2012 08 grady rampCheer up, Tribe fans, help is on the way.

Outfielder Grady Sizemore, who has yet to play this season, and relief pitcher Rafael Perez, who hasn't pitched since April 25, are on the on-ramp to joining the club, or something like that.

Perez, who experienced soreness last week during a minor league rehab assignment, threw on Wednesday from 90 feet.

“He felt good, so we’re gonna ramp him up again,” Indians manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal. “It’s not going to be a lengthy (build up) since we just shut him down for a few days because he was a little bit sore.”

As for Sizemore, who turned 30 Thursday, he may actually start running when the Tribe comes home on Monday as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

“When we get back, (head trainer) Lonnie (Soloff) said (Sizemore's) going to start ramping it up on the ground,” Acta said.

Truly this is the golden age of being an Indians fan.

LarsWrightOwners of Chris Perez and Shin-Soo Choo Cleveland Indians jerseys can rest easy; the annual July 31 deadline has come and gone, and they're both still on the active roster.  The Indians appeared to have stood pat until the blockbuster deal, which brings Lars Anderson into the organization while the Boston Red Sox will have the pleasure of former Akron Aeros pitcher Steven Wright.

The 6'4" Northern California native plays first base and left field, which will fill the void for Eric Wedge fans who miss that combination of defensive skills.  His Major League resume includes 30 games with the Red Sox sprinkled over the last three seasons, where he's boasted a .167 average with 4 RBI and a double while being utilized as a defenseive replacement and pinch-hitting in a lot of blowout-type games.  Once upon a time, Anderson was a highly touted prospect, ranked in the Top 100 by Baseball America  in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but the jump from AA Portland to AAA Pawtucket proved to be difficult for Anderson.

After a hot start, hitting .355 in the Eastern League in 2010, Anderson plateaued at the next level, and has been hitting at a .262 clip on the AAA level.  He's right there this year, hitting .259 with 9 HR and 52 RBI.  The 24 year-old is sixth in the International League with 56 walks and a .359 on-base percentage.  He is hitting .261 against left-handed pitching, and to his credit he is htting .316 with the bases occupied while splitting his time between first and left field defensively.  After being part of a rescinded trade for Rich Harden at the deadline a year ago, this is the second time Boston has attempted to give their 18th Round pick of the 2006 Draft his walking papers.

The scouting report on him, from SoxProspects.com reads as follows:

Tall left-handed hitter with well, filled out frame. Smooth swing. Demonstrates strong patience at the plate, comfortably working counts to get offerings to drive.  Brings a plan to the plate and has knowledge of his strike zone. Lets the ball get deep on him and hits inside of the baseball.  Extends well with his arms to drive ball to opposite field. Struggles with breaking balls, which leads to swings-and-misses and weak contact on the ground.  Must improve contact skills to project as an average-to-better hitter for batting average at the big league level. Despite plus raw power, has trouble pulling the ball with lift.  Swing shows too much hook and lacks leverage due to looping hands during swing load.  Struggles to get good wood on inside fastballs.  Average-to-solid-average home run projection at big league level. Below-average speed. Defense around the first base bag has improved the last two seasons.  Has become more sure-handed. Digs throws in the dirt well.  Average range.  Adequate defensively.  Ability to stick on a major league roster heavily tied into offensive production.  Needs more consistency with focus and concentration.  Projects as an up-and-down major leaguer, with potential to carve role out on a second division team.  

Steven Wright was the Indians second round pick in 2006 out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  In six minor league seasons with the Tribe's farm system, he has posted a record of 38-33, but he's 27-15 at the AA level.  The 27 year old knuckleballer is 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA with Akron in 2012, and had yielded just a .207 batting average to opposing batsmen, best in the Eastern League.  The Indians organization has gained a reputation for poor drafting, but Wright might be the exception where David Huff and Trevor Crowe are the rule.

If this deal leads you to believe that the Red Sox are competent and the Indians may not know what they're doing.  I don't blame you; this seems like a swap of a guy on the way up for a guy on the way down.


loc arenaThe Cavs will be playing a full preseason schedule for the first time since 2010.  The Cavs only played two games as a result of the abbreviated season.  Preseason basketball is only one step above Summer League and is typically pretty awful, but it is an exciting time for NBA fanatics.  There's just something about seeing your favorite team play in actual NBA arenas, against real NBA competition while wearing authentic NBA jerseys.  It is also a fun time of year because it allows for teams to showcase new pieces.

