Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twins/A's Live Blog - 7/29/11

Well let's see:  kids are asleep, wife is sick and passed out in bed fro the Nyquil I slipped into a glass of wine, the Twins have a late game and I have brand new bottle of Captain Morgan, a mostly full 2-liter of ginger ale, and a few sticks of Lawry's hickory beef jerky sitting around.  Yeah.  I might as well blog the game.  What else am I gonna do, watch it with nothing to distract me?

10:00 - We are just beginning the top of the fourth, Twins lead 3-2.  And I've looked at that three times and thought maybe the 3 was a typo or a backwards E and the misspelled Twins, but apparently the Twins are actually leading.  Weird.

10:02 - Two quick outs and then a single by Tolbert, who is back on the big league club because he has a pulse and Alexi Casilla is on the DL which is weird because I never even knew he was hurt.  How did this happen?  Is this one of those injuries where you sneeze and throw out your back or burn your hand on the grill trying to save a piece of ostrich burger from slipping through the grate onto the dirty coals below?  Also, I guarantee I miss Casilla more than I ever would have thought possible right now.  WAY TO BE ADEQUATE, guy. 

10:04 - While I was looking up the spelling of adequate to make sure I had it right (I did) whoever was up popped out.  I'm going guess it was Butera.  But man can that son a bitch sling that pill.  He should be a pitcher.

10:05 -  Actually he'd be a terrible pitcher because, although he could probably touch 98 on the gun, his ball is completely straight, as it should be for a catcher, so he'd just get ripped.  Although Matt Capps seems to find a modicum of success by throwing a straight ball and it's about 8 mph slower, so who knows?  They should try it.  Couldn't be worse than Dumatrait.

10:07 - Clearly Liriano brought his A-game tonight since he just gave up a double to Hideki freaking Matsui.  Of course, even though he's having by far the worst season of his major league career he'd still be the fourth best hitter on the Twins.  Seriously he'd be third in extra-base hits and fourth in OPS+. OPS+, you'll remember, takes your OPS and compares it to the league average and spits out a number where 100 = completely average hitter.  Matsui's is 96 this year.  And he'd be fifth on the Twins.  And that's if you count Thome and Kubel.  I'm moving out of state.

10:12 - Damn.  Just read that Asomugha signed with the Eagles.  He was almost a Jet and I wanted to see what that would be like with Asomugha and Revis on the same team.  Would teams throw at all?  And you could always have an extra safety to either play up to stop the run or load up against a TE or a 3rd wideout.  How could anybody ever score ever?  I really wanted to see that.  Freaking jerks.  Also the Twins turned a DP and are out of the inning.

10:15 - Ben Revere just picked up a bunt hit by making and absolutely terrible bunt that he popped up over the pitchers head but beat it out because he's so god damn fast.  That was a terrible terrible play but holy god on a cracker is he fun to watch.

10:16 - Speaking of Revere I just don't know about this possible Span trade.  I don't think Revere is ready to be a leadoff hitter and they don't have another one.  On the other hand it's not like Span is the greatest player in the world, and he's basically an average leadoff hitter and that's it.  I guess if Drew Storen is included I won't hate it hate it, but I just can't imagine loving a Span trade.  He still has value for the next several years.

10:18 - Steal by Revere, base hit by Plouffe to score him, and then a single by Mauer.  Shit, if I knew it was gonna be that kinda party I'd a sticked my dick in the mashed potatoes.

10:22 -  Well this will shock you, but Cuddy just struck out on a ball outside of the strikezone.  Honest to god it doesn't even matter how well he may be running or hot hot he is at least once a week he's going to have an at-bat where he honest to god looks like he's never played baseball before.  It's a law, like water or dinosaurs.

10:25 - Dick just called Cliff Pennington "Chris" Pennington.  Ha ha you're old.  Serious question though, do you really think Dick knows a lot about baseball?  Or John Gordon for that matter?  Do you think they ever watch a game they aren't calling?  Do you think either of them ever read up on what's going on around the league other than to prep for the team the Twins are about to play?  How many National League players do you think they could name combined?  Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, and about 8-10 former Twins?  Probably a couple of Brewers?  Seriously, do you think they could tell you anything about Brian McCann?  It's not like he's a household name but he's a damn good player, maybe the best catcher in baseball, and a guy any MLB fan would know, but I think if you put the two of them in a room together and asked them to tell you who McCann is they'd probably piece it together but there answers would have a lot of question marks attached.  "Uh, Atlanta?"  "Umm, I think he's a catcher?"  Am I off here.

10:36 -  By the way, we won our co-ed softball championship.  It was awesome because the team we beat was a bunch of douchers, especially their pitcher, and he got doubled off first on a line drive for the last out of the game and then probably went home and killed himself.  Also great was in the semifinal when we beat another douche team whose biggest douche guy was their shortstop, and in one of the last innings with two outs we had Snacks on first and another fast guy up (whose nickname is Douche, interestingly enough) and after Douche singled Snacks was on third and their doucher shortstop had the ball and we know he's dumb so Douche dances off the base just far enough to entice douchestop to throw it to first at which point Snacks takes off for home and their first base girl stands there like she's lost and the radio is playing some Sixpence None the Richer and Snacks scores.  And it's great because we won by one run.  Such it douche shortstop.

10:40 - Bases loaded and one out for Revere after a four-pitch walk to Butera.  Think about that one.  I'm thinking maybe Gio Gonzalez doesn't have it tonight.  Honestly just throw the ball down the middle to Butera, even if he makes great contact it's probably still just a fly out.  Sure can fire that ball though.

10:43 - And Gonzalez walks Revere to force in a run.  Again, it's Ben Revere.  Just throw the damn thing down the middle.  The farthest he can hit it would be just short of the center fielder.  It's like a real hitter try to hit a kitten ball - it's just not going to go that far.  Good lord it would suck to be an A's fan.  Way to go, Bear.  way to go.

10:50 - Jesus Blyleven has his Joe Mauer love pants on tonight.  He's complimented Mauer as a "great hitter" three times already tonight and compared him to Wade Boggs (a guy whose career average Mauer has only beaten in a season twice).  The latest - Mauer is so good, he's just not afraid to get to 0-2 in the count, he knows he can hit.  Ok.  I'm going to go ahead and look this up.  Hold on.  Mauer this year:  1-29 after reaching 0-2 in an at-bat.  Once again Bertram, your insight is compelling and sounds good but is completely inaccurate.  Just like your face.

10:58 - Whoa, look at that.  Suddenly it's the bottom of the sixth and the A's have two runners on with nobody out.  This is kind of shit that happens if I don't pay attention.  At least Conor Jackson is up, although thinks would be better for the Twins if it was Daric Barton.  What do you think Dick could tell you about either of those guys?  Seriously, am I wrong here? 

11:00 - Bob Welch and Barry Zito both won Cy Young awards?  Maybe we just blow that award right up.

11:01 -  Wait, you're going to tell me Matsui wasn't out of the baseline there?  He was on the infield grass.  Clearly I don't understand the rule. 

