Friday, November 25, 2005
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
Q&A with Seth
Good Morning everyone! I certainly hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! I was supposed to do this on Wednesday, but moved it to today because I was so excited about the Q&A with Pat Neshek. Today, I am going to try my best to answer questions that you, the readers, sent me. For what it is worth, I am just a Twins (And Minnesota sports) fan. I don't really have any/many inside sources, so my answers come either from research or from opinion. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send me a question or two, or three, or however many! I really enjoyed answering most of them!
With that, let's get to your questions.
Let the Questions Begin!
From Marcus: I have to ask what your thoughts are on the two huge trades made on Wednesday. What are your thoughts on the Delgado and Thome trades?
SethSpeaks: Let me start with the trade that affects the Twins division, the AL Central. From the White Sox perspective, I think it is a very solid deal, but far from great, and far from something that should make the Twins or Indians worry. Jim Thome could hit 40+ homers next year, maybe even the next three years. However, he could have continuing elbow problems and back problems are never a good thing for a power hitter. My first thought when I heard the deal was how it affected the whole Paul Konerko situation. But as I thought of it, it should, in no way affect the possible signing. See, because the Phillies sent $22 million along with Thome, the Sox will only have to pay him about $7 million a season. Aaron Rowand will make about $3.25 million in 2006 and has a player option for $3.25 million in 2007 if the team doesn't pick it up for $5 million. In other words, they're really only paying an extra $3.75 million for 2006. I would assume that with Konerko alone, they were budgeting for well more than a $4 million increase.
So, monetarily, it should not affect the White Sox ability to resign Konerko. If they can do that, imagine the middle of the lineup with Konerko, Thome and a healthy Jermaine Dye! Thome would DH and occasionally give Konerko a day off from the field. However, the move also was good in showing that the White Sox were not just going to put all of their eggs into Konerko's basket. Remember last year when the Astros put all of their efforts into resigning Carlos Beltran? When they weren't able to, the Astros had very few options remaining. That is probably a poor example because they were still able to make the playoffs and get to the World Series, but I think you understand my point. And finally, on some level, it shows Konerko that his team will continue to try to get better, and that they hope he will want to be a part of it.
All that said, I don't think it was a great move by the White Sox, especially since they also gave up two minor league pitchers. There is a lot of risk in Thome. And, more importantly, Aaron Rowand is an underrated player. Did you know that he hit just .270 with 13 homers and 69 RBI last year after hitting .310 with 24 homers and 69 RBI in 2004? So, he is probably somewhere in the middle. But his price is very fair.
So overall, the Phillies were able to acquire a needed centerfield and two pitching prospects, but they were also able to save about $21 million off of their books over the course of three years. The White Sox were able to add insurance in case they do lose Paul Konerko, but they have also now shown Konerko that they will continue to try to get better. Scott Podsednik is not a good outfielder, but fast, so he could move to CF with Brian Anderson getting the shot as the every day LF. Or, maybe Anderson would just take over CF duties.
To the Delgado deal... I think that this was simply a salary dump by the Marlins. Because of their stadium issues, I can't even blame them. For Delgado (and $7 million), the Mets had to give up only C/1B Mike Jacobs and P Yusmiero Petit. Now, Jacobs jumped up to the Mets from AA and ended up as their every day 1B the last couple of months (primarily because Doug Mientkiewicz was so bad!). He hit very well, but I imagine he will come down to earth a little bit. Petit is a pitching prospect, but I don't think that he'll be more than a #2, maybe even a #3. He has had weight issues, and I don't think that his "stuff" is other-wordly.
Delgado is a stud offensively, no question about it. He will fit into a lineup and hit somewhere in between Carlos Beltran and David Wright and Cliff Floyd (and who knows, probably Alfonso Soriano or Manny Ramirez). As my friend Tyler said, "How did the team that gave up Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano get Delgado without having to give up Lastings Milledge?" My answer, "I have no idea!" Great deal for the Mets!
From James Mathewson: Michael Restovich off the 40-man roster. According to The Shooter. that makes him eligible for the Rule 5 draft. But my understanding is a team that takes a player off the 40-man must send him through waivers first and any team can claim him, which is how we got Matt Guerrier, for example. If he got through waivers already, that means no team claimed him for free, which makes it highly unlikely any team would claim him as a Rule 5 pick for $50,000. Your thoughts? If the Twins had a chance to right the wrong of letting him go, should they take him?
