April 16, 2014

Indians lose Giambi for 3-4 weeks

Jason GiambiThe final bench spot for your Cleveland Indians just got a whole lot more interesting.

The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will miss the next 3-4 weeks after an MRI revealed a non-displaced rib fracture on his right side. The injury occurred when Jason was hit by a pitch on March 7th by Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. With less than three weeks remaining until Opening Day in Oakland, don’t be surprised when Giambi starts the season on the disabled list.

Losing the 43-year old leader will cause a ripple effect with the roster. It now opens the door for utility man Elliot Johnson and outfielders Jeff Francouer, Matt Carson, and Nyjer Morgan to snag the extra roster spot. However, with Mike Aviles’s ability to play all over the diamond and the Carlos Santana third base experience going on, could manager Terry Francona go with an extra pen arm to protect the rotation early in the season? We all know how much Tito loves multiple pen options.

It will be interesting to see how things end up shaking out.

(photo via Chuck Crow/PD)

Raburn Rocking, Bauer Rocked: Tuesday Tribe Notes

Josh TomlinWe are now two weeks into the game portion of Spring Training, so it is time to take stock of what we have learned thus far. There are plenty of intriguing battles going on. Some players have made statements, while others are still trying to make up ground. I have kept my ear to the ground and as always, I’ve tried to stay on top of all the goings-on in Goodyear. With just 20 days until the opener in Oakland, I file this report….

While Raburn sizzles, Murphy isn’t ready. Of all of the pleasant surprises of the 2013 playoff season, perhaps none was bigger than the renaissance of Ryan Raburn. A big reason that the former Tiger was so good was the genius of manager Terry Francona. Tito played Raburn perfectly; he didn’t overuse him, picking and choosing his spots, yet he knew when to ride him when he was sizzling. Midway through the season, Raburn smartly signed a two-year extension with the Tribe for $4.75 million. Knowing Ryan is at his best in the role he played last season, GM Chris Antonetti signed David Murphy from Texas to a two-year deal. The rightfield platoon was all set. [Read more...]

The Top Five Tribe Rotations of the Past 20 Years

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With the 20-year anniversary of Jacobs/Progressive Field almost upon us, we will be taking a look at top-fives in each aspect of the Indians on the field.  We started last week with the bullpens and today we will move to the starting rotations. Coming up with five groups was not an easy task. Let’s be honest here: The Indians have for the most part, been built around their offense and bullpen. That was the John Hart model. Hart’s protégé was Mark Shapiro, who took over the GM reigns during the transition of 2001. Shappy groomed current GM Chris Antonetti, but the landscape has changed over the past six years. When the Indians had their best success, it was because their starting pitching was at its strongest.

And with that….. [Read more...]

The Top Five Tribe Bullpens of the Last 20 Years

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Which, if any, late-inning units topped the Bullpen Mafia?

No portion of a Major League Baseball team’s roster experiences more in the way of volatility than a bullpen. One year you think you have it perfect, the next, the same guys look like they don’t belong in the same roles. Sometimes its injury; sometimes its just plain ineffectiveness. But year to year, the ultimate success rate of a bullpen is close to impossible to predict.

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The Tribe’s future rests with the development of Salazar, Carrasco and Bauer

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If you build them, wins will come

I truly despise using the old “in our market” excuse. It is the single worst thing about the game I love the most, Major League Baseball. We all know that the sport is completely unbalanced—the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers can do whatever they want thanks to rich local TV contracts while our Cleveland Indians have to watch every penny. Chris Antonetti’s job is that much harder because he can’t afford to swing and miss on medium-money free agents. On top of that, the drafting and developing of young players is paramount to the success of the organization.

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Tom Hamilton Talks Tribe, Tigers, & AL Central Race

Tom hamiltonTuesday afternoon Indians Radio Play by Play voice Tom Hamilton spoke to Detroit Sports 105.1′s Matt Dery about all things AL Central. Most of the conversation centered about the Jon Morosi piece from FoxSports.com which said  The Indians are right on the Tigers tail. Hammy also hits on the improvements the Indians have made as well as his concern for the hard-charging Kansas City Royals.

Listen here: Tom Hamilton with Matt Dery

Tribe position players face questions as full-squad workouts begin

 Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti

We are getting closer and closer to Opening Day. Last week  the pitchers and catchers arrived in Goodyear to get their work started. Now, the rest of the team has arrived ready to build on last season’s 92-win Wild Card season. The core group is back, with a few additions sprinkled in. The big splash everyone was hoping for was not going to happen. Instead, David Murphy was brought over from Texas to platoon in Right Field with last year’s surprise Ryan Raburn. Everything else will look pretty familiar to you.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues surrounding the starting nine and bench bunch. “The Goon Squad” captured the city’s imagination thanks to their personalities and versatility both on the field and in the clubhouse, but new members may emerge. Then you have the third base situation. As we did last week, let us examine the various questions that will need  to be answered, starting with the talk of the winter in Tribe Town…. [Read more...]

