Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jolly Rogers

Good win. Game ball to Shaun Rogers. No matter how many blockers teams throw at him, he always manages to get pressure on the play. It doesn't matter if it's a run play or a pass play, he is there.

The Browns corners had their hands full with 6'6" of Matt Jones today, who finished with 8 catches for 117 yards and 1 TD. Both McDonald and Wright had turns failing to cover the big man. Fortunately, the Jags are a running team, and Shaun Rogers held Jones-Drew and Taylor to an improbable 49 total rushing yards.

Moving to the offensive side of the ball, the Browns are obviously better off with Heiden starting at tight end. His blocking is known to be vastly superior to Winslow's and he is a very productive pass catcher. Don't get me wrong, Winslow has the best hand's that I have ever seen, at any position, but Heiden has always been effective and the drop off is not steep. Most importantly, the offense has just been more productive this season during Heiden's starts.

What does this mean for Winslow? Slot receiver. This scenario has been suggested all year as a solution to our lack of a 3rd wide out problem. The Browns management has shown lately that it has no problem screwing Winslow over. It seems like this move might be the only ballsy thing Romeo might have the balls to do.
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Teahen to the Tribe?

The Kansas City Star and Rotoworld are reporting that the Kansas City Royals and the Indians are considering a deal that would bring Mark Teahen to Cleveland in exchange for either Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco or Trevor Crowe.

Teahen, 27, appeared in 149 games for the Royals last year, hitting .255 (career .286)with 15 HR and 59 RBIs. Though Teahen played mostly outfield last year, the Indians would move Teahen to third base, his natural position, keeping Jhonny Peralta at shortstop and Asdrubal Cabrera at second. (Edit: Teahen appears to want to play third, stating in an online chat last year " I have to say I've gotten used to playing right field but third base holds a special place in my heart. Honestly, I'll play wherever the team needs me." - from the MLB.)

Last season, Francisco, 27, batted .266 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 121 games and Gutierrez, 25, batted .248 last season with eight homers and 41 at-bats in 134 games. Crowe, 24 in November, hit .302 last season while splitting 84 games at Class AA Akron and Class AAA Buffalo. He also had nine homers and 41 RBIs.

The Indians have a surplus of outfielders, with Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and David Dellucci on the roster for next season, not to mention Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta waiting in the wings. Moving a complementary player like Gutierrez, who appears to be nothing more than 4th outfielder makes sense to fill a hole. Francisco showed promise upon being called up but faded as the season wore on. Crowe and Brantley project as similiar players, with Brantley showing a greater upside.

Teahen made $2.3375 million last year and in his second year of being arbitration eligible. According to the Kansas City Star, he would be expected to make around $3 million next year. Acquiring a player like Teahen is not a sexy move, but in terms of filling holes - if the Tribe determines that he is the best option available for the infield need of either a 2nd or 3rd baseman then it seems like a no-brainer, trading from strength and filling a weakness. Teahen is an obvious upgrade over Andy Marte - but then again who wouldn't be. Read the rest of this article

Playing it Too Close to the Sweater Vest

Tresselball is dead. Last night's 13-6 lost to the Penn State Nitty Lions served as its solemn funeral. The days of playing not to lose have failed the Buckeye faithful. And, it's time for a change.

Next to Woody Hayes, Jim Tressel is undoubtedly the most revered OSU football coach in the team's history and deservedly so. One national title, three national championship appearances and 4 Big Ten titles over the course of eight years is very impressive. But like Woody Hayes and all the great coaches, Tressel has an ego, a belief that his approach to the game of football is the best approach and in many cases, the only approach. Tressel's game plan can best be describe as a "battle of attrition" - controlling the ball, avoiding mistakes and playing for field position. This style of play has become predictable, boring and perhaps most discouraging - beatable.

