Friday, June 25, 2010

Rivalry Building Between Browns, Jets

The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have had an interesting history. Cleveland topped New York in the first Monday Night Football game ever and in double overtime in the 1986 playoffs. However, since that exciting Bernie Kosar-led victory, the franchises have gone in different directions. While the Jets haven't been the model of an NFL franchise, they have reached the NFL playoffs a number of times in the last decade and have been far from the disaster our Browns were.

Now it seems, the two franchises are linked once more. First, Cleveland hired Empire State-hated Eric Mangini from the Jets. Then, they traded mercurial wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the Big Apple. And now, the teams find themselves opposite one another on the 2010 schedule. A fact not lost on Edwards (see below). Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York. If the Browns win only five games this season, those are the ones I want.


Braylon Edwards can't wait to play the Lions, Browns (from
Posted by Mike Florio on June 24, 2010 9:52 AM ET

Braylon Edwards is launching his first full season as a member of the New York Jets. And he has circled on the calendar games against teams that reside in much smaller cities.

The Lions and the Browns.

Per Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, Edwards looks forward to his November 7 return to Michigan. "I'm excited to play back home," Edwards recently said. "It'll be fun because I have so much family here that supports me. So I can't wait for them to get a chance to come to the game."

The next week, he returns to his adopted home.

"Seven days later is the game I'm worried about," Edwards said. "We go to Cleveland. You know I've got a little chip on my shoulder the size of the golden nugget. So I can't wait to go out there."

Edwards may want to think twice about that one. We hear that the 130-pound guy he beat up last year on his way out of Ohio has been working out. Word is that he's already up to 140.

Five more and he can definitely take Braylon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vote Choo!

Vote Shin-Soo Choo to the American League All-Star Team:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Look Back on a Cavalier Decade

Courtesy of, great feature


June 8, 2010
Deciphering the Decade

For the first time in several summers, the Cavaliers are a team totally in flux. On Tuesday afternoon, owner Dan Gilbert will announce Chris Grant as the team’s new general manager. But there are still questions to be answered after that.

So, while we ponder the Wine and Gold’s future, decided to take a look at the past – a thumbnail sketch of the previous decade of Cavaliers basketball.

From the franchise’s early depths to their recent heights, a decade is a lot to capsulize, so we tried to get it done in under 1,000 words.

So, in 982 words, here is an abridged version of the last ten years, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers …

… began the decade by naming Mark Price, Austin Carr, Shawn Kemp, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty members of the 30th Anniversary team.

…witnessed Akron native LeBron James’ incredible brilliance – becoming the first Cavalier to be named Most Valuable Player (twice). In seven years – beginning with a 25-point 9-assist night in Sacramento on Oct. 29, 2003 – James has already established Hall of Fame accomplishments, leading the Cavaliers franchise to unprecedented heights.

… clinched their division for the first time in 33 years in March, 2009 – eventually taking the Central by 25 games and repeating the next season by a 15-game margin.

… reached the NBA Finals in 2007 for the first time in franchise history – topping their nemesis Detroit Pistons in six games behind LeBron James’ heroic 49-point effort in Motown and Daniel Gibson’s second-half explosion in Game 6 at The Q. Unfortunately, Cleveland was swept in four games by the Spurs in the Finals.

… were purchased in March 2005 by Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans – who shortly thereafter invested over $30 million in Quicken Loans Arena renovations, as well as upgrades to the Cavaliers executive offices and the development of the Cleveland Clinic Courts.

…saw Paul Pierce get in a mid-game shooting contest with Moondog, saw Ricky Davis shoot at the wrong basket in order to get a triple-double, and watched Drew Gooden grow a “Gucci patch” on the back of his head.

… were presided over by three General Managers – Wayne Embry, Jim Paxson and Danny Ferry.

… opened a brand new 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art player development facility – the Cleveland Clinic Courts – in Independence.

… sported two totally different uniforms and color schemes in the decade – and donned as many as five different threads in 2009-10 alone.

…featured players named Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Smush Parker, Flip Murray and Zendon Hamilton – as well as a Yogi (Stewart), a Jiri (Welsch), a Bimbo (Coles), and a Bruno (Sundov).

… saw players hit some of the biggest and most dramatic shots in franchise history – Damon Jones’ 18-foot series-clinching baseline jumper in Game 6 against Washington in 2006, giving Cleveland its first trip to the Second Round in 12 years and LeBron James’ game-winning three-pointer against Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals at The Q.

…watched Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James rewrite the record books – leaving only field goal percentage (Mark West, .533), defensive rebounds (Brad Daugherty, 4,020) and Mark Price’s 3-pt. field goals made (802) and his all-time assists marks (4,206) still intact.

…compiled Playoff records against: Detroit (11-6), Washington (12-4), Chicago (4-1), Atlanta (4-0), Boston (5-8) and San Antonio (0-4)

…watched LeBron James become the first Cavalier since their first year in existence to score 50 points when he dropped 56 on Toronto in 2005. He’s scored 50 or more in seven games since.

…saw Andre Miller become the first Cavalier to lead the league in assists in 2001-02 – averaging 10.9 helpers per contest on a team that finished 16th in the league in scoring.

