Monday, November 28, 2005
1st Inning - My Interview on WCCO
2nd Inning - Vikings 24, Browns 12
3rd Inning - Twins in Venezuela
4th Inning - Wolves Thoughts
5th Inning - The BJ Ryan Deal
6th Inning - NFL "Expert" Picks
7th Inning - Chris Coste in Mexico
8th Inning - Blog Spotting
9th Inning - The "Why Baseball" Contest
NINE MORE INNINGS
Good morning everyone! If you missed Friday's Q&A with Seth (aka me), you'll want to check it out here.
Well, the Nine Inning with Seth concept seemed to work. If nothing else, it keeps me organized my thoughts a little bit! I hope you don't mind the concept. It was a good weekend. I have now been pain-free from "The Kidney Stone" for eight straight days which is strange because a CT scan last Wednesday told me that the stone grew larger and apparently is somewhere that should cause a lot of pain.
But, for today, I am going to touch on a bunch of topics and hope that you find a few of them interesting. I will discuss a lot of baseball, some football and basketball, and my interview on WCCO yesterday. If you missed Friday's posting, check it out here, and then especially be sure to check out the new "Why Baseball" Contest. Also, be sure to come back here tomorrow and read another Q&A with someone related to the Twins organization!
Let's get to it! Batter Up!
As I mentioned last week, I was asked to be on WCCO radio yesterday afternoon with Rita Maloney on her Sports Sunday show. I knew that I would be on at 12:35, so they called at about 12:35 and said I would be on in about 30 seconds. I thought that I would just be on until the 1:00 hour, but after talking for 20 minutes, she asked if I could stick around into the 1:00 hour to continue Twins talk. Of course, I said that would be no problem. Little did I know that I would end up being on through the entire 1:00 hour with the exception of the final 8 minutes during which time she aired a pre-recorded interview with Shannon Schonrock of the Gophers' women's basketball team.
So, what did we talk about? Pretty much everything, I would say. We almost did a position-by-position breakdown of the Twins, along with plenty of discussion about possible free agent additions. Of course, that talk starts with 3B where the Twins have their perceived biggest need. Names that were mentioned were the usuals, Joe Randa (no, his power was in Cincinnati), Bill Mueller, Nomar Garciaparra and others. Of course, "John" called in to ask if I would trade Kyle Lohse and Scott Baker for Hank Blalock. Both "John" and Rita said that they would love to see Hank Blalock in the Twins lineup, something I do agree with. However, Rita and I both agreed that giving up Scott Baker would be too much. Rita then mentioned Jorge Cantu of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I am a huge fan of his, and he had a remarkable 2005 season for the lowly D-Rays. No, they aren't likely to win, but Cantu is young, and still very cheap. I would love him to be a Twins player, but I just don't see why the Rays would trade him. They do have some talent in Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes, Delmon Young, BJ Upton and Scott Kazmir. That's a solid base to start with. So, I think that is wishful thinking!
We discussed SS, and I said that I think that Jason Bartlett deserves the job. He has put up great numbers the last two minor league seasons, and although he struggled in April, had he been given a chance, he would have been fine. She came back with the argument that minor league numbers sometimes can fool us (which, of course is true). She used the example of Michael Cuddyer. I, of course being the lone Cuddyer supporter it seems, had to stick up for him. I said that in the past four years, he has been given the run around. Short strings, multiple positions, a utility job. So yes, he struggled in April offensively and defensively, but he was the Twins best hitter in the 2nd half of the season, and really after May, even better than Joe Mauer. I fully do not understand the team's complete disregard for Michael Cuddyer. We had to agree to disagree on that topic.
At 2B, I mentioned the constant rumors involving Alfonso Soriano. But again, they have asked for Francisco Liriano, so of course the Twins should say no. I said that we certainly learned that Nick Punto is anything but an every day player. I mentioned that I really like what we saw from Luis Rodriguez offensively and defensively, and I thought that Luis Maza should get a shot as well. She mentioned Mark Grudzielanek, and I said no, primarily because I don't think he's even as good as Cuddyer, but also he is looking for a 3 year deal in the $15-18 million range. I mentioned a name that my friend Tyler had given to me, that being Mark Loretta. He has been very good for San Diego the last two seasons, but they do have Josh Barfield (yes, Jesse's son) who is ready for The Show. I'm not high on Loretta, but he could be a one year stop gap.
