The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for December, 2007

Christmas Present For All: Hughes Gone?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 December 2007

A small Christmas miracle was printed in today’s Plain Dealer: Larry Hughes is being shopped and according to one executive Hughes will be traded long before the Feb 21st deadline. The article states that Washington is interested in Hughes, as is a team in the Atlantic Division.

Which means its time for some guesses…

Boston: already has a great SG in Ray Allen. Not sure where Hughes would fit in there. They already have three massive contracts in Allen, Pierce, and KG.

Toronto: built like a Euro League team and Hughes might be the epitome of an anti-Euro League style. Their GM is too smart to take Hughes.

New Jersey: already has Vince Carter slotted in as the overpaid, under-producing SG. Not sure where Hughes fits in with New Jersey, either.

Philadelphia: might be the destination in a deal that could return Andre Miller, but I have no idea why the 76ers would want to take on a massive contract like Hughes’s. Maybe if King were still the GM.

New York: acquiring terrible contracts and guards seems to be what Isiah Thomas thrives on, so Hughes looks like a natural fit here, and now that Thomas has been (once again) publicly reassured that his job is safe, maybe he can pressure the Knicks brass into one more terrible trade. But probably not.

The thing is, Hughes is terrible and has maybe the worst contract in the NBA. There is no team in the league where it makes sense for him to play for what he’s being paid. If Ferry can somehow swing a deal that gets Hughes off the books it’ll probably be a masterstroke.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 11 Comments »

Fire Mike Brown?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 December 2007

Should Gilbert and Ferry pull the plug on Mike Brown?

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 15 Comments »

Browns Playoff Odds Report: 93%

Posted by disappointmentzone on 19 December 2007

Don’t look now but the Browns are on the brink of the verge of the other metaphor of making the playoffs. With Sunday’s victory over the Bills the Browns are now at 93% to play a meaningful football game in January, which is the highest mark this season. If the Browns beat the Bengals next Sunday they’ll clinch of playoff berth and next week’s Playoff Odds Report will be unnecessary (then again, this blog is unnecessary and that doesn’t stop me from writing it, so I’d anticipate another Playoff Odds Report next week even if the Browns win). If the Browns lose to the Bengals then things get a little trickier.

Let’s assume the Browns lose next week.

If the Browns lose to the Bengals then Tennessee controls its playoff destiny. If the Titans win out they’ll make the playoffs, possibly at the expense of the Browns. Tennessee would have to beat the Jets at home and Indianapolis on the road. Tennessee winning both of those games seems pretty unlikely. If they drop one of those games then the ball swings back into the Browns’ court. With a Tennessee loss the Browns-San Francisco game will decide the Browns’ fate. Win, they’re in. Lose, they’re out.

That’s the wild card berth.

But the Browns still have a shot at the division!

In fact, Football Outsiders gives them a 39.5% chance of stealing the division crown from Pittsburgh, also a season high. As Pittsburgh owns the tie breaker the Browns need the Steelers to lose at least once more in order to have a shot at the division (and the Browns need to win at least one more as well). Pittsburgh plays this Thursday at St. Louis. The Rams stink but on a short week and with a healthy Stephen Jackson they certainly have a puncher’s chance to upset Pittsburgh. The following week the Steelers play on the road against Baltimore. Baltimore just lost to freaking Miami so who knows what to make of them (other than that they suck), but it’s a division game and maybe Troy Smith will use some of the BCS OSU magic to rain all over the ugly town of Pittsburgh. That’s assuming he plays. With Kyle Boller at the helm…

Anyway, the important point is that the Browns have many ways to get into the playoffs. Time to get excited.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 7 Comments »

Edwards, Cribbs Go Pro Bowling

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 December 2007

Braylon Edwards (#17) and Josh Cribbs (#16) were both selected to the Pro Bowl this afternoon. They’re so outstanding they don’t even need the rest of the regular season to prove that they’re the best at their respective positions.

After hearing the announcement punter Dave Zastudil (#15) was seen walking around Berea wondering why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. Told it was “a numbers game” he looked off in the distance incredulously, his brow furled in confusion.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 2 Comments »

The Cavs are Confusing; Larry Hughes, Not

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 December 2007

Over the final 23 minutes of the game last night the Cavs did not turn the ball over once. This is phenomenal. The Cavs also held the Bucks to 42% from the field, with Micheal Redd and Mo Williams going a combined 13-42. Again, this is phenomenal, too. And yet the Cavs could only score 104 points in the double OT game. This is phenomenally bad and, I suppose, is to be expected when you shoot 40% from the field and 18% from three point range.

