Thursday, March 29, 2007

Indians Set Opening Day Roster

The Indians have set their Opening Day roster for Monday's game against the hated Chicago White Sox. 2007 is a big season of hope for us Tribe fans as the core nucleus has been here for a few years now and many of our young players are hitting their prime. One problem exists, however, as the AL Central is not the AL Central of the late 1990's and there are 3 other teams capable of winning the division. Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit are all legitimate contenders not only for the AL Central but for the Pennant and World Series. The Indians are going to need a hot start in April instead of their normal sluggish start that leaves them treading water and playing catch-up from May until October. The Indians won 93 games in 2005 and did not make the playoffs due to an awful April and a choke job in late September. Let's hope for a turn of events this year. Anyway, here are the guys who will be onstage at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario this season.

C. C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee (DL), Paul Byrd, Jeremy Sowers, Fausto Carmona
The strength of the ball club hands down. C. C. says he's starting Monday despite taking a liner of his forearm. Jake is rock solid. Sowers looked like a vet at the end of last year when they shut him down and Fausto has been lights out this spring. The fact that Lee will miss most of April is a downer but if Fausto pitches like he has been it might be a nice cup of coffee for him. Byrd, by his own admission, pitched like (poop) last year and is looking to rebound but is a great influence on the young but talented staff.

Rafael Betancourt, Joe Borowski, Fernando Cabrera, Jason Davis, Aaron Fultz, Roberto Hernandez, Matt Miller (DL), Tom Mastny
I just cringed typing the word bullpen. Ouch. Well last year the pen rivaled the legendary "Bullpen form Hell" of the late 1980's. Failure to hold leads, hits galore and blown saves out the ying-yang. Borowski is a bona-fide closer, but can he stay healthy? Betancourt has looked awful this spring. Fultz and Hernandez are free agent pick-ups who we have to wait and see on. Will Cabrera return to his late 2004 to 2005 form? Is this the year Jason Davis finally gets it? Losing Miller hurts because of that wicked side-arm action he has but Mastny proved at the end of last year he deserves a chance. As strong as the rotation is the biggest question mark is the bullpen. You're welcome from the Master of the Obvious.

Casey Blake, David Dellucci, Franklin Guiterrez (DL), Jason Michaels, Trot Nixon, Grady Sizemore
Grady was the only All-Star last year and deservedly so. He could develop into one of the premier players in the game. If only we could find a lead-off hitter to move him to the #3 hole in front of Pronk and Victor. Dellucci and Michaels will platoon in left while Nixon and Blake will platoon in right. I like the veteran influence of Dellucci and Nixon and they both have something to prove but in does concern me that we have a backlog of OF talent in the minors and they don't try and develop them here. Shin-Soo Choo, Guitierrez, Ben Francisco, Trevor Crowe and Brad Snyder are always toiling away in AAA Buffalo and AA Akron waiting for their shot.

Victor Marttinez, Kelly Shoppach
Victor can hit like a mo-fo but can he throw out more than 20% of base stealers? He calls a good ballgame but dear lord I hope they sorted out his mechanics (or footwork as Eric Wedge claims). Shoppach continues to develop offensively but could be an amazing defensive catcher and game caller. With Victor looking so fluid at First Base in spring I would not be surprised to see a lot more of Victor at 1st (or DH) and Kelly behind the plate.

Josh Barfield, Casey Blake, Ryan Garko, Travis Hafner, Joe Inglett (DL), Andy Marte, Jhonny Peralta, Mike Rouse
The infield defense was atrocious last year and was a main focus of Spring Training. I think it will take Barfield a few months to adjust to the AL but his speed is a great, needed addition to the club. Blake will platoon with Garko and Victor Martinez but I expect Garko to take control of this job by May or June with Vic and Pronk playing a game here or there as a change of pace. The focus will be on Peralta to see if 2005 or 2006 was the fluke year? Somewhere in between would be a welcome site to Tribe brass and fans. Marte has a lot of potential and we'll see how he pans out but is a huge upgrade over Aaron (expletive deleted) Boone. And what can you say about Hafner? One of the best pure hitters in the game who could be a serious MVP candidate if he stays healthy and could play First Base more often than not.