We proceeded and she asked about a backup 1B/DH type player, and I said that Mike Piazza was the obvious name to mention, but I don't want to pay him the money that he could still get from some team. I just don't think that makes sense, especially for more than a year. Frank Thomas was mentioned, and yes, he's a power hitter with a great batter's eye, but when is he ever healthy? I thought his injury was chronic. Although he would be a nice right-handed power hitter, I just don't like it. Another name was Bernie Williams who, to me, can no longer play ANY OF because he has zero range and an arm that makes Johnny Damon feel good about his!
We moved on to the outfield and spent awhile discussing the RF position. It appears that the Jacque Jones is gone. I read that he could sign a 3 year, $20 million deal with the Cardinals. I acknowledged that Jacque has been one of my favorite Twins the last five or six years, but that doesn't blind me to the fact that he has his flaws, namely his throwing accuracy and consistency and complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. Rita went on to tell us that he is truly a great, professional guy and we all hope that the split between he and the team is an amicable one. I stressed that I think Jason Kubel will be alright, however, the Twins can be patient with him and if he's at all shaken or hesitant, or just not at 100%, they should send him to Rochester for a month or two to get his legs (or, knee specifically) under him. I mentioned that in the interim, Lew Ford, Jason Tyner, and Michael Cuddyer could hold down the position until Kubel is deemed ready. Another name to watch would be Alex Romero who was recently added to the 40 man roster. And, maybe Michael Restovich would be an option!
Anyway, I was on for a little over an hour. If anyone out there happened to hear it, please let me know what you thought, send me an e-mail. I really enjoy doing that and Rita Maloney is such a good interviewer and incredibly knowledgeable on the Twins. One of the more interesting exchanges came when we were discussing Jacque Jones. She said he is a great guy to get to know and a good teammate. I told her that it is nice being a blogger in that I don't have an editor, I don't have anyone telling me what to write or not write. However, the perspective of an official journalist or member of the media is the access to the clubhouse and getting to actually know the players and coaches. That is something that, at this point, I have very little of and think that would be fun!
Well, Brad Johnson and the Vikings won their fourth straight game yesterday. For the first time, it is fair to say that Johnson actually helped the team to get the win. Johnson went 19-28 for 207 yards and three, count 'em, three touchdown passes. He had one interception as well. All three of the TD passes went to Marcus Robinson who has been invisible much of the season. Robinson had just the three catches on the day and 32 yards.
But again, the defense deserves a lot of credit. They sacked Trent Dilfer five times. They also intercepted him twice while they intercepted Charlie Frye on his lone pass of the day. Frye came in for one play to replace Dilfer in the fourth quarter. Antoine Winfield had an interception, and Darren Sharper had two more.
There really is very little to say about the game. The key for the Vikings was stopping the Browns' Reuben Droughns, and for the most part they did, limiting him to 73 yards on the grounds and 46 in receiving yards. The defense has done well against the run, and in this month, they have done great against the pass as well. Special Teams was also very solid. The Vikings were expected to win, and they did not look past the Browns.
A good win, and now they have to really work to not look past the horrible Detroit Lions in Pontiac next Sunday. Any thoughts on the Vikings, e-mail me.
I enjoy following the Twins and their minor leaguers in the regular season, but I also really enjoy following such players in the offseason too. The Twins have a working agreement with the Tigres de Aragua of the Venezuelan Winter League. That team is full of Twins players, but other Twins are interspersed around the league. Here is a quick look at how the Twins, or Twins-related, players are doing (through Thursday):
Luis Jimenez - .288/.403/.505 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers and 18 RBI. In 133 plate appearances, he has walked 22 times and struck out 25 times. Jimenez spent the 2005 season in New Britain but was released following the season.
