Monday, December 5, 2005
1st Inning - Winter Meetings Preview
2nd Inning - Twins at the Winter Meetings
3rd Inning - Your Thoughts on the Twins
4th Inning - Twins in Venezuela
5th Inning - Wolves Thoughts
6th Inning - Vikings Win!
7th Inning - NFL "Expert" Picks
SEVEN INNINGS WITH SETH
Good Monday morning everyone!
For two straight I have done this "Nine Innings" concept on Monday, and to be honest, I'm really liking it. Also, I have received enough feedback telling me that they like it and it makes it easy to follow. So, I may stick with it for the time being. Today, we'll cover a number of topics, but the majority will be baseball. I will briefly preview this week's Winter Meetings, and then specifically looking at the Twins. I have included many readers comments, mostly regarding the Twins acquisition of Luis Castillo. There are a few Vikings thoughts and Wolves thoughts, and hopefully some other things you'll enjoy. Oh, and be sure to check out how our Experts picked the Week 13 football games!
Let's get to it! Batter Up!
Just once, I would love to be able to go to baseball's Winter Meetings. I know in the last couple of years there have been several bloggers that went to it and were able to rub elbows with baseball GMs, managers and experts like Peter Gammons and Ken Rosenthal and more. Rumors run rampant as whispers trickle through the hotel lobby. Terry Ryan is talking to Ned Colletti. What could they be talking out? John Schuerholz is talking to a member of the Red Sox contingent. What's going on?! Peter Gammons is on his cell phone. Who is telling him what?
But again, I will have to hear such things from sources like ESPN, and my new favorite FoxSports.com (because it is free for their inside information!).
This year the Winter Meetings will be held in Dallas. The last time it was held there, Alex Rodriguez signed for $252 million. There were some other ridiculous free agent signings that season which really led to a lot of the economic unrest in baseball. The last few years, free agent contracts have been down, maybe the market corrected itself. This year, I don't expect any big free agent contracts to be signed during the meetings. First, most of the big names this year have already signed. Paul Konerko and Brian Giles remained with their teams. Rafael Furcal is about to sign a three year, $39 million deal with the Dodgers. Sure, there are a few more free agents out there, like Johnny Damon or to a lesser degree Jacque Jones, who could command some money, but nothing like 2001.
However, the free agent market for pitchers has become just ridiculous! We have seen excessive contracts given to closers BJ Ryan and Billy Wagner. Tom Gordon is getting closers money now that he will replace Wagner in Philly, and Kyle Farnsworth, who ended last season as the Braves closer, will be replacing Gordon as a setup man for the Yankees at 3 years and $17 million! So, who will replace Farnsworth as the Braves closer? Will it be Trevor Hoffman, and if so, who then replaces Hoffman as the Padres closer.
And how much will each command in this current free agent pitchers market, especially when former Twins castoff (twice) Hector Carrasco just signed with the Angels for two years and $6.1 million! Twins fans remember Carrasco. He pitched for the team in 1998, 1999 and 2000. In mid-September of 2000, the Twins were able to trade him to the Boston Red Sox for a prospect. The prospect? Lew Ford. He then spent the 2001 season in the Twins bullpen again. He did not play in the big leagues in 2002. He pitched for the Orioles in 2003 and did not pitch in the big leagues in 2004. Yet somehow, last season with the Nationals, he was one of the better relievers in baseball. He was 5-4 with a 2.04 ERA. Big picture, before 2005, the last time he had an ERA below 4.00 was in 1996, his third season with the Cincinnati Reds. And for that, he gets two years and $6.1 million.
This year, the story of the Winter Meetings will likely be trades. The Marlins have already traded Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo and Paul Lo Duca. Could Juan Pierre be next? Manny Ramirez could be sent to the Angels, or possibly still the Mets or Phillies. Where will Bobby Abreu wind up? Will the Yankees really hold on to Chien-Ming Wang or not? Will the Mets really hang on to Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman? Will the Brewers trade Lyle Overbay? Will the Tigers trade Pudge? Will the Dodgers trade Jeff Kent? Who will be the Dodgers manager?
