Monday, November 21, 2005
NINE INNINGS WITH SETH
Good morning everyone! There isn't a terribly lot going on in the world of sports, specifically baseball right now. I would guess that in the next two weeks, one of the big pieces to the free agent puzzle will find a fit with a team willing and able to take on the expense. Once that happens, more and more will happen. By the time that the Winter Meetings take place in a couple of weeks, there will be a lot of transactions to talk about. That is the fun time of the year, for me, seeing how our team will start to take shape.
But, for today, I am going to copy a format used several times by the great, the one and only, The Baseball Savant. It is called Nine Innings. Of course, he calls it Nine Innings with the Savant. I'll just call it Nine Innings with Seth. I will just briefly discuss some topics that I find interesting or at least worthy of brief comment. I hope that you can find a little something that you enjoy. So, without further ado, let's Play Ball! (PS - my Vikings/Packers Prediction is saves until the 8th inning.)
I am sure that there are several of you out there who are curious for an update on my, ummm... medical situation I like to call it my Situation with The Stones. As of right now, I am officially confused. I was told by doctors that there would be a painful time, followed by a time when things would be relatively pain free. That would then be followed by 'the passing', the part that would be relatively quick, but likely the most painful. Well, the painful time lasted about five or six days. Right now, I am in the relative pain-free phase and have been for the last two days. Now, I am holding out all hope that The Stone has dissolved or broken up and it is all over! I am REALLY hoping that is the case. I am also fearful of what still could be coming. The not knowing is the hardest part. Once in a while, maybe three or four times a day, I will still get enough of a twinge in the affected areas to make me wonder. So, there is the update, and now that is done!! Thank you very much to all of you who have e-mailed me to express your care and concern.
On Friday late-afternoon, the Twins announced six additions to their 40 man roster. These rosters had to be set yesterday, but the Twins announced theirs on Friday. They are now at 40 which means that they will not be able to draft in the Rule V draft unless additional transactions are made which take players off of their 40 man roster. I briefly commented about it on Friday night by saying this:
The Twins added six players to their 40 man roster. That means that these guys will be protected from the Rule V draft. The players added were RHP Adam Harben, RHP Pat Neshek, LHP Errol Simonitsch, LHP Jose Mijares, LHP Justin Jones and OF Alex Romero. My assumption is that Denard Span did not need to be added. Players who could be lost in the Rule V draft include Danny Matienzo, Kevin West, Doug Deeds, Jason Miller and Ricky Barrett (although with his performance in the AFL, he may not be taken). To participate in the Rule V draft, the Twins would need to drop players from the current 40 man roster. Of course, if trades are made with players on the 40 man roster, their number could change that way too. Right now, the team has 23 pitchers, 8 infielders, 5 outfielders and 4 catchers on the roster. Stealing the list from the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum, here is the Twins current 40 man roster:
Pitchers: Scott Baker, Grant Balfour, Boof Bonser, Travis Bowyer, Jesse Crain, JD Durbin, Willie Eyre, David Gassner, Matt Guerrier, Adam Harben, Justin Jones, Francisco Liriano, Kyle Lohse, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, Pat Neshek, Brad Radke, Juan Rincon, JC Romero, Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Errol Simontisch and Scott Tyler.
Infielders: Jason Bartlett, Juan Castro, Michael Cuddyer, Garrett Jones, Justin Morneau, Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez and Terry Tiffee.
Outfielders: Lew Ford, Torii Hunter, Jason Kubel, Alex Romero and Shannon Stewart.
Catchers: Rob Bowen, Chris Heintz, Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond.
To me, there are a few guys listed here that could be dropped from the 40 man without worrying about losing them to another team's claim. I think that David Gassner (who is about the same pitcher as Simonitsch is), Scott Tyler and Terry Tiffee would clear waivers, and even if they didn't, the Twins would be just fine. I think that Chris Heintz probably would clear waivers and I would think that he would want to stay with the Twins organization. However, the fact that he was kept on the 40 man roster makes me wonder if there are other teams that would claim him. Rob Bowen is another one that I think would pass through waivers. I also have to wonder if he is out of options since before 2005, he was up with the Twins in 2003 and 2004? If that is the case, he isn't going to make the team out of spring training, so why not try to drop him from the 40 man now?
