Tuesday, September 13, 2005
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
NEWS AND NOTES
Good morning everyone! Week 1 of the NFL season is over, and those of us who watch that throughout Sunday and even Monday night need a bit of a breather. So today, I am just going to post on a few topics. It will be a pretty quick day with a few bullet points of information. I hope you enjoy it and can find one of two thoughts pretty interesting. If you do and would care to discuss any topics, please e-mail me.
Francisco Liriano is now in the starting rotation, probably for the rest of the season. He will make his first start on Wednesday against the Tigers. When I heard the news, I was so excited to get to see it and to be able to do another Analysis of a Phenom article. But then I found out that Wednesday's game will not be televised.
A couple of recent events made this possible. It was almost as thought Gardy read my Open Letter yesterday because the team appears to be shutting down Carlos Silva for the rest of the season. Silva will see the Twins doctor on Thursday along with his agent before an official decision will be made. I really hope that he decides to have surgery early, allowing him a few more weeks to rehab before spring training.
Secondly, Johan Santana has a blister on his finger so he is being moved back a few days in the rotation. He won't make his next start until Saturday morning, at the Metrodome, against the White Sox. Friday night is Johan Santana bobblehead night at the Dome. Think many people will want those?
The Twins were able to be on the winning side of the equation for the first time in awhile with a 2-1 win over the Tigers in Detroit last night. Kyle Lohse was excellent again (as he has been in the second half in games not against the Rangers). He went seven innings and gave up just the one run on six hits and two walks. Juan Rincon pitched a perfect inning before Joe Nathan did the same for his 37th save of the year.
Chris Heintz was behind the plate for the second straight game. He contributed with a big RBI double to tie the game in the fourth inning.
Joe Mauer was back in the lineup, as the DH, last night. He went 4-5 with what amounted to the game-winning RBI.
Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford each had two hits. Ford had a walk too.
Speaking of Santana, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark
wrote an article on
the Top Cy Young Award candidates in each league. Thankfully he is
smart enough to look past Win-Loss record to see that Johan Santana
is the league's best pitcher still! The reasoning:
Santana (13-6, 3.07) hasn't been quite as Pedro-esque as last year. But his meager 13-win total is a product of three blown saves and seven games in which the Twins scored one run or none while he was in the game. And he's still the most unhittable starter in his league. Leads in strikeouts (205), strikeout ratio (9.38 per 9 IP), quality starts (20), opponent batting average (.212) and opponent on-base percentage (.249). He's also barely off the lead in ERA and innings pitched (196 2/3). So how about this for Cy Young credentials? Since the award was invented, no AL pitcher has led the league in ERA, innings, strikeouts and strikeout ratio in the same year. And the only three NL starters to do it -- Sandy Koufax (1965 and '66), Mike Scott (1986) and Randy Johnson (1999 and 2002) -- all won the award.
His case against his #2 choice, the Angels Bartolo Colon:
But he has been helped by his bullpen (which has blown zero saves for him) and his run support (5.69 runs per game). And the batting average against him (.248) sure resembles the on-base percentage against Santana (.249).
I hate to mention this because I read it on another blog and would love to give credit where it is deserved. If I find the reference, I will be sure to post it. Anyway, one line was, "If the Twins would have been as patient with Jason Bartlett as the Indians were with Jhonny Peralta, Bartlett would be a Rookie of the Year candidate right now." AMEN!
FOUND IT! "cmatthewson" posted it in his look at Lavelle E Neal III's Top 10 Twins Prospects section. It was an interesting read, and has driven some quality response too.) I should also mention that Neal's top 10 list is also a topic on the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum.
On the minor league front, Pat Neshek posted his Q&A with 3B Matt Moses.
By the way, "Hannah" has now set up a
Twins related blog called
The Good Life. Check it out. She's good!
Wow!! My intent was not even to write about what actually happened in Barry Bonds' first at bat back with the Giants. I meant to start this section with the next bullet point. But then I watched his first at bat. On a 3-2 count, he drilled a line drive to left centerfield off of Adam Eaton. The ball landed in the bleachers. I got goose bumps. However, a fan had reached over the fence to catch the ball, so it goes down as a ground-rule double instead. Still, a great comeback at bat for Bonds. Now, continue below for my thoughts on Bonds.
