April 16, 2014

On Asdrubal Cabrera, Francisco Lindor and wanting good things too soon


In life, we often yearn for what we don’t have. “The grass is always greener on the other side” mentality. It happens. We take for granted what is right in front of us. In sports, the same thing often plays out. Fans fall out of favor with certain players, wish for a former star to return, desire another team’s starter or hope for the highly touted prospect to finally arrive.

This is happening right now for the Cleveland Indians, and I just couldn’t take it any longer. It’s not really fair; fans are underrating the player that exists right now. And they’re forgetting just how young a certain prospect happens to be.

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NFL Draft, RubberDucks opener and Blue Jackets playoffs … While We’re Waiting


DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT: Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer writes a defense of Teddy Bridgewater, everyone’s new favorite punching bag. I’ve stated before how much I badly want a young QB. It has to be a no-brainer if he’s miraculously there at No. 4 for the Browns.

Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples also has a detailed look at Carlos Hyde’s training regimen as he works to improve his 40-yard dash time. It’s amazing how much effort and energy goes into these silly combine workouts. But Hyde was a monster at Ohio State; I’d expect him to be the first back taken, although that won’t be until the second round. [Read more...]

Cavs playoff tiebreakers, Danny Salazar’s recovery and Larry Nance Jr. … While We’re Waiting


Tiebreakers: PLAYOFFS!? Well, the Knicks and Hawks are suddenly tied now for the No. 8 seed in the East with the Cavs lurking two games behind. New York and Cleveland each have six left. Atlanta has eight left. [Read more...]

Dayton Flyers, Cleveland’s third baseman and the Cats … While We’re Waiting

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More Flyers madness: Tonight has been 30 years in the making for University of Dayton fans. I know I’m pumped. Per FiveThirtyEight’s odds, Dayton has 50.076% odds against No. 10 seed Stanford. It’s a toss-up. It’s only the second-ever 10 v. 11 game in NCAA tournament history. I’ve been loving all of the recent UD articles trending on social media: like this, this and this.

I’m also especially excited by this project from some of my classmates: Stand4, a new non-profit, is donating meals to Dayton homeless people for everyone that declares as a Flyers fan on their website. It’s just that easy. Click here and sign up. Even if you haven’t been a UD fan forever but just want to cheer on America’s new Cinderella, you should go do this.

I’ll be over at Mullarkey’s in Willoughby tonight if you’d like to join me at one of Northeast Ohio’s many official watch parties. I actually wrote about Mullarkey’s a few years back — it was that Irish pub that petitioned for Mike Mularkey to be the Browns coach back in 2011. The place is owned by John Bowers, father of Brendan Bowers, Stepien Rules overlord and former WFNY contributor.

So giddy for tonight. Go Flyers. [Read more...]

No more-deserving Cinderella than the lovable Dayton Flyers

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Why not Dayton? This was the question asked for decades by the renowned Flyer Faithful. While the once-storied program consistently disappointed, mid-major after mid-major blasted through the gates of the NCAA tournament’s first weekend into the hearts of the nation.

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Justin Masterson’s offer might be fair, but that doesn’t make it good: The Diff

Angels Indians BaseballIt’s a popular opinion to dislike the Dolan family for their ownership of the Cleveland Indians. Ever since purchasing the team in 2000, they’ve been characterized as cheapskates unable to consistently afford to compete in the non-salary cap landscape of Major League Baseball.

Last night’s news that Justin Masterson negotiations have ended for the spring certainly didn’t help that narrative. Per the reports, the team’s ace had been eager to sign a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland after narrowly avoiding arbitration for a final time. Now, it appears he’ll at least test the open markets this winter.

Despite the popular opinions, there actually might be some logic to what the Indians might (or might not) be doing with this maneuver. There might be sound reason for hesitation with Masterson’s reported three-year $52 million offer. Let’s explore some reasons why.

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Justin Masterson negotiations with Indians reportedly end for spring

mastersonredsThe Indians and Justin Masterson have stopped conversations about a long-term deal until after the season, per multiple reports on Thursday night.

