WaitingForNextYear http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:13:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Cavaliers trade Carrick Felix, other assets to Utah for non-guaranteed contracts http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cavaliers-trade-carrick-felix-other-assets-to-utah-for-non-guaranteed-contracts/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cavaliers-trade-carrick-felix-other-assets-to-utah-for-non-guaranteed-contracts/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:13:38 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123981 NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Press ConfereceYahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting Monday night that the Cavaliers have agreed to trade Carrick Felix, plus other assets to the Utah Jazz for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.

This trade would seem to indicate that a move for Kevin Love would be closer to completion. Stay tuned folks.

[Related: All you need to know about trading for Kevin Love]

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cavaliers-trade-carrick-felix-other-assets-to-utah-for-non-guaranteed-contracts/feed/ 6
Cavs “firmly in lead” to acquire Kevin Love http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-news-rumors-draft-wiggins-cavs-contract-trade/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-news-rumors-draft-wiggins-cavs-contract-trade/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:50:15 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123967 Photo1

Andrew Wiggins is one step closer to being an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether or not he ultimately reaches that destination remains to be seen.

The Golden State Warriors were long considered to be the Cavs’ lone rival in obtaining Love as they refuse to include swingman Klay Thompson in discussions given Love’s potential to leave after one season. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst report that the Chicago Bulls—one of the choice destinations for Love—have also entered into the fray1, but the Cavs remain “firmly in the lead” in a deal that would center around Wiggins. The Cavs are reportedly increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

The Associated Press has confirmed an earlier report from Windhorst that states the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick will sign his rookie contract with the team. Wiggins has been the topic of trade talks since being selected this past summer, the 6-foot-8-inch shooting guard being the top target of the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to deal power forward Kevin Love before he reaches free agency. Last week, the AP cited two people familiar with the discussions in saying that the Cavs were still not willing to include Wiggins in a deal despite previous reports to the contrary.

Once the deal (said to be worth roughly $5.5 million in 2014) is inked, the Cavs would be prohibited from dealing the rookie for 30 days. Prior to being signed, Wiggins’ value in a trade was zero. If the Cavaliers do decide to part ways with the highly touted swingman, they would be $5.5 million closer to the required $12.56 million needed to acquire Love. Other players rumored to be involved include Dion Waiters ($4.06 million) and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett ($5.56 million).

[Related: Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”]

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler appear to be their starting point.
]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-news-rumors-draft-wiggins-cavs-contract-trade/feed/ 16
Bauer, Swisher, and a theory on baseball aesthetics http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/bauer-swisher-and-a-theory-on-baseball-aesthetics/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/bauer-swisher-and-a-theory-on-baseball-aesthetics/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:00:43 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123899 Jon is in a bit of a writing rut, so he’s asking the WFNY gang to help him get out of it. After circulating some juicy topics around WFNY Headquarters, Craig said he was interested in talking Trevor Bauer, Nick Swisher, Travis Hafner, and what it means to like some players more than others.  So we did that. We’ve got some more of these in the hopper and we’ll try to keep the discussion going in the comments as well.

WFNY_roundtable

Craig - I obviously root for anyone wearing an Indians uniform, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Even as a young, impressionable baseball fan, I knew the dangers of standing up for Albert Belle. I cut my teeth as a co-dependent sports fan when I tried to defend Belle’s plastering of Fernando Vina.


I know better now, but as a 17-year-old, I defended that play. It’s embarrassing to me now. This current Indians team doesn’t have that kind of personality, but I don’t find all current Indians players easy to root for. Two current examples for me are Nick Swisher and Trevor Bauer.

It’s weird too because they both have value and are helping the Cleveland Indians. Bauer disappointed last season, but by all accounts worked hard to figure some things out. Swisher has disappointed in each of his two years with the Tribe as a box score contributor, but there’s little doubt that he adds value in the locker room and makes his teammates better. There’s just something about these two, between Bauer’s incoming reputation as a bit of a punk, and Swisher’s incessant frat boy “Bro” style that he is happy to portray loudly that makes them a bit difficult for me to root for.

Jon - I appreciate your bigger point about the difference between “rooting for” and “liking”.  I root for the team to do well, which means, almost by default, I root for its constituent members to do the same. But man, there are I players I have some trouble warming to.

What’s interesting to me is why I like some guys less than others. I hope it’s not personal/personality related, as that would make me a prejudicial jerk (reminder: I have not actually met any of these guys). I like to think more that there are “types” of players I find difficult to like—something a bit closer to a theory of baseball player aesthetics. What sort of ballplayer do like?

Let me talk about Bauer here first, as I think he’s ultimately the more interesting case.

If you would have asked me last year to describe my favorite sort of pitcher, it would likely have included these words, in no particular order: “young”, “cost-controlled”, “strikeouts”, “upside”.  Bauer has all of those and yet….  Well, and yet something is missing for me.  Is it that he’s just not Danny Salazar, for whom I maintain copious stashes of undeserved love? Is Bauer just a bit…cold? Maybe, but I don’t quite think so.

What Bauer lacks for me is probably best described as “efficiency”.  Consider: for his career Trevor Bauer has averaged 4.06 pitches per plate appearance.  For reference, league average is around 3.82 and Corey Kluber, one of my absolute favorites, is at 3.70 this season.

Now, you can be a very successful pitcher and be inefficient.  Strikeouts, after all, often require longer at bats than plate appearances ending with a batted ball.  But on the aggregate inefficient pitchers don’t pitch deep into games, and their games take longer to complete—both things I tend not to enjoy. Bauer has averaged more than 104 pitches per start this year, has lasted six or fewer innings in seven of his starts, and has completed seven innings only once.

Am I being nitpicky here?  Yes, I probably am. We’re lucky to have landed a pitcher with as much talent as Bauer for one year of Choo. But more interestingly, I learned that I care about pitcher efficiency in ways I didn’t know I did.

As for Nick Swisher, I too don’t much care for his over-the-top ebullience.  But I also don’t enjoy OPS’s that start with a “6″ from my nominal DH. Applying a similar template to Swish as we did for Bauer, I tend not to love players who are: “on the wrong side of 30″; “making eight figures”; “defensively challenged”, or “generally declining”.  It’s not that players like this can’t be useful, either. Derek Jeter has been all of these things for 12 years and he’s been quite valuable during that time.  I just find these guys a little hard in general to get warm and fuzzy about.

Which is really a shame, because if anybody wants—NEEDS—people to feel warm and fuzzy about him, it’s Nick Swisher.

Craig - And that’s one of the major things that makes me feel good about Swisher even as I simultaneously despise “BROhio.” I don’t have to feel warm and fuzzy about him. His teammates and manager on the other hand do.

In another email you referred to a comparison of Swisher and Hafner due to cost and productivity. It’s an interesting comparison because it’s worth discussing how much of a drag a guy’s contract places on a team like the Cleveland Indians, but the intangibles that Swisher brings to the club shine above and beyond those of Travis Hafner. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tribe players had Hafner’s back and he was one of the guys in the locker room, but I don’t know that he had much in the way of contagious spirit. I always feel a little bit squirrely talking about something as nebulous and incalculable as the contagiousness of positivity and how it impacts a team performance. It gives me post-war flashbacks to arguing with Yankees fans about the intangibles of Scott Brosious back in the late 90′s. However, I think it’s instructive when comparing someone like Nick Swisher to Travis Hafner. Baseball is a chemistry game and Nick Swisher is a world class teammate if nothing else.

As for Bauer, I think you assigned some actual statistics to describe why I am not totally in love with him as a player yet. Those efficiency marks for pitchers seem to be closely aligned with the entertainment values of watching their games.

Jon - The parallels I draw between a guy like Swisher and a guy like Hafner probably have more to do with a snake-bitten fan base than any real-world similarities between the two guys.  As you point out, Hafner was a quiet leader, seemingly shy and aloof. The next time someone calls Nick Swisher shy and aloof will be the first.  The guy who does it will also get a high five, because SWISH LIKES LEARNING NEW WORDS, YO!

The reason they strike similar chords for me is more about what both represent to the fanbase, and how they’ll be perceived because of it.  Both Hafner and Swisher signed four-year deals that would’ve appeared very reasonable if they’d been able to perform in the future as they had in the past. Both were big swings for the franchise–large allocations of the budget spent on a single player arguably past his prime.  Both saw their offensive and defensive production decline precipitously in the years following their contracts.

I find it interesting, though, mostly because the sort of decline Hafner had is not supposed to be typical.  From 2004-2006 Hafner was arguably the best hitter in the American League. Then from 2008 through 2012 he was among the 12 worst.  This is not an aging “curve”; it’s an aging cliff.  And it’s supposed to be a freak occurrence.

