Thursday September 8, 2005
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
BASEBALL THOUGHTS AND FOOTBALL PICKS
Good Morning! Today, I am going to have just a few thoughts on the Twins after their 8-6 win over the Rangers. Plenty of stuff going on with them! However, I will also be putting a whole segment of Thoughts on the Twins Low-A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers, who started their league playoffs last night with a game against Wisconsin. Finally, I know many of you came here today to see our NFL "Expert" Picks, where there will be twelve panelists who will pick each NFL game for each week. I made a mistake, forgetting that there was a Thursday game, so I got an e-mail out to the panelists a little late. I do have the majority of their picks. However, I am going to wait to post the picks on this site until I get the rest, or until 5:00 because I do want them posted before tonight's season opening game between the Raiders and the Patriots. So please check back from time to time as the football picks will be posted today. I think that the twelve person panel is very interesting and includes a couple of bigger names than we have even had in the past! I think you'll like it!
A couple notes:
Braham's Isaiah Dahlman called Michigan State's Tom Izzo on Tuesday night to tell him that he would be signing his letter of intent to play basketball for the Spartans. That call was made right after he called Iowa's Steve Alford to tell him the news.
ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote an excellent article called The Anti-Ripkens. He talks about some of the best excuses/injuries that caused players to miss games.
Seattle's Michael Morse was suspended 10 games for steroid use. As big as that is, it could be controversial. You see, Morse had been suspended twice in 2004 for the same violation. And that is the problem. The panel determined that the positive test in May was the result of the same steroids as he was suspended for in 2004, and that there was so little in his system that there is no way that it could have enhanced his performance. Morse has been upfront about what steroid he took, when and for how long he has taken it. Bud Selig wants to install a 50 game suspension for a first offense, a 100 game suspension for a second offense and a ban for a third suspension. Congress has a bill that would say a player would get a two year ban for a first time offense. Situations like this show that before anything like that can be done, the rules of testing have to be much clearer. Here is much of Morse's statement:
"Back in November 2003 when I was 21 years old, I made an enormous mistake in my life: I took steroids while in the minor leagues. My thigh muscle, which I had previously torn, had never healed and I was scared that my career was over. I was desperate and made a terrible mistake which I deeply regret.
"In May 2004, I was punished and suspended, which I deserved, for my mistake. I embarrassed myself, my family and my team. I am responsible for the mistake of taking steroids and the positive result was not due to some over-the-counter supplement, protein shake or tainted test."
"I am troubled that I will be suspended for the third time despite the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would never use steroids again. Even the [arbitration] panel states in its written decision that 'the panel recognizes that this result may be viewed as unfair to Michael Morse.' "
Later, Morse met with reporters and said, "I know what I did and I was wrong."
"I was a man about it and I confronted it. I came forward and served my time. Now it's twice for the same thing. Now I get this again two years later. It's just unfair."
"I'm not lying and I'm not hiding anything," he said. "I'm for testing. I'm for kicking out steroids."
On Tuesday, the Twins came back from a 5-0 deficit to take the lead only to lose it in the top of the ninth. On Wednesday, the scenario played out almost identically. The Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings. Brad Radke started and was pulled after the second inning. He had allowed five runs on eight hits. Joe Mays came in and threw three no-hit innings. He got two more out in the next inning and after a one out triple, he got a ground out to 3B before JC Romero came in and got a big strikeout. Romero went 1 inning and was in at the right time to get the win, his fourth of the season. Juan Rincon held the lead, allowing a run in 1.1 innings. Joe Nathan, who blew the save the night before, was brought in to protect a two run lead in the 9th with the tough part of the Rangers lineup coming up. He got the first two outs in order, but then allowed a single and a double to put the tying run in scoring position. However, this time, he was able to get that final out for his 36th save.
After giving up five runs in the first two innings on Tuesday night, Kyle Lohse went off via the media after the game.
I've been out there battling my butt off all year. Was that the fourth time I've given up more than four runs this year? [Answer: Yes.] I would have liked to have somebody stand behind me and say: 'We've got your back. Go out there and shut them down from here on. But that didn't happen today, so whatever."