11:03 -  Speaking of things I don't understand, why would anybody give WR1 money to James Jones?  Apparently he's a huge target of some teams this offseason and the Vikings might be one of them.  Honest to little baby mary jesus whoever gives him a truckload of cash is going to end up with nothing but blue balls from all the excitement he doesn't deliver on.  The guy is absolutely freaking terrible.  And for those of you in my fantasy leagues no this is not a bit or a feint to throw you off - he's awful and I'd never draft him.  He catches as well as the Venus de Milo.

11:11 - Delmon Young walked.  So that's weird.

11:13 - Hughesy strikes out to end the threat.  Probably because Dawger loves him.

11:14 - Gotta say, I think this new Planet of the Apes movie looks kind of good.  And I have no interest in any of the Planet of the Apes movies outside of Estella Warren's sweet can in the Marky Mark version.  Whatever happened to that broad?  She should probably do a shark movie on SyFy.

11:20 -  1-2-3 seventh for Liriano.  Twins winning 5-2 still.  Beef jerky gone.  Still plenty of booze.  Interest level = waning.  Luckily Liriano is done and they're going to the pen so things are going to get interesting in a hurry.  I just hope we either get some Dumatrait or some Burnett.  Smells like runs!

11:24 - Bert think the reason Oakland has never had a batting champion is because of all the foul territory that's in play at their stadium.  and this is the part where I feel stupid because I only wrote that prior sentence because I was sure Carney Lansford won a batting title when he was with Oakland and was going to point that out but it turns out Lansford won it when he was with Boston. Oops.  He did, at least, finish second in 1989. 

11:29 -  Butera with a double!  Don't worry, he just placed it down the line perfectly he didn't hit it to the wall or anything so you don't have to change your worldview.

11:31 - RBI Babe Plouffe.  All he does is produce.

11:31 -  That swing right there Cuddyer.  That's pathetic.  That's not an all-star swing and hell that's not even a professional swing.  More of a "Joes vs. Pros" thing where this particular Joe never played baseball in his god damn life.  I like Cuddy, I really do, but holy black taco does he ever frustrate.

11:33 -  Well now he just hit a 3-run dong.  All I do is motivate.  Suck it, Bear.

11:36 -  Funny thing is that this Michael Wuertz guy is supposedly one of the guys the A's should look to move because there's a lot of interest.  This probably isn't going to help, especially since after that home run he's now walked Mauer and Young back-to-back.  Yes that's two walks for Delmon.  I'm assuming that's a career high.  Also I would have bet you money that Wuertz was a lefty.  I guess I don't know players as well as I thought.  OH NO!!  I'M DICK BREMER!!!

11:43 -  9-2 as we go to the bottom of the 8th.  Boredness and tiredness levels off the charts.  So instead here is a picture of Gardy at the greatest bar in the world, Roddy's in North St. Paul. 

He may not have a freaking clue how to manage a game, but his taste in drinking establishments is impeccable.

11:50 -  So this is interesting.  No, not the game, even though Jose Mijares is just lollypopping the ball and the A's have a couple runners going.  Apparently the Pirates are hard after Jason Kubel.  I love Kubel and would hate to see him go (home run Josh Willingham, it's now 9-5 - trade Mijares now before he eats himself out of interest), but depending on what you get back, you never know.  The Pirates are loaded with pitching prospects (always a plus) and also one of their top prospect guys is a catcher, which would give the Twins the flexibility to make Mauer play somewhere else.  I don't know, but it's pretty interesting.

12:07 -  Alex Burnett is so bad.

12:14 - Twins win.  I'm tired.  You suck.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Talkings

I wasn't planning on posting anything tonight because, let's face it, just the idea of writing two days in a row makes me tired, but there's nothing else to do.

-  I'm watching the Twins for some reason (it's currently 3-2 Twinkies in the 2nd) and holy crap is Chris Davis the worst hitter ever.  Last night, when the Rangers scored something like 30 runs and had 64 hits, he went 0-6 and made two errors.  Now I've just watched him just wildly flail at two Pavano pitches.  He strikes me as the kind of guy who can crush a fastball if you try to blow it passed him, but any finesse whatsoever and he's hacking at it like Delmon Young wearing a blindfold.  Should end up being a hell of a softball player in a few years.

-  You want to know what sucks worse than Jose Mijares?  When you make a bet against Ryan Howard doing well because he's going up against Tim Lincecum and then Lincecum is scratched with the flu and Barry freaking Zito gets the start instead and gives up a home run to Howard in the first inning.

-  As you could have predicted there are a ton of rumors/stories/whatever regarding NFL player movement since they're actually going to play now, and there are plenty regarding your precious Vikings - McNabb, Sid Rice, Tavaris Jackson, Ray Edwards, and Kyle Orton are all linked to Vikings in one way or another.  I was going to run down each of these things individually but then I yawned and now I'm bored.  So I'll just say that T-Jax going to Seattle makes me giggle.  And lest you think they are just handing him a starting gig they've also signed sexy Matt Leinart.  And they still have Charlie Whitehurst who I'm pretty sure is a werewolf.  So yeah, I'd say they're in pretty good shape. 

 -  Other than that I guess losing Sidney Rice would be a big deal, but only because they don't have any other options, not because he's all that good.  He had one good year because Brett Favre realized that you can just throw the ball up high to him and no matter how not open he actually was he'd just go catch it.  Give him a real QB and he can't do jack.  Do you really think Ponder is going to come in and start flinging the ball around like he's playing drunk foosball?  No.  He needs precise route runners with good hands who can get open.  Rice can't do that.  If he comes back to the Vikes he's going to be bust city.  With Seattle he'd have a fighting chance, if only because none of sexy, crappy, or the werewolf are real QBs so they might buy into the whole "lob it up" strategy.

That being said, the Vikes still need him because what's the other option here, Bernard Berrian?  Buzz.  Your girlfriend.  Woof. 

-  Those two broads behind home plate are ridiculously hot.  God bless Texas.

-  I can't prove it, but I strongly suspect Carl Pavano is actually pitching underhanded.  It's the only explanation.

-  I finished the new Song of Ice and Fire book (same series that gave us the Game of Thrones TV show) and I'm stunned.  I cannot believe Voldemort was Frodo's father.  That is just stunning.

-  Chris Davis is the next Brooks Robinson.  Just so smooth, and such a termendous gloveman.

-  J.J. Hardy hit two home runs tonight.  That gives him 16 homers on the year.  You know who else has 16 homers this year?  The entire Twins roster combined.  Fact.  Hardy has become a top five shortstop in all the majors, meanwhile the Twins are hoping either a foreigner who dances around at the plate like Natalie Portman in that lesbian movie or a 28-year old who everyone is still waiting to reach his potential to take over the SS role.  Great.  At least the guys they got when they traded Hardy have done really well. 