For those curious, Grant Balfour and Jason Kubel are on this list. The 60 day Disabled List is only available during the season. Those players must be protected. Once March hits, I believe they can go on the 60 day Disabled List and another player can be added to the 40 man roster until said player is activated.
If you have any question on any of this, or would like to share any thoughts or opinions, please let me know. Send me an e-mail.
The Minnesota Gophers football team did it to us again, and I (and I know I'm not the only one) fell for it, yet again. They got off to a 3-0 non-conference start, which should surprise no one since they schedule really non-good teams traditionally. But this year, they played at Tulsa before playing Colorado State. Those are not traditionally bad teams. Tulsa went 6-2 in the West half of Conference USA, and 7-4 overall. That is a decent game. Colorado State went 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference and 6-5 overall. And I have no problem with one easy game (Florida Atlantic) because that should be expected. But just once, I would like the Gophers to play a legit, Top 10, or even Top 20, team in their non-conference schedule. It might give us a better look at reality.
But then, in the first game of their Big 10 schedule, they won a 42-35 shootout over a then-ranked Purdue team, and that is when I really believed that they might be something. Nope, Purdue ended the season 3-5 in the Big 10 and 5-6 overall, not even Bowl eligible. Then reality set in when a young Penn State team dominated our Gophers 44-14 in a game that the veteran Gophers should have won. Penn State just clinched a BCS bowl this weekend, so losing at Happy Valley was not as horrible as we thought at the time. And then to Win a game, at Michigan, a close game that they almost found a way to give to the Wolverines. Again, hope was back for this team.
But then came The Drop at home against Wisconsin. Leading with about a minute left, all the Gophers had to do was punt the ball away and hold the Badgers for a win. But the punter dropped the snap, panicked, still tried to punt it, it was blocked and ended in a touchdown and the Gophers loss. That spelled the beginning of the end for our Gophers. The Gophers cut the lead to just seven against Ohio State, but fell 45-31 for their third loss. The Gophers were able to get blowout wins against two bad teams that they should beat, Indiana and Michigan State. That meant that their game against Iowa this past weekend still meant that the Gophers could have found themselves in a somewhat respectable Bowl. But Iowa absolutely destroyed the Gophers. They led 35-0, and later 45-7 before the final 52-28 which was not at all indicative of how much of a blowout it was. The Gophers were completely out-classed.
Now, we can say that Laurence Maroney was injured and really a non-factor the last few games. However, Gary Russell and Amir Pinnix more than filled his shoes. No, the deficiencies of the Gophers remain the defense. People can blame Bryan Cupito all they want, but it was the defense that lost games for the Gophers.
And it is really too bad. This may have been the year that the team could have done something. The offensive line was incredible led by All-American Greg Eslinger. I have to assume that Laurence Maroney will enter the NFL Draft. Why would he stay? He is a mid-first round pick, assuming he performs well in The Combine and other tryouts. This was the year, and they did not play well again. And, it is too bad.
Now, should Glen Mason maintain his job. I have no problem with him as a coach. People want to think that a new coach would make the Gophers program a national powerhouse. Believe that if you want, but it won't help. The administration of the school needs to make some changes in their thinking if they are going to ever reach that level. It involves not only a new stadium on campus, but a bigger budget. And I hate to say this, but maybe they need to lesser their academic restrictions. If that is the case, do we really want that program?
Do you have any thoughts on the Gophers football team, the program, the coach, any of the players? E-mail me.
The Gophers Men's Basketball team played their first game of the season as well on Friday night. They played North Dakota State and won 70-57. Now, that is a cupcake game for the Gophers, but of course, in basketball, because there are so many more games, that is alright, and expected. However, it was not just a local/regional opponent. Don't forget that NDSU is now in its second year as a Division I team, so the win does count toward their tournament totals, and we all know that overall Wins do matter in the selection. (For what it is worth, the same night, Illinois beat South Dakota State, another new Division I team.)
