Friday, December 16, 2005
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
Hey, Good morning everyone! By the time you read this, I will either be on my way to the hospital, in surgery, or already done. I am not nervous yet, however, I am sure that when I get to the hospital and the time gets closer, I will get much more nervous. Not knowing what to expect. Fearing the worst. Hoping for the best. I guess we'll see. It is just good to know that within a couple of days, I won't have to worry about this any more. So, thanks again for all of the e-mails of support. Today, I am just briefly going to touch on a few topics and then head to bed. I have to be up and leave before 5:00.
I will just have some Twins Thoughts, some Vikings Thoughts, and our Football picks. Maybe even a few random thoughts, but it may be quick as I need sleep! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me and/or leave comments. Again, I am getting way behind in the e-mails, so be patient. Thanks!
Well, yesterday the Twins made a move. They signed, not one, but two free agents. Who was it? Mike Piazza? Frank Thomas? Nomar Garciaparra?
No, the Twins signed 3B Tony Batista, the two-time All-Star who spent 2005 playing in Japan. So, what do I think of this signing? Really, there are two very different ways to look at it.
First, a person can look at his home run prowess throughout his career. He was a middle of the order hitter who hit as many as 41 home runs and drove in as many as 114 runs. The Twins have not had a 30 home run hitter in 18 seasons. Batista has had four thirty homer seasons and two more over 25. The Twins need a power hitter and a guy who can drive in runs. He has done that in the past.
However, the other way to look at this signing is to say that Batista is really an all-or-nothing hitter. Yes, he has all of the homers, but he also has a career line of .251/.298/.458. .251 is bad, but a .298 on-base percentage is absolutely horrible! If you just look at his last three major league seasons, he hit just .240 and had OBP's of .309, .270 and .272. That is awful!
Some may believe that this is just a signing to present an option, and that the Twins may still look at bringing in another 3B such as Joe Randa. However, I really believe that this is it. I think that they signed him to a major league contract and in doing so, they will likely give him the 3B job, or maybe the DH job, or some combination.
I watched Batista play a lot before he went to Japan. Yes, his open stance is cool. Yes he hits for power, but defense is another part of the equation. He is an average 3B at best defensively, and in recent years, it really looked as though the effort just stopped. It seemed as though he was frustrated and gave little effort.
So overall, what do I think of the Tony Batista signing? My first reaction was that I really don't like it. However, I think that if he comes back to the Major Leagues with a new attitude, he could be an effective player. I believe it is a one year contract, so he will be playing for a contract. He is just 32 years old, so not over the hill. As long as the value of the contract is under $1-1.5 million, I guess I am ok with it. However, the Twins still need to pick up a better bat than this. I definitely do not want Frank Thomas, and am still in the court backing the signing of Mike Piazza.
They also signed Catcher Shawn Wooten to a minor league contract. Back in 2001, 2002 and 2003, when he was a part-time player with the Angels, he really did put up good offensive numbers with some power. But he has done little lately. He is likely a AAA filler, and an option as a pinch hitter type. If he is their idea of a DH candidate, even I will fall into the anti-Terry Ryan ranks, and I don't want to do that!
Any thoughts on the Twins at this point? Are you disappointed in what didn't happen this week? E-mail me, or post some comments here.
First things first, I have to mention the fact that Daunte Culpepper, Fred Smoot, Moe Williams and Bryant McKinney were each charged with three misdemeanors related back to the Love Boat incident. I don't want to get into it too much because it is old news. I have read the documents and there are varying degrees of participation even in these four individuals. I mean, I read Culpepper's and Williams and think, Oh well. Smoot and McKinney... wow! It is certainly interesting information. I mean, we find out that there were 30 people on the boats who were identified as Vikings. There were others who did just as much or more as the four mentioned above, but because they aren't as famous, the witnesses can not identify them.
OK, let's get to this weekend's game. The Vikings will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings are just one game behind the Bears after their six straight wins, but the Bears just lost last week to the Steelers. So, I am very interested in what the Vikings are able to do on Sunday. The key to stopping the Steelers is to stop their run game. That means Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis, and to a lesser degree Duce Staley. Many believe that Ben Roethlisberger is just a game manager, but when he needs to, he has put up big passing numbers as well. Really, it seems to be that he does whatever he has to do to win. Some games, he'll pass for 120 yards and hand off a lot. Other games, he will pass for 350 yards. He is able to do that primarily because of Hines Ward, but Antwan Randle-El could have a big game on Sunday too, and I would almost guarantee that Heath Miller will score a TD.
The Vikings need to have a running game to have a chance. I don't care if it is Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore or even Ciatrick Fason. That will open things up for Brad Johnson to find any of his plethora of receivers. Koren Robinson has been the big play guy. Nate Burleson has to have a bust-out game in him, doesn't he? Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson have played their certain roles, at times. Jermaine Wiggins is really the lone consistent receiver.
