Cleveland Sports Insiders

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The Sunday Drive with Santana, Salazar, Bauer and LeBron James

With Mother’s Day and Easter behind us, and with the Indians’ locomotive heading towards Father’s Day and the hopeful heat of summer, it’s time for me to dust off the trusty old Smith-Corona PWP 5000 Word Processor (look that one up) and start writing about Cleveland Sports again. With the off-season Cavs and Browns actually becoming more interesting than the in season Indians, there’s plenty to talk about in this week’s Sunday Drive.

I really don’t know where to begin with the Cleveland Indians, so I suppose I’ll start with Carlos Santana.  I was all for the Santana experiment when it started. I was excited even more to see Santana start there when the Tribe announced early in Spring Training that he was going to be the starter.

I’m less excited now.

This is when I wish I utilized my brain for my decision-making skills, and not my heart. Look. We all knew that learning the third base position at the major league level starting in December was a long-shot at best. Hell, I would even go so far as to say that it was an impossible shot, from December through March.

Instead, my trust for Francona-decisions allowed my sense and sensibilities to get thrown out the window. Instead, I kept thinking to myself, “Boy, if he gets out from behind the plate, his offense will improve.”

Think about that. On one hand, Santana won’t be catching all those games, so his legs should be fresh. Of course, he’s learning a new position…and third base to boot. I did talk about one offsetting the other, but my blind belief that he could overcome this without physically seeing him or talking with him was simply idiotic. Continue reading

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Kipnis signs at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Progressive FieldIt’s truly a good time to be a sports’ fan here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Sure, I could wax poetic about Spring Training once again, but it goes far beyond that. NFL free agency is upon us (with the Browns major players), and by this time next week, we’ll be on the eve of the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament. The tournament, for me, has always been the bridge to the opening day of baseball, a sure sign that spring is here, and meaningful baseball is on its way.

It’s truly funny how the tournament has changed since I was a kid. Initially, the tournament seedings were a fairly hidden process, without much fanfare. As a kid, I didn’t pay attention to the brackets until they came out in the middle of a Sports’ Illustrated magazine, with the teams already printed. That segued into the blank newspaper brackets, and selection Sunday, which I would spend writing down every team as fast as I could, always missing one, but going back to the tapes for the random unknown teams such as Middle Tennessee State or LaSalle. That turned into the college poster board brackets, which I would meticulously measure out every bracket just so, and color code all of the teams with their respective ranking, seed and side of the bracket. Of course, these were the centerpiece to some “friendly wagers,” as the quest for yearly bragging rights began every mid-March.

Today, I still create the poster board brackets, and they are still the centerpiece of many “friendly wagers,” but the next week will be swarmed with paid professionals who deem themselves as “bracketologists.” Imagine that, paid professionals who do nothing but build brackets for a living. I distinctly recall my mother saying, “If you put that much effort in school, you’d get a good job.” I remember thinking, “If only they had big money job that involved brackets.”

Little did I know.

While much of our next few weeks will be swallowed up from the opening tips of the conference tournaments to the now clichéd “One Shining Moment” on Monday, April 7th, the Indians will be putting together their final pieces in what hopes to be the next step to a World Series run. In 19 days, the Tribe will kick off their 2014 season in Oakland, and there are many interesting questions heading into the season.

With all of that said, let’s grab our Shamrock Shakes and our posterboard brackets and take a look at some of those questions and expectations that are flying in from the Arizona desert. Continue reading


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Indians’ projections at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Masterson (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Masterson (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

While rationalizations over the firing of Rob Chudzinsky and the Browns’ ensuing head-coach search engross us here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, a relatively quiet hot-stove league is finally set to give way to the sights and sounds of a new and fresh baseball season. In less than a month, 27 days to be exact, pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona signaling the start of the 2014 baseball season.

