Tuesday, October 26, 2004
JOHAN WINS AWARD
THE KUBEL INJURY
TWINS IN ARIZONA
WORLD SERIES THOUGHTS
MEWELDE MOORE - BASEBALL PLAYER
NFL EXPERT PICKS
Hello! I'd first like to apologize for skipping yesterday. I guess I was just at a point where I didn't feel like sitting in front of the computer at all. I figured rather than force something, I would wait another day. I mean, I don't want to pull an Ashlee Simpson and just fake it! I'll just claim being lazy, I don't think any of you would care if I had some acid reflux. My intent, really, is to write a little something every day. Some days, however, may contain far less than you've come to expect from this page. It is also possible that some weeks, I will write just four times. I just am not sure how it will work out in the offseason. But thank you again for taking some time to stop by the site.
Since I last wrote, I thought it would be a good idea to start jotting down some thoughts throughout the day to help me organize what I will write from day to day. So, today, I jotted down quite a few things, hence the 'Smorgasbord' title! I hope you enjoy this. And, as always, I would encourage you to let me know what you think. What do you like? What do you not like? Also, if you have any topics you would either like me to research, or if you would like to do research and write something yourself, I would be happy to have the occasional guest columnist! So, just e-mail me.
Santana Wins Spahn Award
To no oneís surprise Twins starter Johan Santana was named the recipient of the 2004 Warren Spahn Award, given to the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. He edged out a pretty good starter in Randy Johnson! Those two should claim the American League and National League Cy Young Awards when theyíre announced in November.
The Kubel Injury
As we found out about the injury on Friday morning, already the negative thoughts were entering my mind. Sure, Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire are saying the right things.
"Kubel would have been one of a number of players vying for the RF job."
" I have never talked about trading Jacque Jones."
But letís be honest, RF was Jason Kubelís job to lose next spring, and rightfully so. Based on all he accomplished in 2004, making the jump from AA New Britain to a batting leading stint at AAA Rochester before an impressive major league debut in which he hit .300 in 23 games and was on the postseason roster.
So when the news came in that in his first game down in the Arizona Fall League, he messed up his knee and in all likelihood will miss the entire 2005 season rehabbing, it was disappointing. First, it was disappointing for the team. Their top hitting prospect was likely to join the ranks of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau as top hitters in the lineup (with the likes of Stewart, Ford, Hunter, etc.). But that is a foundation that I am sure all but a half a hand full of major league teamís would love to start out with!
The second thought is, what does this mean for our Twins? How does this affect their offseason roster decisions. Well, it seems to me that, although they would (and should) never say it, this is probably good news for both Lew Ford and Michael Restovich. Again, I hate to say that when it comes at the expense of a teammate, but in reality it is good for both of them. First, I believe that Lew Ford played so well this season that he will be in the Twins lineup most every day next year anyway. What this injury does is likely gives him the RF job out of spring training instead of wasting his talents in the designated hitter role. Now, Michael Restovich would have made the Twins opening day roster. He is out of options and the team clearly does not want to lose him. As I have said before, if heís in the right organization, he could be hitting 25-30 homers a year. I believe that he would have been outfielder number 5 going into next year and get some at bats at DH (behind Ford/Stewart). Well, now with the Kubel injury, Restovich probably becomes the fourth outfielder and gets more DH at bats.
There is still one more outfield position available. I will name four names that I have heard people mention to me and discuss why they should or shouldnít be considered:
The first is Michael Ryan. There is one reason for him to even be considered. He bats left handed. Thatís it. He is a terrible hitter who happened to have one good two week period a year ago. Fact is, with the rest of the outfield position, he probably wouldnít play much anyway. He may be the biggest winner because of Kubelís injury. My gut feeling tells me that the Twins would have taken him off the 40 man roster this offseason, and now he is likely considered.
A name that I would consider ahead of Ryan is Todd Dunwoody. He came to the Twins organization last year and played some 1B and corner outfield for the Rochester club, and he hit well (unlike Ryan). He is a veteran who would probably be thrilled to be a 5th outfielder and accept that role. He too is left-handed. Now, he is not on the current 40 man roster, but did resign with Rochester and likely will be invited to training camp. I like this choice for a couple reasons. One, he actually played reasonably well last year at Rochester. Two, he does have the ability to play 1B too.
Michael Cuddyerís name comes up as a possible OF option. This is my least favorite idea that I have heard, and yet, the one I hear the most. Michael Cuddyer should be the Twins 2B next year! Every day! No questions asked! He has been jerked around by the organization enough the last few years and has earned the every day job. He should go to Spring Training with just one glove next year, and that should be a 2B glove!
