July 23, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Previewing the Tribe, Cavs at the break and Steelers clearing cap space

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

From Grantland’s Indians’ team preview- “IF EVERYTHING BREAKS RIGHT: The Indians make the Tigers sweat. Detroit will be tough to beat after the addition of Fielder to a very good roster. But the rest of the division could feature three sub-.500 teams (the Royals are headed in the right direction, but their starting pitching is still iffy), giving the Tribe a chance to rack up a strong intradivision record. If that’s not enough to win the Central, it could be enough to contend for a wild card. Especially if each league adds a second wild card team this year (it’s February 23 — we still don’t know).

IF EVERYTHING GOES WRONG: Sizemore and Choo don’t bounce back, Chisenhall continues to scuffle, and the rest of the American League proves too tough to overcome. Even in that scenario, though, this still looks like a .500-or-better team.” [Keri/Grantland]

“I had hoped for this young group, centered around Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, to show signs of progress as this season went on. I wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like heading in, but in hindsight the evidence of such progress is tangible. Kyrie missed his first game winning shot against the Indiana Pacers, a lay-up that went around the rim and down just before popping out. Since then, he’s capitalized on approximately five game winning or game clinching shot opportunities. He’s become accustomed to going nuts in the 4th quarter, scored 17 points in that final period of the Cavaliers last win, and closed out teams like the Dallas Mavericks in that same fashion as well. More than the shots he has hit though, is his specific willingness to take them. Every time.” [Bowers/Stepien Rules]

“Lowe understands he will be looked upon for leadership, but also realizes he needs to balance those skills with his own job. “There is a fine line there,” Lowe said. “I have always enjoyed working with younger kids and just talking about the stuff that I have learned. But also with that being said, you’re here to do a job.” So leading by example is what Lowe wants to do, but he’ll have to correct whatever it was that contributed to his worst season in the big leagues. [Camino/WTAM]

I swear they do this every year. Anyone else find this fishy? “The Steelers are close to being under the salary cap after restructuring the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Pittsburgh clears about $8 million by reworking Roethlisberger’s deal. This is the latest in a series of moves the Steelers need to make to get out of their $25 million salary-cap hole, but more work needs to get done if the Steelers want to retain wide receiver Mike Wallace.” [Hensley/AFC North Blog]

Someone’s interested in the new slam dunk format. This piece is worth checking out for the dunk videos- “So why is there any reason for positivity? For one, the new single round format might actually work. Call me crazy, but the multi-round format of previous years has ruined what could have been some great dunk contests. Take Andre Iguodala’s performance in the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest. His alley-oop from Allen Iverson caught off the back of the backboard was probably the best dunk from that year’s event, but it came in the penultimate round and Iguodala ultimately lost to the diminutive Nate Robinson in a dunk off. Robinson’s dunk over Spud Webb signaled the turn of the contest towards a weirdly meta, prop-based approach to the dunk contest. Plus it took him 14 attempts to put it in. Iguodala was, in short, robbed.” [McPherson/Hardwood Paroxysm]

“Grady Sizemore: When a player starts to get injured as frequently as Grady Sizemore has been the last few years—he’s played in just 210 of a possible 486 games since 2009, and barely more than 100 combined the past two—he begins to fade from your consciousness. So it was not until I was looking over Sizemore’s card that I remembered just how good he was. From 2006 through 2008, Sizemore put up a .879 OPS (130 OPS+) while averaging more than 30 steals per season at a better than 80 percent success rate, and playing excellent defense in center field besides. For that three-year period, he was arguably one of the five best players in the major leagues. Since then, injuries have relegated him to status as a forgotten man.” [Barbieri/Hardball Times]

  • Boomhauertjs

    If everything goes wrong for the Tribe, they’re going to lose over 90 games and have a late July firesale that could include Choo, Cabrera, and Jimenez.

