Friday September 10, 2004
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
TWINS TOP PROSPECTS
Good Morning! The seasons of all six of the Twins minor league affiliates have come to an end. Soon 35-40minor leaguers will head back to Florida to participate in the Instructional League. Six players (JD Durbin, Scott Baker, Jesse Crain, Jason Bartlett, Jason Kubel and Rob Bowen) will participate in the Arizona Fall League. The Twins called up a bunch of players from AAA Rochester who will finish the regular season with the big club.
But it is early enough to take a look back at the season's of some of the Twins prospects. I will give my first version of the SethSpeaks Top 25 Twins Prospects. I am in no way an expert. But I do read the minor league box scores every day and do believe that I have an understanding of what makes a prospect.
The criteria for this list is that the player not lose Rookie of the Year eligibility. Therefore the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Lew Ford will not appear on this list.
SETH UPDATE (9/11/04)- I figured I would forget someone, and thanks to a number who have written me, the name that has come up the most, is Justin Jones, the left-handed pitcher the Twins acquired at the trade deadline from the Cubs for Doug Mientkiewicz. Despite pitching non-well for the Swing of the Quad Cities, Jones is absolutely a prospect. So, where would I rank him on this list? Without taking too much time to think about it, I would probably place him in the mid-teens, probably between 12 and 17.
Also, I posted a link to this site on the Dickie Thon Fan Forum and got plenty of discussion on this list. Click here to check it out.
So, let's see who makes my list, starting at #25:
SethSpeaks Top 25 Twins Prospects
(Rank - Name - Age - Position - Team)
25 - Trent Oeltjen - 21 - OF - Ft. Myers Miracle
Last year, Oeltjen appeared higher on this list, but he struggled with consistency in his first full season at High-A ball. In the end, he hit .278/.337/.352 with 8 doubles, 5 triples, 2 HR and 28 RBI. He walked just 18 times all season and struck out 61 times in 324 at bats. He did steal 25 bases, so if he is able to get on base more frequently, that could be a weapon for him. Hopefully the Australian will move up to New Britain next season.
24 - Jay Rainville - 18 - RHP - Elizabethton Twins
The Twins had five picks in the top 39 picks in the 2004 draft. Rainville was taken with that 39th overall pick. After signing with the team, he was sent to short-season Elizabethton where he was quite impressive. He was 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA. He pitched 34.1 innings and has a stellar 38/3 strikeout to walk ratio. Rainville is big (6-3, 230) and should spend the 2005 season in the Quad Cities.
23 - Jay Sawatski - 22 - LHP - Quad Cities
The Twins drafted Sawatski in the 8th round this year after he pitched four seasons at the University of Arkansas. He was assigned to Elizabethton where he threw in just four games. He was 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA. He walked two and struck out nine in 7.2 innings. He was promoted to Quad Cities where he continued to dominate. He went 0-1 with five saves and an ERA of just 1.37 in 15 games and 26.1 innings. He struck out 28 while walking 10. Like Jesse Crain before him, Sawatski, a college reliever, could move up the organization quickly.
22 - Ricky Barrett - 23 - LHP - Ft. Myers Miracle
Barrett was the Twins 7th round pick in 2002 out of the University of San Diego where he was a pitcher and an outfielder. He started the season at Quad Cities where he went 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 12 starts. In 61.2 innings, he struck out 59. Control was a problem as he walked 30. He moved up to Ft. Myers where he pitched primarily out of the bullpen. He had a record of 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA. In 39.1 innings, he struck out 43, but walked 25.
21 - David Gassner - 25 - LHP - Rochester Redwings
Gassner came to the Twins in the offseason a year ago as the player to be named later in the Bobby Kielty/Shannon Stewart trade. He made a great impression on Rochester. His 16 wins led the International League. He finished with a record of 16-8 and an ERA of 3.41. Not a power pitcher, Gassner walked 30 and struck out just 93 in 174.1 innings. His "other" numbers keep him this low on the list. I see him vying for a spot as a lefty out of the Twins bullpen next year.
