UPDATE - This morning, I recorded my final installment of the Blogger's Minute with Rita Maloney. (you can hear my previous Blogger Moment's by clicking on the links on the left of this screen) It will air on the Twins Magazine show on Saturday AFTER the Twins 11:00 game against the White Sox on WCCO and most of its network affiliates. If you can hear it on the radio, great. If not, you can get WCCO's streaming audio here. Also, if you checked out Pat Neshek's site this morning, you noticed that he was interviewed by WCCO the other night and that interview will be on either the pre-game show, or the Twins Magazine show on Saturday as well.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Baseball Thoughts - Delmon Young
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
DIVIDING THE DIVISIONS
Good Morning! Well, this Friday is yet another full issue of SethSpeaks. We've got a little bit of everything for ya. The primary, lead story will be a breakdown of each of baseball's six divisions. Next, I will give some of my Vikings Thoughts and and make a little prediction for Sunday's game against the Bengals in Cincinnati. I have a couple of Twins Thoughts today and the pitching matchups for their weekend series against the White Sox at Metrodome. I have a few thoughts on the Delmon Young situation with the Devil Rays. Finally, the NFL "Expert" Picks are back today. Grant Balfour, Kevin Slowey, and many of your favorite bloggers have again picked the winners of all 16 NFL games. Hopefully we'll all do better than last week. First, just a couple of Other Thoughts to start the day:
Don't forget to keep up with the Fargo/Moorhead Redhawks over the weekend. Tonight, they will will be in Gary, Indiana, with 2-0 lead and a chance to end the best-of-5 championship series of the Northern League. Here is the Redhawks homepage which will be updated as information presents itself. Yesterday, they received three more awards. Brandon Culp was named Northern League Pitcher of the Year. Manager Doug Simonich was the Manager of the Year. And finally, the Redhawks were named the Organization of the Year. By the way, in the regular season, the Redhawks were 68-27. Their .716 win percentage is the best of any team in professional baseball!
Former NBA star Sean Elliot was in Fargo yesterday speaking at the Ramada. In it, he spoke about the usage of anti-inflammatory pills in the NBA. He said that when he got to the NBA, he saw players taking 800 milligrams of the over-the-counter drugs, such as Motrin, even before games. Any injury or pain, they would take a pill. Elliot believes that these drugs are a big part of what led to his kidney ailments. He is the color analyst for Spurs games now and speaks for the National Kidney Foundation.
Ryne Sandberg has some great thoughts on Barry Bonds and also takes some letters from e-mailers and responds to them on the topic. I am more of a Sandberg fan now than I was before!
Former Twins pitcher, Bob Tewksbury, is now a sports psychology coach for the Boston Red Sox.
OK, that's enough, let's get started!
The Twins won the AL Central the past three years and everyone talked about how the division was clearly the worst in baseball. This year, I do not believe that to be the case. Obviously, the worst division in baseball is the NL West. But I thought it would be interesting to look at each of baseball's six divisions to figure out the best and worst divisions in baseball. After looking at the divisions a few different ways, I really don't know that I can give an official answer to which division is the best. However, the worst division is, in fact, the NL West. Where does the AL Central rank this year? See below:
First, I just a little bit of background on the project. The first thing to remember in all of these is that there are different sizes of these divisions. The NL Central has six teams. The NL and AL West divisions have just four teams. The other three divisions all have five teams. So, instead of looking at Wins, I will rank these teams by Win-Percentage. I won't post the W-L records of all 30 major league teams here because you can find them elsewhere. Also, these standing were through games completed on Wednesday and obviously different already by the time you read this. First, just as a reminder, here are the teams in each division:
AL Central - Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals
AL East - Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
AL West - Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners
NL Central - St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates
NL East - Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets
NL West - San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies
First, I wanted to just look at the overall records of the teams in each division:
By Overall Record
NL East 386-345 .528
AL East 371-357 .510
AL West 296-285 .509
NL Central 440-433 .504
AL Central 361-363 .499
NL West 329-397 .453
From this look, the NL East is the best team. The AL East and West divisions are pretty close. But I wanted to look at the top teams in each division because those are the teams that most represent the quality of the division.
So, the second way that I looked at the record was to only look at the Top 3 teams in each division. Above, I listed each of the teams in each division according to where they rank now. so you can see which teams are being looked at.