The Cavs will play a total of seven preseason games in October.  They will play only three games in the friendly confines of the Quicken Loans Arena.  The other 4 games will be on the road.  The games in Canton and Cincinnati are going to be considered Cavaliers home games at neutral sites. 

One game that appears to be missing is their annual jaunt to Columbus, Ohio.  This saddens me as a resident of Columbus because it is always fun to see the Cavs play a few miles away from my home.  It appears as if the game in Columbus has been replaced with one in Canton.  This makes sense because the Cavs D-League affiliate Canton Charge plays in the Canton Memorial Civic Center and this is a good opportunity for cross-promotion.  The first game of the preseason schedule marks the first time that a European team will play the Cavs since CSKA Moscow beat the Cavs in 2010.  In hindsight, losing to a European team should have probably been a warning sign that the 2010-2011 Cavs would struggle mightily. 

The schedule can be seen below the jump.


2012 07 browns frosteeDefensive end Frostee Rucker was one of the Cleveland Browns free-agent signings in the offseason and the team is hoping that Rucker can improve the team’s 30th ranked rush defense.

Rucker apparently decided he needed to bulk up for the task as he has reportedly shown up at training camp heavier that last year, according to ESPN.com.

But it is apparently the “good” kind of weight gain, not the “bad” kind (think Gerard Warren).

“I think he’s put on a little bit of weight, based on what I saw in the spring,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said on Monday. “It’s good weight. He’s moving around well. We liked him last year when we played against him, and that’s why we brought him here. We feel like he can play on all three downs.”

The Browns are hoping that Rucker, who they signed for five years and $21 million, can combine with fellow free-agent defensive end Juqua Parker to make a capable defensive end opposite Jabaal Sheard.

“I think Frostee can pass rush, but I also think he’s thick enough to play the run,” Shurmur said. “We feel like Frostee and Juqua as veteran defensive ends will help man that right end spot. If there are situations where Jabaal needs a blow, of course they can fill in for him as well, not to mention all the other guys.”

For his part, Rucker, listed at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, likes what he sees so far from the Browns rebuilt defensive line.

“We just really need to concentrate on being fundamentally sound and being gap sound,” he told ESPN. “The coaches are really harping on those things now, and everyone’s getting it. Last year, it was unfortunate, when they came together there were no OTAs or minicamps, so they were a little bit behind. The sky is the limit for this group. Everyone is being accountable and that’s the best thing, to be accountable and play gap-sound football and we should be alright.”

If the Browns can make any kind of improvement in the rush defense it will go a long way toward helping an offense that is going to be loaded with inexperienced players.

2012 browns_draft_04I made my first foray to Berea this morning (Monday) to check out the new and (hopefully) improved Browns.  Obviously hard to tell much from many of the drills, but here's what I noticed, such as it is:

*Mitchell Schwartz played with the 1st team offense and struggled against Jabaal Sheard. Or maybe Sheard is just that awesome.

*Colt McCoy had some nice throws and seemed clearly to be the most decisive of the 4 QB's, but the velocity on his throws was also clearly noticeably less than Brandon Weeden or even Seneca Wallace. Anything longer than 15-20 yards is in the air WAY too long.

*Weeden had some nice throws, but was far from "sharp". He seems to be "thinking" a lot at this point, several throws to spots where he assumed a WR would be but were empty (could be either's fault), couple passes batted down (definitely partially Schwartz's fault). Often stared down his intended Receiver.

*Seneca follows up beautiful throws with terrible decisions. Held the ball a long time in 7 on 7 drills, would've been sacked 3 or 4 times by the time he threw it. There's no reason for a guy so supposedly versed in the Offense to be so indecisive.

*Montario Hardesty looks way faster than I ever remember him being.

*Reports of Mo Massaquoi's demise were premature. He also looked quick.

*Josh Gordon spent plenty of time with the 1's. He stands out, very smooth, tall. Bad drop on a great Weeden pass in traffic, though.

*3 WR sets were Little, Mo, Gordon. 4 WR sets included Travis Benjamin.

*Stood next to Mary Kay Cabot for a little while, and she's tiny, like an elf or a sprite.

