Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Slumping Indians look for reinforcements

Welcome to the big leagues, Cord Phelps.

The struggling, slumping, sinking Cleveland Indians – losers of 11 of their last 15 – finally made a move, reaching into the minor leagues and promoting Phelps.

Phelps will platoon at second base with Orlando Cabrera.

“The kid’s going to get an opportunity to play, and we’re going to have to see if he’ll take advantage of it,” Indians manager Manny Acta said in published reports. “For now, he’s going to play second base, and we’re going to give him the opportunity to play the majority of times against right-handed pitching.

“Orlando’s been there, done that. You can’t rule out Orlando coming back and playing every day. But this kid deserved a shot based on the way he’s played the last two years at Columbus.”

Phelps batted .299 with seven homers, 40 RBI and 31 runs at Columbus, playing shortstop (28 games) and second base (13 games).

Phelps got the start on Wednesday and fit right in with the current offense, going 0-for-4 in his debut.

“You’ve got to earn it,” Phelps told The Plain Dealer. “I was a little nervous at the start, but that’s to be expected. Overall, I felt pretty good. It was exciting.”

The Tribe is currently in a woeful offensive slump. In their last six games they have only scored eight total runs and barely avoided being swept by the last-place Minnesota Twins. Pretty much everyone not named Michael Brantley or Asdrubal Cabrera is struggling right now and it limits what Acta can do.

Look at the batting averages in Wednesday’s lineup: Grady Sizemore (.256), Carlos Santana (.228), Shin-Soo Choo (.240), Matt LaPorta (.240), Jack Hannahan (.231) and Lou Marson (.207).

The manager can move people around in the batting order all he wants, but if no one is hitting it doesn’t make much difference.

Phelps clearly isn’t going to turn the team around by himself, but at least the Tribe did something to try and right the ship.

The move certainly can’t make things any worse than they currently are.

***

Even though the NFL lockout is still going on, that doesn’t mean Browns general manager Tom Heckert isn’t thinking about all the things he can do once the league comes to its senses.

All the extra time has made him more prepared than ever for free agency – whenever it begins.

Most importantly, the Browns:

  • Will not trade for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb: ”You can dispel that,” Heckert said. ”We’re not trading for a quarterback. That one I’ll say.”
  • Will not look to sign Plaxico Burress, late of the New York state penal system.
  • Will look for a free safety: “Right now, Mike Adams is penciled in as a guy who’s going to play almost all safety for us, but we’ll see,” Heckert said. “There’s a few guys in free agency and we’ll see what happens with the undrafted rookies, so we still have a couple of options out there.”
  • Haven’t closed the door on fullback Lawrence Vickers: “It’s hard to tell,” Heckert said. “We didn’t really have a chance to talk to him once free agency started because of the rules. It never started. We’ll have to make all of those decisions once everything opens up.”
  • Haven’t decided what to do with quarterback Jake Delhomme: “Whenever the thing opens up, we’ll sit down with Jake and talk to him and decide what’s the best for him and for our organization,” Heckert said. “We have to wait until that happens.”

Knowing all that certainly makes it easier for us to sleep at night.

***

Check out this cool graphic showing NBA titles represented by championship rings.

(h/t Uni Watch)

***

Finally, our post on the U.S. opening game win over Canada in the Gold Cup is up at MLS Talk. Be sure to check it out.

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