Friday, July 30, 2010

Six Very Important Things this Morning 7.30.2010

1.   I'm unsure about this.  Big move down Twins way, moving Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps, a deal that I now Super Twins Blogger Aaron Gleeman hates already, thanks to the miracle of twitter.  I don't hate it, but I also don't love it.  Kind of like the show Big Bang Theory.  I'm not a fan of trading Ramos in a trade that isn't really the kind that will put you over the top, but Capps is better than Rauch, even if it's not a huge upgrade, he was absolutely lights out from 2006-2008, and he has significant closing experience.  Maybe it's the last little bit of the nerd in me holding on to something old school but I believe there is value in having closing experience.  The downside, of course, is that they traded their top prospect (top 3 at worst) for a rental, because Capps is a free agent after this year, and it makes me a bit queasy to trade a top young guy for a reliever.  I need more time to really digest this, but I think I kind of like it but don't love it.  Of course, I'm also a huge lover of trades because they're fun, so that bumps it up a notch.

2.  A few other trades went down yesterday.  The most high profile was Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for J.A. Happ and a couple of mediocre prospects, a steal for the Phillies since the Astros are paying $11 million of his salary next year and they didn't have to guarantee his 2012 option.  This now gives Philly a 3-man playoff rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Oswalt, and I think we have a Miami Heat situation brewing in the NL.  Other trades include the shell of Miguel Tejada to the Padres for a middling minor leaguer, Jorge Cantu to the Rangers for a couple of promising pitchers even though Texas is broke, and an odd swap of minor leaguers between the Astros and Blue Jays involving one of the prospects the Astros had received just hours earlier in the Oswalt trade and a guy the Jays got in the Halladay trade last year.  So basically the market for starters is crap, but the Twins overpaid for Capps.  Awesome.

3.  Sticking with baseball, we need a moment of silence.   Stephen Strasburg is dead.  Well shut down and on the DL, retroactive to his last start so he'll be back in about 10 days.  But still.  Apparently he's basically just got a sore shoulder with a little inflammation and it's not really a big deal, but because the Nats are going nowhere and Strasburg is basically Sidd Finch with a golden arm, there's no reason to put him at even a minuscule risk of further injury.  Now if only they could find a team to give up a top prospect at a tough position to fill, like catcher, for a pretty decent but overvalued reliever.  Oh, and you can also read how Jim Bunning is batshit insane if you follow that link.

4.   R. A. Dickey is really starting to piss me off.  He continues to somehow pitch well, so well in fact that the article title after his start tonight was "Dickey Dominates."  After taking a 3-hitter into the ninth before running into some trouble and getting yanked, Dickey is now 7-4, but more importantly is sporting a 2.32 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP; ace-like numbers.  That ERA is less than half his career number, his WHIP is almost a half base-runner per inning better this year, and for a guy who has only been a part-time starter in his career he's been able to go at least 6 innings in 12 of his 14 starts this year.  And, in case you're wondering, his BABIP is right where it should be, so there's no reason to expect him to suddenly start to suck.  Seriously, this is so far beyond a career-year that we need a new word for it.  This is his Brady Anderson year.

5.  The Jeremy Tyler saga continues.  You might remember Tyler as one of the top incoming recruits for the class of 2010, who had signed on with Louisville and Rick Pitino.  Then he decided the best move for him would be to leave high school after his junior year and play professionally in Israel until he became eligible for the NBA.  He then quit after just 10 games (averaging 2.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in 7.6 minutes) after a series of issues including leaving a game at half time in protest that he wasn't getting enough minutes.  He's now hooked up with a team in a Japanese League, and will presumably play over there next year unless he quits again.  He will be eligible for the NBA Draft next season, so we'll find out if it was worth it.  Pretty much a toss up right now between living in a land where you don't know the culture or the language, not getting along with teammates, and high levels of frustration versus being a star and banging a different coed every night.  Tough call. 

6.  Northwestern's NCAA cherry takes a hit.  This happened a few days ago but I haven't commented on it and I think it's big enough that I should make sure to mention, but Kevin Coble has decided to hang 'em up and has left the Wildcat basketball team.  It's unfortunate for Northwestern, because between him and John Shurna they would have had two big weapons who could score from inside or outside, and with Michael Thompson and Drew Crawford back and highly rated freshman Jershon Cobb joining the team, they were looking very good for their first ever NCAA bid.  They will still be good enough to make a run, but it will be tough without Coble, who led the team in scoring and rebounding all three years of his career, but was sidelined by a foot injury last year, and left the team to focus on his academics and get his degree.  Just goes to show you can't trust a nerd.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on the Capps trade.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gopher Hoops Recruiting Update

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm going to take a look at Gopher Basketball recruiting tonight.  After they missed out on Jesperson, Tre Demps, and Uthoff, I relaized I didn't even know if I should be worried or not.  How many other offers were out?  Were they close on anybody?  Seriously, I'm not even sure how many scholarships they have for sure (I think it's 3 for 2011, assuming Mbakwe ends up sticking around).  So let's take a look together.

I am taking these "offer lists" from  No doubt they have inaccuracies as all recruiting sites do, but they are the one I have a membership to.  The alternative would be to come through all the major sites to try to get the most up-to-date and accurate info, but seriously, I'm not a journalist I'm just bored and own a computer.  So if you want to be more thorough, either do it yourself or go the the Gopher Hole.  They have tons of info over there if you're willing to look for it.

I am not.  And away we go: 

As I said, according to Rivals the Gophers have offers out for 2011 to these players:

-  Joe Coleman - 6-3 SG - Hopkins, MN - #32 SG/#111 overall.  Might as well start with Coleman since as a home town boy he seems to be at the top of the "must get" list.  He's really jumped up in the rankings this year, and it would behoove Tubby to get him to declare as early as possible before more attractive programs get him on their radar.  Right now his other offers are from mid-tier programs, with Iowa State probably the tops, but there's no doubt other teams are starting to take notice since he's basically lit it up every time he's had a chance against top competition.

He's a "natural scorer" and a good athlete who has an improving jump shot, and would be an absolutely terrific addition to the team for 2011 and would be huge to keep the perception up that Tubby "has the borders locked down."  Losing out on Coleman wouldn't be a disaster, but it would certainly shake the foundation, and there would have to be a seriously strong class to keep it from being a major disappointment.

-  Josh Oglesby - 6-5 SG- Cedar Rapids, IA NR/NR - Other than Coleman this is the kid I keep hearing the most about, mainly because he's local-ish and mainly because the Gophers seem to be looking pretty good for him.  He's a combo guard who sounds like he's more SG than PG, but supposedly he has pretty incredible range and is solid with the ball - like a more athletic Blake Hoffarber.  The big wrinkle here is that Iowa just offered him, and there are some who think he's been waiting for that offer.  Either way, there's midwestern teams involved here including Northern Iowa, so I'd say he's a longshot to be a Gopher at best.

-  Naadir Tharpe - 5-11 PG - Wolfeboro, NH - #109 overall - He's not ranked as a PG on Rivals, but ESPN has him as their #8 point guard, and he had some good things to say about Tubby and the Gophers in this article at the Gopher Hole.   I don't know what's going on with my former crush Ryan Boatright since Rivals doesn't list the Gophers as in his consideration set yet GopherIllustrated keeps covering him and Tubby keeps watching him, but if things don't work out with him I'll be just fine with Tharpe.  I think I've been pretty clear that I love me a nice traditional point guard, and Tharpe fits the bill.  In a story on they mention his phenomenal court vision and trademark playmaking skills.  Yes please.

-  Amir Williams - 6-9 C - Beverly Hills, MI - #3 C/#43 overall - He's a highly rated center from Michigan, which means the Gophers chances of landing him are extremely slim, but I'm including him because he still has the Gophers in consideration and it would be pretty freakin' sweet to actually land him.  Of course by in consideration that means they are one of 19 teams he's still considering.  Yes, 19.  Gotta love those odds.

-  Malcolm Brogdon - 6-5 SG - Norcross, GA - #35SG/#115 overall - The next highest ranked player on the list and another wing, I'd peg the Gophers' chances at landing Brogdon at fairly decent since I like Tubby's chances in Georgia.  He's described as smooth and calm on the court and more of a shooter than an athlete, and as such sounds to me rather Devoe Joseph-y;  as such, I 'm a big fan.  However he recently landed an offer from Notre Dame, and when asked what he liked about the Irish he mentioned that the coach said he could "Come in and just play my game.  I wouldn't really be put under any type of rules like a lot of college coaches do."  If that's what he's looking for, stringent Tubby has no shot.

-  Tommie McCune - 6-7 PF - Saginaw, MI - #29PF/#149 overall - The last of the Rivals Top 150 holding an offer from the Gophers, McCune is another Michigan kid so I don't know why Tubby is wasting his time.  I mean, everything sounds good:  athletic, range out to 20 feet, good rebounder, but if he's a Michigan kid he won't get out of the state unless Izzo doesn't want him.  Although I guess with the way that program is going getting their leftovers might now be the worst thing in the world.

-  Devin Coleman - 6-3 SG - Wynnewood, PA - NR/NR - A poor man's Rodney Williams, Coleman is described as an incredible athlete who can get to the rim whenever he wants, but isn't exactly known for his jump shot - which all sounds awfully familiar.  At one point he was favoring Iowa, but recently he has said that Iowa seems awfully far from home and he might prefer some place like Rutgers (which doesn't exactly bode well for the Twin Cities).  Although if your choices are Iowa or Rutgers, Minneapolis has got to look awfully good. 

