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WARROAD WEATHER UPDATE - So, this morning, Iím laying around in bed at about 7:20. I turn on the radio just in time to hear the weather. Theyíre talking about how today we are supposed to have a high of -7. That didnít really even phase me. However, when they said, ďThe temperature right now in Roseau is 33 below and the temperature in Warroad is 38 BELOW, I just shook my head.Ē Staying under the covers sounded like a very good plan. You have to understand also that I belong to an electric co-op and they employ a system of off-peak heating. For those of you who donít know what that means (me being one of them), basically it means that when it gets really cold, they turn our heat off. NICE! I donít understand this concept. So, homes here have to have a backup heat source. Mine is a wall heater in the living room. Well, with the temperatures being so cold last night, the temperature in my house dropped from 73 down to 58 at 5:30 this morning. I was sleeping in pajama pants and a sweatshirt, and still freezing! Finally at some point after that, my backup heat turned on, so by the time I got out of bed at 7:30, it was up to 63 degrees in the house. Now, generally, I like sleeping when it is a little cool, but that was ridiculous! But it does sound like the high tomorrow is supposed to be 20 degrees ABOVE zero!! Thatís a nice 60 degree swing! Imagine that in the summer! Of course, we are supposed to get a few inches of snow, so I guess you just have to take what you get!
I got to work this morning and people were telling me that their readings had 43 BELOW. That's just ridiculous!
Monday, January 17, 2005
(Twins sign Romero and Monson!)
OTHER NFL THOUGHTS
Monday Morning Ramblings
Happy Monday and welcome back to the work week! I hope you all had a great weekend! I mainly stayed home, and in my house. The temperatures didnít even get close to touching 0 degrees the whole weekend, so staying warm was my primary goal of the weekend. What does that mean for me? Welp, I got to play with Abby a lot (see picture on right), watched a few movies, read some interesting stories online, watched a little football, and wished Spring Training would be coming sooner! Today, I intend to discuss the Vikings, the Twins, the Timberwolves, movies and a few other random thoughts. I hope you enjoy it today and feel free to e-mail me to discuss anything you read. Have a great week!
The Twins will be beginning their Winter Caravan trips today. Players, coaches and media members will be dispersed throughout the upper-Midwest. Check out their schedule and try to get to one of the events if you can!
Yesterday, during a radio interview, Terry Ryan acknowledged that the Twins had re-signed lefty JC Romero to a two-year contract (around a million dollars per year, with an option for the third year). Romero plateaued in 2002 when he went 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA. In 2003, he was 2-0 with an ERA of 5.00. All of his pitching numbers were significantly worse. Now, last year, Romero was 7-4 with a 3.51. Seeing just that, it doesnít look like a bad year. But remember, after giving up three runs in 2/3 of an inning, Romeroís ERA was 5.70. He was sent down to Rochester where he made a few dominant starts. He came back up to the Twins late in June and from June 26 through September 12, Romero did not give up an earned run. That was quite the impressive streak on the surface, but in reality, Romero still was not pitching well. The job of a set up man is to keep the game where it is. In that time, he allowed over 50% of inherited baserunners to score. His ERA kept dropping because none of the guys he let on scored. But it is just another case where statistics donít always tell the whole story.
So, you probably think that I think that this is a bad signing. Actually, I really donít. I am not going to claim to be a big fan of the whole lefty-lefty matchups thing. Last year, lefties hit .261 off Romero while righties hit just .199. But every once in awhile, we get to see that dominant Romero from 2002. Those glimpses tell me that he is worth keeping around. Maybe his struggles the last couple of seasons will somehow come as a blessing to the Twins. Maybe it meant keeping him signed at a reduced rate!
Terry Ryan said, " I think he dwells a little bit on the pastÖ maybe a rough outing and he presses a little bit too much. Heís got security now for a couple of years so maybe heíll relax and be consistent like he was three year ago for us."
Twins fans can hope so!
