October 31, 2007

NBA Season Preview

This is normally a Twins/Baseball-only blog, but with the MLB off-season underway, there isn't going to be a consistent amount of news for a while so I'm going to just give my thoughts on the 2007-2008 NBA Season.

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division

1. Boston Celtics - There's not really that much debate about this one. The additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to accompany Paul Pierce is going to be something special.
2. New Jersey Nets - Richard Jefferson is going to be the wild card for this team if he's healthy I can see them going far, they still struggle to find a low-post presense, but I think Jamal Magloire will be a decent addition.
3. Toronto Raptors - They were a surprise team last year, and I think that TJ Ford will continue to blossom after a few years of injuries. Chris Bosh will also continue to develop into an All-Star Power Forward and Andrea Bargnani looks to be a special player as well.
4. New York Knicks - They have talent, they just can't seem to put it together on the court. The addition of Zach Randolph to accompany Eddy Curry is going to be huge for them, but Stephon Marbury is going to need to stop whining and start playing.
5. Philadelphia 76'ers - The sixers have a good foundation settling around Andre Iguodala, but I think that Thaddeus Young is going to need to contribute a lot as a rookie for them to do anything. I don't expect much from them this season.

Central Division

1. Chicago Bulls - The Bulls have a very young, talented roster and if they get Kobe or if they don't get Kobe, they'll still be #1 in this division. I expect Luol Deng to pick up where he left off last season and have a very productive year.
2. Detroit Pistons - The Pistons are getting older, but I still think they have a very sound team and are going to give opponents their troubles night-in and night-out.
3. Cleveland Caveliers - LeBron James will once again carry this team, but I don't know if they have a good enough supporting cast surrounding him to do anything substantial. After reaching the Finals in '07, I see them having a disappointing season (as a team) in '08. But I think LeBron will generate MVP buzz once again.
4. Indiana Pacers - They too have a good group of younger players, except they just don't seem to keep their head screwed and let their emotions get the best of them. Jermaine O'Neal needs to stay healthy for them to be effective. Danny Granger is going to excite people that have never seen him play before.
5. Milwaukee Bucks - Although I think they have a better team than they did last year, I just don't know if they'll be able to beat out any of their division counterparts. I think they can be a surprise team this season, so this 5th ranking is definitely just temporary.

Southeast Division

1. Orlando Magic - I really like what the Magic have right now. They added Rashad Lewis to an already stable lineup and Jameer Nelson is going to have his fair share of players that can help him rack up assists. Dwight Howard is a beast, and I expect (very) big things from him this season.
2. Miami Heat - Even with Dwayne Wade out of the lineup for a while, I still see the Heat making a splash in the East. The only thing that will hold them over though is if Shaquille O'Neal can stay healthy and in the lineup until Wade comes back. Ricky Davis is going to have a solid season with the Heat.
3. Atlanta Hawks - The Hawks have an extremely talented young team. Acie Law was a consistent performer in college and I expect him to be an important piece to their team. Al Horford has looked good so far in pre-season and may give the Hawks their best low-post player since Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
4. Washington Wizards - They have a good team, but Gilbert Arenas needs to just shut up and play. He grabbed the attention of many fans last year, but he is letting it go to his head in a hurry. The Wizards are going to need to keep him out of the media.
5. Charlotte Bobcats - The Jason Richardson trade looks to be a great move right now after they found out Adam Morrison would miss the rest of the season. Richardson will give them another high-flying exciting player, but I still think that they need another player to step up. Emeka Okafor has been solid, but not elite. Raymond Felton looks ready to have a breakout season.

Western Confernce

Southwest Division

1. San Antonio Spurs - Do I really need to explain this ranking?
2. Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki had a great season, but someone else is going to need to step up and help him out. Josh Howard needs to stay out of trouble and I like what Devin Harris can bring to their offense.
3. Houston Rockets - Tracy McGrady will need to (more than ever) stay healthy this season. The Rockets have one of their best teams I've seen and if he can stay healthy, I see them going far. Steve Francis needs to step up and make the starting lineup, he's still their best point guard.
4. New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul is an amazing point guard and I really like his future. David West impressed many last year, but he needs another productive season.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - I expect them to have a better team than last season, but I just don't see them being a contender. Pau Gasol is going to be traded this season, I think that's a fairly safe assumption.

Northwest Division

1. Denver Nuggets - Many think that playing with Carmelo Anthony is going to hurt Allen Iverson and he won't be as effective as he has in seasons past. But I disagree. Just because he likely won't score close to 30 points, I still think he'll get his fair share of steals and assists to help be a consistent contributor.
2. Utah Jazz - Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer carried this team on their backs last season and if Andre Kirilenko can produce instead of whine, then I like their chances of going far this season.
3. Seattle Supersonics - Although both Rashad Lewis and Ray Allen are gone, they did a good jobe of replacing them with rookies Jeff Green and Kevin Durant. Green likely will start the season on the bench, but I expect him to make an impact at some point this season. And Durant is just such a special player that he'll cause defenders trouble all season.
4. Portland Trailblazers - After the draft, I predicted that the Blazers would be a surprise team this season, and they still might, but with Greg Oden officially out for the entire season, I don't like their chances. Last seasons Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy has been battling injuries through camp and his heal could cause him to miss some time this season.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Before I go too far into this, I really want to stay optimistic about the Wolves this season and think that they could surprise, but realistically I just don't see it happening. The Wolves have a great foundation of Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer and even Rashad McCants, but they lack another go-to guy which they'll likely get with their high first round pick next season. Possibly center Roy Hibbert from Georgetown. I like the direction we're going, and I'm happy that McHale didn't pussy-foot around while he dismantled our roster, he pretty much did it all this summer and I like that. Hopefully he can build it as well as he dismantled it. But for that part, I'm not as optimistic.

Pacific Division

1. Phoenix Suns - I think that the Suns are still the best team in the NBA, but their championship hopes are dwindling with Steve Nash now 33 years old and his lingering injuries probably causing him problems this season as well, I think that this is a make or break year for the Suns. The addition of Grant Hill will give them yet another great player, but he too has injuries that will haunt him. Shawn Marion is the NBA's most underrated player, and they should do anything they can to try and re-sign him.
2. Warriors - The Warriors came on very strong and the end of last season and really surprised many in the playoffs, I think that they're going to be a great team as long as they can keep their "nose clean" and stay out of the night clubs. Baron Davis really played hard and will look to have another impressive season.
3. Lakers - Any team with Kobe Bryant on it will definitely be considered an immediate contender. I'm really getting sick of the drama with him and the Lakers and I hope they ultimately end up trading him. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they don't really have a great foundation for a team that is likely going to start rebuilding. I think their best bet is to try and surround Kobe with talent, before trying to move him.
4. Kings - The Kings will be without Mike Bibby for a while, but they still have a solid team. Kevin Martin will look to continue his progress into one of the NBA's elite scorers. Brad Miller needs to have a good season other wise Spencer Hawes will likely take over. If Shareef Abdur-Rahim can stay healthy, they'll likely be close to making the playoffs.
5. Clippers - After a couple promising seasons, the Clippers are back to where most of them have seen them the most, at the bottom. Elton Brand looks to be out for half the year, Shaun Livingston is still rehabbing from last years devastating knee injury and Sam Cassell is probably on his last leg. The only thing that can save this team is if they use their heads and start Al Thornton over Tim Thomas. Thornton had a great preseason and is an important part to this teams success in the future.


Phoenix Suns over the Oralando Magic in 6 games.

The Suns really are going to come out swinging this season and although the Spurs are still the team to beat in the West, I feel the Suns will end up victorious. The Magic are definitely a "sleeper" pick to win the championship, or even to make the playoffs, but I expect big things from them this season. Call me crazy, but I'm taking a shot with them.

