Indians Hitters on the 25-Man Roster (and more): The Indians have added a pair of solid Major League talents this off-season, which will only lead to more chaos as the front office looks to trim down the final roster to 25-men for the start of the season in April. Here is a breakdown of the most capable hitters within the entire system that will start the year, or will contend to start the year playing for the Tribe:
Catcher Victor Martinez (turned 30 in December)
Catcher Kelly Shoppach (turns 29 in April)
Designated Hitter Travis Hafner (turns 32 in June)
First Baseman Ryan Garko (turned 28 earlier this month)
Second Baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (turned 23 in November)
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta (turns 27 in May)
Third Baseman Mark DeRosa (turns 34 in February)
Utility Infielder Jamey Carroll (turns 35 in February)
Left Fielder Ben Francisco (turned 27 in October)
Left Fielder David Dellucci (turned 35 in October)
Center Fielder Grady Sizemore (turns 27 this coming August)
Right Fielder Shin Soo-Choo (turns 27 this coming July)
Do not expect these hitters below to have a spot on the team this April, but these are the top prospects and performers in the rest of the organization:
There have been many rumors over the last week or so about the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly acquiring an extra forward for Wally Szczerbiak and his expiring contract. One name that has come up in the internet discussions is Los Angeles Clippers F/C Marcus Camby, the winner of the 2006-2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Camby, who is 35 years old, has a much smaller salary cap burden than other names mentioned such as Antawn Jamison or Brad Miller, as he is making $8 million this year, and then $7.65 million in the final year of his contract next season. In an effort to see what the impact of this addition would mean to the Cavaliers, I took a little visit to the Web site http://www.82games.com.
On this website, I saw as not much of a surprise, that LeBron James has gradually been playing substantially more minutes at the PF position over the last three seasons. This is not a surprise, because when you think about the personnel changes in the last three seasons, the Cavaliers have needed LeBron and his massive size in the post more often while the front office has surrounded him with under sized sharp shooters. This season, LeBron is playing 22% of his 75% of the Cavaliers minutes on the court at the 4 according to this Web site, but what I was very surprised to see out of this limited sample size, is that he is actually producing more efficiently at that position.
Here is a quick summary of his net efficiency marks per 48 minutes at the two different positions over the last three seasons:
Boot Up: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers are #1 – The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the defending NBA champions from Boston on Friday night at the Quicken Loans Arena by the convincing final score of 98-83. The game was never really that close, as the Celtics never had the lead, and the Cavaliers were up by 11 at the end of the first quarter. LeBron James had arguably the most impressive all-around performance of his career, posting 38 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, and three blocks, shooting 9-9 from the free throw line, all while holding Paul Pierce to only 11 points on 4-15 shooting from the field. In fact, however, those numbers from Pierce are somewhat deceiving as Pierce scored 4 points in a matter of 2:37 to start the fourth quarter against Wally Szczerbiak while LeBron James sat on the bench. LeBron was as good as he has ever been last night, and he could do seemingly anything he wanted on both sides of the ball. The loss also was the seventh in nine games for the struggling Celtics, who fell to 29-9 and behind both the Cavaliers and the rising Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference standings.
Away from last night’s phenomenal performance, I am here to investigate why exactly the Cavaliers have taken such a jump this season from last year’s mediocre regular season. Of course, the Cavaliers had a lot of chemistry, injury and all-around issues last year when they stumbled to a 45-37 finish and the #4 seed in the East. This past off-season, everyone remained healthy and the Cavaliers added Maurice Williams in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, along with rookie forward J.J. Hickson out of North Carolina State. Still, I was not too optimistic on the Cavaliers in 2008-2009 (exhibit A and exhibit B), and neither were the supposed experts over at ESPN. Currently however, the Cavaliers are 29-6, and on pace for somewhere around 63-68 wins by the end of the season (John Hollinger of ESPN predicts 64). Why are the Cavaliers on pace for such a historic season? The answer may surprise you, as it is not just the addition of guard Mo Williams.
Note: Charlotte lost to Duquesne and Fordham lost to St. Bonaventure in the first night of Atlantic-10 conference play on Wednesday, January 7. Please forgive me for getting this analysis in a day late, but all of my statistics are as of games on Tuesday, January 6. This means that games such as the Dayton .vs. Miami-OH non-conference match-up are included, but not those from Wednesday night.
The Atlantic-10 is one of the top tier Mid-Major conferences in college basketball. The conference has had exactly two teams in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years, and in the 24-year history of the 64-team style tournament, the Atlantic-10 has had 60 teams included.
Looking to the 2008-2009 season, the entire conversation must start with Sean Miller’s Xavier University basketball team. Xavier is clearly one of the top teams in college basketball today, as they finished last season ranked #8 in the Coaches Poll, and were as high as #7 in both the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll earlier this season. Dayton has been in the top 30 in the Coaches Poll for each of the last six weeks, and at one point last season were #14 according to the Associated Press. The Atlantic-10 has had a lot of historical success as a conference, and these two teams from Ohio are surely the cream of the crop again this season.
Sorry about the brief hiatus there, it always gets a little hectic around exams and then the holiday season. I hope to be back on track with a lot of things in the coming weeks here on The Sports Report. Here is a list of things to expect very shortly:
1. The most important thing on my list right now is coming out with an Atlantic-10 season preview. Back around Thanksgiving I created a spreadsheet analyzing the conference strength of schedule based on last year’s numbers. I updated that information for the statistics for all fourteen teams thus far this season, and I came up with some surprising results. This will be a must-read for all Dayton Flyers fans out there!!
2. I hope to come out with a few Boots about the recent acquisitions for the Cleveland Indians. I hate that I have gone so long without commenting on the Tribe, and the recent additions of Carl Pavano, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa should be a significant boost to the current roster. I feel really good about our chances for next season, even though I wouldn’t mind another free agent signing or two.
3. Another look at what is going on in the NBA thus far this season. Every basketball fan out there is looking forward to the Friday, January 9th match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I will be here right afterward, recapping the recent mayhem at the top of the league standings. I also will look at what surprising rookies (*cough* *cough* Rob Kurz) have quite the story behind them, as well as some other interesting observations from my statistics.
4. A final recap of the college football season and a summary of my past economic analysis of the Bowl Championship Series. My entire Sports Report began with my passion for the BCS, and I did a pretty in-depth report on the economic benefits of the current bowl system about two years back. I will look back to my work in the near future, and recap what has gone wrong this season as 13-0 Utah was left out of any chance for a National Championship.