Friday, February 24, 2006
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Q&A with Tommy Watkins
Twins Minor League Infielder
UPDATE – hey, I just stole this link from the Comments of Aaron’s Baseball blog this morning. Please do yourself a favor and take just a minute to read this incredible story.
Good Friday morning to everyone! We are going to start out today with another fun Q&A with a Twins player. But following that, the format of the blog will be almost identical to what it has been the past couple of days. I will post a few Twins Thoughts and links to articles, and they will be followed by my thoughts on American Idol's first eliminations from last night. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and/or comments on either topic, so I will have a couple of areas for Comments so as not to combine topics, but also you are all welcome to e-mail me and I will try to respond in a somewhat timely manner.
Today, I am proud to provide you with another Q&A with a member of the Twins organization. With the position players set to report today (officially), I thought it would be fun to post a Q&A with Twins minor leaguer Tommy Watkins. Tommy was the Twins 38th round draft choice in 1998 out of his Ft. Myers high school (Riverdale). This will be his ninth year in the organization. He spent two years in Ft. Myers with the GCL Twins. After a season at Elizabethton, he played in Quad Cities in 2001. He then played two years at Ft. Myers before spending the last two seasons in New Britain. Anytime I hear people write or talk about Mr. Watkins, you hear a lot of the same things. Those include, but certainly are not limited to, great defensive infielder, excellent team leader, and all-around great guy. So today, I give you his thought heading into his first big league spring training as well as much more. I hope you enjoy it and would encourage you to leave some feedback if you would like, either in the Comments below, or send me an e-mail.
I know, you don't want to read any more background. Check out his minor league numbers and other information here. Let's just get to the Q&A already! Well, thank you to Tommy Watkins for taking the time to answer these questions. Again, I think that this is very interesting to read and I hope, and am sure, that you will enjoy it too.
If you have any comments for me or Mr. Watkins, please e-mail me, and I will try to answer your questions or forward them on to him and see if we can get you an answer.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: First of all, congratulations on getting an official invite to Twins Spring Training in Ft. Myers! That had to be very exciting for you. What are you most looking forward to in training camp?
Tommy Watkins: To be around around the Major leaguers on a daily basis, to learn from them and being at home also.
SethSpeaks: What have you been doing in the off-season to prepare for the 2006 season?
Tommy Watkins: I have been working out everyday since the end of last season to be in the best possible shape for this coming season.
SethSpeaks: Do you set goals? If so, what are your goals for the upcoming season? Where do you plan on playing?
Tommy Watkins: My goal is to do the best that I can to help my team and teammates to win games. I hope to make the Rochester team.
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Ft. Myers, is it mandatory to say that Deion Sanders is your favorite athlete of all time?
Tommy Watkins: I wouldn't say of all time, but most definitely one of my favorite to watch.
SethSpeaks: Chris Brown told us a little about playing high school baseball in Florida. Growing up in Minnesota, where there is snow on the ground until mid-April, can you tells us a little about your high school baseball days?
Tommy Watkins: It's pretty much a baseball players dream to play in Florida, because you can play year round, the only thing we worry about here is the summer thunder storms.
SethSpeaks: Did you play other sports or keep busy with other activities?
Tommy Watkins: I played wide receiver on the football team.
SethSpeaks: What were your thoughts when the Twins drafted you in 1998, in the 38th round, out of high school? How much convincing did the Twins have to do to get your signed?
Tommy Watkins: I really didn't know much about the draft, but I was really excited that I was drafted. Because of my love for baseball, it didn't take much to sign me.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a player? What are your tools?
Tommy Watkins: I am a player that leaves everything on the field, I have no problem doing whatever it takes to win a game. Bunt, sacrifice, pinch run, pinch hit, play any position to be the best team player on the field.
SethSpeaks: Looking at your career numbers, it appears that one of your best baseball skills is your on-base skills, your ability to draw walks without striking out very much. Is that part of your plan?
Tommy Watkins: I don't really look at stats. that much, but what I try to do is get on base anyway I can and lean to hit my pitch.
SethSpeaks: You have primarily played SS throughout your career. Which other positions do you feel comfortable with?
Tommy Watkins: I actually feel comfortable with all of them.
SethSpeaks: Entering your ninth year with the Twins, what is it that you most enjoy about the organization?
Tommy Watkins: They are a nice bunch of people to be around, and they bring you around slowly to get the most out of your ability.
SethSpeaks: I understand that you have helped your old high school baseball team as a coach this spring. I also know that you have a baseball camp in Ft. Myers for youth. Do you enjoy coaching, and is that something that you can see yourself doing after your pro baseball career comes to an end?
Tommy Watkins: Yes, definitely.
SethSpeaks: If you weren't a pro baseball player, what would you be doing now?
Tommy Watkins: It's really hard to say at this point.