By Top 3 Teams
AL Central 247-189 .567
NL Central 242-195 .554
AL East 239-195 .551
NL East 239-199 .546
AL West 232-204 .532
NL West 204-231 .469
Looking at it this way, the White Sox, Indians and Twins are holding their own against everybody, even the big boys! But I also figured that to get a whole picture of a division as a whole, it might be a good idea to eliminate the first and last place team in each division. So, how do the middle-of-the-lineups stack up?
By Middle Teams
NL East 232-207 .528
AL West 151-140 .519
AL Central 225-210 .517
AL East 223-211 .514
NL Central 289-292 .497
NL West 198-238 .454
Maybe one of the best ways to look at the divisions is how they perform against the other divisions in their league.
Against Other Divisions
NL East 190-153 .554
AL East 175-158 .526
NL Central 204-196 .510
AL West 166-165 .502
AL Central 156-174 .472
NL West 147-192 .434
Maybe this is where the big spending teams get their advantage?
So, I watched the first episode of the new Survivor: Guatemala last night. Maybe you're like many people and say that a division is only as strong as its weakest link. If that is the case, well, here are the weakest divisions:
By Weakest Link
NL East - New York Mets - 71-75 .486
AL West - Seattle Mariners - 64-81 .441
AL East - Tampa Bay Devil Rays - 60-86 .408
NL West - Colorado Rockies - 59-86 .407
NL Central - Pittsburgh Pirates - 58-87 .400
AL Central - Kansas City Royals - 48-96 .333
So, by that look, the Royals are, by far, the worst team in baseball They reside in the AL Central, so, by this look, the AL Central is the worst division because they have the weakest link. But, what happens if we simply eliminate the weakest team from each division. We'll just call them aberrations and discount them. Then which division is the best in baseball.
Without Weakest Link
AL Central 313-267 .540
NL East 315-270 .538
AL East 311-271 .534
AL West 232-204 .532
NL Central 388-346 .529
NL West 270-311 .465
So, take the Kansas City Royals out of the AL Central (and maybe send them to a AA league??) and the AL Central is the best division is baseball!
Well, either the NL East or the AL Central is the best division in baseball. I am sure arguments could be made for the AL East or AL West too. The NL Central has the Cardinals and a bunch of very average teams, but are likely hurt in this analysis because they have more teams. However, there is one truth, no matter how you slice it. The National League Western Division is the worst division in baseball. That will surprise no one. I mean, if the season ended today, the San Diego Padres would win the division with a sub-.500 record.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Are there other ways that this should be looked at? Send me an e-mail.
If you regular John Sickel's Minor League site, you have seen a couple of Twins prospect's named to his league awards. Travis Bowyer was named as his International League Relief pitcher of the Year. Later, in announcing his AA awards, he named New Britain's Pat Neshek the Eastern League's Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Now to some thoughts on the Twins/White Sox series. Over the past three seasons, I have developed a strong dislike for the White Sox for a number of reasons. Going into play today, the White Sox lead the Indians by 4.5 games in the division. Last week, I mentioned how I really like and appreciate what the Cleveland Indians organization and what they have become. I will say this. I hope that the Twins can play the role of spoiler this weekend. If the Twins can win the series, or preferably sweep, then the Indians not only have a chance at the Wild Card, but at winning the AL Central. Best case, the White Sox would fold again, as they always do, and not even get the Wild Card and go home for the winter, without a playoff berth again!
Don't forget that tonight is Johan Santana bobblehead game! Get there early!
Big start for the Sox El Duque on Saturday. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, if it doesn't go well for him, Brandon McCarthy will take his spot in the rotation the rest of the month.
Reliever Damaso Marte is in Ozzie Guillen's doghouse. He has been out of late with a stiff neck. Marte says he can't pitch. Guillen says it is more mental than physical. It is an interesting situation that could keep him off the White Sox playoff roster.
Anyway, here are the pitching matchups for the weekend series at home against the White Sox:
Friday - 7:10 pm - Scott Baker (1-2, 2.93, 1.17, .243) vs Jon Garland (17-9, 3.51, 1.17, .258)
Saturday - 11:10 am - Johan Santana (13-7, 3.17, 1.00, .216) vs Orlando Hernandez (9-8, 5.10, 1.42, .274)
Sunday - 1:10 pm - Kyle Lohse (9-12, 2.43, 1.41, .297) vs Jose Contreras (12-7, 3.91, 1.29, .235)
Any thoughts on the Twins, White Sox, the playoffs or anything, please e-mail me.
