Chris Perez Released, Giambi Re-Signed

This afternoon, news broke that right-handed closer Chris Perez had been released by the Cleveland Indians while Jason Giambi re-signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

(Photo credit: Winslow Townson: AP)

Most Tribe fans knew that something had to be done with the closer situation in the bullpen.  Perez posted awful numbers during his last 20 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up 7 home runs and posted a 7.52 ERA.  During his four seasons in Cleveland, he pitched 267 2/3 innings and while putting up a commendable 3.33 ERA, 124 saves, and an average of 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  With his attitude towards fans & ownership, his recent run in with the law, this move isn’t surprising.  The free agent market is flooded with closers, now listing Chris Perez, Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour and Edward Mujica.  With all that activity in the free agent pool, it may be a bit more difficult for Perez to find a team to sign with.

Also making headlines this afternoon was the fact that the Tribe re-signed 42 year old Jason Giambi to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Giambi didn’t provide great numbers throughout the 2013 season, but will be remembered for his highlight reel of pinch hit home runs(Eicher you made a bet, now shave your head).

There are some rumors that Asdrubal Cabrera will be moved this offseason.  I would disagree – with Lindor coming off a back injury and simply not being ready for primetime, we’ll see Asdrubal at least until the All-Star Break 2014 when trades are in full swing.  Aviles isn’t a starting SS, he’s a great role player off the bench.

5 Things the Browns Must Do Sunday

Posted by Andrew Kluge

The Browns go in to Kansas City to face Andy Reid‘s 7-0 Chiefs.  They are starting their third quarterback this season while coming off a two game losing streak.  Grab a Christmas Ale, because there’s a few things we should go over for the Browns to pull off the improbable this Sunday.

1)   Jason Campbell Can’t Turn The Ball Over

(Joshua Gunter/ The Plain Dealer)

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has to make Campbell as comfortable in the pocket as possible when he’s calling plays from the sidelines.  Our pass protection will be key in allowing him to complete passes. But I’m still not sure we’re going to see much of a difference in Campbell than Weeden.  They both throw short of first downs too often.  They both hold the ball too long.  Against a defense like Kansas City, that is one thing he cannot do.  He needs to get the ball out quickly to Cameron or Gordon.  Kansas City currently has the highest turnover ratio in the NFL – a product of their quick pass rush.  One difference between Weeden and Campbell is he doesn’t seem to panic in the pocket as much; his interceptions usually come when he’s throwing long down field.  If the Browns pull off a win on Sunday, look for Campbell to have a QBR of 75 or better.

One thing that Campbell has going for him is the Andy Reid’s respect: “Listen, Jason, I think, is a good football player. I have had a chance to have teams compete against him, and he knows what he’s doing. He was pretty good in college, and he is good in the pros. We’ll prepare for their scheme, and I think that’s the important part of it. I don’t think they’re going to change a ton of what they do. I mean, that’s not what you do in these situations.”

2) Contain Charles

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I had the chance to take Jamaal Charles this year during our annual fantasy football draft.  I didn’t want him and neither did a handful of guys I’m in the league with.  The guy who took him? He’s undefeated and in first place.

Jamaal Charles is a big reason why the Chiefs are playing so well.  He’s third in the league in rushing with 561 yards and also has 337 receiving yards while posting eight touchdowns.   D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson are going to have to step up and contain him.  Teams are targeting our inside linebackers and Ray Horton needs to find a way to close the passing hole in the middle of the field.  The bulk of the load falls squarely on the inside linebackers.  They are the weak link in this defense and if they implode, look for Charles to have a big game.

3) Run The Ball

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The Chiefs get to the quarterback better than any other defense in the NFL.  As a result, QB’s tend to turnover the ball more.  This is exactly what Campbell can’t do. If there is a weak part in Kansas City’s game, it’s their run defense. Also, Campbell is a question mark, we don’t know how he’ll fair throwing the ball.

The Browns need to get Travis Benjamin involved from the get-go.  He’s only had six touches this year on offense for 150 yards.  Norv Turner is going to have to get creative when attacking this defense and Benjamin is part of the solution.  Using the ground attack with help to ease the pressure Campbell is sure to see.

4) Dynamic Duo: Gordon & Cameron

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

If the run game helps to give Campbell more time in the pocket, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron need to get the ball.  Currently, Cameron leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. His reception total currently leads all of the NFL’s tight ends. Gordon has seen his share of targets and is currently at 450 yards receiving during his 5 game season, and his game should find a boost with Campbell taking the snaps.

These two will have to play a big role on offense alongside an efficient run game to help create holes in the KC defense. If the pass protection is working, look for these two to continue producing.