Penn State's victory last night is a symptom of the overall problem. At no point in the game did Ohio State look over matched or vastly outplayed. The defense performed admirably, holding a Nitty Lions team that came in averaging 460 yards to only 281 yard of total offense. And had Terrelle Pryor not fumbled early in the 4th quarter it's possible that we'd be talking about a hard fought victory. However, Pryor did fumble and the Buckeyes did lose. And though Pryor's fumble was the direct cause of the loss, the real culprit was that after the Buckeyes took a 6-3 lead, Ohio State's playbook essentially became one dimensional in that almost every play was to hand the ball off to Beanie Wells. Instead of trying to add on to a its slim lead, Ohio State broke out its familiar vanilla defensive style of football that has become a trademark of the Tressel era - playing not to lose.

Penn State spent of the majority of the game loading the box with defenders, daring Jim Tressel to run the ball. Jim Tressel happily obliged. Any Buckeye fan who has watched a game over the past few weeks could tell you that the usual offensive series goes something like the following, hand the ball off to Beanie Wells, hand the ball off to Beanie Wells, attempt a short safe pass to pick up the first down - usually resulting in a Pyror scramble for a large sack or a first down. At the risk of avoiding Pyror throwing the ball and potentially causing a turnover, the Ohio State playbook has become that of a watered down high school team's. Absent is not only the razzle and dazzle (a flea flicker with Beanie or an end around with Posey -anyone?) but also the crossing routes, the 12 yards posts and any semblance of having the tight end involved in the offense. With teams obviously expecting the Buckeyes to run the ball the majority of the time with Pyror in as the QB - why not think outside the box and put Todd Boeckman in as QB, with both Pyror and Beanie Wells in the backfield for a few plays. This would eliminate the ability of the opposing team to load the box and open up a variety of triple options and pass type option plays.

Jim Tressel has had a large amount of success with his approach to football in the past. So much so, that it has become almost sacrilegious to question his football philosophy. And Jim Tressel deserves a lot of respect for his accomplishments. But when an individual who has so much success in the past suddenly faces adversity the question becomes how does he respond. Take the recent example of Vince Young. The supremely talented quarterback of the Tennessee Titans who has had success at every level was suddenly booed at home - resulting in his desire to quit the game of football. Seeing his football team being dominated against USC, a sideline reporter went up to Jim Tressel at halftime to get his comments on the first half. Tressel's response? Attempting to run past and avoiding saying anything at all. Eventually he did stop and respond in a somewhat shell-shocked manner. Tressel cannot keep his head down and plow forward with the same scheme in the future. If Tressel is unable to devise the necessary changes for the offense, perhaps it is time to bring in an offensive coordinator to take over his play calling duties. Regardless, Tresselball is dead at OSU. Read the rest of this article

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back To Reality

image from

14-11. Same story as always. Lousy coaching. Lousy DA. Lousy Braylon. No need to keep rewriting the same problems after each game. Everyone sees them. Nobody in the organization is willing to make a change. Only in Cleveland would an organization be so inept. Nothing more to say. Read the rest of this article

Thursday, October 16, 2008

K2 - The Inside Scoop

I had the opportunity to watch the completely expected Browns win Monday night with a friend who works as a resident at the Cleveland Clinic. The same Cleveland Clinic where one Kellen Winslow spent a period of time last week with some, um enlarged "marbles." My friend had the opportunity to pull Winslow's medical chart. The reason for Winslow's insistence on his medical condition being kept secret - he's currently suffering from a staph infection on his "Tanakas." Take this information for what it's worth, but this would fall in line with the high number of staph infections that have afflicted the Browns in the past - the 7th time a Browns' player would have succumbed in the last 5 years - WR - Joe "Sid" Jurevicius, C- LeCharles Bentley, WR- Braylon Edwards, LB- Ben Taylor, S- Brian Russell and Winslow himself being the other occurences. Earlier this year, Cleveland Clinic infection specialists used a special anti-staph agent to disinfect the Brown's locker and weight rooms. Perhaps a second dosage is needed.