From Dewey Moede: Restovich has been left off the Pirates 40 man roster. With his winter league performance....do you think Terry will pick him up and put him in right field? With Kubel as DH? Kubel's knee is still healing.
SethSpeaks: I personally would have no problem with the Twins getting Michael Restovich. To me, he is a big, right-handed, powerful bat. He is an athletic version of Matthew LeCroy. The Twins need that. I don't think that he would really have a strong shot at a starting spot in the outfield, but he could compete with Lew Ford, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in RF. To me, he is a guy who would likely compete with Jason Tyner for the 5th outfield job. Resto is a power option; Tyner is a speed option. So really it would come down to which they determined they needed. Of course, so much depends on the healthy of Jason Kubel. We read a month ago that he was still wearing a brace and doing everything but sliding and playing defense on his surgically repaired knee. Then last week Sid Hartman came back with an article saying that Kubel could be out for awhile. So, which is it? I tend to believe the beat writer more than Sid. (and on Wednesday on KFAN, Terry Ryan said he fully expects Kubel to be ready by spring.)
Givens at this point include Torii Hunter, Shannon Stewart, Lew Ford, and Michael Cuddyer. Even if Kubel is deemed healthy, the team may decide to start him in Rochester for a month to get him some more live work and keep from rushing him. I have no problem with that. Jason Tyner's play in September earned him a shot next year as well. Based on Resto's performance down in Venezuela, I was shocked that he was left off of the Pirates 40 man roster. However, I think that he deserves a major league job, and I don't know that the Twins could guarantee him that. But how many AL teams could use a OF/DH type player? You can't tell me that he wouldn't have a shot with the Royals, Orioles, or the right-handed platoon with the Red Sox Trot Nixon since he bashes lefties!
From Jeff: Is Erik Lis any relation to Joe Lis, Twins first baseman in the 1970s?
SethSpeaks: No, although they are both 1B.
Joe Lis came up as a 23 year old in 1970 for 13 games with the Phillies. He spent parts of 1971 and 1972 with the Phillies. After that season, he was traded with two other players to the Twins in exchange for Cesar Tovar. He got 253 at bats in 103 games (96 at 1B) in 1973 for the Twins and hit .245/.325/.403 with 11 doubles, 9 homers and 25 RBI. It was the best year of his career. In 1974, he got zero extra base hits in 41 at bats for the Twins at the start of the season. In early June, his contract was sold to the Cleveland Indians and spent the rest of that season and parts of two more with that team. He got into 9 games with Seattle in 1970 and that was it.
Erik Lis was the Twins 9th round pick this June out of the University of Evansville. He was one of the 1B to play for the Appalachian League champions in Elizabethton. In 49 games, he hit .315/.356/.577 with 12 doubles, 10 homers and 41 RBI. He is another one of the Twins quality 1B prospects. It will be interesting to see what he does next year at Beloit. At that point, we'll have a better idea of the level of prospect he will be.
From Beth: Do you expect anything different from Guerrier next year--what do you think his role will be? Or will he be traded?
SethSpeaks: Well, that is a good question. Personally, I thought that Guerrier was excellent last year in his role. Many thought he should have changed roles, but there was no reason to do that at that time. As a matter of fact, I thought that should be the case for 2006 too. However, seeing how good and how dominant he has been while pitching in Venezuela, my thoughts have changed, but only slightly. I think that he and Willie Eyre will compete with Francisco Liriano for that 5th starting spot with the Twins. Eyre is also dominating Venezuela this winter, as a starter after a remarkable 2005 with Rochester. He is 5-0 with a 1.10 ERA there. Both of these guys are beyond 'prospect' age and could fill that roster spot temporarily, really holding it down for a few weeks before Liriano is deemed ready.
I think that Guerrier will be given that chance, and I think that he deserves it. If he does not win that job, he absolutely deserves to re-take his role in the Twins bullpen. Sure, he would still be behind Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon and Jesse Crain in the pecking order, but when those guys need a day off, Guerrier can be put into more difficult roles and still be a possible innings eater, along with Eyre. I was very impressed with Guerrier last year as opposed to his few starts for the team in 2004. He was hitting 92 with his fastball and had a sharp curveball. As those pitches improve, so will Guerrier. I would not trade him just to trade him.
From Beth: Who do you think is the most underrated Twin? Who do you think is the most overrated Twin?