The two sides narrowly avoided arbitration last month. That one-year deal worth $9.7625 million will take the soon-to-be 29-year-old into free agency this winter.

For weeks, we have seen rumors of Masterson’s eager willingness to sign a purported short-term, team-friendly deal to stay in Cleveland. Terms were reportedly in three-year $52 million range, as Rosenthal reported.

Masterson was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) last season for the 92-win Indians. We’ll certainly have more on this story on Friday. Stay tuned for our thoughts.

Indians have 2nd-best catchers, FiveThirtyEight and Blake Bortles… While We’re Waiting

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FanGraphs: Indians have 2nd-best catchers, 17th-best first baseman. If you are into baseball stats, you should not only be perusing all of the tools on FanGraphs, but you also should keep an eye on their content. During the 2013 season, their writers had major crushes on both Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Now? It appears they’re pretty high on Yan Gomes. [Read more...]

Playing the Odds: Everything we know about the Cavaliers and analytics

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Where numbers and charts collide with the “eyes and ears” of NBA decision making

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Ohio State’s likely NCAA foe and Browns free agency contracts: While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner wwwAlmost Madness Time: Sunday is Selection Sunday. The Ohio State Buckeyes are currently slotted to be a No. 5 or 6 seed. Who will they likely play? Land-Grant Holy Land’s Matt Brown looks at a number of the possibilities, including potentially Xavier and Dayton. Obviously, regardless of who OSU plays in the second (née first) round of the tournament, it will certainly be nerve-wracking. But an All-Ohio game would be even more chaotic.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, there was a lengthy article by Grantland’s Matt Borcas about appreciating Aaron Craft. This line in particular puts Craft’s game into familiar context for fans: “You probably don’t know Aaron Craft personally, but you definitely know his type. At least, you did in sixth grade. If you doubt this, try to remember your youth basketball coach’s absolute favorite player.”

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Solutions for NBA tanking and Jim Thome wants to play: While We’re Waiting

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By now, you’ve seen the first two renditions of our new version of While We’re Waiting. Andrew got us started on Tuesday. Rick followed up on Wednesday. Now, with my usual bent toward sports analytics and media topics, here’s my first stab at this new format. Hope you enjoy and chime in with your thoughts in the comments.

The 76ers are awful. Like, really, really awful. Is it an “embarrassment”? What needs fixed? Last week, it seemed like the ESPN properties all seemed to gang up on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving’s free agency status. Yesterday, they all appeared to team up to discuss “tanking” and the currently horrendous Philadelphia 76ers. Last weekend, former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy called the 76ers’ current scheme an “embarrassment” to the league. [Read more...]

Who promotes sports analytics? Musings from Day 2 at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference


“So why are you here?”

“I’m here for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this annual sports analytics conference. It’s been happening for eight years. It was at Hynes this year; there were 2,000 attendees. It’s kind of a big deal. It had 2,700 attendees last year.”

“So it dropped?”

“Well, yeah. It was at Seaport last year. They moved it to Hynes this year and knew there would be smaller space.”

“So what sport did it focus on?”

“Well, mostly basketball. Because one of the co-founders is the GM of the Houston Rockets. But it kinda dabbled in other sports. And mostly, teams just supplied talking points and the value was in the hallway conversations. But please, keep asking questions. You’re amazing.”
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What’s up, Sloan? Thoughts from Day 1 of sports nerd heaven

sloan picThis weekend, I’m hanging out at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. It’s an annual nerd heaven. I’m in nirvana. I’ve been dying to go for years. I sincerely wish my colleague Craig Lyndall could be here again this year with me too.

Friday was Day One of the jam-packed two-day conference. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s terrific. SSAC is now in its eighth year of existence. Although its purpose and future is debatable — Paul Flannery had a great look in Boston Magazine — it remains a hell of a lot of fun.

To provide an additional insight into my constant live-tweets from the first day, here are some quick thoughts related to the status of analytics in sports and this sensational conference: [Read more...]