-  FUN FACT:  Justin Verlander is completely unhittable against everyone in the league other than the Chicago White Stockings.  Tonight's line: 8ip, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 Ks, 4 ERs.  Not bad, right?  As a Twins fan we'd take it every night, but not a great outing for Verlander.  The interesting part?  That's just the third time he's given up more than 3 earned runs in a start this year - two of them against the White Sox.  That's just the 8th time he's allowed as many as 7 hits in a game - three of those were against the White Sox.  That's just the 7th time he's had 7 or fewer strikeouts - 3 against the White Sox.  He's allowed 14 home runs this year - six of them against the Sox.  And it doesn't really matter because Detroit won and Verlander got the win, but it's kind of interesting.  Nobody else can hit him.  

-  Matt Capps just threw a fastball that was 93mphand pretty clearly had significant tail on it.  I'm pretty stunned too.  This is just like the ending of The Village - never saw it coming.

-  FUN FACT:  If Tim Lincecum is supposed to pitch and gets scratched they wipe out all player prop bets for that game.  The good news is that I didn't lose my Ryan Howard bet now.  The bad news is that I also had a bet on Aubrey Huff to not get an RBI and Vance Worley to throw more than 99.5 pitches, both won, neither was remotely affected by Lincecum not pitching, and neither is a win now.  Not fair.

-  Thome just came a few feet away from an opposite field jack to take the lead in the ninth.  Which is extra funny because I was just typing how I was watching this game and barely typed anything about it because the Twins have broken my brain.  Also funny - teh ball Thome hit should have been caught by Hamilton.  Looked like he misjudged it a little, got a little off-balance, and lunged a little too far in the wrong direction.  Just like that guy he killed by tossing him a ball.

Too soon?

-  Nishioka is a retarded version of Ichiro, and he just tied the game with a retarded version of a hit by hitting a bouncer up the middle and getting an infield hit out of it.  I really kind of hate him.  Only partially because of racist reasons.

-  Mauer pinch hitting.  Runners on the corners, tie game, one out.  Texas playing back at all infield positions.  You know why?  Because Joe Mauer is god damn ground ball machine and they know they can turn two.  Announcer guys are stunned by them playing back, but that's because they're idiots.  If you took a pitching machine and pointed it at the ground and fed it balls and had a contest with Mauer to see who could hit the most consecutive balls on the ground I'm pretty sure the machine would win.

-  Well fuck me.  You know that Simpsons episode where Skinner says something like, "You know none of these kids are going to college" and then when he realizes the kids are listening he says "Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong"?  Well that's what I was doing there - daring Mauer to prove me wrong.  I'm a great motivator.

-  I also was going to try to look that quote up and to do it I just typed "" into the google search engine box.  Maybe it turns out I'm the dumb one?

-  By the way, when Nathan blows this one I'm going to bed and not sticking around for extras.  I've got the new James Rollins book to read.

-  Ripped single, fielder's choice, hit batter, strikeout, strikeout and the Twins win and I gotta say, that was vintage Nathan:  some very good unhittable stuff with some terrible pitches mixed in.  He's back, baby.  Now somebody trade something good for him.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Six Very Important Things from Last Night

 I was going to do a typical week in review post last night, but as I sat and stared at my computer screen I realized I got nothin'.  The Twins have sucked the life out of me and I just couldn't bring myself to type anything.  I started and deleted at least three times, and then was going to watch a shark movie and just didn't have the energy.  Thanks Twins!

They've killed my brain so much I can't even cook right anymore.  For last night's meal I looked around at what we had in the fridge and pantry and decided to make a Cuban chili.  I screwed it up every way imaginable.  Actually the first step, browning the ground beef with onions, red peppers, and garlic, went well, but from there it was right down hill.  I used way too much liquid in the base (beef broth + mexican beer) and made it way watery.  Then, after the first 45 minutes or so in the crock pot it seemed bland and rather than slowly adding spices to give it the flavor it needs I just threw a bunch of stuff in all at once and it ended up way too spicy.  Luckily I have Mrs. W around, who just scooped 90% of the broth out to make it more chili-y and also cut back on the spice.  I added some garlic salt and onion powder and WA-LA it ended up pretty good.  But it turns out I'm not quite the brilliant chef I like to think I am.  Well usually I am but not this time.  Except for when I helped fix it.  Anyway the Twins are stupid.

1. I quit watching after the third inning because it was 9-0.  It's now 18-1 in the fifth.  Eighteen.  To.  Fucking.  One.  Feels like the perfect end to a perfect season  This team sucks, Nick Blackburn throws the ball too easy to hit to even be a batting practice pitcher, and I'm never writing about the Twins again.  EVER.  Unless they start trading dudes, then I'll write about the sweet sweet prospects they pick up.  God I hate this so much.  This is just like that time I cut my own finger off.  [EDIT:  Final was 20-6.  L.  O.  L.]

2.  It looks like we'll have an NFL this year after all.  Football players and owners apparently realized that they all stand to make billions of dollars as long as there is a season and came to an agreement to go ahead and play some american football this year.  This sort of bums me out.

Not that I don't like football, because I really do, but because there is just so much about the NFL season that bugs me.  Particularly the fans.  And can you imagine that group of fans - the kind of guys who watch every minute of every preseason game, are convinced they're smarter than every coach, bitch and complain the one week there's no Sunday night football because of the World Series, and who ignore their family for 12 hours every Sunday so they can watch the six different TVs they have the overpriced Sunday Ticket hooked up to in a room they inevitably call their "man cave" (and seriously, can we stop putting man in front of words to make up new words?  It's not a man-cave, it's a den.  It's not a mancation, it's a vacation.  It's not man-scaping, it's shaving.  And so on).

You know the kind of guy I'm talking about.  And you can you imagine this guy without football?  It would be hilarious.  I imagine these guys would just start wandering around their neighborhood muttering to themselves and yelling at inanimate objects about getting into a cover 2 and rolling the safety over or start staging fake games in their yard using lawn gnomes.  But now that dream is over, just like the dream of getting to watch scab players this year.  Oh what could have been.  Where have you gone, Brian Cupito?

3.  Plenty of other things flying around the NFL rumor mill as well, including Terrell Pryor and Brett Favre rumors.   The Favre rumor is that he may sign with the Eagles to be insurance behind Michael Vick, which supposedly makes sense because he's had a long-time relationship with Andy Reid.  I would guess we can just ignore this because I really don't see him coming back after that pounding he took last year and I really don't see him volunteering for back-up duty.  Then again, since he has a need for attention that would rival any 3-year old you know we're not going to hear a definitive answer from him, so this is going to drag out.  Again.  And dominate the news to the point where you want to stab your ears out with a spoon.  Again.  Pete Rose II just needs to die or something so he'll actually go away.

As far as Pryor, the big cheating cheater, it turns out that due to a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that I neither understand nor have actually read, he might not get to enter the NFL supplemental draft this year.  In that case I'd assume his options would be to play in the Arena League, CFL, XFL (if it still exists), or sling crack rock.  Which is good for him because then maybe he can make some money because once he hits the NFL he's going to absolutely suck.  Spergon Wynn style.  Seriously, the guy could hit the broad side of Sarah Rue (before she sadly got all skinny) with a pass if she was standing still and he's supposed to be an NFL QB?  Sure he can run, but that's all he can do.  All you need to know is that he is Ohio State's all-time leading rusher as a QB and it's well known that there has never been an all-time leading rushing QB from a school who has succeeded in the NFL.  Sorry Terrelle, you're doomed.  And you suck and are a cheater and a bad person. 