League MVP: Dwight Howard. He focused on the offensive side of his game this off-season and I think it's not too unrealistic to see him averaging around 23 points, 14 rebounds per game.

League ROY: Kevin Durant. I wanted to make another "sleeper" pick such as Al Horford or Al Thornton, but Durant is probably the most realistic. Horford and Thornton will probably both develop buzz as well, but I think Durant is going to end up being the player that everyone thinks he is.

Any thoughts? Opionions?

October 30, 2007

Hunter and Silva opt for Free Agency, More Torre

As expected, outfielder Torii Hunter and pitcher Carlos Silva opted for free agency on Monday, which means that the Twins now have exclusive rights for the next 15 days to try and re-sign either of them before other teams can place bids for them. Although other teams can not express financial terms of any contract, they can express length. And from reports, Hunter is looking for a 5 or 6 year deal while Silva is looking for a 4-5 year deal.

As smart that I may think letting Hunter go, I just can't hope to see him in another uniform. At 32 years old, Hunter is a two-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner, and he's coming off of one of his best seasons as a professional. The player often referred to as "Spiderman" was an offensive beast this season for the Twins, batting a respectable .287/.324/.469 with 74 extra base hits and 107 runs batted in. He finally produced from the 3-hole in the lineup for the Twins, which they've wanted since he came up with the Twins almost 10 years ago. He also had one of his best years defensively with just 2 errors in center field and a nice .995 fielding percentage. He has been the leader for the Twins for the most part of this decade and he has stated numerous times that he'd like to stay here (although he's also stated his interest in playing elsewhere). I don't know what to expect with him, but I think that the Twins will ultimately end up signing him for 5-years $75 Million, which has been speculated for quite some time. The catch is that I really think the Twins will find some quirky way to defer payments until after he is retired, sort of the way the Mariners re-signed Ichiro Suzuki this summer.

Silva just 28 is in his "prime years" of his career and just finished one of his best seasons in his career. He was one of the most reliable pitchers for the Twins down the stretch, as Johan Santana started to struggle as the season progressed. Silva finished with a 13-14 record with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Although I like Silva's "veteran presence" in our very young rotation, I just don't like the thought of having a ground ball pitcher on our turf. The ball speeds up on the turf and it makes it harder for our defense, especially our infielders to field the ball cleanly. Silva gave up .287 batting average and is a career .299. I just think that he puts our team into too many holes, unless his grounder is really on, which many times this year, it was. "Chief" Silva is Johan Santana's best friend and it is known by many that both would like to play with one another. But with the market value so high on pitchers, I just can't justify paying him near $10+ Million per season which he could likely find on the open market. I predict the Twins offer him a low-ball offer with the 4-years that he's requesting, but he'll likely only get around $6 Million annually from the Twins if he chooses to say.

In the result that neither return, here are a few (realistic) possible replacements:

Center Field

Kenny Lofton: he's a 40 year old outfielder who could provide a presence at the top of the lineup for the Twins, which could move Bartlett to either #2 or to the bottom of the order (although, I'm sure Lofton would be the one to move down). He had a great 2007 season and could be a (relatively) cheap acquisition who could provide Denard Span another year to develope.
Possible contract offer: 1-year $8 million.
Mike Cameron: Cameron is going to be 35 years old next season and is one of the best defensive players in baseball. A few years ago, Cameron was the only center fielder comparable with Torii Hunter, defensively. And although he has very bad discipline at the plate, I can deal with it as I've dealt with Torii's for the most part of his career. He will likely be a little more expensive for another year or so.
Possible contract offer: 2-year $18 million deal.
Corey Patterson: Patterson is a very energetic player and would provide a great athletic outfielder to the Twins lineup. Although he bats lefty, I would rather add him than either of the two previously mentioned. Patterson doesn't add a ton of power, although with a left-handed friendly ballpark, he may net a few more dingers at the dome. I wouldn't mind seeing Patterson roaming center field for the next few years, and I think that it's a realistic possibility.
Possible contract offer: 3-year $18 million deal.
Darin Erstad: Erstad has always been a player I've thought the Twins would someday sign, mostly because he is from North Dakota. Erstad plays hard and will probably run through a brick wall to catch a ball or to reach home plate. I like that, but with it comes a very big con which is his injuries. He's battled injuries the last two seasons and he likely won't avoid the DL in Minnesota, playing on the turf.
Possible contract offer: $2-year $5 million deal.


Before I list the possible candidates, this is my projected 1-4 starters:

1) Johan Santana
2) Scott Baker
3) Francisco Liriano
4) Matt Garza
5) ????

• Nick Blackburn:
I liked what I saw from him in his first three or four appearances, before he collapsed at the end. He has pitched well thus far in the AFL, and he will likely be a candidate to make the rotation come Spring Training.

Kevin Slowey: Slowey had an impressive season in the minors, and showed some flashes in his short time in the majors, and although I think he'll have a fine career, he needs to prove more next spring because right now I think he has a lot to work on.

Boof Bonser: Bonser was demoted to the bullpen late in the season because of his ineffectiveness in the 5th+ innings. He had a ridiculous 8.00 ERA in the 5th inning and a 7.56 ERA in the 6th. The Twins believe this is an endurance issue and have asked Boof to come to Spring Training in better shape. He's vowed to do it, so I think he has as good of a chance as any.

Glen Perkins: Perk spent the majority of the '07 season on the DL after suffering a shoulder injury in May. He came back in mid-September and was great for the last 2 weeks of the season. He only allowed 3 hits and didn't allow a run in 5 innings to finish the season. He also struck out 4 batters. The Twins would like to revert him back to starter, but he's been great in the bullpen and with a crowded bullpen as it is, I think he'll spend the entire '08 season in the pen as well.

As you can see, the Twins definitely have options, both in-house and out on the open market.

Stay tuned. The next few weeks will definitely be interesting.

On a side note: The Lower Hudson Journal is reporting that the Los Angeles Dodgers are set to fire manager Grady Little, to replace him with Joe Torre. Following Torre will reportedly be bench coach Don Mattingly and Torre would like to also hire hitting coach Kevin Long from the Yankees. This is a new report, but has been speculated since his "firing" from the Yankees.

October 29, 2007

Alex Rodriguez to opt out of contract

Last night during game 4 of the World Series, Ken Rosenthal announced that he had spoken to Alex Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras and that his client has decided to opt out of the final 3 years of his $252 Million contract. This coming just a week after manager Joe Torre rejected a 1-year offer to manage the team.

This is a big blow to the New York Yankees who have been consistent with their decisions that if he did opt out of his contract, they will not get into a bidding war with another club. This leaves the Yankees with a big hole at 3rd base in '08 where right now it looks like Wilson Betemit is the starter, although that is very unlikely going to be the real starter come opening day.

Rodriguez was set to make $27 million per season for the next 3 years, or $81 Million. Now it looks like he'll likely get at least $30-35 million per season on the market. A few teams that could be looking to add him (and that could realistically pay him) are the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Tigers and even the Florida Marlins have been mentioned as a possible destination.

The move will also clear the Texas Rangers about $20 million off of Alex Rodriguez's deal. It could even clear enough room to the point that they decide to make a big push for Twins center fielder Torii Hunter.

Rodriguez is coming off of one of his best seasons, if not his best season, as a pro in '08. The 32-year-old third baseman batted .314/.422/.645 with 54 home runs and 156 RBI's. He also had a career best 1.067 OPS. His magnificent season likely will end up with him receiving his 3rd AL MVP Award of his career. But of course, with all his success, he was still the most scrutinized player in all of baseball because of the team he played for.