SethSpeaks: Underrated by who? By the manager or GM? I have to say Michael Cuddyer. They just don't seem to like him at all, and I can not for the life of me figure out why. Also, I thought that Gardy underrated what Luis Rodriguez was able to do. He put together good at bats. His strikeout to walk ratio is always excellent. His defense was solid at all three infield positions. He was a far better option than Nick Punto yet he would go a week in between games, or at least at bats.
From Matt D: Why do the Twins jerk Michael Cuddyer around so much? After a rough first month or two, Cuddyer played very well at 3rd base and became arguably the Twins most consistent hitter (not saying much, I know). However, the Strib was littered with quotes from Newman, Ullger, Gardy, or whoever, that pretty much implied that "last night's loss was Cuddyer's fault" numerous times. Then Terry Ryan would say ridiculous things on his radio show, like how it seems like Cuddyer doesn't hit well when he's playing 3rd base...he hits better when he plays RF...etc etc etc. What's the deal?
SethSpeaks: I think if we learned one thing about the Twins this year... if anything went bad, it was Cuddyer's fault! Seriously! He seemed to be the scapegoat for everything! Well, he, Lew Ford, Justin Morneau and Jason Bartlett too. It just seems to me that Gardy is going out of his way to be like Tom Kelly in his approach with young players. In other words, excessively (and I would argue unfairly) harsh. Even Joe Mauer was the recipient of such criticism. I mean, I can remember on at least three occasions Gardy saying that this team somehow missed Henry Blanco, which was a joke!
But no one was criticized more than Cuddyer. Yes, he got off to a bad start, but after April his OPS was the best on the team, just ahead of Joe Mauer. Defensively, he struggled in the first half with 13 errors. He made some bad plays, no one is denying that. However, with his arm and his range, he was getting to more balls than Corey Koskie ever did and able to still make strong throws.
Maybe it would be best to post just my short answer to your initial question... I HAVE NO IDEA!
From Matt D: Why does Shannon Stewart get a free pass for terrible play from fans, coaches, management, and media?
SethSpeaks: This is equally perplexing to me. Shannon Stewart was not good at all. He was not the professional hitter that he had been in previous years. His batting average was not good. He showed no speed. Late in the season, I did an analysis that showed that he was the league's worst leadoff hitter. And his porous defense was a constant. Yet, you're right. Gardy never said a negative word about Stewart, and if anyone else tried to say something negative about him, he would blame his injuries.
But it was not just Stewart that got a free pass. Torii Hunter had three or four weeks where he led the team's offense. Bert Blyleven continued to call him a "streak-type hitter" but he had not had a good streak in about two years. The rest of the season (when he was healthy) was terrible offensively as ever. And even on defense, where his skills have given him the reputation needed to win a Gold Glove even in a season in which he missed over 60 games, he was not performing nearly as well as we were accustomed to. Jacque Jones hit under .250 and again struggled mightily against lefties. His defense was inconsistent and his throwing arm was, well, I don't even know what to call it when one throw would hit the turf 25 feet from him and the next would soar well over its intended target. Each also made a lot of the same mental errors in the field and on the base paths that caused the wrath of their manager. Yet these three were all above such criticism, at least in the media, from their manager.
It has to be the term "veteran" that gets them such a pass?! I really don't know. I don't think that it is right at all!
From James Mathewson: Most of the discussion on Minor League Ball and TwinkieTown centers on whom the Twins could send to convince the Rangers to part with Hank Blalock. I thought Lohse and Romero would be enough, but many people say it won't be. We would need to part with Carlos Silva, for example. Is Blalock worth a pitcher in Silva's class, even with Blalock's home/road splits?
SethSpeaks: I have been down on the Twins acquiring Blalock all offseason, but I have been wrong, in a way. At first, I was wrong because I thought there was no way that the Rangers would trade Blalock. He just turned 26 and was an All-Star in two of his three full seasons. In those past three years, he has averaged 35 doubles, 29 homers and 97 RBI. He is also a very good fielder. The Rangers also were smart in locking him up to a reasonable contract through his arbitration years. Why would they trade him? And then earlier this week suddenly, his name was in rumors.
I also noticed that against righties Blalock would hit 2nd, but against lefties, he would hit 6th or 7th. My assumption was that his lefty-righty splits must be poor. I was right about that. In 2005, he hit .291/.354/.464 against righties, but just .196/.228/.356 against lefties.
But, if you read Aaron's column on Tuesday, there was another disconcerting stat split of Blalock's. His home versus road numbers showed that he hit great in the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington, but hit "like Juan Castro" away from there. I would add that he hit that poorly even with support in his lineup from Michael Young, Alfonso Soriano and the great Mark Teixeira.