#CavsRank continues with Hall of Fame player Lenny Wilkens at No. 18

Welcome to #CavsRank, the illustrious ranking of the best all-time Cleveland Cavaliers players from some of your favorite Cavs bloggers. Today, Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens checks in at No. 18.

lenny wilkens cavs4Cleveland might not be as synonymous with the legendary Lenny Wilkens as the cities of Seattle, Atlanta and even Brooklyn. But there’s no doubt Wilkens, both as a player and coach, had a profound impact on the Cavaliers franchise.

As a coach, his seven-year run was one of the most successful stretches for any Cleveland sports team. They won 57 games one season and made the Eastern Conference Finals a different year. But always, there were rival squads just a wee bit better and that pesky superstar in Chicago.

That serves fairly well as the epitome of Wilkens’ career. Always second-best, constantly overlooked. Yes, he retired as the all-time winningest coach in NBA history – but he’s since dropped to second place. Of course.

More overlooked than anything, especially in the eyes of today’s NBA fan, is the fact that Lenny Wilkens, 32-year head coach, also was a phenomenal basketball player. He was a Hall of Famer as a player, too. And his playing days included a late-career stint with the fledgling Cleveland Cavaliers. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Welcome to Cleveland, Spencer Hawes

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.


Spencer Hawes certainly fits offensively, but does it really matter? What’s next? “Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Anthony Bennett aren’t gangbusters but hardly lack for talent. Redundancy and inconsistency plague the Cavaliers’s big men, deficiencies owed to youth and health concerns that the presence of Hawes will help mask. His three-point shooting affords Cleveland offensive space the others – despite Varejao’s supreme improvement from mid-range – can’t, and he’s helpful as a passer and rim-protector, too.” [Jack Winter/Hardwood Paroxysm] [Read more...]

A user’s guide to the Luol Deng trade draft picks

luol deng sixers

The Luol Deng trade was over six weeks ago. Yet it seems to still be a major point of confusion for many in the national media. With today’s trade deadline fast approaching, I felt it would be prudent to review the assets exchanged in that Jan. 7 deal.

[Update: Cavs have traded two second-rounders to Philadelphia for center Spencer Hawes. They're reportedly also shopping Tyler Zeller. We'll keep you updated.]

Both teams involved in the deal have been playing better over the past six weeks. Chicago is a very surprising 14-7 since dealing their beloved small forward, moving closer and closer to a safe spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Cavs have now win six straight, their longest stretch in four years, and are 10-10 since Deng’s debut.

For help in reviewing the trade, let’s go back to the official Cavs press release that was sent out around 12:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Here we go: [Read more...]

Ubaldo Jimenez deal simply made more sense for Orioles

Ubaldo Jimenez dealing

Within the context of MLB free agency, four years and $48 million sounds about right for 30-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez. Within the context of MLB economics, it probably just was a more palatable deal for the Baltimore Orioles than the Cleveland Indians.

You see, even though the Orioles had to sacrifice the No. 17 overall pick1, they’re in a peculiar situation with potentially waning oodles of money to spend and in a division that requires spending. The Indians, although seven games better than the O’s in 2013, already have likely reached their spending limit for the coming season. Indications had been a bound for months that a Jimenez return was unlikely – the two sides reportedly hadn’t talked in weeks.

But the financial flexibility difference between Baltimore and Cleveland, although both face significant pressure for 2014, has a lot to do with TV and its associated boom of sports-related revenue. [Read more...]



  1. According to baseball-reference.com, the No. 17 pick has had a 65% success rate of reaching the majors and 8.3 WAR per major leaguer []

New Dodger Chris Perez on Indians: ‘No hard feelings’

Chris PerezThe biggest change for the Indians this offseason is in the bullpen, with turnover related to 45% of the team’s relief appearances from a year ago.

The most recognizable departure, of course, is former closer Chris Perez. He was quickly released on Oct. 31 and was signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 21.