So 2007 shapes up as an exciting and interesting year. We see how it starts to pan out Monday... in a certain town... against a certain team... that starts with C... ends with O... and has "HICAG" in Da Middle.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Buckeyes Spring Depth Chart Announced

Yes, I am aware that the Ohio State Buckeyes Mens' Basketball Team is in the Final Four playing against my next door neighbors the Georgetown Hoyas. But there is always time for a OSU Football Update. Coach Sweater Vest announced the depth chart for the upcoming spring practice schedule and it looks like more of a circa 2002 OSU than last years high scoring 2006 squad.

Offense LT - Alex Boone, Jr.; Josh Kerr, Fr.
LG - Steve Rehring, Jr.; Kyle Mitchum, Jr.
C - Jim Cordle, So; Connor Smith, Fr.
RG - Ben Person, Jr.; Bryant Browning, Fr.
RT - Kirk Barton, Sr.; Jon Skinner, Jr.
WR - Brian Robiskie, Jr.; Devon Lyons, Jr.
WR - Brian Hartline, So.; Albert Dukes, Jr.
WR - Ray Small, So.
TE - Rory Nicol, Jr.; Jake Ballard, So.
TB - Chris Wells, So.; Maurice Wells, Jr.
FB - Dionte Johnson, Sr.; Trever Robinson, Sr.
QB - Todd Boeckman, Jr.; Robbie Schoenhoft, So.; Antonio Henton, Fr.
LDE - Lawrence Wilson, Jr.; Robert Rose, So.
LDT - Todd Denlinger, So.; Nader Abdallah, Jr.
RDT - Doug Worthington, So.; Dexter Larimore, Fr.
RDE - Vernon Gholston, Jr; Alex Barrow, Jr.
SLB - Larry Grant, Sr.; Curtis Terry, Sr; Thaddeus Gibson, Fr.
MLB - James Laurinaitis, Jr.; Austin Spitler, So.
WLB - Marcus Freeman, Jr.; Ross Homan, So.
LCB - Malcolm Jenkins, Jr.; Andre Amos, So.
FS - Nick Patterson, Jr.; Aaron Gant, So.
SS - Jamario O'Neal, Jr.; Kurt Coleman, So.
RCB - Donald Washington, So.; Brandon Underwood, Jr.

We'll see how the QB and RB battles shape up and how the Buckeyes phyche is after the 41-14 ass kicked they received from Florida. Coach Sweater Vest has to have a hell of a run to make up for that debacle.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tribe Bullpen News

Rumblings and grumblings are making the rounds in Winter Haven that Matt Miller may start the season on the DL. Not good. We all know the bullpen was the biggest problem last year. Keith Foulke retired before even putting on a jersey. Rafael Betancourt, who was supposed to be one of the key set-up men, has looked awful in spring. Now Matt Miller's health is in question. Hopefully, some of the young guys can step up (Mastney, Lara, Perez, etc.) and the Indians can actually develop a relief pitcher (since we have an over-abundance of starters). Hopefully this is a minor speed bump, but with the Indians' history of slow April starts and the difficult AL Central ahead of them, it's not a good omen.

This brings me to another rant... Why can't the Indians bring up and play a young guy and let him develop? I mean they did it for half a year with Choo, Marte and Garko but now Choo will be int he minors, Garko is splitting time (maybe) and Marte seems to be a giant worry for management. I look at the Jason Bay's, Jeff Francouer's and Adam Wainwright's of baseball and say why don't we do this? No knock on Dellucci or Nixon but it just seems to work for everyone else.

Peace out.

Browns Free Agent Comings & Goings

Barring a surprise, the Browns are pretty much done with Free Agency this year. Here is my take on their additions and losses for the 2007 off-season.


Tim Carter - WR - New York Giants (trade for Reuben Droughns)
I don't know much about you other than you fit the sterotype for a Browns wide receiver. Mid-sized, kinda fast and sketchy hands. Welcome to the club. Hoepfully you have a chip on your shoulder and want to prove something.

Lennie Friedman - OL - Re-signed with Browns
Given the poor (and that's being nice) state of the Browns offensive line, I consider this a solid move. Freidman provides veteran depth at G and C (you never know when we'll need a C) and when he had to fill in last year there wasn't a lot of times when you noticed him, which is good for an OL. This by no means diverges from my 8 years of pleas for drafting some OL in the draft. It still needs to happen. Besides I still think of the scene in "Major League" where the construction workers are going over the Tribe's roster...

"Ricky Vaughn... Willie Hays... Lennie Friedman... who the f&$# are these guys?!?"

And yes, the movie line is Mitchell Friedman, but give Lennie some love.