*Daryl Ruiter spent about 5 minutes just ripping the Dolans to a guy standing near me. Which isn't hard to do.

*Jim Donavan looking healthy again, a good sign.

*Dan Gronkowski certainly didn't inherit his brother's athleticism.

*Greg Little looks great and gets a lot of attention from Weeden.  Adjust your fantasy rankings accordingly.

*DT's did a good job clogging up the middle on Run D.

*Difficult for Defensive players to stand out when there's little hitting and no tackling (that's why they don't cheer for you, Frostee), but James-Michael Johnson seemed active and had a couple picks.

*My nephew, wearing a #9 Frye jersey with the name removed, wasn't happy unless he was watching his favorite player Thad Lewis throw the ball (also #9).

*Phil Dawson spent most of the time off by himself booting balls through uprights. The lonely life of a Kicker.

*Backup Kicker Jeff Wolfert spent a long time after practice going around signing autographs. Get it while you can, Jeff.

lernerIn a statement issued by Randy Lerner that was picked up on Twitter by both Adam Schefter and the crew at ProFootballTalk, businessman Jimmy Haslam III is reportedly interested in "making an investment in the Cleveland Browns", according to Lerner's statement. The Haslam family owns the Pilot Oil Corporation, which has gas stations and convenience stores all over the country and also recently purchased the Flying J brand of gas stations. Jimmy Haslam III is the current CEO of Pilot. He is 58 years old and currently resides in Tennessee.

The exact statement from Lerner and the Browns reads:

"In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I’ve been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns,” Lerner says.  “We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary."

No indication is made in the statement on how much of an ownership stake Haslam wants or how much Lerner is offering. Rumors have been circulating that the Browns have, in fact, been sold, but nothing concrete had come out about the Browns even being up for sale until this statement from Lerner.

The Haslam family was approved in 2008 by the NFL to receive a minority share in the Pittsburgh Steelers. They continue to own a portion of the team. A link to his Investor Profile page on the Steelers' Official Website notes that he is a "1,000 percent Steelers fan!" and that he watches all of the games.

More on this story when it becomes available.

Quicken Loans_ArenaThe NBA officially announced the 2012-2013 schedule on Thursday night.  Snippets of the schedule were announced through various media channels in the past week or so.  This is always an exciting time for fans because it makes the impending season feel more real.  Considering that there was a lockout, last year's embarrassing NBA schedule presentation on NBA TV is the exception to that rule. 

An interesting note to the Cavs' schedule is that they will tip-off the entire NBA season.  Most fans will probably be more interested in the Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics double-header on TNT that night, but seeing the Cavs take on the Washington Wizards is going to be very intriguing.  The fact that John Wall and Kyrie Irving are both point guards taken first overall and that Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters are shooting guards taken with top four picks should be enough to get many League Pass fanatics interested in the game.  There are worse ways to start off a season than two young teams with promising talents going head-to-head.


brent-lillibridgeFresh off putting down a successful suicide squeeze bunt attempt in what will likely be his final at bat as a Cleveland Indian, Aaron Cunningham was designated for assignment today by the Indians in order to add recently-acquired IF/OF Brent Lillibridge to the roster. Lillibridge was acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday in a trade that sent minor league reliever Jose de la Torre to Boston. Lillibridge is expected to take over Cunningham's role as a late-inning defensive replacement, though Lillibridge can also play some infield positions as well.

Cunningham, who was acquired for minor league pitcher Cory Burns back in December, batted just .175 in 97 at bats this season. He appeared in 72 games, most of those as a defensive replacement in left field. He will have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

As for Lillibridge, he was traded to the Red Sox in the Kevin Youkilis deal on June 24 and traded to the Indians exactly one month later. He has appeared in 59 games this season, posting a .165 average in 79 at bats. Last season, Lillibridge hit 13 home runs for the White Sox in just 186 at bats.

Lillibridge will wear #1, which has been so proudly worn by Kosuke Fukudome and Luis Valbuena over the last few seasons.

1133416856 hkZEH-MC.J. Miles has scheduled a visit with the Cleveland Cavaliers for later this week.  Miles has played his entire seven year career with the Utah Jazz. 