BASEBALL THOUGHT - Delmon Young
Delmon Young, the Devil Rays and baseball's top prospect, spouted off this week about his disappointment in not getting a September call up to the big league team while completely bashing the organization on the whole. He opined that the reason was just because they are "cheap." He added, "When it comes to free agency, no use trying to stay around there for the long haul. Get your six years and leave!"
The Devil Rays GM Chuck Lamar had this to say in response, "We think Delmon Young is one of the finest players in all of minor league baseball and by sometime next season we believe he will begin to establish himself as an outstanding major league player. Having said that, we saw him play the latter part of August and thought he had had enough. He had already gone from Double-A to Triple-A, and we thought it was time for him to go home and get ready to play winter ball if he wanted to, or if not, get ready for spring training."
So, who is right in this situation? Well, both are right. Who is wrong in this situation? Just one, young Mr. Young. First, Young is wrong for taking it to the level he did. Can he be disappointed in not getting called up? Absolutely. But he took it too far, and it will end up hurting him in the long run. OK, the truth is that it probably won't. If there is one minor leaguer who could get away with such comments, it is probably Young since he has the ability to be one of the special players. It just will not make things easy for him.
But I said also that both were right. How can that be? Well, GM Lamar is right. Young is probably the finest player in the minor leagues. His numbers, although still good, did drop toward the end of the season. He probably could use the rest and an offseason. However, Young is probably even more right. The Rays can give you whatever reason that they want, but money is a factor in this decision, and it absolutely should be! The Rays aren't going to win this year anyway, so why let Young's service time start.
The big thing though is that to call him up, they would have had to put him on the 40 man roster. To do that, they would have to take someone else off. Someone that they could then lose. Also, after the season, the team will need to decide who to protect in their system from the Rule V draft. Young wouldn't be eligible to be taken yet, so they can keep him off of the 40 man roster and protect someone that they might fear losing. Then, next spring, Young can compete for a 25 man roster spot with his invite to spring training. If he makes the team, then he can be added to the 40 man roster.
Really, this is a smart move by the Devil Rays. Maybe they learned from a year ago when they recalled BJ Upton and Joey Gathright before they had to for no reason. So, really, if there is someone who could be upset by not being recalled in September, it would be Upton.
The key thing that the Rays need to do in the offseason, however, is get rid of Lou Pinella as manager. They need someone who will be willing to keep playing young guys and teaching them. Pinella is not that guy and he has shown that time and again!
Do you have any thoughts on this topic, major league prospects, or baseball in general? Please e-mail me.
VIKINGS THOUGHTS AND PREDICTIONS
OK, so last week didn't go so well for the Purple. Maybe it is a good thing. Don't forget the the team has teased us the last two seasons by getting off to very fast starts. Last year, they were 8-0 to start the season before a second half swoon. Maybe the opposite will happen this year. Maybe they'll get off to a slow start and then go into the playoffs on a role?! We can hope, right?
The Vikings lost to the Buccaneers last weekend. Tampa Bay is not expected to be very good. This Sunday, at noon, they will play at Cincinnati against the Bengals. Now this game should be a big challenge for the Vikings. The Bengals are led by Marvin Lewis who, of course, made his name as a defensive genius. I wonder what kind of scheme he and his assistants will devise to throw at the Vikings. How much will they take from what Tampa did last year? And most important, what adjustments will the Vikings offense make to counter such plays? The Bengals also have a very good offense. QB Carson Palmer is now in his second year as the team's starter. He really came on in the second half of last season. He has a strong running game led by Rudi Johnson. He also has a couple of very good WRs in Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh who can both catch the ball short and burn you long.