-  Shelby Moats - 6-8 PF - Waconia, MN - NR/NR -  Behind Joe Coleman and the two PGs I've mentioned Moats is my next biggest wish.  Maybe not all that highly rated right now, but some of his descriptors turn me on:  strong, good outside shot, cerebral, 4.0 GPA, textbook perfect left-handed shot.  Drool.  Apparently he's not that great an athlete and most of his offers come from smarty pants smaller schools (Ivy Leaguers, Bucknell, Lehigh, Holy Cross, etc.) but he sounds like the kind of player who takes a school like that to the next level and makes them a Cinderella threat.  Why couldn't he help do that at the Barn?

So there's your update.  I know there are probably other guys on the radar or whatever, and I will try to do a better job keeping up with all those rumors, but for now here's what you get.  I don't have time to chase down every single link right now.  Maybe you should go do it and stop being such a jerk all the time.

Six Very Important Things this Morning 7.28.10

1.  The Twins blitzed the Royals again.  Once again your beloved hometown 9 started the game strong, scoring two in the first (which could have been more but Denard Span has a serious aversion to staying on base), then coasted there way to an 11-2 win behind another offensive explosion from Danny Valencia.  Another four hit game for the not-a-slap-hitter gives him back-to-back four hit outings and makes four straight games with at least 3 hits.  Mauer, Hardy, Young, Cuddy, Span, and Butera each had at least two hits as well.  This team is absolutely rocking the ball.  Butera is nearly hitting .200 for christ's sake, what the hell is going on?  Maybe most impressively, Pavano was clearly not on last night the way he has been lately, but he was able to pitch around trouble for his five innnings, allowing only one run, and the bullpen took it from there.  They're really clicking right now, and if the non Pavariano starters can keep it together they could end up taking this thing.   hahahahahahahahahahahamakeatrade.

2.  Sticking with the Twins, apprently they're exploring Matt Capps.  According to Tim K. at ESPN they aren't happy with Rauch and have looked into acquiring Capps, and learned that the Nats would want Wilson Ramos back.  This is lunacy on so many levels.  Capps is nearly identical to Rauch.  Although he might be slighly better he's in no way Wilson Ramos better.  Maybe a Matt Tolbert better.  If this happens I quit being a fan.  Let's hope the Twins leave the exploring of Matt Capps to either Mrs. Capps or various ladies of ill repute, ok?  Speaking of which, ask me about Brendan Donnelly some time.

3.  Just when you thought the Wolves offseason couldn't get any more bizarre.  Newest news is that Jonny Flynn will be out 3-4 months due to hip surgery, which means the Wolves have now gone from three viable point guards to 1 + Bassy Telfair.  If you're scoring at home, Kahn has now essentially cleared house, getting rid of nearly everybody from the previous regime and now getting started on moving out his own guys, as Sessions and Hollins were both Kahn signings last offseason.  It's a bold move, and is it just me or does Kahn have a little Steinbrenner in him?  Who else would sign someone to a four year, $16 million dollar contract just to trade him the next year for a player who was immediately cut?  He basically kicked him out of bed in the middle of the night and didn't even supply cab money.  Ain't right.

4.  The baseball world holds its collective breath.   Super phenom (and fantasy team savior) Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start against the Braves last night after he was "unable to get loose" in the bullpen.  That was the official explanation.  They said there was no pain or anything, he was just unable to get loose.  I usually find a couple of kamikazes does the trick.  Seriously though, this could potentially kill baseball. 

5.  NFL Writers in Cincinnati are going to be busy.  The Bengals, in keeping with their tradition of being a complete mess, have signed Terrell Owens.  If you were in the same room as me right now you would see me showing how much I care about this by making fart noises with my mouth.

6.  Best Second-Baseman Ever?  Rickie Weeks went deep again last night, which makes three consecutive nights and gives him six home runs in his last ten games.  For the year he's now up to 22 home runs, and is basically having the same season as Joe Mauer - if Mauer had 22 home runs, 7 steals, and played a god awful second-base.  But who cares about fielding when you're destroying the ball?  He might not have the average you'd always want and he strikes out quite a bit, but he also can take a walk and when he makes contact he hits the ball a ton.  So exactly like the exact opposite of every Twins' middle infielder ever, and Gardy's worst nightmare.

I'm hoping tomorrow's post is going to be a gopher hoops recruiting rundown, something I've been really neglecting since I am spending basically all my energy on the Twins for some reason.  Well, that and preparing the house for the new kid, who is really just going to be a time sink and money drain.  Joy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Six Very Important Things this Morning 7.27.10

Hi folks.  I just finished up an absolutely terrific meal I prepared myself (Grilled Marlin Steaks in a garlic lemon butter sauce) and as such I'm feeling pretty good so it's time to roll out an idea I've been kicking around for a while:  Daily morning posts.

Usually during the week when something interesting happens but I don't feel it warrants an entire post, I just file it away to use for the Week in Review post on Monday, but that's irritating at times and a lot slips through the cracks, so from now if I'm not writing something about something more important like Twins' talk, Gopher hoops, or crappy SyFy movies, I'll try to put together a linksy/newsy like a respectable blogger for posting in the morning so you'll have something to do while you try to wake up at work.

Now, they will be shorter than the Week in Review posts (thank god is what you're saying), and I'm not guaranteeing this every morning, but I'm going to try to keep this going until I get bored.  Also keep in mind that I go to bed around 11, so it's not going to be often that any West Coast games are going to be highlighted here.

Let's see how this goes.  Without further ado, your first ever "Six Things":

1.  Danny Valencia is sick of my calling him a nancy-boy slap hitter.  Well, he didn't actually say that, but he said it with his bat, going 4-4 with his first career home run.  He wasn't the only star for the Twins, with Delmon also chipping in with yet another 4-hit game and Joe Mauer going 5-5 with a home run and 7 RBI, all on their way to 19 runs on 20 hits, giving them 29 runs and 39 hits over he last two games.  Lost in all this is the fact that Liriano tossed an easy breezy seven innings of 3 hit, no run ball for the win, and would have had a shot at a shut out (just 83 pitches) if the game wasn't such a massacre.  The Twinkies have an easy schedule the rest of the way, and Detroit is falling apart at the seems, so this thing is right there for them if they want it.  And then we can once again enjoy the yearly ritual known as "getting swept out of the playoffs."  It's a magical time.

2.  Al Jefferson hates Toyotas, T-Wolves.   Ok, he had some nice things to say about Minnesota, but it's pretty clear he's not sad to be gone.  I'm curious how he's going to fit in since Deron Williams is a pick-and-roll PG and he's not a pick-and-roll PF, but whatever.  And Actually calling the T-Wolves a Toyota might be a compliment.  I'd have been more specific, like calling them a '84 Toyota Tercel that for some reason has three semi-expensive steering wheels.

3.  Matt Garza is feeling the heat from Delmon Young.  Just when it was seeming like the balance of the Delmon/Garza trade might be swinging in the Twins favor, Matt Garza goes out and tosses a no-hitter, and damn near a perfect game with just a single blemish in the form of a walk to Brennan Boesch.  Nice little outing.  He's still no Delmon, but I'd say he's significantly better than Jason Pridie.

4.  Matt Wieters is back.  This week Snake and I were forced to bring Matt Wieters back aboard our fantasy team due to Miguel Olivo suddenly finding himself in a platoon with the hottest prospect of 2005, Chris Iannetta.  We figured we'd give him one more week before cutting him for good, but that's probably not going to happen after he went deep twice last night against Toronto, increasing his season HR total by a whopping 33%.  Bad news:  They still lost because they're Baltimore.  Good news:  My autographed Matt Wieters ball just increased in value by 18%.

5.  The Wolves continue to get weirder.  This time the Kahner traded one of his three steering wheels (Ramon Sessions), last year's occasionally starting center (Ryan Hollins) and a second round pick for noted Lebron-mom banger Delonte West and second-time's the charm Sebastien Telfair, whose NBA career is clearly working out exactly according to plan.  Except of course that neither of these guys will play a game, because West can be waived before August 5th, which would cost just $500k (compared to his $4.6 million salary) and Telfair will be re-traded or bought out as well.  Let me tell you, there's nothing more satisfying for a fan than a trade which saves the team money but brings in no talent.  This must mean cheaper beer next season, right?

6.  Dez Bryant is probably going to steal Halle Berry too.  The big news out of Cowboy Camp is that Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams' pads after practice, as is customary at Dallas Training Camp, and everybody is all in a huff.  I get that, there is something to be said for tradition, even if it's stupid and retarded, but this just smacks a little too much of a Darnell Jefferson/Ray Griffen situation if you ask me.  The brash young rookie (Jefferson/Bryant) comes to the team (Dallas/ESU) with designs on stealing the underperforming incumbent starter's (Williams/Griffen) job.  I think we know how this ends:  Williams throws a crushing block to spring Dez for a key touchdown, helping a fresh-from-rehab led Tony Romo and the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory while Demarcus Ware listens from a hospital room, tears running down his cheeks because he knows his career is over.

So there we are.  The first ever 6 things.  Hopefully it won't be the last, but I make no promises.  I can be legendarily lazy, and get bored and distracted quic

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week in Review - 7/26/2010 (Dan Haren edition)

God damn it.


1.  Delmon Young.  No joke guys, I think we've reached the point where Delmoney is absolutely carrying this team.   In terms of the batters, that is, since really Pavariano is the combo that's really getting it done.  But batting-wise ever since that Canadian fella whacked his head like Billy-Bob, Delmon has become the man.  He's basically the third best hitter on the team this year, and that is only if you count Thome.  He's locked in the way Mauer was last year and Morenau was most of this year.

