Trend Spotting: Jason Kipnis Prepared to Rebound for the Indians in 2015

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Photo courtesy of Cleveland.com

Walking to work, across streets with nary a flake of snow, I scoffed at the “Storm of the Century” headlines flashed in my direction, and in order to escape the cold which bit my nose, I began to dream of spring. Of course, I could reminisce about the crack of the bat, the smell of freshly cut grass or the nervousness that exists before every season. All of these things would make for a delightful escape. Spring training offers a romance which is constantly re-awakened, a hope renewed regardless of whether this hope is grounded in reality. However, in 2015, if you are an Indians fan, that hope may be grounded. In almost every direction, there are signs of optimism, glimmers of possibilities. When attempting to analyze this team, you can merely throw a dart at the Indians roster to find young upside, rebound potential or just plain good. Last week I hit on Danny Salazar preparing to leap and Lonnie Chisenhall’s hidden value. Today, I throw a dart at Jason Kipnis. Continue reading

Love’s role becoming clearer, all too familiar

Kevin-Love-Cavs

As much as we’d like to think otherwise, the current seven-game win streak the Cavs left Auburn Hills with Tuesday night does little to answer the question “who is this team?”

With this team, we know better than to render a judgment based on any stretch of games that doesn’t take place in early June.

What is finally coming into focus is who this team is not. In other words, roles are becoming more clearly defined, particularly the big three, as it appears the team has finally found a suitable personnel rotation.

Since his injury, LeBron is back to being LeBron. Kyrie has found his niche as a point guard who can shoot as well as dish. And, finally, the role Kevin Love is assuming is also crystallizing, albeit with a little less shine than originally thought.

Continue reading

Getting Respect on the Streets: $9.99 for a $0.99 product

Respect

1I haven’t consistently watched wrestling for months.

Sure, I got a mild boost of interest after watching the most recent Survivor Series (mostly due to the appearance of Sting aka STING!!!), but that declined quickly. I stopped watching the truncated Raw episodes on Hulu (which I watch because I no longer have cable) and I declined to renew my subscription to the WWE Network as December came to a close (it rarely was getting any play at that point).

That being said, I was convinced to renew my subscription Sunday afternoon due to the impending Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Sure, I thought, its only $9.99, so I could order it just for the PPV and still save out. Not to mention, Royal Rumble never fails. Other events can be bland, boring and badly booked, but the Royal Rumble match always is pleasing.

This thought comforted me through the rest of the day. My wife (who dislikes wrestling and thinks it says something about “violence in society”) even decided she wanted to wanted to watch the actual Royal Rumble match. That’s part of the key to the match’s success: it’s user friendly. Talent comes out every 90 seconds (or so; I think the interval changes depending on how the match is going), and it keeps the action going and the audience interested. It’s fast-paced and random enough that it makes people who are not interested in the product watch. In fact, my first exposure to wrestling was the Royal Rumble match in 1999. The surprise appearances are funny to long-time fans and fans who have fallen away alike. The storyline importance of the final outcome gives it some weight.

However, it turned out that the thing that I used to like the most was a disappointing, poorly booked mess.

But it didn’t seem like that would happen at first. Continue reading

Orbiting Cleveland: The colossal fall of Johnny Football

Orbiting

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Elsa/Getty Images

Even when he’s not directly involved in the news, Johnny Manziel is still making headlines.

On Friday, ESPN.com released a story, titled “Inside Johnny Manziel’s rocky rookie season,” which was written by Pat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler. Interviews were conducted with nearly 20 Cleveland Browns sources for the story, both on the record and on condition of anonymity, and the overwhelming theme was this: Manziel, as a teammate, player and professional, was an absolute joke in 2014.

Now, why should any of this come to a surprise? Isn’t this something we already know?

That’s true, but it’s a compelling tale nonetheless. Now, teammates and coaches, have taken the time to publicly shred Manziel. How does that happen and has there ever been a quicker downfall than what we’ve seen from Manziel this past season?

What I’m most interested with is how we got to this point? How did “Johnny Football” suddenly become “Johnny Drop the Ball?” Continue reading

Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon are complete idiots–EHC Podcast 8–1/25/2015

Two idiots

Two idiots

Saturday started off as an innocent enough day for the staff at Everybody Hates Cleveland. The three #EHC founders got together to talk a little bit about about Johnny Manziel.

My, oh my, how things can get complicated.

What was supposed to be a fifteen minute podcast discussing Jeremy Fowler and Pat McNamanon’s ESPN piece in which 20 “Browns’ sources” threw darts at Manziel’s unprofessional and moronic behavior, it turned into a 30-minute rant on Manziel, Gordon, and the future of the franchise.

Seems pretty prophetic at this point.

On Sunday, reports began surfacing that Josh Gordon failed yet another drug test, which would put him in line for a 16-game suspension. Yesterday, Steve, Mike and I talked about what the Browns should do with Josh Gordon prior to the suspension.

Gee, I wonder what we’d say now?

Here’s the minutiae: Continue reading

Cutting ties with Josh Gordon

Gordon will never wake up in time. Perhaps this will wake up Manziel...Nah.

Gordon will never wake up in time. Perhaps this will wake up Manziel…Nah.

Josh Gordon has failed another drug test.

Are you surprised?

Really?

Are you?

If Gordon’s suspension proves true, and there’s no reason to believe that it’s not, it will be his fourth suspension as an NFL player in three years, and third by the NFL. The Browns recently suspended Gordon for the final game of the 2014 season after showing up late…again…for the Saturday morning walkthrough.

I haven’t even mentioned his suspensions in college, which included both an offseason suspension, as well as his ultimate demise at Baylor, when he was kicked of the team…for pot.

That’s six suspension in five years.

