The Cleveland Column: July 2014

Photo is courtesy of http://216sportsblog.weebly.com/ Written by: JP Lococo (@jp_lococo)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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After a long hiatus, the Cleveland Column is back and better than ever. The last time I wrote solely about Cleveland sports, the Cavs were making a feeble attempt at making the playoffs, the Indians were just kicking off the season and the Browns were prepping for the unknowns to come in the draft (those unknowns became the phenomenon of Johnny Football). A lot has happened in the last couple of months and I think it is time I put some thoughts to paper. Enough of the intro talk, let's get down to meat of this month, shall we?

Browns

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If there is one thing we have learned in the past month and a half from the Browns, it's that Johnny Manziel will not be be kept out of the news. Since he was drafted, "Money Manziel" has been a constant in the off the field headlines. From the bathroom picture of Manziel rolling up money, to his hanging out with Justin Bieber on the weekends, he has managed to stay in the spotlight.

The big question everyone wants answered, including the Browns, is will it effect his on-the-field play? Only time will tell but there are signs of acknowledgement of some prior "rookie mistakes" Manziel has made.

"I made some rookie mistakes," Manziel said last Friday. "There were some things I wish I could have gone back and done a little differently, but I'm continuing to move forward and try and represent this organization and this team in a positive manner and a positive light."

As for Manziel's competitor, Brian Hoyer, he on the other hand was receiving some high praises from All-Pro Guard Joe Thomas, whom had some statements that rung through the league this week.

Thomas went on to state, "I think it's that (Hoyer's) attitude and that swagger that demands respect. And, he also goes and backs it up out on the field. He throws the ball to the right person. He's doing things and getting everybody on the same page. That's just as much the role of a quarterback as throwing touchdown passes."

Again, time will tell with this competition but it seems as if it's Hoyer's job to lose this year.

As for Josh Gordon, he's still screwed. Gordon is currently in ongoing hearings on his case

Indians

The Indians currently stand 3 games out of the last wildcard spot in the AL with their  56-55 record. The race is going to be tight these last couple of weeks with the top 6 teams separated by less than 5 games.

Sounds okay right? Win 3-4 in a row and you are right there with 4 weeks remaining in the season. Unfortunately, that is proving hard for the Indians at the moment. They are 3-7 in their last ten and sit over 6 games out of the division. Let's be honest, you can write that title off as Detroit simply has too much this year.

So, what direction does the Tribe take now? Well the first of perhaps a couple dominoes fell this week when the Indians dealt Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals. In return, the club received 24-year-old outfielder James Ramsey, a former first-round draft choice who will report to Triple-A Columbus.

"I was surprised it took place," Masterson said, "but I understand and see it. It's bittersweet."

The big right hander has been a consistent go-to over the past four seasons for the Tribe but after a 4-6 record and 5.51 ERA in 19 starts this year, the Indians front office decided to move him now rather than wait. In all reality, it was unlikely that Masterson was going to re-sign with the Tribe at seasons end so for the front office to turn him into a young, up and coming prospect in Ramsey, perhaps only a year away from the bigs, is a good deal.

Unfortunately, this goes back to the same ole story with the Indians. Lot's of young talent to develop and then never able to hold onto them long-term. Sure, maybe Masterson doesn't get back to where he was last season. But what about Scott Kazmir? This season he is 12-4 with a 2.53 ERA for Oakland. This is someone who the Tribe desperately needs in times and situations like the one they are in now. The time to engage into deep conversation about the Dolan Family and their commitment is for another time, but this situation was worth noting.

Cavaliers

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Is there a better story in sports right now other than the Cavs? You'd be hard pressed to find one. Since I have last written on Cleveland sports, the Cavs missed the playoffs, somehow landed the number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, picked Andrew Wiggins with that pick and then received news of LeBron James returning home. There truly must be a sports God looking over the city because to have all of that happen in the matter of a couple months is down right unrealistic. But it happened and now the City and Cavaliers are back.

So, what's next? Finalizing a trade to bring in Kevin Love to Cleveland seems to be priority number one. Unfortunately, sources have cited that the Cavs must include Andrew Wiggins in the trade to make it happen. It has been known for a while that Love was looking to take his talents elsewhere but not until this weekend have we heard anything from inside the Timberwolve's organization.

"I'm saying it's most likely because Kevin has made it pretty clear that that's what he wants to do," Wolves owner Glen Taylor told the Pioneer Press over the weekend.