And he even made a play on Saturday night where he sprinted into the corner to catch a fly ball and then tossed out Miguel Tejada tagging (inexplicably) from first to second.  I'm starting to think something special is happenign.   Perhaps the best sign is what's coming out of the clubhouse from Gardy, Thome, and other teammates.  I know it's basically their job to blow smoke up the media and fan's collective ass, but last year you never heard anything positive about Delmon off the field (or on, for that matter) so even the faintest praise is a pretty positive sign.  And in this case the praise is flowing like the salmon to Capistrano, so we may very well have a monster breaking out here. 

2.  Miguel Cabrera.  Speaking of people who are overshadowing the advillian-challenged Morneau, Cabrera pretty much has the AL MVP wrapped up and we aren't even to August yet, and he killed pitchers again this week. 13-27 this week with 9 RBI, and he's now hitting .348/.421/.650 on the year, and is now first in slugging and second in OBP and AVG in all of baseball, and on top of that is third in home runs and first in RBI.  So he's basically doing what Joe Mauer did last year, but add in a possible triple crown.  Just a tremendous season so far.  I hope he hits Dan Haren in the face with a line drive.

3.  Kelly Johnson.  He hit for the cycle, which would be way more exciting but I know pretty much nothing about him.  I know he's a Diamondback and used to be a Brave, and I know he's a second baseman.  Does he play any other positions?  I don't know.  Does he hit .220 or .320?  Is he a 5 HR hitter or a 25 HR hitter?  Does he steal 3 bases or 60?  These are all answered with a shrug and a self-deprecating yet charming smirk.  So congrats on your cycle Kelly.  You've got a hell of a legacy going on here.  I hope you enjoy playing with the crap the Angels gave away to steal sexy Dan Haren away from you.

4.  Danny Valencia.  I still think he's probably a slap-hitting nancy girl, but I've been noticing that a lot of his hits lately are more of the line drive variety than the bloop/seeing eye grounder variety.  He put together back-to-back 3-for-5 games over the weekend, and he's now hitting .346/.398/.395 for the year, and if that was over an entire season thus far he would rank as the fifth best third baseman (OPS-wise) in the American League behind Adrian Beltre (wait, what?), Evan Longoria, A-Rod, and Michael Young.  Is he that good?  No, certainly not, and with a a slugging percentage lower than his OBP he is definitely a slap-hitting Judy, but still I feel slightly impressed.  He'd be a much better prospect to give the Diamondbacks than what the craptastic Halos gave for Haren, and not nearly good enough that they'd actually miss him.  Nice work, jackasses.

5.  Dan Haren.  He gets to pitch for a contender and gets to stay on the West Coast, the two things he said he wanted.  Well played, Haren.  Well played indeed.  Of course, he also said that going to a contender was the most important thing, and that he simply preferred to stay on the West Coast.  The Twins are a contender, allegedly, and would have been a good landing place.  This sucks.  


1.  Twins.  I know they could have come up with a better offer than what the Angels gave for Haren.  I know they could have, because the offer the Angels put together was Joe Saunders, two middling prospects and a player to be named later.  I plan to look at this further, but for right now my first reaction is that this is a bunch of crap, and they were too pussy to put a real offer out there.  Seriously, this was the year to make a move like this.  The lineup is going to be worse next year.  Right now they have Hudson (when he's not hurt), Hardy (when he's not hurt), and Thome and next year they are going to end up going back to Tolbert, Casilla, and Harris.  Bank on it.  This was the time to make the move.  And if it didn't work out, Haren would still have trade value and they could flip him next year or two year's from now if needed.  Just a bullshit chicken-shit move.  Enough already with the small market bullshit.  Maybe I'm ungrateful, but I'm sick of scratching by to win the division and getting run right out of the playoffs.  Make a move already.  God I'm emotional right now.  This must be what women feel like all the time.

2.  Diamondbacks.  I'm too sleepy to look it all up, but over and over and over again the Arizona brain trust, and I mean that the same way people refer to David Kahn as the T-Wolves brain trust, said they would have to be blown away by an offer and that this wouldn't be a "salary dump."  Well guess what, assholes?  This was a straight salary dump.  They got a mediocre left-handed starter, a B prospect, a C prospect, and a nothing prospect.  Basically equivalent to a Twins offer of Slowey, Jesse Crain, Adrian Salcedo, and Matt Bashore.  Who?  Exactly.  The Twins could have bettered that offer with minimal effort and minimal affect on the overall minor league system.  Awesome.  Just awesome.   

3.  Paul Casey.  Here is the list of golfers who ranked higher than Paul Casey on the World Golf Rankings who played with him at the FBR Open in Canada this weekend:

Yep, nobody.  And yet, Mr. #8 in the world couldn't be bothered to make the cut.  Of course, neither did Sean O'Hair, Scott Verplank, Fred Couples, or Mike Weir, leading to a thrilling Sunday showdown between Carl "The Swedish Boss Hog" Petterson and Dean "Can't tell if he's Asian or not" Wilson.  This is where I would tell you who won, but you don't care and it doesn't matter.  And also I don't actually know because I didn't watch.  I was too busy crying.

4.  David Ortiz.  I somehow found myself watching the Boston/Seattle game Friday night, even though I didn't have money on it and had zero fantasy players involved.  No, I have no idea what I was doing there.  Not really the point, Tito.  The point is that with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth in a 1-1 game, David Ortiz was picked off of third base.  And not by the pitcher on something weird, by the catcher.  And not by the catcher on a blocked ball in the dirt.  It was on a set play by the Mariners where the pitch was outside and the third basemen broke to cover and the catcher winged it down there as soon as he caught it.  Which tells me that it wasn't an isolated incident, but Ortiz was getting way too far off the base regularly.  Seriously where exactly was he going?  Where did David Ortiz think he was going?  Was he going to steal home?  Score on a ball in the dirt?  What could he have possibly had running through his head?  I can't decide if this is more Lew Ford or more Denard Span.   Maybe it's more Bill Smith.  You know, screwing something easy and simple and obvious up beyond all repair.

5.  Life.  You win again.  I feel like WonderbabyTM when she met Santa. 

Apologies to Rickie Weeks who probably deserved a spot in the Awesome column, but I had to give props to Danny Haren instead.  It's been a long time since I've had my heart broken like this.  I need to go drown my sorrows in alcohol and tears.  Maybe a nice bundt cake.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Have a Boner and its Name is Dan Haren

The more and more I think about this, the more and more I want Dan Haren.  And I want him bad.

You can have your Roy Oswalt, but for me Haren is the best pitcher available. His stats might not look super pretty this year (4.60 ERA and 1.34 WHIP) but they are significantly higher than his career averages, and there's really no reason for concern.  His K-rate and BB-rate have remained basically constant, as have his line drive rate and GB/FB ratio - the only big change has been in his BABIP, which essentially tells us that the only reason his numbers don't look that great is bad luck.  Oswalt is a fine pitcher, a damn fine pitcher, but Haren is very similar from a mound standpoint but with more strikeouts, and he's three years younger. 

What makes him more interesting than your average trade deadline available starter is he's not just a rental, for one, but also that none of the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets are going to be involved, either because they aren't interested (Yanks, Sox) or don't have the horses (Mets), and those two issues bring the Twins in play.  Of course, we can't just HAVE Dan Haren, as that's only allowed in basketball (see Gasol, Pau), and there are costs involved; both personnel and actual money.

Let's start with personnel, as in "what would the Twins have to trade to acquire Haren?"  Any package discussed for this type of player generally starts with Wilson Ramos, and I don't see why the D-Backs would be an exception.  I know they have a relatively young (27) catcher who can hit in Miguel Montero, but he seems to have some trouble staying healthy (although to be fair I'm only basing this on this season), and it doesn't appear there's much organizational depth behind him, so let's assume we start with Ramos as a base.  If they don't want him, which would be weird, somebody like Ben Revere would work here as well. 

From what I have read, mostly on John Sickels' most excellent blog, the Diamondback's system is pretty thin, particularly on the pitching side.  I also read one GM told a reporter that they are currently asking for two starters and relief help.  One thing I would guess they'd be interested in one of the Twins' current starters, someone with big league experience who is still young and cheap and can develop.  Liriano is untouchable, Pavano makes no sense, Baker is too expensive, and Blackburn has zero trade value, so Slowey it is (and he's under team control for 3 more years).  I won't shed any tears.

I'd also guess they'd like a top-ish level starting pitcher prospect.  Kyle Gibson should be untouchable, but there is some depth here in the minors for pitchers.  David Bromberg is a a guy I see tossed around as the #2 SP prospect for the Twins, and I'd be willing to include him, but he may be too steep a price.  Plenty of other guys like Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertson, or Shooter Hunt could maybe get it done.

As far as relief help, assuming they'd be most interested in a young player with upside, why not Alex Burnett?  He was considered one of the best reliever prospects in the system coming into the year, made the jump from AA to the majors and held his own most of the year, and he's just 22.  There are a couple of other relievers on a similar tier (Rob Delaney, Carlos Gutierrez) who might fit what Arizona is looking for.

So what about a package of Slowey, Ramos, Bromberg, and Burnett?  Might be kind of steep - these are a MLB caliber pitcher (maybe) and three of the team's top 21 prospects going into this year according to Aaron Gleeman, but if I'm Bill Smith I'd be willing to pay that price.  I'd, of course, start by offering lower-ranked prospects (maybe Revere/Slowey/Manship/Delaney), but if my bluff got called I'd throw this one down on the table.  I want to win, and I want to win now. 