This meeting with Miles could mean one of two things on the Alonzo Gee front.  First, it implies that negotiations with Gee are not going as planned and they are looking elsewhere to fill the void at the shooting guard and small forward positions.  The other likely possibility is that the Cavs are sending a message to Alonzo Gee and his representatives that they are not afraid to look elsewhere and are willing to walk away from negotiations.  There is also the possibility that the Cavs would like to have C.J. Miles and Alonzo Gee under contract to help shore up a big weakness for the team.

Miles averaged 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 56 games with the Jazz last year.  A red flag should be the fact that he only shot 38.1% and that he is a career 41.9% shooter.  The Jazz veteran has good size and is young enough that there is potential for improvement, but he certainly isn't the type of player the Cavs should want starting at small forward for the foreseeable future.  The Cavs will need some shooters on the perimeter and C.J. Miles could use some improvement in that department.


BrentLillibridgeKidFinally... The fans have been clamoring for it. 

And now you get your wish!

The Cleveland Indians made a move and they brought in the highly coveted right handed hitter that everyone so desperately wanted for the Tribe's lineup.

Okay I can't do it. I'm sorry but this just isn't working. Maybe if Brent Lillibridge looked a little bigger than Pinoccio I could play along with this for more than a few paragraphs, trying to convince you that the Indians had actually done what you wanted them to in acquiring a right handed bat.

But I just can't do it. The Indians did indeed make a trade with Boston, acquiring Lillibridge by sending reliever Jose De La Torre to the Red Sox. Lillibridge started the year with Chicago and was sent to Boston in the Kevin Youkilis trade. He arrived in Chicago from Atlanta through the Javier Vazquez (or one of the Javier Vazquez) trade (s). 

The Indians will make a corresponding roster move tomorrow and for now will transport Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15 day disabled list to the 60 day disabled list, removing him from the 40 man roster. It could mark the end for Aaron Cunningham, as Lillibridge has outifeld experience, although he is mainly an infielder. He has started or played at every single position on the diamond excluding catcher and pitcher off course, in his major league career. So he's the definition of utility player.

Can he be Jason Donald for the Indians? Defensively, sure. But Lillibridge brings a career .212 average to the table, with a .165 average between his stints with Boston and Chicago.

Two Sox, two Central teams, two trades for Lillibridge this season. He'll get his shot with the Tribe, but let's just be honest here. Does anyone think he's going to help this team in anyway? Maybe as a late inning defensive replacement. Maybe gives the Indians the chance to give Cabrera a breather every great while and still have someone who can play center on the roster without having Aaron Cunningham around.

But really, this is one of those moves that you know is not really all that beneficial in many, if any aspects.

The question now would be who he takes a roster spot away from. Cunningham is and has certainly been on the chopping block, but I supposed you have to name Jose Lopez and Shelley Duncan as candidates as well. 

Regardless of all of it. We should convince the White Sox that they could make this kid's day and re-acquire Brent Lillibridge, for, let's say, Jake Peavy for what's left of Jason Knapp and compesation for all of Peavy's salary. Kenny Williams, you can be a hero!

For the record, my dad recorded the same type of video when the Indians traded Jody Gerut to Chicago. Only I was a bit older than this kid. No shame, no shame.

1994-roadThe Cleveland Cavaliers will be wearing throwback jerseys for the first time since the 2009-2010 season in the upcoming year.  The NBA will celebrate the 1990's in their annual Hardwood Classics nights and the Cavs will be one of twelve teams to do so.  The team will take the court wearing their mid-'90s road jerseys for select games.

The other franchises that will be donning 90's jerseys are the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.  The NBA typically reserves Hardwood Classics promotional games for older jerseys, but the fact that so many NBA fans in their thirties celebrate that era makes it good marketing on behalf of the league.

On a personal note, I recall when those jerseys were revealed.  As a thirteen year old Cavs fan who knew nothing but the orange and blue of the 80's and early-90's, I was excited about the new arena, direction and brand of the franchise.  But something did not sit right for me.  It was odd to see Cavaliers legends like Mark Price and Hot Rod Williams in jerseys that were so blatantly from a specific era.  It is like walking into a brand new house that is ultra-modern.  It may look new and exciting at the moment, but it is easy to see how it will look outdated in a few short years.  That is how I always remember those early Gund arena Cavs jerseys.


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