It’s not often that a NBA team shoots 40% for the game and wins, especially when the opposing team has a higher field goal percentage and more rebounds. Yet that’s what happened last night. Which makes the game a bit of a mystery. The Cavs won, which is good. They Cavs didn’t turn the ball over, which is good. The Cavs locked down two great scorers, which is good. But the Cavs never looked good on offense, which is bad. Until Devon Brown entered the game, they also looked sluggish and uninterested, which is terrible. Little about the Cavs makes sense right now. Except for one thing…

Larry Hughes.

Larry Hughes is back to his normal self. That 13-17, 36 point game? Forget about it. Once a season Hughes has a game where he shoots around 75% and looks like he might not have the second worst contract in the league. Last year it came in the first game of the season, which was a lovely little tease. This season he comes back from injury, lights up the scoreboard, prompts Austin Carr to blather on about Hughes finding his game, and then immediately goes in the tank.

Last night he went 3-11 in 21 minutes. This follows going 1-9 and 4-15 in his previous two games. On the season Hughes is shooting 34%. On the season he has more games (3) in which he shoots below 18% than he has games in which he shoots above 50% (2). He has as many game games in which he shoots between 20%-30% as games in which he shoots between 31%-40% (3).

The 13 shots he made in the 13-17 game represent 30% of his made shots output for the entire season. If you remove that 13-17 game from his season totals Hughes would be shooting a paltry 28%. That $12M salary Hughes is being paid sure is sweet.

Anyway, the Cavs are confusing and Hughes is not.

UPDATE: Logged into my fantasy basketball league. On the front page of the fantasy page I saw this little notice: “Larry Hughes has been dropped by 1746 teams in Yahoo! leagues.” I smiled.

UPDATE II: Three minutes later the page refreshed and now “Larry Hughes has been dropped by 1805 teams in Yahoo! leagues.”

UPDATE III: It’s the Great Hughes Purge of 2007! Four minutes later and it’s now 1849 teams. I have a feeling this will continue for a while.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 7 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 15

Posted by disappointmentzone on 16 December 2007

It’s hard to throw a football with cold hands. It’s hard to throw a football in precipitation. It’s hard to throw a football in wind. So with 40 mph winds, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures the only way Sunday’s game would have been less suitable for quarterback evaluation would be if the receivers were forced to wear boxing gloves and there were sharks floating through the air.

Still, let’s give it a shot.

To put it in NFL terms, Anderson needed to manage the game in order for the Browns to win. On Sunday, he did just that.

This was just the second time in the last seven weeks — and the first in the last five — that Anderson didn’t throw an interception. Whether this is due to dumb luck or skill is a matter for debate, but any Browns fan who remembers what Charlie Frye’s arm looked like throwing in that nasty lake effect wind knows that we should all be thankful to finally have a quarterback with a rocket arm. Sure, that rocket arm went 9-23 but this was one of those games where his completion percentage to the other team was going to be far more crucial to the outcome of the game than his completion percentage to his own teammates. Four of the nine completions came on third down and went for first downs, and two of those four completions came on the two scoring drives of the game. On the whole the nine completions meant more than any of the 14 incompletions. That might be the definition of managing a game.

Not that you can knock Anderson for all those incomplete passes. After all, the day’s biggest pass play came when a pass ricocheted off Braylon Edwards’s chest and, rather than falling incomplete, fell into the hands of Joe Jurevicius, who promptly scampered 25 yards before tumbling over into a pile of snow. (1) This was one of a number of passes thrown by Anderson and Trent Edwards that hit their receivers but were not caught (at least by the intended receiver). In those conditions seeing receivers drop passes is not surprising. What is surprising in those conditions is seeing receivers actually get hit by passes. It was like watching someone hit a bumble bee with a grain of rice in the middle of a hurricane.