20 - Alexander Smit - 18 - LHP Elizabethton Twins
Smit is a tall, lanky lefty who could skyrocket up this list next year. The Twins signed him a couple of years ago out of The Netherlands. He began this season in the Twins Extended Spring Training in Ft. Myers. When the short-season leagues began, Smit was assigned to Elizabethton. He threw 28.1 innings and struck out 43 batters, walking just 10. He was 1-1 with a 2.54 ERA before heading to Athens as a member of the Dutch Olympic baseball team.
19 - Luis Maza - 24 - 2B - New Britain Rockcats
Those who have come to this site throughout the season know that Maza is one of my favorite Twins prospects. First, he hit well and consistently all year at New Britain. He ended the season hitting .311/.365/.470 with 26 doubles, 8 triples and 12 home runs. He walked just 28 times all year, but struck out just 70 times in 520 plate appearances. He was called up to Rochester for 9 games in the middle of the season. There he hit just .229/.289/.343. Maza belongs on any list of Twins prospects because he is a solid middle infielder,. He is this low on the list because his age. I would expect him to spend the 2005 season in Rochester.
18 - Kevin West - 24 - OF - New Britain/Rochester
West spent his second season at New Britain and played as though he had been there before and wanted to get out of there. By the end of the season, he had that wish! In 119 games, he hit .293/.359/.551 with 35 doubles, 25 home runs and 87 RBI. He finally got that call to AAA and finished the season with 19 games with Rochester. In 79 plate appearances, he hit .276/.296/.526 with 7 doubles, four homers and 20 RBI hitting in the middle of the lineup. According to Twins GM Terry Ryan, West's only problem is his speed, or lack thereof, which means if he gets to the big club, it would probably be as a DH.
17 - Alex Romero - 21 - OF - Ft. Myers Miracle
Romero really made a name for himself in Winter Leagues last year. He spent this season in Ft. Myers. In 425 plate appearances, Romero hit .282/.387/.405 with 21 doubles, six homers and 42 RBI. I like the fact that he walked 54 times and struck out just 47 times. He even pitched one scoreless inning, striking out one!
16 - Denard Span - 20 - OF - Quad Cities Swing
Span's 2004 season was cut short by a broken bone in his hand. He was able to come back for the last few weeks of the season. In 64 games, he hit .256/.363/.308 with four doubles and three triples. Obviously based on his numbers, speed (as opposed to power) would be his game. He stole 15 bases in 23 attempts this year, so improvement is needed there too. He walked 34 times in 276 plate appearances. I would think the team would like for Span to spend the 2005 season in Ft. Myers.
15 - Scott Tyler - 22 - RHP - Quad Cities Swing
Scott Tyler reclaimed his prospect status with a very solid season. The big right-hander showed how powerful and dominant he can be on the mound. He finished with a 7-4 record, but had a 2.60 ERA. In 103.2 innings, he struck out 132 batters (1.27 K per innings). Only problem is that he also walked 64. Look for Tyler to surface in Ft. Myers next year.
14 - Boof Bonser - 22 - RHP - New Britain Rockcats
It was a roller coaster, up-and-down season for Bonser. After coming to the Twins organization in the AJ Pierzynski deal, he had to repeat AA and really struggled at the start of the season. But he really threw well the last couple of months of the season. In 27 starts, he went 12-9 with a 4.37 ERA. In 154.1 innings, he struck out 146 hitters. He did walk 56 batters though and gave up too many home runs. In one start at Rochester last weekend, Bonser allowed one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings. I would expect him to spend 2005 in Rochester with a shot at a call up to the Twins.
13 - Steven Duguay - 21 - RHP - Elizabethton Twins
The 12th round pick of the Twins in 2003 out of Gulf Coast Community College, Duguay was in extended spring training until the season began in Elizabethton. He finished with just a 4-4 record and an ERA of 3.36. But, in 56.1 innings pitched, he walked just 11 and struck out 70. That amounts to 1.24 strikeouts per inning pitched. I would suspect Duguay will pitch next season at Quad Cities.
