Orbiting Cleveland: NFL quarterbacks and sustained success

Orbiting

(John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

(John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

$41.6 million. That’s the remaining dollar amount that the Cleveland Browns have available in cap space.

Why are they not using that to sign any high-level free agents? Well, that’s the $41.6 million question, isn’t it?

So far, the Browns’ two big moves this offseason have revolved around the signing of journeyman quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Brian Hartline. Both players were cut from their previous team, and neither signing has created much of a buzz within the fan base.

The criticism that this franchise has faced since 1999 has become laughable at this point. Every year, it seems to be the same story with the Browns, and EHC’s Brian McPeek helped outline that a couple weeks ago in his piece, Set Your Watch By It.

I, too, have been critical of the Browns. This was true no less than three days ago when it was falsely reported that the Browns had re-signed tight end Jordan Cameron, only to watch him bolt to the Miami Dolphins just hours later. Same-old Browns, right?

Call me crazy though, but when it comes to the Browns’ conservative approach to free agency, this is one instance where I have to say that I’m on board. Completely.

Let’s take you for a trip down memory lane.

January 18, 2004. Do you remember that date? Continue reading

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The greatest Indians third baseman, Al Rosen, dead at 91

1One of the All-Time Indians’ greats is gone.

Al Rosen, perhaps the greatest Tribe third baseman of all-time, passed away Friday night at the age of 91. While his career was relatively short, his impact on the game goes far beyond just his 1953 MVP award for the Indians, and his 1987 Executive of the Year award with the San Francisco Giants.

Rosen encompassed the game of baseball throughout his life, and with Bob Feller, was a true ambassador of the game of baseball.

In honor of Rosen, here’s a piece I originally wrote in January of 2013 documenting the best third basemen throughout the history of the Indians’ organization. Obviously, cream rises to the top, and so did Rosen. Here are my rankings of the best Indians’ third baseman, and my ode to Al Rosen. Continue reading

A Healthy Rotation Can Win The Central Division

1Going into the 2015 season the Cleveland Indians have a starting rotation that has been talked about as one of the best in all of Major League Baseball. Riding the momentum they built during the second half of 2014 has not only made them a trendy pick but a smart pick as well. This is a young group of starters that is either in their prime or coming into their prime. Things definitely look promising going forward.

In recent days there has been a few reported hiccups in this rotations armor. First Gavin Floyd is heading to the MRI table for his sore elbow. Josh Tomlin was scratched from his start and has already had an ultrasound on his “cranky elbow”. While both of these items may only be precautionary in the early days of spring, it does make you think about the depth of the rotation as a whole.

The meat of the rotation seems to be okay right now with the five best starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House and Danny Salazar all have gotten through the early part of Spring Training unscathed to this point. The potential issues that losing Floyd or Tomlin for significant time are causes for concern. That would leave Zach McAllister, Shaun Marcum and Bruce Chen as the “Calvary”. While I am intrigued by Marcum and his bounce back potential to a useful backend starter leaning on this group for any period of time is not ideal to the success of the 2015 season. Continue reading

Orbiting Cleveland: James Jones has become an asset to the Cavaliers

Orbiting

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(Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

Eighty-two games.

For any team to be successful over the long haul that is an NBA season, contributions must come far and wide. Everyone needs to step up to the proverbial plate when that time comes.

Over the last few weeks, perhaps no player on the Cleveland Cavaliers has personified that idea more than James Jones.

Admit it, when the Cavaliers signed Jones this past August, your response was somewhere along the lines of, “Well, they’re just signing another one of LeBron James’ buddies,” “Who cares, he won’t play anyway,” or “James Jones? Really?”

That type of response was justified, especially considering Jones’ recent track record.

Last season, the small forward played only 20 games for the Miami Heat while averaging 4.9 points. His three-point shooting percentage (51.9 percent) was impressive, but we’re talking about just 20 games here.

Keep in mind that Jones had not averaged more than 13 minutes per game since the 2010-11 season. In fact, over entire 12-year career, he has averaged more than 20 minutes per game on just two occasions.

So yes, by all accounts, it appeared as if this signing was simply an effort to appease the King.