An element of luck was undeniably a part of Anderson’s success on Sunday, but that should not diminish the amount of skill that went into his performance. He never put the Browns in jeopardy by taking big risks on long throws down the field or by throwing into double or triple coverage — which have both been ignoble hallmarks of Anderson’s worst tendencies. Against the Bills he made a lot of smart decisions and relied upon his strong arm to do the rest (i.e., overcome the conditions). Perhaps his most glaring lapse in judgment came late in the first quarter when on third down he took a seven yard sack. Prior to this week Anderson has been insanely good at throwing the ball away and avoiding negative plays. The sack against the Bills was the result of holding the ball for too long.

Which brings me about to the play off the offensive line. They allowed one sack (and even then I’d put the fault more on Anderson than the line) and blocked for 174 yards rushing. Jamal Lewis is getting a lot of credit for his performance — and rightfully so — but in the biggest game of the season the Browns won thanks in large part to decisions made last spring, when they shored up the line through free agency and the draft. Can anyone name the last time the Browns won a game due to decisions made by the front office in the spring?

On any list of reasons why the Browns beat the Bills one final name needs mentioning: Phil Dawson. Without Dawson the Browns don’t win. It was great to see the only remaining member of the 1999 Browns team have yet another day in the sun (or overcast sky). Though it came on a smaller stage, Dawon’s 49-yard field goal in the second quarter was ever bit as impressive as Adam Vinatieri’s field goal against the Raiders a few years ago. Amazing. And the reaction of both the crowd and the team — Anderson rushing the field with an oven mitt on his hand was priceless — served as a powerful emotional punch to the extraordinary physical display Dawson put on with his field goal kicking. In a game where small things made big differences it was fitting that Dawson’s leg prove to be the ultimate difference in the game.

And so the Browns playoff juggernaut keeps rolling. Even the Associate Press has hopped aboard, as evidenced by this little ditty from their post-game wrap up:

Cleveland needed a win and a loss by Tennessee to secure at least a wild-card berth. Only half of that scenario happened, but the Browns will clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002 with a win at Cincinnati next week.

The operative word is will. It’s not “the Browns could clinch” it’s “the Browns will clinch”. (2) Even the supposedly impartial gaze of the AP has been moved to Browns homerism thanks to a grizzly, snowy, altogether Clevelandy win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Awesome.

QB Score: 52
QB Score per play: 2.00

fn 1: Is there a receiver in the NFL with a more baffling set of hands than Edwards? The guy drops the easiest passes and then bails his quarterback out with catches on throws that should otherwise be incomplete. On the whole this all probably evens out in the end, but just think of the things he could do if he didn’t let the ball fly off his chest.

fn 2: I realize that this line in the AP story does not necessarily read how I’m implying it does. It’s just ambiguous writing that allows me to spin the sentence to be something it’s not. A clearer phrasing would be “with a win at Cincinnati next week the Browns would clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002.”

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports, statistics | 6 Comments »

Cavs: Wins Produced

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 December 2007

David Berri at the Wages of Wins Journal is going through the NBA by division and posting how the teams are doing. Today’s division is the Central. With a hat tip in his direction I have reproduced his findings for the Cavaliers below. If you want to know how the rest of the teams are doing, you’ll have to check out his site. cavs.jpg

A few notes:

* Average WP48 is .100.

* Thanks to injuries and holdouts the projected Wins Produced is off by quite a bit. Varejao’s WP48 is .333, just a tick below LeBron’s. Yet Varejao is only projected to produce .06 wins. This is because the projection is based on him playing in one of every 20-odd games, which will clearly no longer be the case.

* Meanwhile LeBron is projected to miss roughly 5.5 games for every twenty games of the season. As long as this doesn’t happen his projected WP should increase substantially.

* Gooden might be the most disappointing player on the roster. He’s putting up good scoring and rebounding numbers, but he’s also averaging 2.1 turnovers per game, which is really bad. This is also his worst shooting season in his Cavs tenure, both from the field and from the line. The obvious hope is that with LBJ back, Marshall on the mend, and Varejao ready to spell him, that the offensive load will be lifted from his shoulders. Gooden is not the guy you want carrying your team’s offense. He’s not the guy you want as your team’s second option either. He’s probably not the guy you want as your team’s third option. Yet too often this season that’s been the case. This is no fault of Gooden’s. Necessity has forced him into that role. With the Cavs getting healthy Gooden should be able to fall back into a role for which he’s better suited.