It makes acquiring him and assuming he will play at an All-Star level a little scary. So, to get to your question... I would trade Lohse and Romero to acquire Hank Blalock, but would prefer to give them to Boston for either Mike Lowell and cash or Kevin Youklis. I have no problem trading Romero because he is a head case who needs to go. Fact is, the Twins have needs on offense and have cheap options for pitching, so the money which Lohse (and his agent Scott Boras) would get through arbitration should be better used. So yes, he should be traded as well.
Now, Silva is an interesting question in its own right, and I thought I would spend some time on it. What he did in 2005 was amazing, especially considering his knee/meniscus injury that he pitched through all year. His ERA, BB/9, BB/K, WHIP, and other numbers were great. I know he didn't get many Wins, but GMs have to be smarter than sports writers and know that Wins don't tell you how well someone pitched.
However, there has to be some concern by some about Silva. In his two years as a starter for the Twins, his K/9 rates have been 3.37 and 3.39. Opponents hit .310 off him in 2004 and .290 last year. Now, last offseason, I was one of very few who was actually excited about what Silva could do in his second full year as a starter. This offseason, I am questioning whether it might be a great time to trade him. His value may never be higher, and I think that the Twins could get a lot for him. I would want more than Blalock for him.
From Dewey Moede: I sent you the story of the Marlins who are dumping players because of the stadium issue in Florida. The same will happen to the Twins if there is not stadium vote this year. Time is running out and Twins fans must let their voices be heard by calling the Gov. office! (or so called Gov!)
SethSpeaks: There isn't really a question here, but I think that this article is very interesting and you should take a few minutes to read it. I don't think that the Twins are in any imminent danger. I think that the Marlins should move first, probably heading to Las Vegas. Yes, Vegas would now be considered a 'small market' but with its growth in the last two decades as well as projections for continued growth, it would be a viable community.
I also don't believe that Major League Baseball wants the Twins to leave Minneapolis. The Twins Cities population ranks in the mid-teens in terms of audience. However, I continue to say that the Twins need a new stadium in order to be able to compete for dollars. They now receive little of their game fare (no $ for parking, concessions or even box seats). I also don't think that these people realize the economic impact that losing the Twins could have on Minneapolis. Think about it. On 81 days a year, between 15,000 and 35,000 people go to a Twins game. They spend money at the Dome as well as sometimes in the surrounding area. That is a lot of lost revenue for these businesses. Also, think about the jobs that would be lost.
In one of the most recent proposals, the Twins were going to pay for a huge percentage of a new stadium. Tax payers in Hennepin County would have paid an additional 3 cents on every $20 spent that would have gone to the stadium. That is (literally) pennies! How this bill did not pass, or even get a vote, is beyond me. I am becoming increasingly frustrated (and almost lethargic) when it comes to this topic. I am starting to wonder if the team will ever get a new stadium. And, if they don't, I know who I'll blame. If you are a Twins fan and want the team to stay, check with your local representatives and find out what their thought is on a new Twins stadium. Let them know that it means a lot to you that this happens, and although it should not be the only key issue in your voting decision, let them know that their thoughts on this topic will impact your vote in some way.
From Nick Herling: Do you think the Vikings would’ve had a chance to get to the Super Bowl if Culpepper was still there? I know what your answer is going to be (NO), but I just feel like they’re starting to gel as a team, and if Pepper was there and they got into the playoffs playing well I believe they would’ve had a chance. They do have the talent, or would’ve with the Pepper man. BJ is ok, but I hate people saying they’re better with him. That’s just ridiculous!
SethSpeaks: Ah, a football question to break up things a little bit. No, I don't think that the Vikings are a Super Bowl team, even if Daunte was healthy. I did at the beginning of the season but the slow start has certainly curbed my enthusiasm. So many people want to praise Brad Johnson for the team's three game win streak that brings them to 5-5. I am a Brad Johnson fan. I think he can be very good. But to think that he has had much to do with the team's success the last three games is ridiculous. Really, until the 2nd half of Monday night's win against the Packers, the offense, led by Johnson, had done very little to help at all. The Giants game was won because the team got a defensive touchdown, a punt return TD and a kickoff return TD. The offense had less than 150 total yards and only the field goal at the end of the game. Brad Johnson had minimal effect on that game. He also did very little the week before in the team's win against the Lions.
