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I got nothing. Not right now.
Is Andy Dalton a bag of suck? Oh sure, you bet; but now’s not the time. Have I said that Buster Skrine plays good positionally and my greivance is with his size? Yeah* sure, but who cares… cover your ass posts are boring in general and particularly self-centered if done after such a glorious weekend. Squeeze in just a smidgeon of juxtaposition between Dolan’s off-season and Haslam’s…? Oh HELL NO!
No, no, no. Not now.
Because it’s lovely lovely lovely to have a solid Buckeye win at home over a top team; a Browns domination of a perennial playoff team; and the Indians blowing everyone’s mind and getting into the playoffs.
Let’s offer some comment on all three.
1. The Buckeyes.
I sure have some solid memories of national spotlight games in Columbus not going according to plan. That wasn’t the case Saturday. Braxton Miller looks poised running an offense who just won their line of scrimmage battle all night. On defense, who knew Joel Stave had that game in him? The Badgers were just good enough to provide a lot of coachable moments for Coach Meyer and none to soon with the at Northwestern game coming up. The Bucks look good — but not great — and certainly shouldn’t be overconfident going to Evanston.
2. The Browns.
First off, I have to say that watching in a bar is sub-optimal. But my vibe from the game was that it never felt like the Browns weren’t dominating.
Err.. I can’t not write SOMETHING about Jay Gruden’s odd non-use of Gio Bernard and bizarre fixation on five yard under patterns for AJ Green. How a team can have Gresham, Eifert, Green, Sanu matched up against the shortest secondary and not go up top is .. it’s a poser, I’ll tell ya. If I do the Bengals’ blame pie, I’m settling in of equal parts Gruden weak OC, Dalton-bag-o-suck, and Browns defense that good.
Wait a sec, let me kick up the Browns’ defense credit from 33% to 50%. Because Joe Haden’s performance on AJ Green a COUPLED WITH just the right amount of smack talk was so money. I can’t think of a cornerback I’d rather have. Revis? Peterson? Sherman? Nope, I’m good with Haden thanks.
And Hoyer, yes you can be quarterback. You executed the best (only?) screen pass by the Browns in the last 20 years. I actually don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Hoyer is proof that ‘good’ QB is meaningless in the face of ‘smart’ QB or at least ‘competent enough to remember he has a tall tight end who can win jump balls’ QB. Jordan Cameron… didn’t see that one coming either.
3. The Indians.
Like many of you, I lost interest after that Tigers series in August and in particular after that brutal blown
save shutout in the first game. (Cripes, it’s painful even to look at that boxscore.) The responsible blogger/journo in me wants to remind you of some stat on how the Tribe does against good teams. But the fan in me won’t even google it and says in boldface: NINETY-TWO WINS. 15-2 to close the season. Yessir, good things can happen when try to win now and that’s nuf ‘ced on that for now too.
Salazar is a revelation. In fact, the rotation looks like a real rotation with Ubaldo-Kazmir-Kluber-Salazar and what’s up with Masterson? Is he our closer now? See? I really haven’t been paying attention closely enough. The games are on in the background and my ears perk when personal fave Michael Brantley does something awesome.
NBA Draft items.
Very cool to win the NBA Draft lottery.
Lin Len. 7’1″ 255 19 years old from the Ukraine. We haven’t had a real “5” since Brad Daugherty. Sign me up.
It’d be one of the more Cleveland things ever for the Cavs to sign Lebron, win 65 games in the 2015 season, blow through the East … and then lose 4-1 to the Warriors who somehow acquired Dwight Howard and employ an offense of Howard abusing Nerlins Noel down low and kicking out Steph Curry/Klay Thompson drilling threes on the perimeter as a baffled Mike Brown looks on.
(That’s a reference to the 2009 playoffs vs. Orlando.)
But you don’t want to know from me. In 2011, I’d have taken Derrick Williams and then hoped for Enes Kanter. (And I still really like Kanter.) (And I just clicked this link and learned Kanter started two games for Utah last season.) (See dog at right.)
I’m content to ride with Chris Grant’s call. In my opinion, he’s been stellar with every transaction he’s made. Seriously… I can’t think of a move he’s made that looks bad. And he left himself open for second guessing with the TT and Waiters picks. He’s got a courage of convictions which, it appears, is derived from doing lots of homework. We in good hands.
