2012 08 benard brownsThe Cleveland Browns made multiple roster moves on Monday to get down to the National Football League-mandated roster limit of 75 players.

Placed on the waived/injured list were linebacker Marcus Benard, who dislocated his left elbow in Friday night’s preseason friendly against Philadelphia, defensive lineman Auston English and undrafted rookie cornerback Antwuan Reed.

The Browns placed linebackers Chris Gocong, who tore his Achilles’ tendon in practice on Aug. 4, and Emmanuel Acho, the team’s sixth-round draft pick in the most recent NFL Draft on injured reserve. Those players are lost for the season.

Finally, defensive tackle Phil Taylor was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he is still recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered during off-season training. According to league rules, Taylor must sit out the first six weeks of the season (until Oct. 16) and then the Browns have three weeks to let him start practicing. Once Taylor takes the practice field, the team then has 21 days to decide if they want to activate him or place him on the season-ending injured reserve list.

Benard is the name that sticks out the most. In three seasons with the Browns, he totaled 11.5 sacks in 25 games, with a high of 7.5 sacks in 2010. He missed all but four games last year, however, after crashing his Can-Am Spyder motorcycle and suffering injuries to his hand.

The Browns were awarded undrafted rookie defensive lineman Ernest Owusu off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Owusu was a four-year letterman at the University of California, playing in 42 games with 18 starts. For his career, he had 55 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

He earned first-team Pac-12 All-Academic honors as a senior after being a second-team Pac-10 All-Academic selection during both his sophomore and junior seasons.

If nothing else, he will give Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Scott Fujita, Owen Marecic, Evan Moore and Alex Smith someone else to talk to.

The Browns must trim the roster to the final 53 players by Friday at 9 p.m.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

2012 08 carlton brownsThe Cleveland Browns made nine roster moves on Sunday as the team works to get the roster down to the NFL-mandated number of 75 players by Monday.

The most-noticeable name on the list was wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, the third-year player out of South Florida who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2010. Mitchell was never able to find a role with the Browns, finishing his tenure in Cleveland with three receptions for 31 yards.

“(Carlton) was one of the guys that we were hopeful that he could show us everything that he could do,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur told the team’s website. “Unfortunately in the last couple of years he’s dealt with injuries. When you talk about why guys make it or don’t make it and how it relates to injuries or not being able to practice, if you’re a guy that’s proven that you can play in this league and you’re injured, well that’s in your favor, you’ve proven it. For guys that haven’t proven that they can play in this league and struggle to stay on the field and practice, that’s not in your favor so quite frankly that may be the case.

“I have a lot of respect for Carlton. He’s flashed and done some things here, but again we’ve got to make hard decisions and unfortunately he’s not with us anymore.”

The other players waived were offensive linemen Jake Anderson and Matt Cleveland, defensive back Emanuel Davis, linebackers JoJo Dickson, punter Spencer Lanning, and wide receivers Bert Reed and Jermaine Saffold.

“I’ve said it numerous times that this is a tough time of year for a coach because you develop a relationship with the players, they compete extremely hard for you and you’ve got to make tough decisions and let guys go so there is a list of guys,” Shurmur said.

With 80 players currently on the roster, the Browns will have to trim five more names by 4 p.m. on Monday.

“Yeah, we’ll get that done soon,” Shurmur said.

Well, that’s good to know.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Toole positions

On Saturday, the Carolina Mudcats did a unique promotion to honor their super-utilityman Justin Toole. Manager Edwin Rodriguez decided to make the day "Toole Time," and let Toole play all 9 positions on the diamond in the 9 inning game, including catching the 8th and pitching the 9th inning. In addition to that, Toole did the pre-game radio show with Mudcats broadcaster Darren Headrick and took the lineup cards out to the umpires before the game. It was a great way to celebrate the contributions of Toole this year, who had already played 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and LF this season. Toole has appeared in games with Carolina, Akron and Columbus this year, and has filled a valuable role on those teams despite not being considered an elite prospect. Toole is 25 years old and is hitting .228/.268/.274 in 285 AB between all three levels this year. He's not going to appear in anyone's Indians top ten prospects list this offseason, but he's a leader in the clubhouse who sets a great example for the younger guys in the organization to follow. Players like Toole are important to the organization in ways that their batting averages will never reflect, as there's no stat for Toole helping 19-year old Tony Wolters adjust to his first full season of professional baseball.