Pitchers and Catchers Report! Wahoo!

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Finally. Baseball is here. I know, I know, its not Opening Day, but today is the day that the Cleveland Indians’ pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona to begin their work. Unlike last February, there are expectations attached to this particular Indians team. They are no longer going to be sneaking up on anybody. Once Terry Francona took over, the culture change took immediate effect. We are no longer “hoping” for a winning team, we “expect” one here in Cleveland. And that’s the way it should be.

Francona and his staff are back and will begin building up and evaluating the pitching staff this morning under the bright Arizona sun. It certainly beats being in Cleveland right now. With camp opening up, let us set the scene with the most important part of any baseball team—the pitching staff. [Read more...]

Brian Windhorst Talks Cavs, Joe Dumars, and LeBron James

brianwindhorstOn Friday afternoon, ESPN.com and former Cavaliers beat writer extraordinaire, Brian Windhorst, spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1′s Matt Dery about a number of NBA topics. Among them were interesting thoughts about Dan Gilbert and his affinity for his Michigan neighbor Joe Dumars, the Pistons general manager, who is currently on the hot seat. Windy also speaks about the Cavs’ missed opportunities to impress LeBron James during this lost season.

Give a listen to the audio here: Brian Windhorst with Matt Dery, Detroit Sports 105.1

Keith Olbermann and Pablo S. Torre Talk Cavs

Everyone seems to be weighing in on your Cleveland Cavaliers and the debacle that this season has become. ESPN’s Keith Olbermann and his guest Pablo S. Torre of ESPN the Magazine broke it down last night on Olbermann’s popular television show. Interesting stuff here not just on the Cavs, but Andrew Bynum, and everyone’s favorite topic, LeBron James.

 

 

Whither Bernie Kosar

Bernie Kosar“He’s got style and class at age 23…..the MVP of the AFC.” 

Growing up in Cleveland in the 1980′s, Bernie Kosar was my hero. He was everybody’s hero. Bernie was the thinking man’s Quarterback. His decisions were decisive; his accuracy, pinpoint. He didn’t have the cannon of Dan Marino or the escapability of his nemesis John Elway, but Bernie had the superior intangibles that helped him reach the top tier of quarterbacks in his prime. From 1985, when he took over for the injured Gary Danielson, through 1989, Bernie was “it.” And he was ours.

I still maintain that the downfall of career came on Opening Day of the 1988 season in Kansas City. Chiefs defensive back Lloyd Burress came on a blitz and hit Bernie under his shoulder just as he was letting go of a big throw. I can remember the play so vividly. From that point on, Kosar was never the same. He would go on to start just nine games that season. The Browns actually used four different starters and still finished 10-6, ultimately making the playoffs. Imagine that in today’s NFL. By 1993, Bernie looked like a shell of his former self and then coach Bill Belichick made one of the most controversial moves in Browns history, releasing Kosar mid-season, citing his “diminishing skills.”

Throughout it all, there was nobody in town more popular than Bernie. Here was the kid from Boardman, Ohio who entered the NFL as a 21-year old who wanted to play in Cleveland more than anywhere else. Heck, he had just spent his college days in Miami, but home is where Kosar wanted to be. All he did was lead the Browns to the AFC Championship game three times in four years, starting at age 23. His best games were on the biggest stages. We all knew the words to “Bernie Bernie.”

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Thursday Tribe Notes

Its cold. Its winter. The Cavs are awful. The Browns Head Coaching search is comical at this point. Lets talk about the best team in town, shall we?

Carlos Santana - Dejak AP1. This Carlos Santana to third base thing took on a life of its own over the past few days. Speaking to ESPN Deportes baseball insider Enrique Rojas, the Tribe slugger said that he is expecting to play Third Base in 2014 and that is all he has been working on this winter. In so many words, Carlos intimated to Rojas that he will be the starter at the hot corner. The quotes seemed a little strange, considering the idea was essentially hatched as an experiment during winter ball.

Then yesterday, Tribe manager Terry Francona met with the media and put some water on the flames. Everyone needs to pump the brakes. [Read more...]

A son, a son and The Cathedral

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New memories made where old ones will live forever. A trip back to the ‘old stomping grounds’ becomes a building block for the future.

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The Qualifier: Can the Indians steal back Ubaldo Jimenez?

Ubaldo JimenezThe waiting……I cant take much more of it. No, I am not talking about the ridiculous and seemingly clueless Browns Head Coaching search. Just get me to Tribe opening day already.

(Let me get it out of the way. If the Browns are indeed waiting on Denver Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase, then fine. I guess. But what happens when the 35-year old decides he doesn’t want the job? Then what?)

