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.
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.
OSU keeps winning, stays atop the Big Ten
The Ohio State Buckeyes came one step closer to the Big Ten championship today by defeating a very competitive Michigan Wolverine team 64-54. Terence Dials led the Buckeyes with his 5th consecutive double/double scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
This was a very physical contest as the Wolverines stayed within striking distance till the Bucks went on a 10-0 run late in the game. Ohio State’s outside shooting has been inconsistent the last three games, so Coach Matta stressed that defense would lead them to victory.
The last time these two teams matched up, it was offense show as OSU hit 15-25 from 3 point land and the Buckeyes won 94-85. Today, it was the defense as Dials was a force underneath every time the Wolverines took the ball inside. If Ohio State wins their last two conference games, the worst they can do is share the Big Ten title with Iowa.
Miscues doom Cavs down the stretch
The Cavaliers’ struggles in the second half eventually led to their demise Friday night, losing 102-94 to the Washington Wizards at the Q. The Cavs exhibited some poor free throw shooting and made some key turnovers in the final quarter. LeBron James finished with 25 points but was blanketed in the second half, scoring only 4 points on 4 of 12 from the free throw line. The Cavs’ defensive problems continued. Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler scored 26, 25, and 24 points, respectively. Some poor perimeter defense allowed the Wizards to knock down 10 three-pointers in the ballgame.
As good as LeBron is, it’s frustrating that he has such problems at the free throw line. It’s been an Achilles heel for him all season long, especially toward the end of games. However, the loss should not be placed squarely on his shoulders. Mike Brown needs to get this squad together and start emphasizing the fundamentals. The Cavaliers continue to lose games because of their lack of focus. They need to get off to better starts at the beginning of games and have to stop being careless with the basketball. The Cavs are one of the most dangerous teams in the league when they put together a solid 48 minutes, but they can never seem to do it on a consistent basis.
Coach Matta speaks and Ohio State fans smile
Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta finally decided to respond to the media on the speculation of him leaving OSU to coach at Indiana University. Coach Matta explained how satisfied he is with the Buckeyes and his intention on making this one of the top basketball programs in the country.
Matta, who grew up in Indiana, was mentioned numerous times as a successor to Mike Davis, the current Indiana coach, after Davis announced his intention to leave at the end of the season. Ohio State and Matta did respond to the rumors, citing the coach’s current contract. The contract doesn’t allow Matta to comment on other coaching opportunities.
The University and Buckeye fans should be happy to hear this news. Thad Matta is a welcomed addition to a program that always seemed to find trouble. The current players and recruits admire Matta’s open and honest answers when discussing their futures at Ohio State. Thad Matta was a steal for Ohio State and we should soon be reading about a contract extension in the near future.
Cavs get Flip
This is exactly the kind of move the Cavaliers needed to make. Flip Murray certainly isn’t a superstar, but the 6-4 guard, acquired from the Sonics Thursday, can shoot and penetrate and should be a nice offensive replacement for the injured Larry Hughes. Best of all, the Cavs only gave up Mike Wilks and cash to get Murray.
“Flip will give us speed, size, athleticism, toughness and the ability to create on the offensive end,” said Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry. “With Larry not being available, this trade gave us an opportunity to bring in some of those qualities for our team.”
The Cavs are in dire need of those qualities. Sasha Pavlovic is currently in the starting shooting guard slot, and Damon Jones comes off the bench as the backup point and shooting guard. Jones and Pavlovic have similar games. Both players are shooters. Murray, however, can break down a defender off the dribble, and he has the ability to draw in defenders to take some pressure off LeBron James.
Murray should give the Cavaliers a nice offensive boost as they eye a trip to the postseason. Danny Ferry’s first Deadline Day was a good one, in part because of the Murray acquisition but also because he didn’t make a major deal that would’ve shaken up the roster and jeopardized team chemistry.
In a separate deal, Ferry also moved up a couple slots in the upcoming draft:
In another deal, the Cavs sent their second-round draft pick in this year’s draft to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the 76ers second-round draft pick this season. The Cavs’ second-round pick that was sent to the 76ers is protected through the 55th pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. Forward Lee Nailon also was included in the deal. However, Nailon is not expected to suit up for games or even attend games. Nailon hasn’t seen action since the end of last month when he was arrested for a domestic dispute.
Pure dump by the Sixers. I’m not really sure why the Cavs made the move, but apparently Ferry really wanted to move up in the second round.
OSU in drivers seat for Big Ten Championship
The Ohio State Buckeyes showed everyone in the Big Ten that they are ready for the NCAA tournament with a hard fought road victory at Michigan State. The victory snapped a 10 game losing streak in East Lansing for the Buckeyes.
Terrance Dials led the starters with 19 points, as Ohio State had all five starters in double figures. Michigan State came in riding a 15 game home win streak, but the Buckeyes made some key 3 pointers down the stretch and beat a very strong Spartan team.
Ohio State now controls its own destiny in winning the Big Ten Championship. If the Buckeyes win out (Michigan, at Northwestern, Purdue) the worst they can do is share the Big Ten title. This would be a great way to start a run for Ohio State going into the NCAA tournament.