"You're in a pennant race. ... We're trying to win. Five runs in two innings -- you can't go with that."
So was it just Lohse, or is this a general policy for Gardy? Well, the theory was put to the test right away yesterday when veteran Brad Radke gave up five runs in two innings. Would Gardy take out his proven veteran, Brad Radke, just to prove that he wasn't just picking on Lohse, so to speak? Well, Radke was taken out of the game. I have to wonder, was Radke taken out because Gardy didn't think he could settle in and provide the team with a few more decent innings? Or, was he taken out to make the situation better with Lohse? I certainly hope it wasn't the latter.
It was good to see Joe Mays pitch so well. I don't think we're worried about it getting him another spot in the rotation, but I do want to see Mays do well after working so hard to come back from Tommy John surgery. I would encourage people to read this MN Public Radio article on the Tommy John Surgery with quotes and comments from both Mays and Grant Balfour, who is currently rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow.
Jacque Jones and Juan Castro each went 2-4. Mike Redmond went 1-2 with a walk, a double, a sacrifice bunt and two RBI. Luis Rodriguez drove in two runs. Lew Ford went 1-2 with two walks.
Ford's hit gave him a ten game hitting streak. During that streak, he is 14-35 which is a .300 batting average.
I seem to talk about Mike Redmond every time he plays, but he is doing so well. With his hit yesterday, he has an eight game hitting streak. It is so impressive because those eight games have come over a four week period. In those eight games, he has gone 15-30 (.500) with four doubles.
And, you know I hate to do it, but I have to give some props to Juan Castro. Since he returned to the lineup on September 3rd, he has gone 9-18 (.500). If you got back to his previous three games before his stint on the disabled list, he has gone 14-27 (.519).
Jason Bartlett got a day off, which is probably fine, particularly with a day game after a night game. He was replaced in the lineup by Luis Rodriguez. However L-Rod played second base. Unfortunately, Nick Punto still was in the lineup, again, and took an 0-5. It is incredible that a team which starts an infield of Juan Castro at 3B, Nick Punto at SS, Luis Rodriguez at 2B and Justin Morneau at 1B can win any baseball games.
OH, and the comments by Lohse were still upsetting Gardy even after the team's win yesterday. Check out this from Joe Christenson's Strib article today:
But the Lohse issue was still stuck in Gardenhire's craw.
Asked if he planned to talk to Lohse, Gardenhire said, "I've got nothing to say. Not a word. I don't have his back, so what do you want me to say?"
Asked if Lohse would make his next start, Gardenhire said: "Let's not go there. Go ask him how his finger is. He had to go get X-rays on it. Start there."
Lohse declined to comment, but the X-rays taken on his finger showed no damage. His availability for Monday's scheduled start at Detroit will hinge on how he responds to a bullpen session this weekend.
First things first, Gardy has proven time and time again this season that he is willing to bash many of his players in the media. Unless they are a member of the Soul Patrol (Jones, Hunter or Stewart) or Jo-Jo, no one is safe in the Twins clubhouse. I remember when Tom Kelly was manager, we knew nothing that was happening in the clubhouse. He kept everything in-house. Even with his obvious dislike for Todd Walker, it rarely went into the media. When Gardy was named manager, we had examples of how Gardy would talk a lot more openly with the media. Initially I thought that was good and allowed us, as fans, more information on what was going on. At this point, I am more and more a supporter of that Tom Kelly philosophy.
Really, I think that both are right and both are wrong in this instance. Lohse is right. Gardy did not have his back. He has pitched well enough the last month or so to deserve going out there to start the 3rd inning. However, Gardy was probably right in taking him out remembering that he got hit pretty hard in Texas less than two weeks earlier. I also have no problem with Lohse being upset about being removed from the game. As a manager and as a fan, I would want my pitcher to want to keep pitching, and to want to do well and help the team. However, I think that to say that no one has his back was wrong on Lohse's part. It is September and the team continues to believe it has a shot at the playoffs, so these types of decisions have to be made. But for Gardy to say "I don't have his back, so what do you want me to say?" That is absolutely horrible. No manager should say that. Again, other players can get away with saying things, but suddenly Carlos Silva and Lohse can say nothing. Gardy doesn't have his back?! I'm sorry, but I'm an outsider and I would be incredibly upset if I read that.