The Gophers should be alright, assuming that Vincent Grier's wrist injury is not too serious. He is an All-American caliber player who also gets his teammates involved, rebounds and does a little of everything. I am glad to see Adam Boone back and healthy. I'm happy that the NCAA did the right thing by giving him a 6th year of eligibility. Moe Hargrow is also back after leaving the program two seasons ago, transferring and deciding to come back. He had to sit out all of last season because of it. J'Son Stamper, Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson are all guys who should be able to help in some ways. However, those six were the main contributors in a 70-57 win over NDSU on Friday night. The Bison did not play like pushovers, staying in the game most of the way. Maybe it was a good test for the Gophers. Maybe it showed that they will miss the academically-suspended Rico Tucker. Maybe it was showing us the reality that they may not be all that good.
We frequently hear about all of the players that the Cleveland Indians have traded, or released, over the last decade or so that ended up being so good. You could fill out an All-Star roster, no doubt. How about this team:
Kenny Lofton CF
Brian Giles RF
Richie Sexson LF
Manny Ramirez DH
Jim Thome 3B
Jeff Kent 2B
Sean Casey 1B
Omar Vizquel SS
Einar Diaz C
That is a team that could out-slug a LOT of teams! Of course, you could replace Lofton in CF and in the leadoff spot with Dave Roberts. Sure, Sexson and Thome and Giles may be completely out of defensive position, but those are the positions that each played in their early years with the team. Thome actually was a 3B his first four seasons. Sexson actually played the OF because Thome was at 1B. I included Einar Diaz as the catcher over Sandy Alomar. Why? Because it reminded me that after the 2002 season, Diaz was traded to Texas, with Ryan Drese, for Travis Hafner. Hafner was supposed to be the guy to replace Thome. After a slow first season, Hafner moved to DH and has more than replaced the production of Thome. This year, Hafner finished 5th in the MVP voting. Thome never finished that high. If you want, you could add the 30 home run power of Jeromy Burnitz.
Now, this is an impressive group of players, no doubt, but let's just take a look at the production that the Indians got from their 2005 team, simply looking at the OPS+ which compares them to league average:
C - Victor Martinez - 132
1B - Ben Broussard - 107
2B - Ronnie Belliard - 109
3B - Aaron Boone - 84
SS - Jhonny Peralta - 139
OF - Coco Crisp - 119
OF - Grady Sizemore - 125
OF - Casey Blake - 101
DH - Travis Hafner - 170
Just one player under league average and another basically at league average in Blake. Of course, Blake also his 32 doubles, 23 homers and drove in 58 runs, primarily from the 9th spot in the lineup. And Omar Vizquel left the team via free agency last offseason because the team knew it had Peralta, the reigning International League MVP, ready in the wings. Vizquel had a solid season in San Francisco, the first year of a ridiculous three year deal, but the Indians came out far ahead with Peralta. The lone bad decision I se that the Indians have made was the signing of Juan Gonzalez. With his injury history, there was no way he was playing. Why even take that chance when you've got a guy like Sizemore who showed enough last year already.
This is an example of why it bugs me that so many Twins fans are reluctant to see the Twins trade a player like Torii Hunter, even if the deal is good for the Twins. See, sometimes those young guys that a team receives in such a trade end up being far better than what the team loses in the veteran. Sure, there is the comfort in knowing about what you are going to get out of a veteran, but at the same time, such security could come at the price of huge future gain. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
Along with the Diaz for Hafner deal, the best example of this is probably when the Indians made a trade about a month before the deadline in 2002. They traded Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos. In return, they took on the contract of Lee Stevens. They got a top prospect believed to be close to Major League ready in Brandon Phillips. Phillips has since failed in the big leagues and still just 23, he has spent most of the last three years in AAA. Two other players were also received in that deal. First, the team received pitcher Cliff Lee who went 18-5 with a sub-4.00 ERA this year. Second, they received the incredible production of 22 year old Grady Sizemore.
The other side of that is trading a young player like Brian Giles for a lefty-relief pitcher like Ricardo Rincon. Giles spent parts of 1995-1998 with Cleveland. In 1997, in 130 games, he hit .268 with 15 doubles, 17 homers and 61 RBI. In 1998, before the trade, he played in 112 games and hit .269 with 19 doubles, 16 homers and 66 RBI. In his next four season with the Pirates, he averaged hitting .309 with 36 doubles, 37 homers and 109 RBI. I will never understand making that deal!