12 - Terry Tiffee - 25 - 3B/1B - Rochester Redwings
I wrote a bunch about Terry Tiffee last week. He has come up to the Twins and done a lot to contribute to the Twins drive toward another division title. I think Tiffee made himself into a legitimate prospect with a solid 2003 season at New Britain. He had another solid season at Rochester this year. The only negative was that he spent two separate occasions on the disabled list, once for a back problem and once with a bad hamstring. Overall at Rochester, he his .307/.357/.522 with 25 doubles, 12 homers and 68 RBI. Sure, he doesn't walk (just 21 in 337 PAs), but he also doesn't strike out (26 Ks). I don't see him as being an All-Star caliber major leaguer, but I do believe he can be a solid performer and hit near .300. Depending on what the Twins do with Corey Koskie in the offseason, Tiffee could be the every day 3B, or he could shuttle back and forth from the Twins to the Redwings all year.
11 - Trevor Plouffe - 18 - SS - Elizabethton Twins
Plouffe was the Twins first of three first-round picks. He was a top-level high school pitcher and shortstop, so if the SS thing doesn't work, he could always pitch. But he got off to a solid start in his first pro summer, his first experience with wood bats. In 256 plate appearances, Plouffe hit .283/.340/.380 with seven doubles, two triples, four homers and 28 RBI. He didn't walk a lot, just 19 times. I think that he will spend 2005 in Quad Cities.
10 - Matt Moses - 19 - 3B - Quad Cities Swing
Moses has had one major problem since signing with the Twins as their top pick in 2003, staying healthy. This year, he was only able to play in 29 games for the Swing. He hit just .223/.304/.366 with seven doubles, three homers and 14 RBI, but the numbers themselves don't matter. If healthy, Moses will hit. If healthy, I think that he will spend 2005 in Ft. Myers.
9 - Jason Bartlett - 24 - SS - Rochester Redwings
Bartlett was another prospect literally hurt by injury. He started out great, but then broke his hand when he was hit by a pitch. Bartlett, you recall, came to the Twins in exchange for Brian Buchanan a couple years ago. This year, in 66 AAA games, he hit .332/.417/.475 with 15 doubles, seven triples, three homers and 29 RBI. A contact hitter, he struck out just 37 times in 300 plate appearances. But he didn't walk much either, just 33 times. Offensively, I believe he is ready to replace Cristian Guzman as the Twins SS. Defense is where he needs work. He had 18 errors at Rochester. He had two errors in two games with the Twins last month. If his defense improves, he should be the Twins SS next year.
8 - Adam Harben - 21 - RHP - Quad Cities Swing
Harben is a tall, hard throwing thrower who is still learning how to be a pitcher. He made 26 starts for the Swing and went 9-7 with a 3.09 ERA. In 142.2 innings, he walked 68, but struck out 171 (1.2 per inning). Harben was the Twins 12th round draft pick in 2002. He was a draft-and-follow junior college pick. I would say that he will pitch at Ft. Myers next season.
7 - Kyle Waldrop - 18 - RHP - Elizabethton Twins
Waldrop was the Twins third first round pick (25th overall) this summer. He actually fell this far in the draft because people were pretty sure he would go to college. But he did sign with the Twins and went to the Twins Gulf Coast League team in Ft. Myers. There, he went 3-2 with a 1.42 ERA. In 38 innings, he walked just four and struck out 30. He moved up to the Elizabethton Twins. There, he went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA. In 25 innings, he struck out 25 and walked just three. I think he will start the season at Quad Cities, but could move up. He's so young though that the Twins will be patient.
6 - Glen Perkins - 21 - LHP - Quad Cities Swing
Perkins was the Twins second of three first round picks (22nd overall) this year, out of the University of Minnesota. He signed fairly late which because of all the innings he threw at the U was not a big deal. When he did sign, he went to Elizabethton where he was slowly worked in. He made three starts there and went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. In 12 innings, he walked just four while striking out 22 batters. He was promoted to the Quad Cities. There, he went 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA. In 48.1 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 49. I would suspect that Perkins will spend a half-season in Ft. Myers next spring before moving up to New Britain. I would not be surprised if he was a Twin in the 2006 season.
5 - Garrett Jones - 23 - 1B - New Briatin Rockcats
Garrett Jones had a season that makes organizational decision-makers notice. And, what does it do for him? Well, he is far behind Justin Morneau on the organizational depth chart, and is a year older. He spent the entire season at New Britain. He hit .311/.356/.593 with 33 doubles, 30 home runs and 92 RBI. The 30 homers tied him with Michael Cuddyer (2001) for the franchises single-season home run record. Jones even stole 10 bases. He should spend next year at Rochester and either be good insurance in case of an injury to Morneau, or great trade bait.