But we’re Cleveland fans, and gosh if it doesn’t feel like it’s happening all over again.  For Nick Swisher’s entire career he’s never had an OBP below .300 or a slugging percentage below .400, and then, the year after signing a franchise record contract in Cleveland (breaking the record Hafner had set six years before), Swish is below both those figures.  His defensive versatility–once adequate in right and above average at first–seems to have disappeared entirely.  If things don’t change soon, we’ll be left with an overpriced, aging DH who can’t hit, which, on my list of aesthetically pleasing attributes exists somewhere below “Tomo Ohka”.

None of this is to say that either contract was necessarily stupid at the time, or that Shapiro is a villian or that Paul Dolan swims through piles of YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY ala Scrooge McDuck.  It’s only that, not unlike me, the Indians appear to have a weakness for a certain brand of baseball player.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/bauer-swisher-and-a-theory-on-baseball-aesthetics/feed/ 45
Jason Kipnis still bothered by oblique http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-kipnis-still-bothered-by-oblique/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-kipnis-still-bothered-by-oblique/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:30:11 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123942  

Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis was named the American League Player of the week on Monday, but readily admitted that he has not felt the same since straining his oblique muscle back in April.

“I wouldn’t use the word progress, I’d use the word adjustment,” said Kipnis. “As far as the oblique goes, it’s going to be there all year. It’s not going to go away until the offseason. What I can do is find a swing that works for me. I thought we may have found something coming out of Detroit. It was a step in the right direction and we’re going to keep making adjustments day to day and pitch to pitch and see how it goes.”

Kipnis missed about a month after straining his right oblique muscle in late April and he’s still trying to make adjustments to his swing in order to get comfortable. He went 5-for-15 (.333) with two homers and six RBI during a big four-game series against the Tigers, but it appears that a return to last season’s All-Star form at any point in 2014 may be a pipe dream.

On the season, Kipnis is hitting .258 (.706 OPS) with five home runs, 14 doubles and just 30 runs batted in. His isolated power is down almost 60 points year over year, trending at a career-low mark of .110, and his batted ball distance on homers and flies has dropped 20 feet from last year to this one—both numbers unlikely to be aided by his ailing oblique.

“It’s just one of those things that’s going to be there,” Kipnis said.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-kipnis-still-bothered-by-oblique/feed/ 0
Dion Waiters added to US Men’s Select Team http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/dion-waiters-added-to-us-mens-select-team/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/dion-waiters-added-to-us-mens-select-team/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:09:56 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123943 waiters sullinger

Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters is one of 13 NBA players named to USA Basketball’s Men’s Select Team. The Select Team is essentially a practice squad for the Men’s National Team. Kyrie Irving was on the Men’s Select Team prior to the last Olympics.

“USA Basketball’s Select Teams are critical for getting some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players experience at the USA National Team level, and getting them into our pipeline,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team managing director.

Both the National team and the Select Team will train in Las Vegas July 28-31, in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

In addition to Waiters, the Men’s Select Team is comprised of Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks), Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic), Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Miles Plumlee (Phoenix Suns), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets)

Kyrie Irving is the lone Cavalier on the Men’s National Team this year. LeBron James will not be participating in the FIBA tournament.

[Related: Whitlock says Canadian players "don't want it as much"]

 

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/dion-waiters-added-to-us-mens-select-team/feed/ 4
Mike Pettine: Josh Gordon is a Cleveland Brown http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nfl-news-rumors-josh-gordon-cleveland-browns/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nfl-news-rumors-josh-gordon-cleveland-browns/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:43:48 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123926 gordonbrownonbrown

In a recent interview with The Akron Beacon-Journal, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine reiterated that the team has no plans to cut maligned wide receiver Josh Gordon in the wake of his troubled off-season.

“We’re firm,” said Pettine. “We want to find that middle ground. Josh is a Cleveland Brown. We want to do what’s best for him. We have a player that potentially needs help. Whether it’s him or whether it’s anybody else that wears the uniform, if we can help, we’ll help. We want to make our decisions always, what’s best for the player, and you try to marry it with what’s best for the team. So that’s why I don’t think that cutting him, while it may have worked for some other people, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the best option here. It might be the worst option for both — for us and for him. We’re going to wait and see what happens and then act accordingly.”

Pettine would not get into details regarding how the team can, or will, help Gordon as the league is allegedly sensitive to substance abuse issues. Coincidentally, it’s the league that has yet to determine whether or not Gordon—who reportedly violated the league’s policy earlier this offseason—will miss any games for the 2014 season.

Coming off of a Pro Bowl season wherein Gordon led the league in receiving (despite missing two games), the 23-year-old was expected to be the top target for quarterback Brian Hoyer or newly drafted Johnny Manziel this coming year. The Browns added veterans Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin to help bolster an already top-heavy unit. If Gordon misses any time, or even a full season, Pettine iterated that the team will not be able to replace such a talent, but will instead have to draw up creative schemes that will help hide their considerably weak receiving corps.

“You don’t replace him,” said Pettine. “I think you have to get creative. It’s got to be a committee approach, and I think you also have to get creative in how you run your offense whether it’s an extra tight end — that’s where adding Jim Dray and having a veteran like Gary Barnidge helps — [allowing] you to maybe move Jordan [Cameron] around a little bit and play with groupings that maybe involve less wide receivers. You don’t become as wide receiver dependent… I think we have more options there than maybe people think.”

The team believes they will hear word on Gordon’s future within the next 10 days.  The two years remaining on his contract will be tolled if he is indeed suspended. The Browns, theoretically, could have an elite talent at salaries of $825,000 in 2015 and $1.06 million in 2016. Training Camp is set to begin on Saturday, July 26.

 

 

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nfl-news-rumors-josh-gordon-cleveland-browns/feed/ 4
Les Levine talks about LeBron James, Johnny Manziel and local sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-22 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/les-levine-talks-about-lebron-james-johnny-manziel-and-local-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-22/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/les-levine-talks-about-lebron-james-johnny-manziel-and-local-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-22/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:42:07 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123927 WFNY Podcast LogoI haven’t had Les Levine on in a while, but it’s always great to catch up. Here are some of the topics we discussed.

  • Reporting in the modern world
  • Chris Broussard and needing to be right a minute ahead of the next guy
  • Les’ history of reporting things and “being wrong”
  • LeBron James coming home
  • Johnny Manziel’s partying lifestyle and social media
  • Not living dangerously
  • Joe Lull’s report on Dan Gilbert’s plane

Check out this episode!

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/les-levine-talks-about-lebron-james-johnny-manziel-and-local-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-22/feed/ 0
Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Pierre Desir http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-browns-film-room-a-look-at-pierre-desir/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-browns-film-room-a-look-at-pierre-desir/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:00:59 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123608 Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West.

photo3

Each NFL Draft class brings in a melting pot of former college athletes from all kinds of backgrounds. Some grow up in the classic middle-class, two parents house-hold with the picket fence that the media glorifies. Others struggle their whole lives to not just make it to the NFL, but the survive. Despite the struggle many prospects go through, rarely is this fight to make “The League” more obstacle-laden than the journey of rookie cornerback Pierre Desir.

An immigrant from Haiti at the age of four, a dad by fifteen, Desir has spent his entire life fighting adversity and instilling a maturity greater than that of his peers. He eventually ended up as a walk-on at division II Lindenwood University, a far cry from his initial offer of a scholarship from Washburn University to play football. Working part-time jobs, taking classes, and playing football, Desir somehow managed to persevere through a massive commitment to his family, school, and the game of football. He has recently accomplished what his triumvirate of responsibilities kept him from achieving for so long. Desir has married the woman he had a child with at fifteen, earned a degree from Linderwood University while appearing on the MIAA Academic Honor Role, and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Not bad for a walk-on to a Division II program.

Since Pierre Desir attended such a small school and was not picked in the top couple rounds, the available film on him is scarce, to say the least. Our friends at DraftBreakdown had one chopped-up film on their site for me to break down, and it just so happened that this is not Desir’s greatest game. Therefore, this piece will likely be abbreviated in comparison to the other five analyses of draftees. In any case, thanks for joining me for this series and go Browns!

 

Positives

Ideal Size:

With the additions of Desir and first round pick Justin Gilbert, Mike Pettine has a clearly defined idea of what his cornerbacks look like. Desir and Gilbert are six-foot-one 198 pounds and six-feet 202 pounds, respectively. But most importantly, they both have arms of 33 inches, a feat that only two other cornerbacks in the 2014 Combine can match. This unique length allows Desir and Gilbert to jam receivers more easily as well as go up for the ball and either knock down a pass or get an interception. Desir utilizes his tall, lanky frame to his advantage, often out-jumping receivers or using his length advantage to make up for any distance between himself and a receiver.