We also have to deal wit the real money, and this might end up being the real sticking point.   It's true Haren represents a significant financial investment, as he is owed $12.75M next year and in 2011, and has a club option for $15.5 million in 2012 with a $3.5 million buyout.  Sounds like a lot, and I suppose it is, but keep in mind Haren is a #1 pitcher-type.  We already mentioned Oswalt, whose salary for next season is 28% higher than Haren's, but what about A.J. Burnett at $16.5M, John Lackey at $15.25, Jake Peavy at $17M, or Carlos Zambrano at $18M?  There are pitchers all over the place making $12 million.  I mean, the Orioles paid just slightly less for Kevin Millwood this year ($12 million).  Really, his salary may sound like a lot, but it's a relative bargain compared to a lot of other pitchers.

But can the Twins afford him, is what you're wondering.  Mauer's salary jumps next year by over $10 million, and Kubel (assuming they pick up his option), Rauch (ditto), Guerrier, Delmon Young, and others will get decent raises as well.  They can drop some payroll back by not resigning Thome, Pavano, Hudson, and Hardy, and not picking up Punto's option.  They could also drop $10 million by buying out Cuddyer.  I have a feeling they would be able to bring him back cheaper, if they desired.  He seems loyal like that.  Like a dog.

But overall there's no doubt they would have to be willing to increase payroll to make this happen.  It's also the kind of move that could lead to them not being able to keep Jason Kubel or even Liriano down the line, which is clearly not ideal.  But don't you sometimes get sick of just fighting to make the playoffs, knowing odds are stacked heavily against them getting beyond the first round?  Isn't it sometimes worth sacrificing something in the future for a real, legitimate chance to win now?  This is the year they have the lineup to do it, and you know next year they'll be going back to more slap-hitters, so make the gamble now.  DO IT.

Looking at the overall portrait here, doesn't it make sense to acquire Haren?  A Haren/Liriano/Pavano rotation + whoever emerges from the rest of the mess playoff rotation would be enough to make them a World Series contender, assuming they end up winning the division after making this move (which they would be the favorite to do).  Additionally, it's not like this is just a rental player.  Getting him would give them a Liriano/Pavano head of the rotation for at least a couple years, which is good enough to keep them at the top of the division contender list at the very least. 

We've heard about the new stadium.  We've heard about the sell-outs.  We've heard about the extra money.  We've heard about the commitment to winning.  So let's do this.  Let's go and get Danny Haren.  Come on, Twins.  Small Market is really just a state of mind.

Plus, to help out, if you make this trade I will immediately go out and buy a Twins' Dan Haren jersey (ok, more like one of those t-shirt things with the player name on it.)


Monday, July 19, 2010

Week in Review - 7/19/2010

It is truly amazing how truly, frighteningly awful my golf picks for the majors have been so far this year. First, I was absolutely convinced Jim Furyk was going to win The Masters. He shot 80 on Day 1 and missed the cut. Then I made Hunter Mahan my pick for the U.S. Open. He shot 80 on Day 1 and missed the cut. For the British Open, I couldn't decide between Ernie Els and Justin Rose. They both missed the cut. And, I went on and on about how awesome the British Open is, and then we end up with the boringest major in a hundred years. Seriously, congratulations to Oosterhuizen and everything, but he got lucky twice with weather to get a big lead then coasted to the win and nobody ever bothered to challenge him. Impressive win to be sure, but boring as all hell.

In conclusion, I suck.


1.  Carl Pavano.  Honestly, what more can be said about Pavano at this point?  Who would think he'd be putting up a career year at this point?  His 3.48 ERA would be his third best ever, second best if you make more than 100 innings a requirement.  His 1.03 WHIP would be the best of his career.  His four complete games (3 out of his last six games) are already double his career best, and his 1 shutout ties his season best.  A 34-year old soft-tossing nancy is suddenly one of the best pitchers in the league and capable of carrying a staff - like he did with his complete game on Saturday, just when the Twins needed it most.  And he may be getting a little lucky BABIP and strand rate-wise, but really not much.  This is a legit career year.  So let's not waste it, kids.

2.  Francisco Liriano.  Might as well include him here, too, since he came up with a pretty big outing on Friday right when they needed him too.  Similar ERA to Pavano, but they've arrived there in different ways.  Liriano has allowed more baserunners, has struck out a lot more guys,and where Pavano has been been a bit lucky Liriano has been a bit unlucky, but either way it's clear these two are going to have to carry this team.  Not saying they're Drysdale/Koufax or anything, but it certainly seems like we have ourselves a bit of a "Liriano and Pavano and pray for a tornado" kind of situation.  It works better if you pronounce tornado with a bit of a schwa sound.  Or like you imagine a British guy would say it.

3.   Tim Lincecum.  It's sort of boring to write about Wiley Wiggins here seeing as how he's won the last two NL Cy Young awards and just kind of keeps chugging along.  He picked up win #10 for the year on Thursday, just cruising against the Mets with a six-hit shut-out.  He is once again leading the league in strikeouts and is top 10 in ERA, and although he probably won't win a third straight, he can take solace in the fact that if you put his name into google when it does that thing where it adds words onto your search, "Tim Lincecum Weed" is the first entry.  Also I know I'm not exactly the first person to make the Tim Lincecum/Mitch Kramer comparison, but come on, it's uncanny.  Creepy, even.  And don't forget, Mitch Kramer was a pitcher.  Do you think they're the same person?  Cuz it'd be a lot cooler if you did.

4.  Demarcus Cousins.  He tailed off a bit towards the last couple of games of Summer League, finishing 1-12 and 3-15 from the floor in the final two games, but Cousins looks like he is everything he was advertised to be, and maybe even more.  What I saw with my own eyes was a guy who showed a more complete offensive game than he ever did at Kentucky.  I think in college he didn't have to show an impressive offensive game because he could just overpower everyone, but in Summer League he really showed that he can score in a lot of ways.  Nice.  But what I read about, was how he complained about every call, got in running verbal battles with every opponent, and basically acted completely uncoachable.  Kind of like he was in college, but worse.  Much worse.  One thing is for certain - this is going to be an interesting ride.        

5.  Gordon Beckham.  Funny Beckham story.  He's struggled all year, and was hitting just .216 going into Thursday's first post All-Star Break game agains the Twins - a game Snacks and I attended.  As Beckham gets up for his first at-bat, Snacks turns to me to say, "What happened to this guy?  I thought there was going to be a new guy to hate in the division for years, instead he looks like he's going to get sent down" and before he can even get to "guy", Beckham hammers the ball over the fence on his way to 2-3 night.  He then went 2-3 and 1-3 before finishing the series by going 4-4 against the Twins.  So to recap, he sucks.  Snacks questions his ability.  He responds by going 9-13.  So Snacks single-handedly saved Gordon Beckham's career.  Thanks a lot, A-hole!


1.  Dan Gladden.  I've ripped Gladden here before, both for using the nickname "Dazzle Man" as well as for being a complete dickmitten when it comes to talking about baseball, but he hit a new low on Thursday, low enough that a low-level meaningless third-rate blogger thinks he deserves his own section in WHO SUCKED.  Anyway, to refresh your memory, the Twins lost to the Sawx thanks to Kevin Slowey and Alex Burnett sucking, plus little baby boy Morneau's headache kept him out of the lineup.  It was the first game after the All-Star Break, and thanks to Kate J. I attended.  On the way home, the Dazzle Man's reason for the loss, "You know, after three days off it's tough to get back into the rhythm of playing again."  Now is probably where I should go into some kind of tirade, but this one is just so over the top I'm just going to stop talking and let it sink in.  I'm not talking now.  Be the ball, Danny.

2. Al-Farouq Aminu.  Remember how last week I was talking about the Clippers sucked and were making bad offs-eason decisions including their drafting of Aminu and then there was that one guy who left a comment and said I was stupid?  Well who's laughing now?  Aminu has been B-R-U-T-A-L in Summer League.  He's shot 29% in the five games, with games where he shot 4-13, 3-12, and 3-15.  Even in his best shooting game where he went 4-9 he turned it over 4 times and committed 8 fouls (they allow 10 for some reason).  And for a 6-9 athletic player five rebounds per game in Summer League isn't very good.  Basically he's shown one skill and that's getting fouled and making free throws.  Valuable to be sure, but it wouldn't kill him to hit a shot once in a while. 

3.  Justin Morneau.  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY!!!???!?!?

4.  Bobby Jenks.  It's always nice to know that you're never quite out of the game when you still get to hit against Bobby Jenks aka "Stupid Fat Idiot" as he's known around my house.  One of the announcers kept harping about how Jenksy was 20-21 in save opportunities for the year and had saved 15 in a row, and I kept thinking that's awfully hard to believe.  Then you look at his stats and see he has an ERA of 4.76 and a WHIP of 1.56, and things are even more confusing.  Basically he's somehow doing an ok job, but when he flames out he flames out spectacularly, as we all know.  In the ten games this year where he's allowed at least one run in half of them he allowed at least two and three times he's allowed three.  So basically when he comes in the game he either shuts you right down or you're going to light him up like he was Nick Blackburn. 

5.  Scott Baker/Kevin Slowey/Nick Blackburn.  Good god take your pick, because these guys all suck and they're killing the team's season.  If they don't get it figured out, and it's seeming more and more like they won't, it won't matter how much of a career season Pavano and/or Delmon Young have - they won't win a division this way.  Seriously, at this point they might as well replace these three clowns with Jeff Manship, Anthony Swarzak, and Glen Perkins.  They couldn't possibly be worse.  I read they're finally at least moving Duensing into the rotation, but I have a feeling it might be both too little, and too late. 