…knocked the Washington Wizards out of the First Round of the playoffs in three straight seasons.

…knocked the Chicago Bulls out of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

…saw one player leave the Cavaliers and proceed to win the Euroleague Championship (Trajan Langdon) and signed another who won two Euroleague titles (Anthony Parker) before coming to Cleveland.

…won the 2003 Draft Lottery in Secaucus, New Jersey when the four ping-pong balls pulled from the tumbler added up to “23.”

…welcomed Tractor Traylor and Joe Smith back for two tours of duty.

…were jilted by Carlos Boozer in July, 2004, but proceeded to make lemonade from lemons – trading Tony Battie and a second-round choice for Drew Gooden, Steven Hunter and 2010 All-Defensive first teamer, Anderson Varejao.

…saw Andre Miller turn in the Cavaliers’ first four double-doubles of the 21st century, with LeBron James notching the next 34.

… began the century with Danny Ferry as a ballplayer and a 25-year-old center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, considering retirement after playing just one full season. Both still had hair.

…had only one player in the last decade turn in a 20-point/20-rebound game: Carlos Boozer, who did so twice.

…traveled to China in the summer of 2007 – taking on the Orlando Magic in Shanghai and Macao.

… saw Mike Brown become the only Cavaliers coach besides Bill Fitch in 1976 to be named “Coach of the Year.”

… selected these players in the first-round this decade: Jamal Crawford (2000), DeSagana Diop (2001), Dajuan Wagner (2002), LeBron James (2003), Luke Jackson (2004), Shannon Brown (2006), J.J. Hickson (2008) and Christian Eyenga (2009).

…averaged 11,497 fans per contest with two total sellouts in 2002-03. In 2009-10, they averaged 20,562 – selling out every game of the season.

… have had three players make the All-Star Game in the past ten years. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who made two trips – in 2003 and 2005. Mo Williams, who made his first mid-season classic appearance in 2009, joining LeBron James, who played in his sixth All-Star Game in 2010. LeBron was named All-Star MVP twice (2006 in Houston and 2008 in New Orleans).

…featured some local products like Jawad Williams, J.R. Bremer, Earl Boykins, Eric Snow and, of course, LeBron James.

… dealt for a four-time Defensive Player of the Year (Ben Wallace) and four-time NBA Champion (Shaquille O’Neal).

…lost 65 games in one season (2002-03) and won 66 in another (2008-09). In the 66-win season, the Cavaliers won one less game in March (16) than they did all season (17) in the campaign before landing LeBron.

…have seen six coaches come and go, including Randy Wittman (62-102), John Lucas (37-87), Keith Smart (9-31), Paul Silas (69-77), Brendan Malone (8-10) and Mike Brown (272-138).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Concerned About Gilbert

For all the money Dan Gilbert has spent, all the wins the Cavaliers have accumulated since he took over as majority owner, all the success of this franchise, I'm afraid that in the end his presence may be a curse.

The ousting of Mike Brown and Danny Ferry, two solid, well-respected basketball people, in an obvious attempt to gain more power for himself, reeks of egomanical pro sports owners Daniel Snyder and Mark Cuban (and their zero combined championships).

I'm concerned with the fact that Gilbert doesn't know basketball, but he knows $$ and will do anything to keep LeBron. Do you hear that Cleveland? To keep LeBron. That's a good thing right? Well, partially. There is no guarantee that if LeBron re-signs we will be a better team than we were under Ferry and Brown. And I know that in the end, all us true fans really want is a championship.

Brown and Ferry wanted to build a defensive team but trades for Williams and Antawn Jamison (who truly pulled the trigger on those?) seemed to set the team back on that end of the floor. I suspect Gilbert and James had quite a bit of say there and that Ferry and Brown, the two people whose say matters most, didn't.

But the straw that broke the camel's back for me is the Tom Izzo rumor. This potential hiring is preposterous. Upon hearing the rumor, I immediately made the Gilbert-Michigan connection and realized that he is hiring people he thinks will be good NBA people, not people who are considered by the league to be good NBA people. What background does Izzo have coaching professionals? At least Coach K of Duke won an Olympic gold medal coaching with James.

Gilbert may have the deepest pockets this side of the Mississippi, but we've seen in that past that that doesn't equal winning. I'm just concerned that if things continue the way they are, that whether LeBron re-signs or not, we won't be any better off than we were the last 7 years.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wild Night in Comerica

The Cleveland Indians have never had a perfect game thrown against them. For years after last night's ballgame, decades perhaps, baseball fans will ask whether that statement remains true or not.

The game itself will be talked about and analyzed ad nauseum, but I want to take a look at it from the perspective of a Cleveland Indians fan. Obviously, I was rooting for the Tribe to get a baserunner and break up the perfecto, but when Austin Jackson made that amazing Willie Mays catch (1950s Tribe fans shudder at the sight), I knew it was meant to be. But not like that. I didn't want Armando Galarraga to lose his once-in-a-lifetime outing on a blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce (not to be confused with the famous Irish author by the same name). At that point, I was confused. I immediately understood the impact that call would have on Joyce for the rest of his life, and based on his postgame comments, he did too.