Final draft thought: gotta give an assist to Byron Scott. It would have been easy to win three more games and draft in the New Orleans, Sacto range. But Scott stayed true to the mission:
Scott did his job and did it heroically.
Only partly tongue-in-cheek here. We’re not pro tanking. No not at all. And yet …
Good on Chris Perez for dropping twitter.
I know some like the ability to interact with the athlete via twitter but it’s such a double-edged sword, especially for the thin-skinned. Once you show a chink in the armor, there’s always someone out there to tweak it, just for sport. (Didn’t anyone have little brothers?)
If you’re an athlete with twitter, it’s pretty good policy NOT to interact. Take a tip from Alex Mack: he still hasn’t responded to my request for updates on his contract extension and whether he’ll go into free agency if it’s not done by end of camp. Wise man that Cal grad.
Regarding last weekend, I think I’m willing to chalk up it to a sore shoulder. And even as I write that, I don’t really believe it. Perez has always had a lot of loud outs. With Perez’ commitment to first pitch strikes, it was a matter of time before batters would get the scouting report and starting opening up on him early. Home runs are to be expected.
To be honest, I’d rather have him giving up homers than walks (if that makes any sense). You’re the closer: close. Attack. Challenge. Closers have to have that kind of attitude and sometimes it bites you in the ass. Perez ain’t Gossage and never will be. He’s not overpowering. His strength is, ironically, that god damn attitude that I haven’t liked but could grow to as it matures. (more…)
I see you Tribe. I don’t know what to do with you though. You have a history as a tease.
But I see what you’re doing. Leading MLB in homeruns. Leading the AL in the all important OPS (On-base percentage plus Slugging) number; trailing only the Tigers in the old-fashioned Batting Average stat still favored by Kanick. The strikeouts I was concerned about aren’t a big problem so far, 15th in MLB there.
Mark Reynolds in particular has been a great surprise. The homers are great of course but he projects as 30 HR guy. It’s his work on the strikeouts that’s got my notice. He was a 200 K/yr guy from 2008-2011; a solid 33% SO percentage. So far this year his SO% is 23%. But more than the numbers, you can see that he’s shortening his swing with a two strike count; looking to protect the plate, to make contact. Much like Tristan Thompson and his free throws, the first step improvement is a willingness to change. Reynolds is showing us a lot of that so far.
On the pitching side, the starters began slowly. But they’ve looked better lately. Kazmir’s last performance reminded me of his early years in the Rays when he was a 10+ SO/9 all-star. Bauer, McAllister, Kluber are showing promise.
And then there’s Ubaldo. That’s three wins in three starts after last night. You have to go back to his Colorado days to find another such streak. (Naturally this accomplishment was performed in the same month he was traded to us.) Still, he was hitting 96 mph out of the stretch after 100 pitches thrown last night. You can’t look at that without having some optimism. Added bonus: if he wins five in a row, the whole team will wear stirrup socks for his starts.
I’ll even give Chris Perez an acknowledgement. He looks like he’s lost weight. He’s seems determined to throw first pitch strikes. He’s still and will always be a heart-attack closer, but it’s good to see him tending to his business and keeping his mouth shut.
There’s a lot to like with this Tribe team. I haven’t even mentioned Santana or the bullpen or Raburn. Swisher hasn’t caught fire but he looks to be doing the right things, feels inevitable that he’ll get hot.
You have to give the Indians’ front-office credit. They weren’t afraid to go out and add pieces. And they aren’t even forced to by a salary floor.
- Swisher, 32
- Raburn, 32
- Reynolds, 29
—– Banner/Lombardi would stop here. —–
- Stubbs, 28
- Aviles, 32
- Bourn, 30
- Kazmir, 29
- Myers, 32
- Giambi, 42.
Can you imagine if Shapiro/Antonetti adopted the Banner/Lombardi ‘No Signings over 28’ tack toward free agency? I can. Suffice it to say, Shapiro/Antonetti would not be enjoying the same slack. (more…)
#1: ^^Far and away the best highlight of yesterday’s home opener.
We’ll return to salty observations on sports soon.
But today, can’t help but be struck by the overwhelming evidence supporting our working theory that Cleveland is tops.
#1: Dad muffs foul ball; Clevelander rights potential disturbance in The Force.
