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Eric Wright moves on to Detroit

Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass over Cleveland Browns’ defensive back Eric Wright during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Is this a big loss? I doubt it. The photo above tells the story – Eric Wright had a terrible season last year. Tom Heckert and the Browns wanted to keep him but he took less money to go to Detroit. This tells me he needed a change of scenery, so the Browns are probably better off without him, even though the kid had some talent.

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Carlos Carrasco still maturing

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco pitches against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Anaheim, California September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Carlos Carrasco has been one of the nice surprises of this 2011 season for the Indians as they appear to be building an excellent, young pitching staff. I was pissed about the Cliff Lee trade several years ago as the Indians gave up on Lee a year early in a pathetic salary dump. I usually applaud the Tribe brass for their trades, as they know how to find young talent, but they gave up Lee too early and they should have insisted on more in return.

That said, they certainly got talent back with Carrasco. He’s been dominant at times this year, though he also goes through growing pains at times. This account from the KC papers from last night’s game is interesting.

The Royals clubbed four homers Friday night, including three in the first four innings, in a 12-0 bludgeoning of Cleveland, but it was the response to those homers by Indians starter Carlos Carrasco that lit the fuse.

Carrasco followed a grand slam by Melky Cabrera, which pushed the Royals’ lead to 7-0 in the fourth, by throwing a pitch at Billy Butler’s head. That prompted an immediate ejection for Carrasco that likely prevented an on-field brawl.

“I barely got out of the way,” Butler said. “It was right at my head, and there was no way around it. I usually don’t react that way. If I get hit, I get hit. I don’t have anything to say. But in that situation, I’m going to open my mouth.”

The Royals were already coming out of the dugout and the bullpen when home-plate umpire Scott Barry threw Carrasco out of the game.

Carrasco insisted he didn’t go head-hunting.

“I didn’t throw at anybody,” he said. “The baseball just ran away. I know it looked bad after a home run, but there is nothing I can do right there. I was upset at myself, and Melky, too.”

It was hard to find anybody in either clubhouse who bought Carrasco’s version.

“He’s a young guy,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He’s immature at times and shows his frustration the wrong way. He was talked to.”

The near bean ball came in apparent retaliation for Cabrera’s elongated admiration of his slam before circling the bases. Even the Royals acknowledged that hitting the next hitter, Butler, was within the game’s unwritten rules.

Just not in the head.

“Be a man,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “Throw at his back. Not his head.”

Cleveland reliever Chad Durbin, who replaced Carrasco, buzzed Cabrera in his next at-bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. That brought no reaction from the Royals or the umpires.

Hopefully this will be a good lesson for him.

Browns sign free agent Brandon Jackson

Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson (R) scores a touchdown in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Joselio Hanson in the third quarter during their NFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Philadelphia, January 9, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Browns needed a third down back, and they got one in Brandon Jackson. Tom Heckert is signing role players that fit their system, as opposed to going after big name players.

Jackson is an excellent blocker in passing situations and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’ll help take some of the pressure off of Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.

What I like best is that he comes from Green Bay, where they play the West Coast offense better than anyone these days. He fits the system.

Indians trade for Kosuke Fukudome

Chicago Cubs Kosuke Fukudome of Japan flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer scoring Geovany Soto and Tony Campana during the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on June 16, 2011 in Chicago. Brian Kersey/UPI

It’s better than nothing, and it’s certainly better than the platoon we have out in right field while Shin-Soo Choo is hurt.

Kosuke Fukudome was signed by the Cubs for years ago for a massive amount of money, and he has underperformed. That said, he’s an excellent outfielder and he has a very good on-base percentage. He gives the Tribe a quality outfielder to help them through this rough spot with the injuries to Sizemore and Choo. Not a bad move, and given the Tribe’s track record of spotting talent on other teams, we might be pleasantly surprised.

Tribe was built through trades

Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore fails to make a diving catch on a hit by Alex Rodriguez during the ninth inning of the Indians MLB American League baseball game in Cleveland, Ohio July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Grantland, the new website from ESPN and Bill Simmons, has an article from Rany Jazayerli about how the current Tribe team was built with great trades. This isn’t news to any of us in Cleveland, but it’s still an interesting read.

In June 2006, the Seattle Mariners were looking for some veteran talent and Indians GM Mark Shapiro was happy to provide it. Shapiro shipped Eduardo Perez to the Emerald City, and the platoon first basemen wound up hitting .195 with one homer for the Mariners before retiring. In exchange, the Indians received a minor league shortstop who was hitting .236/.323/.360. That shortstop was just 20 years old and already in Triple-A. Asdrubal Cabrera debuted with Cleveland the following year, and this season he emerged as perhaps the best-hitting shortstop in the American League and made his first All-Star team.

Shapiro wasn’t done toying with the Mariners and their general manager, Bill Bavasi. Seattle’s thirst for platoon first basemen was apparently unquenchable; a month after acquiring Perez they would ask for Ben Broussard, who hit .238 with 8 homers for the Mariners. At least Broussard managed to hang around another season before hanging up his spikes. In return, Cleveland obtained Shin-Soo Choo, a former top prospect who couldn’t crack the Mariners’ lineup despite hitting .323/.394/.499 in Triple-A. Choo became the Indians’ starting right fielder in 2008 and has been one of the best all-around players in baseball ever since.

Seattle finished 78-84 that year, good for last place in the AL West. Bavasi no longer works for the Mariners, and he never did find the droids he was looking for.

Two years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers needed a third baseman at the trade deadline, and once again Shapiro was ready to deal. The Dodgers received Casey Blake, a competent everyday player in the last year of his contract. Competent players with expiring contracts rarely fetch premium talent, but the Indians offered to pick up the remaining salary on Blake’s contract3, which helped them land Carlos Santana. At the time, Santana was already considered one of the game’s best catching prospects; now, he is considered one of the best young catchers, period. While Santana’s career batting average is just .236, this season he has already drawn 102 walks and hit 21 homers, and most scouts think the best is yet to come.

Cabrera, Choo, and Santana — a third of the Indians’ lineup — were all acquired for pocket lint, in deals so lopsided they would have been vetoed by your fantasy league commissioner. Yet all three trades pale in comparison to the great heist of 2002, when the Montreal Expos found themselves five games back in the wild card race at the end of June. Montreal GM Omar Minaya quite sensibly reasoned that since the Expos might not exist for much longer, he might as well sell his farm before the franchise bought the farm. The Indians sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and a toolsy teenage outfielder named Grady Sizemore.

The last one was brilliant, but it also hurts, as Shapiro was dumb enough to listen to Eric Wedge and let Brandon Phillips go for nothing. That move alone may have cost them a championship.

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