Ubaldo Jimenez strong in Tribe home debut

It was a great night at Progressive Field for Indians fans last night, as the Tribe thumped the Detroit Tigers 10-3 behind a 5-5 night from Jason Kipnis and a stellar home debut by Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez looks dominating when you see him in person as I did last night.

The Indians took a real gamble by sending two #1 picks to Colorado for Jimenez, but so far he looks like the real deal. With Justin Masterson, the Indians now have two front-line starters at the top of the rotation, with a very capable Josh Tomlin as the #3 starter. Then you have an inconsistent but sometimes dominating Fausto Carmona and several young starters like Carlos Carrasco and David Huff.

The offense is also starting to heat up, with young players like Kipnis providing a spark. Kipnis reminds me of a young Lenny Dykstra. The Indians are now within two games of the Tigers after taking the first two games of this series. Shin-Soo Choo should be back soon, and possibly Grady Sizemore as well. They definitely need Choo to come back strong and Sizemore would be a bonus.

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Quick-Hits: The two players that cost the Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez waits on the mound just before being pulled from the game in the fourth inning of their MLB National League baseball game against the New York Mets in Denver May 12, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In Monday’s Quick-Hits, I discuss the two players that cost the Rockies their ace, Randy Moss’s decision to retire, yet another perplexing decision by Giants general manager Brian Sabean, and Braylon Edwards’ shrinking market.

– If Rockie fans are upset with the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, they might as well direct their anger at the club’s flubbed selections in the 2006 and 2007 MLB drafts. Colorado selected Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick in the ’06 and Casey Weathers with the eighth overall pick in ’07. Neither right-hander has developed and while there’s plenty of hope for LHP Tyler Matzek, he’s not projected to help the big league club until 2013. That’s why when GM Dan O’Dowd received an offer from the Indians of Alex White and Joe Gardner in exchange for Jimenez, the deal was too good to pass up. The Rockies aren’t rebuilding their farm system: they’re restocking. Granted, Jimenez may right the ship while White and Gardner fail in Colorado, which would obviously make O’Dowd look like a fool. But at the end of the day, this is a deal O’Dowd felt he had to make after blowing the first rounds in ’06 and ’07. He’s essentially trying to make up for past mistakes.

– I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Randy Moss is now the posterchild for what not to do when you’re seeking a new contract in the NFL. Early last season, Moss whined about how the Patriots hadn’t discussed giving him a new contract. When New England told him to be patient, he pouted even more and became a distraction. Worst of all, he stopped playing hard, which is always a fast ticket out of New England with Bill Belichick running things. So he winds up in Minnesota, where he’s a distraction there, too. Finally he lands in Tennessee, where the coaching staff apparently realized that he was done as an NFL-caliber receiver. And now? Instead of continuing his career as a role player, he has decided to retire. Moss has been one hell of a player. He ranks eighth in career receptions, fifth in receiving yards and second only to Jerry Rice in touchdowns. But there will be a debate about whether or not he’s voted into the Hall of Fame after he quit on the Raiders and got himself traded out of New England and Minnesota. It’s amazing what kind of numbers Moss could have put up if had possessed Rice’s attitude.

– SF Giants GM Brian Sabean has some explaining to do after the Phillies and Braves landed younger outfielders under team control (Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, respectively) without giving up their top prospects, while he traded for a 34-year-old free agent-to-be and had to give up his best farm arm. Oh, and Orlando Cabrera for Thomas Neal? Does Sabean have to overpay for every veteran talent that he wants? It’s like if he walks into an electronic store, sees a TV he likes and then asks the salesman if he could purchase said TV for triple the cost. Meanwhile, competing general managers walk into the same store and purchase newer models with comparable features for three-fourths of the price. I just don’t get Sabean’s philosophy when it comes to trades but then again, he has a World Series ring and I don’t so maybe I should shut my mouth. (Of course, when he overpays to keep Beltran this winter, I’ll be sure to open it again.)

– It took a while, but teams are finally starting to stay away with Braylon Edwards. At 6’3” and 214 pounds, he certainly looks the part of a No. 1 receiver. But his inconsistent hands coupled with the fact that football isn’t real high on his priorities list makes teams stay away. He’s on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Cardinals because the receiver market is essentially dried up. Considering he’s only 28 and once caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in one season, he shouldn’t be accepting one-year deals. But teams aren’t stupid and know he’s a huge risk.

Red Sox in last place, Indians in first – welcome to bizarro world

Cleveland Indians players watch a video tribute to the late Bob Feller prior to the season opening MLB American League baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Cleveland, Ohio April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk(UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine meets a new group of friends that are exactly like Jerry, George and Kramer, although they’re normal and not deranged?

Yeah, well I feel like Elaine in that “bizarro world” episode when I look at the current standings in Major League Baseball.

You feel like a woman, Anthony?

Well not…uh…ah, shut up.

A quick look at the standings reveals that the Orioles and Indians are in first place, the Red Sox, Tigers and defending World Series champion Giants are in last place, and the Pirates and Royals are in second place. What in the name of Rick Vaughn is going on here?

Well, it’s not “bizarro world” as much as it’s the second week in April. The most overused phrase at this point of the year is “It’s early,” and it is. But that’s not to suggest that a team like Boston doesn’t have some serious issues to work through and Cleveland’s current six-game winning streak is a fluke.

The Red Sox’s current run differential is –31, which is the worst in the league. In their first 10 games, they’ve already given up 69 runs, or 21 fewer then they did through 10 games last year when they started 4-6 and missed the playoffs. For a team that many believed would win the World Series, the BoSox are off to a horrendous start.