In the clip above, Dad and seven year old brought their gloves to the stadium and why not? Seats on the third base line, prime foul ball spot. In fact, we can’t rule out that Dad and son snuck down to open seats on the line late in the blow-out game explicitly for just such opportunity as they would meet.
But with the miracle of a slicing foul ball coming straight at Dad — lifetime memories on the line — .. we have to score it: E-Dad. Patrons a couple rows away reflexively raise hands in exasperation at Dad’s gag. Adjacent fan contributes obligatory and deserved “Boooo.”
But thanks to being in Cleveland with Clevelanders around him, all was made right.
Lifetime memories? Oh yes, this story will be retold by one person in this picture for 60-70 years if all goes well.
#2: Terry Francona confirms the difference between Cleveland and Boston.
“Cleveland is officially the nicest people I’ve ever met,” he said. “Everybody I did walk by said, ‘Hello.’ That’s a little different than I’m used to.”
In fairness, it is confusing to walk from the Residence Inn to the Jake/Q complex. Hopefully the lesson was learned and our manager remembers to use his modified Rascal for his next commute to the field. And anyway, we want Francona-on-scooter to become another thread in Cleveland’s fabric.
So. Michael Bourn. Didn’t see that coming. But honestly, I wasn’t paying close attention.
I noticed Francona, noticed Swisher. ‘Nice name brands,’ I thought, ‘but window dressing.’ Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles… these seem second tier acquisitions to me, but don’t go by me: I still value the batting average and RBI stats. I think batters’ strikeout rates matter. I know. I’m a dinosaur.
Still, Bourn seems like a good get. There’s definitely a lot of fired-up Indians fans on my twitter timeline. But before we wet ourselves, let’s take a step back and review this stellar off-season.
- Stubbs, 28 — .213 w/166 Ks in 2012.
- Aviles, 31 — .250, .282 OBP in 2012, backup only.
- Reynolds, 28 — dude averages 200 Ks/yr in return for his .220 BA and maybe 30 HRs. 2011: 37 HRs yielded 86 RBIs.
- Swisher, 31 — .272/24/93 in 2012; that’s ok I guess. Layer on 141 Ks and it’s less ok. Still the best of the bunch so far.
- Bourn, 30 — .274 BA, .348 OBP, 96 runs, 42 SB + 13 CS.
- Myers, 32 — in 2011 when he was last a starter, 2.8 K/BB ratio (good), 1.31 WHIP (ok), 200+ IP. He plugs a middle rotation hole.
- Matsuzaka? — any production is bonus; he’s been a disaster for the Redsox for some time.
- Kazmir? — currently the only lefty starting pitcher at AAA level or higher, so it’d be really nice if it works.
Our best player has been and still is Michael Brantley.
But the fact of the Indians’ investment in large free-agent contracts indicates that they intend to compete for the playoffs this year. Tack on Bourn’s $12MM to this spreadsheet and the Indians are well over $81MM (and this list seems incomplete) in 2013, up from an opening day number of $66MM last year.
The exact numbers don’t matter: Larry Dolan is spending.
If I’m Dolan, the last thing I want for this playoff contender is the inevitable tangential shitstorm created by my jackass closer.
If I’m the Dolans, I instruct Shapiro/Antonetti to move Chris Perez.
Because a Perez shitstorm is coming. It’s just a question of when.
There have been several articles written evaluating Perez’ performance as well as the general over-valuing of the closer role. My favorite baseball writer (in my opinion, the best baseball writer anywhere), Jon Steiner made the case for trading Perez last year. He focused on several factors but I found the most salient to be: Pestano is better and Perez seems a jerk.
Let’s explore ‘Perez seems a jerk.’ Jon is too kind. Perez is demonstrably a jerk. From engaging in twitter fights with fans and reporters to ragging on Indians fans to breaking player sportsmanship codes to thinking his song of the day is important wrapped up with a breathtaking lack of self-awareness: Chris Perez embodies the most loathsome traits of the entitled, overpaid professional athlete.
Fortunately our friends at Frowns have a catalog that we can consult to jog memories on this issue. Below are some of the jerk-ish incidents just in 2012. When one couples the inevitable Perez outburst with the accompanying fan-on-fan crime created by this uniquely polarizing figure, it raises a real question to ask of the front office:
In our first serious bid for the playoffs in five years, do we knowingly sign on for the inevitable Chris Perez nonsense?
To expect that nothing of the kind will happen this year is simply foolish. So. Is it worth it?