Last night, Barry Bonds made his first appearance in the San Francisco Giants lineup. It is a good thing for baseball. Of course, when Bonds' name is brought up, all anyone wants to talk about is the steroid issue. The first thing I have to say is, has he failed a test yet? And, it is important to know that even though he has been on the Disabled List the whole season, he has been subject to testing. Unless MLB is withholding his test too (like Rafael Palmiero's), people need to move on. Once he fails a test, then you can say whatever you want about him. I would still vote for him as a Hall of Famer if only I had a vote.
The other point I wanted to make about Bonds is more in regards to his injury. Like Carlos Silva, it was Bonds' meniscus that was torn, and he had three surgeries on. He tried to come back throughout spring training and in his hurry, re-injured the knee. There were frequent deadlines and dates for his return that kept being pushed back. Does that remind Twins fans of anyone? That's right. Last year, Joe Mauer tore his meniscus an had to have surgery. He tried to push back too quickly and it actually cost him the rest of the season, and forced the Twins to be cautious with him even into this season. So, we hear so much about how Bonds' slow healing must be steroid related, but that isn't at all fair. Remember, Bonds is 40. Joe Mauer was 21 and still took time to recover.
Probable AL Rookie of the Year, Huston Street has been writing an article for ESPN.com throughout the season, and he has a very interesting article on September baseball. Street is incredible. He was the A's (supplemental) first round pick in 2004. He rushed through the minors last year, right up to AAA. The A's struggled in deciding whether or not to bring him up during the stretch run, but wisely, they did not push him and let him debut in April.
After seeing with Cleveland did to the Twins the last three games, how impressive was the A's pitching performance last night. Dan Haren and four relievers combined on a four-hit shutout. Street got the save getting the final four outs.
I got my new Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazine in the mail yesterday. There were some great articles in there this month on the rookie card. See, the Players Association just gave the two remaining card companies (Topps and Upper Deck) some additional rules. In order to get PA approval for a regular set card, the player must have appeared on a 25 man roster. Bowman (owned by Topps) has been the Rookie Card company the last decade or more. Much of their set is comprised of players nowhere near the 40 man roster. The goal, of course, is to be the set that 'found' a certain player years before they make it. Well, the new rule will say that these players will no longer be able to be in the regular set. However, Bowman has already come back and said that it will continue to produce a set very similar to what it is doing now, however, players not on the 25 man roster will not be part of the regular set and considered 'inserts.' It is an interesting decision by the player's association. They are saying that their goal is to help collector's have a better idea of what a rookie card is. They want it so that kids can open up a pack and know who the players are because they are on the big league roster. I guess I have mixed feelings on this because I usually buy one box a year, a Bowman box? Why? Because I want those Rookie Cards of players that even I haven't heard of. Why? Because that is where potential value is! However, did you know that Trevor Plouffe, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Jay Rainville, Matt Fox and Eduardo Morlan's "Rookie Cards" were all in 2004 sets. That is a little bit early.
I wanted to point out just a couple of other things from my 10 minutes of reviewing the pricing last night. Francisco Liriano's 2002 Bowman rookie card jumped from $1 to $4 since the previous month. Some of his insert and autographed cards are now up to $40! Think that is a big jump? Well, King Felix Hernandez's rookie cards were made in 2004. His regular Bowman Rookie Card jumped from $4 last month to $15 this month! His other, more limited rookie cards are skyrocketing as well.
One interesting pricing thing that I wanted to share? Did you know that Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles and Ryan Langerhans all had 1999 Bowman rookie cards. Which is valued the highest? OK, trick question, but they are all valued at $1.50 despite the fact that Furcal and Giles are proven veteran types while Langerhans is basically the Braves 4th outfielder and pinch hitter.