* Even though Daniel Gibson’s WP48 is below average, his production is a marked increase from last season, when he posted a regular season WP48 of .046. This is great news for the Cavs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his WP48 climb above average this season. If it does it would represent the first time in years that the Cavs were getting above average production from their starting point guard.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, statistics | 1 Comment »

Derek Anderson: Where He Ranks

Posted by disappointmentzone on 13 December 2007

Each week The Disappointment Zone gives the QB Score and QB Score per play statistics of the Browns’ quarterbacks, which since week two has been Derek Anderson. During that time Derek Anderson’s performance has rarely been put in the larger context of how he compares to his peers. With discussions cropping up about what the Browns should do re: Anderson after the season now seems like a good time to provide that context.

Of the 34 qualifying quarterbacks, Anderson has been the 8th best quarterback this season, as measured by QB Score per play. He’s played better than a number of highly regarded quarterbacks, including Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Cleo Lemon. Take from this what you will, but do not view this list as an unassailable hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks. It’s a good jumping off point for further discussion, though.

Historical Average is 1.85

QB Score = All Yards – 3*All Plays – 30*All Turnovers

All Yards = Passing Yards + Rushing Yards – Yards Lost from Sacks

All Plays = Pass Attempts + Rushing Attempts + Sacks

All Turnovers = Interceptions + Fumbles Lost

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 12 Comments »

Browns Playoff Odds Report: 76%

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 December 2007

If you check out the Football Outsiders Playoff Odds Report this week you’ll see that in the AFC the battle for the last Wild Card spot is a battle between two teams. The Browns have a 62.2% chance of winning a Wild Card berth — and 13.8% chance at winning the division, hence the 76% chance of making the playoffs — and the Bills have a 18.5% chance of winning a Wild Card berth.  Tennessee still has a small chance (7.1%) but…no. This one’s coming down to Cleveland and Buffalo.

Which makes this Sunday’s game such a big deal. If the Browns win they have a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Even if they don’t clinch the berth if the Browns will they’ll have a prohibitive lead in the race, all but technically locking up a berth. If the Bills win the Browns will (probably) have to win out and hope for another Bills loss. With games against the Giants and Eagles that’s not necessarily impossible, but wouldn’t everyone be happier if the Browns controlled their own playoff destiny?

So Sunday is Showdown Sunday. Or whatever they’ll call it. Last week was a big game. This week’s game is a bigger game. In fact, it’s the biggest game of the season. Cheer hard, Cleveland.

Posted in Cleveland Sports | 7 Comments »

Reasons for Hope

Posted by disappointmentzone on 11 December 2007

The Cavs are middling around with a 9-12 record that places them firmly in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. Detroit is 14-6 with a 5.5 game lead in the Central Division. Is it time for Cavs fans to prepare themselves for a string of road playoff games against the likes of Toronto or Washington?


Let’s put things in perspective.

1) LeBron has missed (essentially) six games. The Cavs have won 0% of the games in which LeBron doesn’t play. But in games in which LeBron James does play the Cavs win 67% of the time. Since LBJ has definite Iron Man tendencies, the .667 winning percentage is probably more indicative of the team’s overall abilities than the .429 winning percentage they own right now. Meanwhile Detroit has not lost any starter to long-term injury and yet has only won 70% of their games.

2) In addition to missing LBJ the Cavs have also been without Marshall and Varejao, two of the most productive players on the team last season, and Larry Hughes, who is not one of the most productive players but whose absence has forced an out-of-shape Pavlovic into a role for which he probably wasn’t physically ready. Varejao is now back with the team, Hughes is now able to play, and Pavlovic is now in shape (not to mention the ancillary bonus of Shannon Brown). This all bodes well for the Cavs, who are on the verge of having a formidable eight-man rotation.

3) Detroit winning 70% of their games is far less impressive when you consider that they’ve also played the second easiest schedule in the league. Things are going to get tougher for the Pistons.

4) Meanwhile, the Cavs have played this second toughest schedule in the league. Things are going to get easier for the Cavs.

So the Cavs are getting healthier, deeper, and will likely be facing a relatively easier schedule over the rest of the season. There is reason for optimism.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 1 Comment »