Does anyone see a pattern here? Continue reading

The Cleveland Cavaliers go streaking–EHC Podcast 7–1/25/15

1If there’s one thing that EHC’s Steve Orbanek, Mike Hattery and I have been discussing a lot over the past several months, it’s, “Who exactly are the Cleveland Cavaliers?”

You would think this would be easy, right? The Cavs sign LeBron James, re-sign Kyrie Irving and trade for Kevin Love; that’s a trio of moves that should make a team really good, right?

You would think.

In the wake of the roster upheaval that took place this past offseason, the Cavs were left with some really good parts, that played with absolutely no cohesiveness whatsoever.

The team started off 1-3, and the spin cycle began to grind early, pondering whether or not Kevin Love would stay in Cleveland, or head off to the West Coast to join L.A. at season’s end.

The Cavs then ran off a streak of four-in-a-row in which they scored 110 points or more in all four games, culminating in a 127-94 shellacking of a pretty good Atlanta Hawks team, and all was right in the world again. The Cavs could score, and while they certainly weren’t clicking on all cylinders, they seemed to be further along then people thought they’d be after eight games.

Then came another four-game losing streak in which they didn’t score over 100, which was followed by an eight-game win streak, then a 1-3 stretch, then a 4-1 stretch, then a 1-9 stretch, which leads to our current 5-0 run.

Enter your profanity induced statements here. Continue reading

10 Orbservations: The streaking Cavaliers, Mozgov’s impact, Shumpert’s debut and Manziel’s downfall

10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.

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(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Wow. What more can be said after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ dominant, 39-point, 129-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets last night? I’ll be honest, my patience has been tested this season. Just ask EHC’s Jim Pete about how aggravating my daily Cavalier rants have become. Yet, now, just over halfway through the season, it appears as if we’re finally starting to see what this team could potentially become. Everyone was involved in the offense last night; everyone at least scored a point. Heck, even Brendan Haywood scored with a put-back dunk with just under a minute left to play. The Cavaliers have won five straight games, and the best news is that this streak might not be coming to an end soon. The team has 11 more games before the All-Star Break, and seven of those games are at home. Better yet, only one of the four away games is against a team with a winning record. Now, is the time for this team to make its run.

2. An interesting story appeared on Cleveland.com today, which cited team sources admitting that roster composition has been a big challenge this season. Obviously, they’re not telling us anything that we didn’t already know, but it was interesting that players were willing to reveal this information, even anonymously. As much as I love Dion Waiters, the reality is that three really is a crowd. It’s difficult for a team to figure out how to use two ball-dominant players together and with Waiters, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers had three. That’s what has made J.R. Smith such a welcome addition on this team. He was considered to be a throwaway, but just look at the impact that he’s made thus far. Overall, he’s averaging 15.3 points per game with the Cavs and shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range. He’s very much a pop-and-shoot type of player, and he’s immediately made an impact alongside James. He may not have Waiters’ tenacity or ability to take it to the hole, but he’s a much better shooter and is a tremendous help with floor spacing. While he may have looked like a throwaway, he’s been a great fit and is exactly what the Cavaliers need. Continue reading

Lonnie Chisenhall: An Undervalued Indian

As a disclaimer, this column was instigated by a few thoughts that John Grimm shared on Twitter, which essentially discussed Indian’s fans tendencies towards recency bias.

Grimm sarcastically cuts to the heart of recency bias and one of the central things that blind us as fans: overvaluing recent performance over a body of work. For Chisenhall, his body of work in 2014 should leave fans excited that he took a step forward rather than clamoring for Giovanny Urshela (This is not a knock on Urshela as I am a big believer in his abilities).

Let’s first take a look at Lonnie Chisenhall‘s line in 2014: .280/.343/.427, 13 home runs and other boring counting statistics. For advanced offensive measures, Chisenhall posted a wRC+ of 121, which was 7th among third baseman in MLB. Apparently a top ten offensive third baseman was not good enough to hold off the dogs calling for the next prospect in the pipeline.

Chisenhall has an incredible burden, that of being a top prospect, and that of a player cursed by expectation. For Chisenhall, the bat has long been the calling card; a prospect the prophets opined had a swing sweeter than the chorus of a thousand angels.  If you watch it now, it is hard to disagree.

lonnie chisenhall 3 run homerUnfortunately, when Chisenhall made the leap to league average,  maturing to competency at 25, people moved the bar. The fact the Chisenhall became an asset was boring because he didn’t become what we dreamed of but outright criticism could no longer be accepted. Continue reading

Danny Salazar: High Floor, Higher Ceiling?

This may be the third consecutive year which I have written this article about Danny Salazar, granted the data in support is usually strong or at least interesting but Salazar is just an incredibly enticing talent who requires consideration. Unfortunately, due to Salazar’s ceiling, it is easy to be distracted from what he has already become: a legitimate Major League starter.

In 162 big league innings, Salazar has posted a 3.89 ERA, which is backed up by a 3.41 FIP and a 3.22 xFIP. This already equates to a really solid starting pitcher; at worst, a fourth starter. Somehow, people have concerns, and they display disappointment by suggesting a back end bullpen role.

The point is this: Danny Salazar‘s floor is a cheap, cost-controlled starter through 2020. The question for Salazar remains: Can he be a top two starter?

In order to examine this, its important to discuss with some depth his arsenal as well as his overarching skills.

Lets talk about Salazar’s fastball with a few visuals mixed in along the way.

First, we can watch him blow it by the best hitter of his generation, Miguel Cabrera.

Courtesy Jeff Sullivan Fangraphs

Courtesy Jeff Sullivan Fangraphs

The average velocity has remained somewhere north of holy crap this guy can chuck. Continue reading