Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Indians completed their series with the Royals this afternoon, winning 8-3, to take the series 2-1 and even up the season series against Kansas City 3-3. It truly was a series of some great baseball, some bad baseball and some plays you downright couldn't stomach if you are a Tribe fan.

The Good
  • C. C. Sabathia - Wow what an outing on Tuesday. Totally un-hittable. No runner past 2nd base after the second and every hit was a lazy roller or a bloop. No solid contact at all. This from a guy who normally turns it on after the All-Star break. I'm giddy to see how far he can take this.
  • Fausto Carmona - Another solid outing. Ground balls, double plays, one run, seven innings. Niiiiiiice!
  • Franklin Gutierrez - Is Eric Wedge actually playing a young guy? And he actually hits a couple of dingers? Huh. Too bad he couldn't come through in the 9th on Wednesday.
  • Casey Blake - 16 game hitting streak. Actually having some pop in his bat. Delivering with men on base. Who thought a return to third base and hitting int he 2 hole would wake this guy up.

The Bad

  • Tom Mastny - This guy is normally so cool, so calm. Recently, so bad. Two more runs in an inning. Yuck. We need him to find his form. He could be a valuable asset in the 7th and 8th is he gets it straight.
  • Lack of Late Inning Magic - The Indians left 5 men on base in the last two innings on Wednesday and lost 4-3. And they looked particularly pathetic in doing so.
  • The First Time Fear - First time facing Brian Bannister and the second time facing Jorge de la Rosa and the Indians bats wilted away. And all too familiar theme for Tribe fans for over a decade.

The Ugly

  • Jhonny Peralta's Limp Wristed Throwing Style - It might have cost us the game Wednesday. If he throws to first or actually side-arms the ball to Barfield the Indians are out of the inning, down only 3-0, and the game maybe goes to extra innings. Instead he decides to do a Lamar from "Revenge of the Nerds" impersonation. Jackass.
  • Pinch Running for Travis Hafner - In the eighth inning, when he is the tying run, ON FIRST BASE, with one out. Maybe I can see it if he were the tying run on second with one out but dear lord. Instead of Pronk against a righty in the ninth with the bases loaded, enter Franklin Gutierrez. Kid played well in the series, but he should not have been in that spot. Awful managerial decision, Eric.

Next up for the Tribe, a 3 game set in Cincinnati, followed by snow make-up game #2 at home versus the Mariners.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Who can QB? - Brady Quinn

In my final look at the Browns QB situation we look at rookie first round draft pick, Brady Quinn.

Year: Rookie
Height: 6'-3"
Weight: 226
College: Notre Dame

As a three year starter for the Fighting Irish, shattered 36 school records including career pass attempts, completions, yards, yards per game, touchdown passes, and lowest interception percentage. Won 29 games as a starter which is tied for most in school history. Ranks in the top ten in NCAA Division I history in career pass attempts, passing yards, and touchdown passes. Was selected in the 1st Round of the 2007 NFL Draft (22nd overall) by the Browns.

Pros: Just like Charlie Frye, Quinn is Cleveland born and Cleveland bred so he too lives, dies and bleeds orange and brown. Perfect college pedigree after studying under offensive guru Charlie Weis his last two years at Notre Dame. Played in an NFL style system under Weis and thrived in it. Extremely intelligent as he graduated from ND with a double major in Finance and Political Science and was one of the highest scorers on the pre-draft Wonderlic Test given to every draft prospect. Prototypical size for NFL QB, very athletic and calm in the pocket. May have a chip on his shoulder after 21 other teams passed on him in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Cons: Seems to lack accuracy at times on throws to the sideline or down the field. Wears his emotions on his sleeve at times which some consider to be a lack of confidence and leadership. Many of his statistics in college came versus what many believe to be sub-par talent due to the weak schedule Notre Dame carried as an independent program. Suffers from a supposed big game stigma as he failed to win a Bowl Game or a game against a top ranked program during his entire college career. A work out freak, which some consider to be a bad trait for quarterbacks as they need more arm and shoulder flexibility and less muscle mass.

Prognosis: Brady Quinn seems to be the national media whipping boy. From his demeanor at the NFL Draft to his hair style it seems everyone loves to hate Brady... He is not in the same league as JaMarcus Russell... He played against inferior talent... He can't win the big game...

But isn't this the guy who was the consensus #1 pick if he would have come out after his Junior year in 2006? Isn't this the same guy who would have beaten USC if Reggie Bush hadn't illegally pushed Matt Leinart into the end zone in 2006? Isn't this the same guy who has put up monster numbers against top college level talent only to have his defense give up 40+ points and lose?

