Tag Archives: Cleveland Indians

Early Award Predictions

Winter is beginning to fade away and spring is just around the corner. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally approaching and I could not be more excited. Spring Training games have commenced, albeit they most likely bore you to tears after the third or fourth inning, so let’s give you guys something to look forward to. How do predictions for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP sound?

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This year there are two distinct favorites for the Rookie of the year award. Dansby Swanson of the Atlanta Braves will run away with this award in the National League. Swanson played just 38 games after being called up at the end of the 2016 season. In his limited time in the Big’s, Swanson showed exactly why he was drafted first overall in 2015. The 23 year old does it all. Swanson is smooth in the field, can hit for average, steal bags, and has shown some pop in his bat. Swanson debuted in the middle of August and still finished with a .302 Avg., 3 home runs, 17 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases in just 38 games. Another year of experience will be extremely valuable for Swanson and should propel him to the next level of stardom.

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From the American league I see Red Sox young stud, Andrew Benintendi taking home the Rookie of the Year award. Most Red Sox fans fell in love with Benintendi last season after his debut on August 2nd. Benintendi hit .295 with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs, in just 34 games. These numbers aren’t jaw-dropping but they show the potential that Benintendi has. At the age of 22, he is poised to take over the everyday role in Left field, with the Green Monster looming over him.

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In 2016 Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello took the league by storm, receiving the Cy Young Award in their respective leagues. This year I see the honor going to Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber. Kershaw is an extremely safe pick, seeing that he is constantly dominant year in and year out. Last season was an enigma for Kershaw. He suffered through a nagging back injury that kept him to just 21 starts. With that being said, Kershaw still finished with a 12-4 record and an outrageous 1.69 ERA. If Kershaw can stay healthy, there is no question in my mind that he can win his 4th Cy Young in 7 years.

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Corey Kluber took the bull by the horns last year, finishing in third place for the Cy Young just behind Justin Verlander and Porcello. Kluber took his amazing statistics into the playoffs where he continued to dominate, leading the Indians to the World Series. Kluber has been a silent killer for the past three years. Staying out of the headlines, Kluber continues to produce amazing numbers as the ace of one of baseball’s best rotations.

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Now the moment you have all been waiting for; the MVP award. It would be a safe choice to pick Mike Trout and Kris Bryant but this year is going to be different. These players will obviously have sensational seasons but in 2017 Nolan Arenado and Jose Altuve will take home the award. Arenado doesn’t get much attention playing in Colorado but has been one of the best players in the MLB for the past two seasons. At 25, Arenado is a 4 time Gold Glove winner and 2 time Silver Slugger. Arenado will be turning 26 this year, baseball players prime. Over his four seasons, his statistics have continued to escalate. This year will be no different. Even though the Rockies are going nowhere fast, Arenado has certainly earned his spot as one of baseball’s best players.

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Jose Altuve has owned the American League for the past three seasons. Standing at just 5’6” and weighing 165 pounds, you would think Altuve would be better suited as a jockey rather than a MVP candidate. Altuve has proven that he is a 5 tool player. Altuve has 600+ hits over the course of the last three seasons and can still hit the long ball, racking up 24 last season. The Astros are poised to have a bounce back season this year, giving Altuve a better chance at winning the MVP award.

Keep an eye out for these players. All of them are stars or stars in the making. This year is going to be a fun one, make sure you strap in for the long ride.

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The Juice on Jimmy

After a sweet Super Bowl victory against the Atlanta Falcons, the dust is beginning to settle for the cast of Super Bowl 51 Champion New England Patriots.

On the roster there’s a lot of questions and a lot of people to retain. Defensive studs like Donta Hightower, Jabaal Sheard, and Malcolm Butler are all free agents. Safety-blanket tight end Martellus Bennett is likely gone via the highest bidder as well. Yet, the most talked about story lies within the fate of New England’s backup quarterback Jimmy Garapollo.

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Garapollo started 2 games at the beginning of the season during Tom Brady’s suspension; narrowly escaping with a win against the always-dangerous Arizona Cardinals to start the season and later smoked out the Miami Dolphins before getting injured for the remainder of Brady’s suspension. Jimmy G looked like an absolute stud on the field even though every fan had their doubts before his first start. It became clear Jimmy was the future QB of the Patriots if and when Brady decides to retire.

But then the Patriots announced they were shopping him around. In fact, they’re looking for a first round draft pick for the young quarterback. There’s a lot of opinions here as to what the Patriots actually should do, and every option has a case as to why it’d be good and why it would be a bad decision. Let’s begin.