However, the loss of Winslow, be it staph or whatever reason, could be a blessing in disguise. The reemergence of Steve Heiden in the Browns' offensive game plan was a welcomed sight. Heiden has the hands and ability to haul in the tough catch, which makes him ideal to fill the 3rd down receiver role void created by the absence of Jurevicius. Heiden had 5 catches for 59 yards Monday night (second on the team to Edwards), including a 9 yard pass on a 3 and 2, and a 17 yarder on a 3 and 4. He has shown he has the potential to make plays in the past - catching 43 balls in 2005. With the recent return of Martin Rucker to practice earlier this month and the sure-handed ability of Darnell Dinkins to field those short kickoffs, tight end has become a position of strength, one of which we may want to consider trading from in the future. If Rucker is as good an offensive weapon as advertised and Winslow begins beating the drum for a new deal once again, K2 may be on his way out this off season. Read the rest of this article

Monday, October 13, 2008

That was exciting

I started this game rooting for the Giants. I did that because I am a Browns fan. The best thing that can happen to the Browns is for Romeo to get fired. And even in a blowout over the undefeated Giants, Romeo continued to show why he is not head coach material. 10 dumb mostly presnap penalties is inexcusable. It shows the team was not prepared and that is the head coaches responsibility.

On the other hand, 35-14. Football is a quarterback's game, and no game reflects that more than tonight's. Get ready for a week of talk of the "Eli of old." Pre-winning-streak Eli Manning showed up tonight and tossed 3 interceptions, including one Eric Wright returned 94 yards for a touchdown.

More importantly, I just heard an espn commentator describe Derek Anderson as an incredibly accurate passer. I suppose that is true if you watched only this game, and ignore the spurts of grass passes early. That being said, Anderson had a fantastic game. 18-29, 310 yards, 2 tds, 0 ints. Those numbers were no fluke. He played like a pro bowler. He had time to throw, and he even had some good short throws. I was also impressed by a couple of smart intentionally under-thrown balls. All this was without our best receiver, Kellen Winslow, who remained home, nursing his testicles back to health.

Derek Anderson had the best game of his career tonight. And it comes on the heels of the NFL trading deadline on Tuesday. Now is the time Mr. Savage. Take whatever is offered, before it is too late to get anything.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Uninspring Win for the Bucks

The Ohio State Buckeyes displayed what may be, sadly, the best offense in Ohio yesterday in a 16-3 victory over Purdue. Frustrating is the adjective that seems most fitting to describe the players, play calling, and game plan, however a win is a win. Unfortunately with the Big 10 being cast as more than a step slow, second fiddle type conference, these type of games for the face of the Big 10 do not do anything to repair the national rep.

On the message boards, near the coffee maker, and in text messages across the nation Jim Tressel has taken a lot of flak for his play calling, and his coordinators offensive game plan. When it comes down to it, you could put together the best game plan in the world, or call a sequence of plays that stymies defensive coordinators around the league, but if you do not have the players to execute the plays, all of your work is useless. I am not totally exonerating Tressel and Bollman of all blame, but the players on offense are not great. Yet. TP is taking a lot of heat after the game he had yesterday. He holds the ball too long. He tries to make a big play every time. He misses open receivers. The bottom line is 365 days ago he was breaking every tackle, running by everyone once he got into the secondary, and by all reports had a better offensive line in Jeanette than in Columbus. He is growing into the position slowly but surely. Remember, Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith had a lot of trouble beating out Justin Zwick early in his career, let alone figuring out what to do with the ball when he was on the field. Once he gets it, and by it i mean experience, he is (for all redundancy sake) going to be scary.

TP does not have much help immediately around him right now. The line is not so good. Adams needs to play every snap. Wouldn't it be fun to watch Beanie run behind the line that Maurice Clarett was afforded as a freshman? Olivea, Stepanovich and the rest clearing the road for Clarett made it seem like he was never touched in the backfield. Beanie is having to make cuts seemingly before he even gets the ball. It was nice to see Posey get some touches and Lamaar Thomas also had a reception and a nice little run after catch. Have to find some guys who can create separation.