SethSpeaks: When I asked Pat Neshek in a Q&A in November to describe you, he wrote "Team captain, funny guy, community guy, Could run for mayor of New Britain people love him wherever he goes.". How do you describe yourself as a teammate, and do you consider yourself a leader?
Tommy Watkins: I give my all for the team, on and off the field, trying to be a player that leads by example.
SethSpeaks: Last year, the Twins called up Luis Rodriguez who had spent eight seasons in the Twins system. They also called up Glenn Williams who was in his 12th minor league season, and Chris Heintz who had spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues. So... what is it going to be like for you when the Twins call you up, and you enter the major league locker room and get to put on the Twins uniform for a regular season game?
Tommy Watkins: That will be the most exciting thing that could happen to me or anyone else in my position, I will continue to give my all to one day reach my dream.
SethSpeaks: You also have your own website that is really nice. It is called Rising Stars. What made you decide to do a website? How much time do you spend on it, or responding to e-mails?
Tommy Watkins: My cousin is a computer programmer and he suggested and built it for me so that my family and friends could keep up with my progress. I really don't spend a lot of time on it other than responding to e-mails. My schedule don't really allow me much time on it since my cousin updates it for me.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little about the man that you share the website with, Jason Allen.
Tommy Watkins: Actually it is Jason Allen my first cousin and brother of the creator of both of our websites, Jason just graduated from USF, and is now pursuing a career in the NFL.
SethSpeaks: I noticed that in recent months you changed the background music on your site from Jay-Z to Against All Odds by Phil Collins. Seems like a good choice of songs for you.
Tommy Watkins: It is actually me, and I don't know why it was changed.
Tommy, I thank you again very, very much for taking the time to answer all of these questions so well. Readers may notice that the Q&A finished a little abruptly. With the start of spring training, Tommy's schedule is and has been very busy. I sent him questions in three or four e-mails so as to break it up. What you read here is the first half of the Q&A. I am hoping that we can finish up the Q&A in coming weeks.
Do you have any thoughts or questions for Tommy Watkins or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me.
If you would like to read any previous Q&A's, here is a checklist:
2/20/06 - Spring Training Q&A (Part 2) (Several Twins and former Twins answer questions about spring)
1/11/06 - Q&A with The Yankees Chick (this Yankees fan knows her baseball)
1/3/06 - Q&A with Chris Coste (Phillies AAA player and former teammate)
11/29/05 - Q&A with Chris Brown (Twins 1B prospect, spent 2005 in Beloit)
11/25/05 - Q&A with Seth (your questions for me)
11/23/05 - Q&A with Pat Neshek (Twins Relief Pitching Prospect, just added to 40 man roster)
11/15/05 - Q&A with Jeff Dooley (the voice of the New Britain Rock Cats)
11/8/05 - Q&A with David Dorsey (local writer for The News-Press in Ft. Myers, FL)
11/1/05 - Q&A with Aaron Gleeman (Twins Blogger Extraordinaire)
10/25/05 - Q&A with Mark Sheldon (Twins Beat Reporter for MLB.com)
10/18/05 - Q&A with Kevin Slowey (another top pitching prospect, Twins 2nd round pick in 2005)
10/11/05 - Q&A with Wes Holtsclaw (local writer for the Elizabethton Twins)
10/5/05 - Q&A with Eli Tintor (Minnesota-native, catching prospect who played 2005 in E-Town)
7/28/05 - Q&A with Jim Mandelaro (local writer for the Rochester Red Wings)
2/28/05 - Q&A with Pat Neshek (Minnesota-native, reliever prospect who played 2005 at New Britain)
1/27/05 - Q&A with Stick and Ball Guy (one of the best bloggers out there!)
12/17/04 - Q&A with Alexander Smit (Holland-native, pitching prospect spent 2005 between Beloit and E-Town)
5/28/04 - Q&A with CJ Nitkowski (big league pitcher, spent Spring Training 2005 with the Twins)
04/19/04 - Q&A with Jim Souhan (Star-Tribune Baseball Writer, now a columnist)
Twins Thoughts & Articles
Here are some links to some great Twins, and baseball, related articles from yesterday and today. It must have been Interview Torii Hunter day! Of course, that is not surprising. Torii has never shied away from the spotlight of a microphone! Again, feel free to leave some comments, or e-mail me if anything strikes your attention or causes an opinion.
The Strib's Joe Christenson, like seemingly every Twins beat writer, wrote an article on Torii Hunter expressing his opinion on the WBC. I have to say that I completely agree with Hunter in this case. When told that Francisco Liriano was going to play for the Dominican Republic, Hunter was quoted as saying, "That'd be stupid. I'd tell Liriano that." Very strong, but accurate statement! I love this quote too: "What's the use of saying we're better at baseball than this country? We all play together. I'm playing with Venezuelans and Dominicans right now. We all play together, so what's up with saying our country is better than your country? It's stupid. I don't like it."
