Former Tribe pitchers getting a shot

The Padres hired former Indians pitcher and Angels’ pitching coach Bud Black as their new manager Wednesday, replacing Bruce Bochy, who recently took the open managerial job in San Francisco.

Yawn, right? There’s more:

Charles Nagy, the Angels’ triple-A pitching coach, is the leading candidate to replace Black…. The Angels hired Nagy last year, in part on Black’s recommendation. Black is expected to retain San Diego pitching coach Darren Balsley but could ask the Angels about Nagy, a three-time All-Star with Cleveland.

It’d be great to see Charlie get a shot in the majors, though you had to figure it would happen at some point. It’d be even better to see Nagy back in the Tribe organization at some point.

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Shapiro can’t win

Indians fans crack me up sometimes.

The general opinion on yesterday’s trade of Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown for Josh Barfield seems to be split: some love the move, some hate it. Mike in Chicago commented on one of our threads that Shapiro has once again given up too much talent for “an upside guy that hasnít proven anything.”

Um…actually, Barfield proved that he can hit, run and field at the big league level — .280 with 13 homers, 21 steals and a .987 fielding percentage that ranked third in the National League, all as a 23-year-old rookie. Plus he had a very good minor league career, hitting for average and a bit of power (15-plus homers from 2003-’05) while stealing bases and even taking some walks (an average of 50 per year from 2003-05).

Meanwhile, I don’t see anything overly impressive about Kouz’s minor league numbers. Granted, the kid can obviously hit (.379 with 22 homers combined between AA and AAA last year), but so can Barfield, plus Barfield plays exceptional defense and he can run. Those traits are much more valuable in a middle infielder than they are in a corner infielder.

Let’s turn this around for a second and say the Indians had Barfield last year as a rookie and the Padres had Kouz. If Shapiro dealt Barfield for Kouz, people like Mike in Chicago would be bitching about Shapiro dealing a proven talent in Barfield for an upside kid in Kouz. It’s true. I bet Mike in Chicago hated the Coco/Marte trade too.

It’s fun to play GM when a deal like this goes down, but some people love to hate no matter the situation. You’ve got to give talent to get talent, and you deal from your strengths to shore up weaknesses. Despite some people’s opinions, the Tribe believes Andy Marte has a chance to be special offensively and defensively, and they have several guys to play first base. Kouz was excess, and therefore a prime bargaining chip. Shapiro did an outstanding job using that chip to plug a gaping hole at 2B with a young, proven talent who will instantly add some much-needed speed to the lineup. Plus, he did it without eating up any of the payroll, which means he can now focus his resources on shoring up the bullpen and adding another quality right-handed power bat.

Kouz could be good, but Barfield already is. So what’s the problem?

Suggs traded to…no, scratch that

Remember Lee Suggs, the fragile former Browns running back dealt to the Jets yesterday? Well, he’s a fragile current Browns running back again after reportedly failing his physical:

Running back Lee Suggs failed his physical with the New York Jets on Tuesday, voiding his trade from Cleveland.

Suggs, who has had myriad injuries throughout his four-year career, was brought in to help bolster the group of backs struggling without the injured Curtis Martin. Now he is headed back to the Browns. Cornerback Derrick Strait, who was sent to Cleveland in the deal made Monday, returns to New York.

“We have a whole series of tests that we do, and we were very thorough with the process,” Jets coach Eric Mangini said. “He just didn’t pass those tests. … Each team has a criteria they set up that they believe is what’s important and what’s needed to be competitive. I’m very comfortable with the tests we have set up.”

It’s obvious the Browns aren’t all that interested in retaining Suggs, so maybe they’ll just flat out release him now.

Dealing Day in Cleveland: Browns trade Suggs

Not too many Browns fans are broken up over this one:

The New York Jets got the running back help they needed Monday, acquiring Lee Suggs from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for defensive back Derrick Strait.

With Curtis Martin on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of a lingering knee injury, the Jets were desperate to get another back on the roster. Derrick Blaylock and Cedric Houston were taking most of the plays at running back, but neither is the type of player who can shoulder the entire rushing load.

Suggs hasn’t been able to stay on the field for the Browns, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. At various times in his pro career, Suggs has been sidelined by injuries to a shoulder, neck, toe, ankle and thumb.

The speedy 6-foot, 213-pounder appeared in only seven games as a rookie because of a shoulder injury he sustained at Virginia Tech. In his final game that season, he ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

As for the player the Browns got in return, Derrick Strait:

Strait was a third-round pick in 2004 but has been a backup in his two NFL seasons. During camp, he moved over to safety in the absence of Erik Coleman, out after an appendectomy. Strait had 31 tackles last season, but has yet to notch his first career interception.

“It’s a great opportunity for Derrick,” said his agent, Michael Lartigue. “They know what kind of player Derrick is. Lee Suggs is a great running back. It’s a fresh start, change of scenery for both Derrick and Lee.”

This move tells us a couple of things. First, the team is concerned about depth in the defensive backfield with Daylon McCutcheon (knee) and Gary Baxter (pectoral muscle) sidelined. Second, William Green likely has a spot on this team behind Reuben Droughns. And third, the Browns weren’t able to turn some of their backfield depth into help at center. Rumors had the Browns dealing Green to Philly for backup center Hank Fraley, but I highly doubt Green’s going anywhere now that Suggs has been sent packing.

Gooden signs on for three more years

There seemed to be mixed opinions on whether or not the Cavaliers should bring restricted free agent Drew Gooden back next year, but considering the uneventful offseason the team has had thus far, this news is suprisingly encouraging:

Gooden’s representative, Calvin Andrews, told on Monday that his client has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a three-year contract worth about $23 million.

Re-signing Gooden was the Cavs’ other main priority this offseason, after securing LeBron James’ signature on a contract extension last month. The lack of further free-agent activity in Cleveland isn’t surprising after its spending spree last summer to re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas and bring in Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones.

“It was a long negotiation, but ultimately Danny Ferry was very fair and professional throughout the process,” Andrews said of the Cavaliers’ general manager. “At the end of the day, Drew is very excited to re-sign with what he feels is a team on the cusp of a championship. He feels he has found a home with the Cavaliers.”

Once Gooden and his agent came down from their outrageous initial demands (six years, $60 million), getting him signed became a much more sensible move. At almost $8 million a year, the team isn’t necessarily getting off cheap here, but in this market and considering their need for productive big bodies, it’s a very reasonable contract.

It’d also be nice to see them now get Reggie Evans, nut-grabbing incident aside. Rumor has it Evans could be had for just a couple million, and he’d instantly become a tough-minded rebounder off the bench, someone who could provide some much needed depth behind Gooden and, more notably, Z.