The idea of using larger corners to give receivers challenges at the line was most recently popularized by the Seattle Seahawks who managed to hold Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos record-setting offense to just eight points in Super Bowl XLVIII. Richard Sherman and company used their size and physicality to knock the Broncos’ wide receivers off of their routes, a strategy no one was able to successfully apply yet. Desir and Gilbert’s size will give Mike Pettine many options as to how best to stop the passing game. Desir has a natural advantage with his size and length that he must fully incorporate into his game if he wants to make the leap from division II cornerback to NFL starter.

Height

Weight

Arms

40-yd dash

Pierre Desir

6’1

198 lbs

33”

4.59 seconds

Justin Gilbert

6’0

202 lbs

33 1/8”

4.37 seconds

SEA starting cornerback Richard Sherman

6’3

195 lbs

32”

4.56 seconds

SEA starting cornerback Byron Maxwell

6’0

202 lbs

33 1/2“

4.46 seconds

Great Ball Skills:

During his career at Washburn University and Lindenood University, Pierre Desir produced twenty-five interceptions, setting many school and national records. At Lindenwood, Desir spent two years patrolling the defensive backfield, totaling thirteen interceptions and twenty-six passes defended. Desir earned the Cliff Harris Award, given to the best small college defensive back, as a Senior. Simply put, he has been the most productive defensive back in division II football for years and has absolutely dominated inferior competition.

As seen below, Desir is able to stay stride-for-stride with wide receivers and consistently knock down or intercept passes. When watching film of him and deep balls, Desir often looks like a wide receiver when the ball is in the air, understanding where the receiver is, yet trying to put himself in the best position to make the catch. On the play below, he steps in front of the wide receiver and picks off the ball as if it was thrown to him.

desir-07-compressor

On the next play, Desir plays defense on a receiver running a deep fade. He is able to run with the wide receiver perfectly, never losing a stride. However, the most impressive part of the play is that when the receiver starts to look back, Desir turns his head and locates the ball within a fraction of a second to pick the pass off. Having the ability to adjust to the ball that quickly is rare in the NFL and he adds a play-making element in the defensive backfield that the Browns have been missing.

2-10-desir-compressor

Good in Press Coverage, Can Turn Hips Quickly and Fluidly:

For a defensive back who is larger and thus slower than his fellow position-mates, Desir must jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and turn his hips fluidly to run with them. If he is unable to prevent a receiver from getting a clean release off the line, Desir will be susceptible to getting burned deep which he did not have to worry about nearly as much at Lindenwood or Washburn. He did a solid job getting in the face of his opponents at the line of scrimmage, using his length to bother receivers, but he needs to better use his strength to knocks opponents out of their routes.

On the play below, Desir does a great job in zone coverage jamming the receiver he lines up across. But, the most impressive part is his quick realization that the running back is on a wheel route. Desir quickly comes off the jam, adjusts his body, and runs with the back. This play shows off his ability to transition from a jam to covering a different player.

desir-7-something-compressor

Good Instincts, High Football IQ:

At Lindenwood, Desir was able to experience zone and man coverage as well as pressing and playing loose on a wide receiver. Therefore, despite playing at a small college, he will be able to understand the defense very well. In both zone and man, Desir showed off a high football IQ, consistently understanding where he needed to be on the field and playing on high-alert. When players came into his zone, Desir understood who to pick up and when to let them go.

In man coverage, his ball instincts were a thing of beauty. If Desir is able to improve his acceleration defending curl and comeback routes, he will be able to defend most routes at the pro level. Despite lacking elite athleticism, he breaks on the ball, reads the quarterbacks eyes, and knows when to turn his head to deflect or intercept a ball as well as any cornerback in college. On the play below, Desir shows press then backs up to loose coverage, opening up the slant route. However, immediately, he reads the quarterbacks eyes and breaks on the pattern, dislodging the ball and nearly coming up with a pick. Desir’s quick reaction to this route bode well for success at the next level as he will be forced to read and react at a speed he has never played at in his career in DII football.

desir-8-11-compressor

On the next play, Desir once again recognizes the route, this time a curl by the wide receiver, and quickly breaks on the ball, knocking the pass down. He consistently does a fantastic job in recognizing a route and staying within striking distance. Desir loves to play the ball and he does a great job in almost never losing one-on-one balls to receivers.

desir-47-compressor

 

 Negatives

Weak Competition:

One of the main detriments to Pierre Desir, as he enters the NFL, is that he never played against the speed, size, and talent that he will face in the NFL. Despite skill level in division II and III increasing, prospects from these smaller colleges are rarely drafted, let alone in the fourth round, such as Desir. Some current professional defensive backs such as Danieal Manning, Brandon Carr, and Brent Grimes have succeed in the transition from DII to NFL, but success stories are rare. In fact, in the five drafts prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, only one defensive back was drafted, Tommie Campbell of California PA in the seventh round.

Despite winning the inaugural Cliff Harris Award, Desir will have to work to understand the speed of the NFL. With youth in Cleveland at the cornerback position, Desir may be used via trial by fire. With Joe Haden on one side, Desir will likely fight with Justin Gilbert to play as an outside cornerback and Buster Skrine to play in the slot. Long-term, I envision Desir on the outside since he may struggle with the quickness of inside receivers. In the short-term, Desir must quickly come up to speed on the play-book and learn that NFL game speed will be faster than anything he has ever encountered in his playing career. The adjustment may be difficult, so with training camp upcoming, keep an eye on Desir’s progress.

Questions About Speed:

One of the most difficult aspects of a division two player to analyze is their speed. Most NFL Draft hopefuls will look much faster than their competition on the field, as Desir does, but may be slower in comparison to division one athletes. At the NFL Combine, Desir ran a 4.59 second officlaly timed 40-yard dash, slower than anticipated, thus likely dropping him lower than he would have been selected had he run in the 4.4′s.

desir-40-compressor

Out of Shippensburg University, Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes ran a 4.56 second 40-yard dash, so this is not a major concern, but something to keep an eye on. Desir’s size and ability to jam at the line should be able to cover up some up his lack of elite speed and some players are simply faster on the field than in a pad-less 40-yard run. At training camp, watching Desir cover speedy receivers on deep routes should give us a good idea whether he will be ready for pro playing time or if he needs more development.

Change of Direction/Foot Speed:

The one area in coverage that Desir was inconsistent was in defending curls and routes where he must plant his feet in his back-pedal and run forwards in coverage. His lack of foot speed may hinder his ability to cover these routes. However, in college, he was mainly beat on these routes when playing loose on receivers which is not his strong suit. If Mike Pettine is smart, he will use Desir in a press scheme to feature his physicality rather than his movement in space.

On the play below, Desir commits the cardinal sin in coverage, allowing the receiver to cover the necessary yardage for a first down without ever being in position to affect the receiver’s catching ability. Considering this is a fourth down in the fourth quarter, allowing this catch is inexcusable. Looking at his footwork, Desir does a good job back-pedaling, but he continues and allowing a cushion despite him having the advantage in athleticism which should allow him to play tighter. When he needs to plant and come forwards, Desir does a good job, but in the NFL, this will be an open throw-and-catch all day.

Other Notes

Inconsistent in Run Defense, But a Good Tackler:

Desir’s effort in the run game is inconsistent to say the least. Sometimes he will lack any conviction and not fight off a receiver’s block quickly enough to make a play. Other instances, he does a great job fighting across or going under a block to make a tackle. This inconsistency forced me to leave it out of either a positive or negative. As a tackler, Desir is of the new-school thought process: dive at his knees and hope he goes down. He is fairly consistent as an ankle grabber and a knee-diver, but whether this will work on the Ray Rice’s of the world is another matter.

On this next play, you will see Desir playing patty-cake with a receiver and not fighting off a block very well. As a cornerback, he must protect the sideline, never letting someone get outside, but he should use his length to push the blocker inside and keep an outside leverage. Instead, Desir allows the receiver to put his hands on him and just dances from right to left. At the NFL, he will need to use his size and strength to better fight off blockers.

0-desir-compressor

Overview

As a Division II defensive back trying to make a career in as a professional football player, Pierre Desir must fight an up-hill battle, something he has done his entire life. Considering Desir, at the age of nineteen, worked a part-time job, went to school, and played football at an extremely high level, spending his days working for a spot will be nothing new. With all the adversity in his life, fighting to win a spot on the Cleveland Browns will be right up his alley.

After watching Desir on film, I am excited to see how his game translates to the pro level. With he and Gilbert coming into camp, expect more turnovers than in prior years as their ball skills will be as good as any of their veteran teammates’. While lacking a top 40-yard-dash time, Desir’s speed on tape showed that he has the ability to play fast on the field, although he may not transition this from a division two level to the pros. The doubters of Desir have always been wrong, though, and he will attempt to fight for a starting spot in the NFL, an opportunity that most thought would be an unachievable dream.