5) Third Down Efficiency

The Browns are ranked 29th in 3rd down efficiency.  They allow opponents to convert 45.3 percent of the time. Who’s at the top of the list? Kansas City.

(Joshua Gunter/ The Plain Dealer)

Ray Horton has been working on a way to combat this problem.  His quote from a Washington Post article last week sheds some light:  “You look at all the third downs, the major area of concern to me is third-and-four to third and nine,” he said. “We’re grossly deficient in getting off (the field). I look at every call. It’s a great balance of zone and man. I look at the plays that are bad, meaning why do we not win? I keep saying it’s us. It’s not the other team. Nobody’s shocking us by coming out and running some revolutionary new offense.

“It really comes down to us and that’s what we’re focusing on is us being more focused on our detail, and that seems to be the major thing when I look at it.”

The Browns need to pull out all the stops on offense and get everyone involved to make this win a possibility. They haven’t had very much luck in the air, so this will have to start on the ground.  With Benjamin & Gordon getting involved in the backfield, maybe even MarQueis Gray making an appearance during a wildcat, the Browns will be able put up some points on offense.  The most important part of the Browns defense this Sunday is the inside linebackers.  They need to contain KC’s running backs & tight ends – something they didn’t do against Detroit or Green Bay.

Browns Shouldn’t Deal Gordon

Post by Andrew Kluge

The Cleveland Browns would be crazy to trade WR Josh Gordon.

(Joshua Gunter/ The Plain Dealer)

Since coming back from his two game suspension, he has provided a much needed spark to the Cleveland offense. By the numbers: 27 receptions in 5 games for 450 yards & two touchdowns.

I understand the point Chud has made: your position on the Browns roster isn’t safe. He isn’t scared to put you on the trade block or the bench.  You only need to look at T-Rich being traded to Indianapolis and Brandon Weeden losing his starting job to a third string QB to realize that fact.

But to trade Gordon? I believe that would a mistake. I don’t care how many offers ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports – the Browns can’t afford to give up their star wide receiver to draft an unproven 2nd round or (fingers crossed) a 1st round draft pick.  He’s reporting that at least three teams have contacted the Browns and currently there are two standing offers. The Browns so far are “balking”, according to Schefter.

When the Browns happen to put together their one-two punch on offense, it revolves around Gordon & TE Jordan Cameron. Needless to say that Cameron saw more targets when Hoyer was taking the snaps, but he will continue to see a heavy workload as long as Josh Gordon is on the field.  The Browns can trade Gordon and try their luck with a high draft pick, or continue to build around him and the third year tight end, Jordan Cameron.  Gordon continues to be one of the best offensive threats on the team and should be one of the centerpieces at Cleveland’s offense.

Indians Sign Reliever Matt Capps

Matt Capps was signed to a minor league deal last season, but couldn’t stay healthy – eventually undergoing season ending shoulder surgery.  He pitched 6 games during his time with the Tribe.

Now Jordan Bastian has reported that Capps has been re-signed to another minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He still just 30 years old and has time to resurrect his career.

Ndamukong Suh fined $31,500 for hit on Brandon Weeden

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It’s not hard to believe, but Ndamukong Suh was fined for an illegal hit on Brandon Weeden this past Sunday.  He has been fined for a total  $209,000, and docked another $165,294 for his stomping on Thanksgiving 2011.   During Sunday’s game he wasn’t flagged for the hit, but after the NFL had reviewed the tape, they found he had “lowered his head” and hit Weeden directly in his chest – helmet first.

“I think there’s always going to be a microscope on me,” Suh told the Detroit Free Press, “I think there’s been a microscope on me since I was first drafted in 2010, ’cause I was a first-round pick. There’s always going to be a microscope on me, no matter where it is, from outside media, from the NFL to little kids to everybody. So there’s going to be somewhat of a microscope. My face is out there. That’s kind of part of life.”

(AP)

Brandon Weeden Turns 30, Still Struggling

Post by Andrew Kluge

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Cleveland fans have not seen any progress in Brandon Weeden since last year – he still slow to throw the ball, awful under pressure, and his TD/INT ratio is nearly the same.  This is his second chance as the starting QB.  It doesn’t help his expectations that Hoyer rallied the Browns to a three game win streak before falling to the Lions this past Sunday.  Hoyer played with the same offensive line that Weeden did…and the numbers are vastly different between the two.

In  the 4th quarter Brandon Weeden is 29-of-57 with no touchdowns, one interception and seven sacks; QBR of 62.1.

Compare that to Hoyer who is 16-of-23 with two touchdowns, four sacks and a 117.3 rating.

The Browns defense may have had their worst performance under Ray Horton, but what do you expect when they are on the field so much? Add another QB’s name to the infamous jersey, because we’re about to get another replacement for 2014.