I'm not saying Brady Quinn is the next Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer or Tom Brady. But I don't think he's the next Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf or Tim Couch. I do think that he will be a more than solid NFL QB for years to come due to his work ethic, determination and desire to prove his doubters wrong.

Now despite all his tools and talent, the NFL game is a totally different speed that the NCAA. Unless he just plays like gang busters in training camp he should not start the season as QB1. Even though the Browns have improved their O-Line and have weapons that neither Tim Couch or Charlie Frye had in their rookie seasons, I get the vibe that Quinn will need some time to adjust to the NFL game (a la Carson Plamer or Steve McNair).

The last thing the Browns need to do is ruin another rookie QB like Couch or Frye, especially one that actually has a ton of talent. Quinn needs to learn for a year or so. Play here or there in 2007 when the situation allow it and build for launch in 2008. The 2007 Cleveland Browns do not have a large chance to be a factor in the NFL. The 2008 Cleveland Browns do. Especially now that they have their "Franchise QB" on their roster.

And for those who say the Browns gave up too much for him with the 2008 1st round draft pick... the only two "top tier" QBs coming out in 2008 are Brian Brohm of Louisville and Colt Brennan of Hawaii. I will take Brady Quinn over them in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Who Can QB? - Charlie Frye

In my second look at the Browns QB situation we look at third year pro, and incumbent starter, Charlie Frye.

Year: 3
Height: 6'-4"
Weight: 218
College: Akron

Holds 54 of Akron's career passing and total offense records. Four year starter. One of 16 QBs to throw for over 2,000 yards in 4 different seasons in NCAA Division I history. Won the 2004 Mid American Conference award for top player in the conference.

Pros: Cleveland born and Cleveland bred. Lives, dies and bleeds orange and brown. Gritty, tough, fierce competitor who hates to lose. Incredible durability despite the insane number of hits he's taken in two years in the NFL. Great athlete. Able to avoid the rush with his legs, make plays in the running game and cause the defense nightmares with his mobility.

Cons: Lacks the prototypical NFL arm strength as his balls seems to float as the distance of the throw increases. His mobility often causes more harm than good as he often runs into sacks, out of the designated play and into trouble. Seems to have happy feat due to the amount of punishment he has incurred. Questionable leadership skills as rumblings were that last season he did not have the "huddle presence" to shut up some of the other voices on the team.

Prognosis: Charlie Frye is going to start the 2007 season opener barring an amazing camp by either DA or the Golden Boy. He finally has an NFL caliber offensive line in front of him and it will be interesting to see how he responds to it. Will he respond by getting his confidence back, taking the QB job and start showing the intangibles that made scouts drool when he was in college? Or has he been too beaten up, just like Tim Couch was, to the point that his psyche is beyond repair? Frye still has the ability to be an NFL caliber starting quarterback but will it be in Cleveland? Sometimes it's tough to come home. I hope he makes it, and something tells me he will, but something tells me that it will be with another NFL team. I hope the added competition and the steadily improving talent makes it happen in Cleveland.

Eastern Conference Champions

Well, despite the criticism and skepticism heading in to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals the Cavs pulled off the upset knocking off the Detroit Pistons by winning 4 games in a row to advance to their 1st NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. They will take on the San Antonio Spurs starting Thursday.

For all the complaints about Coach Mike Brown's offense, most of which are deserved, no one can doubt the incredible defensive schemes and strategy he brings to the table. That combined with LeBron James finally taking it "to the next level" and the emergence of Daniel Gibson the Cavs are somewhere that no one expected them to be.

They now stand 4 wins away from Cleveland's first major sports championship since the 1964 Browns captured the NFL Championship.
In the immortal words of Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger):

"I guess there's only one thing left to do... Win the whole, fuckin' thing."

Indians Split With Tigers

Not much of a recap due to me throwing a bachelor party in DC over the weeekend. After winning the first two games of the series the Tigers bats awoken to thump the Indians in the last two leaving the two teams where they started the series, with the Tribe 2 1/2 games ahead. The Tribe went 6-4 in 10 games versus the Tigers and Red Sox, one less than my decree of 7. Close but no cigar.

The Indians bats seemed to awaken for the series but their pitching did them no favors. Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers both did not make it through five innings and the bullpen was shaky at best. With C. C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Paul Byrd pitching so well it is disheartening to see Lee and Sowers be so bad. The bullpen still needs to define their roles as only Aaron Fultz and Rafael Betancourt can be relied upon.

Let's look on the bright side: the Indians are 1/3 of the way of the season, in first place, and still haven't played their best baseball of the year.

A day of tomorrow before Kansas City visits for 3. Memo to Eric Wedge... a sweep would be nice considering the SIZABLE talent gap over the Royals