Finally, a reader, Gordon Thyberg, wrote me and said, "John Mabry. Cheap, can play four positions, good character." Iíll add that he is a veteran. He has played on a bunch of winning teams. He bats left handed. Like my thoughts that the Twins should try to sign Pokey Reese, I think that John Mabry is definitely worth considering for that role. The only negative is that Mabry is one of the names that Bert Blyleven pronounces wrong every time. He pronounces his name "Mayberry", like former player John Mayberry, whose son is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2005 draft out of Stanford.
But I think that there is one side of the Kubel injury that a lot of people are forgetting is how it must be affecting Jason Kubel himself. Again, what a year 2004 was for him. He hits over .370 in AA. Moves up and then leads the International League in batting. Gets the big league call to the Twins and contributes well to the team over the last six weeks. He was on top of the world. He has become the teamís top prospect and earned them sending him to the Arizona Fall League. He is going to be given every shot to be starting for the Twins in 2005. And just one at bat into his first Arizona game, he has his knee taken out from under him. He tears his ACL, messes up his meniscus and there is a lot of ligament damage. Now, he is laying in a hospital knowing that his 2005 season is all but over, unless there is some miracle recovery. I know we all think about how this affects the team, but sometimes it is important to take a step back and ask yourself just how this affects Jason Kubel, the person, not the ball player. He seems like a tough guy, but he has to be down right now, frustrated and maybe asking why. Hopefully his surgery, or surgeries, will go very well and Kubel can start a rehab session and start feeling good again! I know I, and certainly all the readers, hope him a complete and speedy recovery!
The Arizona Fall League
We know that Kubelís stint in Arizona was a brief one, and that is unfortunate. Here is a quick look at how the others from the Twins organization are faring so far this fall against the competition of other top level baseball prospects. (stats through this past weekend, 10/23/04)
SS Jason Bartlett has played in 6 games, 8-24, .333/.407/.417, with two doubles, two RBI, two SB, two walks and two strikeouts. Defensively, just one error. He is splitting time with Atlanta minor league SS prospect Tony Pena Jr. Yes, the son of the Royals Manager.
C Rob Bowen has caught in 8 games. He is 6-27 (.222/.276/.259) with a double, an RBI, two walks and five strikeouts.
Scott Baker has started four games. He is 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA. He has pitched 15 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs (7 earned) on 18 hits. He has walked three and struck out 15.
JD Durbin has started three games. He is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA. He has pitched 12 innings and allowed eight runs (6 earned) on 11 hits. He has walked four and struck out 13.
Jesse Crain has pitched two innings in two relief appearances. He has given up no runs on one hit. He has walked none and struck out three.
WORLD SERIES THOUGHTS
The Red Sox did what they were supposed to do; they won Games 1 and 2 to maintain home field advantage. Tonight, the series will shift to St. Louis where Jeff Suppan will face Pedro Martinez. As it is, the Red Sox have things set up very nice. I mean, having a 2-0 lead with arguably your ace throwing Game 3 on the road. Granted, Pedro is not the same olí Pedro that he was just a few years ago. But he still has that ability and based on the radar gun hitting 97 mph a couple times in his inning against the Yankees, he can be incredible at any time. He will need to be against the Cardinals lineup! But the Cardinals need to hit a little more than they have if they want to keep up with the Red Sox potent offense. Games 1 and 2 are old news by now, but here are just a few things that caught my attention over the weekend games:
1.) One of my favorite things about the first home game in each playoff series is the introduction of the players. Seriously, was there anything more cool than the ovation that Derek Lowe got before Game 1 when his name was introduced as one of the teamís reserves? He had a bad year, despite that 14-12 record. He knows it. He was taken out of the rotation before the playoffs began. But then he pitched his best game of the year in Game 7 of the ALCS to beat the Yankees. That ovation had to mean a lot to him, and I got chills hearing it.
2.) Just as I was getting over that, I remembered that Curt Schilling was yet to be announced. Based on the gutty performance that he put forth in Game 6 to beat the Yankees, I got almost choked up before the crowd even erupted!
3.) Game 1 was ugly. It was just not good baseball by any means. The Red Sox kicked the ball all over the place. Manny Ramirez proved my "1 glove" call to maybe even be generous. The pitching from both sides was horrendous, and with every Red Sox lead came a Cardinals comeback. But the Red Sox got the last runs to win that game.
