This is more like it. Finally some local sports news you can sink your teeth into. The Cavs deal away half their roster. The Browns sign Jamal Lewis, get closer to defining their future relationship with Derek Anderson and open up negotiations on a new deal with Kellen Winslow Jr. Meanwhile in Florida, the Indians have all present and accounted for in Winter Haven and their biggest decision may be who takes the ball as the fifth starter.
What? No Takers For Eric Snow?
Even though this mega deal took place on Thursday it felt like Wednesday morning to me. The reason being is that’s the day I take my trash to the curb and have them haul it away. True, the waste management engineers typically don’t deliver me someone else’s trash in exchange for mine, but you get the idea. And it’s also true that one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.
This isn’t to say that Wall Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith and DeLonte West are trash or useless players. On the contrary, these guys all fill roles for the Cavs that GM Danny Ferry and the Cavs front office felt were needed to extend the Cavaliers season into June. Szczerbiak and Thomas will add some consistent scoring, Wallace was brought in as a physical, low post defensive presence and West is an upgrade at the PG position even if he’s not a ‘natural’ PG in the mold of Jason Kidd.
It certainly worked out Sunday night against Memphis when Wallace, Szczerbiak and Smith all scored in double figures with Wallace also grabbing 10 rebounds and West scoring 5 points and dealing out 5 assists.
But regardless of Sunday’s results, when you’re sitting there with the likes of underachieving, expensive players like Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden as the hand you have to play, your hand is weak. And you end up taking back players and contracts that other teams are looking to get out from under. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.
Ferry put a lot of time, attention and thought into this deal. He is essentially re-making this Cavs team with less than 30 games to go and during a run to higher playoff seeding. But it’s certainly not without risk. If these guys can’t mesh quickly or if the issues that plagued players like Wallace in Chicago come to pass here, Ferry may have signed the death certificate for this ’07-’08 Cavs team.
These are the potential repercussions when big dollar signings go bad, as it did here with Hughes and in Chicago with Wallace. But at least for today there is hope. You knew what you had with Hughes and you weren’t happy with it. Same with Marshall and Gooden and, to a lesser extent, Ira Newble. But for today and for the next 30 games or so, hope springs eternal. Szczerbiak will hit the big three-point shots, Thomas will replace Gooden’s scoring and actually pay attention for 30 minutes a night, Wallace will erase shots and toughen up the Cavs internal defense and West will actually show the ability to make an entry past into the post and hit an occasional 15 foot jumper.
That’s all it will take to please the King.
With the signing of Jamal Lewis to a 3-year, $17m deal Thursday and continued contract discussions with QB Derek Anderson going on, the Browns also began talking to TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and his agent Drew Rosenhaus about a potential re-do of his current deal.
Pay close attention to that pecking order. It should tell you something. Lewis was signed first because of his value to the club on the field, in the locker room and on draft day. Lewis rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 9 TDs on the ground for the Browns in 2007. With nothing on the current roster to replace him it became critical to bring him back. Not only that, but he was deserving of a new deal. And that means the Browns now have the luxury of looking for his replacement in the later rounds of the April draft rather than using a pick that should be spent on the defensive side of the ball for a running back early in the draft.
Anderson is being praised to death. Some would say he’s being praised right out of the organization. While the Browns continue to talk about a 3-year deal to keep Anderson in Cleveland, his representatives are seeking a 5 or 6-year deal similar to what Tony Romo received in Dallas.
Good luck with that Derek.
There has to either be a deal or a tender offered to DA by Friday when the free agent season kicks off. Stay tuned over the next few days as this comes down to the wire. We’re getting closer to learning exactly who is likely to be under center for the Browns in September.
Winslow made noise about wanting a new deal after backing his way into the Pro Bowl a couple weeks back. Neither his first two years in the league nor his surgery this past week on his knee (his fourth on that knee in the past few years) are negotiating strengths for Team Winslow, but the Browns seem willing to entertain their talented TE with discussing the issue. If they feel he’s in sound health the two sides may placate Winslow with a few more bucks. His talent is unquestioned. His timing and his decision-making skills remain puzzling.
Speaking of the free agent season, the ‘marquee’ defensive players the Browns may have been targeting are being franchised in rapid-fire succession. Terrell Suggs LB-Baltimore), Jared Allen (DL-Chiefs), Albert Haynesworth (DL-Tennessee), Karlos Dansby (LB-Arizona) and Corey Williams (DL-Green Bay) have all been tagged by their respective teams. Phil Savage and his crew are going to need to dig a bit deeper to improve the defensive side of the football team.
Not a lot to be determined as far as who will make up the Indians 25-man roster when the team breaks camp for Cleveland at the end of March. But there is a pretty healthy debate on the boards and in town as to who will emerge as the 5th starter in the Indians rotation.
Mark Shapiro’s and Eric Wedge’s decision will likely be made between Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey. Despite all the posts that would convince you otherwise, this a nice position to be in. When you’re not concerned about spots one through four in the rotation you’re in good shape.
Personally speaking, I don’t see Cliff Lee breaking camp with this club. And if he does emerge with the rest of the club in late March I’d be surprised if he wasn’t spending April and May auditioning for other clubs, regardless of what the Indians brass will have you believe. He makes more money and has more baggage than the other two candidates. He’s also older. But he still throws with his left arm and that will have value as a piece to any deal the Indians likely make to shore up their corner outfield positions.
My money is on Sowers. By many accounts he seems to have straightened out the issues that plagued him last season. He’s also apparently increased his velocity from the mid to upper 80’s and he has the sense and sensibilities to make adjustments to his approach. Laffey was very good last season in the short time he spent with the big league club. But he certainly won’t be hurt by sending him to Buffalo where he can pitch every day and continue to progress.
Either way, enjoy this ‘dilemma’ while it lasts. With C.C Sabathia’s impending free agency drama to be played out after this season, it may be a while before spots 1-4 in the rotation are not a huge concern.