4.  This T-Wolves coaching search is rather perplexing.  I can't quite figure out what they're going for.  The latest is that they interviewed Larry Brown, who is 71 years old and I can't possibly figure out what the upside is, other than possible insurance money from when he dies (whether of a heart attack or Michael Beasley snapping and beating him with a dreadlock makes no difference).  The other guys, warts and all, at least have something that I get.  Don Nelson is super old but likes to play uptempo which is what Kahn wants and plays to Ricky Rubio's strength.  Bernie Bickerstaff is a total retread but, in theory, would have brought JB into play as the coach of the future (too late for this now).  Terry Porter would be an inexperienced, but young (for a coach) up and comer.  Rick Adelman is just a good coach.  I've never head of Mike Woodson.

But Larry Brown doesn't make sense for the Wolves and the job doesn't make sense for him either.  At 71, he'll be 75 by the time this is a possible playoff team, and Brown is notoriously difficult on young players and point guards.  Seeing as how the Wolves are exclusively young players and have basically hitched the hopes of the entire franchise on a rookie point guard this match makes me nervous.  Yeah, he's famous for turning losers into 8 seeds, but he's also a thousand years old and will probably end up shooting Beasley and/or Kahn by the all-star break.  But I guess they wouldn't be the Wolves if they did something that made sense.

5.  Ray Rice is going to destroy you.  Since NFL teams can do shit now the Ravens released a bunch of fairly notable players:  Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, and Willis McGahee.  Mason is 100 and Heap has sucked for two years but the McGahee release is important because it means whoever the coach of the Ravens is won't have to keep him happy by giving him the goalline carries.  The Bear once said Rice was overrated because he'd never be "a monster" but now McGahee is gone, he runs for a billion yards and catches enough balls to be the next generation of Thurman Thomas, and now he's going to get the goal line carries.  Can Ray Rice be a monster?  We're about to find out.  And I think this is going to go down just like he's Kobe Bryant and the league is that poor girl from that hotel.

6.  I was hoping to ignore the Twins for the rest of this post, but then there's this:  The Nationals are after Denard Span and the Twins are listening.  Frankly, this makes no sense.  I agree the Twins should start looking to move some dudes because they suck and this season is dead, and I also think it makes sense to move an outfielder/DH because that's what they have an abundance of.  But not Span.

First, he's under a reasonable contract.  He's signed through 2014 with a team option for '15 at a good cost ($3m next year, $4.75m the next, $6.5m in '14, $9m on the option) so you don't need to move him soon.  Unlike Kubel (free-agent to be) and Cuddyer (free-agent to be), or Jim Thome (1 more year but clearly not part of rebuilding).

Second, his skill set is something the Twins don't have anywhere else:  an actual lead-off hitter.  I love Ben Revere, I really do, but unless he starts walking more and finds a way to hit the ball farther than the average girl in a co-ed softball league once in a while (and yes that's AND, not OR) he's a nine hitter with a little excitement due to his speed.  I mean really, Kubel, Cuddy, and Delmon are such similar players if you move one you're not fundamentally changing your team's make-up, but Span is the only real lead-off hitter, maybe in the system.  If you still had Gomez and he was progressing (which, by the way, he still isn't) then trading Span is palatable, even though it still doesn't make sense.

Lastly, the Nationals are not a playoff team.  They aren't making trades for a playoff push, they're making trades to try to get better for the long run.  So why would a non-playoff team who needs to build for the future trade a guy to a different non-playoff team who needs to build for the future?  Because the Twins want Ian freaking Desmond to be their future shortstop?  The guy is absolutely terrible. Might as well have just kept Jason Bartlett for christ's sake.

Look, I get the Ramos trade for Capps.  It was stupid and I said so at the time, but I at least understand what they were doing, however misguided.  But trading Span, unless you are getting back Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper or Wilson Ramos, doesn't make sense financially, logically, chemistry-y, physically, lineup-y, racially, or sexually.  Leave it to the Twins and that rapey dickmitten Bill Smith.  Have fun watching Ian Desmond flail about like the next Nick Punto for the next four years.

Fuck this.  I'm moving.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gophers picked up a new Point Guard

The Gophers picked up another point guard in St. Louis's Kendall Shell, who is, well, interesting. On the plus side he got a perfect score on his SAT. On the negative side he got a perfect score on his SAT, so how good can he really be? Also on the negative side, he's a walk-on who doesn't even show up in either or's databases. But on the plus side he did at least receive "preferred" walk-on status at Pepperdine which it should be noted is a Division I school.

Honestly there's almost no information on him since he's not on the recruiting radar. Really the only thing I've been able to find is this interview at the gopherhole, and since it's an interview with the player himself there isn't much information you can really glean other than he likes playing defense (good) and fancies himself a good spot up shooter (good if true) and a true point guard (good).

All in all it's probably a move that won't matter in the long run, but when your point guard options are a sophomore whose upside is a back-up (Maverick Ahanmisi), a freshman whose a combo guard (Andre Hollins), and a juco transfer whose only D-I experience was a year at UC-Davis, adding more point guard options is always a plus, particularly since he doesn't tie up a scholarship. Who knows, anything could happen. I can't actually come up with any walk-ons who amounted to anything other than Rychart, but there's probably a few out there somewhere. As long as he's not another Hokenson. I've had enough.

- I also want to mention that I'm in love with Drew Butera and I don't care who knows it. Sure, he hits similar to how I'd imagine a small girl would fare against major league pitching, but hot damn can he throw the ball to second. I'm actually stunned his caught stealing rate is as low as it is at 34%, especially when it was over 50% last year (and most of that catching for slow-ass Pavano). I don't think I've seen anybody steal on him this year. It must have been guys like Brett Gardner and Elvis Andrus and Jose Reyes and Vince Coleman. No mere "base runner" could ever steal on Drewsy, only those lightning quick dudes.

- Lastly, I went to the Twins game last night with Snacks, Old Man W, and Optimator and we went to The Loop pre-game. We grabbed four appetizers: jerk chicken won-tons, sirloin kebabs, pork quesadillas, and calamari. Completely by accident we ended up with pork, chicken, beef, and seafood. That's how awesome we are. Even when we aren't trying to be. Holla.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday's Musings (Twins, British Open, Tomlin, TV, Noodle Arms, etc.)

Well it's begun already.  I suppose it was inevitable.  I was listening to the telecast of the Twins first game and they were talking about the Twins possibly making any moves at the trade deadline.  You probably already know where this is going.  So Bert says, he says, "You know, with Span and Kubel about to come off the DL and Morneau down the road (ED:  yeah right) the Twins don't really need to make a move, getting those guys back is already better than making a trade.