4 - Francisco Liriano - 20 - LHP - Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rockcats
Liriano is a power arm that also came over from the Giants in the Pierzynski deal. He has always been known as a hard thrower (hitting as high as 98 on the radar gun), but he has been hurt much of the previous two seasons. However, in 2004, Liriano stayed healthy and progressed nicely. He started at Ft. Myers, where he made 21 starts. He was 6-7 with a 4.00 ERA. In 117 innings, he walked 43 and struck out an impressive 125. That earned him a promotion to AA New Britain where he actually improved. In 7 starts, he went 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA. He walked 17 and struck out 49 in 39.2 innings. He should start at New Britain again next season, and a call up to Rochester is possible. But looking at his age, his injury history, and the fact that the Twins have a load of pitching prospects, the team can (and should be) be patient with him.
3 - Jesse Crain - 23 - RHP - Rochester Redwings
Crain should maintain rookie status next season. I thought that he would have been given a shot as the Twins closer this year, but Joe Nathan ran with that. So, the Twins were able to be patient with Crain (and keep his service time down). He was able to struggle at AAA and succeed a lot. In all, he was 3-2 with 19 saves and an ERA of 2.49. In 50.2 innings, he walked 17 and struck out 64. He was called up to the Twins in mid-August. So far, he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 12 games. In 16 innings, he has walked 6 and struck out 10, setting up for Nathan. He should be a mainstay in the Twins bullpen for years to come.
2b. - Scott Baker - 22 - RHP - New Britain Rockcats/Rochester Redwings
Baker made a Crain-like rise through the Twins system this season. He started at Ft. Myers and made seven starts. He went 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA. In 45 innings, he walked just six and struck out 37. At New Britain, he made 10 starts and went 5-3 with a 2.43 ERA. In 70.1 innings, he struck out 72 and walked just 13. He was promoted to Rochester and made nine starts. He did struggle there some going just 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA. In 54.1 innings, he walked 15 and struck out 36. But that certainly doesn't take anything away from what he was able to do this year. The Twins second round pick in 2003 could get a shot at a spot in the Twins rotation next spring, but because he does not need to be added to the Twins 40 man roster this winter, I think that he would really have to overwhelm the Twins brass not to start at Rochester next season.
2a. - JD Durbin - 22 - RHP - New Britain Rockcats/Rochester Redwings
Durbin was sent to AA to start the season. The purpose was for him to work on his change up. I really believe he would hvae been in the Twins rotation by June if not for an injury that caused him to miss a couple months early in the season. But he was able to come back. At AA, he made 13 starts and was 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA. He made quite a splash in his first AAA start. In 7 starts there, he was 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA (much is the result of one really bad outing). When the Redwings season ended this week, Durbin was called up to the Twins and made his big league debut on Wednesday night in Baltimore with a scoreless inning. I think he'll find his way onto the Twins opening day roster next year, hopefully as a starter.
1 - Jason Kubel - 22 - OF - Rochester Redwings
I expected Jason Kubel to spend the entire season at New Britain this year. But after just 37 games, he was hitting .377/.453/.475 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, three homers and 28 RBI. He had walked 33 times and struck out 36 times. He was moved up to Rochester and ended up leading the international League with his .343 average. In 90 AAA games, Kubel hit .343/.398/.560 with 28 doubles, 16 homers and 71 RBI. He walked 34 times and struck out 40 times. He even stole 16 bases. He was named to play in the Futures Game. On August 31, he was called up to the majors so that he will be eligible for the postseason roster. So far, in 7 games with the Twins, he is 2/8 with a double, two walks, and just one strikeout. See his first big league hit here. As they did for Joe Mauer, the Twins need to make room for Jason Kubel on the roster.
So there you have it, my list of the Top 25 (or 26) Twins prospects. I think that the Twins have such a strong list of prospects. I could have added plenty of others to this list without even feeling like I was reaching.