Of course, I don't think the Twins will ever add a player like Rodriguez, but I do think it'd benefit our team for obvious reasons. He would provide a great right-handed bat that the team has been looking for, he would give the team a lot of publicity which some feel would be good, and he'd put fans in the seats which is probably his biggest asset.

I could go on and on about how it'd be nice to see him in a Twins uniform in 2008, but I'm not going to waste my breath. It'll never happen.

But oh how nice it is to dream.

October 26, 2007

Friday's Notes


• Center Fielder Torii Hunter is in the press yet again (I know, shocking!), this time he's talking about his disappointment with the Twins that they have yet to offer him a contract since his previous offer of 3-year $45 Million at the end of the season. He goes on to say that "it has nothing to do with money...that's just a percentage." And that his chances of remaining with the Twins are still "fat, but it can get slim quick.

• Earlier this week, the Twins made an easy move by picking up Joe Nathan's $6 Million option for next season. It's especially easy since his "market value" is probably twice that amount. The Twins will likely try to avoid any distractions next season and try to resign him this winter.

• Looks like, Charley Walters strikes again. Just a day after Walters published an article that the Twins have offered pitcher Carlos Sivla a "3-year deal worth slightly more than $7 million a season," Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune wrote this on his blog:

"One report said the Twins have offered Silva a three-year deal worth slightly more than $7 million per season. A local radio station went on to say Silva has “turned down” that offer. I called Silva’s agent, Peter Greenberg, and here’s the message he left on my voice mail: “No, the Twins have not made any offer to us as of 6:10 East Coast time, Thursday, Oct. 25. And you can quote me on that.”

Also spoke to a Twins official on the subject, and he said they have no idea where that’s coming from."

If you're wondering why I'm so critical of Walters, it's because he makes moronic statements such as this.

• Last night the Rockies kept things close but couldn't prevail as the Red Sox took a 2-0 advantage before the series heads to Colorado on Saturday. I like the Rockies chances in game 3 at home against Daisuke Matsuzaka, but with Josh Beckett likely starting game 4, I can't see another favorable match-up for them in the series. But it's baseball, and the reason I love it so much is that it's so unpredictable and anything can happen. But I'm not too optimistic for the Rockies chances in this one.


• Falcon's corner back DeAngelo Hall's time in Atlanta may be coming to an end sooner than expected. The 23-year old in his 4th season got into another verbal spare with rookie head coach Bobby Petrino. He voiced his opinion (this time) through the media of his displeasure with the team cutting veteran defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Hall felt that the club was "signaling out" Jackson for the club's poor play thus far and called the decision "asinine." This is coming from him after being fined $100,000 by the Falcons just last month for his sideline rampage with Petrino.

How about a Chad "Ocho-Cinco" Johnson for DeAngelo "Big Time" Hall? Both teams struggle in the respected players position and both players are thought to be "on the block". It'd also be ironic that they'd be traded for one another after their known rivalry when they meet.

• And it looks like Brad Childress is finally "wising up" and will increase Adrian Peterson's role with the offense (likely meaning more "touches") as the season progresses. Well it's funny that it only took millions of fans or even people with very little football knowledge to figure that out before Childress did. I say this to you Brad Childress.

• In case you missed it, the Boston College vs. Virginia Tech football game did not disappoint. The #2 ranked B.C. Eagles down 10-0 went on a 91-yard scoring drive to put the Eagles down by just 3 with 2:11 remaining in the game. After recovering an onside kick, quarterback Matt Ryan and the Eagles came back and scored with just 11 seconds remaining in the game to put the Eagles ahead of the #8 Hokies for good at 14-10. Quarterback Matt Ryan made one of the best plays of the year as he rolled to the left, he threw a pass across to the back right of the end zone to connect with running back Andre Callender.

This win secures #2 Boston College's spot for the week and with #1 Ohio State playing a very tough #25 Penn State, it could put them at the top of the rankings by early next week.

It also erases some of the doubt of Matt Ryan's Heisman candidacy. With a great year now capt off with an incredibly clutch performance, Ryan looks to be the leader for the award at this point.


• On Wednesday, the Timberwolves made yet another trade, this time moving proven veteran and scorer Ricky Davis along with Mark Blount to the Miami Heat for a package of 3 players including Antoine Walker. The Heat also gave us a conditional first-round draft pick in next June's draft.

I know some are very disturbed (others not at all) by this deal, because the team is losing it's most proven player in Ricky Davis who was looked on by many as the likely leader of our team this year. But, I'm not so sure it wasn't a bad move. I like that the Wolves are clearing room for Corey Brewer/Rashad McCants in the starting lineup which both have had impressive pre-seasons and both are important pieces to the future of our team. This season was labeled a "rebuilding year" after we traded away Kevin Garnett, and I think that keeping Ricky on the team was not the best thing for the future of our team since he likely wouldn't be an important piece for us in 2-3 years.

I will add that I do know many didn't like Ricky's attitude and thought he would hurt us more than help us.

I really have to give the Wolves and especially Kevin McHale credit. They said that we were going to rebuild, and they aren't pussyfooting around and they truly dismantled our team in about a year. So, we know he can dismantle a team, but can he rebuild it? That's the question we're going to be asking for the next few years, but call me optimistic.

One reason is because we have a good core of young players including guards Randy Foye, Brewer, McCants and Sebastian Telfair along with some talented forwards from Al Jefferson to Gerald Green. This deal also is moving two very over-payed players and we're getting a player in Michael Doleac who is a free agent next year, Wayne Simien who's still "cheap" and Walker who will probably never play for us (buyout, trade) so this deal definitely will help us in '09 when Kobe Bryant can opt out of his contract (I can dream).


I want to say something constructive about Wild Hockey. But I'm still upset over their 5-3 loss against the Calgary Flames when they lead 3-0 with 10+ minutes remaining in the first period. And last night didn't help with a 5-4 loss in a shootout. It was a close game, but I just can't say anything constructive.

October 24, 2007

World Series Game 1 Preview

2007 World Series: Game 1

Jeff Francis ........... Josh Beckett

The Red Sox come into the game winning 3 elimination games in a row against Cleveland where they outscored the Indians 30-5. The team last played on Sunday, which means that the bats will probably remain hot as they carry a lot of momentum heading into game one.

The Rockies on the other hand haven't played since October 15th. The team also has a lot of momentum as they've won 20 of their last 21 games including all 7 so far in the playoffs. Although they've definitely been a very good team thus far, I think that the extended layoff is going to end up hurting them and I expect their bats to be cool. That's something that they can not have happen as the Rockies will face Josh Beckett in game 1.

Beckett has been phenomenal in the playoffs up to this point. He is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 11K/1B through 23 innings pitched. He will be facing young southpaw Jeff Francis who has also been quite impressive in the playoffs. He is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA and 4K/1BB in 12.2 innings.

Both teams will need to get off to a hot start, and I think that game 1 is the most crucial for this series. If the Rockies win, they will knock out Josh Beckett and will go back to Coors Field (at the worst) tied with the Red Sox (possibly up 2-0). But if the Red Sox win, they'll knock out Jeff Francis and will be in good shape to continue their success throughout the series.

Game 1 Pitching Advantage: Red Sox

Offensively, both teams are stacked with big bats that can carry themselves to a championship.

The Colorado Rockies batters have been alright up to this point, but the team will need Todd Helton to step up after hitting a measly .154 with just 1 RBI through the NLDS & NLCS. Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins both have hit under .200 as well. They have been riding strong starting pitching through the entire playoffs, but I'm afraid that their luck will end here if they don't start hitting the ball.