At this point, it's bigger than the Indians keeping their decades long streak of not being "perfected." It was about a man being able to live his life without shame and regret, a journeyman pitcher being recognized as one of a group of 21 all-time, and a sport instituting instant replay. There was no instant replay last night, but hopefully Bud Selig will do what needs to be done: reverse the call. It would certainly be the right thing to do. And I'm sure Jason Donald wouldn't mind. He'll have plenty of infield singles in his future.


Three-fifths of the Indians starting rotation gives the team a chance to win every night. Unfortunately for Tribe fans, the other two-fifths have been plain awful. David Huff and Justin Masterson, a combined 2-11 on the season with a ballooning combined 5.50+ ERA may still be a part of the Indians future. But I really don't want to see them in the present.

Luckily, the Tribe brass sent reliever Aaron Laffey down to Columbus to be stretched out as a starter. The idea was that he would replace Justin Masteron in the rotation, who would either be sent to AAA as a starter or moved to the bullpen. But after Masterson's strong outing in Yankee Stadium and David Huff's disastrous last two outings (sandwiched by a line drive to the head off the bat of Alex Rodriguez), I'm beginning to think he deserves a few more chances.

It's time to send Huff (a pitcher I think was rushed to the majors last year anyway) to Columbus to work on his mechanics and give Masterson a couple more starts with Laffey in the mix. If Masterson continues to struggle, it's time to move him and his electric stuff to the bullpen where I envision him as a back-end setup man. We certainly could use a couple of those. As for replacements in AAA? Yohan Pino, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrassco or even Jeremy Sowers could get a look.

I do know one thing: we can't keep sending out this group of five starters if we want to finish out of the basement of the AL Central.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Someone Tell Me What Just Happened

Not in Game 5. Not in Game 4. But throughout this entire series.

When did Rajon Rondo become Bob Cousy? Is LeBron injured, tanking or just playing bad? How is Mike Brown making Doc Rivers look like Jerry Sloan?

And the biggest question: why us?

I believe it is a 98% chance we go home after Game 6, LeBron leaves, etc.

But here are two interesting notes. I won't elaborate on them, just bring them to light.

1. Orlando was down 3-2 to Boston last year

2. In order to break their curse, the Red Sox needed to dig down when all the chips were off the table and come back from 0-3 against their biggest rivals, the New York Yankees

2% is better than 0%

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cleveland Browns 2010 Draft

2010 Browns NFL Draft

1st Round: Wanted: Eric Berry (taken at #5)
Revised: trade down, but if not: Derrick Morgan or Joe Haden
Actual: Joe Haden (My Grade: B+)
-would have preferred a trade-down after Berry was taken but Haden fills a major need

2nd Round: Wanted: Sergio Kindle, Taylor Mays, Golden Tate (all available at #38)
Actual: T.J. Ward (My Grade: C)
-I like the position, safety. big hitter, but everything fans don’t want to see from a draft pick in the second round: a bit of a reach with major injury concerns.
Montario Hardesty (My Grade: B-)
-will provide solid 1-2 punch with Jerome Harrison, decent value pick

3rd Round: Colt McCoy (My Grade: B+)
-I’m not a fan of McCoy as our franchise QB but it was worth the risk this late in the draft

Shawn Lauvao (My Grade: B-)
-I like the pick of a guard with Lauvao but think there may have been better options at his position.

5th Round: Larry Asante (My Grade: B)
-for a 5th round pick this guy has a ton of potential and talent. Not sure if he’ll ever get it right though but not a bad risk. Adds depth to the secondary and special teams

6th Round: Carlton Mitchell (My Grade: A-)
-this may turn out to be the best pick of this draft. Mitchell has been compared by draft guru Mel Kiper to Brandon Marshall and he has the athleticism and hands to be a steal of a wide receiver. Some outlets had him as high as a late 2nd round pick going into the draft

Clifton Geathers (My Grade: B)
-I know little about Geathers but he appears to have some raw athleticism as a 3-4 pass rusher. Not a bad pick to fill an area of need

Overall Draft Grade: B+
-I feel a ton better after this draft than last year (I wonder what changed?). We got a legitimate #1 corner with Haden, successfully overcoming the theft of Eric Berry by the Chiefs. T.J Ward was a puzzling pick but he is a huge hitter with potential if he stays healthy. Hardesty had only one good year at Tennessee but I liked what I saw from him as a compliment to Jerome. McCoy may be our franchise QB and if not, we only used a late 3rd round pick on him. Lauvao adds depth to the line and Geathers to the linebacking core. Asante has a chance to be very good and Carlton Mitchell may be this year’s Marques Colston. Only time will tell for this draft with a lot of “maybe” great players, but at the least I expect to see a lot of Haden and Hardesty in 2010-11.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Indians Trade Prospects - Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?

Indians prospects acquired in trades in 2008-09.