Yes.  It's true.  You knew it was coming.  I'm pretty sure you'll hear that same sentiment at least three more times from various announcers/coaches/scribes/radio dudes, and every time you should know it makes me die a little inside.

Speaking of the Twins and dying how freaking bad is Matt Capps?   Meanwhile, in case you're curious, Wilson Ramos is hitting .257/.333/.442 with 9 homers for the Nationals and has thrown out 36% of would-be base stealers.  What that essentially means is he's a Drew Butera who can hit.  I'm not exactly sure of the wording yet, but I'm pretty sure if I end up killing myself in the next month or so I want that on my tombstone.  That or sausage and pepperoni and green pepper.

-  The British Open was kind of interesting in a boring way.  Once again it proved itself to be nearly impossible to predict.  I mean, look how many top guys missed the cut here:  #1 Luke Donald, #2 Lee Westwood, #8 Matt Kuchar, #10 Nick Watney., #11 Graeme McDowell  I guess in retrospect it shouldn't have been surprising that Donald missed it because he's a bit of a dandy, but the other three were definite surprises.  But it makes sense.  Look at who has won this thing lately:  Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart "gayest golfer on the tour" Cink.  Before that were two for Paddy and two for Tiger, but this tournament is definitely most likely to be won by a stunner.  Tom Watson's almost win.  Todd Hamilton who I could have sworn was a figure skater.  Ben Curtis.  John Daly.

I'm not even sure it's real golf over there.  But there's no doubt that there are a few guys who you can never count out in a major no matter how badly they look like they're playing in the previous weeks:  Phil, Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim, Y.E. Yang - always a threat in majors.  Just like guys like Hunter Mahan, Luke Donald, and Ian Poulter have proven it doesn't matter how they're playing or how they're trending or what they're course history is - they can miss a cut at any time.

And the saddest thing of all?  Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen used to be in group 1, but now I think you gotta put them in group 2.  Ask not for whom the Bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

As I pointed out last week, Indians' starter Josh Tomlin has a chance to become just the 16th pitcher to qualify for the batting title and finish the season with more home runs allowed than walks allowed.  He took another step towards history on Friday when he allowed 3 home runs to the Orioles against just 1 walk, bringing his season totals to 18 HR allowed and 15 BB allowed.  Additionally, with 11 wins so far he has a chance to become the second most winning pitcher who gave up more homers than walks behind Robin Roberts 19 wins in 1956.  He won't catch Roberts but if he can get to 17 wins he'll pass Greg Maddux, Jose Lima, and Rick Reed to hold the solo second position.  I dunno.  Seems significant.

- Speaking of dominant pitching did you see Jeff Karstens threw a 83-pitch 5-hit shutout for the suddenly playoff-contending Pirates on Friday?  I don't know which part is weirder - that somebody actually only needed 83 pitches to finish a game or that it was Karstens who has thrown a complete game since 2008 because he's usually too busy getting schellacked.  Since I know you're wondering I looked it up and this is the 15th time since 2000 that somebody has thrown a 9-inning complete game using 83 pitches or less.  So I guess it's not as unbelievable as I thought, especially since included in that group are Carlos Silva (74 pitches in 2005) and Scott Baker (79 pitches in 2007) and I don't remember either of them.  I guess my whole equilibrium is just off since the Pirates are in contention.

-  I don't think I've mentioned this before, but the kids' show Phineas and Ferb is one of the five best shows on TV.  Parks and Rec, Community, Game of Thrones, Curb, and Phineas and Ferb.  If you have kids, get them hooked on this immediately.  Whereas I want to stab my own face off after more than one episode of most kids' shows - especially Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - I could sit and watch Phineas and Ferb by myself for hours, so it's actually not torture to sit and watch with WonderbabyTM.   The Bear got a few episodes with us a few weeks back and he laughed out loud a couple of times, and he hates everything, so you know it's good.

-  Honestly, if you grabbed 100 random people from local softball leagues how many of them do you think would have a better arm than Ben Revere?  I wouldn't - I'm a kick-ass infielder - but how many out of 100?  I know Snacks has a better arm and a couple other guys I play/played softball with do.  I'm willing to bet it's at least 25%.  I love Ben Revere and all - he's 10x the center fielder Span was and twice Gomez - but that arm is terrifyingly bad.

I just bought these shoes because I need something for casual Fridays at work.  Thoughts?

- Joe Mauer, as of this second, has six hits in this doubleheader.  That's pretty impressive, but what really stands out to me is that one of those hits is a double.  I mean, do you know how rare that is for the "Singles King of Minnesota?" (he's like Abe Froman but different). 

-  I don't like this new Eric on True Blood.  I also don't understand what's up with these "faeries. And Pam is way less hot now. "  I also don't think Anna Paquin has gotten naked yet this season, which is stupid because it's probably 25% of why I watch this show.  Another 25% is hoping Jessica will do a nude scene already. 
The remaining 50% is because Mrs. W is hoping to see some Alcide wang.  True story.

-  Pretty good debut by Scott Diamond here (Twins trailing 2-1 in bottom 6), and it damn well better be since he cost them Billy Bullock.  You know, the same Billy Bullock who was a 2nd round pick and was a rare minor league arm in the system who could strike people out from the bullpen.  In case you're curious in AA for Atlanta this year he's pitched 37 innings, allowed 29 hits, walked 19, and struck out fucking 53.  Good thing they don't need him though.

-  Looks like while I was taking out the trash/slicing some celery/making a drink the Twins tied it up and then left Diamond in for too long, brought in Phil Dumacrap, and now they're about to get swept in this double-header, the exact double header they could have used to basically slingshot start into a second half pennant run.  Nice.

-  Speaking of WonderbabyTM back whenever I mentioned her she's now somehow gotten to the age where going to bed is equivalent in terribleness to the holocaust.   Honest to god I think she's insane.  She will completely agree to "Ok, one more Phineas and Ferb and then it's bedtime.  No whining, no crying, no fighting" and say those exact words and everything but the minute that show is over and I tell her it's really bedtime we're looking at meltdown city.  This one time she actually grabbed the scimitar I keep on the counter and took a swipe at me.  True story.

-  Requisite picture of my idiot kids:
And here's a picture of my kick-ass son trying to house a chicken wing despite being significantly tooth-challenged:

-  Is it insensitive to say that Chuck James looks like he has either the AIDS or the cancer?  Because if it is then I totally didn't say that, it was a friend of mine who wanted to know.

-  Pitches like one too.

-  Freakin' Babe Plouffe indeed.  Too bad everyone else on the team sucks more balls than your mom.

-  I hate the Twins and I hate all of you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Little Something to Care About, Nerd

About once or month or so a side project of mine which may or may not involve wagering requires me to type up a spreadsheet full of baseball players' statistical minutia (trust me, if it wasn't profitable I wouldn't do it) and every so often I stumble upon a little nugget of information.  This is why, some time ago, I was able to report in this very blog that Joey Votto hadn't hit an infield pop-up in two years and how I found that absolutely amazing since he's a power(ish) hitter. 