OK no more Browns talk. Let me get to the one team in town that actually has a chance to not only get the playoffs, but actually make a run. Yeah. I said it. Why not? Did any of you see 92 wins coming last year? Nope. I know I didn’t. But with Terry Francona at the helm, anything is possible.

Most people think the Indians are all set with their roster. There will be plenty of opportunities on this team to become members of both “The Goon Squad” and the bullpen. The starting rotation seems to be set with the top four guys with three in-house options along with a veteran lottery ticket attempting to be the final piece to the puzzle.

But is there a possibility that the Indians can pull off another late winter surprise?

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My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Terry Francona

Terry Francona

In 2013, no one man had more of an instant impact than Terry Francona
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by an WFNY writer.

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One loss….And I am officially sold

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Last night was an eye opening evening in my favorite sport. As I laid in my bed with a wicked sore throat, I had a few moments of clarity as conference play began all over the country. Iowa State, which is one of the five remaining unbeaten teams, is to me the clear front runner in the Big 12, a league that has been won by Kansas nine consecutive years. The SEC is easily the worst of the power conferences; one of their alleged better teams, LSU, was destroyed at home by Tennessee last night and looked bad doing so. But my biggest perception change for the better came from a team that lost.

I am officially sold on the Ohio State Buckeyes as a Final Four contender.

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The Browns QB Carousel — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 4

If you thought that 2012 was one crazy year in the world of Cleveland Sports, 2013 proved that there is rarely a dull moment. There were good times and bad, hirings and firings, wins and losses, and appearances in postseasons and courtrooms. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last five years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the ten biggest sports stories to grace our local sports scene over the last 12 months. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. Do enjoy.

The Quarterbacks

Stop me if you have heard this one before: The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback. You have all seen the infamous jersey. Since Bernie Kosar, the lord himself, your football team has struggled not just in finding a good, quality quarterback, but a competent one. It is truly incredible how many swings and misses several different regimes have taken with the various men under center. It doesn’t matter whether they went the first-overall pick route (Tim Couch), the first-round path (Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden), the mid-round developmental guy (Colt McCoy, Charlie Ward), the waiver wire pickup (Derek Anderson), the career backup (Kelly Holcomb), or the end-of-the-line veteran (Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia), nothing and I mean NOTHING has worked out long term since the Browns returned in 1999.
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The Tribe Walk-offs – WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories: No. 8

If you thought that 2012 was one crazy year in the world of Cleveland Sports, 2013 proved that there is rarely a dull moment. There were good times and bad, hirings and firings, wins and losses, and appearances in postseasons and courtrooms. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last five years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories to grace our local sports scene over the last 12 months. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. Do enjoy.

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Man, it was a crazy exciting year down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. There weren’t nearly enough fans flocking to see this team, but the ones that did – especially on Friday nights – were treated to some masterful theatre. The calling card of those mid and late 90′s Indians teams that captured our city was the walkoff wins. The 2012 Wahoos did their best to match that drama seemingly almost once or twice a homestand.

11 times this special group sent the faithful home with a walkoff winner that they wouldn’t forget. 11 times. [Read more...]

Outman in — Tribe bullpen takes shape before calendar turns

Josh OutmanIt is not sexy. It is not a needle moving addition. But the Indians got better yesterday. A surplus of right field options has spawned a plugging of another hole. A bullpen gutted by free agent turnover looks as though it has been completely remade.  But will this group come together and be as good as they look on paper?

The addition of David Murphy made last year’s regular right fielder Drew Stubbs expendable. While Stubbs proved to be nothing special and had his issues against right-handed pitching, he still had value thanks to his speed and defense. He is a solid fourth outfielder. The only problem for GM Chris Antonetti was that with the signing of Murphy to platoon with Ryan Raburn, every other team knew that Stubbs was going to be traded. There was little leverage there for Kid Chris. So he did the best he could do and was able to add what could be a key piece to the bullpen puzzle.  I present to you left-handed reliever Josh Outman. [Read more...]

John Axford – A Calculated Risk

John AxfordNot everyone who reads this site is on Twitter. I wouldn’t even dare put a percentage of Wahoo backers who actually engage on Twitter, but it is still a good barometer on the pulse of the fan base. Over the weekend, I noticed a lot of angst amongst Tribe fans after the winter meetings ended without any sort of big roster movement. Sorry, I don’t count adding AAA roster fillers David Cooper and David Adams as needle movers.

However, as I pointed out on Twitter, everyone need to take a deep breath and relax. Think back to last year at this time. Nick Swisher was still more than a week away from becoming an Indian. His actual contract wasn’t signed until January 3. Michael Bourn didn’t join the wigwam until a few days before Spring Training in February. Left-handed starter Scott Kazmir didn’t sign his minor league deal with the Tribe until December 21st of 2012. Even noted bust Brett Myers hadn’t joined the team until after the first of the year. Mark Reynolds’s one-year, $6 million deal was inked December 18. [Read more...]