I am so incredibly disappointed with the people skills of Ron Gardenhire. He was a supportive manager the past three seasons when the Twins were winning and in a race. This year, with the team still playing over .500 ball but clearly out of contention, maybe we are seeing the true colors of the team's "leader."
And, as disappointed as I am in Gardy, if it means that Francisco Liriano is put into the starting rotation for the rest of the season, I will be happy.
The Twins have an off-day today, and will travel to Cleveland for a three games series. The road trip will then take them to Detroit.
Stick and Ball Guy has had a couple of great postings on Carlos Silva's comments and the leadership of the Twins in the last few days. Check them out!
Aaron Gleeman wrote a great article on Silva too, but it is on his historical season of non-walks! It is incredible the numbers that he has put up this year!
Any thoughts on the Twins, please e-mail me.
The Beloit Snappers got into the Midwest League playoffs as a Wild Card team. Last night was Game 1 of the best-of-3 series against Wisconsin. Here are some thoughts:
The story of this game was absolutely the pitching performance of Kyle Aselton. The 22 year old left-hander held Wisconsin hitless through 7 1/3 innings. He ended the night by giving up no runs on just one hit in eight innings. He walked three and struck out 10. The Twins 11th round pick in 2004 has really improved tremendously since he was moved to the starting rotation. He has always struck batters out, but he was walking almost as many. His control is greatly improved.
Matt Tuiasosopo hit a double off of Aselton to break up the no-hitter. That name may sound familiar to you as his brother, Marques, is in his fifth season as the backup quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. Matt had some options coming out of high school. He fell into the 3rd round of the draft in 2004 only because it was assumed that he would be going to play college football, quarterback, and the University of Washington. That is where Marquess played and their other brother Zach is a fullback. Oh, and his sister played volleyball there. His dad, Manu, played at UCLA before playing in the NFL. But the Mariners were able to sign him, to a $2.3 million signing bonus, a record for a 3rd round pick.
The other star of the Wisconsin team is Jeff Clement. Twins fans should remember him. Three years ago, the Twins took him with their 12th round pick and hoped to lure him away from his USC scholarship offer. The Iowa native was a big name who had just broken Bo Jackson's high school home run records. The Twins were unable to convince him to go pro and he had a solid three seasons for the Trojans. It proved to be a good choice for Clement who was drafted 3rd overall by the Mariners this June and signed a $3.4 million signing bonus. He went 0-4 in this game!
OK, let's talk about more of the Snappers. Jeremy Pickrel went 2-4 with a home run in the 8th inning.
Javi Sanchez, the Notre Dame product, went 2-3 with a walk and a double.
Deacon Burns was a doubles machine in the regular season. He was 1-2 with two walks.
Trevor Plouffe was 1-3 with a walk, and he scored two runs.
Paul Kelly only played the last five games of the season with Beloit, but he is the team's starting second baseman in the playoffs. Good for him!
In Game 2 tonight, the Twins top pick in 2004, Kyle Waldrop, will take on Aaron Jenson. Waldrop finished the regular season 6-11 with a 4.98 ERA. Jenson went 10-13 with a 5.56 ERA.
That is a good matchup because if the Snappers do lose, they still have Kevin Slowey available to start in Game 3. If the team is able to win, it would be really nice to start the next series with their ace pitcher on the mound. 2005 top pick Matt Garza would probably be available in relief. However, if they keep throwing four pitchers, he would be the next to start.
Do you have any thoughts on the Snappers, or any of the Twins affiliates, please e-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Tonight, Randy Moss and the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots collide in the NFL's first regular season game of the year. It is the second straight year that the defending champs will be playing the season's first game. So, it is time to bring back our NFL "Expert" Picks. This year, we have added a couple of more 'experts' so it should be a lot of fun. Last year, Ryan Maus, who wrote Twins Chatter until earlier this summer, beat out Melissa Olson and Mike Brasel by just one game, and Aaron Gleeman (who won it two years ago) by two games in the overall record.