Defensively, I am still not 100% sold on Malcolm Jenkins as a cover corner. He had a great day yesterday. However, I am not sure if he is going to be able to shut down above average receivers. We shall see what Clevelander Brian Hoyer has in store for him next week. On the other side of the field Chimdi Chekwa showed some great promise in breaking up a few passes and making some nice open field tackles. Denlinger provided some spark on the interior of the Dline. I would like to see the defense create more turnovers, but you really can't get upset when the defense allows just 3 points, and were never really in trouble of giving up a touchdown all day.

The weeks ahead will decide the Big 10 title as Michigan State looked good in beating Northwestern, and Penn State bulldozed Wisconsin last night. Read the rest of this article

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Black 42, Red Right, Razor Blades, Hike

Fellow Cleveland sports website came out with a story today regarding how dirty the Browns team has been the last couple of seasons. The range of accusations and the range of players against whom they are levied is mind-boggling. Many of the accusations are so outrageous they are laughable...except that they might be true. Spitting tabasco sauce in the receivers' eyes at the snap? Shouting Lost spoilers to distract the opponent? Pasting razor blades and glass onto your gloves? These are all so ridiculous, and incredibly disturbing if true.

The accusation that I question most is Kam Wimbley, in full pads, getting into the Steelers locker room after the game and leveling the naked, showering Ben Roethlisburger. Was there no one else in the Steelers locker room? Was it two hour after the game after everyone left that Ben decided to shower? Did Kam wait patiently in his uniform in the Browns locker room watching an advanced copy of Lost until he knew Ben would be alone? It has been alleged that the swerbs article is merely a spoof. Perhaps it is. But I am no longer shocked by anything that happens from Berea. That is the sad, sad state of the Browns.

If any of this is true, I, of course, blame Bill Bellichik. Romeo Crennel isn't smart enough to teach his players to be scum on the field without getting caught, fined, and suspended by the league. Only Romeo's mentor, the diabolical Cleveland-hated Bill Bellichik could have crafted such a scheme. I suggest a complete league review into the Patriots for accusations of privates grabbing and 24 spoilers.
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Sunday, October 5, 2008


What TP means to me

Pryor is amazing, but he needs to improve in two key areas. One is to accept
that he can't run out of everything. There are times when you just have to throw the ball away. I also noticed in the Badger game that he got a little bit of the happy feet. Although there was little or no pressure, he was looking to run out of the pocket instead of standing tall and throwing the ball. Two is to run run over tiny defensive backs instead of running out of bounds. All to often he is afraid to get hit even though he would be the one delivering the hit as he is about 40 pounds heavier than the little corner back in front of him. It costs yards. This could be something the coaches tell him to do to avoid injury.

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TP's late TD beats Badgers

Terrelle Pryor is fun. Even when he is taking 15 yard sacks, he is fun to watch. Aside from Vince Young, his body control is far superior to any quarterback his size in recent memory. It is not just his size, strength, and speed. Athleticism in sports has as more to do with body control than it does physical ability.

A prime example of this can be found if you watch HBO's Hard Knocks onDemand. One of the "stars" of the Cowboys training camp was Todd Lowber. I had the pleasure of attending Ramapo College (or Rama-whaat in the words of Patrick Crayton) when Lowber was making highlight reel dunks off every opening tip of Roadrunner basketball games. He dunked on my head numerous times in pickup games. I have seen his 6'4'', 225lb frame up close and personal. He won the NCAA high jump contest after not having participated in track and field since high school. He ran a documented sub 4.3 forty at NFL workouts. He possibly was the most "athletic" player in NFL training camp this summer. He got cut. He may show up again because of his freak of nature type traits, but he got cut nonetheless. He was not able to control his body enough coming into his routes.

The thing that is so impressive about Pryor's ability is being able to control such a big body moving so fast. He is able to change direction in an instant, while brushing off a wouldbe tackler. Another impressive feature is that, at quarterback, he is in every play. He routinely is battling against 2, 3, or 4 tacklers, fighting for every yard. When Beanie does this, the next play can be a pass, or Herron can spell him. Pryor has to line right back up, and get it going again. This is often taken for granted, but it is very important to recognize.