But here is what many of us seem to forget. Continue reading

5 Breakout Candidates for the 2015 Tribe

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Jason Kipnis
2014: .240 / .310 / .330 / 6 HR
STEAMER: .253 / .328 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .256 / .330 / .388 / 13 HR

Kipnis entered the 2014 season as not only a major part of a promising young core, but also one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise. A breakout player in 2013, his 2014 campaign saw a massive decline in production on the field. Off-the-field, Kipnis was dealing not only with injuries, but also the departure of his best wingman in Vinnie Pestano and the pressure of Kevin Love’s arrival on the Cleveland Playboy Scene. Kipnis needs to regain his 2013 form if he hopes to continue his quest of trolling for phone numbers from drunken coeds on West 6th. He realizes “I had a really sweet 2013” won’t cut it with most ladies in Cleveland’s party scene and early returns of “I know Michael Brantley” haven’t resulted in the numbers he’d like.

Trevor Bauer
2014: 5-8 4.18 ERA 1.38 WHIP
STEAMER: 10-11 4.45 ERA 1.38 WHIP
ZIPS: 8-9 4.29 ERA 1.40 WHIP

Bauer, the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been an enigmatic character in his short time with the Indians. Sporting top-shelf stuff, his approach and ability to be coached have been questioned throughout his professional career. Off-the-field incidents include recording rap tracks and personally building a drone most recently seen flying over the Indians practice facility in Goodyear, ARI. Bauer’s somewhat peculiar personality has also been a controversial topic on Twitter; with many fans lashing out at him for both performance and attitude. Having proven himself as belonging in the big-leagues, Bauer will spend the 2015 season attempting to make the leap to top-of-the-rotation starter. Team officials are quietly expecting big things, as Bauer spent the offseason building not only his drone, but also a machine designed to collect fan hate and turn it into consumable energy. Bauer hopes this new Tweet-fueled rage-ahol will provide an extra 200-300% on his fastball. The true test will be pitching coach Mickey Calloway’s ability to harness to additional energy for good as opposed to evil. Expect Bauer to make headlines a few more times in Spring Training as he collects enough hatred to sustain through a long season.

Carlos Carrasco
2014: 8-7 2.55 ERA .985 WHIP
STEAMER: 11-9 3.53 ERA 1.20 WHIP
ZIPS: 6-6 3.71 ERA 1.24 WHIP

Carrasco’s season may be less a breakout for him as an individual as much as his impact on those around him. Coming to the Indians as part of the Cliff Lee trade, Carrasco showed his potential in 2011 with a 3.54 ERA over his first 15 starts. Elbow trouble derailed his season and eventually led to Tommy John surgery. Carrasco struggled to recover his prior success before moving to the bullpen in 2014 and posting a 2.30 ERA over 43 innings. He sustained that success in a move back to the rotation posting a 1.30 ERA over ten starts in the second half. Beyond his pitching prowess, Carrasco provides the “enforcer” the Indians have lacked since the right-handed scary monster Shelley Duncan left following the 2012 season. Carrasco’s 97 mile-per-hour fastball with head-seeking action provides plenty of intimidation as opposing teams will be forced to make tough decisions such as “Do I want to try to get a hit, or do I want to die tonight.” In a tough AL Central race, these are the types of advantages that can swing the entire division.

Lonnie Chisenhall
2014: .280 / .343 / .427 / 13 HR
STEAMER: .263 / .317 / .429 / 15 HR
ZIPS: .271 / .325 / .429 / 14 HR

Chisenhall had a monster first-half in 2014 before tailing off down the stretch. A top prospect throughout his time in the Indians’ minor league system, the team hopes 2015 is the year Chisenahll is able to make the leap to being a more consistent offense-focused 3B. Entering his age 26 season and having tasted success in the front-half of 2014, Chisenhall cites his biggest motivation for 2015 being “known for something other than the name Lonnie. It’s awful. My 7th grade girlfriend broke up with me over this name. Please call me Chiz or literally anything else instead.” Various members of the Indians’ front office have given Chisenhall 2015 goals of a .260 batting average, 15 homeruns, and “Lonnie” making the top 300 list of new baby names in Cleveland.

Nick Swisher
2014: .208 / .278 / .331 / 8 HR
STEAMER: .233 / .319 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .229 / .316 / .386 / 14 HR

With the recent news that Swisher isn’t deceased, expectations for his 2015 season have ticked up slightly. After signing a large contract with the Indians prior to the 2013 season, Swisher saw a decline in his overall numbers but still helped propel the Indians to the Wild Card play-in game by hitting seven homeruns in September and October. The following season, Swisher battled injuries and a prolonged slump before finally having season-ending surgery on both knees. Having been a model of consistency in his career – both in terms of health (145+ games played in 8 consecutive seasons prior to 2014) and performance (only two seasons below .800 OPS in prior eight seasons to 2014) – Swisher is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season. The Indians hope that a return to form will help fans shift their criticisms and heckling to members of other teams, instead of the hometown Indians. Mark Shapiro was quoted as saying, “Hopefully in 2015, Nick Swisher teaches Cleveland how to love again.”

