Jason Kidd in the playoffs, a monster dunk in a home game vs. Miami (I was there!) and helping us a starter to the NBA Finals.

Sasha ranks in the Top-10 in Cavs playoff history in a few statistical categories including 42 games (7th), 26 3 pointers (8th), 76 3 point attempts (8th), and 90 personal fouls (10th). Overall as a Cav he played in 302 games over 4 seasons, scoring 1,843 points and making 207 three pointers.

I will miss Sasha as a still young wingplayer who bought into Mike Brown's system and went from being a defensive liability to one of our best perimeter defenders. If Phoenix releases Sasha and his non-guaranteed contract, I would be open to bringing him back. Good luck with the rest of your promising NBA career, Sasha!

Big Ben Wallace
, whose NBA career may be over, was also included in the trade as mostly a financial piece. Big Ben was in the twilight of his (maybe) Hall of Fame career as one of the best defensive players in league history.

Ben finished 8th in franchise playoff history with 18 blocks and 9th with 50 offensive rebounds. In a season and a half for the Cavs, Wallace played in 78 games and grabbed 526 boards and blocked 110 shots. Big Ben, a team captain, brought a defensive mindset to the Cavs and grabbed some big rebounds in his tenure he. If his NBA career is indeed over, he will have played in 903 games and finished in the Top 100 in some significant All-Time NBA categories including offensive rebounds (2,989 for 22nd), defensive rebounds (6,277 for 24th), total rebounds (9,266 for 41st), steals (1,182 for 73rd) and blocks (1,947 for 17th).

Thanks for everything, Big Ben!

The Indians recently picked reliever Jose Veras off waivers from the Yankees and sent Jensen Lewis down to the minors, a move I have been clamoring for for quite a while. Hopefully he will figure things out down there.

But in the biggest move, they traded Mark DeRosa to St. Louis for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. It was well-known the Tribe were shopping DeRosa, who brings value to a team needing any kind of infielder with a strong bat, and he knows the NL Central well, while playing with the Cubs. Perez is a flame-throwing 23-year old who hopefully will develop into a solid pen arm for a while for the Tribe.

Two teams going in two different directions. The Cavaliers are gearing up for a title run and the Indians... well, they are sellers. Again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Goodbye, Michael Aubrey

The Michael Aubrey experiment in Cleveland has officially ended. Aubrey, the Indians top draft pick (11th overall) in 2003, was traded to Baltimore today for a player to be named later. He had a brief stint in Cleveland last season where he hit .200 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in 15 games. Aubrey was a .295 hitter in 7 seasons the Indians' minor league system including a .292 average with 5 HRs in AAA Columbus this year. Injuries ravaged Aubrey's young career but he appears to be healthy now. With the Indians log-jam at 1B, je was removed from the 40-man roster last spring but cleared waivers and was sent to AAA. Aubrey will probably never be a power hitting 1B, but with a high average and great defense, could be a poor-man's Sean Casey.

Good luck with your career, Michael!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Indians Roster Updates

Here's how my "master plan" (which may be too late) to fix the Indians now looks with some changes. Sizemore was up for Crowe this afternoon with Sipp up for DFAed Vizcaino. Greg Aquino cleared waivers and is back in Columbus.

UPDATE/CHANGES: (until we officially start selling)

Tony Sipp UP (a lefty that can actually get people out) - CHECK
Vizcaino DFAed - CHECK
Sizemore back to CF, Crowe back down to AAA - CHECK
Greg Aquino DFAed (maybe sneak him back to AAA) - CHECK ON BOTH

When Laffey comes back FROM INJURY...
Jensen Lewis DOWN (work on things because not getting important innings up here)
Sowers TO BULLPEN (long relief, best suited for at this point)

Chris Gimenez DOWN (more AAA experience, no help up here)
Jordan Brown UP (get Brown some starts in LF, less Francisco and Crowe)

Asdrubal Cabrera back to SS FROM INJURY
Valbuena utility, Peralta full-time 3B, Barfield back to AAA

Betancourt back to pen FROM INJURY
Pick 1 from Gosling/Perez/Scott Lewis as 2nd lefty in pen, other two to AAA