Toole 772x800As for the game itself, Toole went 1-4 with a single at the plate, and played (in order), RF-CF-LF-1B-2B-SS-3B-C-P. Toole was the Bob Feller Award Winner as the top prep pitcher in the state of Iowa his senior year in HS, so pitching is hardly foregin to him. He actually worked a 1-2-3 inning in relief for the Kinston Indians back in 2010. Toole entered the 9th with a 4-0 lead, and got the first hitter he faced to pop out. The next two hitters hit back-to-back HR, which brought pitching coach Scott Erickson out of the dugout for a little chat. Whatever he said must have worked, as Toole came back to strike out the last two hitters and preserve the 4-2 Mudcat victory. 

Toole's accomplishment got some nice run in the national press. ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted out the link to the MiLB.com story on Toole, MLB Network featured the story on it's program "The Rundown," USA Today posted an article...Toole was the focus of a lot of attention this weekend. It's a great story for one of the really good guys in the Indians organization, and it's really great to see his versatility recognized. Kudos to manager Edwin Rodriguez for coming up with the idea, and to Toole for being a good enough athlete to pull it off. In case you're wondering, Toole is on twitter as @Tooleyj24, and is one of those players who is really great about interacting with the fans. So give him a follow if you haven't already, and show him a little love for his unique and impressive accomplishment on the diamond this past Saturday.

laporta batI think I've reached the point that I'm asking, "What's the point?"

Seriously, why even bother with the charade in giving Matt LaPorta another opportunity to, as they say it, "force his way into" the first base picture. Or the left field picture, or any picture for that matter.

What's the point?

Sure, he's hit 19 home runs, knocked in almost 80 runs for the Clippers once again. But we've seen it before.

And we've seen this before.

The Indians called LaPorta up from Triple-A yesterday and intend to give him steady playing time from here on out, with the bulk of it at first base being most likely. But the thing is, this isn't any different from any other time. Unless he suddenly goes off and continues to put up the numbers he did down in Columbus, then things won't change. Even if he is marginal, this team is clearly moving on. What they do with Matt LaPorta is irrelevant because he is a bust. He is a lost cause for this organization. They may want to pretend he's an option, but he's not.

He's still around for two reasons. He's depth and he's still under control. Because he's under control and he had an option year left, that's the only reason the Indians kept him around. They see him exactly for what he is, a player who can play well in the minor leagues and hit for power down there, but when challenged with offspeed pitches, the hole in his swing is as apparent as a hole in the back of someone's pants.

The Indians did call him up earlier in the season, but for what reason? To cover the roster spot of Johnny Damon, who left on pataernity leave for a few days. After that, LaPorta was right back down in classic, "You're just a depth guy to us" fashion. He had options, but after this season, he will be out of them and that is when they'll likely cut the cord at the first crossroads they reach in making a roster decision.

Antonetti will say he has an opportunity and his performance matters down the stretch. But it really doesn't. As I said, unless he suddenly fixes everything that has kept him from becoming a Major League hitter and develops into that power-hitting first baseman the Indians THOUGHT they were acquiring when they pulled the trigger on the CC Sabathia deal, his performance does not matter. 

The odds of that happening? Very slim in my mind. We've seen this one too many times with LaPorta and the Indians, although they won't say it, are pretty much indifferent about LaPorta being any sort of realistic option for this team. He would have been up sooner if he was. They would have called him up to help this offense when they needed it, not close to September when they're out of the race.

If this team thinks they have something in Lars Anderson, they should just give him the opportunity to start right now and give him the at-bats he needs. His .196 average in Columbus be damned, there's no better time to get someone who needs major league at-bats then right now, with a handful of games left in a season that means nothing standings-wise.

If they don't, they run the risk of dancing with Anderson the for as long as they've danced with LaPorta, which has been entirely too long. This team needs to move on and find a new answer at first base, because they ruled out LaPorta a long time ago.