Jamal Lewis - RB - Baltimore
Sweet lord. I will try and take emotion out of this. But looking at this impartially, J-Lew is an upgrade over Reuben. Reuben just seemed unmotivated last year and it definitely shows that he is a converted FB. This one year deal is eerily similar to the Indians' tactics with veteran FAs so it will interesting to see how motivated J-Lew is. He still rushed for 1,100 yards last year with an aging yet better O-Line and is still considered "in his prime" but can the ridiculous amount of carries he's had and his past knee surgeries come back to haunt him? Only time will tell. There I made it a whole paragraph without saying that if anyone in Cleveland needs a large chuck of cocaine they now know who to call. (Well almost a whole paragraph.)

Seth McKinney - OL - Miami
See my comments for Lennie Friedman. I like the depth. Always can use more centers. But for God's sake please draft some young lineman. I don't have anything funny to say about you like Lennie. Plus, you wear #68. This is a bad number for me. You're on my bad side McKinney. Watch yourself...

Antwaan Peek - DE/LB - Houston
We need other pass rushers than Kamerion Wimbley but you've been a role player your whole career. Questions abound through my mind... Can you stop the run? (History says no.) What does this mean for Willie McGinest? Why can't Leon Williams play a little OLB? What ever happened to Chaun Thompson? Is Matt Stewart still on the team? Is Mason Unck Morman or am I just stereotyping all people form Utah? Why was Norberg on the I Luv U? Why would Vincent Ludwig be involved in a plot to kill the Queen? And more importantly, where the hell was I?!?

Shaun Smith - NT - Cincinnati
You're big, fat and young. Ted Washington is big, fat and old. Nose tackles are hard to come by so I like this low key signing. Sometimes the most subtle signing turns out to be the best. But it why wouldn't the Bengals re-sign you? You didn't get arrested and they have major injury concerns on their DL. Strange... I hope I am just over analyizing this but we need DL help in a big way so I will take anyone at this point.

Robaire Smith - DE - Tennessee
Experience in the 3-4. I've actually seen you make plays and you're still young. I can buy into this one. We'll see how you pan out. We just need to keep upgrading our talent to shrink the gap with the rest of the NFL. You aren't a superstar but you're better than what we've had.

Eric Steinbach - G - Cincinnati
We overpayed for you but we hadto. No one is going to come to a bad team for less money. This in one OL siging that I am all for. If you draft Joe Thomas at LT (or someone else in Round 2) and have Steinbach at LG that's a solid left side of the line for 8-10 years. So the second year in a row the Browns got the premeir OL in free agency. Let's hope this one turns out better than last year's. No offense, LeCharles.

Kenny Wirght - CB - Washington
I live in DC. I saw you play every week. I hear about you on the radio every week. You sir, are Ralph Brown 2007. You were burnt every week. The Redskins had the 31st ranked D out of 32 in the NFL. The Browns had the 32nd. I guess in makes sense why you are coming here. I would rather try and develop the young guys (Holly, Perry, Perkins, Fontenot) than watch you get burnt every week. I just don't get this one.


Alvin McKinley - DE - signed with Denver
Did you ever make a play here? Ever? Did we ever say wow, Alvin McKinley had a helluva game? I think Mark Word had more sacks in one year than you've had in your entire career. We never notice you when you were here and we won't notice you're gone. Have fun in Denver with the other ex-Brown douche bags. Courtney Brown... CUT! Gerard Warren... still a giant piece of poop. Yes, I said poop.

Dennis Northcutt - WR/PR- signed with Jacksonville
Dreams do come true. Word is that you were as big as, if not a bigger malcontent in the locker room than Braylon Edwards. Given your habit of choking and getting the dropsies in the most crucial moments. (Cleveland will never forget your wide open drop that would have sealed the playoff game versus Pittspuke in 2002.) Of Kevin Johnson, Andre Davis, and Quincy Morgan how did you last the longest? Thank god Jacksonville signed you to a 5 year, $17 million deal. You are nothing more than a punt returner... ass.

Brian Russell - S - signed with Seattle
I don't like this at all. I'm all for giving Brodney Pool a shot and I think he can thrive, but Russell was the leader of the D last year, had a monster 2006 after a sub par 2005 and is still in his prime. With the lack of depth at CB last year, we had a surplus at safety. Whether we can say that this year is yet to be seen.

Terrelle Smith - FB - signed with Arizona
I did a whole blog on Big T. To sum it up... Great guy, wrong scheme in place. Good luck in Arizona.

The Doctor is out.