Daunte Culpepper needs to play much better, and I expect that he will. The real problem last weekend was the offensive line. It provided Culpepper with very little time to do much of anything. And, the team was unable to do anything on the ground. Michael Bennett only got six carries, and on each one of them, he was hit before getting to the line of scrimmage. They kept running right up the middle, into a big crowed of people. I would like to see Bennett get on the perimeter. And, if Bennett does not have the confidence of the staff, then it's time to give the ball to Mewelde Moore. And if they don't like him, maybe they should turn it over to Ciatrick Fason. No matter who is in the backfield though, they need to stick by the running game and not give up on it so quickly. But again, it is all about the offensive line either opening up holes for the runners or providing Culpepper with enough time to scope out the field and find the open receiver. Also, they absolutely have to send someone deep and throw to him at least once a half. Maybe it's Troy Williamson. Maybe it's Koren Robinson. But they have to find a way to stretch the field. Also, make a concerted effort to get the ball to Nate Burleson!
Defensively, it will be up to Pat Williams and the linebacking core to try to keep Rudi Johnson at bay. It is then Kenechi Udeze and Darrion Scott and (hopefully) Erasmus James' job to put pressure on Palmer in passing situations. I'm not worried about the starting defensive backs (Winfield, Smoot, Sharper and Chavous), but when they go to the nickel and dime packages, they have to get some quality play from the likes of Brian Williams and Ralph Brown.
I guess I am expecting a bit of a shootout, and if that is the case, I think that the Vikings will pull it out. The defense does appear to be greatly improved.
PREDICTION: Vikings 34, Bengals 24
What do you think? Can the Vikings win? What do they need to do? What is your prediction? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Alright, so Week 1 was not good for any of our panelists. As a matter of fact, we had a tie a top the panel between Trevor Born and Mike Brasel, and each of them had six wrong. So, are we really this bad, or was last week just a warm-up week? Can we do better? Well, here are our Week 2 picks. We still have two people to send me their picks, and they will be added as soon as I receive them:
Seth Stohs Stick & Ball Guy Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman Grant Balfour Kevin Slowey SethSpeaks.net Stick & Ball Guy Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Minnesota Twins Pitcher Twins Pitching Prospect Baltimore @ Tennessee Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions Lions Lions Bears Bears Minnesota @ Cincinnati Vikings Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Vikings San Francisco @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles St. Louis @ Arizona Rams Cardinals Cardinals Rams Rams Cardinals Miami @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Dolphins Jets Kansas City @ Oakland Chiefs Raiders Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Raiders Buffalo @ Tampa Bay Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Bills Jacksonville @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Jaguars Colts New England @ Carolina Panthers Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Pittsburgh @ Houston Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers
Atlanta @ Seattle Seahawks Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Cleveland @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Browns Packers San Diego @ Denver Chargers Broncos Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers NY Giants '@' New Orleans Giants Giants Saints Saints Giants Saints Washington @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Redskins Cowboys
Will Young Trevor Born Brent Hanson Cory Hepola Mike Brasel Melissa Lien Will's Twins Weblog Twins Junkie BrentNet KTVH-TV Fantasy FB Guru SethSpeaks.net Baltimore @ Tennessee Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions Lions Bears Bears Lions Minnesota @ Cincinnati Vikings Vikings Vikings Bengals Bengals Vikings San Francisco @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles St. Louis @ Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Rams Miami @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Kansas City @ Oakland Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Raiders Raiders Chiefs Buffalo @ Tampa Bay Bills Buccs Bills Buccs Buccs Buccs Jacksonville @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts New England @ Carolina Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Panthers Patriots Pittsburgh @ Houston Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Atlanta @ Seattle Falcons Seahawks Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Cleveland @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers San Diego @ Denver Chargers Broncos Broncos Broncos Chargers Broncos NY Giants '@' New Orleans Saints Giants Giants Giants Giants Saints Washington @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Baltimore @ Tennessee - Ravens 12-0
Detroit @ Chicago - Lions 8-4
Minnesota @ Cincinnati - Tie 6-6
San Francisco @ Philadelphia - Eagles 12-0
St. Louis @ Arizona - Cardinals 8-4
Miami @ NY Jets - Jets 11-1
Kansas City @ Oakland - Chiefs 8-4
Buffalo @ Tampa Bay - Buccs 9-3
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis - Colts 11-1
New England @ Carolina - Patriots 10-2
Pittsburgh @ Houston - Steelers 12-0
Atlanta @ Seattle - Falcons 10-2
Cleveland @ Green Bay - Packers 11-1
San Diego @ Denver - Chargers 7-5
NY Giants @ New Orleans (@NYG) - Giants 7-5
Washington @ Dallas - Cowboys 11-1
And on that note, I will call it a day and a week. I certainly hope that you have found plenty of things worth reading. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
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