Indians Prospect Countown: #5-1

1Here it is…

The Diatribe’s Al Ciammaichella finishes up his 2015 Indians’ Top 30 prospects list with the Top Five. To some, today’s list starts off with a name that has been known in the inner circles for a few years, but has gone largely unnoticed by both national pundits, as well as most casual fans. If things fall the right way though, he could find his way into some major league playing time. The rest of the top five includes a high upside catcher, two high upside outfielders that could either play center, or get pushed to the corner, and perhaps the best prospect in all of baseball, who I’m guessing most readers will be able to guess.

If you’ve missed the first five installments, you can find them here, at Everybody Hates Cleveland:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

Prospects #10-#6

You can also check them out at The Diatribe here:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

Prospects #10-#6

The photos used in this piece were provided by Lianna Holub, via Lianna Holub Photography. Make sure you check out her facebook page, and give it a like! She’s an amazing baseball photographer who is about as official an EHC photographer that you’ll get! Keep checking out EHC for more of her fabulous work!

Check out prospects #5-#1, after the jump: Continue reading

Indians Prospect Countdown: #10-6

1The Diatribe’s Al Ciammaichella continues his week-long look at the Cleveland Indians’ 2015 minor league system’s top 30 prospects here at Everybody Hates Cleveland. Today Al breaks into the top ten with a “troubled” but talented pitcher, a rebounding starter, a newcomer to the system, the forgotten shortstop, and a former first round pick trying to make a splash.

If you’ve missed the first four installments, you can find them here, at Everybody Hates Cleveland:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

You can also check them out at The Diatribe here:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

The photos used in this piece were provided by Al Ciammaichella.

Check out prospects #10-#6, after the jump: Continue reading

Indians Prospect Countdown #25-#21

1With the first five already in the books, EHC’s prospect guru, Al Ciammaichella, comes in with his next five, as we head up the charts toward #1. Today’s five is dominated by a position that has seemingly long been dormant in the #Indians minor league developmental program: starting pitching. While the pitchers mentioned aren’t locks to eventually make their way to the Major League rotation or bullpen, there’s enough upside here to be optimistic that if one or two pan out, a foundation could be laid for a better success rate with regards to starters going forward.

Al was the primary photographer for all the pictures in this article.

Which pitchers haven’t cracked the top five yet? Check it out, after the jump. Continue reading

Cody Allen: Bastian of the Bullpen

080512_Cody_Allen_480_ct13teqd_vhv7ya6eIn baseball, unless one is named Craig Kimbrel or Mariano Rivera, an elite reliever can go unnoticed and under-appreciated as the only relief pitcher outcome noted by fans is that of failure. Much like the offensive line in football, allowing pressures; big league bullpens are noticed most frequently when blowing leads rather than protecting them.

Cody Allen has been the best reliever on one of the best teams in baseball the last two years and not many people outside of the AL Central know his name. This probably doesn’t bother Allen, a quiet anchor whose rise to dominance was speedy but under the radar.

Allen, a 23rd round pick first pitched in the Indians organization in 2011 was contributing to the big league club in late 2012, though relievers such as Allen can move quickly this was truly ascendant.

Continue reading

Orbiting Cleveland: Kyrie Irving’s rise to greatness

Orbiting

hi-res-183664824-kyrie-irving-of-the-cleveland-cavaliers-brings-the-ball_crop_exactAt some point this season, Kyrie Irving made the jump from very good NBA player to great one.

Maybe that moment was Nov. 10 when the All-Star point guard scored 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting while recording nine assists and just one turnover in helping the Cleveland Cavaliers earn a 118-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Or, perhaps, it was Dec. 9. In a night that offered quite the juxtaposition from what we had come to expect from previous seasons, Irving gladly took a backseat after realizing his shot was not falling, finishing with 13 points and 10 assists as the Cavs grinded out a 105-101 win over the Toronto Raptors.

No, let’s be honest. Irving’s real graduation into the elite class of NBA players came on Jan. 28. That was the evening in which Irving scored 55 points, the second-highest total in Cavaliers’ history, while leading the team to a 99-94 win over Western Conference power Portland. To cap it off, he did it all while teammate LeBron James sat on the sideline. Continue reading