In previous years, the Winter Meetings has been about free agent signings. This year should be a lot of fun because I think that trades will be the story. And, as we all know, there is not much more fun than following trade rumors! I think it will be fun to come home from work each night and watch SportsCenter to see what is going on. It will be fun to frequently check the wonderful musings of Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com as he unveils more stories from all of his sources.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
OK, now to take the Winter Meetings to a micro-level. What are the goals and objectives for the Twins this week in Dallas? What will Terry Ryan be trying to accomplish? One thing that they needed to do was find guys who can get on base and can take professional at bats. The Luis Castillo trade really helped them with that. He should help better the "O" portion of OPS. They still need to find bats that can really help the "S" factor!
What do they need? OK, this has been discussed ad-nauseum since the end of the Twins season. But let's take another brief look at the things that they need to do:
Acquire third baseman since the team is so reluctant to give Michael Cuddyer another shot.
Acquire a Designated hitter, preferably a right-handed bat.
Trade JC Romero.
Trade Kyle Lohse
Not trade - Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker.
Next, let's look a little more into each of those bullet points:
Acquire third baseman since the team is so reluctant to give Michael Cuddyer another shot.
Again, I hate to keep saying the same things, but I still don't understand the organization's complete lack of respect for Michael Cuddyer. I am not saying he's great, or certainly that he'll ever be the All-Star caliber player that I have thought he could become (I think that the Twins have done their best to keep that from happening), but he can be quite serviceable still. AND, he would be cheaper than some of the other players they are reported to be considering. Also, let's not fool ourselves into believing that Terry Tiffee is really going to be the team's 3B in 2006! So, who are those guys?
Hank Blalock - The Rangers 26 year old, two time All-Star 3B hit .263/.318/.431 with 34 doubles, 25 homers and 92 RBI last season. In 2004, he hit .276/.355/.500 with 38 doubles, 32 homers and 110 RBI. Very good numbers, but as we know, Blalock does not hit at all outside of Arlington and he can not hit left-handed pitching. Also, let's not just forget that the Twins are already a very left-hand heavy team already with Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel. Also, the Rangers are said to be asking solely for Francisco Liriano. If they are unwilling to back off on that request, no thank you!
Mike Lowell/Kevin Youklis - The Red Sox now have two 3B after their deal with the Marlins. Lowell had a bad 2005 season after five really strong seasons. He is owed $18 million over the next two seasons, but the Red Sox would likely chip in some cash. Lowell could at least provide some power for the Twins, something they need. They say they will finally give Youklis the job at 3B after being shuffled between the Sox and AAA the last couple of years. His quality is his approach at the plate. He takes pitches and isn't afraid to walk. He also has some power. The Red Sox still could play one of them at 1B, so I would suspect that they will ask for too much.
Bill Mueller - The Red Sox will let Mueller go as a free agent because of Youklis (and now Lowell). He won the 2003 AL batting title with a .326 average. Last season, he played in 150 games and hit .285/.369/.430 with 34 doubles, 10 homers and 62 RBI. Mueller will be 35 years old when the 2006 season starts and would likely receive a two year deal with an option for a third year.
Nomar Garciaparra - Arguably the most intriguing free agent out there again this offseason. Garciaparra has played 143 games... in the past two years. When he has played, he has not done poorly, but injuries have just cost him so much time. He played in just 21 games in 2001, and always missed at least 20 games a year with Boston before that. However, we are still talking about a 32 year old who is a career .320/.367/.544 hitter. A guy who has plenty of extra-base power and an ability to drive in runs. Because of that, as I mentioned last week, I would offer him a three year deal because I can't imagine other teams would be willing to do that. I would guarantee him $4 million in 2006, $4.5 million in 2007 and $5 million in 2008. However, I would also lace it full of incentives based solely on plate appearances that could add another $3-5 million over the life of the contract.
Other? Aside from the fact that the Marlins were selling off anyone making anything, Luis Castillo was not a name mentioned as a possible Twins guy. Knowing how Terry Ryan seems to operate, there could be some other name out there that he is looking at to fill the Twins 3B need. Maybe he is willing to give up a better pitcher or pitching prospect to acquire someone like Melvin Mora or Eric Chavez. Hopefully not Troy Glaus, but maybe Adrian Beltre and a LOT of cash.
Acquire a Designated hitter, preferably a right-handed bat.