Acquired for: CC Sabathia

1B/OF Matt LaPorta- Cleveland (MLB), 25 years old, .252 average, 7 HR, 22 RBI in 61 career games

P Rob Bryson- Lake County (Low-A), 23 years old, 2-0 in relief, 3.86 ERA, 8 Ks, 1 BB

P Zach Jackson- traded to Toronto for Player to be Named Later

OF Michael Brantley- Cleveland (MLB), 23 years old, .284 average, 13 runs scored in 36 career games

Acquired for: Casey Blake

C Carlos Santana- Columbus (AAA), 24 years old, .417 average, 4 HRs, 14 RBI in 10 games

Acquired for: Paul Byrd

OF Mickey Hall- I can't find Mickey at the moment, he isn't on any of the minor league rosters and may be injured. Spent last season mostly at AA Akron

Acquired for: Mark DeRosa

P Jess Todd, Columbus (AAA), 24 years old, 6.75 ERA, 0-0 record, 5 Ks, 1 BB in 4 games out of pen, spent parts of 2009-10 in Cleveland

Acquired for: Ryan Garko

P Scott Barnes, Akron (AA), 23 years old, 0-1, 3.24 ERA, 4 Ks, 4 BBs in 2 starts

Acquired for: Rafael Betancourt

P Connor Graham, Akron (AA), 25 years old, 0-1, 10.61 ERA, 6 Ks, 8 BBs in 2 starts

Acquired for: Cliff Lee

P Carlos Carrasco- Columbus (AAA), 23 years old, 1-0, 2.92 ERA, 12 Ks, 6 BBs in 2 starts

IF Jason Donald- Columbus (AAA), 26 years old, .333 average, 10 runs in 10 games

C Lou Marson- Cleveland (MLB), 24 years old, .219 average, 6 RBI, in 29 career games

P Jason Knapp- Arizona (extended Spring Training), 19 years old, will be rostered later in the year

Acquired for: Victor Martinez

P Justin Masterson- Cleveland (MLB), 25 years old, 10-16, 3.90 ERA, 201 Ks, 102 BBs in 80 career games

P Nick Hagadone- Kinston (High-A), 24 years old, 0.00 ERA, 0-1 record, 8 Ks, 3 BBs in 2 starts

P Bryan Price- Akron (AA), 23 years old, 7.71 ERA, 0-2 record, 9 Ks, 3 BBs in 2 starts

Acquired for: Carl Pavano

P Yohan Pino- Columbus (AAA), 26 years old, 1.50 ERA, 2-0 record, 11 Ks, 2 BBs in 2 starts

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Path to Redemption

Chicago. Boston. Orlando. Los Angeles.

Four of the Cavaliers biggest rivals in the last 20 years and also their four likely opponents en route to a potential NBA Championship. This is our season, but it is also our path to redemption.

Chicago: Michael Jordan may be gone, but the sting of his "Shot" remains. Chicago has one coming for them for all the years of Jordan's bullying us around.

Boston: the taste of 2008's Eastern Semifinals is still a bitter one on my and many Cavs' fans tongues. The Celtics 15 bazillion NBA titles make them as hateable team as any.

Orlando: the biggest challenge to the Cavs in the East deserve some payback after last season's ECF upset.

Los Angeles: one of the greatest franchises in sports history, LeBron can silence his critics forever by beating Kobe in the Finals.

These are the four I want. GO CAVS!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Browns Land Two Starters in Trade

Good trade for the Browns. We give up two late round picks that we don't need (10 more on hand) and a linebacker whom Mangini and his staff didn't seem to like for a former Pro Bowl corner who still has some gas left in the tank at 31 years old and a young OLB with potential who will likely step in on the other side of Matt Roth.

This trade, and all of the Browns offseason moves, aren't flashy but they are solid and will go a long way towards "Building the Browns."


Eagles CB Brown traded to Cleveland news services
Philadelphia Trades CB Brown To Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- While their best defensive player was still in jail, the Cleveland Browns got some help for one of the NFL's worst units.

The Browns acquired cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Alex Hall and two draft picks on Friday. The fourth- and fifth-round selections are the Nos. 105 and 137 overall in this month's three-day draft.

Brown and Cleveland promptly restructured his contract, a league source told ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.

NFC East blog

Mosley's Matt Mosley writes about all things NFC East in his division blog.

• Blog network: NFL Nation

The Browns did not give Brown a boost in pay. But they converted a chunk of the money he had left on the last three years of his contract into guaranteed money paid in a signing bonus and added incentives.

Thus, Brown still has the three years left on his original contract, but a good portion has been paid out, the source told Schefter.

The trade was announced as Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers -- a three-time Pro Bowler -- was being held after his arrest for trying to carry a loaded handgun onto a plane; he was charged later Friday with a fourth-degree felony and released later in the day on $1,000 bond.

. But time stops for nothing in the NFL, and the Browns agreed to terms of the deal pending physicals.

A Browns spokesman confirmed the trade but said the team will not comment until the physicals are completed.

Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert, who spent the previous four seasons as Philadelphia's GM, returned to his roots to continue an overhaul of the Browns' defense, which ranked last in the AFC last season and gave up less yardage than only the Detroit Lions.

Brown, a former Pro Bowler who hasn't missed a game since becoming a full-time starter in 2004, likely will move into Cleveland's starting lineup on the opposite side of Eric Wright, who made 16 starts last season at left cornerback. Brandon McDonald made six starts on the right side, with Mike Adams getting the other six.