  • MrCleaveland

    1. You can’t blame the Steelers for restructuring contracts to stay under the cap. They would be dumb not to.

    2. Nice to see Nick Camino in the mix.

  • Natedawg86

    Our best hitter (BA) is hitting 6th with a .282?  Oh man, in order to compete we need to have at least a few in that range with 1 breakout hitting .300+  Still hoping Sizemore will bouce back but the last few years he looks a lot slower and not as smooth.

  • mgbode

    I agree that’s it is awfully optimistic to think that the worst case scenario means we’ll have a better record than last year.

    (disagree on the firesale this year in worst case - at least with those players)

  • mgbode

    it’s weird.   if we stay somewhat healthy, then I am much more worried about our pitching this year than our hitting.  everywhere I read says the opposite.  

    I mean, not only is Choo batting 6th, but I think that makes sense (could switch him and Hafner, but either way it should work).    I think if we end up with Hannahan at 3B, then that should work to start the year as we need his defense more than Chisenhall’s batting with that lineup.

    but, after Masterson, we have a whole bunch of ? in the SP department.
    Ubaldo – can he rebound and start pitching like the ace he could be?
    Tomlin – was the 2nd half regression a sign of things to come?
    Lowe – can he rebound even though he’s in his upper 30s?
    5th starter – who will grab this spot?  will they be able to pitch well enough to keep us in games?  Note: pretty much every team worries about the SP5, so this one is minor.

    I do feel good about SP6-8.  I think we have more SP depth than most teams.

  • mgbode

    also, current pet peeve of mine is writers talking about “already strong Detroit team that added Prince” without mentioning they lost V-Mart.

    V-Mart ’11 OPS+ = 132
    Prince ’11 OPS+ =  164

    Yes, they got better (unless Prince’s weird odd year regression continues).  But, it must be stated that they lost a very good hitter and added a great one.

  • mgbode

    the writer on the NBA dunk contest focuses on dunks during games, but that is silly.  Budinger doesn’t “showcase” dunks during games but has shown in the past that he is capable of touching the top of the backboard (ridiculous hops from the Volleyball All-American).    Also, Jeremy Evans is probably the best dunker in the NBA right now. 

    I was very happy those 2 were involved.  Derrick Williams will probably win though because more people recognize his name (and he’ll probably have some lame prop-dunk to do it).

  • Harv 21

     
    that makes me a little nuts, too. Also, is it assured that Verlander will be healthy and a Cy Young candidate consecutive years and if he isn’t dominant how will they run away with the division?
     [This may be my annual pre-Spring Training wishful nonsense bubbling up with the tree sap] 

  • mgbode

    and Fister’s small sample size growth was real and that their pitchers and lineup will remain as healthy as it was last year.  just like how the Red Sox and Phillies were guaranteed to meet in the WS last year.

  • Steve

     It’s the nature of projections. They’re usually conservative. The Tigers have only one guy projected to break .290

  • bee cee

    what happens with lowe will depend largely on an offense that averaged 6 runs in 80 wins but only 2.73 runs in 82 losses last year. last season lowe was 8-4 when the braves scored at least 3 runs, and 1-13 when the braves scored less than 3 runs. 

    last year verlander, sabathia, cliff lee & roy hallday went 6-22 in games where they had less than 3 runs of support, so even if lowe had had a sub 3 ERA, the best you could have expected was 11-15 going 3-11 with no batting support. and i doubt that it’s worth an extra 15 mil in salary for those extra two wins given that each of those aces is making $20+ mil a year and we’re paying lowe only $5 mil.
    if the indians score an extra 40-50 runs AND distribute them in a way that results in at least 20 more games where the offense scores at least 3 runs, i like our chances to compete.================
    yeah sizemore *was* once a 30-30 guy, but i doubt that he has the same speed he used to have. he had that great start when everyone was challenging him with fastballs, but the pitchers adjusted and fed him curveballs the rest of the season. i will be grateful if sizemore turns it around but i don’t expect it.