Film via Draft Breakdown; Image via ClevelandBrowns.com

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-browns-film-room-a-look-at-pierre-desir/feed/ 13
Indians 3, Twins 4: It smelled funny from the start http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-3-twins-4-it-smelled-funny-from-the-start/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-3-twins-4-it-smelled-funny-from-the-start/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123870 Photo1

8:29 PM – We join our heroes in Minneapolis, during the top of the second inning after an uneventful first. Much has been made in the booth of the fact that this is the Indians’ first trip back to Target Field since clinching their 2013 playoff spot.  That is somewhat hard to believe.  I find it much easier to believe that Roberto Perez just grounded into an inning-ending double play by rolling over on an off-speed pitch from a soft-tossing lefty because that’s JUST HOW WE ROLL.

Which is to say, tonight will be a battle of garbage men.  The Indians’ starter—one Glenn Anthony (TJ?) House—has a K% of only 15.2%. Were he qualified he would rank in the bottom 10 in the AL among whiff artists.  Meanwhile, Minnesota starter Kris Johnson will be making only his fourth career start in the Big Leagues, and has thus far managed to walk more than a batter every other inning with a fastball velocity just a tick over 90mph.  So he’ll probably throw a perfect game against us.

8:45 PM – I’m sure we’ll have more time to talk about why TJ House is, ultimately, just some dude that belongs in the back of a mediocre rotation, but let that inning serve as Exhibit A. Kendrys Morales and Josh Willingham lead off the inning with back-to-back singles.  Kurt Suzuki follows with an opposite field double to score them both.  Chris Colabello followed with a towering drive to right that looked to clip the foul pole for a HR.  Upon review the call is reversed and ruled foul.  House rallies to send down the next three to keep the damage to two runs, 2-0 Twinkies.

In an email chain with Craig, I’ve been pondering why some sorts of players naturally appeal to me, while others leave me a bit cold. When it comes to starting pitchers, I tend to value things like youth, velocity, upside, and strikeouts quite a bit.

TJ House is young, I guess.

8:53 PM – Now is as good a time as any to comment on the weird lineup that Francona has run out there tonight, if only because he’s just made a change.

First the change itself: Chris Dickerson, GOAT, pinch hit for Asdrubal Cabrera after the latter seemingly pulled his groin/hip making a routine play.  Now, normally, I would mock a player for hurting himself doing something as mundane as bending over.  But yesterday I ran for four miles on a sore hip flexor and now I can barely walk to get scotch so I’m going to cut Droobs some slack here because old folks gotta hang together.

Oh yeah, DickerGOAT drove in Mike Aviles to score the Indians’ first run. 2-1 Twins.

Back to that wacky lineup:

  1. Kipnis – 4
  2. Cabrera Dickerson – 6 8
  3. Gomes – DH
  4. Santana – 1B
  5. Raburn – LF
  6. Swisher – RF
  7. Perez – 2
  8. Chisenhall – 5
  9. Aviles – 8 6

Lots of weirdness there, and that’s assuming you’re even used to Kipnis leading off.  All three catchers are starting. (Also weird: we have three catchers.) Gomes is DHing for the second time this season. Swisher is in the outfield, which hasn’t yet happened in 2014. Mike Aviles as a starting centerfielder. Yan Gomes batting third. Lots here strikes me as…playful.

I tend to think batting orders are interesting diversions that are ultimately not worth the e-ink we spill over them.  On the other hand, this lineup is freaking weird.

QUOTE9:08 PM – House lets up two more doubles and another run in the bottom of the third; the Twins stretch the lead back to two: 3-1. House’s batting average on balls in play (BABiP) on the night is .417, which suggests some crummy luck.  But his BABiP for his career is .342, which might suggest some crummy skills.

At some point we might want to talk about BABiP in general. I think it gets used too often (present company certainly included) to wave away results that we don’t like.  “No no no. He’s not bad (or good). You see, his BABiP hasn’t normalized, and before you know it, he’ll be looking much better (or worse)!”

It’s a good enough story—one I rely on all the time, but I think it’s not nearly sophisticated enough to shed much light on anything other than mass generalizations.  Guess who leads the AL in BABiP for hitters? It’s Mike Trout—that lucky sonuvagun! Can’t wait for him to regress! He’ll probably be bagging groceries this time next year!

This is, of course, nonsense: Trout’s BABiP is high because he hits the bejeezus out of the ball, and balls with no bejeezus in them are incredibly hard to catch.

Similarly the sabermetric community is starting to realize that for pitchers not all batted ball tendencies regress to a mean around .300. Some pitchers throw more groundballs, which become hits far more often than flyballs (though they become home runs decidedly less often).  Some pitchers field their position well, reducing infield hits at a well above average rate. Relief pitchers, on the aggregate, somehow manage a BABiP that is consistently lower than their starting counterparts, year in and year out. Are they just waiting to regress since forever?

Anyway, BABiP has plenty of room for nuance.  But an honest and straightforward evaluation of TJ House probably does not. He’s not great.

9:22 PM – The Indians threaten but do not score. {Ctrl-C}

9:36 PM – House lets up two walks and another single, but manages to keep the Twins off the board in the fourth due largely to some sloppy baserunning.  He’s now at 70 pitches on the night with as many strikeouts as walks (2), and I still don’t know why Carlos Carrasco is in the bullpen and not the rotation.

Heading to the fifth, still 3-1 Twins.

9:48 PM – The Indians strike back for a run in the top of the fifth on a DickerGOAT single and Yan Gomes double. I was prepared to be clever and type {Ctrl-V}, but they saw that coming from a mile away.  3-2 Minnesota. Halfway there. Leg hurts. Need scotch.

9:56 PM – House walked another, but the inning felt so great: four up, three down. No threats of scoring no relying on outfield assists to record substantial numbers of outs. Who cares if he’s walked more batters than he struck out and allowed nearly two base runners per inning?*  The house, the house, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!

*You do. Because this is not good.

10:02 PM – The Indians do not threaten and do not score. Variety is the spice of life. (An aside on this theme: I found some bourbon.)

10:10 PM – CC Lee comes on to replace House, but after getting Josh Willingham to fly out to deep center he allows consecutive singles to Suzuki and Colabello. Francona goes to Nick Hagadone, likely to be optioned back to Columbus tomorrow, to face the lefty Chris Parmalee.

10:14 PM – Matt and Rick seem like really nice guys who seemingly know almost nothing about how math works. They are having an honest conversation about whether or not Francona should have brought in a right hander to face Parmalee, because “this season he’s actually better against lefties!”

That’s stupid.  I just can’t believe how stupid that is.  This season, against left handed pitching, Chris Parmalee has 15 hits and one walk in 45 plate appearances. FIFTEEN THINGS HAPPENED. LET’S CHANGE OUR ENTIRE WORLDVIEW! His BABiP in those plate appearances is .483, which, as previously discussed, is higher than Mike Trout’s by more than .100 points. He has walked once! If just five of those hits that fell in had instead been outs, he’d be hitting .227. For his career his platoon splits would indicate a 40 point OPS swing, taking him from slightly above league average against righties to six percent below against lefties. But no, you’re right! Let’s make decisions as if those 45 plate appearances mean anything other than the nothingness they so clearly signify! Because who needs math anyway! Math’s a jerk. Never picks up a check. Doesn’t help his wife clean up the house. Thinks Daughtry is awesome.

Hagadone strikes out Parmalee and induces a weak popup from Escobar to end the inning.

10:31 PM – {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V} {Ctrl-V}!!!!!!

Kipnis gets to third with one out, but DickerGOAT and Gomes both go down swinging, to strand him. That was a good chance, seemingly wasted. Heading to the bottom of the seventh, still 3-2 Twins.

10:35 PM – Hmm. This tweet just made its way into my timeline:

Asdrubal’s leg injury. Hmm.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

10:36 PM -  Oh. Nvm.

Axford on.

10:40 PM – Ax sends ‘em down in order on 11 pitches, including a strikeout of Plouffe to end the inning. You can see why they wanted him to close: he’s got the stuff.  But, well:

And now I’m just embedding all of Twitter into this recap. I think I can do that with something called a “widget”. Will research and get back to you.

Santana, Raburn (Brantley?), and Swish coming up in the eighth.

10:47 PM – Brantley steps to the on-deck circle, so they’re going for it here. Also, was potentially wrong about the widget thing.

Santana leads off with a smash into the shift in short right and is retired, but Brantley follows with a rocket to right center for a double. Swisher coming up.

10:49 PM – Ugh. Swisher pulls one hard on the ground that moves Brantley to third, but now there are two outs. That’s three really hard-hit balls with nothing to show yet. Going to need a two-out hit from Roberto Perez.