First, let’s look at if Garapollo was to actually be traded. I’m working with the assumption New England gets a first round pick like they have vocalized, but it’s just as likely they could receive a package of lesser-round picks instead and be just as happy.

Jimmy’s Likely Trade Destinations:

Cleveland Browns – Let’s be real, Cleveland owes us one. Trading away star linebacker Jaime Collins for a mere third round pick was a steal. They should be willing to be a little thankful if a trade is pursued. Cleveland has two first round picks in this years draft, including the first overall and the number 12 pick. It’ll be hard to part with the first, so the 12th overall pick for Jimmy Garapollo seems to be the kind of reward the Patriots would love to walk away with. It’s kind of a win-win-win scenario, right? The Patriots get another first round pick, the Browns KEEP their first overall pick AND get a very young and NFL proven quarterback in a very QB-weak draft.

Lastly, Garapollo gets to be the starter on a team with a lot of young talent and a locker room with energy that could lead to the next Oakland Raiders situation (quote me on that – playoff team soon!). As Michael Scott once said, everyone loves a win-win-win.

San Fransisco 49ers – I truthfully don’t believe this trade will actually happen. Coach Kyle Shanahan is looking for some sort of rebound after a devastating Super Bowl loss, so maybe he will call the people that just embarrassed him and try to snag their backup QB? For this to work, the 49ers will have to part with their 2nd overall draft pick, which just seems absurd. A Top 5 pick is precious, it’ll be tough to sell this trade in the 49ers office. For the Patriots, a 2nd overall pick would be fantastic, but it just doesn’t seem realistic.

Lastly, this is the worst option for ol’ Jimmy G. The 49ers offense has nothing. Zip. Nada. Instead, look for Clemson QB Deshaun Watson to get drafted here, even if I think they should go with a less-attractive pick like defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.

Chicago Bears – The Chicago option is very interesting. Because I don’t personally believe a team with a top-5 first round pick is actually willing to part with said pick, I doubt this will happen (see above). The Patriots could receive a package of later round picks, and I think the Bears would probably pull the trigger on that seeing as they are notorious for not having a franchise quarterback.

Personally, Jimmy to the Chicago Bears is my favorite option of the three because it is likely the best option for Jimmy Garapollo to succeed. The Bears have a top wideout with Alshon Jeffrey (if they retain him), a breakout running-back in Jordan Howard, and a surprisingly stellar offensive line. They could easily spread the field and be able to attack with an already solid running game and an actual threat as a passer. It’s an exciting option to fantasize about.

If the Patriots stick to needing a first-round pick option, then knock it off the table. The Bears simply can’t give up the #3 overall pick for a QB who’s only played a handful of games.

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Jimmy Garapollo Stays With the Patriots

It’s possible the Patriots don’t receive the trade offer they’re looking for and instead hold Jimmy for the final year of his contract. This option is attractive for Jimmy because he gets to stay on a winning franchise and learn from the greats, and it’s attractive for the Patriots because they get to keep a starting-caliber quarterback as a backup option. In case Brady goes down or somehow declines (although he seems to get better with age like a fine wine), they have Jimmy G waiting to take over the game.

Once the season is over, they need to figure out if they want to let him walk, franchise tag him, or sign him. Weighing those three options seems like something to discuss in another article a year from now if they pursue this course.

The dominoes will begin to fall very soon for every team in the NFL. This deal is likely one of the bigger roster moves of the offseason, so the final decision is impactful on where every other free agent and trade ends up. Perhaps next Tuesday we will have an answer.

Should We Believe in Cleveland?

The American League Central has been represented in the World Series for three consecutive years. Is it possible that this division is the best in baseball? For all we know, it seems like this could be the case.

In 2016 the Cleveland Indians ran away with the division, beating out the Detroit Tigers by a hefty 8 games. From the very start of the season, Cleveland took command of the division and never looked back. The Indians rode that momentum all the way to their first World Series appearance since 1997, ultimately losing to the Chicago Cubs in 7 games.

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The Indians shocked the world, steamrolling past the MLB’s best offense in the Boston Red Sox, during the divisional round of the playoffs and then handily taking the Toronto Blue Jays in 5 games to win the American League Pennant. The Indians stayed out of the spotlight, quietly compiling 94 wins and the second best record in the American League. Can the Indians continue their torrid pace this year or is there another team that is poised to take the reins of the American League Central.