Finally, and this could probably deserve all five spots on the Awesome list by itself, but here is Miguel Angel Jimenez's shot on 17 on Saturday.  Sadly, it still ended up as a double-bogey, but it's still pretty sweet and the kind of thing you'd be more likely to see in a game of Golden Tee.  Check it:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quick British Open Thoughts

Very quickly, here are your best values for the Open:

Alvaro Quiros 85-1
Ben Crane 90-1
Chris Wood 66-1
Ed Molinari 75-1
Ernie Els 14-1
Geoff Ogilvy 80-1

And that's about all I like.  Really too unpredictable of a tournament to get involved in.  Still really like Justin Rose, but he's moved to 12-1 now so it's not even worth it. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Star Game Jibber Jabber (aka I rock at cooking)

So here was my plan.  I was going to blog about possible other options with Cliff Lee off the board for the Twins tonight and then give a little British Open preview tomorrow.  However I've had a great day.  At work I had the opportunity to meet Disturbed and listen to their new album (dropping 8/31) and it was awesome.  Sounded great and the guys were cool as hell.  Then I came home and my parents came over and I grilled them up the awesomest meal ever:  Herb & Garlic grilled pork chops, grilled lemon pepper asparagus, and grilled seasoned american fries.  It was out of this world good.  And now I have a couple Negra Modelos in me, along with a couple of Brewfarm Selects, and their might have been a daquiri mixed in there, so I'm feeling good, and we're going to blog the All-Star game.  Maybe you'll get some possible Twin targets, and maybe you'll get some British Open.  I don't know.  What am I, Nostradamus?

-  Ok, so we might as well break down this Twins crap.  They aren't going to go after Oswalt or Haren.  Too much money remaining, plus Oswalt has basically ruled out the AL central teams and has a no trade clause, and the D-Backs owner has said he would need to be "blown away" to trade Haren.  Not going to happen.  The Cubs are clearly looking to trade either or both of Ted Lilly or Ryan Dempster, and I am interested in Lilly but Dempster is worthless.  The real problem with Lilly is that he's now the hands down #1 arm on the market, and with just $6 mil this year (pro-rated) and nothing due to him after that, he's an attractive arm and everybody is going to be putting on their lowest cut top and body glitter to go after him.  Pretty sure the Twins philosophy is more Kelly Kapowski than Valerie Malone, so they have no chance.

-  Other options are Jake Westbrook, Kevin Millwood, and Ben Sheets, but do you really think they'd upgrade the Twins rotation?  Oh, right.  Blackburn.  Good point.  Still, I can't imagine anybody being dumb enough to give up anything of substance for any of those guys.

-  Another name I heard on the radio today is Jarrod Washburn, who has been linked to the Twins more often than Audrina to Justin Bobby.  He hasn't pitched all year but somehow a completely mediocre pitcher is going to command a big salary and come in and contribute in a pennant race?  Please.  In all seriousness, as bad as Blackburn and, frankly, the rest of the rotation have been I don't really see any way they can improve unless they can find a way to steal Lilly away.  Of course, if David Kahn was in charge of the Twins he'd trade Orlando Hudson and Jason Kubel for Livan Hernandez and a $7 million trade exemption, so I guess we're lucky tight-ass Billy Smith is in charge.

-  I watched an inning and a half of the all-star whilst typing that and I didn't notice a single thing that was memorable.  Good show, MLB.  The best part of this entire broadcast has been this sneak peek at Inception I'm seeing right now.  Also, and this is really not cool to say, but there is a commercial with MLB players helping out special people, and they showed a guy and I thought, "oh, poor guy, looks like he's doing well for himself though", and it turned out to be Jake Peavy.  I know, I feel bad.  I'm just sayin' is all.

-  So British Open, huh?  My favorite of the majors.  I love the weird times, and I love the weird, unpredictable golf.  I'd love to give you a full breakdown, but I haven't done the necessary research.  I will tell you that either Justin Rose or Ernie Els is going to win though.  I have a couple of sleepers, too, but I'm not ready to release that information.  Maybe for a small fee.  Send me an email.

-  1-0 in the bottom of the sixth.  That over 8.5 is looking AWESOME.

-  You know, right after the first inning they were talking about the weird shadows and how it would be difficult to pick up the ball.  With guys like Ubaldo, Josh Johnson, David Price, etc. pitching early there was no way anybody was going to score.  How is that fair?  How come they don't tell you that before you bet on the over 8.5?  See, this is why all those dicks in Vegas are rich.  Not because gambling is inherently stupid and a losing proposition, but because they are all cheaters.  And dicks.

-  Al Jefferson to the Jazz for a couple picks, which won't be lottery, and a big ole trade exemption.  Well, if hey do something good with that exemption I'll be in favor, but if they eat it to sign guys like Luke Ridnour this is going to be an awful trade, and to be honest I'm not really feeling good.  They are trying or have I'm not sure signed Ridnour to a 4 year/$16 million deal, one year after signing Ramon Sessions to the same deal, and are now trying to trade Sessions.  Honestly, there's no doubt that Kahn is either a genius or is setting Minnesota basketball back ten years, and it's already six years behind everybody else.

-  Capps is 2-2 to Ortiz, shakes off the catcher three times, and then gets Ortiz looking with a tailing heater.  Nicely done.

-  Wow.  Scott Rolen.  .290 with 17 dingers so far this year.  This dude is an ageless wonder.  He's got his 300 homers and will end up around 2,700 career hits.  Not hall of fame numbers, but combined with his great fielding year after year and he's going to end up as one of those really good players who isn't a hall of famer but is still recognized as awfully good.  I dunno, that's gotta count for something.

-  By the way, my dad really, really hates Tim McCarver.  I can't argue with him.

-  You probably haven't noticed because you are probably not smart enough to notice these things, but Derrick Caracter is destroying Summer League.  Steal of a pick for the Lakers.  Remember that when you see him playing meaningful minutes in the playoffs.

-  It' still 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh and I'm finding it awfully hard to pay attention.  Probably has something to do with the wine cooler I'm currently drinking.  Yep, wine cooler.  Because that's all we have left.  Come on, you've been there.

-  This summer, grant us all the power, to drink on top of water towers.

-  Brian McCann just cleared the bases with a bases-loaded double to put the NL up 3-1 and in position for their first win in like 20 years.  Naturally, we took the AL.  FML.

-  Ok, I don't like to admit stuff like this, but who in the hell is Andrew Bailey?  Apparently he is the closer for the A's, and has quite a few saves this year.  I've never heard of him.  Has he been around a long time?  Wait, he was rookie of the year last year?  Are we sure?  Wasn't it Elvis Andrus?  I know way too much about baseball, but I don't know who this guy is.

-  He struck Brandon Phillips out.  Like that's hard.  God this game is taking forever.  There have only been four runs scored and it's already 10:09.

-  I maybe had a little bit of an idea who Andrew Bailey was, but I seriously have never heard of Koby Kalay.

-  You know how if you ever read anything about a good curveball the guy they always point out amongst current players is Adam Wainwright?  There's a reason.

-  John Buck being an all-star makes me sad.

-  And he promptly doubles, although it shouldn't probably count because Matt Holliday did a nice little Delmon Young/Mike Cuddyer impression and let himself get all mixed up and that one hit off his glove.  Seriously, is there a worse defensive outfield than the Twins (outside Denard)?  Let's say you played a game where a machine threw out random flyballs to all areas of the field, and there were two teams who each had to field 10 balls each.  Team one was Delmon, Kubel, and Cuddyer.  Team two is Carlos Gomez.  Who wins?  Seriously.

-  Scene:  3-1 NL, bottom of the seventh, two out, Torii Hunter up in his home park.  Any doubt, any doubt at all that he strikes out against a guy with a breaking ball like Wainwright?

-  1-1 pitch, Wainwright breaker down and away and nowhere near a strike.  Wait, I mean it was strike 2 - swinging.  LOL.

-  1-2 pitch.  Wainwright breaker down and away and nowhere near a strike.  Wait, I mean it was strike 3 - swinging.  LOL.  Seriously.  If it wasn't so predictable it would just be sad.

-  Did you guys know Rafael Soriano is is the first Rays reliever selected to the All-Star game since 2005?  Did you also know that that's probably the stupidest thing I've read in my life?

-  Jack Buck?  That's not right.  Jim?  Jay?  Tim?  Mike?  Whatever.  The son of the good one wants us to know that "Brian Wilson showed up to media day with a mohawk" and his voice sounds as if he has a schoolgirl crush on Wilson because of that bit of teenage rebellion by a 30-year old.  So a crappy retard mohawk is cool, but the fake mooning Randy Moss did is the most disgusting thing in sports history?  This guy sucks.  He almost makes Chris Berman listenable but not really because I'd rather stab my face off than listen to Berman for more than 6 seconds at a time.

-  Valverde struck out the side in the top of the ninth, so to win both our bets we somehow need the AL to score five runs.  Could easily happen, but would take some luck.  I'm struggling to come up with any good closer in the NL who could shut this thing down, so I'm thinking it's a lock for the AL.

-  Broxton?  This is a gimme for the AL.

-  Base hit Ortiz.  Like Fergie said, let's get it started uh huh, let's get it started in here.......

-  Beltre strikes out but that's not a surprise because that guy sucks.  Not sure what Girardi is saving A-Rod for.  Don't think Nick Punto is due up anytime soon.  Also every single pitcher has hit 99 on the gun tonight.  Going to go ahead and surmise that thing might be juiced up for TV.  Also now John Buck is up, and we're still not getting A-Rod.  I know there's something something about only having one catcher or some crap, but I'm not a big believer in planning ahead.  That's why I'm about to have two kids.