I find it almost comical that some people still don't want to trade Wiggins. I get asked a lot what I think about the options Cleveland has in front of them and in my eyes, there is only one thing to do; trade what you must to bring in Kevin Love.

Let's cover the facts quickly. Last season Love averaged over 26 PPG and 12.5 rebounds while also shooting almost 46% from the field. He is a 3-time All-Star and twice named to the All NBA Second Team. If you can make a trade happen to land him, then you simply do it.

In saying all that, I am also not suggesting to get Love at all cost; at least not right now. It's important to remember that Cleveland has the leverage and they should act as so. Love making public comments about his wishes definitely doesn't hurt either. Cleveland is familiar with this position as they were in similar shoes as Minnesota just 4 summers ago when LeBron was leaving town. They opted to wait things out. This is something Minnesota will not be willing to do because they must maximize the situation by obtaining as many assets as possible. Bottom line, Love will be traded and it's only a matter of when.

It's fair to keep hope that the Cavs and Wolves may be able to work out a deal without Wiggins, but it also still may be foolish. You'd like to a see a young talent like Wiggins develop under the watchful eyes of LBJ instead of the situation in Minnesota but at the end of the day this is a business and Cleveland will do what they can to provide LBJ with an All-Star supporting cast.

The next month of Cleveland sports should prove even more interesting than the last. When will Kevin Love be dealt and what will the deal look like? Can the Indians make a late surge and climb into the playoffs again? Will the Johnny Manziel buzz die? I look forward to watching it all unfold.

Want to add some additional thoughts or predictions for next month? Feel free to comment below!

Cleveland's Chisenhall Adds to Breakout Season with Historic Night

Photo by Brandon Wade/AP Photo/http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

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No matter what baseball organization it is, everybody gets excited for up-and-coming prospects. About four years ago, the top prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization was a third basemen named Lonnie Chisenhall. After three years of lackluster baseball and countless trips back to the minors, 2014 has been the Lonnie that Tribe fans have been waiting for and that statement couldn't be more true after his performance in Texas on Monday night.

Following back to back wins in Arlington this weekend, the surging Cleveland Indians (33-31) destroyed the Texas Rangers on Monday night to a tone of 17-7 after Chisenhall went 5 for 5 at the plate with 3 home runs and 9 runs batted in. Chisenhall joined the likes of Fred Lynn, Walker Cooper and Gil Hodges as the only players in baseball history to collect at least 5 hits, 3 home runs and 9 RBI in a single game. On top of that, Lonnie Baseball joins Chris James as the only other Indians player to record 9 hits in one game.

 

Some may chalk this feat up as a fluke for the infielder because let’s not forget, Travis Hafner once tricked Cleveland by hitting for the cycle back in 2003, but after his years of struggle and putting it all together this season, Chisenhall may have finally put those busted days behind him.

 

After his second 5 hit game of the season, Chis-nasty is batting a ridiculous clip of .385 with 7 home runs, 32 RBI and an on-base percentage of .429. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the home run and RBI totals are a little inflated after last night’s “once-in-a-lifetime” outing, but for a 25-year old to have a season like this after not knowing what his future was with the Tribe during spring training is pretty incredible.

 

Coming into the season, Terry Francona and the Cleveland fans didn’t know what to expect out of ole Lonnie. From a fans perspective, we just figured he was just another top prospect that couldn’t hack it in the big leagues and would eventually fizzle out. Let’s remember, Carlos Santana was our starting third basemen to start the season, so there wasn’t a lot of faith there. Chisenhall is currently short 17 at-bats to be considered with the leagues best, and if he keeps it up, Chisenhall will be there in no time. It is safe to say that after this incredible start, Chisenhall already has Tribe fans changing their tune and he is giving Francona every reason in the world to insert him into starting line-up.

 

Having experienced the highs and lows that being a Cleveland Indians fan has brought me over the years, it is milestones like this that bring me back each and every season. Just when you think a team’s season and a young man’s career are all but lost, the beauty of baseball shines through and we all get to look forward to an even better tomorrow. Congratulations to Lonnie Chisenhall once again for making Major League Baseball history and watch out Johnny Football, Lonnie Baseball is ready to take Cleveland by storm!

 

Also, a friendly reminder to join us on July 5th for the 2014 ‘Our Sports Report’ Wiffle Ball Summer Classic in lovely Fredericktown, Ohio. For more information on playing in or sponsoring the tournament, PLEASE CLICK HERE! Hope to see you on July 5th!