Trade Shoppach, Wyatt Toregas UP FROM AAA

Jake Westbrook back to rotation FROM INJURY
Ohka/Huff (back to AAA, if Ohka can clear waivers)

Last-Chance Lineup/Rotation (by Mid-July):

SS Cabrera

CF Sizemore

C Martinez

RF Choo

LF DeRosa

DH Hafner

1B Garko

3B Peralta

2B Carroll

Bench: Toregas, Brown, Valbuena, Francisco


Bullpen: Herges, Joe Smith, Sowers, Sipp, Perez/Scott Lewis/Gosling, Betancourt, Wood

Guys worth keeping an eye on in AAA:

Jensen Lewis, Masa Kobayashi, Andy Marte, Michael Aubrey, Matt LaPorta, Trevor Crowe, Greg Aquino, Tomo Ohka, Chris Gimenez

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cavs Ranked NBA's 19th Best

John Hollinger of recently ranked the 30 NBA franchises based on historical results. The Cavs, thanks in large part to the last six years, ranked 19th/30.

Wins: 1,460
Playoff wins: 64
Series wins: 13
Titles: 0 All-Stars: 30
Best player: LeBron James
Best coach: Lenny Wilkens
Best team: 2008-09 (66-16, lost in conf. finals)

Contrary to popular belief, the story of the Cleveland Cavaliers does not begin with the selection of LeBron James in the 2003 draft; it doesn't even begin with their winning the NBA draft lottery. No, the Cavs were a real, live NBA team for three decades before that. Unfortunately, most of that time was spent near the bottom of the standings.

The Cavs joined the league in 1970-71 and produced the "Miracle at Richfield" in 1976 when the team made the Eastern Conference finals after having never won a playoff series or had a winning record. But that would be the Cavs' only playoff series win in their first two decades of existence.

• Cleveland Cavaliers (1970-present)
Instead, the Cavs became synonymous with the incompetent ownership of Ted Stepien, who caused the league to establish the rule that a team can't trade draft picks in consecutive years in order to thwart his destructive tendencies.

Eventually he sold the team, and the Cavs built a very solid club in the early 1990s ... just in time to be repeatedly victimized by Michael Jordan. Led by Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Ron Harper, the Cavs won 57 games in 1989 and 1992 and 54 in 1993, but Jordan's Bulls beat them all three times -- most infamously on the shot by Jordan over Craig Ehlo at the buzzer of Game 5 of the first-round series in 1989.
After a couple of playoff series wins in the mid-1990s, things were quiet until James' chapter began. He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 with an epic outburst in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, but the overmatched Cavs were swept by San Antonio in the Finals. They were much better in 2009, with 66 games and an MVP award for James, but were foiled by Orlando in six games in the conference finals.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moves to Help Tribe

My moves to help fix this awfully below-average Indians team:

Rich Rundles, Tony Sipp UP (a lefty that can actually get people out)

Jensen Lewis DOWN (work on things because not getting PT up here)

Greg Aquino DFAed (maybe sneak him back to AAA)

Chris Gimenez DOWN (more AAA experience, no help up here)

Jordan Brown UP (get Brown some starts in LF, less Francisco and Crowe)

More starts for Barfield at 2B (hitting well this year)

After Injured Return

Laffey to the rotation, Ohka back down to AAA

Cabrera back to SS, Valbuena back to AAA, Peralta full-time 3B

Betancourt back to pen, Vizcaino DFAed

Sizemore back to CF, Crowe back down to AAA

Scott Lewis up to the bullpen if needed (Perez to AAA)*

Jake Westbrook back to rotation, Huff/Sowers back to AAA

Last-Chance Lineup/Rotation (by Mid-July)

SS Cabrera

CF Sizemore

C Martinez

RF Choo

LF DeRosa

DH Hafner

1B Garko/Shoppach

3B Peralta

2B Carroll

Bench: Garko/Shoppach, Brown, Valbuena OR Barfield, Francisco






Bullpen: Herges, Joe Smith, Rich Rundles, Sipp, Perez or Scott Lewis, Betancourt, Wood

Guys that may play themselves back onto the team from AAA

Jensen Lewis, Masa Kobayashi, Andy Marte, Michael Aubrey, Matt LaPorta, Crowe, Huff/Sowers, Perez/Scott Lewis

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rex Hadnot Saves Browns

Browns finish camp on positive note
Zac Jackson, Staff Writer

As Rex Hadnot stood on the 10-yard line Saturday afternoon, all that stood between the Browns and summer vacation was one catch.