Brown wanted a new contract from Philadelphia last season, and despite his unhappiness over the contract, Brown played through a hamstring injury last year and recorded a career-best five interceptions.

A second-round pick in 2002, he and Lito Sheppard replaced veterans Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor after the 2003 season. They played a key role in helping the Eagles reach the 2005 Super Bowl.

Gocong started 35 games in four seasons with Philadelphia. He had just signed a one-year deal.

"Sheldon Brown has been a very good football player for the Eagles over the last eight years," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's a good person, a legitimate tough guy and he'll do a good job helping the Browns. Chris did a good job converting from defensive end to linebacker and helped us win a lot of football games. We wish both of them all of the best."

Coming off a 5-11 season under first-year coach Eric Mangini, Heckert and new team president Mike Holmgren have been busy reshaping the Browns. Hall's departure follows those of quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, the team's top pass rusher.

The Browns reached when they selected Hall out of Division II St. Augustine in the seventh round in 2008. Physically gifted, he showed promise in recording three sacks as a rookie but mostly played on special teams last season and finished with just four tackles.

"Alex Hall is a big, athletic linebacker who we've had our eyes on over the last couple of years and he'll have a chance to compete at the SAM linebacker spot," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.

The Browns still have 10 picks in the draft, but the arrival of Brown could change their early round strategy. The team has shown a strong interest in Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Florida cornerback Joe Haden and has visits planned with both players.

Brown is the latest veteran to depart Philadelphia this offseason. Former All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook, former All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews, linebacker Will Witherspoon, defensive end Darren Howard and wide receiver Kevin Curtis were released.

Despite that trend, Roseman insisted the Eagles aren't rebuilding after an 11-5 finish and playoff loss to Dallas.

"We're trying to win, we're always trying to win," Roseman said. "For us, this was a football decision. We're excited about some of the players on our team and we're excited about the quality of this draft."

Ellis Hobbs, acquired last year from New England, steps into Brown's spot. Hobbs is coming off neck surgery and probably will have to win the starting role in training camp. He started every game when the Patriots went 16-0 in 2007.

"It's an opportunity for Ellis Hobbs to step up and contribute to our defense," Roseman said. "We like Ellis Hobbs. We think he's a good starting corner in this league and we feel we have other players on this team that can step into that spot and contribute."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was used in this report.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cleveland Indians 2010 Outlook

Best case scenario: Fausto Carmona, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore all revert back to their strong form of years past, Jake Westbrook is fully recovered, Justin Masterson and David Huff/Aaron Laffey have career years and Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and the other youngsters continue to improve. New manager Manny Acta better reaches Latin holdovers Jhonny Peralta and Rafael Perez than Eric Wedge did and the bullpen comes together. 83-88 wins, contend for division

Wost case scenario: Carmona and Perez become lost causes, Sizemore and Westbrook have lingering effects from injuries and the young starters don't step up to the challenge. Chris Perez can't handle the role of closer and Acta has little change on the club. With the team out of it in June, Peralta, Westbrook and other veterans with lengthy contracts are shopped. 65-70 wins, bottom feeders in division.

Realistic scenario: the team makes strides under Acta and several of the young players come into their own. While the future looks bright, the present will have to settle for mediocre: 75 wins, middle of the pack in division.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Indians Brass Choose All-2000s Team

Great article and I honestly agree with almost every choice. I would have given the 5th starter spot to Paul Byrd over Carmona.



2000s a 'decade of extremes' for Indians
Club wins two division titles, finishes below .500 five times

By Anthony Castrovince /

03/17/10 11:00 AM ET

CLEVELAND -- The 2000s were a drastic decade for the Indians.

The Tribe entered the decade riding the last wave of its 1990s renaissance period, when division titles became par for the course and record numbers of fans came through the turnstiles at Jacobs Field.

By the end of the decade, it was Progressive Field, and the selling of the naming rights was just one of many changes. The team had undergone an overhaul, on the field and off. The Dolan family bought the organization from Dick Jacobs, Mark Shapiro took the general manager's reins from John Hart, and a total rebuild reinvented the way business was done at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

When all was said and done, the Tribe teams of the 2000s won 90 games or more four times and captured the American League Central crown in 2001 and '07. But they also fell below .500 five times.

"It was," team radio voice Tom Hamilton said, "a decade of extremes."

The decade was the topic of discussion during a bus trip to Columbus on the Tribe's winter Press Tour in January. Aboard the bus were Hamilton, vice president of public relations Bob DiBiasio and director of media relations Bart Swain, and asked the three men to pore over a list of players at each position from 2000-09 and select the Indians' All-Decade Team.

Two other men who watched this club, night in and night out, for the duration of the decade -- Shapiro and Plain Dealer beat reporter Paul Hoynes -- weren't on the bus but were surveyed separately.

The goal was to come to a consensus. Which players' contributions within that 10-season period ranked above the rest at their position? We wanted to pick five starters, one setup man, one closer, three outfielders and one player at every other position, including DH.