10:51 PM – Never a doubt! Perez shoots a liner back up the middle to plate Brantley. Extra innings are now a thing that might happen, which is sort of a bittersweet moment for the live-blogger.

10:55 PM – Lonnie flies out to left and we’re knotted at 3, heading to the ninth. Am I too old to show up to the office, unshaven and smelling of grain alcohol? Is anyone?

11:00 PM – Matt Underwood just astutely pointed out that the Indians will likely face the Twins closer in the ninth inning. “One way or another, you’re going to see Glen Perkins in this game. You’d just prefer it still be tied.”

He’s not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!

11:03 PM – Ruh roh. After a questionable ball call on Josh Willingham, Bryan Shaw serves one up and Willingham takes him deep to left for a 4-3 Twins lead.

Now I feel bad about fearing extra innings. Also, what will my excuse be for the bourbon smell?

11:05 PM – Aviles makes a nice play to his right to end the inning. Aviles, Kipnis, and DickerGOAT coming up for the Tribe. The only question is will Dickerson’s HR be a solo shot or not?

11:10 PM – Aviles flyout to left. As Rick points out, they’re scoring their runs with two outs, so we really shouldn’t be too worried. Kipnis should prolly just surrender this at bat so we can get two outs quicker and really take control of this inning!

11:11 PM – Kip grounds out to short. DickerGOAT is our only hope.

11:12 PM – “They both had three runs, so somebody was going to get to four. It just happened to be the Twins.” ~ M. Underwood, professional broadcaster, logician

11:13 PM – Dickerson goes down swinging, and maintains a batting average of .407, so he’s ok.

The Indians are now 3-2 after the All-Star break. It feels like it should be better than that after so handily rolling over the Tigers for those first three games. But this team is what it is, and that’s a team that’s going to struggle to keep its head above water for long stretches. The holes are too ubiquitous: TJ House is part of it, but so is Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera and  Jason Kipnis and a bullpen that has pitched more innings than any other in the AL.

Tomorrow is Danny Salazar, and with him the reminder that things could always be better if we only have the patience to get there.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-3-twins-4-it-smelled-funny-from-the-start/feed/ 4
Joe Haden shoos away kid in a Hines Ward jersey http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/joe-haden-shoos-away-kid-in-a-hines-ward-jersey/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/joe-haden-shoos-away-kid-in-a-hines-ward-jersey/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:50:49 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123898 Joe Haden was (probably) kidding, but he shooed away a child in a Hines Ward jersey who was in line for an autograph. As we all know, you should report child abuse and I’m not talking about Joe Haden. To think that some awful father in Northeast Ohio would put his kid in a Stillers jersey for an event featuring Joe Haden is just criminal.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/joe-haden-shoos-away-kid-in-a-hines-ward-jersey/feed/ 5
Jason Whitlock says Canadian players “don’t want it as much” as other players http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-whitlock-says-canadian-players-dont-want-it-as-much-as-other-players/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-whitlock-says-canadian-players-dont-want-it-as-much-as-other-players/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:25:23 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123887 Olbermann and Whitlock

Last night on Keith Olbermann’s show, Jason Whitlock was discussing his recent podcast with LeBron James’ partner Maverick Carter. He and Olbermann got to talking about – what else – Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Love. That’s when Jason Whitlock made some pretty wide sweeping generalizations while vaguely applying it to “smart basketball people,” while also specifically not attaching it to “LeBron’s people.”

“Andrew Wiggins is from Canada. And Canadian athletes among NBA players and NBA people perhaps don’t want it as much as even some of the Europeans and certainly the American players. I think they’re going all out for Kevin Love. I think that’s what LeBron James wants. I think that’s what they believe in. I think they will move Andrew Wiggins at all costs.”

Now, I’m not offended per se because I find the statement to be pretty ludicrous. A wide-sweeping generalization that the characteristic that defines Andrew Wiggins is his nationality and that that subsequently defines his fire and competitiveness is ridiculous. Jason Whitlock should know better and while Keith Olbermann challenged him and made a joke about Whitlock’s generalization, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t challenge him even more. I’m sure Olbermann was taken a bit by surprise though.

See the clip below.

Whitlock also follows it up with some talk about Maverick Carter’s client Johnny Manziel. Keith Olbermann circles back on the Canadian thing kind of mocking Whitlock and giving him a chance to get out of it. Of course Whitlock says he hopes he doesn’t get in trouble and then doubles down on the Canadian generalization.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/jason-whitlock-says-canadian-players-dont-want-it-as-much-as-other-players/feed/ 24
Is there a difference between lucky and good? While We’re Waiting http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/is-there-a-difference-between-lucky-and-good-while-were-waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/is-there-a-difference-between-lucky-and-good-while-were-waiting/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:46:14 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123875 WFNYBanner www

Happy Tuesday WFNY!

I have to be honest, for sports fans like myself, the period from MLB post-All Star break to the start of the NFL season can be a bit of a drag. It’s not that I dislike watching the Indians. In fact, I have them on right now as I am writing this (yes, I write these on Monday nights, not Tuesday mornings). But in terms of really exciting events in sports, there just isn’t much.

NBA free agency has mostly wound down. Sometimes there are still some big trades, but August is typically the time most team executives take their vacations. NFL training camp is starting, and that’s fun, but it’s not always the most exciting thing in the world. English Premier League soccer doesn’t start until August 16th. These next couple weeks can be somewhat slow on the hard hitting headlines outside the annual Browns QB Competition.

I say all of this not to be a downer, but more to serve as a pre-emptive explanation/apology for today’s WWW being a little shorter than what I normally do and a little more outside the Cleveland Sports box. I just don’t have a ton of Cleveland Sports related things to talk about at the moment.

*****

What does it mean to be a “well run” NBA team?

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit lately. I’ve seen some talk about how lucky the Cavs are to have LeBron back and how it’s unfair that the Cavs are rewarded for their incompetence. I can’t sit here and say those people are wrong. I said last week that nobody in the Cavs organization deserves credit for LeBron’s return. Heck, we all know that if LeBron was from Omaha, there’s no way he’d be on the Cavaliers right now.

Scheiner and MoreyBut there can be a fine line between perception and reality within the confines of being a well run team. The Spurs are often credited as being the best run franchise in sports. Very few people would disagree with that. But the Spurs haven’t had to deal with losing Tim Duncan yet. The Detroit Red Wings were considered the best run NHL franchise just a few years ago. But after Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, the Red Wings have struggled to regain their status as an elite franchise. Now some are question both GM Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock. Being a well run franchise is so much easier when you have that superstar anchor.

But perhaps the most fascinating case study falls with Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after reading Matt Moore’s take on the Cavs’ “petulance” being rewarded with LeBron. In particular, Moore writes:

The big winners of the 2014 NBA offseason are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the big losers are the Houston Rockets. Except Houston has been run well, and Cleveland has been a disaster. Go figure.[…]

Meanwhile, on the other side, here’s Daryl Morey. He turned Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and picks into James Harden. He cleared space for Dwight Howard and successfully pitched him after years of building a competitive team while also accumulating assets. He found takers for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, contracts he signed because at the time, they were major talent upgrades. He offered Chris Bosh the chance to compete for a title now, in a role preventing him from having to bang down low and would maximize his talents in a tech-savvy organization with no state income tax.

Instead, he got Trevor Ariza.

The NBA’s not fair. And you can ask Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Greg Oden … or former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, who tried to build a winner the right way during his tenure. But the events of the past four days reveal more than just that simple imbalance. It reveals a legitimate flaw in the NBA’s design.

These are points that most people across the NBA would probably agree with. But not everyone is buying into this line of thinking, especially when it comes to Morey. Last week in a post on Medium.com, T.D. Williams wrote a scathing rebuke of Morey’s reputation among those in the media.

Whereas Moore listed the great moves Morey has made, Williams looks at it a little differently:

A close examination of Morey’s signings and trades raises as much skepticism as reason for praise: when the Rockets were forward-heavy and in need of a point guard, he traded Kyle Lowry and let Goran Dragic leave, only to replace them with an overpaid Jeremy Lin — a player the Rockets had on their roster the season before, at league minimum salary, before they waived him. He traded Nicolas Batum — a do-it-all small forward who might be an even better piece on a title contender than Parsons — for Joey Dorsey and a draft pick that became Sam Young. He overpaid the offensively limited Omer Asik, then gave max money to Dwight Howard, whose presence made Asik redundant. He wasted a mid-first-round draft pick on Royce White, a red-flagged prospect who provided Houston more headaches off the court than minutes on it. He has boasted about advanced strategy while employing a coach who is known more as a player favorite than a tactician. Houston’s supposedly revolutionary offense of driving and shooting 3s has often looked disorganized and short-sighted down the stretch in playoff games.