TWINS SIGN ERIC MUNSON
But that wasnít the only signing the Twins announced this weekend. 3B Eric Munson, who spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, signed with the Twins. I really do like this signing as I mentioned last week when I was discussing which free agents were still available:
Munson's name has been brought up by the Twins media as a possible 3B for the team this year. I like the idea of bringing in Munson who does have some power and is coming off a bad season meaning he should be cheap. The problem is that the team has already signed Luis Rivas and Juan Castro and Matthew LeCroy, so I don't know that a roster spot is even available.
Munson hit just .212 for the Tigers last year in 109 games. Even in part-time duty, he hit 19 homers and drove in 49 runs from the left-side of the plate. Now again, official terms of the contract were not announced, so I donít know if we can fully discuss how good this trade really is. Munson made $1.7 million in 2003 and just under $1.5 million last year. We know that he signed a minor league contract, but you would assume that if he makes the team out of spring training, he will get between $750,000 and $1 million, which is actually very fair. He will probably have a chance to play a lot at 3B, although he is not regarded well defensively (his fielding percentage and range factors were actually above average for the position last year). He can also play some 1B. And donít forget, he was drafted out of USC as a catcher. This signing also ensures that Rusty Greer will not become a Twin. Munson could fill the role that Jose Offerman filled last year as pinch-hitter and occasional DH. In other words, he gives the team options. Sure, there is a risk, but he does have power potential, and if he ends up playing a lot of 3B, he will come at a very fair price.
However, my question has to do with how many infielders the Twins now have for just three positions (as we know that Justin Morneau will be rooted at 1B). Here are the teamís options:
3B - Michael Cuddyer, Eric Munson, Terry Tiffee,
SS - Juan Castro, Jason Bartlett, Augie Ojeda
2B - Luis Rivas, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Punto
Again, it just makes me completely clueless as to why they signed Juan Castro and re-signed Luis Rivas. Of course, they may not have assumed Munson would be available for a minor league contract. Had they known that, they could have made Munson the 3B, kept Cuddyer at 2B and Rivas could have been dropped. Thereís $1.6 million wasted on Rivas, to go along with the $2.05 million wasted on Juan Castro.
But, like the Twins minor league pitching depth, maybe the team officials feel a strength in numbers in the infield too?! Seems like a lot of wasted money considering what it would have cost to simply keep Corey Koskie instead of Jacque Jones. See, Lew Ford could still have played RF. They could still have signed Munson to a minor league deal to play 3B with Terry Tiffee (or Tiffee play 3B and Munson DH). In either case, there is no excuse for re-signing Rivas!
So, what do you think about these Twins signings? E-mail me.
Well, the season is over. With yesterdayís loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia, the Vikings end the season back at .500 with a 9-9 overall record.
Although it was clear that the Eagles were dominating the game in every way and were the better team yesterday (and all season), the Vikings were always close enough to make Vikings fans wonder. I mean, when they were down 21-7 in the 3rd quarter and driving, I kept thinking that if they could score, theyíd be within one score, and you never know what could happen. Actually, had an extra lineman not been on the field when the Vikings did that ugly fake field goal attempt, maybe things are completely different.
But the Eagles defense was strong. Daunte Culpepper completed just 52% of his 46 passes, well below his average, and yes, the weather/wind can be blamed for some of that, but I always think it is important to give a little credit to the other team. There was constant pressure on Culpepper. Their best drives came when they quit trying to play pretty football and just ran straight ahead with Smith of Bennett. But even then, the Eagles adjusted. IN other words, the Vikings had to work for everything they got.
Donovan McNabb was also very impressive. He made all of the right decisions. Of course, much of that credit has to go to the Eagles offensive line which didnít allow any pressure on McNabb. They got the ball into Brian Westbrookís hands 17 times for 117 yards and a TD. And my man Freddie Mitchell came through with an early TD reception, followed later by a right-place/right-time fumble recovery in the endzone. I remember when he was coming out of UCLA, he was all talk, but had the numbers to back up his draft position. Since then, he has never done much. Of course, Packers fans remember him as the receiver on 4th and 26, right?! I've remembered him since the draft for his great quotes and arrogance.