I would think that power would be a necessity at this position, especially if they acquire a guy like Bill Mueller at 3B. Who are some of the names mentioned for this spot?
Frank Thomas - The Big Hurt has been just that the past two years, hurt. He has played in just 108 games the past two seasons. Last year, he played in just 34 games. He hit just .219 and had just 23 hits, but 12 of them were home runs. The man has a career OPS of .995 which is remarkable. He has a great batting eye and plenty of power. He probably would not cost the team terribly much, but even at that, would it be worth it? I mean, we are talking about a guy with a chronic ankle injury. David Ortiz was always hurt playing on the turf, do we really think that Thomas could stay healthy?
Mike Piazza - I have never been a big Piazza fan, even when he was an incredible hitter. The 36 year old is a 12 time All-Star, only for his hitting. For his career, he has hit .311/.382/.555 and has 397 homers and 1,233 RBI. However, he tore his groin in 2003, and has not been the same type of player since then. The last two years, he has hit .263 and .251. As an aging catcher, his number of games played has tumbled the last few years as well. However, with the Twins, he would be their DH and occasionally get a game at 1B or catcher behind Mauer and Redmond. I still think that Piazza's bat will get him too much money, and depending on much Piazza wants to continue to catch, some team may make that possible for him.
Kevin Mench - I just don't understand why so many Twins fans are infatuated with him. He is a good hitter whose best defensive position is DH. Mench will be 28 for the entire 2006 season. In his four seasons with the Rangers, he has hit .272/.334/.484 with 95 doubles and 68 homers. However, in the last two years, he has averaged hitting .270 with 32 doubles, 26 homers and 72 RBI. Of these three possibilities, I believe that Mench is the best of the three, but again, we have to factor in that he has played with the Rangers. He could be another corner outfield option to give other guys days off. But again, I would not give up a prospect for him. I wonder if the Rangers would trade him for JC Romero, or even Romero and Lohse?
Austin Kearns - We've heard the name of Adam Dunn as well, but I would prefer Kearns. The 25 year old was great his rookie year, however, he fought injuries and missed time the next two seasons. Last year, he really struggled early and was actually sent back to AAA. However, he hit well there and then when he came up again he wasn't too bad. He has major power potential, and his struggles may help keep his costs down for a few years. He could play into the RF equation as well as DH. Would the Reds trade him for Michael Cuddyer who could take over their 3B hole and probably put up some very solid numbers. I mean, if Joe Randa could hit homers there, imagine what Cuddyer could do!
Trade JC Romero.
Seriously, whatever it takes. However, because of the insane market for relievers, Romero for $2.2 million is not really a bad option for a team looking for a lefty. The Angels have frequently talked about wanting to have a left-hander in the bullpen. Could Erick Aybar be a possibility? Texas could be a possibility? Maybe the Cubs would like another lefty? The Twins should be able to get something for him even though every GM knows that the Twins are desperate to get rid of him.
Remember, a left-handed reliever is only valuable if he gets left-handed hitters out. Romero doesn't always do that. He gives up a lot of walks and allows almost half of inherited runners to score. The Twins have Dave Gassner, or Jason Miller, or Ricky Barrett, or others who could fill the role should the Twins feel absolutely compelled to have one. Also, there could be a free agent lefty signed for far cheaper in February who could be just as successful.
Trade Kyle Lohse
Terry Ryan is saying all of the right things regarding Lohse. He did have his best year last year despite the fact that he was just 9-13. In his four years, he has always pitched a lot of innings and been about league average. That makes for a very solid #4 pitcher for most teams. However, the Twins have plenty of other options to get league-average pitching from. And as a Scott Boras client, Lohse will get whatever he can. In arbitration, Lohse could get $4-5 million for 2006, a number that the Twins simply can not give him.
However, because Ryan has not talked a lot about giving Liriano the fifth starter spot and people outside of Minnesota may not know that Matt Guerrier and Willie Eyre could have a shot at it as well, Terry Ryan can still afford to hold out a little bit on Lohse to get something of value. Personally, I would be willing to trade him for a quality bat and a prospect, or even a package of a good prospect and a decent prospect. Lohse could fit in a lot of places. Put him in Boston or New York and his ERA could make him a 15-18 game winner.