There has been one common denominator in the three Vikings wins; stellar play by the defense. That is what the difference is. That is the sole reason for the team's success. Yes, the offense moved the ball well in the second half against the Packers, but let's not forget that Mewelde Moore literally carried the load in that, at one point running the ball on nine straight plays.
Culpepper is certainly not without his faults. But some call him 'too dumb'. Were these same people calling him 'too dumb' a year ago when he led the league in passing and had single digits in interceptions? And you can say that Randy Moss was there. Well, Moss missed most of six games and Daunte was still great! If those people were still saying such things, well, there must be some other reason.
One argument that I could, possibly, maybe accept is this though... It is possible that once Daunte was injured and out for the year, the rest of the time started taking it upon themselves and stepped up, Johnson included. In other words, I think that expectations for Daunte were not only high by the media and fans, but also by his teammates. With Brad Johnson at QB, the rest of the team knows that they will get little from the offense and that is why the defense has stepped up. If that is the case, that shows a severe lack of professionalism by the defense, but it would explain much!
That said, there is not a dominant team in the NFC. Seattle and Dallas are good teams. The Bears defense is remarkable. However, if the Vikings can find a way to keep winning and get into the playoffs, they can take their chances with any of the NFC teams for the right to play the AFC champion and get crushed in the Super Bowl.
From Andy Haider:According to your "free agent watch", the only players that you would be interested in signing are the following:Bernie Williams for less than $2 million / 1 yearNomar Garciaparra for a $3 million + incentives / 1 yearSammy Sosa $1 million minor leagueBill Mueller $9 million / 2 yearsMike Piazza $2 million / 1 yearWas this a fair assessment?
SethSpeaks: I still feel pretty good about those numbers. I was just saying that is the range in which I myself would try to sign these guys, not necessarily the type of deal that they will likely receive. A couple of weeks later, I may be willing to go up a little for Nomar to play 3B here, but not a lot. I probably wouldn't go much higher on Piazza, although my guess is that he will go for somewhere between $5 and $7 million. Also, all five of these guys are either Type A or Type B free agents, so if the Twins signed one of them, they would lose a draft choice. Of course, if they offer arbitration to Jacque Jones and he leaves, they would receive a 1st round pick for him to even it out again.
From Nick Herling: Of all the free agents out there, who do you believe is the best fit for the Twins?
SethSpeaks: My opinion changes on this so frequently. But as of today, I think that the best for the Twins free agents would be: 1.) Nomar Garciaparra, 3B, 2.) Bill Mueller, 3B, 3.) Frank Thomas, DH. However, when we continue to read of players who could be had via a trade, those names become interesting and I am sure that by next week, my opinion will be new again. I really, really do not like Frank Thomas, so his appearance as a top 3 tells you how poor I think this free agent class is.
From Andy Haider: Now assume that we do not trade any existing major league talent. In my opinion, the only player on your list that we might get for that price is Mueller. This would still leave holes still at 2B, SS, and RF. I am all for giving Bartlett another shot. I would like to see Cuddyer at 2B, although I am thinking that Gardy only wants him to play RF. Perhaps Kubel can start running again well enough to play the outfield at some point 'early' in the season. This leaves the following question ... how likely is it that we will win the division next year with marginal improvement in the line-up (ie. hope people revert to 'Expected' levels)??? A better year from Morneau and Stewart, and hopefully only below average production from two of the following positions: 2B, SS, 3B, RF may get it done with our pitching. I am probably more sold on this approach than most, but do you think this can really get it done?
SethSpeaks: The Twins will be able to compete with anyone just because of their pitching. I agree that the team does not need to do anything drastic to become a legit division contender, of course, assuming as you said, better years from Morneau and Stewart and even Bartlett and guys to fill in in the positions you mentioned. Yes, I think that they can contend for awhile with their same roster (minus Jones, plus a 3B free agent). If they are able to add a couple of semi-significant bats, their odds obviously improve, but we have to remember that we are now competing with the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Both teams will be very good. But again, with the Twins pitching, they will always have a chance.
One more From Andy Haider:If not, we are forced into trades. I would love to get rid of Hunter at his salary. Let's assume for our hypothesis that this is not possible. I think resigning Jacque Jones for one more painful year is not out of the question (especially if we keep Hunter).What do you think it would take to liberate Adam Dunn from the Cincinnati Reds? How many of those prized Single A pitching prospects must we give up? I would hate to give up on any of them. Atlanta has consistently won because of their pitching. When Radke retires, Santana / Liriano become too expensive to maintain as a percentage of overall budget ... we will absolutely need to plug in from our minor leagues. We will never compete with free agency offers on pitching. I don't want to trade the next Liriano to get an AJ. It seems to me that Terry Ryan is desperate to give some of these pitchers away for some hitting in return. That scares me more than most.