Selwyn Langaigne - .316/.388/.397 with 8 doubles, a homer and 11 RBI. In 147 plate appearances, he has walked 14 times and struck out 26 times. He started the 2005 season with New Britain but was released after a couple of months.
Danny Matienzo - .200/.266/.376 with 3 doubles, 4 homers and 13 RBI. In 93 plate appearances, he has eight walks and 17 strikeouts. Matienzo was an All-Star at New Britain this year and one of the team's top hitters. He was not added to the 40 man roster, but if he is not selected in the Rule V draft, I would assume that he will DH and play some 1B at Rochester in 2006.
Luis Maza - .328/.396/.462 with 7 doubles, 3 homers and 17 RBI. In 128 plate appearances, he has walked 8 time and struck out 15 times. Maza started the season at New Britain but spent the second half of the season playing 3B, SS, 2B and LF for the Red Wings in Rochester. For the second straight season, he was left off of the 40 man roster. To me, if the Twins don't make a move at 2B, Maza should be given a shot at the 2B job because he is a very solid defensive player with a good bat.
Josh Rabe - .357/.455/.446 with 5 doubles, a triple, a homer and 17 RBI. In 129 plate appearances, he has walked 17 times and struck out 19 times. Rabe was hurt for a significant amount of time this year. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in Rochester. In the past, I have compared him with Michael Restovich. Rabe can play all three outfield positions. He is not on the 40 man roster, and should be in the running for a 5th OF/PH job with the Twins.
Luis Rodriguez - .311/.408/.328 with a double and eight RBI. True to his history, he has walked eight times and struck out six times. Like many included on this list, L-Rod spent a lot of years in the minors, including parts of three in Rochester. Last year, he was finally rewarded with a chance in the big leagues and he came through by playing well. I would have liked to have seen him play much more in place of Nick Punto. He will again vie for a utility position with the Twins in 2006.
Alex Romero - .256/.289/.333 with seven doubles and ten RBI. He has four walks and ten twelve strikeouts in 94 plate appearances. Seeing the numbers that Romero has put up in Venezuela the last two offseason is what drew my eye toward him as a prospect. Clearly he is not hitting as well this winter, but he is without question a top hitting prospect. Terry Ryan has said that he is the hitter closest to helping the Twins. After inexplicably passing through the Rule V draft a year ago, followed by an excellent 2005 season in New Britain, the Twins could not keep him off their 40 man roster this year. Depending on this winter's transactions and the healthy of Jason Kubel, Romero will get a long look in Spring Training and we should see him in a Twins uniform sometime next season.
Kevin West - .214/.316/.440 with 2 doubles, a triple, 5 homers and 14 RBI. Also true to his history, he has walked 10 times and struck out 30 times in his 94 plate appearances. Like Maza and Garrett Jones, West had a huge 2004 season at New Britain. He spent the entire 2005 season at Rochester and after a slow start, had a very solid year. I was sure he too would have been drafted in last year's Rule V draft because of his power. His strikeout rate may be the only thing keeping him from being a top level prospect.
Gabby Torres - .235/.278/.235 with an RBI and no extra base hits. The catcher was at New Britain again this season, however, the Twins released him following the season.
JD Durbin - In four starts, he is 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA. In 15 innings, he has given up 18 hits and five walks to go with 15 strikeouts. It was a bad year for the right-hander, starting right away in spring training when he could not find the strike zone. Control and arm problems really affected him much of the year. He is still very young and I am not yet ready to give up on him.
Willie Eyre - He is now 5-0 with a 1.10 ERA. In 41 innings, he has given up 34 hits and nine walks while striking out 25. After an excellent season in the bullpen at Rochester, he has started seven of the eight games he has appeared in there. After the season, he was quickly added to the 40 man roster. I have to believe that he will be given a shot at the 5th starter out of spring and could spend significant time in the Twins bullpen this year.
Jan Granado - He is 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 11 games (2 starts). In 22 innings, he has walked seven and struck out 10. Granado split time between Ft. Myers and New Britain this year. He is likely to be in New Britain in 2006.
