Two big stories involving Cleveland sports today, a little shocking because the Indians had an off day, the Browns are still in training camp, and the Cavs are months away from opening tip-off.
- Browns RB Lee Suggs traded to the Jets for DB Derrick Strait: With Curtis Martin hobbled, the Jets needed a running back. With Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon banged up, the Browns needed a defensive back. Plain and simple.
Just a few hours before this trade, I sent a message to my roommate Dan, a Redskins fan. 'Skins running back Clinton Portis went down in their preseason game last night with a separated shoulder and is out for a few weeks, might even miss the opener. I told Dan we should trade Suggs or William Green to Washington in exchange for a "fat guy who can snap a football." Center, another position of need for the Browns with the LeCharles Situation and the Bob Hallen "Walk Away From My Hometown Team With Fake Back Injury" Situation, could have been addressed in a trade. And it still might; with Reuben Droughns in firm control of the starting role and Jerome Harrison, the rookie who's supposedly impressed during camp, Green could still find himself traded.
Suggs showed flashes of potential in the backfield, but he just couldn't stay healthy. It was a matter of numbers, and Suggs got crunched. Now the odds are that he'll rush for 1,800 yards and 12 TD's each of the next five years, but so be it.
Let's just hope Derrick Strait doesn't blow out his ACL during the first play of scrimmage.
- Drew Gooden signs 3-year, $23 million contract with Cavs: Gooden is among the most talented power forwards in the league, grabs rebounds and plays solid defense. Although I'm sure Roger Brown will point out that two teams gave up on him in his first two years in the NBA, Gooden is still just 24 years old and could emerge as one of the premiere 4's.
He'll split time with Anderson Varejao again, but I like that; I don't think Varejao is ready to take over the starting role full-time. I love the enthusiasm and hustle (who doesn't?), but his offensive game is rawer than frozen beef, and he commits way too many stupid fouls. When he develops a post game and learns a little more control on the defensive end, he can really shine in the NBA.
Annnd now, because I know you are all dying to see it, Part Two of my 2006 Ex-Indians All-Star Team: The Infield!
* Ben Broussard, 1B, Seattle Mariners - 2006 stats: .303 batting average, 16 home runs, 50 RBI. 2006 salary: $2.48 million.
Scott's View: Broussard has been known as a streaky hitter and this year finally seemed to eliminate the 0-for-25 stretches that always seemed to plague him. Of course, he still can't hit lefties, his defense has been atrocious, the Indians stunk and traded him for Shin-Soo "Big League" Choo, and he's slumped since joining the Mariners. Yeah, things are definitely going well for ol' "Benny Brou". Put up almost all of those numbers with Tribe.
* Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds - 2006 stats: .291 BA, .342 OBP, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 21 stolen bases. 2006 salary: not available, likely $400-600,000.
Scott's View: (Sigh). Traded (pre-maturely as this turns out) to the Reds after spring training for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Lake County Captain pitcher Jeff Stevens. Stevens is 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 3-4 years, at best, before competing for a spot on the Tribe roster. Phillips is finally playing like he actually cares about the game, something that lacked during his stint with Cleveland.
* Omar Vizquel, SS, San Francisco Giants - 2006 stats: .321 BA, .391 OBP, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 18 SB, gold-glove defense as usual. 2006 salary: $3.64 million
Scott's View: "Omar y Amigo!" It's funny how everyone still loves Omar, yet Jim Thome gets booed when he came back to Cleveland. Umm, they both left as free agents to teams offering more money. Anyway, I knew Omar was playing well in San Fran, but I was shocked to see his batting average so high. Good for him.
* David Bell, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers - 2006 stats: .272 BA, .337 OBP, 6 HR, 39 RBI. 2006 salary: $4.7 million.
Scott's View: Not a very strong position for former Indians, but Bell has been the steadiest here. Just got traded from the Phillies to the Brewers before the deadline. Indians traded him to Cardinals as part of the Ken Hill deal back in 1996.
* Josh Bard, C, San Diego Padres - 2006 stats: .330 BA, .403 OBP, 7 HR, 30 RBI. 2006 salary: $353,400.
Scott's View: Splits catching duty with Mike Piazza and has redeemed himself nicely after being forced out of Boston. Even though he batted only .193 with Cleveland last year, I always remember him hitting the ball hard, but just right at people. Part of the Coco trade this past offseason.
* Jim Thome, DH/Utility, Chicago White Sox - 2006 stats: .297 BA, .416 OBP, 35 HR, 87 RBI. 2006 salary: $14.16 million.
Scott's View: The man can hit. And now that he's back in the AL, he doesn't have to play the field. Which means all he has to do is hit. Did I mention how well he hits? Signed with Phillies in 2003 and traded to Chicago this year.
Including those guys above, I counted 19 former Indians infielders on major league rosters. Among them, a glut of first and second basemen who I had to leave off: Jeff Kent (Dodgers, 2000 NL MVP), Richie Sexson (Mariners), Sean Casey (Tigers), and Ronnie Belliard (Cardinals, also slumping like Broussard after trade). Those are some quality players right there. Here are the rest of the infielders to receive consideration:
- Sandy Alomar (White Sox) - Einar Diaz (Dodgers) - Alex Cora (Red Sox) - John MacDonald (Blue Jays) - Julio Franco (AARP, err, Mets) - Damian Jackson (Nationals) - Macier Izturis (Angels) - Marco Scutaro (Athletics) - Eduardo Perez (Mariners)
Regrettably, I left the immortal Ricky Ledee (Mets) off yesterday's list of former Tribe outfielders. Deep apologies for the oversight, but check out his stats and answer me how he is still in the major leagues?
My next and final update of this series will showcase former Indians pitchers, as well as the total payroll and how I think they would stack up in the AL Central this year. Stay tuned.