4.) If you thought Schillingís Game 6 performance was gutty, you can only repeat those sentiments with how he pitched on Sunday. When he was explaining how the doctor performed the surgery, describing how tendons were being tied or stapled to bone fibers just to keep his dislocated ankle from popping back into (and back out of) place. Anyway, Schilling gave up an unearned run in 6 innings.
5.) Eight errors in two games by the Red Sox. Bill Mueller has three. Manny Ramirez has two. Kevin Millar, Bronson Arroyo and Mark Bellhorn each have one. And yet, what has it cost them? Well, nothing yet. I mean, they still found a way to win those games. However, could it hurt them if the series goes long? I think so. Errors mean extra pitches for the pitcher, if nothing else. Maybe the starter ends up coming out sooner and the bullpen. So many are upset or at least disappointed by the fact that the Red Sox pathetic defense isnít costing them. So many say that defense is an important part of the game. I donít think that this really disproves anything or makes defense not matter. Remember the saying the Twins and Cardinals frequently say is "we win by pitching and defense." The Cardinals defense is great, full of Gold Glove caliber defenders. However, at this stage, their pitching has been as pathetic, if not more pathetic, than even the Red Sox defense. In my series preview, I comment that hitting is 50% of the game, pitching is 40% and defense is 10%. Itís hard for that defense to matter when the pitching is giving up so many hits!
6.) Tonight weíve got Pedro Martinez starting against Jeff Suppan. You remember that Suppan came to the Red Sox at the trade deadline last year. He was so bad in his two month stint with the Sox that he was left off of their playoff roster. Now he has a chance to pitch against them in the World Series. He is coming off a great Game 7 game against the Astros. We all questioned Terry Franconaís decision to use Pedro in a seemingly unimportant inning in Game 7 when it meant that instead of starting Game 1 or 2 of the World Series, he would instead pitch Game 3. Well, at this point, that is looking like a great move. To have one of the top pitchers in baseball pitching on the road with a chance to put your team up 3-0 sounds like a good thing to me. (Well, not me, since I canít stand the Red Sox! Ha!)
7.) David Ortiz is good!
Iíve got to admit, that was not one of the most exciting football games I have ever watched. In the first quarter, the two 40 year old, kicking Anderson brothers (Gary and Morten) each notched three more points to their impressive carry totals. The Vikings took over in the second quarter, scoring 14 points on two touchdowns of less than 2 yards. The Vikings got another fourth quarter field goal from Morten Anderson that stretched the lead to 14, certainly not an insurmountable lead. However, at no point in the game did it ever seem that the game was out of the Vikings control. The offense moved the ball well, even without the services of Randy Moss. The defense gave up just 3 points in the game and actually really played well. They were able to consistently pressure the Titans quarterback and subsequently making big plays, with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Chris Hovan actually played well much of the game. He was given credit for knocking Steve McNair out of the game with a return of his sternum injury, although it looked as if Kevin Williams may have had more to do with that. Billy Volek came in and put up fairly good numbers, but again, there was no concern about a Titanic comeback.
Randy Moss got the start and he was on the field for two plays. He certainly was not at 100%. It was quite apparent that the only reason he played was to extend his streak of consecutive games played. If that is really the case, that is terrible. It makes no sense. First, you risk more extensive injury. But also, Moss still needs to take a roster spot, one that could be filled by someone who could contribute in the game. With Michael Bennett also suiting up and playing (one rush!), that is two guys who played that really were just taking up roster spots.
The Vikings were again led by MVP Daunte Culpepper. In the first half, he completed 17 or 19 passes. And for the game, he completed 24 of 30 passes. Now, sure, he had just 181 yards passing and actually was sacked a few times, but the word that kept popping into my head as I watched the game was "efficient." Without Randy Moss, the Vikings really still were unable to make any big plays. But Culpepper led efficient drives.
Mewelde Moore continues to impress! He had 138 yards rushing and 30 receiving against the Titans. He clearly has made things tough on the coaching staff, but in a good way. With Michael Bennett now back, Moore is still the starter, and I am completely in agreement with that. Then when Onterrio Smith comes back, Moore should still be the starter. He should stay the primary ball carrier and #1 back until he shows that he canít handle it. Bennett and Smith will just need to bide their time and come through when called upon.
But Moore is so much more than just a football player. Last spring, he took 28 credits just so he could graduate in four years. But did you know he also played minor league baseball? He was drafted in the 4th round in 2000 by San Diego. The Padres gave him $850,000 to sign with them. He then played rookie ball in the Pioneer League as an outfielder for three summers. All together, he hit .210.