Not trade - Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker.
There are a few complete untouchables on this team. The five above should be in that category. There are then several that "it would take a lot" to get rid of such as Brad Radke, Carlos Silva, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Matt Moses and Jay Rainville. Other than that, everyone should have a price. I hope Torii Hunter is traded, but if so, it has to be for a valuable package of major league ready hitter and a couple of quality prospects. Although I am hoping that Shannon Stewart comes back with a big season next year, I think he could be had for the right price. And more could be had, but the key is "for the right price."
So, there is a quick preview of the Winter Meetings for the Twins. Those are just some of my ideas on what the Twins need. Of course, the Winter Meetings are a good place to do those things, but there is still the rest of the season. The reason that this is a good time is more than just because every team is there, but also because other decisions have to be made in coming weeks. I mean, they will need to decide to offer arbitration to their free agents, and then to their arbitration-eligible players and other annual things that will tie up their time. So, if they can clear up as many issues as possible, it would be to their advantage.
So, what do you think? What do the Twins need to accomplish this week? Any thoughts? E-mail me.
I thought it would be fun, and fair, to post a few comments I received over the weekend regarding the Twins. Much of it was about the acquisition of Luis Castillo, but also included some other thoughts as well.
From "Brad"First Cuddyer. Do NOT trade him, just play him everyday! Last year he put up respectable numbers and really didn't get going until June. He is not a horrible 3B by any means and he is not Gaetti either. Just give him a position and let him play. If he were to get 500 AB next year, unlikely unless your name is Hunter, Stewart or Mauer, he will bat .270-.290, hit 20-35 HR, and drive in 85-100 runs. I'm sorry but Konerko wouldn't hit 16 HR in the Twins 6 or 7 hole. Lets see, I can pitch to Cuddyer or Boone. I'll take Booner.The Castillo trade is another example of Terry Ryan not knowing what his team needs to win. Sure Luis is a good table setter, but we NEED power and run producers and I think we paid a steep price for him. Sure he is a good 2B, but I would rather put the 2 guys we gave up and another prospect in a package for a true power hitter. Even someone like a Kevin Mench would be a good addition to our team. I know the Rangers want O Hudson from Toronto for Mench, lets work a 3 way deal in their. Twins get Blalock & minor league OF from Toronto (they have serious OF depth), Rangers get Bonser, O Hudson, Kyle Looooooser and Toronto get Mench and JC Romero. The Twins would get the 3B they desire and an OF prospect that they desperately need. The Ranger would get a 2B (which would allow them to move Soriano to the Mets for Benson and prospects), a starting pitcher and a solid pitching prospect. Toronto would get the power bat they want and relief pitcher which they need. As far the prospects in the Castillo trade maybe Ryan was scared off by Travis's BAD Arizona numbers. I know it raised some ???? in my eyes. Does the kid have an out pitch besides a 98 mph heater? Tyler will not be missed, he may turn out to be a great pitcher but he was no better than the around #10 pitching prospect as far as Twins prospects.
From Travis BrunsonI am not jazzed at all about Castillo and here is why in a long, off-the-cuff, nutshell.1. He has no power at all on our team that is dying for it (and has lost 3 of their 5 best power hitters the past two seasons by the way - Koskie, LeCroy & likely Jones). This leaves only Hunter & Stewart on the roster with 100 career homers & if Stewart ever hits 15 or more in a season the rest of his career I'll eat my hat (he may not hit 15 more ever). And who knows if Morneau will ever wake up after last year's disaster. We need another Punching Judy slap hitter like we need a hole in the head, regardless of position.2. He's expensive & now, unless payroll is expanded or current spendy players are somehow dealt, there is no money to get a power stick at 3B, DH or RF.3. He is going to be 31 and, like Stewart, has gotten slow, injured, etc. recently. So what that he stole a lot of bases five years ago; five years ago I was faster too (and I had more hair on my head and less growing out of my ears). He appears on the down slope right at the time he is getting expensive. Not only this but I believe his contract guarantees him big money in 2007 with enough 2006 plate appearances. I can only imagine that the Marlins are not eating any part of this contract & this is big money to a team like the Twins.I hate to lean pessimistic, and it was nice to see some statistical proof of his value by Stick and Ball Guy, but we don't need a decent hitting second baseman as bad as we need some other things. Maybe his plate discipline will have other postive effects that will carry over to other hitters (but this is a reach).I'd rather plug Cuddy in there (at 1/10th the money), or even go back to platooning the position with AAAA guys if this would free up the money to go get a man to play DH, 3B, or RF to put fear in an opposing pitcher that there is some risk a ball may leave the damn yard. Honestly, who is going to hit for power this year on this squad?Certainly one could hope that Hunter has another year like 2002 (doubtful), and that Morneau can hit 30+ like we all hope (we'll see), and that Cuddy doesn't suck for the first two months like always (would be nice) ... but unless we get a man with a stick and/or some of this happens, what is more likely to occur is another round of bitching by the overpaid Hunter, more animosity between him and the Mauer organizational shift, more punchups with Hunter & Morneau and a whole host of beatings at the hands of the White Sox (as just one example, the Indians & the Red Sox are two others that immediately come to mind) who appear to be putting together a team that was better than the one that just won the World Series in a sweep.In short, I am not impressed unless this is just the first piece of a bigger puzzle. If this is the big move this offseason, then this sucks.