Nick N. posts a great article on some of the positional battles for the Twins in spring. By the end, he posts what he believes will be the Twins Opening Day roster. I have to say that I really don't disagree with any of his choices. That may not be my preferred roster, but I think it is the roster that will happen.
Yesterday morning, I added links to the two new Twins Territory commercials. If you missed them, I will post them here again. I think that the Hunter B-day party is excellent. But that Mauer/sideburns commercial that we have been reading about for a month is wonderful!
I don't think anybody besides [Jason] Kubel, who's been hurt, is more anxious to get to Spring Training and start baseball than me." I really like that line from Kelly Thesier's daily Notes column from yesterday. Hunter talked about how he is really going to be ready for this season. She also mentions that 2005 first round pick Matt Garza reported to big league camp yesterday, just for another arm once the Twins lose many of their pitchers to the WBC.
The last couple of days, I have posted David Dorsey's articles in The News Press of Ft. Myers. I was made aware the David is also writing a blog throughout spring training (And potentially longer). I read his previous three articles and they are seriously terrific! He has posted articles on Joe Mauer's Powers, collecting autographs, and what he does on a typical spring training day. Today, his blog involves the best golfers on the team. It's all very well written as you would expect, but it is a fun read too!
By the way, Dorsey's Wednesday article was very good. He discussed a number of varied topics with Torii Hunter. By the way, it is here that I should probably re-state my stance on Torii Hunter. I have liked Hunter for years. He has been one of my favorites with the way he plays and that smile. Last year, I was very disappointed by his "Leadership" qualities, the way he left the team and then how he acted when he showed up. But I do need to say that, even as frustrating as he can be to watch hit, he is probably the best defensive CF in baseball and shows a decent power/speed combination. That said though, he is making over $10 million in 2006 with a club option for next year at over $12 million. There is no way that they can or should pick that up. Knowing that, I believe that Hunter should not be off-limits at all in trade talks. However, if he is traded, they should be able to restock big time for him.
Of course, LaVelle E. Neal III had an article on Torii Hunter too!
If you go to Pat Neshek's site today, he tells us that he is not a real strong hitter! (Good thing he is a pitcher, huh?)
But, Neshek does also tell us that he is featured in a Q&A for the Rochester Red Wings website. It is a lot of random questions, and kind of fun.
FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says that Venezuela should be the favorite going into the WBC because of their pitching staff, which of course includes Johan Santana. I don't disagree, especially with Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez dropping off for the Dominican Republic team.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, spring training or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
American Idol Thoughts
Last night ended Week 1 of American Idol action for this season. The girls sang on Tuesday night. The guys took their turn on Wednesday night. Last night, two guys and two girls were eliminated. First, I will post who I ranked as my bottom two performers each night, along with who I predicted would be eliminated. Let's see how I did:
Who ranked 11th and 12?
11.) Becky O'Donohue
12.) Brenna Gethers
Who I think will be the two eliminated contestants on Thursday night?
1.) Brenna Gethers - I think that voters would be willing to give her a mulligan because of her looks and her energy. However, he excessive posturing and her post-show dancing would have been more appropriate had their been a single pole on the stage. I think that people will really turn on her because of her over-arrogance. I think she will go.
2.) Stevie Scott - I also think that her performance was bad. However, the judges were brutal to her, and if we're being honest (a fine, frequent Simon quote), the people that vote are easily swayed by the judges comments.
Who ranked 11th and 12?
11.) Bucky Covington
12.) Bobby Bennett
Who I think will be the two eliminated contestants on tonight?
1.) Bobby Bennett - Horrible, just ghastly. Hey, Simon may not have even said it, but I will!
2.) Bucky Covington - Almost as bad. Just not listen-to-able!
WOMEN - The woman who received the lowest number of votes was Becky O'Donohue. Based on her singing and her performance, I agreed that she should have been gone. However, I didn't actually think it would happen because she is absolutely gorgeous as seen in those Maxim Online pictures! However, she was not a Top 6 girl, so really, it is probably a good choice. I think she can be a very successful model. The woman who received the second lowest vote today was Stevie Scott. Did everyone else see her roll her eyes a few times and generally just look bad? I thought she was bad on Tuesday night. However, when she sang the song again last night, she was excellent. Had she sung that well then, she would still be in the game! But, that's the way it goes. I am surprised, yet happy, that Brenna Gethers will get another week. I don't think I could have handled it if both Becky and Brenna would have been eliminated!
MEN - To probably no one's surprise, Bobby Bennett received the lowest point total. I think that was a pretty simple call. I was more than a little surprised when Patrick Hall was sent packing. I'm afraid that he just picked a bad song. He took a chance and got burnt. It's funny because the judges continue to say that they are looking for something different and unique. Hall's performance was different and the judges bashed him, and because of it, he is gone. I had ranked him #3 of all of the male performers Wednesday night. I thought Bucky Covington was going to be, and deserved to be, eliminated.
Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today and for the week! Remember to e-mail me regarding the Demographic Survey if you haven't already!
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