Here are some baseball related questions that he gave in an issue of College Football News in 2001:
CFN: How do you prepare differently for football as opposed to baseball?
MM: Baseball is more of a mental game, but people donít realize how much of the mental game is needed for football too. I like to try and visualize things I can do on the football field and try to do out-of-the-ordinary things like make five guys miss or hurdling tacklers and stay on my feet and running. I feel like if I can visualize it, I might be able to do it.
CFN: How does playing professional baseball help you in football?
MM: Itís made me be more business like and professional about the job at hand. Having the first hand experience, I know how what people are looking at me and how they expect me to act and prepare. Itís really helped me with the mental part of the game teaching me you have to get up and do it every day. Sometimes itís hard getting up and working, but when youíre a professional you have to do it and youíve got to keep going. Thatís whatís going to separate you from the other people who donít feel the need to achieve great things.
CFN: When do you get a chance to rest your body?
MM: Holidays. Thatís basically my off days. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break. I get two weeks off between baseball and football and thatís really enough. I donít need too much time off cause I always want to be in shape. I like to always be on the go so I really feel comfortable playing both sports.
CFN: So how does that work as far as signing bonuses and being a walk-on to play football? Thatís got to be cool have some money and being able to play college football.
MM: Oh yeah. Itís great to have this opportunity. What can I say? God has blessed me and I donít take this for granted at all. Itís a great situation that Iím in being able to play both sports and have this chance.
CFN: How much pressure do the Padres put on you to play baseball full-time?
MM: Thereís no pressure right now. People are waiting to see what Iím going to decide to do, but thatís for down the road. I donít even think about making that decision right now.
CFN: If you could be all-star in the baseball or a pro bowler in the NFL, which would you rather be?
MM: (laughing) I get that question all the time Ö no comment! I love playing both sports and thatís my dream to play both. When the time comes, if I have to make a decision, Iíll deal with it then.
I think it is clear that Moore made that decision, and for him and Vikings fans, football was the right choice!
One final note on Mewelde MooreÖ I guess this is just to remind me never to get too arrogant, but here is what I wrote shortly after the Vikings selected Moore in the draft:
Vikings second 4th Round Pick - They went with a speed running back in Mewelde Moore from Tulane. This pick makes no sense to me at all. Moore is a 5-10 and 205, so he's not big. The team already has Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith. They have a 3rd down type back in Moe Williams. They have a kick returner in Kelly Campbell. And, Keenan Howry will be their punt returner. So, where does Mewelde Moore fit in? I don't get this pick at all, unless there is some sort of trade in the works??
Itís good to be able to admit when youíre wrong, right? I think Moore has fit in just fine! Ha!
Any thoughts on Moore or the Vikings, about the Titans game or the upcoming tilt with the New York Giants? E-mail me.
NFL WEEK 7 THOUGHTS
How many touchdowns could Priest Holmes have had Sunday against the team leading the NFL in rush defense. He had four rushing touchdowns by early in the third quarter when he tweaked his ankle and left the game. It sounds like he could have kept playing had the game been close. His replacement, Derrick Blaylock, came in and rushed for 90 yards and four touchdowns of his own.
In general, how bad is the NFC South? Or at least, how disappointing have they been. First, a year ago, the Carolina Panthers were in the Super Bowl. A couple of key injuries later and they are now 1-5 after losing to the Chargers. The Buccaneers are really bad and have no offense again. They have now lost Charlie Garner and Mike Alstott to injury. They are 2-5 after beating the pathetic Bears. New Orleans barely held on to beat the Oakland Raiders. They have so much talent, yet they are so inconsistent at 3-4. And despite Michael Vick being the most athletic player in the NFL, he is still not a good quarterback. Yes, the Falcons were 5-1 to start the season, but their 56-10 shellacking at the hands of the previously 1-5 Chiefs has to be embarrassing.
The Patriots extended their winning streak to 21 games with a win over the previously unbeaten NY Jets. It was a typical Pats win in that they didnít play great but just well enough to win.
Ahman Green is fast!
The Rams continue to be an enigma. One week they come back from a huge deficit to beat the Seahawks. And this week, they lose to the 0-6 Miami Dolphins. A team with all the weapons the Rams have should not lose to the worst team in football. They just shouldnít. I hate to blame coaches, but this is the type of loss (31-14 no less!) that could, and maybe should, cost Mike Martz his job!