My predictions are as follows:

  1. Cleveland Indians 98-64
  2. Detroit Tigers 87-75
  3. Kansas City Royals 80-82
  4. Chicago White Sox 70-92
  5. Minnesota Twins 69-93

I know these picks are not very sexy so I apologize. In fact, these are how each team finished in the division last year.

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The Cleveland Indians are one of the best teams from top to bottom. Without two of their best three pitchers, the Indians were able to scratch and claw their way to a game 7 in the World Series. Now that both Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are healthy, the Indians have one of the deepest rotations in the MLB. Sitting at the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation will be Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin, who both came out of nowhere to have amazing playoff performances. If those two can ride that momentum into 2017, the Indians would have one of the strongest rotations baseball has ever seen.

We don’t stop there with the Indians either. Waiting out in the bullpen is every hitter’s worst nightmare, Andrew Miller. The tall lefty had a season for the record books, establishing himself as the finest closer in the world.

The Indians also have a young and inspiring lineup that manufacture runs at will. From top to bottom they have the perfect blend of speed, contact, and power. The biggest free agent signing of the offseason also went to the Cleveland Indians. Edwin Encarnacion landed in Cleveland, signing a 3 year $60 million contract. Encarnacion provides the power that Cleveland lacked at occasions last season. With a roster like this, it would not be unrealistic to see the Indians make a consecutive appearance in the World Series.

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Coming in second place I have the Detroit Tigers. Justin Verlander had an astounding year in 2016 and if he can carry that over into 2017 the Tigers may have a potential Cy Young Award winner. Following Verlander is Michael Fulmer who is poised to be an ace in the future. If you don’t know the name now you should get accustomed to hearing it a lot soon. The Tigers have a lot of good pieces throughout their roster but it is not constructed well enough to take down the Indians. If the Tigers are out of it come July, look for the Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, to be dealt away for prospects that can help start a rebuilding process in Detroit.

Just one year out of a World Series championship, the Kansas City Royals finished in 3rd place in the American League Central. This year is going to be no different. The Royals have a talented roster but in an extremely competitive division, their talent is not good enough.

For both the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins, the rebuilding processes have already begun. As many of you know, the White Sox dealt away their biggest asset, Chris Sale, to the Boston Red Sox. In this deal they acquired Yoan Moncado, who is ranked as the top prospect in the entire MLB. For the Twins sake, they are simply put, putrid. The Twins are coming off of a 103 loss season and are poised to possibly do it again this year.

Everybody mark it down. The Cleveland Indians are head and shoulders above the rest of the American League Central. If I were a betting man, I would put all my money on the Indians running away with the Central in 2017.

 

Encarnacion Lands in Cleveland

The Cleveland Indians made a huge splash in the free agency pool, signing former Toronto Blue Jays slugger, Edwin Encarnacion. The Tribe were already viewed as one of top teams in the American League but their need for a big bat in the middle of their lineup was apparent throughout their trip to the World Series.  Mike Napoli provided almost all of the Indians power but with his contract expiring this offseason, the need for a bat was even more dire. Losing Napoli left a void at first base, making Encarnacion the most logical addition for the Indians.

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Encarncian signed a team friendly deal worth $60 million over three years after denying a 4 year $80 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jays.  These are astonishing numbers for one of the best power-hitters in the MLB.  Encarnacion hit a mediocre .263 in 2016 but made his mark smacking 42 homeruns and knocking in a career high 127 RBIs.

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The Indians also have one of the deepest pitching rotations in the entire MLB. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar rival the pitching rotation of the Boston Red Sox. Not to mention, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer are rounding out the rotation. Both Tomlin and Bauer had fantastic playoff performances, and if they are able to carry that momentum into the 2017 season then the sky is the limit for the Tribe.

The Indians depth doesn’t stop there. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen make up one of the strongest bullpens that anchor one of the game’s greatest rotations. The Indians are talented in all facets of the game. With the addition of Encarnacion, the Indians have made a strong case to be the favorites coming out of the American League. But can they take down everybody’s front runner, the Boston Red Sox?

This is a complete possibility. The Indians are stacked from top to bottom. Encarnacion adds a much needed right handed bat which will be a major issue for the Red Sox to handle. The Sox rotation is lefty dominant, having David Price, Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez all toeing the rubber from the left side. The match ups throughout the Indians lineup favor them greatly.

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This matchup should be something to keep an eye on throughout the entirety of the season.  The Red Sox and Indians are the top runners to come out of the American League. Over the past few years, Encarnacion has tormented the Red Sox and the addition of his bat will surely come back and haunt them so more. With the addition of Encarnacion, the Indians have become a team posed to make a deep run into the Playoffs.