SethSpeaks: It would take a LOT to get Adam Dunn, as it should. I am sure that they would first ask for Francisco Liriano, and the Twins would of course say NO. They would then ask for Scott Baker, and I know I would still say no, although it would be a fair deal (the Twins would have to add another midlevel prospect or two). As powerful as Dunn is, I am not terribly excited to see him in a Twins uniform.
I like Adam Dunn. I appreciate his willingness to take pitches and not go outside the strike zone. My question would be: Who would pitch to him with the Twins lineup? I think that he could come close to breaking Barry Bonds walk records if he played for the Twins. I don't think he would get 40 homers for the Twins. I personally believe that he takes too many pitches at times and would like to see him more aggressive.
So, as good as he is, or can be, I don't know how much he would help the Twins lineup now, so I would be hesitant to give up too much for him. Like with Blalock, I would probably offer Lohse and Romero, or maybe Lohse and Durbin or Bonser and see if they'll bite. I am sure they wouldn't.
I agree. The Twins pitching has been great. Santana will be around at least three more years. Liriano and Baker should be around the next six years. But Brad Radke is contemplating retirement after the season. Carlos Silva's contract is up after this year. The Twins will have to count on at least one more minor league guy in 2006, and I know there are plenty of options at AAA and AA who should be ready, but depth is good, so I just don't want the Twins to give up too much in any deal.
From Beth Miller: Which of the Twins prospects could be traded with the least negative impact to the Twins?
SethSpeaks: The depth right now is in pitching, both starting and relieving. I would never trade Francisco Liriano. It would take a blockbuster deal for me to trade Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Jose Mijares, Anthony Swarzak or Jay Rainville. Other starting pitchers could probably be available in the right deal just because they could be replaced by another pitching prospect. The organization is loaded and would adjust to losing one or two pitchers.
From Beth Miller: If the Twins don't make any trades this off-season, how do you think next season will pan out? What would your line-up look like? What's your ideal Twins starting rotation for next year?
SethSpeaks: Interesting question, and of course much depends on the health of Jason Kubel. But, again, I still think that the Twins could compete because of their pitching. So, let me answer that last question right away because it is easy.
My ideal starting rotation would be Radke, Santana, Silva, Baker, Liriano.
My ideal lineup would be: Lew Ford (RF), Shannon Stewart (LF), Joe Mauer (C), Torii Hunter (CF), Justin Morneau (1B), Michael Cuddyer (3B), Jason Kubel (DH), Luis Rodriguez (2B), Jason Bartlett (SS)
That is tough and shows that they do need a bat or two. I was very impressed with L-Rod, and with Bartlett's quality at bats. I think Cuddyer was fine at 3B offensively and defensively. Ford is their best on-base guy, aside from their best hitter Joe Mauer. Hunter splits up the lefty and can provide some power. If Kubel is healthy, he should be in the big leagues. He, Stewart and Ford could alternate positions (LF/RH/DH). If Kubel is not quite ready, a guy like Kevin West or Dan Matienzo, or more likely Alex Romero could take that spot in the lineup.
Now, if you happened to see my site on Tuesday, I proposed a three-team trade with Twins, Yankees and Marlins in which the Twins lost Torii Hunter, Boof Bonser and Juan Castro and acquired Juan Pierre and Robinson Cano. If that deal could happen, I'd love to see a lineup of:
Juan Pierre (CF), Shannon Stewart (LF), Joe Mauer (C), Michael Cuddyer (3B), Justin Morneau (1B), Robinson Cano (2B), Lew Ford (RF), Jason Kubel (DH), Jason Bartlett (SS).
Clearly that lineup would need a power right-handed bat in the middle (I may be the only person who still believes Cuddyer can be). But I love the on-base skills of the top five hitters, and well, all but Cano.
From James Mathewson: Now that the Red Sox have both Lowell and Youkilis, the Red Sox are rumored to be moving Youkiis to first base. But I heard the Sox will land a big first baseman to replace Millar, which means Youkilis will likely be available. What would it take for us to get him? Boston needs bullpen arms. Who would you part with to get Youkilis to play third?