But as it has with the Vikings the last six weeks, it is going to be up to the defense to win this game, probably more so than any other game (with the exception of the Giants game). The Vikings will have to stop the run first, and then put pressure on Roethlisberger so he has little time to make decisions. That is the only way for the Vikings to win.
Prediction - Vikings 19, Steelers 27
Any thoughts on the team, or this weekend's game? E-mail me, or leave your thoughts and predictions in the Comments.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Our panel has been really good the last two weeks overall. I'm not sure how it will go this week, but hopefully we can make a few correct picks. This week, we seem to have a lot of consensus on the picks. Let's see which teams our panelists picked. But first, two notes on our celebrity panelists.
First, I asked Grant Balfour to let us know how his arm is doing. He left the following response:
The arm is doing well! I have started to lift lightly and gaining a lot of strength back now. I am nearly back to normal. I look forward to start throwing off the rebounder in a few weeks and then on my return from Australia, start throwing the ball around again. I am looking forward to getting back into the drills and everything else that goes along with Spring Training.
We obviously wish him the best and hope he is able to return to the Twins bullpen in 2006!
Secondly, Kevin Slowey officially has a baseball card. As a second round draft pick, he appears in the Bowman Draft Picks set (as well as the Bowman Chrome Draft Picks set). I went to ebay and bid on a 23 card lot of the Slowey cards and happened to win it. I scanned the card and you can see it (front and back) here.
(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|
|Tampa Bay @ New England||Patriots||Buccs||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots|
|Kansas City @ NY Giants||Chiefs||Giants||Giants||Giants||Giants|
|Denver @ Buffalo||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos|
|Arizona @ Houston||Cardinals||Texans||Texans||Cardinals||Cardinals|
|Dallas @ Washington||Cowboys||Cowboys||Cowboys||Cowboys||Redskins|
|Pittsburgh @ Minnesota||Steelers||Steelers||Steelers||Steelers||Steelers by 19|
|Seattle @ Tennessee||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Cincinnati @ Detroit||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals|
|Philadelphia @ St. Louis||Rams||Eagles||Eagles||Rams||Rams|
|Carolina @ New Orleans||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers||Saints|
|NY Jets @ Miami||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins|
|San Diego @ Indianapolis||Colts||Colts||Chargers||Colts||Chargers|
|San Francisco @ Jacksonville||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars||49ers|
|Cleveland @ Oakland||Browns||Raiders||Raiders||Raiders||Raiders|
|Atlanta @ Chicago||Bears||Bears||Falcons||Bears||Bears|
|Green Bay @ Baltimore||Packers||Ravens||Packers||Ravens||Ravens|
|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|
|Tampa Bay @ New England||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots|
|Kansas City @ NY Giants||Giants||Giants||Giants||Giants||Giants||Giants|
|Denver @ Buffalo||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos|
|Arizona @ Houston||Cardinals||Cardinals||Cardinals||Cardinals||Texans||Cardinals|
|Dallas @ Washington||Cowboys||Redskins||Cowboys||Cowboys||Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Pittsburgh @ Minnesota||Vikings||Steelers||Steelers||Vikings||Vikings||Steelers|
|Seattle @ Tennessee||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Cincinnati @ Detroit||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals||Bengals|
|Philadelphia @ St. Louis||Eagles||Rams||Eagles||Eagles||Rams||Rams|
|Carolina @ New Orleans||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers||Panthers|
|NY Jets @ Miami||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins|
|San Diego @ Indianapolis||Colts||Colts||Colts||Colts||Colts||Colts|
|San Francisco @ Jacksonville||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars||Jaguars|
|Cleveland @ Oakland||Raiders||Raiders||Raiders||Browns||Browns||Raiders|
|Atlanta @ Chicago||Falcons||Bears||Falcons||Bears||Bears||Falcons|
|Green Bay @ Baltimore||Packers||Ravens||Ravens||Ravens||Ravens||Ravens|
Tampa Bay @ New England – Patriots 10-1
Kansas City @ NY Giants – Giants 10-1
Denver @ Buffalo – Broncos 11-0
Arizona @ Houston – Cardinals 8-3
Dallas @ Washington – Cowboys 9-2
Pittsburgh @ Minnesota – Steelers 8-3
Seattle @ Tennessee – Seahawks 11-0
Cincinnati @ Detroit – Bengals 11-0
Philadelphia @ St. Louis – Rams 6-5
Carolina @ New Orleans – Panthers 10-1
NY Jets @ Miami – Dolphins 11-0
San Diego @ Indianapolis – Colts 9-2
San Francisco @ Jacksonville – Jaguars 10-1
Cleveland @ Oakland – Raiders 8-3
Atlanta @ Chicago – Bears 7-4
Green Bay @ Baltimore - Ravens 8-3
And on that note, I will call it a day and a week. I'll be back on Monday hoping there is more Twins news to report.. If you have any questions or comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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