-  Ortiz gunned at second on what should have been a bloop single by Buck.  Look, I get that you want to play everybody, but the All-Star game now counts for something, and something fairly substantial, so shouldn't you be prepared with your 33 man roster to deal with this situation?  Just make Go-Go an all-star for his pinch running duties.  And therein lies the problem with trying to make an exhibition into a meaningful game.  I feel like an essay is due here but I'm tired and much like my scholastic life I'm going to go to bed instead of turning in my homework.  NL won.  They didn't score over 8.5 runs.  Joy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Au Revoir, Royce White

As you have likely heard by now, the one and only Royce White has signed on to play at Iowa State.  I feel as if this deserves my full attention, but whether it's because I have a headache not un-reminiscent of the time I got stabbed with a trident in my brain or because I am kind of sick of devoting my energies to thinking about Rocye, I'm having trouble mustering up enough effort to care.  From a Gopher point of few, my reaction is a shrug.  A more interesting way to look at it is from the Iowa State point of view.

I do think it's a pretty good signing for the Cyclones.  Their program is currently in shambles, with each coach (Eustacy, Morgan, and McDermott) seemingly making no progress at best, taking a step back and running off players at worst, and could use this kind of boost if things work out.

Hiring Fred Hoiberg as the new head coach showed the A.D. is willing to gamble.  Hoiberg has no coaching experience, but he is a big name, both in Ames and nationally, which should help with recruiting, and his NBA connections will be attractive to big-time players with professional aspirations.  Enter Royce White.

There is no doubting his talent, despite mixed reports from the Howard Pulley games.  White was a 5-star, heavily recruited star coming out of high school, and even if a year off has allowed some rust to show, by the time he's eligible to play for ISU he should be back to where he was, if not better with a year of college practices behind him.  Which leads me to the interesting part.

Unless the NCAA, the notoriously hard-assed NCAA, is willing to sign a waiver (they won't) or even two (they definitely won't) Royce won't be able to see the court until the beginning of the 2011 season due to NCAA rules regarding transferring as well as academic concerns (remember, he dropped out of the U).  That means, assuming he gets into the school in the first place (likely), that he will have to stay on campus for a full year before he can play.

A full year of getting his work done, not cheating on tests, stealing jeans or laptops, trespassing in dorms, or generally f*cking around.  It's basically a one-year probation period to make sure he has his shit together.  Seriously, what's the downside here?  He cheats/steals/flunks and gets booted out, and everybody says, "What an idiot!  Iowa State was willing to give him one last chance and he screwed it up again!  What a moron!"  It's not on the Cyclones or Hoiberg or whoever the A.D. is at all.  It's all on White.  And if it works out, and he keeps his nose clean and ends up playing in two years and maximizes his potential, it's genius.  Even if he's nothing more than a contributor it works out well for them.

With the hiring of Hoiberg, Iowa State has pretty much announced they are sick of mediocrity, and they're looking to take high-risk/high-reward chances and hope the dice don't come up craps.  Royce is the very definition of that kind of risk.  And don't forget, Hoiberg isn't just some new coach.  He was doing whatever it was for the Timberwolves for some time, and might know more about Royce the person that we do, and might be hearing good things from those in the Minnesota basketball community.

Of course, since this is Royce White we're talking about it's almost a certainty he can't stay out his way through one semester, let alone the entire year and a half he'd need to play, so it's most likely a moot point, and he'll likely get kicked off the team for playing mailbox baseball or throwing cherry bombs into the girls dormitory, but if he does stay clean this is an absolute home run.  Although I'm not re-thinking the craps analogy.  This is more like picking a single number and throwing your whole bankroll at it in roulette.  Odds are you aren't going to cash, but if your number hits, we're talking BOATLOADS!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week in Review - 7/12/2010

Crap.  Really, really wanted the Twins to get Cliff Lee, but you can't fault them.  The Rangers have one of, if not the, best and deepest minor league systems and they weren't afraid to open up the wallet, so to speak, to get Cliff Lee.

Justin Smoak has a chance to be a future star (although this is a pretty fantastic post from Baseball Time in Arlington explaining why he won't be), Blake Beavan doesn't make any top 100 lists put is a former first round pick who is putting up excellent minor league numbers, and the two "throw-ins" look alright as well.  Josh Lueke looks like a decent relief prospect with a 2.11 ERA in 32 appearances this year between A and AA (and a rape charge on his record to boot), and Matthew Lawson is putting up solid numbers as a second basemen at AA.

This was an offer that I don't think the Twins could have matched, even if they had tried.  And so it's time to look towards plan B, assuming they aren't giving up on the season although they probably should.  There are other options (Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Ben Sheets, Ted Lilly, etc.) which I plan to break down later this week.  Maybe.  No promises.


1.  John Danks.  On top of the Twins losing out on Cliff Lee, I'm getting a very, very bad feeling about the White Sox, capped off by Danksy tossing a ridiculous two-hitter against the Angels, which was extremely fortunate because Ervin Santana threw a three hitter at the same time but happened to give up a run.  And they just keep winning like that - they're pitching is completely ridiculous.  Hell, Gavin Floyd was another name considered for the Awesome column thanks to his 15 innings pitched and 2 runs allowed this week.  Their pitching is out of this world good right now, and pitching wins championships as everybody knows.  Even with Peavy now down for the year they're going to fine because the clown they called up to take his place looked just fine and dandy on Sunday.  Do you want to know the last time the Sox gave up five runs or more since June 9th (the beginning of their incredible run)  Five.  The Twins in that same time frame?  19.  I'm calling it now, Sox win the division, Twins finish fourth.

2.  Adam Dunn.  Speaking of the White Sox freaking me out with their looking goodness, I am convinced they are going to end up with Adam Dunn.  The same Adam Dunn who is currently destroying pitchers' arms (and souls).  Well, maybe not consistently doing it, but when he is on he just crushes souls.  Such as on Wednesday when he went 3-4 with three home runs, driving in 5 of the team's 7 runs in a one-run victory of San Diego, or on Friday when he went 3-4 with two home runs and 3 RBI.  Of course, he went 1-9 with seven strikeouts in the three other games this week, but who cares?  The Twins are stuck with guys like Cuddyer who will go 1-9 with seven strikeouts in three games and not even bother giving you a single multi-home run game, let alone two.  I love watching this Big Donkey hit, but I'm going to hate watching him tee off on Baker, Blackburn, and Slowey when he's on the Sox.  Seriously, can you even imagine?

3.  Buster Posey.  If we're talking guys who are tearing the cover off the ball, this guy is absolutely on fire, only it's some kind of fire never been seen before.  He had a hit in every game this week, and games where he went 4-4 with 2 homers and 6 RBI, 4-5 with a double and a home run, 2-4 with a HR (twice), and 1-3 with a triple and 2 RBI.  For the week he hit .566 with those 5 home runs and 14 RBI, and is now at .350/.389/.569 with 7 home runs in just 137 at-bats, and has pretty much single-handedly taken the Giants from a team with good pitching to a team with good pitching and one good hitter (ok, fine, three).  I'm still expecting them to fade as the season continues on, but Posey is fun as hell to watch, either way.  Just think how bad it would suck to have him on your fantasy team and sitting on the bench, like a guy I know. 

4.  Travis Wood.  Because the Reds don't already have enough good, young arms, Wood went out and in his third ever professional start threw 8 perfect innings against the Phillies.  He gave up a double in the ninth to break it up, but ending up getting threw 9 with just 1 hit allowed vs. 8 strikeouts.  Of course, Roy Halladay matched him with 9 shutout innings so he didn't get the win, but even so, quite the nice outing.  So now they have Wood, rookie-of-the-year candidate Mike Leake, coming-into-his-own Johnny Cueto, cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman, impressive in his debut Matt Maloney, stud if he can return from injury Edinson Volquez, and killer stuff if he can figure out how to stay healthy Homer Bailey.  And I would trade any single Twins' pitcher for any one of them.

5.  Steve Stricker.  Yes, I know it was the John Deere Classic and I know nobody cares about that, and I know Stricker was the best player in this week's field by far, but the way he demolished that course was pretty incredible.  Every hole was the same:  middle of the fairway - approach to within 10 feet - make putt, on his way to a 60-66-62-70, which probably would have been even more impressive if he hadn't had a six shot lead into Sunday and gone into coast mode, resulting in tournament total of 26 under par and a 2-shot victory over Paul Goydos, who also played incredibly over the weekend, four shots clear of third place Jeff Maggert, but was just out-incredibled by Stricker.  Normally I'd say play like that would make him a favorite for the next major, but this time the next major is the British Open and all the normal rules of good golf go right out the window.  I do know who is going to win, by the way.  Well, I have it narrowed to two.  Stay tuned.


1.  Twins.  Forget Cliff Lee, maybe it's time to just become sellers?  Pavano could probably bring back a prospect or two from the other teams that missed out on Cliff Lee.  I'm sure somebody would be willing to take on a year and a half of Cuddyer's contract for a stretch run here.  If they don't think J.J. Hardy is the long-term answer he'd probably be tradeable, along with O-Hud.  Jesse Crain might have a little bit of value.  Jim Thome could help somebody out.  There a ton of options, which they should consider because it's obvious this team completely sucks.  There are only three guys on this team who can hit, and one has a headache, one is apparently so immobile he couldn't even fill in at first base for one game, and the other one couldn't run a 20-yard dash in under 5 seconds, let alone a 40.  None of the starters can pitch, the two most important relievers have below average stuff, and the manager is a moron.  God I hate this team so much. 