There has been some doubt over his throwing motion, and the Buckeyes have even tinkered with his arm slot on his delivery. Either the cut on his hand last night forced him to make some adjustments, or he went back to his old style of throwing. Whatever the case may be, it was effective. He is tall enough to throw 3/4 motion over the line, therefore I do not have much problem with it.

He is going to have to continue to impress because...

The defensive line is a joke. This point has been beaten deader than dead, but the interior line is awful. They make Laurinaitis look like a bum. A lot has been made over him not being in on as many plays as in the past, but when you see running backs busting through for a 5 10 or 15 yard games the offensive linemen don't stop running. They come off their blocks and headhunt for number 33. It would be nice to find some guys who can occupy offensive linemen, let alone demand a double team.

The playcalling on both sides of the ball has been pretty putrid. In the second half of the game last night they let Pryor open it up a bit, and on the game winning drive, he made huge strides for Tressel having confidence in him to let him throw down field. Defensively, either the personnel is bad, or the scheme is bad, or both. The soft coverage is frustrating, and the lack of being able to stop anyone running the ball is infuriating. The fact that the opposing quarterback has all day to throw is annoying to say the least. This all goes back to having four competent and capable downlinemen.

Someone needs to show up with a pair of hands to catch Pryor's "frozen ropes." It looked like Hartline until he almost fumbled away the game. Some speed on the outside would help, keeping the DBs back a bit so Wells and TP can get a few extra yards.

All of this being said, The Buckeyes held the Badgers to 17 points. You can look up Wisconsin's home winning streak, record in night games, recent success over the Buckeyes, etc., but the fact of the matter is OSU won the game. Nobody bit on a double move by a guy with a new knee like Gamble, no one tried to choke the opposing quarterback like Reynolds, and the Buckeyes did not fade in a primetime national game(USC, LSU, Texas, Penn St.).

After the game at USC, every fan was left wondering... "what the hell is going to happen in next season's rematch? The starters will pretty much be gone, so the players that couldn't play over them this year are going to play. Pryor will still be green because of Tressel's loyalty to Boeckman. This is going to be a disaster." This game should be the start of hopefully putting some minds at ease.

For now OSU has to look forward to the Boilermakers at home, and a tough game against a former Tresselite in Dantonio, and OSU-shunned Ringer, before the game that will hopefully decide the Big 10 Champion against Penn State. It will be fun watching the maturation of not only Pryor, but his good buddy who may have been the deciding factor in bringing TP to Columbus, new starting center Mike Brewster. Their relationship on and off the field will hopefully catapult OSU over the proverbial hump.

Go Bucks. Read the rest of this article

Friday, October 3, 2008

C.C. Trade Complete: Tribe Gets Brantley

A day after C.C. Sabathia once again reminded the world that is he not a big game pitcher (his career postseason ERA is 7.92), the Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers have completed their trade with the Tribe selecting outfielder/first baseman Michael Brantley.

Though most thought the selection would come down to Brantley and Taylor Green (2b/3b), I, for one, am thrilled at the selection of Brantley. Brantley has all the peripherals of a player primed to succeed at the major league level. His father, Mickey Brantley, is a former major leaguer who played four seasons with the Mariners in the late eighties. The lefthander hit .319 with 80 runs, 17 doubles, two triples, four homers and 40 RBI in 106 for Class AA Huntsville this year. He also stole 28 bases in 36 attempts and had 50 walks against only 27 strikeouts. Perhaps most impressively, Brantley has a minor league career .399 OBP. For comparison, Shin-Soo Choo led the Indians this year with a .397 OBP mark, and only three players in the American League had a better OBP. Baseball America has rated Brantley as having the best strike zone judgment and the best base running skills in the Southern League.

Brantley has the potential to become the prototypical leadoff hitter the Tribe has lacked since the likes of Kenny Lofton. Though it appears as if Brantley might be headed to Akron to start the season with the reemergence of Trevor Crowe this year, it is quite possible that we might see Brantley patrolling the outfield as early as the end of next season. (Edit: When asked how close he is to helping the Indians, Shapiro said, "He'll determine his own pace, but he'll be in Triple-A. That's an indication that he's not that far away."- from the Plain Dealer ) Placing Brantley in the leadoff spot of the lineup would finally allow the shift of Grady Sizemore down to the third spot, taking advantage of Brantley's high OBP numbers and Grady's power bat. Having Brantley in the outfield would also allow a shift of Matt LaPorta, the main player of the C.C. trade, to first base.