What a difference Roy Williams makes for the Lions. He had just four catches for 67 yards and a TD, but the Lions offense worked. He is quite the impact player. So is Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals. However, they donít have as many quality weapons around him. When Anquan Bolden comes back, it should open things up more for Fitzgerald too!
I like Terrell Owens. I love his post-TD celebrations! Theyíre fun! They arenít offensive to anyone (since the Dallas fiasco a LONG time ago!). But the whole feud with he and Jeff Garcia is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be over. With the Eagles winning 34-31 over Garcia and the Browns Sunday in overtime, the feud should be over. Owens played well in his new situation. Garcia proved to be tough and able to lead a team. Theyíre both good. OK, Garcia isnít good, but heís not terrible either. So, they both need to just get past this.
Steve McNair is tough. He is a great leader for the Titans and shows good leadership skills and willingness to play through injuries that most QBs would not. Byron Leftwich is heading in that direction. He showed it when he was at Marshall and now he is proving it with Jacksonville!
Nothing on either of those guys. Just wanted to type their names!
With the opening of the 2004-05 NBA season a week away, teams are now trying to finalize their rosters. Next week, I will be doing a Wolves preview, along with thoughts on the entire NBA. Basketball is clearly my #2 sport behind baseball, at least for watching. So, I will frequently write about the Wolves through the winter months. Here are just a couple of notes on the team.
Last week, Wolves head coach said that Eddie Griffin will make the Wolves team. That comes as a surprise to no one. He is that talented, the only question with him is his attitude and anger problems (picture Milton Bradley!). Because of a domestic dispute he was involved in last year, the NBA did suspend him for the seasonís first three games. So, the Wolves will be without his services. But the three games is pretty minor in the big picture.
Over the weekend, former Gopher John Thomas played 15 minutes in a game and was 4-5 from the field for 10 points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds. Considering he has been out of the league for 3 years, what he is doing is really quite impressive! I donít know if he will make the Wolves roster. If so, it will be as the 12th man, but he has certainly done all he can in camp.
Latrell Sprewell is asking for a contract extension before the regular season starts. There is nothing wrong with that at all, and Kevin McHale has said that he would like that too. The problem is that Sprewell is making over $14 million this year. I canít imagine the Wolves, or anyone for that matter, being willing to pay him more than that for any extended period of time at this stage of his career. Granted, he is a very good player, but with Kevin Garnett having just accepted about $80-$100 million less than he could have received to stay with the Wolves, you would like to think that Spree would like to stay with the team, and you would hope he would be willing to accept less to stay.
It is similar to the Sam Cassell situation at the beginning of camp. He skipped media day and made it known that he felt he was underpaid. Based on what he did last year, he absolutely is underpaid based on the market. However, the Wolves are right in believing that they should not have to make up for him accepting lesser money from other organizations. Also, Cassell is getting old, had injury problems at the end of last season and offseason surgery. Extending him too long doesnít make sense either. He will not have another year like he did last year.
Hey, the Wolves are going to be very good this year. Along with the San Antonio Spurs, the Wolves have to be the favorite to come out of the Western Conference. The unfortunate thing is that with the realignment, the Wolves are going to be in a division with Seattle, Portland, Denver and Utah. In other words, we are going to have some late starting games this year!
What do you think of the Wolves shot this year? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Ryan Maus of Twins Chatter and Michael Labuda of ChiSox Daily are our co-winners of the Week 7 "expert" picks, each getting 9 out of 14 picks correct. Maus also has crawled all the way up to the top of the standings, tying Mike Brasel for the overall league lead.
Thru Week 7 Total Week 7 Over All Name Site
L Win% W L Win % Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 8 6 57.1% 70 32 68.6% Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 9 5 64.3% 70 32 68.6% Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 8 6 57.1% 67 35 65.7% David Bergner Baseball Savant 7 7 50.0% 66 36 64.7% Melissa Olson SethSpeaks.net 7 7 50.0% 65 37 63.7% Michael Labuda ChiSox Daily 9 5 64.3% 65 37 63.7% Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mgr 7 7 50.0% 62 40 60.8% Vic Quick KDUH-TV Sports 7 7 50.0% 60 42 58.8% Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 8 6 57.1% 59 43 57.8% Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 8 6 57.1% 58 44 56.9% David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 5 9 35.7% 54 48 52.9% John Bonnes The Twins Geek 7 7 50.0% 54 48 52.9%
And that is it for today! Have yourself a great day! If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me.
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