In comments to Ken Gurnick, oft-criticized1 Dodgers beat writer for MLB.com, Perez discusses his feelings toward the Indians, this offseason and his 2013 injuries. Here are the interesting quotes from this Spring Training report:

He said — and he’s shown so far in a few impressive bullpen sessions — that he’s healthy.

“Last year was a learning experience, and I learned I can’t pitch through [injuries],” Perez said. “I felt I had to stay out there. I feel a lot better now. I feel I can pitch back to that [All-Star] level. But I’ve still got to show it. I’m excited for the games to start. I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder. I’ve got something to prove.”

He even thanked the Indians for releasing him quickly, giving him extra time to find a new home.

“No hard feelings,” he said. “I understand why they did what they did. They could have non-tendered me much later.”

Perez, who turns 29 in July, had a 3.73 ERA in his final three seasons with the Tribe. His best season was 2010 where he saved only 27 games, but had a 1.71 ERA. It’s certainly possible he could revert to that form — or, much more likely, the production of a decent middle reliever.

Also this offseason, Joe Smith signed with the Los Angeles Angels and Matt Albers signed with the Houston Astros.

To replace this lost production, the Indians have most notably signed new closer John Axford. They traded away Drew Stubbs for lefty Josh Outman. They’ve also reached small deals with a number of other relievers, including David Aardsma, Scott Atchison, Matt Capps and Mike Zagurski.

[Related: The Diff: Reviewing Indians pitching moves this offseason]

Photo: John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer



  1. If you recall, Gurnick was the one Hall of Fame voter who selected Jack Morris and no one else. []

Cavs could be targeting top agent Mark Bartelstein

bartelsteinAll options appear to be on the table for the Cavaliers as they seek a long-term general manager to replace Chris Grant, and the latest rumored name could be a surprise to many.

The Cavs are currently 20-33 at the All-Star Break and riding their first four-game winning streak in four years. Kyrie Irving will be making his first All-Star start and will attempt to defend his three-point shooting title.

On the rumor front, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported in the wee hours of Thursday night that the team could be targeting veteran multi-sport agent Mark Bartelstein. Here was the report:

Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Cavs have interest in trying to recruit Bartelstein into their management structure as other teams have done in recent years, most notably the Phoenix Suns’ hiring of Lon Babby and the Golden State Warriors’ hiring of Bob Myers.

The Cavs, though, are not expected to pursue significant changes to their basketball department until after the season. And it’s believed within the industry that they would have little hope convincing Bartelstein to leave Chicago-based Priority Sports, which he founded and which represents numerous NFL players in addition to his basketball clientele.

Of course, the Suns and Warriors are looking mighty good in 2013-14, so that could be pushing the Cavs to think creatively about hiring an long-time agent. Priority Sports got its first huge break in 1990 when, ironically, the Cavs handed Hot Rod Williams the NBA’s largest-ever contract at the time.

Among the NBA players Bartelstein currently represents are David Lee, Taj Gibson, Jose Calderon, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward, Tim Hardaway Jr. and former Cavalier Mo Williams. Current NFL clients include Arian Foster, AJ Hawk, Haloti Ngata, Sean Lee, Joe Staley, Tyson Alualu, Isaac Sopoaga and former Browns tackle Tony Pashos. In 2011, he took part in a panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston called “The Decision: How Players and Teams Will Choose in the Future.”

Interim Cavs GM David Griffin is hoping to secure the long-term role after twice rejecting previous openings, Stein said. He’ll have a gigantic opportunity to impress owner Dan Gilbert at the trade deadline, which is only six days away.

While We’re Waiting… Are the Cavs buyers or sellers?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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My good friend at FTS shares the usual options, then mentions this possibility too. “And what if the Cavs are actually buyers? Are they willing to put Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett in deals for star type players, even as they have put together really good games of late? You would think so. But what about short term deals for guys like Pau Gasol? The team already went out and added Luol Deng. If the team really is hoping to make the playoffs, doesn’t it make sense to give yourself every opportunity to get there?” [David Zavac/Fear The Sword] [Read more...]