Well I have sad news to report.  Some time between the last time I did my spreadsheets and tonight, Joey Votto popped out.  Sad.  And yet we must carry on, so I have found another interesting statistical quirk:  Josh Tomlin of the Indians has allowed 15 home runs, but only 14 walks.  That's right, more HRs allowed than walks.  That has to be rare, right?  To the baseball-reference machininator.....

Wow, Bronson Arroyo has a shot too with 25 and 23, but that's already too many home runs to sustain so he's out.  Join me please in rooting for Josh Tomlin to become just the 16th player in major league history (who qualifies for the ERA title) to allow more homers than walks in a season.  It will at least give us all something to care about as we continue on this hellstorm of a Twins' season.  And really, isn't caring what it's all about?

FACT:  On that list you will find Brad Radke twice, Carlos Silva twice, and Rick Reed twice with five of those seasons occurring as Minnesota Twins.  I don't know if I find that funny sad or funny funny, but either way I'm laughing right now.

FACT #2:  The new Harry Potter is awesome.  If you don't go see it you are a moron.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

British Open Wagering Picks

No time for talk:

To win:  
Davis Love III 80-1
Kyung-Tae Kim 200-1
Nick Watney 25-1
Jason Day 25-1
Retief Goosen 40-1
Ross Fisher 60-1

No Hole in One -160
Jason Day +115 over Kuchar
Martin Kaymer -105 over McDowell
KJ Choi +115 over Schwartzel

MLB 2011 Mid-Year Check-In, Part 2

Part 1 was yesterday (scroll down, genius) where I talked about the good things so far this year in MLB.  Now here are the bad:

1.  Joe Mauer.  I just recently let lose with a little Mauer diatribe, so instead of simply rehashing what I already said you can read it by clicking here.  Of note:  since I wrote that he's gone 6-17 and raised his average 20 points and, if you can believe this, even hit a double.  That's two bases with one swing.  I couldn't believe it either.

2.  Derek Jeter.  Apparently being "too tired" to play when you're "star" is getting to be an epidemic because Derek Jeter, arguably the biggest "star" in baseball depending on how you want to define that, begged out of tonight's all-star game due to "exhaustion."  I personally don't really care who plays and who doesn't because the whole thing is really kind of stupid, but the most idiotic thing I've heard in a long time came from a caller on the radio today who tried to explain, "You people did nothing but complain that he didn't deserve to be voted into the game, and now, because he's such a class act, he decides not to play so Asdrubel Cabrera can start, and you rip him for that." 

Seriously, dumbass?  I'm sorry and I know you love him, but captain intangiibles isn't a shining greek god of virtue and I don't care how many barbecues he invites his teammates too or how often he has Robinson Cano sleep over at his house and they tag-team Minka Kelly.  Look, I get it - he's a decent looking, non-threatening dude who plays the game well, isn't overly cocky, doesn't show up opponents, and bangs lots of chicks.  But there's a guy like him on every team except the fucking evil White Sox, and nobody knows what he (they) are like off the field.  Jeter could very well be a serial killer rapist arsonist litterbug for all we know, but because that shit I wrote earlier plus he plays in the biggest market for the most famous team and people can't stop making love to excuses for anything he does.

It's like that dude who caught Jeter's 3,000th hit and gave it away for some autographed shit and box seats.  Noble?  Moral?  How the hell is that noble or moral when the guy has over $100k in debt?  You owe it to yourself to get your life in order (and yes I know it's student loans not credit card bills, which kind of makes this more depressing) with your once in a lifetime lottery winning baseball and you toss it away to make an empty gesture to a guy who will make more this year than you'll make in ten lifetimes, will bring in nearly $300 million total by the time his career his over in just salary (not counting endorsements) and likely wouldn't cross the street to piss on your face if it was about to be run over by a car?  Guess what?  He's already forgotten about you.  And that $100k you owe?  That's what he makes in a day.

You know how they say that the lottery is really just a tax on stupidity?  Well, it's now being reported that this guy might have to pay something like $14k in taxes on the "gifts" he got from the Yankees.  Now that's really a tax on stupidity. 

3.  Florida Marlins.  The Marlins were looking like they were going to be a very nice story this year.  Smallest payroll on the team at $35 million, a team that had to trade Dan freaking Uggla because he was too expensive, and suddenly they ripped out of the box with a 30-20 start, and behind Josh Johnson were looking like a nice NL East sleeper team.  Then Johnson got hurt, they couldn't sustain their early momentum, they lost 19 out of 20, Hanley Ramirez proved he's more lazy than leader, they fired their manager, and are now 43-48 and 14 games out of first (and it's only that good thanks to a 5-game winning streak going into the break).  Now all they're good for is laughing at any highlights of their home games because there are about 16 people there.

4.  The entire Twins' bullpen.  Honest to god, is it really that hard to have one guy who you can trust to get three outs?  Perkins is the only full-time reliever with an ERA under 4.40 and if you trust him you're dumber that got into my van the other night.  Cappsie's WHIP looks respectable, but unfortunately it's accompanied by one of the worst HR allowed rates on the team and he seems to be on a rapidly accelerating slide from mediocre to pathetic.  Nathan can be excused, at least mostly, but there's no real reason for Jose Mijares to be putting up career worst numbers (he has more walks than strikeouts for christ's sake) and Phil Dumatrait and Alex Burnett may as well just put the ball on a tee.  And if anybody does pitch well (Chuck James and Anthony Slama have thrown 7 combined innings of 1-hit ball) they're immediately shipped out.  I mean is it time to make Anthony Swarzak your #1 set-up guy now?  Has it really come to this? 

5.  Adam Dunn.  Another guy I've talked about here before, but it's impossible to ignore how bad he's been.  Dunn has always done three things:  strike out like crazy, walk constantly, and hit a ton of home runs.  Well this year he's striking out at an all-time high rate, walking far less than normal (second lowest of his career), and is well on pace to hit the fewest homers he's ever had in a season.  Even the hits he always got accidentally aren't falling this year, and he's also hitting nearly 100 points below his career mark at just .160.  He's on pace for just 15 homers with 204 strikeouts, which would be the fewest home runs (by 9) by a batter with 180 or more Ks.  His .160 would be the worst batting average by a player with over 180 Ks by 38 points, and his (on pace for) 59 RBI would be the lowest ever by 11.  We are talking a truly, epically, pathetically putrid season, and the Sox just signed him for four years and $56 million.  Awesome.  

6.  Royals starting pitching.  Kansas City seems to be going the right way on the offensive side of the ball - Hosmer looks good, Butler is solid, Gordon seems to be figuring it out, and they got all those other prospects on the way.  On the hill, however, they have some of the worst arms in history, and that's why they couldn't sustain their semi-hot start.  Three of the five worst WHIPs among starting pitchers with at least 50 innings belong to Royals:  Kyle Davies (1.92), Sean O'Sullivan (1.78), and Danny Duffy (1.64).  Duffy, at least, is clearly part of their future (assuming he develops) but if that's the strategy then retreads who suck like Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen don't make much sense either.   