Seth's Response - As I've said above. The Twins had enough problems just getting on-base. So, getting a guy with a career .370 on-base percentage is a good thing. Of course, if this is the team's lone acquisition, of course it isn't enough. But I have to believe that there is another move in the works that will get the team the power it needs. Of course, did they really have any power during the three division titles? No. Of course, their competition within the division wasn't as strong then, so power is now an area of need.
I donít know a whole lot about Castillo since I donít follow the NL very much, but what I do know seems like it would be a good thing for the Twins. He seems like a very good defensive player who can hit for average. Both are qualities that would be nice to see from one of our middle infielders for a change. I hope it happens and I hope the trade involves Romero and not Rincon. I kind of agree with your assessment of Romero. Iíve never been completely down on him because I think he has great potential. But youíre right, he hasnít pulled it together over the past three years and maybe a change of scenery would do him good.
As for Cuddyer, I guess weíll never agree on him. I think the Twins HAVE given him ample opportunity to succeed. What looks to you like heís being jerked around is what I perceive to be frustration on the part of the coaching staff. I think they want him to succeed, but since he has underperformed pretty much every place theyíve put him, they move him to another position in hopes that heíll succeed there. To me, thatís giving him a chance. I just think that Cuddyer peaked at a young age and while others around him continued to improve, heís stayed at the same level. Heís not a bad baseball player, heís just an average baseball player. He doesnít appear to have a clue what heís doing out there most of the time. I donít know, maybe Iím wrong about him. But it sure seems to me that if he was any good at all, he would have proven himself and thus earned a starting spot at ONE position. The thing we agree on is that the Twins should unload him. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good, too. I know Iíd prefer to see him in another uniform.
From Beth Miller
Trade Michael Cuddyer? My favorite player? What kind of talk is that. Although if you drugged me with some truth serum, you might actually get me to grudgingly agree that it's a good move (I have thought about it, but rejected it on the grounds that I didn't want him playing for another team--but scenery change, and a true permanent position, and the respect/trust of the coaching staff could turn things around for him). On the other hand, he's never done a truly horrible job for the Twins. He's never hit so poorly that we were in tears (except AprilÖ*shudder*). I really want him to be settled in somewhere. And Terry Ryan might have a point that Michael never looked overly comfortable at third--this I'm just speculating, but it's possible that TR noticed something different about the way Michael walked, and his attitude in general, when playing third base versus second or right field. He might be happier and more relaxed at second or right field. I can actually see that being true, simply due to being deaf in his left ear--playing third, he would not be able to hear his team as well, and it might've made him a little more tense. I do not know. But I hope they give him a real chance this year. There is no point in keeping him to jerk him around like has been done.
Of course, if you ever have a thought, please feel free to e-mail me. As I have said before, I really enjoy reading your thoughts and comments whether I agree with them or not. I certainly don't claim to know everything, or that all of my opinions are gospel.