For 2005, we have added a couple new Twins bloggers. However, I am especially excited to announce two celebrities who will be making picks each week. I feel very fortunate to announce that Twins reliever Grant Balfour, and Kevin Slowey, the Twins 2nd round pick in June, will be on this panel. Here is a quick look at them and the rest of our panelists:
Seth Stohs - Me. I am the writer of this site, www.SethSpeaks.net - Please read the About Me section for a mini-bio of me.
Stick and Ball Guy - writer of the site, you guessed it, Stick and Ball Guy - SBG is one of my favorite writers online. His thoughts and opinions are always smart and sharp and incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. He talks baseball, football and basketball knowledgeably. This is his first year on this panel and will do a good job.
Ben Jacobs - Fantasy Sports Writer at The Hardball Times - If you want great information or ideas about fantasy sports, baseball in particular, your should definitely check out Ben's articles. Ben returns in an attempt to improve over his 157-99 (61%) 2004 season. In 2003, he was accurate on 68% of his picks.
Aaron Gleeman - writer of Aaron's Baseball Blog and the co-creator of and contributor to The Hardball Times. He can also be read at FoxSports.com, Rotoworld and Insider Baseball - In the world of Baseball blogging, there is one name that stands out above all others, and that is Aaron Gleeman. His thoughts and statistical analysis are so well written and thought out that it is a must-read. The 22 year old college student takes classes and still writes up multiple articles a day for his sites. Gleeman returns this year to reclaim his lost title. In 2003, he accurately chose almost 69% of games. Last year, he correctly picked 67% of games and finished in 4th, just two games behind the winner.
Grant Balfour - Relief Pitcher for the Minnesota Twins - Recently, Balfour was kind enough to agree to pick games for this site for the whole year. That is very kind of him. As you can imagine, he has quite the schedule rehabbing from Tommy John surgery that he had in March. In 2004, we saw the incredible pitching ability that he possesses, especially in Game 4 of their playoff series against the Yankees. The 27 year old from Sydney, Australia, will hopefully be back in time for the 2006 season opener to make an already strong Twins bullpen even stronger!
Kevin Slowey - Twins Starting Pitching Prospect - currently pitching for the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League - Slowey was the Twins 2nd round pick (73rd overall) just this past June after a stellar three year career at Winthrop University. He signed quickly and appeared out of the bullpen in four games for Elizabethton where he struck out 15 in 7.2 innings. He was promoted to Beloit where he stayed in the bullpen for a few outings before entering the starting rotation. He pitched in 13 games (9 starts) there and was 3-2 with a 2.24 ERA. In 64.1 innings, he struck out a very impressive 69 batters while walking just eight. He could be the next Twins 2nd round pick to rise quickly through the organization like Jesse Crain and Scott Baker before him.
Will Young - writer of Will's Minnesota Twins Site - Will's site is great. He has really been making use of the Win Probability charts on his site of late. His incites on the Twins are great. His infamous "Matt LeCroy is my non-sexual man crush" t-shirt got him a few meetings with the Twins burly righty. Will also updates the Twins Organizational Big Board. This is Will's first year making football picks for this site and I am thrilled that he is doing this!
Trevor Born - writer of The Twins Junkie - Trevor is a 16 year old high school student who started his website last year. He has done an excellent job on his site, particularly in securing some very good interviews. I met Trevor and The Twins Geek down at the State Fair as they invited us to appear on-air for part of the Twins Talk show. He tells me that football ranks as his third favorite sport behind baseball and basketball. He prefers the Gophers, but is still a rabid NFL fan.
Brent Hanson - writer of BrentNet - I coached Brent in baseball about ten years ago when he was a 13 year old in Perham, MN. A couple of years ago, he started his blog, BrentNet, which discusses sports, the Twins, the Vikings, politics, music, and pretty much anything and everything. It is certainly a site I check daily. Currently, Brent is working on another blog, the Minnesota Sports Blog (click here if you want a quick preview of what you can expect. Understand that the site is still under construction) which will cover all Minnesota sports from professional to the college ranks and probably more. I look forward to seeing that site!