So, now what do they do? Fire Mike Tice? I say No. Fire Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell? Please, NO! A little continuity would be good! Theyíd be as well off to fire Mr. Predictable, Scott Linehan. Think about it. What did we know the Eagles Defense was going to do to the Vikings offense? Thatís right, blitz them. So, what is the play used to counter a blitz? Thatís right, a screen pass! The Eagles Defense knows this, so when the Vikings tried a screen pass to Michael Bennett on the gameís first play from scrimmage, the Eagles had a spy or two on him and the play was killed. The sneaky genius (note sarcasm) of Linehan tried to do the same exact play to start the second half, with as much success. That said, Linehan should stay. Letís keep some continuity in the coaching ranks for another year!
Linebackers. That is where the problems seem to be with the Vikings. How clueless did EJ Henderson look yesterday? To play the run or the pass? He just looked awful. The same can be said about Dontarrius Thomas as well. Actually, I donít think Chris Claiborne is too bad, and Keith Newman has his moments. At least Henderson and Thomas are young! But I think that the draft in April needs to give the team one thing, Speed. Speed at the linebacker position, and speed in the defensive backfield. I like Brian Williams, but he got burnt and didnít have closing speed. Speed. Speed!
So, what did you think of the loss to the Eagles, or the Vikings season? E-mail me.
OTHER NFL PLAYOFF GAMES
Well, I was 2-2 in my predictions again this week. I got the two AFC games right, but the two NFC games wrong. The Steelers and Jets game was very boring to watch. I actually quit watching it during the overtime, so it must have been bad. And, I was surprised with just how dominant the Falcons running game was. Well, maybe I was more surprised with just how bad the Rams defense was, far worse than even the Vikings! Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett ran all over them! And finally, I said after the Patriots lost on a Monday night to the Dolphins that they would win the Super Bowl. I think their biggest test came yesterday and they passed with more than flying colors! They completely dominated the Indianapolis Colts. Their ball-control offense led by Tom Brady and Corey Dillon kept the Colts potent offense off the field. And when they were on the field, the Patriots defense kept them at bay. Just an impressive performance by an impressive team! I really donít think they will have a problem against the Steelers either.
The Wolves team needed something to happen, a spark of some kind. Would their be a trade? Rumors were flying all over the place! ESPN talked about a few three-team trades, trades that would have brought the Wolves Gary Payton and Ricky Davis, or other players.
With no trade completed, Friday night, Flip Saunders, already without PG Sam Cassell, altered his starting lineup. He replaced Cassell with Anthony Carter. Wally Szczerbiak, one of the more consistent players, was moved to the bench with Trenton Hassell now starting. And Michael Olowokandi was replaced by former Gopher John Thomas in the lineup. What this did is put a little more defense into the starting lineup, to go with KG and Spree as scoring options. It also meant that the second team would have some scoring options as well.
On Friday, the Wolves were playing in Denver against the Nuggets. As we all know, both of these teams are playing rather poorly. We also know that these two teams literally do not like each other at all. Here is where having two TVs in the living room becomes very important. I was watching a movie on TV1 while the Wolves game was on TV2. At one point, I notices something happening on the boards. I quickly turned off the movie and turned TV1 to the Wolves game. The next time down the court, enough was enough. Michael Olowokandi and Nene were going at it! Who knew it? The Kandi Man actually had enough pride and heart to get into a brouhaha! That is the part of the whole thing that surprised me.
Now, ESPNs play-by-play man (I think his name was) Mike Breen, commented on how some young players believe that a fight can break a team out of its doldrums, but that is it never really a good thing. I completely disagree. I think that the team needed something like this to come together. And again, the fact that it was the low-keyed Olowokandi that started it also said a lot.