The Red Sox have had strong play by Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and rookie Dustin Pedroia came on strong in the last 3 games of the NLCS with 3 multi-hit games in a row. The Red Sox lineup has been unreal so far, they've even faired well against great pitchers including C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Jared Weaver. Hopefully the Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook-type pitchers won't give them too many problems in this series like in the Cleveland series.

Offensive Advantage: Red Sox

This is a big game for both teams. And I really expect to see a great game.

Game 1 Prediction: Red Sox win, 6-4

October 22, 2007

Hey! Don't forget about me!

Well it's already been a year that learned Twins hard-throwing left-hander Francisco Liriano would miss the entire 2007 season while he recovered from Tommy John Surgery.

Well a year later, after months, and months of rehabilitation, Francisco Liriano is finally finished with his rehab program. He is now heading back to his home in the Dominican Republic to prepare for Spring Training like he normally would.

This is incredibly encouraging for the Twins who will need a healthy Liriano this season more with Carlos Silva and Johan Santana both possibly gone.

I know that we shouldn't expect much from him this season, because he'll obviously be rusty. And a lot of pitcher are never the same, but I'm optimistic that Liriano will be one of the "chosen ones" that comes back better than before.

A lot of pitchers learn that they develope 2 sometimes 3 mile per hour faster on their fastball which would put Liriano at or very close to the 100 MPH mark.

A few other pitchers who have successfully recovered from TJ Surgery include; Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, Mariano Rivera, Kenny Rogers, Jason Isringhausen, and the 2006 National League Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter is rehabing.

Obviously that list is very encouraging, but there are also a few guys that make you remember, that it's not always going to help such as Kerry Wood or Joe Mays.

But with the encouraging news we've gotten through Liriano's entire rehab program of how he's been (almost) ahead of schedule and has looked great, makes you have optimism for a 100% recovery.

One of the Twins top pitching prospects Jeff Manship did a Q&A with me in August, here is what he had to say in regards to his Tommy John Surgery.

Josh's Thoughts: (Sorry in advance if this is a difficult subject to talk about). You had Tommy John surgery in College, what exactly was wrong with your forearm? What was the hardest part about rehab? And does a player need to stick to a strict program while recovering?

Jeff Manship: I first felt discomfort in my elbow while playing for Team USA in the summer after my senior year of high school. We were playing in a tournament in Curacao, Netherland Antilles and in the 4th inning of a game against Venezuela, I injured my arm. I threw a fastball and immediately my whole forearm and elbow tightened up. I followed with 3 more pitches and they all felt the same so I pulled myself out of the game. I never heard the infamous "pop" of my ligament tearing so I did not believe any serious damage had occured. I ended up having Tommy John surgery in Febuary of my freshman year.

The hardest part about the rehab was how monotonous it got. The pain was never too severe. The only discomfort I felt was in the early stages when trying to stretch my elbow out and remove the scar tissue.

If you want to recover it is wise to strictly follow the program. I was determined to come back 100% so I made sure to do everything correctly. I was also informed that I could possibly come back throwing harder so that provided extra incentive to work harder.
So obviously, it's encouraging to see him do so well after his surgery, I just can't help but wonder how great our rotation will be in 2-3 years (with or without Johan Santana).

October 19, 2007

Joe Torre done as Yankees skipper

I'm sure everyone has already heard, but in case you haven't Joe Torre is not coming back to manage the New York Yankees for a 13th season.

Torre who has lead the Yankees to 12 straight playoffs and 4 World Series rings, was under intense scrutiny by the "Boss" George Steinbrenner after failing to advance the Yankees past the first round for the 3rd straight year. Steinbrenner announced to the media that if the Yankees didn't make it to the 2nd round, that he'd likely be done as manager of the New York Yankees.

The team offered him a 1-year $5 Million deal with an $8 Million option for the 2009 season. The deal also would give him a $1 Million bonus for each round of the playoffs the team advanced (World Series = $3 Million in bonuses).

My reaction to the deal is very insulting. Joe Torre is one of the best managers to ever be associated with both the New York Yankees and the entire sport of baseball. The contract is a $2 Million pay decrease from last year, which I'm not sure is the real problem, it's the fact that it's a one-year deal. Which means that next year, he'll be right back in this spot that he's in now (if the Yankees don't make it to the World Series, which then means that the 2008 option is guaranteed).

If the deal were for 3-years $15 Million, then I'm not sure he wouldn't accept it, but why offer him a 1-year deal when the team may be without the best player in the league, with or without Joe?

I do not have a problem with the Yankees, they do not do anything wrong. Major League Baseball and Bud Selig almost endorse their erratic spending and any team can do it, it's just that the Yankees are the one of the only ones that do spend ridiculous amounts of money.

What's my point? Well there's two points I'm going to make. First, the Yankees are acting like "penny pincher's" in regards to Joe Torre's contract. There was talk that the team was going to get rid of Joe last year, but the team would've been forced to pay him the majority of his contract anyways. This is coming from a team that spends $250 Million+ each year on player payroll, what's another $5-7 Million to keep a manager that both the players love and the fans as well, and that gives you the best chance of winning (debatable, but who else would do a better job?). I don't understand it. The Yankees are starting to go into another direction, in regards to trying to build from within, but I think that Joe Torre is still the best man for the job, either way.

I'm not saying that the years are in fact the reason why Joe decided to reject, or if it's the money, or if it's just another personal reason, but I cannot believe that the team would only offer him a 1 year deal. It's ridiculous.

My second point is that with that ridiculous payroll and great team success, many fans have grown a hatred for the Yankees. Mainly George Steinbrenner, but none-the-less, the Yankees. Joe Torre made a lot of fans have less of a hatred toward the team, and they respected his managing.

I don't think that there's a single person out there that could've done a better job, and I think that the Yankees are very fortunate to have had Joe Torre.

Torre will hold a press conference at 1:00 pm (CT) today.

This is what free agent and future Hall of Fame Closer Mariano Rivera said in regards to returning to the Yankees next season:

“The Yankees are one of 30 teams now.”

I'm sure that some of the other free agents including catcher Jorge Posada, and pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte feel the same.

This may also affect Alex Rodriguez's decision on whether to opt out of the remainder of his contract, and head for free agency.

Only time will tell.

In closing I'd like to add that as a fan of baseball, I'm sad to see Joe gone.

October 18, 2007

Torii Hunter...Tidbits

Since there isn't really anything substantial to talk about right now in regards to the Twins, I will just give a few tidbits that I've found.

  • Torii Hunter gave his interest for playing for the Washington Nationals or the Atlanta Braves. He stated that it could be the race of the fans that could make him interested in playing there. Does anyone think that he'll make that big of a difference? What are your opinion of the quotes in that article? What happened to this attitude Torii? All I will say is that I like that Torii Hunter wants to make a difference.
  • According to Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press, catcher Joe Mauer is likely to undergo hernia surgery. Walters also says that pitcher Carlos Silva will likely be classified as a "Class B" free agent, meaning that if he does not resign with the Twins, we will receive a "sandwich pick" in return. He also added this "brilliant" bit of info:
If the Twins can't re-sign free agent Torii Hunter, plans are to trade, sign a free agent or go in-house to find his center field replacement.
  • Thank you Charley, I don't know what I'd do without you.
  • Tim Dierks of mlbtraderumors.com expanded on the debate of classifying Carlos Silva as a "Class B" free agent.
  • The Minnesota Twins released a "tentative 2008 schedule." I liked the fact that the Twins will be playing the Yankees twice at home. It's the first time since 1999 that the Bronx Bombers have made it to the Dome twice in the same season. The Twins will also make their first trip to Coors Field to face the Rockies in May. The Twins will host the Diamondbacks, Nationals and Brewers at home in inter league play. The Twins will make a trip to San Diego to face the Padres at the end of June. We play in Boston and New York in July. Single-game tickets go on sale at Twins fest which is at the end of January.
  • According to La Velle E. Neal, the Twins will make a run at resigning both Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva, but both will likely test the free agent market.
  • Oh Manny! After yesterday's 9-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez had this to say:
"It doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world."
  • Well, that's the winning spirit, Manny! I don't want to "jump the gun" or anything, but Manny's been talked about being moved for several years, perhaps Theo Epstein and the Red Sox may actually move him this time. I know Manny is a great player, and he's one of my favorites, but telling your fans and teammates that you don't care and "there's always next year" when you're down 3-1 in the LCS will never sit well. Joe Christensen offered his opinion of what Manny had to say.
  • In closing, the Celtics crushed the New York Knickerbockers last night 101-61. Former Timerwolve Kevin Garnett scored 13 points. The "Big-3" which consists of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and KG combined for 49 points. I really am looking forward to seeing this kind of scoring from the Celtics this season. (Just because of Kevin Garnett)