Eric Mangini ended the Browns' morning minicamp practice by making his players a deal. If an offensive lineman could catch a punt -- or if a defensive lineman could catch a kickoff -- minicamp would be over. Meetings would be cancelled. So, too, would the last practice session.

So the players chose Hadnot, and he jogged towards the goal line. Dave Zastudil's first punt missed him, but it was deemed a warmup. Hadnot caught the next kick and was mobbed by his teammates.

"He nailed the second one," Mangini said.

"I took a little spin off it the second time," Zastudil said. "I know there was a lot riding on that catch."

Mangini joked that though he wasn't sure about Hadnot's run-after-catch ability, he'd see about adding the guard/center to the list of punt return prospects.

THAT'S A WRAP -- There won't be any returns (or drills, or 7-on-7's, for that matter) in Berea for the next month-plus. The end of minicamp marks the end of the offseason program. The veterans will report back July 31, and the Browns will open training camp Aug. 1.

"I told the guys, ‘You don't want to just head off to the beach, throw on some suntan lotion and pick up a book,'" Mangini said. "The book you want to pick up, if you are, is the playbook. You want to be studying and making the information that you have been given just second nature. So now you are not thinking, you are reacting and you are playing, and your true ability comes out and you give yourself the best chance to be successful.

"The same thing physically, you need to maintain the level of fitness that you have currently and improve upon it, because it is a challenge, physically, during camp and then moving into the season. Those were points of emphasis that I worked on and talked about with them this morning. I've just seen a lot of progress in the past in this block of time, and hopefully we will see the same progress here."

FINISHING STRONG - The Browns' final practice of the spring was heavy on situational work - two-minute offense, four-minute offense, and scenarios that forced the offense to drive 30 yards and kick a field goals in some situations, and in others the offense needed 60 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

"I could see the progress," Mangini said. "I could see it in the situational awareness, the things that we did today. A lot of practice was winning plays and two-point plays. Everything was scripted that way.

"I saw a lot of progress in situational awareness from (previous) days to here this morning. There are definitely a lot of things to be encouraged about."

THUMBS UP - Robaire Smith, who's been rehabbing from a torn Achilles that ended his 2008 season last September, said he's encouraged with his progress and hopes to be back on the field for training camp.

"I'm just working hard to get back," he said. "I feel good, so we'll see. There's a lot of energy out there and I'm just trying to be a part of it. It's up to the doctors and the trainers, but I'm going to keep working and following their lead."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brown on Hot Seat - Replacements?

By now, I'm sure you've all heard that Mike Brown is on the hot-seat in Cleveland. Rumors from ESPN say that Dan Gilbert and other higher-ups not named Danny Ferry believe Brown was badly out-coached by Stan Van and needs to go.

My two cents:

Rick Carlisle was ousted after winning Coach of the Year in Detroit so there certainly is precedent.

I feel like we were out-coached and Brown was outsmarted by SVG in that series and that the bench was used very wrong. Unless we can get a committed star coach (Riley and Larry Brown do NOT qualify for the "committed" part) I wouldn't make a change however.

A first year or young coach would be a terrible fit. I wonder what Rudy Tomjanovich is doing these days. Don Nelson, despite his lack-of-defense style would be an excellent fit. He is great with rotations and is loved by his players. He has also never really had a superstar player and you can bet he'd jump at the chance to coach Lebron. I'd also accept George Karl if he's willing to leave Denver, Mike Fratello if he gets his personal life cleared up and maybe even a guy like Del Harris.

Here's a stretch, perhaps Jerry Sloan or Rick Adelman would be ready to jump off their sinking ships to win that elusive title with LBJ in Cleveland. They can bring Carlos Boozer or Yao Ming with them, too. :D