Cory Hepola - Sports Anchor at KTVH-TV in Helena, Montana, also see coryhepola.com - I coached Cory for a few years, from Little League through Babe Ruth. He was one of the good kids. He was also quite the basketball player in high school. After four years at my alma mater, Concordia College, Cory is now a sports anchor. He has a strong relationship with members of Helena's rookie league team. But it does seem that football is Cory's best sport. How much does he know? Well, last March, when I was vacationing in Florida, Cory wrote a guest column for me in which he discussed the Vikings offseason moves at that time. Well, I guess we'll see how he did. This is Cory's first year on the panel.
Mike Brasel - One of my best friends since we were both about 6. He is listed as the left fielder for my Best Players Iíve Played Ball With team. After serving in the Navy for 6 years, Mike went back to school and became an engineer. Heís also a pretty smart football person, who I turn to for fantasy football advice!!
Melissa Lien - editor, proofreader of www.SethSpeaks.net - Missy is a great friend and big football fan. She was instrumental in the development of this site and originally was the publisher of the site. After finishing eighth out of nine two year ago, Missy came back to finish just one game behind the winner last year.
NOTE - Because I got the schedule to the panelists a little late, I asked that they at least send me their pick for tonightís game and I would give them until tomorrow to send the rest of their picks. I also understand that many people actually use our picks to help them make their picks in their office pools. So, I did want to get these posted as those are all due, Iím sure, by this afternoon. So, here is what we have at this point, and the rest of the games will be posted as I receive their picks. Thanks for understanding!
Seth Stohs Stick & Ball Guy Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman Grant Balfour Kevin Slowey SethSpeaks.net Stick & Ball Guy Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Minnesota Twins Pitcher Twins Pitching Prospect Oakland @ New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Chicago @ Washington Redskins Redskins Bears Redskins Bears Cincinnati @ Cleveland Bengals Browns Bengals Bengals Bengals Denver @ Miami Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Houston @ Buffalo Bills Bills Bills Texans Texans New Orleans @ Carolina Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers NY Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs Jets Chiefs Chiefs Jets Seattle @ Jacksonville Seahawks Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Tampa Bay @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Tennessee @ Pittsburgh Titans Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Arizona @ NY Giants Cardinals Giants Cardinals Giants Giants Dallas @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Cowboys Green Bay @ Detroit Lions Packers Packers Packers Packers St. Louis @ San Francisco Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Indianapolis @ Baltimore Colts Colts Ravens Colts Colts Philadelphia @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Eagles Eagles Eagles
Will Young Trevor Born Brent Hanson Cory Hepola Mike Brasel Melissa Lien Will's Twins Weblog Twins Junkie BrentNet KTVH-TV Fantasy FB Guru SethSpeaks.net Oakland @ New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Chicago @ Washington Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Cincinnati @ Cleveland Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Denver @ Miami Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Houston @ Buffalo Bills Bills Bills Bills Bills Bills New Orleans @ Carolina Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers NY Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Jets Jets Seattle @ Jacksonville Jacksonville Jaguars Seahawks Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Tampa Bay @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Tennessee @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Arizona @ NY Giants Cardinals Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Dallas @ San Diego Cowboys Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Green Bay @ Detroit Packers Lions Packers Packers Lions Packers St. Louis @ San Francisco Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Indianapolis @ Baltimore Colts Colts Colts Ravens Colts Colts Philadelphia @ Atlanta Eagles Eagles Eagles Falcons Falcons Falcons
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Oakland @ New England - Patriots 12-0
Chicago @ Washington -Redskins 8-2
Cincinnati @ Cleveland - Bengals 9-1
Denver @ Miami - Broncos 10-0
Houston @ Buffalo - Bills 8-2
New Orleans @ Carolina - Panthers 10-0
NY Jets @ Kansas City - Chiefs 6-4
Seattle @ Jacksonville - Jaguars 8-2
Tampa Bay @ Minnesota - Vikings 10-0
Tennessee @ Pittsburgh - Steelers 9-1
Arizona @ NY Giants - Giants 7-3
Dallas @ San Diego - Chargers 8-2
Green Bay @ Detroit - Packers 8-2
St. Louis @ San Francisco - Rams 10-0
Indianapolis @ Baltimore - Colts 9-1
Philadelphia @ Falcons - Eagles 6-4
And on that note, I shall call it a day. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
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