On the flip side, the Tribe is 8-2 after dropping its first two games and is getting tremendous efforts from Asdrubal Cabrera, Orlando Cabrera, Travis Hafner and a young pitching staff. It remains to be seen whether or not their starters can continue to eat up innings and pitch well throughout the year, but it’s not a stretch to think that this is the start of a career year for Asdrubal Cabrera or that guys like Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco are coming into their own. Who’s to say at this point?

Granted, at this point last year the Blue Jays, A’s and Cardinals were all in first place, and none of them made the playoffs. But every year a team that wasn’t expected to contend does just that and shocks the masses. Nobody thought the Padres would compete in 2010 and if it weren’t for a late-season collapse, they would have made the playoffs.

Yes, it’s early – really early, in fact. But confidence is a scary thing and teams like the Indians are bringing truck loads of it to the park right now. Chances are things will go “back to normal” eventually (Elaine did find herself back with Jerry, George and Kramer), but then again maybe we’ll be trapped in bizarro world for a while longer. (I’m sure Tribe fans wouldn’t mind.)

Cardinals land Westbrook, Padres Ludwick in deadline deal

July 26, 2010 - Cleveland, OHIO, UNITED STATES - epa02262280 Jake Westbrook of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning of their game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 26 July 2010.

In a three-team deal involving the Cardinals, Padres and Indians, St. Louis acquired starter Jake Westbrook, San Diego nabbed Ryan Ludwick and Cleveland received prospect Corey Kluber. The Cards also acquired prospect Nick Greenwood from the Padres.

From MLB.com:

“I’m excited,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames. That’s why you play the game, for a chance to get into the playoffs, and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Westbrook was so eager to get in the playoff chase that he actually forfeited some of the trade protection in his contract. He was set to receive a $2 million bonus if dealt, and that was a major roadblock in trade talks, given that Westbrook is already owed nearly $4 million in salary this season.

But Westbrook agreed for that bonus to be lowered. The exact details were not announced, but the stipulation had to be approved by the Players Association.

“It was one of the hold-ups for getting me traded,” Westbrook said of the bonus. “I don’t really want to comment on the details of that, but it was something. Any way that I could help out the Indians, I needed to do that, because I didn’t really feel like I honored my contract as well as I would have liked to, being hurt. It was in my best interest and the Indians’ best interest to do something like that.”

I like this deal for all teams involved. The Cards lost Ludwick, but they’re going to save money (money they’re going to need to retain Albert Pujols) over the next two seasons and they added a workhorse Westbrook. He’s not a great arm at this point in his career, but St. Louis doesn’t need a great arm. They needed an upgrade at the backend of their rotation and that’s exactly what they got today in Westbrook.

Remember when the discussion about the Padres was about whether or not they would trade Adrian Gonzalez at some point before the deadline? Now look at them. They strengthened their bench with Miguel Tejada and acquired an All-Star in Ludwick to boost their offense for the stretch run. Give San Diego’s front office credit – they’re going for it.

According to his scouting report, Kluber lacks big upside, but he has a chance to be a solid back-end starter. The key to this deal for the Indians is that they save money by trading Westbrook’s contract. Westbrook wasn’t going to have a role in the Tribe’s future, so trading him now saves the club money and landing Kluber gives them a prospect that projects to being a cheap major league-caliber starter.

It’s not often that three teams get exactly what they want out of a deal, but I think the Cardinals, Padres and Indians came pretty close today.

Fan wearing a LeBron Heat jersey escorted out of Cleveland ballpark

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James of the Miami Heat attend a welcoming party at the American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, FL (Photo by Jeff Daly / Meet The Famous) Photo via Newscom

I’ve heard the adage that sport often emulates life and for the most part, I agree with that statement. The lessons you learn on the gridiron, the diamond, the ice or the court about leadership, commitment and work ethic can often be applied to your everyday life and I for one, always encourage kids to get involved in sports.

But at some point, people need a reality check. I can get just as loud or angry as the next fan (especially at Giants’ GM Brian Sabean) when sports are involved, but at some point I realize that I’m being obnoxious and I remember that it’s just a game.

Maybe some of the fans in Cleveland that are taking this LeBron James-to-Miami situation to heart should do the same thing.

From ESPN.com:

A fan wearing a Miami Heat jersey of LeBron James drew the ire of the crowd at a Cleveland Indians game and was escorted out of the ballpark.

Fans in the left-field bleachers chanted obscenities and pointed at the man Wednesday night during the sixth inning of the game between the Indians and New York Yankees.

Hundreds of fans joined in before security led the man out of Progressive Field.

As he left, some fans followed him toward the gate with more derisive chants. Various media reports indicated he was with a female companion, and that fans also threw debris at them.

Look, I thought “The Decision” announcement was just as absurd as the next person. (I’ll say the same for that scene in the photo at the top of this post.) But in the end, LeBron’s contract ran up and he decided to sign with another team. It was within his right to play for the Heat, the Knicks or Jackie Moon’s Flint Tropics if he wanted. That’s it – it’s over. Move on. How does a million dollar athlete signing with another team really affect you? I mean, really, really affect your everyday life? Think about that for a second.

To hurl obscenities and other objects at a young couple for wearing a LeBron Heat jersey is just immature. Granted, the guy was probably looking for attention or to cause a stir, but it should have never come to him having to be escorted out of the stadium. A good ribbing would have been more than appropriate.

When will people grow up?

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