October 16, 2007

An early look at the 2008 season (Part 2)

As a follow up to yesterday, here is the conclusion of my early look at the 2008 season.

The Twins have a couple options going into next season, in regards to Johan Santana and Joe Nathan. I personally would do this. Although I know it would not be a popular choice.

I would trade Johan Santana for Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt.

The offer would give the Twins 3 young position players who won't only help this team this coming season, but for the next 10 years if all goes well.

With Santana off the books, and with Torii Hunter a free agent, our 2008 payroll is now (to my estimates) $43,740,000. That gives us plenty of room to resign our arbitration-eligible players to contracts, and also it gives us room to resign Joe Nathan and still have room to sign an impact bat.

Here are my projected deals:
  • Justin Morneau: 6 -year $70 Million deal (2008 Salary: $9 Million). It's about the same contract that Torii Hunter wanted, but with Morneau being 6 years younger than Hunter is, I can see the Twins giving him something similar to this.
  • Michael Cuddyer: 4 - year $35 Million deal. (2008 Salary: $6 Million).
  • Joe Nathan: $3 -year $38 Million deal. (2008 Salary: $9.5 Million)
Free Agents:
  • Bobby Abreu: 3 -year $28 Million deal ($9 Million in '08). I feel that Bobby Abreu still has a little left in his tank. He's battled injuries, but he's still a very good contact hitter and has a big enough swing to belt a good number of home runs over the right field baggy in the Metrodome.
  • Bartolo Colon: 1 - year $2 Million deal (option for '09). He's had two bad years, both plagued by injury. But if he can stay healthy, I think he'd be a good fit.

With the trade and the free agent signing, our lineup would look like this:
  1. Jason Bartlett - SS -R
  2. Joe Mauer - C - L
  3. Matt Kemp - CF - R
  4. Justin Morneau - 1B - L
  5. Michael Cuddyer - RF - R
  6. Bobby Abreu - LF/DH - L
  7. Jason Kubel - DH/LF -L
  8. Andy LaRoche -3B - R
  9. Nick Punto - 2B - S

That is a very good lineup mixed with veterans and young players. I think this could potentially be a lineup that could bring us to the playoffs or possibly even the World Series.

But offense isn't everything. Usually in baseball, offense will carry you throughout the season and the pitching will carry you in the playoffs. So what would our pitching rotation look like?
  • Starter 1: Matt Garza
  • Starter 2: Scott Baker
  • Starter 3: Francisco Liriano
  • Starter 4: Kevin Slowey
  • Starter 5: Bartolo Colon

Obviously, our rotation is not going to be the same without Johan Santana at the top, but I think that our rotation will be sufficient. I know I don't want to put too much of it on this, but I really do think that Francisco Liriano will have a good year. Not his '06 form, but I think he'll be a reliable starter and will show people flashes of his "old days".

This now leaves us with a payroll of $79,240,000. Definitely still in our "range" and it would give us a good young team that can be ready to compete in '08.

What do you think? Does this work? What would you do differently?

October 15, 2007

An early look at the 2008 season...Part 1

The 2007 season for the Twins was one to forget. Even with the devastating injury that prevented young southpaw Francisco Liriano from throwing at all, we still had very high hopes. The team brought in free agents Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Jeff Cirillo to try and help give our young team a "veteran presence", but that backfired. None of those three finished the season with the Twins, and none of them made a real impact on our team. 2008 is going to be a big year for our club. We are moving closer to opening the stadium in 2010 and we really want to put a competitive team out on the field to help build fan base prior to opening the stadium. Doing this is going to be a tricky task. We have a number of players who are either free agents, or are looking to sign extensions including Torii Hunter and pitchers Joe Nathan and Johan Santana.

Here is a look at the projected salaries and payroll of the team:

Starting Lineup

Pos. Player Type
Salary (Approx.)
C Joe Mauer C $6,250,000
1B Justin Morneau A $8,000,000
2B Nick Punto C $2,400,000

SS Jason Bartlett S $460,000
LF Jason Kubel A $1,800,000

RF Michael Cuddyer A $6,500,000


Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
C Mike Redmond C $950,000
2B Alexi Casilla S $460,000
3B Brian Buscher S $460,000
OF Jason Tyner A $1,250,000

Starting Rotation

Pos. Player Type Salary (Approx.)
S1 Johan Santana C $13,250,000
S2 Matt Garza S $460,000
S3 Scott Baker S $460,000
S4 Francisco Liriano S $460,000
S5 Kevin Slowey S $460,000


Player Type Salary (Approx.)
CL Joe Nathan C $6,000,000
SU Matt Guerrier A $2,400,000
SU Pat Neshek S $460,000
LO Dennys Reyes C $1,000,000
MR Juan Rincon A $2,000,000
MR Jesse Crain C $1,050,000
LR Boof Bonser S $460,000

2008 Total: Contracts

2008 Total: Arbitration

2008 Total: Serf

2008 Totals:

Key: (for the abbreviations that may cause trouble)
S - Serf
C - Contract
A - Arbitration

Alright, as you can see the Twins are about $20 Million-$25 under the "projected" '08 payroll of $77,000,000-$80,000,000. So $20-25 Million to spend on 3 different holes should be more than enough...right?

Well in order to think about that, you also need to think about 2009 (I know, it's crazy to think 2 years in advance). What is going to happen? Joe Nathan and Johan Santana will be free agents. Joe Mauer's salary will be about $4 Million more than it is in '08. And that's not including Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau among others will be in arbitration with Jason Bartlett, Francisco Liriano, and possibly even Scott Baker joining them. It's insane to think about, but I really am having a hard time with our payroll right now.

When you take a quick glance, yeah, we should be able to afford Torii Hunter and still have enough for another impact bat or two. But then you have to start thinking about the other players I mentioned and if we sign Hunter, who do we leave behind? I think it's very unlikely to expect the Twins to be able to afford all of those players while signing them long-term.

But can it be done? Definitely. But we'll likely need a bigger boost in payroll over the next few seasons in order to accommodate the increase in salaries.

So what should we do? Well before I say anything, I don't want anyone to think I am a "Torii Hater" or that I don't like Torii, because honestly he's one of my favorite players. But I really think that giving a 32-year old center fielder who has a history of injuries is a big mistake. I know Torii has a few more years left in him, and I'm not looking at 2 or even 3 years from now. I'm looking at years 4-6 (or 4-5) when the contract is ending. Is he still going to be able to play center field? Is he going to be healthy enough to play out his contract? At what level will he still be able to compete? We have to look into all of these aspects (and probably more) when you deal with a player like Torii Hunter.