7.  Twins' injuries.  You guys ever wonder what's going on with the Twins and how many games they miss due to injury?  Doesn't it seem pretty ridiculous, like something must be wrong?  Morneau missed the entire second half of last year with a concussion and Denard Span is chasing his games missed record.  Meanwhile 1-2 weeks seems pretty standard.  Mauer has missed 2-months this year with some bizarre, mysterious injuries and it's not the first time he's done that.  Then you have Kubel, who has now missed a month and a half with an injured foot, and is expected to miss another 1-2 weeks post all-streak, and I'm pretty sure Delmon Young has missed a couple weeks on two separate occasions this year - once due to being cold and once due to being tired.  I just don't get it, man.  Either this team has the worst trainers in the world or is the biggest collection of babies outside of a lactation convention.

8.  Ubaldo Jimenez.  It's always kind of tough to trust one-year wonders, especially starting pitchers, and Ubaldo is showing you why.  After maybe one of the most impressive first halves of a season in recent baseball history he started to fade late last year and has continued that slide right into a mediocre, irrelevant, mid-rotation pitcher.  His numbers this year (4.14 ERA/1.30 WHIP) are nearly identical to Carl Pavano's (albeit with far more Ks and BBs).  This from the same dude who finished 3rd last year NL Cy Young voting, so consider if Johan Santana was here in his prime and suddenly turned into Carl Pavano.  You know, like Scott Erickson.

9.  Jim Riggleman.  I dig this because it's one of the most awesome examples of someone not nearly understanding how much value and leverage (or lack thereof) they actually have.  He's always been a terrible manager (career:  662-824) with just two winning seasons and one playoff appearance out of 10 tries.  He was signed as the Nationals manager, and appropriate match of awful to awful, and in this, the third year of his contract, he managed to get them to win 11 of 12 games and was pushing for management to sign off on his extension for next year (despite their overall record of 27-36 before that streak).  Management, wisely, chose not to do so at that point and so Riggleman resigned.  Full on jackassery, all the way around. 

10.  Clay Buchholz.  If you're sitting there still waiting for Buchholz to put it all together and become the stud he's seemed destined to become, get in line.  I swear I've drafted this hippie every year in fantasy baseball, and every year he turns out to be as brittle as Ralph Sampson's confidence.  Last year he looked like he might finally have done it, making 28 starts and registering a 2.33 ERA (2nd in the league), but after a rough start this year where he was allowing homers at a Matt Cappsian rate he's once again out with a back injury.  He's supposed to be ready soon after the break, but for those of us who have followed his career way too closely we know that's a dirty lie.

Finally, this is where I'd tell you to expect Grandslam to come in with his British Open preview at some point this week but I just asked him if he was going to do one and he said, "No, the Open is stupid played on stupid courses and you can't predict anything."

Nice expert.  As such, I'll at least try to get up some thoughts on this Wednesday night, but I have a pretty big work function that's expected to go from 6-10pm (at the earliest) so the odds aren't great.  I promise I'll try.  Unlike most of the Twins.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MLB 2011 Mid-Year Check-In, Part I

Since we're at the symbolic mid-year point for the 2011 MLB season, I might as well give you some thoughts to chew on from my super smart brain.  I'm going to go with the pleasant resultss so far this year today, and tomorrow I'll toss out the big disappointments.  As usual, we'll be covering the entire league as well as your local nine.  In no particular order:

1.  Michael Cuddyer.  I wrote him up glowingly just a week ago, but I'm just stunned by my own turnaround him.  Thanks to his knack for picking up his hitting when the team most needs his bat as well as his willingness to play wherever and whenever he's needed (unlike many others on this sissified team) I've come around on everything I used to hate.  The two things I hated most were his inability to law off the outside slider in the dirt when he had 2 strikes even though he knows it's coming and his media-whore-ishness. 

At this point, however, I've just come to accept that almost everybody has a hole in their swing and that's just his, and I'm beginning to realize his mediawhoreishness is really just attempt to be a team leader.  Seeing how Joe Mauer is an emotionless robot and Justin Morneau usually can no longer remember what day it is or what his name is, Cuddy's tried to become the leader the team needs.  Since he's really just a country bumpkin at heart it doesn't really come off all that well but at least he's trying.  

Hopefully they trade him for a prospect and then resign him at a reduced price next season.   Although I want Kubel back as well.  So I guess they need to trade Delmon Young, whose value is at an all-time low, and Denard Span, who looks like he may never play again.  This team can't even build a roster correctly. 

2.  Jose Bautista.  Let me guess.  You, like everybody else, figured Jose Bautista for a Brady Anderson like fluke last year, whether it was due to steroids or just some weird convergence of craziness or something.  I did, but after his start to this year - leading the majors with 31 homers already - I'm sold.  Maybe I'm really stupid, and obviously it's not out of the questions that he's getting pharmacological help for two years rather than just the one, but I'm now a believer.  Maybe I just want to believe.  I don't know.  It's not like this kind of neither never happens - it's just rare.

3.  Ben Revere.  I have to admit I was never really all that excited for Ben Revere.  All I ever heard was how he was basically the next Juan Pierre, and statistically Pierre isn't all that great.  He gets a lot of hits but makes a lot of outs because he never walks and he's fast with no power.  I wasn't interested.  But now that Revere is here, I get the good stuff.

Yeah, he'd still be better if he walked a bit more often and unless he develops some power he's going to struggle because the outfielders, especially the left-fielders, can play him shallow and take away that slap single to left, but he's fun to watch, no doubt.  Incredible fast, maybe the fastest Twin on the bases I can remember along with Guzman and Gomez, hits well enough, can steal bases, and is the best defensive CFer the team has had since Puckett.  I'm on board.  Whether he can ever develop into a true leadoff type hitter or will be more doomed to be a #9 is yet to be seen, but his downside is an exciting bottom of the order guy with his upside an all-star lead off hitter.  What's not to love?

4.  Adrian Gonzalez.  Remember how Gonzalez put up like sickening good numbers hitting in the grand canyon that is Petco Park while being surrounded in the lineup by guys like Chase Headley and Ryan Klesko and everybody said that he'd kill the league after he signed with Boston?  Well it's happening.  .354 to lead the league with 77 rbi to lead the league and 17 homers (ranks 10th).  If you're curious, a season with a .350 BA, 25 homers, and 120 rbi has only been done three times since 2000 (Pujols, Larry Walker, Magglio Ordonez) and not once since 2007.  Pretty crazy stuff.

5.  Justin Verlander.  Speaking of crazy, Verlander is having an absolute monster year of a career year, which is pretty amazing considering he's already finished in the top-11 in Cy Young voting four times in his six year career.  His ERA of 2.15 is a full run better than his previous career best while his WHIP of 0.87 is 0.3 better than his career high and his 12 wins so far are nearly 2/3rds of the way to his high of 19 (that's right, somehow Verlander has never won 20 in a season).  Looking at the nerd stats he's pitching nearly identically to how he usually does style wise, but the results have been better so we can expect Verlander to come back towards his career averages a bit (which is good for Twins' fans) but he's still a damn good pitcher either way wit the inside track on his first Cy Young win.  I really really wish the Twins could find a way to get somebody like this someday.  Come on, Kyle Gibson.