The Sweet Talk Heard Round the World

If you ever find yourself watching basketball with anyone who isn’t a millennial, you’ll likely hear them gripe about how the NBA isn’t “like it used to be.” They will tell you about how “dedicated” Michael Jordan was or how much of an a**hole Magic Johnson could be.

It seems as though they are stuck in an age of the past, where talent tended to separate, and dynasties were the result of one man. Now, the NBA is much more interesting and equally compete—OH MY GOD J.R. SMITH WHAT ARE YOU DOING???

I can’t. I really, truthfully cannot understand this. Jason Terry is still in the league?

Sorry, back to our main topic. OH MY GOD J.R. SMITH WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? I know you are a defending champion and the fact you found your shirt again is a miracle in itself, but this is too far. We have seen instances of “softiness” in the past, but this takes it to a whole new level. It’s one thing to let a 40-year old man take a few soft pitches down the middle in an All-Star game, but it’s totally different dapping up a 39 year-old guard on the Milwaukee Bucks while there’s a real game going on with real consequences.

Of course, Smith’s blooper caused quite a stir on our old friend the Internet, so fans of basketball both new and old shared a good laugh at our loser of the week:

It’s been well established that if you mess up in sports, you will be incorporated into whatever meme is hot at the time. JR is the latest of many victims.

It’s hard not to wonder how often JR Smith is intoxicated after watching him win his first ever NBA title.

Turns out, Tyronn Lue actually did talk to JR about the incident.

After the clip went viral, Smith answered questions in a ski mask and said it was his alter ego that did it. The video has since been removed by many sources, and all we have left is one hell of a meme:

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Don’t be ashamed, JR Smith. Jason Terry wasn’t good enough for your attention anyway.

Cleveland Wins Now, So Who Can We Make Fun Of?

Until June 19 2016, Cleveland was the punchline of the sports world. The Browns had cycled through every quarterback from Tim Couch to Johnny Manziel, the Indians had gotten tantalizingly close to a World Series berth but never got over the hump, and the Cavaliers, until recently, lost LeBron James and faded to mediocrity. It shouldn’t be necessary to restate the pure hell Cleveland fans sat through in 1987 when they watched John Elway and the Denver Broncos carve their defense for a game-winning drive in the AFC Championship, or when the Indians won the division title six times in seven seasons from 1995 to 2001 and failed to make it to the damn World Series. Or, how could we forget when the Cavaliers lost game seven of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals after being up 20 points in the fourth quarter? Here’s the thing, that last one didn’t even actually happen, but you probably believed it, because it would’ve been so f*cking Cleveland.

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However, all of that changes today. Today, Cleveland is the beacon of the sports world. Fans will flood the streets to celebrate the raising of the NBA Championship banner, and the Indians will host Game 1 of the World Series. A giant paper bag will be put over the Cleveland Browns; they’re another problem for another day. Cleveland is no longer the laughingstock of the sports world.

So, if Cleveland is off the hook now, who do we laugh at? The Browns are almost bad enough to keep making fun of Cleveland, but not quite. It’s not fair to make fun of a city with one or two professional teams. The Chargers and Padres might suck, but if San Diego had a basketball team, maybe they’d run house. You never know. Also, big market teams who are awful get laughed at even more. This, my friends, is why the awful sports city title goes to two big cities – to share.

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First off, there’s Washington. Sure, the Redskins used to be good, but millennials have a short attention span and they haven’t won anything since 1992. As for the other three professional teams? Well, the Capitals went from being the worst team in the NHL to a great team who chokes in the playoffs every year. The Wizards won a title when they were the much cooler and much more successful Washington Bullets, long before Gilbert Arenas kept a pistol in his gym bag. Now, they are struggling to make the playoffs, and they didn’t even get a meeting with Kevin Durant in the offseason. The Nationals just lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers, continuing their long trend of being a disappointment in the postseason. If one of these teams can get their head out of their ass long enough to live up to their potential, Washington could have something. However, until then, they are forced to look into the television at their awful teams and ask themselves, “you like that?”

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Joining Washington in their misery is Atlanta, who hasn’t had anything to write home about since the 90s Braves. Last year, the Falcons started 5-0 and somehow missed the playoffs, so don’t trust them until they win a playoff game. The current Atlanta Braves just finished 68-93, and don’t appear to have a direction. The Atlanta Hawks lost Al Horford and replaced him with Dwight Howard; expect him to leak complaints about his role with the team by mid-December. Atlanta used to have a mediocre hockey team, but they moved to Winnipeg. It’s hard to tell exactly who has it worse out of these three teams, but unless the Falcons surprise us all, Atlanta doesn’t have much to look forward to.