While the answers were fairly obvious at most spots, there were a few head-scratchers in the mix. Here's a full rundown, and keep in mind that only the 2000-09 seasons were taken into consideration:

Indians All-Decade team
POS Player
C Victor Martinez
1B Jim Thome
2B Roberto Alomar
SS Omar Vizquel
3B Casey Blake
OF Grady Sizemore
OF Kenny Lofton
OF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Travis Hafner
SP CC Sabathia
SP Cliff Lee
SP Bartolo Colon
SP Jake Westbrook
SP Fausto Carmona
SU Rafael Betancourt
CL Bob Wickman
MGR Eric Wedge


We began with the starting pitching, where left-handers CC Sabathia (106-71 with a 3.83 ERA in 237 starts) and Cliff Lee (83-48, 4.01 ERA in 178 starts) -- the Tribe's first Cy Young Award winners since Gaylord Perry in 1972 -- were no-brainers.

But the panel was asked to select a full, five-man rotation, and it wasn't easy.

Hamilton looked at the list of candidates -- including Paul Byrd, Fausto Carmona, Bartolo Colon, Chuck Finley, Kevin Millwood and Jake Westbrook -- and asked, "Can we maybe go with a four-man rotation?"

In the end, Colon (39-24, 3.67 ERA in 80 starts) and Westbrook (63-62, 4.25 ERA in 158 starts) received votes from all five panel members. But there was dissension about that fifth spot. The majority went with Carmona (33-37, 4.69 ERA in 85 starts), by virtue of his 19-win season in 2007.

"You can make the argument that he should have been the Cy Young winner [over Sabathia] that year," Hamilton said.

Swain added: "His start against the Yankees [in Game 2 of the '07 AL Division Series] was as good as you'll see."

Hoynes, however, went with Byrd (32-27, 4.68 ERA in 84 starts).

"I just think he was an underrated guy," Hoynes said. "I looked at his stats, and I liked the way he pitched in the '07 postseason. He was a gritty guy, and he was exactly what they needed -- a veteran guy in the middle of the rotation to pull it together."

Shapiro, meanwhile, went with Millwood, by virtue of his 2005 season in which he went 9-11 with a league-leading 2.86 ERA in 30 starts, and the way he became a mentor to a young pitching staff.

"He had a dominant year," Shapiro said, "and he made a lasting impact on CC at a pivotal point for our team."

Setup man

The panel had no problem coming to a consensus on this one. Right-hander Rafael Betancourt (23-22, 3.25 ERA in 371 games) was a unanimous choice over the likes of Danys Baez, Bob Howry, Steve Karsay, David Riske and Paul Shuey.

"People didn't appreciate how good he was," Hamilton said of Betancourt.


This was another easy call. The group unanimously chose Bob Wickman (8-16, 3.23 ERA, 139 saves in 255 games) over Joe Borowski (5-8, 5.57 ERA, 51 saves in 87 games). Borowski led the league in saves and helped guide the Tribe to the division title in '07, but Wickman established himself as the club's all-time saves leader.

"It wasn't always pretty," Hoynes said, "but he always seemed to get the job done."


Absolute no-brainer here. Victor Martinez first came up to the big leagues in 2002, became a regular in '03 and eventually grew to become the face of the franchise before he was traded to the Red Sox last season. V-Mart hit .297 with an .832 OPS, 103 homers and 518 RBIs in 821 games with the Tribe.

First base

Jim Thome didn't get much competition in this department. While his great seasons in the 1990s were tossed out of the running, his 2000-02 campaigns (combined .287 average, 1.026 OPS, 138 homers, 348 RBIs in 461 games) were more than enough to make him a unanimous choice over Ben Broussard and Ryan Garko.

Second base

Roberto Alomar was a unanimous choice here, though the group did have to acknowledge the accomplishments of Ronnie Belliard, who filled the position from 2004-06 and compiled a .285 average and .770 OPS.

"I really liked Belliard," Hoynes said. "He came in with a bad reputation, but he played his butt off. Those were the best three years of his career."

Still, nobody was going to top Alomar, who was arguably the greatest free-agent acquisition the organization has ever had. Alomar's transcendent 1999 season wasn't considered, but he batted a combined .322 with a .903 OPS in 2000-01, earning two All-Star invitations, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award.

"And I know it's not in the decade," DiBiasio said, "but his '99 season still counts for something."


Omar Vizquel, who won two Gold Gloves in the 2000s with the Tribe, was a unanimous choice over Jhonny Peralta, who took over the position when Vizquel left as a free agent after the '04 season.

"He was a blast to watch," Hoynes said of "Little O."

Third base

The most interesting position battle might have been at third base, where Travis Fryman and Casey Blake both embodied the "high character" qualities the Indians value.

Fryman batted a combined .274 with a .765 OPS, 36 homers and 199 RBIs in 371 games from 2000-02, earning All-Star and Gold Glove honors in '00.

But he was beaten out, through a unanimous vote, by Blake, who batted .266 with a .787 OPS, 116 homers and 417 RBIs in 810 games from 2003-08. Blake played any position the Indians asked him to play, but his most consistent home was third.