As shown by Billy Beane in Moneyball, taking pitches, having a great awareness of the strike zone and a high OBP are some of the most important traits a player can posses. If Brantley continues at the same rate as his minor league numbers project, the C.C. trade could become this generation's Bartolo Colon deal. Read the rest of this article

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NY-less Postseason.. Priceless

A bit of background on my living current living situation: I am a displaced Clevelander living in Franklin Lakes, NJ. I have 4 roommates. A fake Philly fan, a real Mets fan, a real Yankee fan, and a fake Yankee fan. The real fans are semitolerable, the fake fans are awful. Living in NJ, you find yourself around a lot of fake NY fans, which makes this postseason all the better. There are no October Yankee fans coming out of the woodwork to annoy the piss out of you. That is good.

Without further ado, your 2008 MLB Playoff preview...

American League: The Chicago White Sox were able to run the AL Central gauntlet of 3 teams in 3 days to win the division. The Indians had the best record in the central over the last 70 games or so. I'm not bitter. The Sox, however, won the crown, and the right to take on the upstart Rays in the first round. The Rays hold every edge in the series, except at the back end of the bullpen. Which could be a huge disadvantage. Also the White Sox have more experience than Tampa Bay. Should be a compelling series if only because Ozzie Guillen would like to know "how the fuck are we here right now?" Prediction: Rays in 5.

It seems as if the Angels and Red Sox square off every postseason these days. The Red Sox are getting some key pieces back in Mike Lowell and JD Drew, but the all important chemistry factor will be in question in the first couple games. Each team boasts stellar starting rotations. Each team has a dominant close out guy. Should be a very interesting series, with my prediction at Red Sox in 4.

ALCS: Epic battle of AL East teams, each winning a pair of one run games. The Red Sox ride their starters past the Rays in 6 games to head back to the World Series.

National League: The Cubs begin their quest for a first title in 100 years by hosting the Dodgers, who have been rejuvenated not by Manny Ramirez, but by Casey Blake. Seems as if everyone is jumping on the Cubs bandwagon this year, as they have all the pieces u could ever want. I am no different, I will say Cubs in 4.

The Brewers made the playoffs, no thanks to Ned Yost, and that should make everyone in Cleveland happier. Unless you question the front office's ability to evaluate talent, but that is neither here nor there. The Phillies come in as NL East champs for the second consecutive year, and would like nothing more than to put the pesky Brewers away for the winter. That will not be easy as Ryan Braun has picked up where superman has left off. The Brewers rotation though is sketchy at best once you get past CC. Phils in 4.

NLCS: Cubs beat the Phils handily in 5, and my roommate does not care one bit.

World Series: In a series that should have happened in 2003, but didn't because of Steve Bartman and Aaron Boone, the Red Sox take on the Cubs. Do the America's Darling Cubs finally shake the 100 year drought? Do they make the Tribe the national sweetheart? Doubtful. The Red Sox rotation is brilliant in the series, and the Sox make it back to back titles winning the series 4-2.

In other random news, I read last week that the MLB average home runs per game is at its lowest level since 1993. Torii Hunter came right out and said he thinks its because of all the steroid testing. Probably the most profound thought in recent memory.

Tribe Tidbits: The PTBNL from the CC trade should be named soon. Depending on Rob Bryson, the single A back of the bullpen power arm, this could be one of the better trades in history for both teams. Of course, you can never count your prospects before they turn into Ryan Braun... Eric Wedge thinks Hafner can become a productive hitter again. Possibly his .197 average gave him that idea...Wedge also thinks David Delluci will be around next year. It might be time for the organization uses the old DFA and eat his salary.

Thats about all for now. Read the rest of this article