SethSpeaks: Again, I am not saying that I'm a huge fan of Kevin Youklis, the Greek god of Walks. However, one of the Twins biggest problems in 2005 was putting together quality, professional at bats. Really, Joe Mauer, Lew Ford and Jason Bartlett were about the only ones who did it last year. Kevin Youklis has quality at bats. His numbers won't overwhelm, except for his Isolated Discipline. Therefore, I would not break the bank and give up terribly much for him. Baker and Liriano would of course be out of the picture. Again, I would probably trade Lohse or Romero for him, but likely not both.
My guess is that the Red Sox do have the ability to move Youklis to 1B and could be just fine if they did that. I think that they will try to make a killing on a trade for Lowell or Youklis , and I hope the Twins wouldn't play into that too much.
From Nick Herling: This is the hardest question. What is your all-time favorite movie? Mine is The Big Lebowski! I absolutely love that movie! It’s the dude, and he abides!
SethSpeaks: There are so many. I don't know if I have a favorite. My favorite baseball movie is Bull Durham, with Major League and Field of Dreams close behind. I love comedies and rank The Jerk, Class Act, Van Wilder, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and anything Adam Sandler is in right up there. I also am more and more getting into thinking movies. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a great example.
From Beth Miller: Given an infinite amount of money to sign/trade for any one player (but the only deal that could be made), who would you take?
SethSpeaks: Infinite money, huh? What a wonderful concept!! For that money, I want the best player in baseball. That is Alex Rodriguez. I know, I hate to admit that. He deserves the most money right now (subject to the health of Barry Bonds who I would pick if it was a one-year deal). If I needed to sign a guy for the next five years, I would likely pick Miguel Cabrera. Top pitcher for one year or for five years, for me, would be none other than that Twins Johan Santana.
From Nathan Pietruszewski: Ok, most importantly, what is the TWolves identity going to be this year? New coach Casey stresses D, but I get the feeling this team likes to run and that Casey is ok with that.
SethSpeaks: I agree with you. I think that they want to run and find ways to score easy baskets when possible. They certainly don't seem to be real strong or consistent yet this year with their half-court sets. That should come with time, it is new to everyone. Defense is where they really worked, and I think we've all seen that defense is what wins in the NBA with the Spurs and Pistons the past few seasons.
The identity of the Wolves is KG though. No question. As KG goes, so goes the team. He sets the tone with his hard work on both sides of the court. His unselfishness seems to rub off on most of the players.
From Nathan Pietruszewski: I think the Wolves are a bunch of good athletes, who just don’t quite fit together yet. Your thoughts?
SethSpeaks: KG is a great athlete. Other than he and probably Rashad McCants, I don't know that many others fit as good "athletes." I mean, of course they're great athletes. Every NBA player is a great athlete. But for "great athlete" in the NBA, I think vintage Vince Carter or someone like Desmond Mason, and I don't think that the Wolves have those types of athletes on their roster.
This roster is not a fit yet, I don't know. There are the offensive guys (Szczerbiak, Hudson, Frahm, McCants) and there are the defensive guys (Hassell) , and KG is really the only bridge in between. Griffin is good defensively but likes to shoot from outside. Jaric is good on both ends, but I still think he can be great, or at least better, on the offensive side. What needs to happen is for a group of these guys to figure out how they best can play together, and that understandably does take much time. How much time determines how much of a whole the team is in.
From Nathan Pietruszewski: CandyMan, is he for real this year? Is he playing so well right now because he’s in a contract year, or is it because his knees are finally healthy?
SethSpeaks: I guess you could say that it is a little of all three. I do think that he has the athleticism for a big man to be a very solid NBA player. He'll never play well enough to warrant his #1 selection, but he can be better than average. He does seem to be healthy so far as I don't believe his knees have given him any problems so far. Now, I can't help but think that both of these previous statements are very much related to the fact that it is a contract year for Kandi. From the Wolves perspective, let's hope that he keeps playing for a new contract and it helps the team win more games!
From : Will/should the Wolves trade KG to rebuild? There has been a lot of talk about it, not just on KFAN, but Charles Barkley also said they should trade KG on TBS. My personal feelings are NO. KG is one of those rare ball players who gives his all every day no matter what (he’s played in some 250+ straight games) and he also does and says all the right things off the court. The team needs to build around him, which is going to be tough as long as Kevin McHale is still in charge. He’s had some AWFUL draft picks and deals.
SethSpeaks: Kevin McHale is at fault for the team's roster. No one else. It is unfortunate that one of the top 3 or 4 NBA head coaches lost his job last year because of it. Hopefully this is the final season of his Wolves tenure.