"Casey has to be on our all-clubhouse team, too," Swain said.

The group agreed that Fryman in his prime would have taken this honor, but he was at the end of his career in the early 2000s.


Asked to select three outfielders, regardless of their spot, the group had some dissension here. Grady Sizemore, a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove Award and one-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and Kenny Lofton were unanimous choices.

Lofton's 2000-01 seasons and his brief stint with the Tribe at the end of '07 were taken into consideration.

"Nobody wanted to win more than Kenny Lofton," Hamilton said.

The dissension came with the third spot. Hamilton, DiBiasio and Swain gave the nod to Shin-Soo Choo, who has batted a combined .302 with an .893 OPS since the Indians acquired him in 2006.

"He's improved every year to become one of the better right fielders in the league," DiBiasio said of Choo.

But the group also had to take into account Manny Ramirez's 2000 season, in which he batted .351 with a 1.154 OPS, 38 homers and 122 RBIs in just 118 games. And don't forget Juan Gonzalez's '01 season, in which he batted .325 with a .960 OPS. Ramirez and Gonzalez each won a Silver Slugger Award in those respective seasons.

Hoynes and Shapiro went with Ramirez for the third outfield spot.

"Look at what he did in 118 games," Shapiro said. "It's ridiculous."

Said Hoynes: "He homered in his last at-bat, like Ted Williams. That sticks with me. That was his free-agent year, and he was unconscious. He was showing you what you were gonna miss. Everybody knew he was going to be gone, and he rubbed salt in the wound."

Designated hitter

Travis Hafner (.282 average, .917 OPS, 162 homers, 547 RBIs in 800 games) was a unanimous choice over Ellis Burks (.287 average, .885 OPS, 66 homers, 193 RBIs in 317 games).

"But Ellis was another underrated guy," Hoynes said. "I would have liked to see him play with good knees."

Pronk's numbers have taken a nosedive the last three years, but there was no discounting what he did from 2004-06.

"He was arguably one of the best hitters in the game at that time," Swain said.


The only candidates here were Charlie Manuel (2000-02) and Eric Wedge (2003-09). Wedge oversaw the Indians' rebuild and won AL Manager of the Year honors in '07, when the Indians won the Central and finished a win shy of the World Series. He was the unanimous call.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Take on the Whirwind of Moves

Browns Prez Mike Holmgren started the 2010 offseason making some quiet, but shrew moves. Among them, potential starters were signed in free agency in the form of TE Benjamin Watson (Patriots), RT Tony Pashos (Niners), and LB Scott Fujita (Saints). Holmgren sent his old team, Seattle, a 2011 7th round pick for his old back quarterback, Seneca Wallace and restricted free agent linebacker Jason Trusnik was re-signed to his 2nd round tender.

While these moves were noteworthy, a franchise-changing set of events beginning at the end of last week with the release of cancerous QB Derek Anderson and signing of long-time Panthers vet Jake Delhomme culminated in a pair of Sunday trades: former first round picks Kamerion Wimbley and Brady Quinn were jettisoned to Oakland and Denver for a grand total of a 3rd round pick, a 6th round pick, Broncos running back Peyton Hillis and a conditional late round 2011 pick. Not exactly a return for the investment of two 1st round picks (and in Quinn's case, a slew of other picks as well).

As much as I had invested in Brady Quinn over the last five years (I began a personal campaign for us to draft him back while he was still tearing up defenses at Notre Dame), the writing was on the wall when Delhomme was signed. Holmgren evidently wanted to erase all memories of last season's joke of a passing offense, and dumping Anderson and Quinn appeared to be the easiest answer. I still have cautious optimism that Quinn can succeed under Josh McDaniels in Denver but Derek Anderson's words of vile against Browns fans (see, a whole nother discussion) will fall on deaf ears. Wherever the emotionless, inaccurate quarterback signs, it likely won't be as a starter. Not like he ever had the tools to be a starter. Signs pointed to Anderson being a flash in the pan at the end of 2007 where he single-handedly destroyed our season vs. Cincinnati. When rumors abounded of teams interested in trading a first round pick for Anderson, I begged for then GM Phil Savage to pull the trigger and hand the reigns to Quinn. He didn't, and the rest is history.

Wimbley's trade was a bit more surprising. Since his 11 sack rookie campaign, Wimbley has just 15 quarterback take-downs in three seasons despite not missing a single game. He showed signs of returning to his old form this past season under Rob Ryan, but apparently Holmgren didn't want to keep him onboard. I definitely see the Browns picking up another pass rusher either in a trade or in the draft, but apparently Holmgren and Coach Mangini like what players such as Marcus Benard and Jason Trusnik bring to the table. I'm hoping that fan-favorite Alex Hall will step up to the plate and make an impact in 2011.

With Jake Delhomme at the plate, its possible that this Browns season could be offensively worse than the last one. Delhomme tossed 8 touchdowns to 18 interceptions last season in one of the worst years in NFL history. I'm hoping he'll play more like the man who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl and be a calming veteran influence on this team. Either way, the future holds many question marks but one that is answered is what I will be doing with my Kam Wimbley and Brady Quinn jersies: eBay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Latest Update! Indians Offseason Moves

It's been a long time since I've updated the blog but I have added a few new features including a Twitter page (see top of blog)!