It is unclear who has it worse between Washington and Atlanta, but one thing is for sure: with a paper bag over the Browns tonight, Cleveland can rejoice in the fact that they are no longer the laughingstock of professional sports.

 

 

Champagne Showers

Alright folks…the moment we have all been waiting for starts Tuesday night, under the lights at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Chicago Cubs will be taking on the Cleveland Indians in a battle for the 112th World Series title. Both squads take in historic World Series droughts. The Indians last won the title in 1948 against the Boston Braves and the North side of Chicago hasn’t seen a World Series championship since 1908. These two title droughts are the longest in any professional sport. Unfortunately for one team that drought will continue, as for the other, they’ll be celebrating in champagne showers.

What else could you ask for? From top to bottom, the Indians and the Cubs are easily the most talented teams in the MLB. Both organizations are very similar. Let’s start from the top.

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At the helm for the Tribe we see Terry “Tito” Francona. Francona has been MLB’s most successful coach in the past decade. Tito won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 as the Manager for the Boston Red Sox. Francona has won Manager of the Year Awards in 2004 and 2013 and is poised to take home the title once again this year. Not only has Francona been recognized through his accolades, but he has also been renowned as one of baseball’s greatest minds. In 2004, Francona led one of sport’s greatest comebacks. Down 3-0 in the ALCS to the daunting New York Yankees, Francona rallied his troops to win four consecutive games on their way to their first World Series in 86 years. Can Francona reverse the curse for a second time or has his magic run out?

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Leading the way for the 103 win Cubbies is Manager, Joe Maddon. Maddon got his first head coaching gig in 2006 for the then, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Maddon struggled his first two years as coach, winning just 61 games in 2006 and 66 in 2007. The struggles were short lived, because in 2008 Maddon headed the Rays to a 97-win season and a trip to the World Series. This was a remarkable accomplishment for Madden. He led an extremely young and inexperienced team to a World Series, after being complete laughing stocks the previous year. Maddon continued his success, racking up 90+-win seasons four more times. The rays were transformed by Maddon’s presence, becoming one of Baseball’s most successful teams from 2010-2013. Maddon was recognized for his success by winning the Manger of the Year Award in 2008, 2011, and most recently in 2015 for the Chicago Cubs. From 2010-2013 Maddon finished in the top 5 for Manger of the Year Award, something that is unheard of in a highly competitive division. Is Joe Maddon poised to lead the Cubs to their first World Series Title since 1908, or is the curse of the Billy Goat going to come and snatch it away once more?

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Not only are the coaches similar, but their rosters are constructed alike as well. The Cleveland Indians have young talent all over the field from stud short-stop, Francisco Lindor (age 22) to rising stars, Tyler Naquin (age 25) and Jose Ramirez (age 24). Around those up-and-coming youngsters, the Indians have many valuable veterans. Players like Mike Napoli, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Santana help to show the young players the ropes and what to expect in pressured filled situations like the World Series. Napoli will now be playing in his 3rd World Series with just as many teams. His experience and knowledge will be crucial if the Indians want to capture the title.

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Similarly, the Cubs are constructed just like the Indians. Players like Kris Bryant, Addison Russel, and Javier Baez, don’t exceed the age of 24 but are critical for the Cubs to win. Around them, players like Jon Lester, David Ross, John Lackey, and Jake Arrieta bring the veteran presence to the locker-room. The front offices of both organizations should be proud of the teams that they have constructed. Both the Indians and the Cubs are equipped to be good for years to come, in fact, we may see them in the same situation next year.

For now, we need to look at 2016. Picking a team to win the World Series is a tough task, but I believe I am prepared to take the risk. I have the Cubs winning in six games. Throughout the year, they have been the most consistent of all 30 teams and have shown no weaknesses. Their rotation is stacked, headed by Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta. The Cubs have one of the deepest lineups as well. From 1-9 they have talent to put runs up on any pitcher, just ask Clayton Kershaw. This is not a dig on the Indians either. They have impressed me since day one. I believe that the Cubs roster is deeper and more equipped to take home the title to the North side of Chicago. If this is the case, the MLB will be lucky. Finally, one of the most storied franchises in baseball will have captured their first World Series title since 1908 and break the curse that has been haunting them for over a century.