2.  LA Clippers.  A lot of teams have been clearing cap room with an eye on this offseason for several years, and with the top 3 prizes all picking the Heat, naturally some teams are going to end up disappointed.  The Bulls made a ton of moves with the sole purpose of clearing space, but at least grabbed Carlos Boozer.  The Knicks were obviously hoping for LeBron, but getting Amar'e Stoudamire softens that blow.  The Hawks were maybe the biggest winner, managing to get Joe Johnson to stay with them (Pierce and Nowitzki were never leaving.)  The Nets whiffed big-time, but have responded by signing quality pieces Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, and Travis Outlaw and still have $19 million left and are looking like a front-runner for Udonis Haslem - not to mention they picked up Derrick Favors already this offseason.  The Clip show, on the other hand, drafted auto-bust Al-Farouq Aminu and then threw $20 million at Randy freakin' Foye and Ryan Gomes.  And then they signed Brian Cook, too, which I'm sure is what will put them over the top.  Look out Lakers. 

3.  Kevin Millwood.  All Millwood had to do was pitch halfway decent this year, wait for the trade deadline to come around, and get traded to a contender of his choosing thanks to his being a free agent next year and a limited no-trade clause in his contract.  Instead, he's completely sucked, racking up an ERA of 5.77 while losing nearly every game he's pitched.  So then he trots out there on Monday against the Tigers, gets destroyed in his one inning of work for four hits and five runs, gets yanked, and then got placed on the disabled list with a "strained forearm."  Yeah, I'm sure that's it.  It has nothing at all to do with the fact that he hasn't pitched a good game since May.  You know what Millwood is perfect for now?  He'd be perfect as the kind of guy the Twins will trade for.

4.  Brandon League.  The only reason I've even heard of this guy is because I heard on the radio that if the Twins had actually offered both Ramos, Hicks, and one of the starters for Cliff Lee, they might ask for League back to help in the bullpen as well.  Ha ha.  Or maybe the real secret was the Mariners wanted to get of League, because this week he gave up as many runs as outs he recorded (5 to 5), including a game against the Royals on Wednesday where he came in with a 3-2 lead in the 8th, walked David DeJesus and Billy Butler, and then gave up a three-run homer to Alberto Callaspo, and then was yanked.  Actually, come to think of it, he'd pretty much fit in perfectly as a Twin.  

5.  John Wall.  I got most of the first quarter of the Wizards' first summer league game against the Warriors, and I saw Wall turn it over four times (he finished the game with 8), including an easy pass to a wide open dude in the corner which he turned unnecessarily into a no-look pass before whipping into the corner with Nuke LaLoosh-like accuracy.  I also saw him take an open 18-footer from straight on which hit all backboard, and a three-pointer which barely grazed front rim.  Not to mention getting called for a foul on the perimeter trying to check noted offensive star Brian Chase (note:  I have no idea who this is).  It's now clear to me that we are heading for a bust of epic proportions here, the likes of which we haven't seen since Ryan Leaf or Dennis Hopson.  I'm talking like, the kind of bust that Stephen Curry would have been if he had been drafted by a team other than Golden State.    

This was an odd week, with lots of worthy people I couldn't find room for in the Awesome section.  So honorable mentions to:

Spain, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Matt Garza, Michael Beasley/David Kahn, Joey Votto, Roy Halladay, Chris Tillman, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Diego Forlan, Huston Street, Bronson Arroyo, Johan Santana, Nick Markakis, Magnum Rolle, Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, A-Rod, Lance Stephenson, Roy Oswalt, Stephen Strasburg, and, of course


Friday, July 9, 2010

This shouldn't be a surprise

I was listening to the Paul Allen show today, and PA went on and on about how Joe Mauer doesn't come up big in big spots and isn't clutch and blah blah blah. I don't really believe in clutch, which is irrelevant here I suppose, but I also assume anything PA says is wrong at worst and misinformed at best. So I checked.
In 2010, in situations defined as "late & close" by (7th inning or later, team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run on-deck or better). Mauer's stats in 51 plate appearances in those situations:
.463/.549/.707 with 2 of his 4 home runs

With 2 outs and runners in scoring position this year, he's hitting .414.  In tie games, he's hitting .393.

So, once again, PA is an idiot.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are You Sick of Lebron Yet?

Well thank god that's over.  As even your shut-in aunt who orders groceries through the internet because she's afraid to leave the house and her six cats, three birds, and 80 china dolls and who hasn't seen a live tree in years but is a level 80 paladin has probably heard by now, Lebron James is going to sign with the Heat and create SuperTeam, ending literally years of speculation - years that have felt like eons, at this point. 

I really don't know what was more annoying:  Lebron's arrogance or people complaining about Lebron's arrogance.  Not counting angry old white people, I think most sports fans were willing to give Lebron and company some leeway, seeing as how these are guys in their mid-to-late twenties who have made millions and are about to make some pretty big decisions, not to mention that this was the best free agent class in the history of the NBA and it wasn't even close - of course they were going to dominate headlines. (now that my friends, is a run-on sentence) 

The tipping point, however, seemed to be this one-hour special on ESPN to announce James' decision.  This took a lot of people from patient, indulgent, and "kids being kids" to irritated, disgusted, and "disgrace to the game."  It's hard not to be one of these people.  I don't want to rehash the same things that have already been rehashed by everybody within a six-foot radius of a keyboard or a pencil, but, like many, I like Kevin Durant just a little bit more now, Lebron a little bit less (although not nearly as much as most others), and Scott Baker a whole lot less.

I do feel a little bit of sympathy for him, to be honest, or at least as much as one can feel for someone who may end up earning a billion dollars in his career - a career which will likely end before he turns 40.  He was really in a no-win situation, and was going to get ripped no matter what he did.  Of course, he did handle this with all the finesse of Grawp, so it's tough to have more than the tiniest smidgeon of sympathy.  Worse than anything LeBron did, outside of referring to himself in the third person as "the King", were some of the arguments and teeth-nashing from others who somehow felt that they were entitled to an opinion in this whole garbage dump.

My personal favorite was from some clown on KFAN (nobody I have ever heard on there before) who was ranting and raving about how if Lebron chose Miami it was a travesty of justice and made the NBA a joke because:

1.  They are buying a championship
2.  They are guaranteed to become a dynasty
3.  It's unfair to everyone because they are getting these three players without having to give anything up.

First off, point #2 is stupid, because they may have three super stars, but anyone who knows anything about sports knows what injuries can do.  Further than that, they are going to have so much money tied up in those three guys that who knows what else they are going to end up filling the roster with.  It will probably be mostly crap, and those three guys are going to be playing 40+ minutes every single night, which leads to both injuries and tired legs.  They are probably not even the #1 favorite to win next year.  Ok, actually they are, but it's not that clear cut. 

As for the rest, it's ludicrous.  This isn't the Yankees outspending everybody else.  There is a salary cap, and everyone has to abide by it.  There were several teams that have been planning for this for two years or more, and they very much have had to make sacrifices and give things up.  The Bulls just gave away Kirk Hinrich for nothing.  The Heat traded a nice young player in Daequan Cook away for nothing, and had to give up a first round pick in order to do it.  The Knicks have been planning for this for years.  If the Heat hadn't gotten these there, their entire roster would have been Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers.  That was there entire list of players under contract.  As it stands now, they have to fill in the rest of the team with minimum or near-minimum guys.

The Lakers still have the same team, but with a better point guard.  The Celtics are older, but they're still intact and added Jermaine O'Neal.  The Bulls got better.  The Magic are just as good.  Dallas got better.  And the Thunder are absolutely on their way.  This isn't going to be a slam dunk.

Imagine this.  Heat vs. Lakers in the finals.  With all the freaking out people are doing, with all the hate pouring in about Lebron (seriously, check Twitter - or anywhere on the internet, people are losing their shit), with all the built in anti-favorite bias everyone seems to have.....would the world root for Kobe?

Last thought. 

Lebron, Bosh, and Wade are all taking less than max contracts, less than they could get elsewhere, in order to go after a title (or more) and play together because they are good friends. 

Can you really begrudge them that?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Little Cliff Lee Talk

With the Cliff Lee rumors gaining traction, including one about an incredibly strong offer from the Twins camp (Ramos and Aaron Hicks - whoa) that I'm not sure I believe, especially because the Mariners would have/should have accepted that in a heartbeat, I took some time to take a little look at Cliffy and how he'd fit into the Twins rotation.  The answer = well.

His stats are incredibly easy to look up, so I'm not going to get into that too much, but one thing I was curious about is how he would look on a start-to-start basis compared to what the Twins have now.  For that, I turn to a Bill James' creation called "Game Score."  It's a pretty simple and of course slightly flawed way to measure a pitcher's effectiveness in any given start, but it's good enough for our purposes.  The formula is:

1.  Start with a score of 50.
2.  Add 1 point for every out recorded before the fifth, with 2 points added for every out recorded from the fifth inning on.
3.  Add 1 point per strikeout.
4.  Subtract 1 point per walk allowed.
5.  Subtract 2 points per hit allowed
6.  Subtract 4 points for every earned run allowed.
7.  Subtract 2 points for every unearned run allowed.

And that's it.  Pretty simple, yes, and kind of feels like something we would have cooked up in the basement while playing Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball, but good enough.

The best game score of the year was Roy Halladay's perfect game with a 98.  The worst score of the year was Edwin Jackson's -5 in a game in which he pitched 2.1 innings and allowed 11 hits and 10 runs.  Interestingly, Jackson also has a seven this year, which makes him one of only four pitchers to have two games scoring less than a 10 (shockingly, Blackburn isn't one of them).  He also has three games above an 80, which is the same amount as Halladay and one more than Ubaldo.  He must be maddening to watch.

