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Cabrera could help alleviate bullpen concerns

After the two Indians trades a month ago, several questions and concerns began to surface about the Tribe’s bullpen for the 2006 season: They’re losing David Riske and Arthur Rhodes and only getting an injury-prone Guillermo Mota in return. How are they going to replace Bob Howry? Howry did have his share of success last year and was effective as a back end reliever, but are the Indians really losing much in Riske and Rhodes? Riske totaled zero holds in 2005 and Rhodes was MIA the last month of the season.

Despite losing these three relievers and regardless of how Mota turns out with his injury history, the Tribe may be in possession of a secret weapon who is flying underneath the radar. Often the forgotten man in the Indians bullpen, Fernando Cabrera could become a household name as this season progresses.

Cabrera, 24, entered the 2005 season as one of the Tribe’s top 10 prospects. In 15 appearances last season he posted a terrific 1.47 ERA while striking out an average of one per inning. He’s a big, imposing figure on the mound who throws in the mid to upper 90s and possesses a nasty splitter. The young flamethrower, who stepped up as a reliable late inning reliever last season, gets his chance in a full-time role this season. Considered the possible closer of the future for the Tribe, Cabrera has the stuff to dominate hitters. As long as he continues his development as a pitcher, he has the ability to be a vital piece in the Indians’ pen for this season and years to come.

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Cavalier fans need to accept reality

The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost four straight games. This team is tired and seems to be searching for answers. LeBron James, on the other hand, puts in a total effort game after game. I was amazed and embarrassed as I listened the Cleveland fans boo LeBron as he missed four straight free throws.

I really believe Cleveland fans should educate themselves on why the Cavs are losing. I won’t buy into the injury theory. I have concluded that coaching and hustle are the top two reasons for the current skid. LeBron James doesn’t fall under either one of these categories. Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant and Larry Bird wouldn’t have been champions without a strong supporting cast.

It’s absolutely Mike Brown’s responsibility to bring the best out in this team and develop cohesiveness between his players. The Cavaliers, on offense, stand around and watch LeBron perform. They should just buy a ticket and watch the game next to me. It falls squarely on Coach Brown’s shoulders to make this offense flow.

Also, this team has high paid veteran players that should know how to win. The Detroit Pistons, who already have a championship ring, still showed more desire to win than the underachieving Cavaliers squad. So, Cleveland fans, before you boo LeBron James again, please remember this guy has heart, desire and hustle. He just can’t carry the whole team on his back. I think LeBron James is the only bright spot on this team and we better appreciate his talents before we lose them.

Cavs continue slide, lose fourth straight

The good news is the Cavaliers don’t have to face the Pistons again for almost a month and a half. The bad news is Cleveland’s grasp on the fourth playoff spot is getting weaker by the day. They are now tied with the Indiana Pacers in the loss column. The Cavaliers hung tough with Detroit through three quarters, but couldn’t do much of anything in the fourth, losing 84-72 Monday night at the Q. In the final quarter, the Cavaliers could only muster up 9 points. Rasheed Wallace led the Pistons with 24 points and Richard Hamilton had 22. LeBron James had 26 for the Cavs and Ilgauskas added 18 points and 15 boards. LeBron bluntly summed up the fourth quarter.

“They did a great job of executing in the fourth quarter and we didn’t,” James said.

The game could have been a lot closer if the Cavaliers hit some of their threes. Take out Sasha’s couple three-pointers and the Cavs were 0 for 11 from beyond the arc. Donyell Marshall, a 40% three point shooter the last four seasons, is nearly 10 points below that average this season. And then there’s the human catapult, Damon Jones, who continues to throw up goose eggs.

James can’t do it all…..

The Cleveland Cavaliers are starting to look very similar to the team of last year that first tired, then collapsed at the end of the season. This year, the Cavaliers are far enough ahead to make the playoffs, but if they continue to play at this level will be a quick and disappointing exit.

LeBron James is talented enough to keep Cleveland competitive, but if the backcourt continues to be inconsistent the Cavs will struggle. Eric Snow plays good defense, but can’t hit the outside shot and isn’t a strong floor general. Damon Jones continues to shoot and Damon Jones continues to miss.

GM Danny Ferry traded Cavalier guard Mike Wilks to Seattle for 6-4 shooting guard, Flip Murray. This move was to offset injured Larry Hughes and give LeBron some help on the offensive end. The trade could be a steal, but the team will still need to play better for Cleveland to have a strong finish. Ferry may want to reconsider his “no major moves” theory.

Pistons pound Cavs

The Cavaliers got outplayed in every facet of the game during their 90-78 loss to the Detroit Pistons Sunday afternoon. Detroit, winning their 12th straight game at home, exhibited their typical smothering defense as they forced 20 Cavalier turnovers. Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 21 points and 8 assists. Ben Wallace made his presence known in the paint, pulling down 19 rebounds and blocking 5 shots. For the Cavaliers, LeBron James finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Cleveland had trouble all game getting into any type of offensive flow. Once again, they struggled at the line, hitting only 13 of 23 free throws.

“They did a great job taking us out of our offense,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “There is no way you can win on the road with 20 turnovers, especially against a team like this.”

I guess Detroit had some revenge on its mind after getting beat by us in Cleveland on New Year’s Eve. But the way we have played the last few games, did anyone really expect us to win this game? Until the Cavs show they can beat an elite team on the road, I don’t think anyone can really consider them a great team.

Oh, and in his last 47 minutes, Damon Jones has racked up a total of 3 points on 1 of 6 shooting. Fantastic.

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