Yes, he was suspended four games, but it was well worth it (even if he thinks it was excessive). In the Denver game, Latrell Sprewellís offensive game came to life. As scoring option #2, instead of #4 (as he likely was behind KG, Sam and Wally), he came up big with 29 points! Hudson came off the bench to score 18. Garnett had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Then on Saturday night, with the new lineup intact, the Wolves came home and beat the Portland Trailblazers 92-84. Sprewell again led the way with 25 points. Garnett had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Eddie Griffin scored just 6 points but led the team with 18 rebounds. Hudson came off the bench to score 15 points, many with me yelling "NO!! Good shot!".
Tonight, the Wolves will host the Toronto Raptors at 6:00. Hopefully this weekend is the turning point that this team needs!
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
I watched a few movies this weekend. They arenít big name movies by any means, but I have found on many occasions that those movies are sometimes just as good, if not better, than the movies that got the big marketing budgets. See what I think of these three movies:
This is the story of a couple of friends that work together and their families live near each other and are very close. The one is a dream, while the other is more practical. The dreamer comes up with an idea for a product called Va-POO-Rize, a product that, when sprayed over dog (or other animal) feces would just disappear. The practical friend would not go in on the product with his dreamer friend, so when the product made it big, he became incredibly rich while that practical friend stayed in his humble abode and lifestyle. Of course, the title of the movie comes into play and there are many strange, dark comedic situations the rest of the way.
In other words it is not much of a plot for a movie, at least not a good movie. To this point, you must be wondering why I would rent this movie. Well, the stars of the movie are Ben Stiller and Jack Black. How is it possible that these two comedic talents could combine to make such a bad movie?! I didnít think it was possible, but apparently it was!
I would not recommend Envy at all!
HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE
When I rented this movie, I knew it was going to be one of those dumb comedies. I knew what I was getting into. But the cast was also interesting to me! John Cho plays Harold who is "the Asian Guy," as he calls himself in the movie, that you have all seen in the MILF scenes of the American Pie Trilogy. He plays an intelligent mathematician. Kal Penn is his friend Kumar who has gone through medical school, but is intentionally doing poorly in interviews so as not to get a job. Penn, you may recall, played Taj Mahal in the classic Van Wilder.
Anyway, the two complete their week and are at home getting stoned. Suddenly, they have the munchies and decide that they need to get some burgers at White Castle. Of course, it turns out that the nearest White Castle is 45 miles away, but that doesnít matter. It becomes a trek, like Road Trip or Euro Trip, and they go through a lot to get to White Castle.
This is one of those movies that you have to be in the right mood for. It is funny, but in a very dumb way. I enjoyed it, but I like obvious humor.
By the way, the movie's official website is great!
I have mentioned previously that I really like the show Scrubs. Zach Braff is the lead character (Andrew Largeman) on the show. Anyway, he wrote and directed this movie as well as playing the lead character, a mid-20s former child actor who is just kind of gliding through life uncertain of what has happened in his life, and why? He is out in Hollywood when he receives a call from his father telling him to come home because his mother had died. He goes back to New Jersey for the first time in nine years. Clearly there are issues with his father (who also plays his psychiatrist) that we find more out as the movie progresses. But he is really just going through the motions, unable to deal with life, much less his motherís death, and he is unable to experience emotions. He went to a party at an old friendís place. But it is from meeting Sam (played by Natalie Portman) that he figures out a huge lesson. It is through their differences and her issues that he seems able to come to grips with what has happened with him.
Garden State is a different movie, but in the end, it comes together very well. Braff is a very good actor who clearly meant this to be something personal to him. And, I happen to think that Natalie Portman is an incredibly underrated actress. This may be her finest work! I really enjoyed her character.
Again, this is a movie that you need to watch when youíre in the mood to think and watch a dramatic movie. But I would certainly recommend it!
Sidenote - Portman won a Golden Globe Award last night for her supporting role in the movie Closer.
Do you have any thoughts on any of these movies, or maybe some recommendations for me to view? E-mail me.
