Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Terrelle Smith... CUT!

The Browns released veteran fullback Terrelle Smith today thereby avoiding paying him a roster bonus he was due this week. This move all but assures Lawrence Vickers the starting FB spot in 2007. Despite the stigma of being Maurice Carthon's "boy toy", Vickers showed the same tenacity and toughness Smith did last year in addition to being younger, a much better athlete and showing he can be an asset in the passing game rather than a hindrance. As long as the patented Vickers Toss Sweep on Third-and-1 doesn't reappear in the playbook I don't see this as much of a drop off by any means.

I remember Smith's first play in 2004 versus the Ravens when he threw Ray Lewis over the pile after the first play of the season. I was instantly smitten due to the lack of toughness the Browns had shown the previous years (and being an ex-FB myself). But it was brutally obvious from that point on that Smith was more of a third guard then a true fullback as defined by today's game. He's slow, can't get you a yard on third and one when you really need it, and is horrendous in the passing game when actually having to run a route and not block.

All that being said I hope he hooks on with a team that utilizes the FB as grunt which is his strength. He's a stand up guy (he changed his number to 42 in honor of Arizona State college teammate Pat Tillman), active in the community, and a good guy off the field. One of the few guys who came to play every week, 16 weeks, for 3 years as a Brown. Those things were not unnoticed by Browns Fans, Terrelle. Thanks and good luck!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cliff Lee Out Until Late April

The Tribe confirmed this weekend that Cliff Lee will begin rehabilitation on his strained abdominal muscle and be out for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. He is going to start the regular season on the Disabled List and hopefully will be ready by late April.

There are two ways to look at this one. On the down side, the Indians have notoriously been very slow starters out of the gate since Eric Wedge has taken over and not having a proven commodity in the starting rotation won't help that. Although Lee had a bit of an off year last year (14-11, 4.40) he hasn't missed a start in the last three seasons and has pitched over 200 innings over the past two years. This definitely won't help Lee's quest to return to his 2005 form (18-5, 3.79) which would be a great addition to the solid #1 and #2 contributions they get from C. C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook.

On the other hand, the Indians will get to see first hand if Fausto Carmona has fully recovered (and has selective amnesia of) his failed trial-by-fire in the closer's role. Carmona has the tools to be a piece of the Indians' puzzle for years to come but their failure to define his role and continuous shuffling between the rotation and bullpen hasn't helped his development. If he can block out the vision of the Red Sox series in Boston last year and refine his delivery motion (which the Tribe claims was his problem) then it gives the Indians a safety net if one of their other starters goes down for a substantial amount of time.

We'll see how this pans out for the Tribe, but not a good thing to have happen before the camp breaks. Starting pitching has been the strength of the ball club over the past 3 years and they do have depth in the minors but with Cliff Lee they have a proven commodity with Fausto Carmona we don't know yet.