The other aspect is, well what if we do resign Torii Hunter? What does that mean for guys like Joe Nathan and Johan Santana who are free agents in '09? Do we resign Torii and not one of them? How do you choose which one not to sign? You can make an argument that Torii Hunter and Johan Santana are more "significant" to the teams success than Nathan, but when you look at that, Nathan is still very "significant" and he'll likely demand anywhere between $5-10 Million less than Hunter or Santana per season. And also too, do we let them walk after next season? Or do we look to trade them?

Since Morneau and Cuddyer are also looking at receiving new deals, where do they rank in priority even with them still not eligable for free agency until 2010? Because every year that we wait to resign them, the more their price tag will increase.

Back to the trading though. If we trade Johan Santana, we can likely expect a baseball version of the Hershel Walker-Vikings deal. We should expect to fill at least 1 of those holes (right now), while receiving another top prospect or two (who could fill a hole or two in a couple years). And if we trade Joe Nathan, we can expect the same thing, just to a lesser extent.

So hypothetically, what is a fair deal for Johan Santana? Joe Nathan?

Well for Santana, I think that the Dodgers have a fair offer of outfielder Matt Kemp and pitcher Clayton Kershaw, but I think that we should demand third baseman Andy LaRoche instead of Kershaw and also we should get at least one more (B-type) prospect as well. Why this deal? Because this deal would clear A LOT of cap space and it would give us 2-3 every day players (if the additional player(s) are position players) while giving them a pitcher that only plays every 5 games. But, the downfall of this deal is that we are giving up (somewhat) arguably the most dominating pitcher of this decade and we're receiving a few unproven players.

If that deal wasn't suitable. I think another potential deal that could help this team is to make a deal with the enemy, the New York Yankees. Who could we expect to receive? Well I think any deal needs to be centered, not around "uber prospects" Phillip Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, but around 24 (soon-to-be 25) year-old second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano has played exceptionally well since he came up with the Yankees in 2005. His numbers have improved (for the most part) from year to year and I expect that to continue as he's a very good all-around hitter. He, along with outfielders Jose Tabata and Melky Cabrera could make this deal very appealing to the Twins. Tabata will be 20-years-old next season and could start in either AA or AAA. He has great speed and a great bat which could allow him to hit anywhere from lead-off to the heart of the batting lineup. Cabrera is also very young, just 23-years-old and in his 2nd full major league season, he continued to impress with his good defense and sufficient bat. He adds good speed and could step in right now to take over center field for Torii Hunter (if we don't resign him). I believe that Tabata shows more potential as a run producer, but Cabrera can also improve in that area. This deal would give the Twins 2 everyday players for 2007 and another for either 2009 or 2010. But, we don't really want to make the Yankees stronger, do we?

As for Nathan, I think the Yankees could also be interested in him as well. They may lose Mariano Rivera to free agency, which means that they'd be force to rely on young Joba Chamberlain to close for 2008 (if they filled it from within), but if they wanted to go after a (believed to be) available closer, then Nathan is the best there is. I'm not doubting Chamberlain's ability to close at the major league level, but I think that Nathan is already a proven closer and I think they'd be better off trading for a proven closer right now, especially if they lose a few other pitchers to free agency. They mine-as-well try to keep him available for the rotation which could need repair work.

Anyway, I think the Yankees, Orioles, Cubs, Indians, Rangers, Tigers and possibly the Brewers could all actively be perusing a closer. I'm not going to get into specific deals, but I think a good mix of young everyday players would be a fitting deal with any of these teams.

So what are my thoughts on what the Twins should do?

Check back in my next post to see...

October 12, 2007


Hey everyone. Hopefully next week I'll be able to post more on a regular basis, the lack of news regarding the Twins and the fact that I've been very busy with school and work, definitely have made it hard for me to post this week.

In case you haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you save this link to your favorites. It is the webcam to the new ballpark.

Unless I get the time to post over the weekend, I should be back on Monday. Have a good weekend!

October 10, 2007

ALCS & NLCS Thoughts.

In order to understand what I'm going to be saying, I recommend that you review my post-season predictions I made last week.

Well, that wasn't what I exactly had in mind. I was 50% correct from the standpoint that I picked two teams out of 4 to advance, but the two teams that I had going to the World Series found their way home after a 1st-round knockout.

Now lets get some perspective. I am horrible at predicting these kinds of things. I have never agreed with that fact, but I really am. I chose the Twins to sweep the A's last year (before the opposite happened), I chose the Yankees to beat the Tigers (nope) and then I later thought that the Cardinals were "no-match" for the Tigers (again, nope). And it took me almost 3 years before I was right about Kyle Lohse being traded, so there are just a "few" circumstances.

But anyways, I want to continue my "excellence" of predicting what I think will happen from here on out. After watching the previous series, here are my new predictions.

NLCS: Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
These two teams are very familiar with each other after facing one another 18 times this season. The Rockies won the season series 10-8, but obliviously that's too close to say one team has been superior to the other. I really expect to see a very hard fought series by both teams and I see this one coming down to the wire. Although I won't be surprised to see the Diamondbacks come out on top in this series, I just think that Colorado's momentum will continue to carry them like I though Minnesota's momentum should have carried them in '06.
Predicition: Colorado Rockies in 7 games.

ALCS: Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have something that the Indians don't have, experience. Although that theory didn't faze the Tribe in the first round when they faced the Yankees, I am (fairly) sure that it'll finaly make it's stand in this round...right? The Red Sox won 5 out of 7 games during the regular season and with the Red Sox starting the series off at home, I think that gives them the first advantage in the first 2 crucial games of the series where both teams will be sending their aces to the mound. As much as I'd like to see the Indians advance because they are our competitor and they represent our division, I don't know if they'll be able to outhit David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. And to me, their rotations are about even. C.C. Sabathia - Beckett = wash. Curt Schilling (remember the sock) - Fausto Carmona = wash. Paul Byrd - Daisuke Matsuzaka = wash. So to me, it comes down to the hitters and I don't see Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez out hitting Ortiz, Ramirez, or Mike Lowell.
Prediction: Red Sox in 6 games.

World Series: Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox
Now, before I begin As much as I truly would like to see the Rockies win, I just don't know if they'll match up (pitching wise) to the Red Sox. The Rockies rotation has been good thus far, but so has the Red Sox and to me, the Red Sox have the best rotation in baseball, so I really don't see a match there. Offensively, I think it's fairly even. Both teams have some exciting players who have stepped up when the pressure is on. Should/would be a fun world series to watch if both of these teams advanced (actually I think any combination of teams advancing will give us a good world series). But with that said, could I see the Rockies upsetting the Red Sox? Definitely. I just am going with the odds.
Predicition: Red Sox in 5 games.

Arizona Fall League

The AFL officially started yesterday, and I thought I'd try to give an update of the Twins players who are participating.

Trevor Plouffe started at short stop and went 1-4 with a double and also walked. Anthony Swarzak started the game and went 2 innings and gave up 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 run and struck out 1. Unfortunately the Phoenix Desert Dogs lost 7-3 to the Mesa Solar Sox.

Matt Macri (injury replacement for David Winfree), Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Ryan Mullins, and Drew Butera are also on the roster.

October 6, 2007

Twins make a couple roster moves

On Friday, the Twins outrighted outfielders Lew Ford and Josh Rabe along with infielder Tommy Watkins to AAA Rochester. The move "endangers" the Twins of losing all 3 to free agency if they decline. I say "endangers" because I really don't think this move will really effect the team all tha much.