I wrote this later on Friday night, but feel it should be posted again. The Baseball Savant wrote me Friday afternoon to tell me about his most recent posting. Have you ever had to deal with office politics? Have you ever had to ask someone in Human Resources a question to clarify a company policy? The Savant recently had quite the experience. I wasn't sure what it would be about, but please read it here. It is absolutely a ridiculous situation and one that I think anyone who works in an office, a lab, or well, anywhere will find very interesting!! I am honestly shocked by what happened to him! Oh, and on a separate note, he tells me that his team previews will likely begin this weekend with the hated New York Yankees.
As a former MIAC athlete (albeit not much of one), I enjoy seeing when players from that conference make it to the NBA, NFL, etc. The Lakers Devean George graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis in 1998. He has won three NBA Title rings and had a solid NBA career. This year, he has been injured and should be back within a month. Maybe he is in need of money (based on his 6 year, $25 million contract, I doubt it), but if you are looking for a new vehicle, you can buy his Range Rover on ebay! The beginning price is $47,100. However, it has a Reserve.
Before teh Gophers Music City Bowl game, RB Marion Barber said that he would be returning to the Gophers for his senior season. Then he had a huge game and decided he should at least look into it, and consider going to the NFL. I can't blame him. Apparently his advisers told him some news that made him happy because he decided on Saturday to enter the NFL draft (he has until Wednesday to change his mind). I personally can't blame him. I like the combination of he and Laurence Maroney in the Gophers backfield. Now, I think Maroney has to be considered a top candidate for next year's Heisman Trophy.
Another player who will compete for next year's Heisman is this year's Heisman winner, USC's Matt Leinart. He decided to come back to college for his 5th year there, hoping to give USC a third straight national title. This one I do not understand. He likely would have been the #1 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in April. That means a LOT of money would have been guaranteed to him. But he found some reason to stay around Southern California. I don't really have more to say about this. He must have his reasons!
Royals 1B/DH Mike Sweeney is whining again about the direction of the Royals. First, he is right, I don't know what they are doing and don't see any real plan. However, maybe if Sweeney 1.) started contributing to the team again, and 2.) could ever stay healthy, then he'd be worth listening to. Kansas City Star writer Joe Posnanski is quickly becoming one of my favorite journalists. He writes a blunt article at Sweeney yesterday that is great! It's called Sweeney Looks Bad when taking on role of Jock the Ripper. I really like this part:
This is the part I wish Sweeney understood better. There is only one other small-market team in the game paying a single player $11 million or more (and that's the Cincinnati Reds paying hometown hero Ken Griffey). The Royals have invested everything they have in Sweeney. Everything. They gave him big money. They called him captain. They made him the face of the franchise. They batted him cleanup. They kept trying to play him at first base because that was what he wanted.
They have stuck by him through injuries and a sinking batting average.
And for what? Here are a few of the things the Royals might like in return: For Sweeney to always play hard (check, he always does that), for him to hit .300 (nope, hasn't done that in two seasons), for him to drive in 100 runs (nope, hasn't done that in four seasons), for him to stay healthy (he has not been lucky in that category) and for him to be a leader and an example for the other players (he does his best) Ö
Wait, er, there seems to be one other thing I'm missing.
Oh yeah. For $11 million, they might like for Sweeney to NOT TEAR APART THE TEAM EVERY STINKING OFF-SEASON AND MAYBE NOT MENTION POSSIBLE TRADES BEFORE SPRING TRAINING EVEN BEGINS.
Gotta love it. Posnanski last week wrote a great article on Carlos Beltran signing in New York called Nice Guy, But Money Drove Him.
So many people talk about patience at the plate and think that to mean Walks, and OBP. To some degree that can be true. There are certain players who have an ability to draw a walk. Baseball America's Alan Schwarz wrote a great article (Having a Purpose at the Plate), one I have been thinking of for years. What does patience at the plate mean? Is it walks? Is it taking pitches for the sake of taking pitches? Is it simply waiting until you get your pitch? I don't know that this article answers any questions. I think that it just makes the point that plate discipline doesn't necessarily mean a walk!
On that note, I am going to call it a day. I hope you all have a great week! If you have any comments, opinions, or ideas for future articles, please e-mail me.
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