So which one is right? They probably both are. To paraphrase Pat Riley, “this stuff is hard”. Building a team requires a lot of things, some of which is scouting talent, but a lot of which is luck. Daryl Morey is hardly faultless as a GM. And yes, I would argue he is pretty severely overrated as a front office executive. He makes a lot of moves that look great on paper, but his big picture plan is never really in focus. He cycles through player acquisitions at an insane rate, endlessly searching for that magical fit that will work. However, most teams would absolutely be thrilled to have Morey working for them.

As for the Cavaliers and their plan, well, up to this point the post-Decision plan hasn’t been working at all, and there are plenty of fingers to be pointed and plenty of deserving recipients of said pointing. However, if I have a point of contention with the likes of Matt Moore and Bill Simmons who have questioned a system that they feel rewards teams who are run poorly, it’s that I think the system is actually kind of doing what it is supposed to.

Basketball is a funny sport where teams like the 76ers and Celtics who try to lose and succeed at it are perceived as doing things right while teams like the Cavaliers and Bucks who have tried to win and failed are perceived as the ones benefitting from a flawed system. The NBA Draft Lottery was designed to be a safety net for teams that fail. The whole purpose of using a lottery instead of a pure record-based draft order is to prevent teams from tanking. The fact that the Cavaliers won the lottery from the ninth position this time or from the eighth spot with the Clippers pick in 2011 should be a sign that the system is working. Now, it’s bizarre that the same team keeps winning, but there’s nothing strange about teams jumping up to win the lottery. That’s how it is supposed to work.

Again, none of this is to say the Cavaliers have done things right. Their plan was not to finish outside the playoffs and then jump up to the number one slot. They got insanely lucky. And they are lucky that LeBron James is from Akron, Ohio. And they are lucky that LeBron is willing to stop chasing rings to instead try to bring that elusive title back to Cleveland. This isn’t a defense of the Cavaliers last few seasons, but rather, a defense of the system and a closer look at what makes a team a well run team. Morey’s reputation has been largely untouchable, but what separates him from RC Buford in San Antonio? Is it all structural and organizational, or is some of it luck that the Spurs have had Tim Duncan, a once in a lifetime kind of player and person? What happens to the Spurs when he eventually retires? Will the Spurs continue to be the class of the NBA, or, like the Red Wings in the NHL, will they become a franchise that flounders through continuous seasons of mediocrity and early playoff exits? Only time will tell.

*****

Kyrie Irving’s adjustment

I said on Twitter last week that in some ways, I kind of feel sorry for Kyrie Irving. Sure, he just signed a massive long term contract extension and now he gets to play with LeBron James and thus, for the first time in his NBA career, not be the sole point of focus for opposing defenses. So maybe feeling sorry for him is a bit strong.

kyrie editHowever, after everything he went through last season, all the insane levels of criticism, the doubting of his desire to be in Cleveland, the constant string of article after article questioning his commitment to the franchise and his commitment to winning, the fact is that Kyrie took all of about five seconds to agree to an extension with the Cavaliers. And he did so well before the LeBron rumors had really heated up. He answered at least that aspect of his critics’ questions about his commitment to Cleveland.

Sure, some will say “of course he signed right away….nobody else was going to offer him that kind of money”. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize a guy all season and say there’s no way he’s going to stay in Cleveland, but then turn around when he does sign and say “well of course he did”. For many, maybe even most, Kyrie staying in Cleveland was not a certainty. So on a certain level, Kyrie deserves some credit for doing what so many thought he wouldn’t do.

And for a day or two, he did get the credit and recognition he deserved for it. But then the LeBron avalanche started and suddenly Kyrie’s commitment was an afterthought. No longer is Kyrie answering questions about himself, but instead it seems like every question he is asked is about LeBron. So where I feel sorry for Kyrie a bit is in my fear that fans are overlooking how important it was for Kyrie to buy in.

But now come the questions about Kyrie adjusting, and those are certainly fair. For the last couple years, despite being just 20-21 years old, Kyrie has been asked to be a leader on this team. Everything has been about building around Kyrie. The Cavaliers were his team, and when he signed his extension, we assumed it would be his team for the future. All of that changed when LeBron decided to return.

Now, this will immediately become LeBron’s team again and Kyrie will have to adjust to not being “the guy”. In late game situations with the game on the line, the ball will start in LeBron’s hands, not Kyrie’s. If Kyrie embraces this adjustment, though, it can be a huge thing for him. LeBron’s presence can finally give Kyrie a veteran mentor who can show him how to lead, and how to win, and how to deal with being the focal point of a team. LeBron’s presence could be and should be positively liberating for Kyrie.

And eventually, as LeBron gets older and starts to slow down, the team can transition into Kyrie’s hands when he’s more ready for it. Similar to how the Spurs slowly morphed from purely being Tim Duncan’s team into Tony Parker’s team. The same kind of mentorship program can exist in Cleveland. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how Kyrie accepts his changing role on the team.

*****

Dare we talk about prison on a sports site?

Ok, I’m going to go way off topic here. When we initiated the change in format to WWW with Scott, Rick, Craig, Jacob, and myself each taking a designated day of the week, I wrote that one of my goals for this change was to allow all of our personalities and interests to carry through. Some of that will extend beyond sports. Obviously sports will always be the main topic of WWW, but sometimes we like to show some of the other sides of our personalities and the things that interest us. So, with that being said, why not try talking about something quite different here?

By now you guys who read WWW every day know that I am an enormous fan of John Oliver’s work on HBO’s phenomenal “Last Week Tonight”. This week, his main segment touched on America’s broken prison system:

This was a pretty coincidental topic, because another one of my favorite forms of entertainment is listening to NPR podcasts and, in particular, one of my favorite shows “This American Life”. In Act Two of this week’s show, “Mind Your Business”, they talked about the recent scandal involving Los Angeles County’s abuse of inmates. So, with two of my favorite shows talking about incarceration this week, I thought I would share these links and encourage everyone to watch/listen.

I’m far from qualified to offer up any kind of solution, but it’s clear to see we have an issue in America. Our prisons are becoming increasingly overpopulated, creating an increasing burden on tax payers. And while some feel the solution is the privatization of jail services, these cost cutting businesses open the door for severe human rights issues. The treatment of prisoners is pretty alarming in some situations, particularly with what happened in Los Angeles County. And while I know some people feel that we shouldn’t care what happens to people in prison, that they deserve whatever happens to them there, I struggle with that line of thinking when these kind of studies exist.

At the end of the day, like I said previously, I recognize that I don’t have the answers. Yet I feel like turning our backs on issues because they don’t personally affect us isn’t the best way to find answers. There are so many bleak stories on the news and we are trending toward apathy. I’d love to exist in a world where issues like this, and the environment, and energy, and equality would transcend politics. I get disheartened when conversations boil down to liberals and conservatives rehashing tired party lines. I’d just like us to at least be able to agree on what the problems in America are. It’s hard to figure out answers when we can’t even agree what the issues are.

*****

Anyway, that’s it from me this week. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll be back next Tuesday where we might have some actual Browns stuff to talk about! Cheers!

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/is-there-a-difference-between-lucky-and-good-while-were-waiting/feed/ 31
MTAF’s Josh Flagner talks about women in sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-21 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mtafs-josh-flagner-talks-about-women-in-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-21/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mtafs-josh-flagner-talks-about-women-in-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-21/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:14:48 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123861 WFNY Podcast LogoCleveland Kate set the topic for this one and Josh Flagner of More Than a Fan was happy to oblige. We took our seats as men in the independent sports media environment to discuss… women in sports media.

We talked about Erin Andrews, Suzyn Waldman and a host of other females in the game. We talked about the opportunities or lack thereof. We also discussed the fact that we can’t remember a single female sports talker in the history of Cleveland sports radio.

Lastly, I played the Kirk Minihane audio for Josh and we discussed the way he talked about Erin Andrews and her reporting.

Of course there was a lot of talk about the local sports media and local sports talk radio as well, including the 92.3 the Fan’s Fan Phenom competition.

Check out this episode!

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mtafs-josh-flagner-talks-about-women-in-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2014-07-21/feed/ 2
Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy” http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mike-krzyzewski-would-trade-wiggins-for-love-without-hesitancy/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mike-krzyzewski-would-trade-wiggins-for-love-without-hesitancy/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:16:20 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123852 kevin love cavs

Coach K was on CBS Sports Radio and talked about the Cavaliers and trading for Kevin Love.

“I think there’s absolutely not one second of hesitancy,” Krzyzewski said on The John Feinstein Show. “I’d trade for Kevin Love. That’s not saying anything about any of the other (players involved in the deal). Love’s an All-Star.”

Krzyzewski mentioned the window of opportunity that the Cavaliers are looking at with the addition of LeBron James, which is something I alluded to last week when writing about the potential trade.