Matt Guerrier - After an excellent rookie season in the Twins bullpen, Guerrier has been starting in Venezuela. In 5 starts, he is 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA. In 26 innings, he has given up just 19 hits and walked five. He has 19 strikeouts. Like Eyre, he will compete with Francisco Liriano in Spring Training for the 5th starters job at the start of the season. However, I think that he will retain his roster spot in the bullpen.
Jannio Gutierrez - So far, he has just pitched one inning in one game down there. Gutierrez spent much of the season at Ft. Myers but was called up to New Britain midseason, and will likely spend 2006 there.
Beau Kemp - In eight games out of the bullpen, he is 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA. In 8.2 innings, he has allowed 13 hits and two walks. He has struck out seven. Kemp had an excellent year at Rochester this year and should go to training camp with a chance to further open the eyes of the coaches. He will likely stay in Rochester next year.
Jose Mijares - The lefty has pitched two total innings in the five games in which he has pitched. He gave up a run on three hits and a walk. He has struck out three. Mijares is young, but has incredible "stuff." That is the reason that he was added to the 40 man roster. A lefty who throws in the upper 90s with two quality (although far from perfected)secondary pitches should not be left available to other organizations. I would guess that he will begin 2006 in the Ft. Myers starting rotation but could move to New Britain.
Oswaldo Sosa - He is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA. In 31 innings (7 starts) he has allowed 29 hits and nine walks. He also has struck out 27 hitters. Excellent numbers. Sosa spent this season at Elizabethton and should be in the Beloit rotation next year.
There are plenty of former Twins and Twins prospects in Venezuela as well. Henry Blanco, Michael Restovich, Horacio Estrada, Tony Fiore, Richard Garces, Pat Mahomes and Ryan Rowland-Smith are all playing.
Any thoughts, or am I missing anyone, let me know. Send me an e-mail.
On Friday night, the Wolves got a very nice win at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. The win improves them to 6-1 at home, which is really a positive for them. Saturday night, the team got its first win in five tries on the road at Cleveland. So overall, they are 7-5 with is tops in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.
On Friday, they beat the Bucks 99-91. Most importantly, they won with the help of a couple of guys that are vital to their overall, potential success. Wally Szczerbiak had a huge game scoring 30 points but also grabbing six rebounds and dishing out six assists. Marko Jaric finally got minutes, and minutes late in the game, and came through. He was 10-15 from the field for 24 points. He added five assists and three steals. Despite missing time with an ankle injury, Kevin Garnett played 39 minutes and chipped in 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
On Saturday, they traveled to Cleveland to take on the MVP Lebron James and the 9-4 Cavaliers. Remember that the Cavs have Drew Gooden and Zydrunus Ilgauskus, and added Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall in the offseason. In other words, this is a good team. Now, James got his, scoring 38 points with 5 rebounds and 4 steals. James shot 13-29 (44%), but the rest of the team shot just 25% (15-59), so the Wolves defense really did the job. Kevin Garnett had a big game with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Troy Hudson came off the bench and scored 18! Marko Jaric scored 8 points with five assists, but had some big shots in the final minutes. And excellent win!
Any thoughts on the Wolves? They have had a few quality wins. Can they be a playoff team in the West? Where would they rank? E-mail me.
Great news for Billy Wagner, and every single closer in baseball! Reportedly, the Toronto Blue Jays felt the need to acquire BJ Ryan and give him $47 million over five years. I first have to say that I do believe the Ryan is the best closer on the free agent market. To me, he's a better option right now than Billy Wagner or Trevor Hoffman (despite the fact that I feel that, along with Mariano Rivera, those two are among the best closers ever).