However, I absolutely do not believe that the Wolves should even consider trading Garnett. First, he can not even opt out of his current contract and become a free agent for over two years. So, there is no reason for the Wolves to rush into anything.
Secondly, he is the face of the Wolves. However, he is also a shining face for the entire NBA. Bring those two last sentences together and there are nothing but positives.
Third, what are the Wolves going to get for Garnett? The two rumors we're hearing are: 1.) KG to the Pistons for Rasheed Wallace and Darko Milicic and 2.) KG to the Knicks for Penny Hardaway and Antonio Davis. In Deal 1, the Wolves would get a talented head case and a young, athletic former #2 overall pick who has averaged about .5 minutes a game over his 2+ year career with the Pistons. In Deal #2, the Wolves would wind up $20-$25 million under the salary cap next season because both of those guys' contracts expire after this season. However, what free agent in his right mind would want to sign up with the Wolves without Garnett?
From Nathan Pietruszewski: There are also rumors about StarBury coming back, your thoughts on that one?
SethSpeaks: I've heard so many on both sides of this, but for the most part, having Stephon Marbury on a roster is not a good thing for anything related to "team." He could not stand being second fiddle to Garnett here, so he asked for a trade. He went to New Jersey, closer to his home, and they wanted to rid themselves of him. They sent him to the Suns, and now he is with the Knicks where he is doing nothing but complaining. For all of his 20 point, 10 assist games, I just don't think he is worth the headache.
Of course, I also keep asking myself... how can such a selfish player continually end up with 7-10 assists a game!? Maybe there would be a way to make it work?
Do you have any thoughts or further questions for 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:
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)
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
With the Thanksgiving holiday, that of course, means NFL football games all afternoon. It means the Cowboys and the Lions. Along with Turkey, stuffing and family, of course. However, it also means two Thursday football games. And, since most places where you make picks will require you to have your picks turned in by the end of the workday today, I asked our panelists to try to get me their picks to help you. I know that not quite all of the picks are here yet, but as I receive them, they will be added. So, without further ado, here are our Week 12 picks: (games have been updated through the Thanksgiving games)
(For more on our panel or our picks, check out the NFL "Expert" Picks page here.)
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 Atlanta @ Detroit Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Denver @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Baltimore @ Cincinnati Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Chicago @ Tampa Bay Bears Bears Buccs Buccs Buccs Bears New England @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Patriots Patriots Chiefs Chiefs San Francisco @ Tennessee Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Jacksonville @ Arizona Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Cardinals Green Bay @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Packers Eagles Eagles New Orleans @ NY Jets Saints Jets Jets Saints Jets Jets Carolina @ Buffalo Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Bills Cleveland @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings San Diego @ Washington Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Redskins St. Louis @ Houston Rams Rams Texans Rams Rams Rams Miami @ Oakland Dolphins Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders NY Giants @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Steelers by 5
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 Atlanta @ Detroit Lions Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Denver @ Dallas Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Baltimore @ Cincinnati Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Chicago @ Tampa Bay Buccs Buccs Bears Bears Buccs Buccs New England @ Kansas City Patriots Chiefs Patriots Patriots Chiefs Chiefs San Francisco @ Tennessee Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Jacksonville @ Arizona Cardinals Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Cardinals Jaguars Green Bay @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles New Orleans @ NY Jets Jets Saints Jets Jets Jets Jets Carolina @ Buffalo Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Bills Panthers Cleveland @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings San Diego @ Washington Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers St. Louis @ Houston Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Miami @ Oakland Dolphins Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders NY Giants @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Steelers
Atlanta @ Detroit – Falcons 10-1
Denver @ Dallas – Broncos 9-2
Baltimore @ Cincinnati – Bengals 12-0
Chicago @ Tampa Bay – Buccs 7-5
New England @ Kansas City – Chiefs 7-5
San Francisco @ Tennessee – Titans 12-0
Jacksonville @ Arizona – Jaguars 9-3
Green Bay @ Philadelphia – Eagles 11-1
New Orleans @ NY Jets – Jets 9-3
Carolina @ Buffalo – Panthers 10-2
Cleveland @ Minnesota – Vikings 12-0
San Diego @ Washington – Chargers 11-1
St. Louis @ Houston – Rams 11-1
Miami @ Oakland – Raiders 10-2
NY Giants @ Seattle – Seahawks 12-0
Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis - Colts 10-2
And on that note, I will call it a day and a week. If you have any questions or comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.