Anyway, I looked at the Twins' starters' scores each week, compared Cliff Lee's score for that week, and checked where he would slot in.  Below are the starters game scores for each start, with the columns representing the weeks of the season.  Lee's game scores are slotted in and highlighted in yellow.

As you can see, in the 10 weeks since he came off the DL, he would have had the best start by any Twin pitcher that week in 3 of the weeks, with the second best start in another three, with two of those second place finishes only being displaced because of incredible outings by Pavano (complete game shutout) and Baker (7 innings, 2 hits, 12 ks).

Ten of his twelve starts qualify as quality starts according to this metric (game score = 50 or greater), compared to the overall Twins' % of just 56%.  He has seven games this year which have scored at least 70.  The Twins as a team have had twelve.  His average game score, including the one clunker, is a 65.  That would be the 18th best start of the year by a Minnesota starter, and essentially equivalent to Nick Blackburn's best game.

I'm going to say that again.  Cliff Lee's average outing is essentially equal to the best that Nick Blackburn has offered this year.  I know it's skewed a bit since Blacky isn't a strikeout pitcher, but even so that is a bit staggering.

If nothing else, acquiring Lee and his 65 average allows Blackburn (and his average of 40) to be removed from the rotation.  So every five days instead of something like 6 innings/10 hits/4 runs/1 walk/ 4 ks, you'd be getting something like 7 innings/6 hits/1 run/2 walks/7 ks.

Sign me up.  I don't really love giving up both Ramos and Hicks, but I say do whatever it takes.

And try to get them to take Blackburn.

Lastly, I feel as if I haven't been giving you all enough WonderbabyTM lately, and with Wonderbaby 2.0TM arriving in approximately six weeks, I should jam the original in here as much as possible. So here's the little darlin' getting her fish on this weekend. She only caught one fewer fish than Daddy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week in Review - 7/5/2010

Way too tired from the weekend at the cabin to do a true introduction here, so I'm not going to. And the fishing sucked.


1. Cliff Lee. Cliffy just keeps driving his price up. He's about as white hot as a pitcher can get, throwing 17 innings this week and giving up just four runs while striking out 13 and walking just two. That included a complete game win over the Yankees, which made Lee's third straight complete game and the fourth in a stretch of five games.  His ERA is now down to 2.34, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 100-8.  Yes, 100-8.  Frankly, dude is redonkulous and he's peaking right now.  It might be expensive for the Twins to get him, but if they haven't given up on the season yet (and frankly, they might want to consider that) they need to pay whatever Seattle wants, because if Detroit or the White Sox get him, it's over.  Well, more over than it already is.  

2. Carl Crawford.  He ripped up the Twins pretty good, which followed him ripping up the Red Sox pretty good, in a season where he's ripping up pretty much everybody.  And I just love this guy.  He could stand to walk a little bit more, but how can you not love a guy who's going to hit .300 for you with 15 homers, 30 doubles, ten triples, and steal 60 bases at about an 85% clip?  In baseball history, a player has stole at least 50 bases, been caught 10 times or less, and hit 10 home runs in a single season just 19 times - Crawford has done it three times (Rickey also did it three times).  And guess what kids?  He's a free agent after this season.  If they are actually committed to making Cuddy Bear into a third baseman, I say go all the way and put him there full-time next year, sign Crawford, let Thome walk, and move Kubel to full-time DH.  Seriously, Crawford is so good.  Gimme gimme gimme I need I need. 

3. Justin Rose.  Pretty good bounce back for Rose this week at the AT&T National.  Last week, Rose looked like he was going to be the runaway winner at the Travelers after stringing together three good rounds, but a disastrous 75 on Sunday dropped him to ninth.  This week, rather than let that derail what has been a good year, he went out and did it again, racing out to a big lead by Sunday, but avoided the crash and shot a final round 70 in route to a one-shot win over Ryan Moore.  That means his last three tournaments have gone win-should have won-win, and he's absolutely peaking for the British Open in two weeks, a tournament where he generally plays pretty well.  And I was just able to snag him early this week at 33-1 to win.   

4.  Matt LaPorta. You remember LaPorta, right?  He was the big centerpiece in the deal the Brewers made to acquire C.C. Sabathia from the Indians (a deal that, despite the results, should be the blueprint for the Twins to acquire Cliff Lee).  Since then he's kind of puttered around, hitting .254 in 200 ABs last year and .236 so far this year, all while showing the power of Nick Punto - not exactly what was expected of him.  But since the Indians traded Russ Branyan last week and installed him as the full-time first basemen he's shown flashes.  He started the week with a home run in three straight games, bringing his season total to four, and then closed the week with a three-hit game against Oakland.  It might not be much, but he has raised his average from .211 when he was sent down in early June to .236 now, so maybe he's figuring it out.  Or maybe it's a small sample size fluke.

5.  Miguel Olivo.  If you've been paying any attention to Matt Wieters, and I know I have, you know he sucks beyond anything since Mark Salas.  The reason I bring that up, is that Wieters sucked so bad we had to bench him in fantasy, and to replace him in the lineup Snake picked up Olivo - and it's paid off brilliantly.  After thrashing the Padres and Giants this week to the tune of .409/.435/.727, which included a 9-16 stretch, he's now hitting .307 for the year with 11 home runs and 39 RBI.  Notice anything fun about those numbers?  Yep, they're all better than what Joe Mauer is doing.  Just a brilliant move by the Royals letting this dude go and instead tossing a shitload of money at crappy old Jason Kendall instead.  There's a reason Kansas City hasn't been relevant since the early 90s.  Also Miguel Olivo is better than Joe Mauer.  Fact.


1. South America.  Brazil and Argentina were two of the favorites to win the World Cup, and may even have been the top two teams, depending on who you asked.  And with teams like England, France, and Italy already eliminated their paths to the final looked almost preordained.  Unfortunately for them, Germany and the Netherlands had other ideas.  First, the Dutch knocked of Brazil 2-1 thanks to an own goal and an ejection, and then the Germans completely destroyed Argentina 4-0, their third game with four goals in the tournament.  They are looking awfully good right now, and I'd expect the winner of Germany/Spain on Wednesday day ends up taking this thing.  No offense to Uruguay or the Netherlands, but I'd put my money on the Germans.   

2.  Timberwolves.  I'm sorry, but they are seriously confusing the crap out of me.  I don't really know what they were doing with the draft last year, I don't know what they were doing this year, and I don't have any idea what they're doing with their cap room.  Bringing over Pekovic is fine, and it sounds like he's supposed to look pretty good, but signing Darko to a 4-year, $20 million when nobody else was going to offer him four years or $5 per year?  This contract should have been either 4 years/$8 million or 2 years/$6 million.  Such a bizarre decision.  I heard somebody on the radio describe David Kahn as the scariest GM in ball, but not because of his plan or anything, but because he seems to be doing the kind of long-term damage that can ruin a franchise.  I believe it.  I seriously have no idea what he's thinking.

3.  Matt Guerrier. Not a great week for Mr. Guerrier, who allowed at least one run in three of his four appearances this week, including that complete meltdown on Saturday.  His overall numbers are still good (ERA of 2.82, WHIP of 1.12) and he continues to be effective despite mediocre stuff, so let's hope this isn't the start of his annual "tired arm meltdown."  Despite all the times perception doesn't match reality, occasionally they sync up;  Guerriers ERAs for April-September:  3.59, 1.97, 2.75, 3.15, 4.66, 4.27.  He's heading towards a possible third straight year leading the league in appearances, so I'd say the burnout is more likely than not.  Let's hope Neshek and/or Condrey are ready when his arm gets tuckered out so they can just be plugged in.

4.  Dontrelle Willis.  Well you got to figure that's about it for Willis, barring a complete reinvention, after he was designated for assignment by the D-Backs earlier this week - which makes two teams that have given up on him this year (the D-Backs got him from the Tigers for essentially nothing).  He walked 27 batters in 22 innings for Arizona, and has basically been a walk machine since he went crazy bananas back in 2008 when he walked an astonishing 35 batters in 24 innings, which followed a 2007 where he led the league in runs allowed (as in he allowed the most runs, not the fewest).  Hard to believe this is the same guy who burst on the scene and won rookie of the year in 2003 and then put up a gem of a season in 2005 and finished runner-up in the Cy Young voting.  He's only 28, but I'm not betting on a comeback because that's now three full seasons of complete disaster.  I am now resisting putting a "D-Train/Trainwreck) joke.  I'll save those for Jesse Crain.

5.  NBA Free Agency.  I know I already mentioned the Wolves, but overall this has been pretty boring, right?  Nowitzki back to Dallas.  Pierce back to the Celtics.  Gay back to the Grizz.  Joe Johnson gets his max deal (mistake), but it's to go back and be a Hawk again.  Lame.  The only remotely interesting deal so far is Steve Blake to the Lakers, which is a nice deal for everyone involved.  It sounds like Amar'e has either already agreed or is close to agreeing to a deal with the Knicks, and the Suns have clearly moved on, signing both Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick, so maybe this will get things moving.  I'm thinking Wade and Bosh to the Bulls, LeBron to the Knicks and then they swing a deal for a point guard (Tony Parker?).  I don't know what is going to happen to the Wolves, but I'm willing to bet they overpay for David Lee despite the fact that his numbers came on a bad D'Antoni team and as such are inflated two ways, and then, since they have Lee, Love, and Jefferson they'll trade Jefferson for fifty cents.  Great.  Awesome.  Sweet.

Also way too tired for an outro.  If you don't like it you can go to hell.  I have an 8am fart-tastic meeting tomorrow, what do you want from me?