“You look at LeBron and you have the best player in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s 29. I’m not saying he’s at the end of his career, but he’s in the second half of his career, let’s put it that way. And in the first half of his career, he was becoming a great player. He was a great talent becoming a great player. That takes time – just like if Wiggins or Bennett are going to be great, it’s not going to happen right now. They’re great talents. LeBron is a great player right now. You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career.”

Coach K also talked a little about LeBron’s decision, plus coaching the US National Team.

In addition he mentioned how quickly he believes Kyrie Irving would develop surrounded by LeBron James and Kevin Love.

(H/T For the Win)

[Related: Cavaliers planning to sign Wiggins this week?]

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/mike-krzyzewski-would-trade-wiggins-for-love-without-hesitancy/feed/ 41
Watch Dan Patrick discuss LeBron James’ return and Wahoo with Scott Raab http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/watch-dan-patrick-discuss-lebron-james-return-and-wahoo-with-scott-raab/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/watch-dan-patrick-discuss-lebron-james-return-and-wahoo-with-scott-raab/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:30:45 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123832 Scott Raab joined us on the WFNY podcast to talk about the return of LeBron James. He also sat down and talked to arguably the best sports talk radio host in the country when he went on The Dan Patrick Show recently.

In addition to discussing LeBron James’ return, Patrick got into the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/watch-dan-patrick-discuss-lebron-james-return-and-wahoo-with-scott-raab/feed/ 1
The Top Five Most Intriguing Players in Cleveland Browns Training Camp http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/the-top-five-most-intriguing-players-in-cleveland-browns-training-camp/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/the-top-five-most-intriguing-players-in-cleveland-browns-training-camp/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:02 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123775 Browns helmets training camp building

As we’re on the precipice of Cleveland Browns training camp, I couldn’t be more excited to see who steps up. The Browns have a lot of question marks as any team should coming off a four-win season. The good news is that there are a lot of new faces to address many of the obvious holes we all complained about at the end of last season. Offensive line, cornerback, linebacker and running back were all areas targeted by the Browns’ front office1 Without further ado, here are my five most intriguing training camp players.


No. 5 – Joel Bitonio

Bitonio-Screen-Shot-compressor

One of the keys to any football team is the play of the offensive line. The Browns used a pretty premier draft pick this season when they decided to nab Joel Bitonio, who for now is still an unknown as either a tackle or a guard. Bitonio suffered an ankle sprain during mini-camp, but indications are that he’ll be ready for training camp and it will be fun to watch some new blood push (pun intended) for a spot in the Browns’ offensive line.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Joel Bitonio]

Will he push Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle? Will he push John Greco at offensive guard? Will he slide nicely into the guard spot between Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz? One thing that’s almost certain is that he’s going to bring a nastiness and physicality to the team if he’s good enough to crack the lineup. And if the Browns did a good job scouting and drafting, you have to believe Bitonio was hand-selected to fit in with Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme.

No. 4 – Ben Tate

Biyeb_bCEAAx6HD.jpg-large

While many will obsess about the quarterback battle between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, I think the real player to watch might be Ben Tate. The Browns passing attack is an unknown quantity and coming out of last season their rushing attack was even worse. 377 yards for Willis McGahee, 240 for Chris Ogbonnaya, 171 for Edwin Baker and 107 for Jason Campbell who narrowly edged out Trent Richardson who had 105 yards in two games before being traded. Let’s just say it wasn’t a shock when the Browns signed Ben Tate to a two-year deal in March.

Tate will spend camp trying to escape the shadow of Arian Foster once and for all. This will be the first time in his career that Ben Tate will be the number one running back on an NFL team not due to injury. The Browns’ expectations on him have got to be high and for his part, he doesn’t seem to mind with a confidence that borders on arrogance. All the while, he must create a shadow big enough to keep third-rounder Terrance West out of the spotlight.

The Browns’ fate on offense might depend on it. While everyone’s watching the battle between a career backup in Brian Hoyer and a high-profile rookie in Johnny Manziel, the fact remains that the Browns very well might focus Kyle Shanahan’s offense on running the ball with frequency. This could especially be true given Josh Gordon’s up-in-the-air status.

No. 3 – Jordan Cameron

600 Jordan Cameron

The Browns’ tight end might consider himself a “pass catcher” instead of a tight end, but regardless, his training camp will be very intriguing to me. The Browns are still waiting on word about Josh Gordon and what his status will be for 2014, and with all due respect to Miles Austin, Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins and the rest of the new faces in the receiving corps, there might not be anybody more important to the Browns’ passing attack than Jordan Cameron.

Consider that the Browns tight end caught 80 balls for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games in 2013. Also, start to ask yourself if you are going to try and pass the ball in the red zone in 2014 and Josh Gordon isn’t available, who are you going to look for? The answer is quite obviously Jordan Cameron. Also consider that Cameron is in the final year of a deal that ensures his current compensation for 2014 is only $645,000. This comes in the final year of his contract after he went to the 2013 Pro Bowl.

Between the contract situation and the Browns’ available cache of “pass catchers,” Jordan Cameron is easily one of the most intriguing players for me coming into training camp.

No. 2 – Karlos Dansby

Dansby Facebook

It’s weird to call a 32-year-old linebacker one of the five most intriguing on the way into training camp, but it’s true. I, along with most other Browns fans, loved D’Qwell Jackson and rooted for him as hard as I did for any Cleveland Browns player over the last decade. He was a tackling machine, an obvious good guy, and a good story as he overcame injuries to play 16 games in each of the last three years with the Cleveland Browns. But I felt like D’Qwell Jackson was putting a ceiling on the Browns’ defense. The defense has to have a leader and that leader has to not only know the right things to do, but also needs to be able to make some big plays. That’s where I’m hoping D’Qwell’s exit to Indianapolis and Karlos Dansby’s entrance from Arizona will pay dividends.

Dansby isn’t a long-term solution, but I’m hoping he can deliver leadership more by example than D’Qwell Jackson did. He had 6.5 sacks in 2013 for the Cardinals, but he also defensed 19 passes and came up with four interceptions. Those are just stats though. I’m hoping, and I’m sure the Browns are hoping too, that the addition of Karlos Dansby to Mike Pettine’s aggressive defense will take the overall Browns D to another level. So much of that starts with the middle linebackers and this year, that’s Karlos Dansby.

No. 1 – Justin Gilbert

2014 NFL Draft

We’ve already joked about the fact that it will be a trick trivia question when anyone asks who the Browns took first in the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of the general public will likely answer “Johnny Manziel,” forgetting all about the man the Browns called to the stage well before the Texas A&M star. When it came to making the best selection they could to improve their football team, the Cleveland Browns decided to deliver a very special Christmas present to Mike Pettine as he was looking to get his defense off to a good start in his first year as head coach of the Browns.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Justin Gilbert]

There can be little doubt that the Browns selected Justin Gilbert eighth overall with the idea that he’s absolutely ready to start opposite Joe Haden right away. Yes, the Browns made a savvy trade down out of the fourth selection where Buffalo selected Sammy Watkins, but that doesn’t diminish the level with which the Browns liked the six-footer from Oklahoma State.

He remains unsigned (as of this publication) but the Browns absolutely need him to step up and decisively beat out Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden and anyone else the Browns decide to put in the mix there. Barring some unforeseen rise to the occasion by one of those players, it will be bad news for the Browns and Mike Pettine’s defense if Justin Gilbert is unable to win the starter’s job.

*****

There are more than just these give, but these are the ones I’m most interested in. Which other (non-QB) players intrigue you?

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. I made the decision to just skip quarterback, by the way. Everyone knows that situation all too well and I think we’ve beaten the Hoyer vs. Manziel camp battle directly into the ground.
]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/the-top-five-most-intriguing-players-in-cleveland-browns-training-camp/feed/ 30
Indians Twitter account gets defensive of ownership’s cheap reputation http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-twitter-account-gets-defensive-of-ownerships-cheap-reputation/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-twitter-account-gets-defensive-of-ownerships-cheap-reputation/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:28:06 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123821 The Cleveland Indians ownership has taken a lot of bullets over the years for being “cheap.” While that’s a relative term in a game that is notoriously unbalanced in terms of payrolls, if nothing else, it’s fair to call it a facile and slightly lazy dig at this point. I’m not saying you can’t make the argument that the Dolans are cheap, but it would take far more than 140 characters on Twitter to make that case.

All that said, it only took 140 characters for the Indians’ official Twitter account to fight back a rather trollish tweet directed at Indians ownership.

Indians twitter Account longer

And there at the bottom of the screenshot you can see the follow-up response to the guy who was so swiftly repudiated.