To absolutely no one's surprise, the Devil Rays' Delmon Young was named the 2005 Baseball American Minor League Player of the Year for his domination of AA and AAA. The Twins Joe Mauer won the award in 2003. Young was the obvious choice, but I personally think that the Angels' SS Brandon Wood should have won it. Of course, Young played in AA and AAA where Wood played primarily in the Hi-A California League for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. In 130 games there, he hit .321/.383/.672 with 51 doubles, 43 homers and 115 RBI. He played the final four games of the season at AAA where he added two more doubles and hit .316 in 19 at bats. Add in five total triples, and Wood ended the season with 101 extra-base hits. Sure, he struck out 134 times in almost 600 plate appearances, but I'll take that with those kinds of power numbers!
How fun would it be to watch the Angels' AA team in Arkansas? The reason Brandon Wood was not promoted to AA is because the Arkansas SS is Erick Aybar, another top prospect of the Angels. This year, he hit .303 with 29 doubles, 10 triples and nine homers. He stole 49 bases. His double play partner in the second half was Howie Kendrick. Kendrick played the final 46 games in AA and hit .342 with 20 doubles, seven homers, 42 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Before his promotion, he spent 63 game with Wood at Rancho Cucamonga where he hit .384 with 23 doubles, six triples, 12 homers and 13 steals. The Angels won the battle to pay Cuban escapee Kendry Morales. In 74 games with Arkansas, he hit .306 with 12 doubles, 17 homers and 54 RBI. He had started by hitting .344 with five homers in 22 games at Rancho. Reggie Willits hit .304 with 23 doubles, six triples and 40 stolen bases. Tommy Murphy hit .288 with 24 doubles, 11 triples, 17 homers, 76 RBI and 26 stolen bases. OK, the Angels are loaded with hitting prospects. The Twins are loaded with pitching. Maybe something can be done! The Angels have shown interest in JC Romero and Kyle Lohse. Could the Twins possibly receive Erick Aybar (I want to say Brandon Wood, but I assume that's not even a possibility) and Howie Kendrick in exchange for those two pitchers, a minor league pitcher and a minor league hitter? I would be happy!
Wow!! What a rough first week in the NFL, not only for the likes of Javon Walker, but for our Expert panel as well! No one did very well, with all 12 of us getting at least five games wrong. But there has to be a winner, right? That's right, and this week, our winner is... Well, the Young'n is the first winner of the year. 16 year old Trevor Born, aka Twins Junkie, wins the first week. However, he only gets 1/2 the win as frequent weekly winner Mike Brasel rode the Atlanta Falcon's Monday night win into the tie with Born. Brasel and Born each were 10-6 on the week. By the way, the SethSpeaks Panel is the record of what picks we, as a group made. For instance, all 12 of us picked the Patriots to win. All 12 of us picked the Vikings to win. For a full look at Week 1's picks and bios of the panelists, click here. So, for those two games, we would be 1-1. Any questions, please e-mail me.
Final Standings Total Week 1 Over All Name Site
L Win% W L Win % Trevor Born Twins Junkie 10 6 62.5% 10 6 62.5% Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 10 6 62.5% 10 6 62.5% SethSpeaks Panel 9 7 56.3% 9 7 56.3% Will Young Will's Twins Blog 9 7 56.3% 9 7 56.3% Melissa Lien SethSpeaks.net 9 7 56.3% 9 7 56.3% Cory Hepola KTVH-TV Sports 9 7 56.3% 9 7 56.3% Grant Balfour Twins Relief Pitcher 8 8 50.0% 8 8 50.0% Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 8 8 50.0% 8 8 50.0% Brent Hanson BrentNet 8 8 50.0% 8 8 50.0% Stick & Ball Guy Stick & Ball Guy 8 8 50.0% 8 8 50.0% Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 8 8 50.0% 8 8 50.0% Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 7 9 43.8% 7 9 43.8% Kevin Slowey Twins Pitching Prospect 7 9 43.8% 7 9 43.8%
And with that, it brings to an end another day at SethSpeaks. I hope that you have enjoyed it, or at least parts of it. If you have, please let me know. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, ideas or anything you'd like to discuss, please e-mail me. Have a great day!