Ford has been a very inconsistant player off the bench after his promising 2004 season in which he hit .299/.381/.446 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI's in 569 AB's. He followed that up hitting .250 with just 14 home runs and 72 RBI's over the next 3 years in which he had 872 AB's. He also had numerous "mishaps" in the outfield including a misplay that allowed 260 lbs. Prince Fielder to score on an inside-the-park home run in a June day at the Metrodome. Ron Gardenhire continued to use him in the outfield because he was fairly quick and agile, but he soon became a liability and was then lost on the bench.

Josh Rabe spent all but 14 games on the DL with a torn labrum in his shoulder this season. I think that Josh Rabe offers more than Lew Ford, but his injury definitely makes the Twins concerned about his future. I personally believe that he'll sign a minor league contract to stay with the Twins and could compete to make the Twins roster out of Spring Training in '08.

Tommy Watkins should also be back with the Twins. I really like T-Dub and I personally hope that he can make the Twins next spring and stay with us the entire season, he really deserves it. He's been with the Twins since he was 17 years old (he's 27 now) and he finally got his first taste of the Major Leagues this season before his season came to an end just a couple weeks after he was promoted. I really hope he stays with the Twins and can get another chance next season.

Also, on Thursday the San Diego Padres claimed Luis Rodriguez off of waivers from the Twins. Rodriguez appeared in 68 games with the Twins this season batting a meger .216 with just 2 home runs and 12 RBI's. I think that Luis would've been a better option at 3rd then Nick Punto this season as I think "L-Rod" has a solid glove and a better bat then him.

I really think that this is a positive note heading into the off-season. These guys were liked by a lot of fans (maybe not so much with L-Rod), but all have very limited ceilings as far as their potential goes and I think that new GM Bill Smith just did the best thing that we could do for them. I really like the moves he made yesterday and I am really optimistic about this off-season at the moment.
I'm curious to know what some of you may think of this photo:

Yes that's Cleveland Caveliers All-Star LeBron James holding up a New York Yankees ball cap while attendint the Indians-Yankees game in Cleveland on Thursday. James is from Akron, Ohio and plays Basketball at Gund Arena which is (litteraly) just feet away from Jacobs Field where the Indians play.

Now, what does this mean? Well, it means that he's a fan of the New York Yankees, what else would it mean? I honestly don't think that he said "Things are going to good for me in Cleveland. I KNOW! I'm going to wear a cap of the Yankees to piss everyone off!" Really? Do any of you really think he did that to piss everyone off?


October 4, 2007

Trade Rumor: Jason Bay

Another day, and yet another trade rumor. This time, centering around young right-hander Matt Garza and not the great Johan Santana.. The rumored deal would have Matt Garza going to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfielder Jason Bay.

Bay is a 29-year-old left fielder from British Columbia, Canada. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004 and made the NL All-Star roster in 2005 and 2006 and even made an appearance in the Home Run Derby. Unfortunately, he was eliminated in the first round after hitting zero home runs. But still, it's the thought of it that counts... right?

Bay signed a 4-year $18.25 Million contract which will take him through the 2009 season. He is a career .281/.375/.515 hitter and has 118 career home runs in 616 games (2205 AB's). 2007 was a down year for Jason as he hit a career low .247 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI's in 145 games. This is the reason why his value is so low at the moment. If he were at the top of his game, he's one of the best hitters in the entire league.

The fact that the Twins are even rumored into getting this guy is pretty shocking. Not because he's not worth it or that he's on a potential downfall, but because he's actually a pretty good hitter and the Twins haven't really gotten one of those for a while (through free agency or trade). The other thing that is pretty surprising is what the Twins would potentially have to give up. Matt Garza has a world of potential, but he still is a huge question mark as he still has a lot to work on. I personally think that the Twins are getting the better end of this deal, especially since I think Bay's 2007 season was just a fluke being that it's the only outlier of his career. The rest of his stats have been pretty consistent.

I think that Garza could still be a #2 pitching in any rotation some day (including ours), but if we can trade him at a position we have a surplus of for a position we have a lack of (good all-around middle of the lineup hitters), you have to do it. Bay has enough athleticism that he could also be a possible replacement for Torii Hunter if the Twins declined his contract. He had a poor '07 on defense as well, but his .991, .996, and .991 fielding % in '04, '05, and '06 should indicate that it could also be just a fluke.

I know one player who would like this deal, and that is former MVP Justin Morneau. Morneau & Bay played together for team Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. They are also both Vancouver Canucks fans. I really think both would like to play with each other and I'm hoping it will happen.

What would Bay bring to the Twins?
Bay would bring a great all-around bat in which he hits for both power and average. He also does it from the right side of the plate which is where the Twins would like to improve on.

Can the Twins afford him?
Bay's 4-year $18.25 Million contract is very reasonable for the Twins to squeeze into their 2008 and 2009 budget. He will make $5.75 Million in 2008 and $7.5 Million in 2009. The Twins will also lose guys such as Carlos Silva and Rondell White this off-season, so fitting Bay in would be no problem.

Where would he bat?
If Bay came back to have a solid 2008 season after a pretty bad '07 campaign, he could find his way in between Joe Mauer & Justin Morneau at the 3/4 spot in the lineup. It really depends on what Ron Gardenhire has in store. I am guessing that if Torii is resigned, he will get the #4 spot between the M&M Boys until he really is a liability and at that point he could give Bay the shot. Either way, I think that Bay would have to earn a chance to bat between them two, but I think he could definitely be a solid bat for the Twins.

Should the Twins really do this?
Yes! I honestly think the Twins should do a deal for a great hitter (like Bay) this off-season. Does it necessarily have to be Bay? No. But I think that he's definitely an option and with the Twins having a pluthera of young pitchers between the Majors and the Minors the team should really consider doing something like this. I really do agree with the saying "you can never have enough pitching", but when you don't have good enough hitting to help you even make the playoffs with a very solid rotation, then that's a problem that needs fixing. Pitching wins championships, but offense will carry you to the playoffs and with no offense, it's moot to keep such a great rotation. The Twins also have a few more (believe it or not) other pitchers who could be ready for the majors at some point in the next year or year and a half including top prospects such as Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship as well as guys like Oswaldo Sosa, Jay Rainville, Ryan Mullins and Brian Duensing. Tyler Robertson could also be a guy to quickly move through the system. The Twins need to do something to get us a high-powered bat, and I think that if it takes dealing Garza, then that's what we'll have to do.

October 3, 2007

End of Season Award Winners - National League & More!

Yesterday, I posted my American League Award Winners, so today here are my National League Award Winners. And make sure to check back and compare them to my "Mid-Season Award Winners" that I made at the All-Star Break.

National League Cy Young

Player: Jake Peavy
Team: San Diego Padres
Position: Pitcher
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Age: 26
Season: 19-6, 2.54 ERA, 240 K, 64 BB, 217.0 IP, 57 ER, 33 G/GS

To say Jake had an impressive season would be an understatement. Jake Peavy had a remarkable season in 2007 for the Padres and really was the clear-cut Cy Young Winner for the National League. If his 19 wins with an ERA just over 2.5 wasn't enough, he also had a great 3.75
K/BB ratio. He also held batters to a .208 average. Unfortunately he may be most remembered in 2007 as the guy who gave up 6 runs to the Rockies in the sudden death game that ultimately lead to the Rockies making the playoffs over the Padres. The 6 runs over the 6 1/3 innings raised his ERA from 2.36-2.54.
Runner Up: Brandon Webb
Mid-Season Winner: Jake Peavy
Mid-Season Prediction: Jake Peavy

National League Rookie of the Year

Player: Troy Tulowitzki
Team: Colorado Rockies
Position: Short Stop
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Age: 22
Season: .291 avg., 24 HR, 99 RBI, .359 OBP, .479 SLG%