Here is an honorable mention list of people who deserve their names mentioned:
Rochester Redwings: 2B Luis Rodriguez, OF Josh Rabe
New Britain Rockcats: RP Jason Miller, RP Travis Bowyer, RP Kevin Cameron, Closer Bobby Korecky (31 saves!), RHP Henry Bonilla, RHP Victor Moreno, IF Jake Mauer.
Ft. Myers Miracle: 1B Danny Matienzo, OF Doug Deeds, OF James Tomlin, RP Levale Speigner, RP Jannio Gutierrez, RP Justin Olson, RP Pat Neshek
Swing of the Quad Cities: C Kyle Geiger, SS JR Taylor, OF Scott Whitrock, C Kyle Phillips, P Errol Simonitsch, RP Julio DePaula
Elizabethton Twins: OF Deacon Burns, 1B Johnny Woodard, IF David Winfree, IF Luke Hughes, RP Frank Mata
Gulf Coast Twins: IF Juan Portes, P Chis Marini, P Matt Fox
The players on this Honorable Mention list had really good seasons, they deserve recognition.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins minor league system, or this list of prospects? E-mail me.
_______________________________________________________________________________ As I mentioned earlier in the week, I was in attendance at the Twins 4-3 win on Saturday morning at the Dome. Be sure to click here for a visual recap of the game. My sister and I took a bunch of pictures from our upper deck seats. Many of them turned out quite well.
The Twins and Tigers start a four game series in Detroit tonight. The Tigers played a double header yesterday against the Kansas City Royals. In the first game, they were defeated 25-6. Joe Randa was 6-7. But in the second game, Jeremy Bonderman shut down the Royals and the Tigers won 8-0.
Here are the pitching probables for the whole series (Note - I happen to believe that Wil Ledezma could be the next Johan Santana):
Friday - 6:05 - Carlos Silva (10-8, 4.56, 1.46, .314) vs Mike Maroth (10-10, 4.40, 1.41, .289)
Saturday - 6:05 - Kyle Lohse (7-11, 5.52, 1.65, .311) vs Wil Ledezma (4-2, 3.89, 1.30, .267)
Sunday - 12:05 - Terry Mulholland (4-8, 5.02, 1.61, .326) vs Nate Robertson (12-8, 4.51, 1.36, .263)
Monday - 6:05 - Brad Radke (10-7, 3.51, 1.15, .268) vs Jason Johnson (8-12, 5.16, 1.45, .291)
Here are the current standings in the AL Central:
Minnesota Twins 79-60
Chicago White Sox 71-68 8.0
Cleveland Indians 69-71 10.5
Detroit Tigers 64-74 14.5
Kansas City Royals 50-89 29.0
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, this series or any other topics? E-mail me.
Vikings versus Cowboys, Sunday afternoon, Fox National game at 3:05. I believe the Vikings will win their division and possibly get to the Super Bowl, and yes, I do believe that the Vikings will beat the Cowboys. But the Cowboys are a very good team that I think will compete with the Eagles for their division title. Their offense is certainly questionable. The QB is old. So is the starting RB. Keyshawn Johnson is their best receiver. These things just don't bode well for Dallas. But their defense, led by Safety Roy Williams, is one of the league's best!
The Vikings offense should be incredible, but will be in for a major challenge this week. I happen to believe the hype surrounding the Vikings defense. I think that they could actually be decent. If that is the case, I really like the Vikings chances.
Seth's Prediction - Vikings 30, Cowboys 22.
What do you think? Will the Vikings win on Sunday? And how will they do this season? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS (Reprinted from Thursday)
Tonight, the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots collide in the NFL's first regular season game of the year. 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. (If you are interested in last year's results, click here.) Last year, Aaron Gleeman beat Ben Jacobs by two games in the overall record. This year, both are back for bragging rights over at The Hardball Times. We have added a couple more Twins bloggers as well. Here is a quick look at our panelists:
Seth Stohs - writer of this site, www.SethSpeaks.net - Please read the About Me section for a mini-bio of me.
Melissa Olson - editor, proofreader of www.SethSpeaks.net - Missy is a great friend and big football fan. She helped develop this site and originally was the publisher of the site. She returns to this contest in an attempt to improve on her ranking from last year (8th out of 9, with 59% correct).