One of the philosophies of Moneyball that I really subscribe to is that closers are very replaceable. We saw what Dan Kolb did for two years with the Brewers. Milwaukee was able to trade him to the Braves for Jose Capellan. Kolb was horrible with the Braves, and the Brewers got incredible closer production from Derrick Turnbow, a young guy with very little experience. The A's are a great example as well. They had Billy Koch, who at the time was very good. They traded him when he got more expensive to the White Sox for players including Keith Foulke. Foulke did a nice job for the A's while Koch fizzled and fought injury. The A's let Foulke go via free agency and went with Octavio Dotel who was not very good. But now they have Huston Street, and less than a year out of college, he he is one of the better closers in the game.
My point is simply that outside of about four closers (Rivera, Wagner, Brad Lidge and Joe Nathan), the closer's role becomes a crap shoot. To me, it is a very overrated position and its primary statistic, the Save, is vastly overrated. I mean, the Closer comes in, most times, in the 9th inning with no one on, and sometimes a three run lead. Yes, there is something to be said about the fact that some make it and some don't, but just as often, a guy who is good this year and gets big money is a flop next year. To me, a reliever like Juan Rincon or Jesse Crain, guys who come in during the middle of the inning with runners on, and strand them, have an equally, if not more difficult job. How many times did Gardy bring Crain in with a couple of runners on and one out, and even without strikeouts, he got guys out without more runs scoring. How many times did he go to Rincon, needing a strikeout, and go it?
Of course, look at what the Cubs have done so far this fall. They signed the best left-handed middle reliever in baseball in Scott Eyre, and gave him three years and $12 million. Then in the last couple of days, they agreed to add Bobby Howry to a very similar contract. Who is the Cubs closer now? Ryan Dempster, another guy who was inconsistent as a starter, got hurt, and came back as a closer. Another example of the crapshoot that is the closer's role.
So, to bring it back to BJ Ryan and his contract. I like Ryan, and have wanted the Twins to try to get him for years. But the Blue Jays are now setting a huge precedent. What will the Mets sign Billy Wagner for? How much will this mean for the oft-injured yet had-a-great-2005 Bob Wickman going to get? How happy do you think that the Twins are that they got Joe Nathan signed for just $3.25 million for next year and $5+ million next year? How much trade value can he, as one of the top-level closers in the game, have for the Twins? What if the Twins are out of contention in mid-July. Don't you think that the Twins could make a killing by trading him? He could be replaced as the closer by someone like Juan Rincon or Jesse Crain, or maybe even Travis Bowyer.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
Hey, look who won so far this week! I can only say so far though. I am 14-1 going into tonight's game. Melissa Lien is 13-2. I picked the Colts. She picked the Steelers. Trevor Born, our overall leader, also is 13-2, but like me, he picked the Colts too. So, if the Colts win, I win. IF the Steelers win, Missy and I tie. It was a good week for our panel as we went 80% overall, and eight of the twelve reached that level.
To find out more about our panelists, our picks and this competition, click here.
|Trevor Born||Twins Junkie||13||2||86.7%||124||51||70.9%|
|Cory Hepola||KTVH-TV Sports||12||3||80.0%||122||53||69.7%|
|Mike Brasel||Fantasy FB Guru||10||5||66.7%||117||58||66.9%|
|Aaron Gleeman||Aaron's BB Blog||11||4||73.3%||117||58||66.9%|
|Will Young||Will's Twins Blog||10||5||66.7%||113||62||64.6%|
|Stick & Ball Guy||Stick & Ball Guy||12||3||80.0%||113||62||64.6%|
|Ben Jacobs||Hardball Times||10||5||66.7%||110||65||62.9%|
|Grant Balfour||Twins Relief Pitcher||12||3||80.0%||104||71||59.4%|
|Kevin Slowey||Twins Pitching Prospect||10||5||66.7%||98||77||56.0%|
I have received numerous e-mails from people who are curious if Chris Coste is playing Winter ball again this Winter. If so, where is he playing and how is he doing? Well, I finally found a link to help me find out. Actually, you can go to Baseball America and find good links to Winter Leagues in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Anyway, Chris Coste is playing this year. It is his second straight year with the Obregan Yaquis team. He is primarily catching for the team after playing 3B much of the regular season with the Phillies AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
Through Saturday, in 35 games, he is hitting .271/.367/.450 with five doubles, six homes and 23 RBI. In 145 plate appearances, he has walked 16 times and struck out 34 times.