2012 08 weeden rankingESPN's John Clayton has posted his ranking of the NFL's quarterbacks and puts Cleveland Browns rookie Brandon Weeden at No. 31 - ahead of only Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert.

Clayton puts Weeden in his "Hit or Miss" category, writing that:

"Weeden has a good arm and decent grasp of Pat Shurmur's offense. It helps him that Shurmur did a good job two years ago in St. Louis with Sam Bradford. But it's going to be a tough year for the Browns and Weeden because the receiving corps is so young."

Weeden is ranked behind such notable quarterback as fellow rookie Ryan Tannehill in Miami; Jake Locker, who is struggling to beat out ancient Matt Hasselbeck in Tennessee; the dynamic duo of Kevin Kolb and Josh Skelton in Arizona; and the powerful one-two punch of Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson in Seattle; and Minnesota's Christian Ponder.

We know these kinds of rankings don't mean anything, but really?

tomlinvcinWith the Indians already desperate for some sort of starting pitching help, they can remove Josh Tomlin from 2013 consideration. The Tribe's right hander will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday with famed doctor Lewis Yocum, according to the Indians' official Twitter feed. The pitcher nicknamed "My Little Cowboy" by Manny Acta had seemed to pitch through various levels of pain for most of the last two seasons, including being shut down last season for elbow pain. Now, the situation has to come to a head and Tomlin will miss the entire 2013 season.

For Tomlin, it's a disappointing finish to the 2012 season, a season that saw him go on the disabled list in May with a wrist injury and also a demotion to the bullpen. He finishes the year with a 5-8 record and a 6.36 ERA. Tomlin allowed 18 home runs in just 103.1 innings of work. His last outing on August 12 was a disaster, allowing seven runs to the Red Sox in just 1.1 innings of work. That will be the last we see of Tomlin until 2014.

That leaves the Indians to hope for Carlos Carrasco, currently recovering from the Tommy John surgery he had performed in August 2011. Carrasco will be expected to get back into the rotation as the Indians starting pitching depth is severely lacking. With Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister the only certainties to be in the 2013 rotation, barring injury, the Indians will have to find some starting arms. With Ubaldo Jimenez's performance this season, his 2013 option is not a guarantee. Guys like Corey Kluber, Chris Seddon, David Huff, and Carrasco will get strong looks in Spring Training. The Indians will also have to acquire a couple pitchers to put into the mix.

For now, the focus is on Tomlin, who showed flashes in 2010 and 2011 as guy with a lot of fortitude and a reliable #5 starter. It remains to be seen if the elbow issue was a major culprit in Tomlin's ineffectiveness, but we'll have to wait until 2014 to find out.

omri-casspi-f-31925This blogger may have spoken too soon.  The reports of the Cavaliers and Alonzo Gee reaching a three year $10 million contract may have been premature.  Mary Schmidt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer set the record straight on Sunday with the following tweet:


It is difficult to ascertain what the current status is on the contract of Alonzo Gee.  Seeing Gee accept the one year qualifying offer appears to be a possibility considering that the reports of the deal were premature.  On the other hand, Gee and the Cavs could be close to a deal and a source spoke too soon.  Whatever the situation is, I hope it gets resolved quickly.  

The importance of bringing Alonzo Gee back to the team is less pressing with the Cavs signing C.J. Miles.  They are both similar players and Byron Scott would likely struggle to find playing time for Gee, Miles and Omri Casspi.  

There are rumors that the Cavs and Casspi would like to reach a contract buyout with the 24 year old small forward.  Casspi had a disappointing season with the Cavs.  He averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game with the club.  Casspi has regressed in each of his three seasons in the NBA.  If this pattern continues, it will be scary to see how he plays in the following season.


Alonzo Gee Dunks On Joel AnthonyThe Cavs are reportedly on the verge of re-signing free agent swingman Alonzo Gee to a 3 year $10 million contract.  This is good news for a myriad of reasons.  Alonzo Gee proved that he has a place in an NBA rotation last year when he averaged 10.6 and 5.1 rebounds in 63 games.  Gee started 31 of those games after Byron Scott was left with no choice but to look elsewhere for a starting small forward after the disappointing first half of the season that Omri Casspi had with the club. 