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 leapfrog Aaron Gleeman and win this thing. Last year, 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 - 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 21 year old college student takes classes and still writes up two articles a day for his sites. Gleeman returns this year to defend his title. Last year, he accurately chose almost 69% of games.
John Bonnes - writer of The Twins Geek - OK, Aaron and John and like 1a and 1b on the list of the top baseball bloggers. John's Twins Geek site is now found on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune web page. An incredibly articulate writer, John mixes deep thought with "geeky" numbers daily. This is John's first attempt at this league.
Ryan Maus - writer of Twins Chatter - His website may be newer than some of the other Twins sites, but it takes a back seat to no one. Another collegian, Ryan and his friend John, write well thought out Twins articles every day. Ryan is new to this contest as well.
Michael Labuda - writer of ChiSox Daily - Michael's site is great because it is fun to read about the White Sox fan's perspective. But Mike writes about all Chicago area sports and teams. Michael got just under 64% correct last year, which ranked 7th out of 9.
David Bergner - writer of The Baseball Savant - David is new to the panel this year. I have had a couple of "conversations" with David on this site. He is a brilliant baseball mind who writes a great article a few times a week. But does he know football? We'll find out!
David Bloom - writer of Ya Gotta Believe - I'm a Devil Rays fan, and I think that David's site is an excellent place to find information on that team. But David is also a big football fan, particularly the Buccaneers. He is knowledgeable and I would expect he will be very good at this!
Vic Quick - Sports Director at KDUH-TV in Scottsbluff, NE - He was one of my college roommates and remains a great friend! Originally from Dallas, TX, Vic is a huge Cowboys fan, even now when they are terrible! In Vicís job, he covers the Denver Broncos and the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their seasons.
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!!
Jeremy Kovash - Jeremy is the manager of the Wolf Lake Wolf Pack, an amateur team that just finished in second place in the Minnesota state baseball tournament. He is also listed as the first baseman on the list of the Best Players I've Played Ball With. He is in his first year in this competition.
Seth Stohs Melissa Olson Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman John Bonnes Ryan Maus SethSpeaks.net SethSpeaks.net Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Twins Geek Twins Chatter Indianapolis @ New England Colts Colts Patriots Patriots Colts Patriots Seattle @ New Orleans Seahawks Saints Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Cincinnati @ NY Jets Bengals Jets Jets Jets Bengals Bengals Arizona @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Tennessee @ Miami Titans Titans Titans Titans Dolphins Titans Oakland @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Raiders Steelers Raiders Steelers San Diego @ Houston Texans Chargers Texans Texans Texans Chargers Jacksonville @ Buffalo Bills Bills Bills Jaguars Jaguars Bills Detroit @ Chicago Lions Bears Bears Lions Lions Lions Baltimore @ Cleveland Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Tampa Bay @ Washington Redskins Buccs Redskins Buccs Buccs Redskins Atlanta @ San Francisco 49ers 49ers Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Dallas @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings NY Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Kansas City @ Denver Chiefs Chiefs Broncos Chiefs Chiefs Broncos Green Bay @ Carolina Panthers Packers Panthers Packers Panthers Panthers NFL MVP Daunte Culpepper Randy Moss Donovan McNabb Randy Moss Priest Holmes Ladanian Tomlinson NFL Rookie of Year Kevin Jones Eli Manning Larry Fitzgerald / Sean Taylor Kevin Jones Larry Fitzgerald Kevin Jones NFC Champion Vikings Vikings Eagles Eagles Vikings Seahawks AFC Champion Patriots Colts Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Super Bowl Champ Vikings Vikings Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots
Michael Labuda David Bergner David Bloom Vic Quick Mike Brasel Jeremy Kovash ChiSox Daily Baseball Savant Ya Gotta Believe KDUH-Sports Fantasy FB Guru Wolf Lake Mgr Indianapolis @ New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Seattle @ New Orleans Saints Seahawks Seahawks Saints Seahawks Seahawks Cincinnati @ NY Jets Jets Jets Bengals Jets Bengals Jets Arizona @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Tennessee @ Miami Dolphins Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Oakland @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Raiders Steelers Steelers Steelers San Diego @ Houston Texans Texans Chargers Texans Texans Chargers Jacksonville @ Buffalo Bills Bills Bills Bills Jaguars Bills Detroit @ Chicago Bears Bears Lions Lions Lions Lions Baltimore @ Cleveland Browns Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Tampa Bay @ Washington Redskins Redskins Buccs Redskins Redskins Redskins Atlanta @ San Francisco 49ers Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Dallas @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Cowboys Vikings Vikings NY Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Kansas City @ Denver Broncos Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Broncos Chiefs Green Bay @ Carolina Panthers Packers Packers Packers Panthers Packers NFL MVP Peyton Manning Matt Hasselbeck Roy Williams-Cowboys Daunte Culpepper Daunte Culpepper NFL Rookie of Year Reggie Williams Tatum Bell Reggie Williams Reggie Williams Eli Manning NFC Champion Vikings Seahawks Cowboys Vikings Vikings AFC Champion Colts Patriots Colts Colts Colts Super Bowl Champ Colts Patriots Cowboys Colts Colts
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Indianapolis @ New England - Patriots 9-3
Seattle @ New Orleans - Seahawks 9-3
Cincinnati @ NY Jets - Jets 7-5
Arizona @ St. Louis - Rams 12-0
Tennessee @ Miami - Titans 10-2
Oakland @ Pittsburgh - Steelers 9-3
San Diego @ Houston - Texans 8-4
Jacksonville @ Buffalo - Bills 9-3
Detroit @ Chicago - Lions 8-4
Baltimore @ Cleveland - Ravens 11-1
Tampa Bay @ Washington - Redskins 8-4
Atlanta @ San Francisco - Falcons 9-3
Dallas @ Minnesota - Vikings 11-1
NY Giants @ Philadelphia - Eagles 12-0
Kansas City @ Denver - Chiefs 8-4
Green Bay @ Carolina - Tie 6-6
NFL MVP - Daunte Culpepper(3) and Randy Moss (2)
Rookie of the Year - Kevin Jones and Reggie Williams - 3 votes each (Fitzgerald/Manning 2)
AFC Champ - Patriots (6) over Colts (5)
NFC Champ - Vikings (6)
Super Bowl Champs - Patriots (5), Colts (3), Vikings (2)
Did you watch the premiere episode of Joey last night? That ... was awesome!!! It is a perfect compliment for fans of Friends. A lot of the humor goes back to the Friends days, but it also works well on its own. What did you think? I am not as prepared for TV watching as I have been in past years, so if you have any suggestions, please e-mail me.
Finally, a couple of great quotes from Peter Gammons most recent article, that I happen to completely agree with:
Mike Scioscia on the worth of Erstad, Varitek, et al: "Sometimes your best player isn't the best player, at least statistically. The players all know Erstad is our best player, just as anyone who manages against the Red Sox knows Varitek is their best player, or Jeter is the Yankees' best player. Paul Lo Duca isn't far from that category, as well. People tell me that we'd be better with someone other than Erstad or David Eckstein, and I know otherwise. If they want someone else, fine, find someone else to manage." Not that Scioscia has to worry, because Bill Stoneman gets it.
I know it can't be quantifies, but it also can not be denied. Guys that he mentions do matter to a team. Chemistry is important. Leadership is vital. At the same times, numbers matter too, but I really am glad when Gammons writes stuff like this. Like Scioscia and Stoneman, Gammons gets it too!
"One of the most important things in the game is turning hits into outs," Buck Showalter said. "Why do you think the Twins, Red Sox and A's are playing so well? I think the Twins do it better than anyone, and Henry Blanco is the best in our league calling a game. He's outstanding."
I just like any time the Twins are mentioned. Buck Showalter knows what he's talking about. Henry Blanco is a very good catcher. It is absolutely difficult to quantify best at calling a game, but he has been good behind the plate. Now if only he could hit just a little bit. I enjoy reading about the Twins on a national level. Even with the Twins winning back-to-back division titles and about to win their third, they don't get much recognition. Johan Santana is changing that. Justin Morneau will become a household name, but the Twins are good, and I think they could make a dent in the playoffs, especially if they can play the Yankees in the first round!
And on that note, I shall call it a day and a week! If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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