For most readers of my column, the Browns escapades and the Cavaliers year-to-year folly are mere placeholders for the crack-of-the-bat, the pop of the glove and all of the optimism that comes with the start of every year. The Cleveland Indians won 92 games last season and tasted the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With the major pieces seemingly set, it’s time to start figuring out what is to be expected of the 2014 Indians.

Can this club match the blossoming expectations that are now in place, or is the bar set far too high thanks to an unexpected September run? Regardless of what you believe, the 2014 Indians are set to give the North Coast one thing that neither the Browns nor the Cavs can. Continue reading


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The Sunday Drive with Bynum trades, New Coaches and BASEBALL!!!

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: an Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol trade makes zero sense unless you foolishly believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers can either be a factor in the playoffs or sign Gasol long-term. If you honestly believe that the Cavaliers can do either, than I have a bridge to sell you.

I am not saying that the Cavaliers should call it a season and just start losing basketball games for the sake of losing. What I am saying is that every team needs to weigh how much one player can improve a team in the short-term, vs. the long haul.

What will it cost to get Gasol? If it were just Bynum, I’d be all in. The move saves the Lakers money, and it would give the Cavs a player to keep Anderson Varejao‘s minutes down. That would be a win-win for the Cavs and the Lakers.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, a proposed straight up trade can’t be made since the Cavaliers would have to add another player to it to make it work monetarily. It’s been reported that the Lakers want Sergei Karasev in the deal to give them a piece that they can use in the future, but Bynum and Karasev still wouldn’t get the trade done.

The Cavaliers would have to include one other player along with Bynum and Karasev to make the deal work, and that player would likely be a throw-in, such as Henry Sims. Some wouldn’t consider that a throw-in, some may not. Either way, what short-term or long term goal does this achieve for the Cavs?

Nothing positive.

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Optimistic offense at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

The winds of change are blowing here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, as Drew Stubbs was sent packing to the Colorado Rockies for left-handed reliever, Josh Outman.

The deal in and of itself wasn’t something that should shake the ground that Cleveland Indians fans walk on, but it certainly showcases Chris Antonetti’s drive to reshape this team.

Stubbs became expendable back in November when they signed outfielder David Murphy to a two-year deal, and while there was speculation that Michael Bourn may be the better candidate to deal, it turned out that the initial belief that Stubbs would be dealt turned out to be true.

Who is Josh Outman?

He’s most certainly going to be the second left-hander in the bullpen, after the Indians acquired Marc Rzepczynski last year. He’s the pure definition of a LOOGY, as he absolutely decimated left-handers last year to the tune of .186/.251/.272 over the course of his major league career as both a starter and a reliever.

Outman should also provide a bit of a value gain from Drew Stubbs, as he should make $2 to $3 million less than the former fleet-footed outfielder would have made with the Indians this season.

I know that many people wanted more for Stubbs based on a market that seemingly is overpaying for everything, but he’s likely exactly the right value.

Will this preclude the Indians from making more moves as the offseason continues?

That’s the real question.
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The Tribe Should Stay Away from Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson (photo: AP)

Tim Hudson (photo: AP)

I must confess that I was more than surprised when I heard that the Indians had more than a passing interest in free agent right-hander Tim Hudson. According to Braves beat writer Mark Bowman both the Indians and Kansas City Royals have expressed interest in bringing Tim Hudson into the fold.

There is some linkage between Terry Francona and Tim Hudson, as Francona served as the bench coach for the 2003 Oakland Athletics, as IBI beat writer Jim Berdysz has noted. Granted, I think it would be challenging to find a player in MLB who hasn’t crossed paths with the ebullient Indians manager, and come away not wanting to a part of one of his teams.

Digressing, I must confess that I have some sort of hot stove fanaticism. I find myself incredibly interested by the options the Tribe has and thus will attempt to respond as frequently as possible to any players that the Indians are substantially tied to.

Returning to Hudson question, I believe that the Indians should not pursue this route for a few different but equally important reasons.

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