Maybe you’ll think twice the next time you tweet straight at the @Indians account with a smart-alec comment.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/indians-twitter-account-gets-defensive-of-ownerships-cheap-reputation/feed/ 70
Best selling jersey in the NFL comes from Cleveland http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/best-selling-jersey-in-the-nfl-comes-from-cleveland/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/best-selling-jersey-in-the-nfl-comes-from-cleveland/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:11:12 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123813 20140614-082419.jpg

Darren Rovell reports that Cleveland rookie Johnny Manziel’s jersey is the hottest selling piece of laundry since the draft.

Yep, Manziel beat out Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Richard Sherman and every other rookie.

Of course, he did have a few celebrity endorsements of the jersey.

lebron-manziel-marketing

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/best-selling-jersey-in-the-nfl-comes-from-cleveland/feed/ 6
Video: Johnny Manziel and other rookies react to their Madden ratings http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/video-johnny-manziel-and-other-rookies-react-to-their-madden-ratings/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/video-johnny-manziel-and-other-rookies-react-to-their-madden-ratings/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:48:18 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123803 manziel

We know that Johnny Manziel doesn’t lack confidence. He was a bit humbled by falling on draft night to 22nd. The good folks at EA Sports may have given him a second helping of humble pie.

Several rookies were filmed for their reaction to their Madden rating for the upcoming release of the franchise video game. As a rule, rookies are typically given low scores until their play on the field proves otherwise. The video does not tell us what Manziel’s rating will be, but given Johnny’s reaction, it isn’t in the 80′s or 90′s.

 

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/video-johnny-manziel-and-other-rookies-react-to-their-madden-ratings/feed/ 1
Second-half Storylines: What are you watching? http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-indians-chisenhall-swisher-kluber-kipnis/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-indians-chisenhall-swisher-kluber-kipnis/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:30:47 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=123790 Nick Swisher

The Cleveland Indians started things off with a relative bang, taking three of four in Detroit. As we close in on the month of August, the Tribe stands 4.5 games behind the Tigers and will need to piece it all together heading into the fall if postseason play is to happen for the second consecutive year. There are copious amounts of storylines to look at for the second half of the season, but which ones are we watching? Take a walk with us as we plan for the next 10 weeks of baseball.

Regression isn’t always a bad thing

Jon Steiner: Of the many interesting things that happened in the first half, the only ones I can say I saw coming were Michael Bourn’s struggles to stay healthy and Corey Kluber’s continued excellence. Neither of these guesses required a whole lot of luck, we should remember. Kluber’s peripherals in 2013 were sicko, and Bourn is an aging speedster who’s struggled with lower half injuries since turning 30. This ain’t calculus. It’s hardly math.

So I guess what I’m looking forward to in the second half has mostly to do with these sorts of easy things. Nick Swisher is not a historically awful hitter, but were this season’s second half were to resemble its first, he’d be looking like one. Right now Swisher’s slugging percentage sits below .400 and his OBP is below .300: he’s never been below either marks in his MLB career. I would think there’s a hot streak or two waiting to come out of hiding in the next month or two. Similarly, Carlos Santana will just not continue to run into historically awful luck. He currently sports a .236 BABiP, which is the second worst mark in the majors this season. That goes up in the second half–way up. Enough has already been said about Jason Kipnis, but count me among the folks who believe he’s about to go on a tear in the second half.

Of course, these optimistic predictions have their counterparts glaring from the other side of the aisle. Will Lonnie Chisenhall continue to rank first in the AL in BABiP? That’s unlikely, considering his…well…everything. Similarly, will a bullpen that has heretofore led the league in innings pitched and ranked 3rd in ERA be able to keep it up over the second half? Time will tell, but history would suggest that even an excellent manager cannot hide the warts in that crew forever.

But as a baseball fan, what I look forward to most of all is the waiting. Waiting to see the few things I end up getting right. Waiting to see the many things I will get wrong. Waiting, like everybody else, to see if this flawed and fringy team can do what they’ve done before and give us a fall worth waiting for.

Will the real Lonnie Baseball please stand up?

Scott Sargent: Michael Brantley may have been an All-Star. Corey Kluber was right on the cusp. But the one player who won Cleveland over in the first half was none other than Lonnie Chisenhall. Lonnie Baseball went from the outside looking in to having the fourth-best batting average in the American League, finally becoming qualified for such a mark on July 9 after starting the season off in spot duty. The ball is flying off of his bat and the strikeouts are down considerably. But how much of Lonnie’s play is sustainable?

His .222 isolated power number is well beyond his previous performances in the majors, suggesting that fly balls are traveling a little further than history would indicate. For balls that remain in play, Lonnie’s been incredibly lucky thus far, producing a BABiP of .367—this compares to his career mark of .303. Despite his incredible start and solid current mark, the 25-year old is hitting just .245 (.687 OPS) in the month of July. Since his three home run game against Texas on June 9, Chisenhall has just two home runs, the most recent coming on July 1.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Chis and Jason Kipnis were the two hot prospects in the team’s system. Kipnis went on to earn a shiny new contract; Chisenhall appeared lost at the plate for three full years. Circumstances change and injuries provide opportunities. Fortunately for Chisenhall (and Tribe fans), the third baseman took advantage of what may have been his last shot. But can the fan favorite (funny how that works out, eh?) carry his good fortunes through the second half? He’s discussing a friendly wager with Brantley to see who finishes the season with the higher average as both players are in the top 10.

His name is fun, his story is compelling. No one has gotten Tribe Twitter going  quite like Lonnie. If he can come close to finishing the season among the best hitters in the league, it has to be considered a huge win. It would also be a huge deviation from everything we have seen to this point.

Chisenhall HR 140701

Time to earn your money, boys

Todd Dery: It’s all about Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher waking up offensively. This team is completely different when these two are clicking. Carlos Santana, for as bad as he has started, has woken up and is playing a solid defensive first base. But really without Kipnis and Swisher doing what they are supposed to, the offense is going to continue to be hot and cold.

As for the pitchers, the Justin Masterson situation bears watching closely. If the Indians can somehow right him, this is a completely different team. Imagine where they would be now if he had pitched the way he did last season before his injury. Instead, he’s a mental mess who has cost himself millions of dollars. Sunday, Justin made a rehab start for Columbus where he pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He struck out six and walked two. I have no idea where this is going with Masterson, but a return to form would be a welcome sight for the Wahoos. The other pitcher who has been a disappointment and could really shake things up if he gets the chance is Danny Salazar. Dude was supposed to be the number two starter by now of things had gone to plan, but he hadn’t developed a third quality pitch that is badly needed at the major league level. We will see him again at some point.

Craig Lyndall: In the second half, it’s all about young gun pitchers. I haven’t been enthralled with the Indians’ follow-up to their surprising playoff appearance a year ago and if they’re going to somehow make it back, ti will be because of the young arms. Trevor Bauer, TJ House, Danny Salazar, whatever… I know Salazar hit a bump in the road, but I would feel really good about the present and the future if those guys could show some consistency in the rotation that I can project for the rest of the season and into the future. I’m looking for something to justify my hopes.

Can Masty return?

Joe Gilbert: I am looking at two players who could be huge factors in the Indians making the playoffs: Justin Masterson and Carlos Santana. Masterson has had a horrible season and is currently on the DL. So far this year, he is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA. Coming into this year he was supposed to be the team’s ace and be someone the team can rely on. If he can get healthy and turn his season around once he comes off the DL, then the Tribe could be in great position to make a run. Masterson could pair with Corey Kluber and be a one-two punch who can drive the team to the playoffs. We have seen him play like an ace before, so he can definitely return to that level. Finding someone else, besides Kluber, to be consistent will be huge for the Indians and could be a deciding factor in the final stretch to the playoffs.

Carlos Santana has also been very inconsistent this year. He is currently batting .204 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. He started off the season in a terrible slump and has never really gotten into a steady stretch of good play. Santana is the Tribe’s fourth or fifth batter in the lineup and so he is looked upon as a RBI producer. He has been good at getting walks but he is not getting enough hits to be a true cleanup hitter. If he can build off the success of the big hit he had in Saturday night’s game, then the Tribe could become a more constant threat on offense. Masterson and Santana are my keys for the Indians to make the final push to the playoffs.

Can Corey keep it rolling?

Rick Grayshock: From the pitching side of the equation, I am looking forward to all of Corey Kluber’s starts. His games are becoming appointment television. This past weekend was just another example as to why. It was as good of a pitching performance as we have seen all year against a very tough Detroit Tigers lineup. CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee were like that in the past—you couldn’t miss a start during their respective runs. That’s how I feel about Kluber right now.

With the bats, I want to see Kipnis work his way back into form. He is an important piece for the Tribe moving forward and I’d love to see him bounce back and have a great second half. His bat coming to life makes this team so much better. The Tribe needs someone other that Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall to hit. Kipnis is the best contender for that role.

]]>
http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/cleveland-indians-chisenhall-swisher-kluber-kipnis/feed/ 19