Are you a blogger, or maybe interested in starting up a blog? If so, be sure to stop by BaseBlogging. It is written by Bill Ferris who, you'll remember, did a Q&A for this site last year when he was writing his Detroit Tigers Blog. This site is designed to "have information about: making money from blogs, getting traffic to blogs, blogging software, blogs as journalism, acceptance in mainstream media, etc." It is really interesting.
The Baseball Savant unveils his College Football Power-10 list through the weekend's games.
"Carl keeps insisting that he loses $15 million per year. The numbers just don't add up." That is how 'cmathewson' begins his most recent article at TwinkieTown. It is an article which questions Mr. Pohlad's clams.
Finally, let me remind you of our newest contest as sponsored by GuardDog Watches. Let me explain using what I posted on Friday when the contest was first announced. (NOTE - I have received more than one Why Baseball article, so the first watch winner has already been determined.)
If you remember our Favorite Baseball Player Contest a few weeks ago, it was sponsored by GuardDog Watches. There have been four more GuardDog 6000 watches donated to me to use for the site. Well, I am in need of some more Why Baseball articles. So, I have determined that the four people chosen to have their Why Baseball article posted on my site the next four Wednesdays will each receive one watch. Seriously, as I have said before, and not to sound too commercially, these are some nice, heavy-duty watches. I really like mine! Don't forget also that Christmas is coming! Please check out their site and take a look. I think you'll like what you see, and the prices are very reasonable. Do you know someone who needs a nice watch? Do you know someone who has a job there they should not wear a watch on their wrist, if so, this would be a perfect gift.
What I need? Again, I need people to write my next four Why Baseball articles leading up to Christmas. What is a Why Baseball article, you ask? Well, take a look here for what I was looking for in such an article, what types of questions I would want answered. (click here, here, here, here and here for previous Why Baseball articles) I would like it to be more than 1,000 words, if possible. If you're like me, and typing about baseball, and why we love it, I could type for hours. Don't at all feel bad about becoming wordy. Of course, that day will be yours, and after the Why Baseball stuff, you can discuss anything else you choose, about sports. Maybe the Wolves are bugging you, or you know what the Vikings need to do to win the Super Bowl. Maybe you want to say thank you to Sid Hartman for all of his years of work. Perhaps you would like to discuss the parents of youth athletes and their issues. It will be your forum.
How do I win a watch? If you are interested in participating and having a chance to get a great watch, send me an e-mail to let me know that you will be writing an article for me. Then, the first person to actually send me their version of a Why Baseball article will be our first GuardDog Watch winner. That person will receive a watch and their article will be posted next Wednesday. For the final three watches, all complete Why Baseball articles that I receive by Friday, December 2nd, at 5:00 pm central time, will be read by me (Seth), Mike (the owner of GuardDog watches) and one other person. Each of us will rank our top 5 entries in order and like an MVP vote, they will be given five points for a 1st place, four points for 2nd, and so on to 1 point for fifth. (for me, my vote will be on how heart-felt it is, the stories, the entertainment, and other things more than writing ability, so please, do not feel as though your writing will bring you down. that is not what the competition is for me.) The top three finishers after adding all three of our votes will get the final three watches and your Why Baseball articles will be posted starting the following Wednesday, December 7th. I will notify the winners.
(By the way, the other Why Baseball articles that I receive will also be posted intermittently over the next month or so. So, please do not feel as though your efforts could be wasted.)
Make sense? Any questions, please feel free to let me know. If you would like to know more about GuardDog Watches, click here or on the picture at the right. If you would like to order a watch, click here or on the picture at the left of the watch.
I will be back tomorrow with another Q&A. I have had some that I felt were really good previously, and this one is right up there with the best! I think you'll really enjoy reading it as it provides a very interesting perspective on a bunch of Twins minor leaguers. So, be sure to stop by tomorrow to see/read who the Q&A subject is, 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!
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