This week, I'll just update the stats for the Twins in Venezuela. Last week, I did a brief analysis of each player, but you can look back too read that. So, here are the Twins players and prospects in Venezuela:
Danny Matienzo - .200/.266/.376 with 3 doubles, 4 homers and 13 RBI. In 93 plate appearances, he has eight walks and 17 strikeouts. (did not play all week)
Luis Maza - .338/.401/.462 with 9 doubles, 3 homers and 19 RBI. In 156 plate appearances, he has walked 11 times and struck out 17 times.
Josh Rabe - .325/.427/.413 with 6 doubles, a triple, a homer and 18 RBI. In 145 plate appearances, he has walked 19 times and struck out 23 times.
Luis Rodriguez - .347/.434/.361 with a double and nine RBI. True to his history, he has walked nine times and struck out seven times.
Alex Romero - .255/.306/.336 with nine doubles and 13 RBI. He has eight walks and fifteen strikeouts in 118 plate appearances.
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. (has not played for awhile now)
JD Durbin - In five starts, he is 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA. In 15.1 innings, he has given up 22 hits and seven walks to go with 15 strikeouts. (In other words, in his one start of the week, he got just one out and gave up four hits and two walks. Not good!)
Willie Eyre - He is now 7-0 with a 1.19 ERA. In 53 innings, he has given up 44 hits and 11 walks while striking out 32. (That is a 2-0 week for Eyre. In 12 IP, he gave up 10 H, 2 BB and struck out seven)
Jan Granado - He is 3-2 with 2 saves and a 4.97 ERA in 13 games (3 starts). In 29 innings, he has walked 9 and struck out 12.
Matt Guerrier - 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. (he did not pitch all week)
Jannio Gutierrez - So far, he has just pitched one inning in one game down there. (also did not pitch)
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. (also did not pitch)
Jose Mijares - The lefty has pitched 3.2 innings in the eight games in which he has pitched. He gave up a run on five hits and three walks. He has struck out six. (In 1.2 innings for the week, he gave up no runs, but he allowed two hits and walked two, while striking out three)
Oswaldo Sosa - He is 2-0 with a 3.34 ERA. In 35 innings (8 starts) he has allowed 36 hits and 10 walks. He also has struck out 29 hitters. (One start, he went four innings and allowed seven hits and a walk, and struck out two.)
Again, 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, Luis Rivas 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 in Los Angeles against that Lakers. It was far from easy though. The Wolves had to overcome an 18 point first half deficit, but excellent shooting, particularly in the second half helped the team win. The Wolves scored 68 second half points. At one point late in the game, they made ten straight shots. You can see why when looking at the shooting percentages of the top three scorers. Wally Szczeriak led the team with 34 points. He was 12-16 from the field including 4-5 from three point range. He also made all six of his free throw attempts. Kevin Garnett scored 29 points. he was 11-16 from the field and made 7 of 8 free throws. Troy Hudson was 7-13 from the field including 3-5 three pointers for his 18 points.
You never want to get behind, especially by the much, but it is a sign of what the team is this year. It is a scrapping team that will continue to play hard even when things aren't looking so good. And sometimes that ends up with your team getting a win. Even when it doesn't, it keeps the team going and in time it does catch up. This is not a great team, but KG, plus a couple of shooters, plus a couple of defenders and rebounds, plus a trade or two and this could be a scary team to play in the playoffs.
Last night, despite a 3-14 night from Kevin Garnett, the Wolves were still able to beat the Sacramento Kings on the road. Garnett ended with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The team was led by 18 (on 9-12) from Wally Szczerbiak. Hudson again came off the bench to chip in 17. The Kings are currently 1/2 game behind the Lakers for last place in the Pacific Division. My how the mighty have fallen!
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.
Right before the game, I happened to be exchanging e-mails with Bill Ferris. You remember Bill writes The Detroit Tigers Weblog, but now he writes the BaseBlogging site. Anyway, I said something about the Vikings game, and he replies, "You mean the Lions game, right?" I believe my comment was "Yeah, that's what I meant. You know, this is the type of game that the Vikings have found a way to lose in the past, so it could be scary."