Another reason that the contract extension is good for the Cavs is because it appeared as if the discussions had reached a stalemate.  It would not have been surprising if Gee begrudgingly accepted the one year qualifying offer from the Cavs and played his way into unrestricted free agency.  The most-likely outcome of this scenario is Gee playing out his contract with the Cavs and leaving for another team after that.  

Gee had what many considered to be a breakout year with the Cavs.  One item of concern is that with the exception of the month of March, his field goal percentage dropped as the year progressed.  in fact, he shot a measly 34.1% from the field in 12 games in April.  Having said that, Gee has been re-signed to a long-term contract that is reasonable.  He is capable of playing the shooting guard and small forward positions.  In fact, he posted almost identical stats when he started at both positions (with the exception of assists, steals and rebounds). 

Gee signed with the Cavs on December 28, 2010 in what was considered another meaningless undrafted free agent during the dismal 2010-2011 season.  He played four games with the San Antonio Spurs prior to signing with Cleveland and he only averaged 0.4 points with the veteran team. 


2012 08 tomlin elbowThe Cleveland Indians placed right-hander Josh Tomlin on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, opening up a spot for Roberto Hernandez.

Tomlin is 5-8 with a 6.36 ERA in 21 appearances this year, including 16 starts, and has been troubled by a sore right elbow for a while now.

"It's been a while -- more than a month -- that I've felt something," Tomlin told The Plain Dealer. "I didn't really tell anybody because I thought I could go out there and get outs. Apparently, I couldn't. I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so I'm not exactly sure what it is. I've pitched through stuff like that for the better part of this year, but there comes a point where you compensate too much."

Tomlin has said the pain is similar to the elbow problems he had last year that ended his season on Aug. 25.

Indians manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal that team officials were not informed of the injury until a series against the Orioles between July 20 and 24.

As for Hernandez, he will make his first big-league start in almost a year when he takes the mound Wednesday night against Ervin Santana. Hernandez has missed the entire season and served a three-week suspension after being arrested on Jan. 19 outside the United States consulate in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for pitching under the name of Fausto Carmona.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

The Browns picked up DT Ronnie Cameron today through the waivers process after he was released by the Bears.  Four other teams (DET, NYG, PHI, HOU) put in claims for him, but Cleveland easily won the bid due to their 2011 suck-osity.

Cameron was an Undrafted Free Agent this year out of Old Dominion University, where he had 73 tackles (28 solo, 45 assisted) along with a team-leading 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last season.

Naturally, no one should look to an undrafted guy that was released before even the first round of cuts to make any kind of difference whatsoever, but the Browns are cobweb-thin in the Defensive front 7 right now.  So you never know.

2012 06 joe haden revisAn off-season trip to Las Vegas may end up costing Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden four games.

According to Pro Football Talk,a "league source" says Haden tested positive for Adderall after taking the medication as a "pick-me-up" during an offseason visit to Las Vegas. A positive test would result in a four-game suspension of the Browns best defensive player.


PFT also says that, because the clock hasn't started ticking on the appeal process, Haden may be able to avoid a possible suspension until well into the 2012 season (or maybe not until next year). The NFL appeals process takes months to process.

If Haden does end up serving a suspension, he will join a growing list of young players who have been nailed for using Adderall, according to Gatorsports.com. New Orleans placekicker Garrett Hartley and former Cardinals tight end Ben Patrick were each suspended in 2009.

Brandon Spikes, a teammate of Haden's at Florida, was suspended for the final four regular season games of  2010. Spikes reportedly dose suffer from ADHD and had a prescription for the medicine. He reportedly did not challenge his suspension because he did not want to miss a playoff game.

Two New York Giants players, rookie safety Tyler Sash and fourth-year running back Andre Brown, were suspended this year even though both have prescriptions. Sash's suspension has been upheld while Brown's was overturned after notifying the NFL of his Adderall prescription.

Gatorsports.com points out that a  "2011 survey of students at 119 colleges in America done by the publication Addiction reported that 25 percent of students at 'very competitive' campuses take Adderall for academic purposes."

It will be interesting to see how the NFL handles all this.

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