Likewise, the Richie Sexson deal was horrible too. Sexson spent parts of 1997-2000 with Cleveland. In 1999, in 134 games, he hit .255 with 17 doubles, 31 homers and 116 RBI. Before the 2000 trade, in 91 games, he hit .256 with 16 doubles, 16 homers and 44 RBI. And for that, they received Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard and Jason Bere. They trade a young player who already had produced for a closer and a couple of league average (at best) starters?
Any thoughts now on why the Indians are the team to beat in not only the AL Central next year, but in the whole league? E-mail me. But I say it is because after they made their run and traded young players for veteran "parts", they got smart and started hoarding valuable prospects and not being afraid to use them.
I am going to get some sleep heading into this week. I would assume that the Chiefs won their game against the Texans last night, and if you look back at Friday's posting, all 12 of our panelists picked the Chiefs. However, I am not going to stay up that late to watch that whole game, so the following is our updated standings, through the afternoon games yesterday (14 games). Ben Jacobs and Grant Balfour are off to a good start, but I think it is fair to say that overall we did not pick well at all this week. Here's a look. To find out more about our panelists, our picks and this competition, click here.
|Trevor Born||Twins Junkie||7||7||50.0%||110||48||69.6%|
|Cory Hepola||KTVH-TV Sports||9||5||64.3%||109||49||69..0%|
|Mike Brasel||Fantasy FB Guru||7||7||50.0%||106||52||67.1%|
|Aaron Gleeman||Aaron's BB Blog||8||6||57.1%||105||53||66.5%|
|Will Young||Will's Twins Blog||8||6||57.1%||101||57||63.9%|
|Stick & Ball Guy||Stick & Ball Guy||9||5||64.3%||100||58||63.3%|
|Ben Jacobs||Hardball Times||10||4||71.4%||99||59||62.7%|
|Grant Balfour||Twins Relief Pitcher||10||4||78.6%||90||68||57.0%|
|Kevin Slowey||Twins Pitching Prospect||6||8||42.9%||86||72||54.4%|
Two years ago today, I asked you to "Dream a Little Dream With Me." On that day, I came up with a way for the Twins to sign free agent OF Vlad Guerrero. Oh, what could have been, huh? Dreaming is fun! For other old articles, check out my Archives.
Tonight, the Vikings travel to 'The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field' and its Monday Night Football, so of course, it will be blown into a game that matters when we know it didn't. There will be plenty of storylines. The Vikings without Culpepper. The Love Boat incident. The team's poor play. The Packers injuries. And of course, much will be made of the career and greatness of Brett Favre. Again, I agree that the man is a great quarterback, but like Derek Jeter, it is the media that blows him out of proportion.
Also, much will be made of Samkon Gado. The Nigerian is a solid story, but even with what he has done the last two weeks, he is still averaging just over 3 yards per carry, which is far from great! The Vikings should be able to stop him. When the Vikings beat the Packers earlier in the year, it was in part because of Fred Smoot's ability to stop Donald Driver 1-on-1. Smoot is injured, so will Antoine Winfield get the call, or will they stick with some zone defense and hope. We'll see.
Prediction - Favre will find a way to win... or the Vikings will find a way to lose. You pick! Packers 30, Vikings 18.
Finally, be sure to stop by BrentNet today. He has done a comparison of the 1987 Twins and the 2005 Twins rosters. It is very interesting, and have to say that I do agree with him for the most part. Back in March of 2004, I ran a quick analysis comparing the rosters of the Twins playoff teams to that point. They were the teams of 1965, 1969, 1970, 1987, 1991, 2002 and 2003. And yes, Tim Laudner may have been the worst ever! :)
I will be back tomorrow with another Q&A (hopefully). I'll just say this. I think it is really good, and really informational, and I think you'll really enjoy reading it. So, be sure to stop by tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have a bunch more!
Have a great Monday, and if you would like to, send me an e-mail and we'll talk baseball, football, or whatever you'd like!
Back to Archives Home