This is a very debatable award. There are two very deserving players and anyone can make a case for either. As much as I like Ryan Braun, I had to give the award to Tulowitzki. I really liked what I saw from Tulo's this season. He made the jump from AA-MLB last year and came out "sluggish" in '07 batting just .244 in April but really picked it up in May to raise his average which ultimately had him flirting .300 by season's end. He did this while playing a very important position for a Rockies team which came out of nowhere to shock the world in making the playoffs for just the clubs 2nd time in its 14 year existence and it's first in the last 12 years. He did all of this while playing Gold Glove caliber defense. He may even end up walking away with that award as well.
Runner Up: Ryan Braun
Mid-Season Winner: Hunter Pence
Mid-Season Prediction: Ryan Braun

National League Most Valuable Player

Player: Matt Holiday
Team: Colorado Rockies
Position: Left Field
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Age: 27
Season: .340 avg., 36 HR, 137 RBI, .405 OBP, .607 SLG%

Could it be that two Rockies beat out two Brewers for Awards? Well to me, this award isn't really close. Although that's not to say that others players such as Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez or Prince Fielder didn't have impressive seasons. But if you look at it, Matt Holiday indeed had the better season of all of them. Holiday was the true leader of the NL Wild Card winning Rockies team which kept improving as the season went on. He lead the NL in two very important stats; Average and RBI's. He also finished 2nd in SLG % and 4th in HR's. He also played Gold Glove caliber defense in Colorado and he too may walk away with two awards just like his teamate.
Runner Up: Prince Fielder
Mid-Season Winner: Prince Fielder
Mid-Season Prediction: Chase Utley

I was going to wait until later this week to make my post-season predictions and such, but I have a bunch of stuff that I'm going to try and get caught up on, and since I have time right now, I'm going to just make my points right now.

Post Season Predictions - AL Divisional Series/ AL Championship Series

ALDS: Anaheim Angels vs. Boston Red Sox.
This is a very interesting series to me, mainly because I can see either team win it. Both teams have experience in the post season and both have won championships recently. I personally think that it will come down to pitching and the Boston Red Sox have one of the best staffs in the league and their "Big 3" of Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, and Daisuke Matsuzaka all have experience in the post season (Dice-K in the Olympics & World Baseball Classic). That's not so say that the Angels don't have a good rotation, because they do, but I think that the experience is a big factor. My Prediction: Red Sox in 4 games.

ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
I also have a tough decision in this series as well. The Cleveland Indians have been a very strong team all season, which has its flaws as well as its perks. The team may have beaten itself up over the coarse of a very long season. But also too, they haven't really shown many signs of decay which is a definite positive. Although Travis Hafner has not really been a strong contributor until having a magnificent September where he hit .316 and had 5 of his 24 home runs. The Tribe will need him to stay hot in order to over take the Yankees. But, I honestly can't count against the Yankees. They came from nowhere and surprised everyone by almost overtaking the Red Sox late in the season. But that also can be a flaw, the Twins came from nowhere last year to win the division only to get swept by the Oakland Athletics. A comeback like that can definitely takes it toll on a team. But with the experience that all the Yankees players have and the fact that I think that this is the year that Alex "Mr. October" Rodriguez arises to the challenge. My prediction: Yankees in 5 games.

ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
I know that many either really want to see this match up, or really don't. But I think that this would really be a fun series to watch. Both teams have a great history of memorable battles in the post season, but I think the Yankees get the best of them this time around. Prediction: Yankees in 7 games.

Post Season Predictions - NL Divisional Series/ NL Championship Series

NLDS: Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Cubs have suffered probably more than any other organization in the Majors. Miss fortune after miss fortune has given the Cubs very deep wounds that have just gotten deeper over time. But the 2007 season offered a ray of hope for the Cubbies as they also finished off a relatively frustrating season to rally and take the division with just a few games remaining. The Diamondbacks have also been a big surprise this season as they have a very (very) young team with a pluthera of talent, but little to no experience. The long season may (or may not) take its toll on the young players and I'm expecting either a very enthusiastic lineup or a very lethargic lineup for the "Baby Backs." My Prediction: Cubs in 5 games.

NLDS: Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Both of these teams really played hard to get here. Neither teams were really though of as realistic choices to make the post season, but truth-be-told, both made it. I'm really excited for this series. I'm not a big fan of the Phillies (although I still like their team), but I really have "Rockies Fever " right now, even before their exciting (but controversial) sudden death game against the Padres on Monday night. The Rockies have a great lineup surrounding an MVP candidate in Matt Holiday, a veteran in Todd Helton, and a Rookie of the Year candidate in Troy Tulowitzki. But the Phil's also have a great lineup surrounding an MVP candidate in Jimmy Rollins, a real big popper in Ryan Howard and one of the best hitters in the league in Chase Cutley. Both teams have mediocre rotations, but both set of starters have flashed brilliance at times this season. Although I think the Phillies lineup may look more realistic to "break out" in the post-season, I can't get over the way the Rockies kept battling to make the playoffs. My prediction: Rockies in 5 games.

NLCS - Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs
This is my ideal match up as well for the NLCS. Both teams weren't really looked at as favorites at the beginning of the season, but both had great years. I really like the Rockies, but I like the Cubs pitching more. It's a tough decision, though. My Prediction: Cubs in 6 games.

Post Season Predictions: 2007 World Series

Chicago Cubs vs. New York Yankees
The Yankees have been here before, and I really think that they have the most momentum (along with the Rockies) heading into the post-season. I think that the rotation of the Yankees is much more superior (especially in the playoffs) compared to the Cubs. I also think that the lineup of the Yankees is going to "light up" the playoffs as most of the team has been there before and have succeeded. My prediction: Yankees in 6 games.


  • Make sure to check out SethSpeaks.Net to see his recent posts. He is asking his readers to submit a "Post-Season Fantasy Baseball lineup" for the playoffs which begin today. I submitted mine and here it is: The Batters: C - Victor Martinez, 1B - Ryan Howard, 2B - Chase Utley, 3B - Alex Rodriguez, SS - Derek Jeter, OF - Matt Holiday, OF - Alfonso Soriano, OF - Vladimir Guerrero, DH - David Ortiz. Pitchers: SP - Josh Beckett, SP - Carlos Zambrano, SP - C.C. Sabathia, SP - Fausto Carmona, SP - Brandon Webb, RP - Jonathan Papelbon. He also updated the "Experts" Football Panel, and as you can see, I have a lot of catching up to do.
  • Roger posted his "Season ending Pitching Ratings." And as in years past, he did a great job!
  • Also make sure to check out Joe Christensen's Blog. He has some very good discussion and posts over there. So check it out!
  • As posted before, there is speculation going around the league that there are teams such as the Mets and the Dodgers that are willing to make a strong run at acquiring Twins' hurler Johan Santana. And in this story by La Velle E. Neal III, it discusses Johan's reaction to a possible new location.
  • Speaking of Johan Santana, ever wondered how it'd feel to stand in the batters box against him? Well this video may give some of us something that we never will be able to actually experience. Excellent commentary by Matthew LeCroy (batter) and Rick Stelmaszek (coach).
  • Want more playoff predictions? Check out Taylor's Twins Talk for his predictions.
  • Also check out Nick Nelson's of "Nick & Nick's Twins Blog"2007 grades for the Hitters, as well as for the Pitchers. Make sure to view the comments to see their grades for Michael Cuddyer.
  • Wonder what happened with Pat Neshek? Check out his site as he gives what he's been up to and what he's going to be doing this off-season.
Hopefully this will get everyone going for the rest of the week. I'm hoping to get caught up on some stuff and may or may not be able to post for a few days to maybe early next week. We'll see. Maybe I'll have something up sooner than I expect, but I have a lot of school work and work to do.

Until next time. Have a great day and take care.