Well, the Lions took the opening kickoff and turned it into a field goal to give them the lead. The way they worked down the field kept that somewhat awkward feeling in my gut. But then the Vikings got the ball, and on the first play, Brad Johnson aired one out to Koren Robinson who had beaten his man and rambled 80 yards for a touchdown. What a great play call to set the tempo of the game. With Mewelde Moore hobbling on a questionable ankle, Michael Bennett got the bulk of the carries. He gave the Vikings and 14-3 lead early in the second quarter on a seven yard run.
The defense really came through again although this week it wasn't in returns or even sacks. They just made all the plays. They were able to pressure Garcia, and the first guy was able to make the tackle. They were able to hold the Lions to field goals, rather than TDs. Early in the 3rd quarter, Brad Johnson threw a little pass to Michael Bennett who made a couple Lions defenders miss for a five yard TD catch. That gave the team a 21-3 lead. Another field goal cut the lead to 21-9. An Artose Pinner six yard run cut the lead to 21-16, and when the Vikings were unable to convert a first down, Paul Edinger had to punt again. This was scary because of the Chris Kluwe injury, but Edinger bounced a great punt that went out of bounds at the Lions 6. However, with about two minutes left, if the Lions went in to score, they would likely win, and my fear of a Vikings let down would have come true. Roy Williams made a couple of catches, but when Corey Chavous intercepted a Garcia pass intended for Williams at the 3 yards line, the Vikings had their win.
It was good to see Koren Robinson have a big day. Not only did he have the 80 yard TD catch to start the Vikings offensive day, but on the next drive he had a 52 yard reception. So, he could make the big play, but don't forget the leaping nine yard catch he made later in the game for a first down. It should not be completely surprising. I mean, KoRo is just 26 years old. In 2002 when he had 78 catches for 1,240 yards, he had 19 receptions for over 20 yards and four of those for 40 or more yards. This year with the Vikings, in very limited time, he now has three plays for more than 40 yards! That may prove to be a great signing for the Vikings.
Brad Johnson was efficient as ever. On the afternoon, he was 17-23 for 256 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and most importantly, no turnovers. It was good because he also threw the ball deep at least four times. When he missed, he missed too deep which was surprising (in that he could) and smart in that no one but his receiver could catch it.
Daunte Culpepper was in the Detroit to watch the game yesterday, up in a suite. That is good. He should be there showing his support for his teammates. The debate will likely continue as to whether or not the team would have won five straight with Culpepper at the helm. I must still reiterate that Culpepper is the better quarterback, but long term, this injury may be good for Culpepper. That may not make sense, but maybe he will see how Johnson manages a team and a game, and when he comes back, maybe Culpepper will be even better.
Any thoughts on the Vikings, and maybe even their playoff hopes? E-mail me.
What a week so far for our panel! Through the Sunday afternoon games, our panel had accurately selected the winner in 13 out of 14 games. Three of the twelve panelists were 13/14. Three more were 12/14. Maybe it just took us 12 weeks or so to figure things out? (Note - this is now updated through all Sunday games. All 12 of us got the Chargers over the Raiders. Also, all 12 of us have the Seahawks in tonight's game, so you know our winners, it is just a matter of whether we get one more right, or one more wrong.)
To find out more about our panelists, our picks and this competition, click here.
|Trevor Born||Twins Junkie||14||1||93.3%||139||52||72.8%|
|Cory Hepola||KTVH-TV Sports||14||1||93.3%||137||54||71.7%|
|Aaron Gleeman||Aaron's BB Blog||12||3||80.0%||130||61||68.1%|
|Mike Brasel||Fantasy FB Guru||11||4||73.3%||129||62||67.5%|
|Stick & Ball Guy||Stick & Ball Guy||14||1||93.3%||128||63||67.0%|
|Will Young||Will's Twins Blog||11||4||73.3%||125||66||65.4%|
|Ben Jacobs||Hardball Times||13||2||86.7%||124||67||64.9%|
|Grant Balfour||Twins Relief Pitcher||13||2||86.7%||118||73||61.8%|
|Kevin Slowey||Twins Pitching Prospect||9||6||60.0%||108||83||56.5%|
That's it! Seven innings. We'll just say there was rain or something. Also, I need to still have a life on the weekend! Hey, I went bowling again this weekend. Let's just say, in two games, I averaged 100! Uggh! Anyway, I will be back tomorrow with a special Q&A guest. Have a great Monday! 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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