Let's take a look at what has been a quiet offseason for the Cleveland Indians:

I'm a fan of the Russell Branyan move. There is no sense in rushing LaPorta's progress and him learning from a veteran power hitter like Branyan is a major plus.

The Shoppach trade was necessary to pave the way for more talented youngsters Lou Marson and (later down the road) Carlos Santana. Unless Andy Marte pans out (don't hurt yourselves laughing), the Coco Crisp trade officially becomes a bust for both teams.

And last, but far from least, is the Manny Acta hire. I think this was a great move! I'll admit I was asking myself "who is this washout from the Nationals" but Manny has grown on me to the point where I have actually become quite excited about the 2010 season. Acta's youth, energy and ability to relate with our Latin players will all be plusses. It's too early to tell what his assistants will do for the club, but any fresh faces are a relief from Carl Willis and Derek Shelton.

Cleveland Indians 2009 Offseason


Re-Signed Free Agents/Arbitration:

P Rafael Perez, re-signed

Minor League Free Agents:

P Adam Miller, re-signed
P Anthony Reyes, re-signed, placed on DL

Added to 40-Man Roster

IF Jordan Brown
P Kelvin De La Cruz
P Jeanmar Gomez
IF Carlos Rivero
IF Jason Donald
IF Wes Hodges
OF Nick Weglarz

Non-Roster/Minor League Invitees

P Jason Grilli
P Mike Gosling
IF Brian Buscher
IF Luis Rodriguez
P Saul Rivera
OF Shelley Duncan, Yankees
IF/OF Austin Kearns, Nationals
IF Mark Grudzielanek, Royals
P Tom Mastny, Japan
P Josh Judy
P Zach Putnam
P Alex White
P Yohan Pino
P Frank Herrmann
IF Lonnie Chisenhall
IF Beau Mills
IF Niuman Romero
C Damaso Espino

Rule 5 Draft – Major League

P Hector Ambriz, Diamondbacks

Rule 5 Draft – Minor League

IF Brian Horwitz, Giants


P Mitch Talbot (for Kelly Shoppach)
IF Brian Bixler (for Jesus Brito)

Free Agents

C Mike Redmond, 1 year, $850 K
IF Russell Branyan, 1 year, $2 mil
RP Jamey Wright


Free Agents:

P Tomo Ohka, free agent
IF Jamey Carroll, signed with LAD, 2 years

Minor League Free Agents:

P Juan Veras, Florida minor league
P Vinnie Chulk, Pittsburgh minor league
P Greg Aquino, Chicago White Sox minor league
IF Tony Graffanino, free agent

Outrighted to AAA

P Scott Lewis
P Mike Gosling
IF Niuman Romero

Rule 5 Draft – Major League

P Chuck Lofgren, Brewers

Rule 5 Draft – Minor League

P Anillins Martinez, Marlins
P Matt Meyer, Cardinals


C Kelly Shoppach, Rays (for Mitch Talbot)
IF Jesus Brito, Pirates (for Brian Bixler)
P Zach Jackson, Blue Jays (for PTBNL)

Reassigned to Minor League Camp:

40 Man Roster


Hector Ambriz
Fausto Carmona
Carlos Carrasco
Kelvin De La Cruz
Jeanmar Gomez
David Huff
Aaron Laffey
Jensen Lewis
Justin Masterson
Chris Perez
Rafael Perez
Anthony Reyes
Hector Rondon
Tony Sipp
Joe Smith
Jeremy Sowers
Mitch Talbot
Jess Todd
Jake Westbrook
Kerry Wood


Lou Marson
Mike Redmond
Carlos Santana
Wyatt Toregas


Brian Bixler
Russell Branyan
Asdrubal Cabrera
Jason Donald
Wes Hodges
Andy Marte
Jhonny Peralta
Carlos Rivero
Luis Valbuena


Michael Brantley
Jordan Brown
Shin-Soo Choo
Trevor Crowe
Matt LaPorta
Grady Sizemore
Nick Weglarz

Designated Hitter

Travis Hafner

Coaching Staff/Front Office


Eric Wedge- Manager
Carl Willis- Pitching Coach, minor league pitching coordinator Seattle
Derek Shelton- Hitting Coach, same position Tampa Bay
Jeff Datz- Bench Coach, same position Baltimore
Luis Rivera- First Base/Infield Coach
Joel Skinner- Third Base Coach, manager AA Akron
Chuck Hernandez- Bullpen Coach
Tim Maxey- Strength and Conditioning Coach, MLB

Lino Diaz- Director of Latin American Operations, re-assigned by Cleveland


Manny Acta- Manager
Tim Belcher- Pitching Coach
Jon Nunnally- Hitting Coach
Tim Tolman- Bench Coach
Steve Smith- Infield/Third Base Coach
Sandy Alomar Jr- First Base/Catching Coach
Scott Radinsky- Bullpen Coach
Joe Kessler- Strength and Conditioning Coach

Ramon Pena- Director of Latin American Operations