6.  Jose Reyes.  The Mets aren't very good or anything, but have been slightly better than expected aat around .500 and the biggest reason is that Jose Reyes has been completely and totally ridiculous.  He's currently leading the NL in batting average at .354 which is made even more ridiculous by the fact that he was hitting just .310 on May 22nd but has hit .413 in the 34 games since with multiple hits in 22 of those 34 games.  Basically with a crappy team whose #2 and #3 players are hurt in David Wright and Johan Santana they're in a position to get a huge return if they can find a trade partner for Reyes.  He's a free agent so they need to move him (or sign him I guess since they're a New York team).  Maybe the Twins could get him for a Mauer + Casilla combo.  Do it. 

7.  Paul Konerko.  Sort of lost in all the hub-bub over Jose Bautista transforming from 4th outfielder to most feared hitter in the AL has been Konerko's transformation from washed up old man to 2nd most feared hitter in the AL.  Although I'm sure all Twins' fans have noticed.  From 2004-2006 he was incredible with 3 top-22 MVP years, but then started a skid that looked like it was pretty much the final slide of his career.  In fact, for 3 straight years from 2007-2009 he was pretty average and an average hitting first baseman isn't very good.  But then last year - boom - .312 with 39 homers and he's continued it this year by hitting .319 with 22 HRs to this point.  Actually, know that I think about, Konerko's resurgence should probably be more suspicious than Bautista's transformation, but it just isn't because he's a rare commodity (a non-douchey White Sock) and it's fun to say Konerko Konorked it.   

8.  Scott Baker.  With all the hand-wringing over the Twins', and particularly over the state of the starting pitching, somehow it's been lost that Baker is having a career year.  His ERA at the break is just 3.01, ranking him tenth in the AL, which is a full run better than his career mark.  And, after an uncharacteristic start to the season where he was struggling to find the strike zone he's now got his walk rate down back where it traditionally belongs and is doing it while putting up a career high strikeout rate.  Basically he appears to really be coming into his own and he's doing it by doing things he can control:  strikeout rate, walk rate, and home run rate (which is down this year).  He's shown too many flashes in the past for me to be straight up excited by this and I have to say there's a big part of me that's just waiting for the regression, but I'm definitely mildly intrigued. 

9.  Michael Pineda.  Credit goes to Snake for drafting this guy for our fantasy team, but he's been an absolute gem.  His 8 wins lead all AL rookie pitchers and he also leads in WHIP at 1.04, ERA at 3.03, and strikeouts at 103.  In short, he's been a complete rookie stud who is the leading candidate to win AL Rookie-of-the-Year and a fabulous compliment to Felix Hernandez, giving Seattle an excellent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.  Unfortunately outside of those two, Justin Smoak, Ichiro, and Dustin Ackley the entire team is worse than the worst Twin.  Yeah, for real.

10.  Pittsburgh Pirates.  Speaking of teams that are usually really bad you have to hand it to the Pirates who, at 47-43, have a decent chance to finish over .500 for the first time in 18 years, and actually sent three players to the All-Star game.  Since they hired Neal Huntington as GM in 2007 they've been very patient and have worked to build their farm system and it's now starting to pay off (not unlike what the Royals are doing).  They've mainly worked through the draft (picking up Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez) that way, but have also done well in trades, nabbing Jose Tabata from the Yankees (in the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade that also netted Jeff Karstens), Ronny Cedeno from the Mariners for Jack Wilson, as well as starters James McDonald (from the Dodgers) and Charlie Morton (from the Cubs) for Octavio Dotel and Nate McLouth and they signed all-star Kevin Correia as a free agent and grabbed all-star Joel Hanrahan from the Nats for nothing.  They're definitely building something in Pittsburgh.  Whether they can go any further or if this is it, it's gotta be exciting if you're a Pirate fan.  Assuming those still exist.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Joe Mauer is Worthless

$184 million for this?  Joe Mauer wasn't in the lineup today due to being "pretty beat up" and "general soreness from foul tips, blocking pitches, and being hit in the shoulder by a fastball."  Are.  You.  Freaking.  Kidding.  Me?

Look at the players in the lineup from day-to-day:  Ben Revere is a decent leadoff hitter and Cuddy is a major league bat but that's it.  Valencia belongs in the bigs and Thome can still unleash from time to time, but everyone else on this roster right now is a back-up at best and a minor leaguer at worst.  When that's the case and you are purported to be the best player on the team you CANNOT sit out games due to being "sore."

I know I'm not exactly breaking new ground here, but being injury prone is one thing.  It's incredibly annoying and the amount of time Mauer has missed due to injury in his career is staggering and at this point is probably damn near as much time as he's actually played, but it's a more innocent annoyance.  Some people are just brittle and get hurt a lot.  I grew up with a guy who got hurt nearly every baseball season and missed a good chunk of the games, including both varsity years, and even hurt his wrist playing golf and had to sit out an entire summer league.  Mauer's injury history is irritating, annoying, and sucks (and would have been a pretty good reason to balk at his contract demands) but basically it is what it is.

But this unwillingness to play when his team needs him the most is ridiculous on a whole new level because he can control it.  I don't know if Mauer is asking for these constant days off (bad) or if Gardenhire is giving them to him and he's not standing up and saying he wants to play (worse) but it's simply unfathomable.  According to nerd stats, which I'll spare you, Mauer in an average year creates about 25 runs more than an average batter.  Drew Butera is about 10 runs worse than average.  So Mauer creates 35 runs more than Butera, so every time he sits out when he should be playing he costs the team big.

Or ate least he would if he didn't completely suck when he does play this year.  I mean he's just been dreadful.  Hitting .223 with zero power and not walking.  His .553 OPS?  That would be a career worst for Nick Punto.  Nick motherfucking Punto!  He has four extra-base hits in 101 plate appearances which, if you extrapolate it out to 500 PAs and 20 XBH, would be just the 15th time in history a player had 20 XBHs or less with at least 500 PAs - a list that includes slap-nancies like Luis Castillo and Chone Figgins.   I mean we are talking historically terrible shit here.

He's walking about half as often as usual, striking out about 50% more, and is hitting the ball on the ground 67% of the time when he is usually around the high 40s.  His groundball to flyball ratio is 4-to-1, the highest such number in the entire league.  Guess who else is in the top 5?  Ichiro, Jeter, Elvis Andrus, and Jose Tabata - fast players who beat the ball into the ground and use their speed to reach base.  All four of those guys rank in the top 20 in the majors in infield hits with 21, 14, 12, and 13 respectively.  Mauer has 2, and I think we all know he isn't the Willie Mays Hayes beat it into the ground type.  He needs to drive the ball and he's simply not doing that.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just pissed that the season is on the rocks due in large part to injuries.  Maybe I'm sick of dealing with the Butera/Rivera platoon.  Maybe Mauer is actually pretty hurt but is playing anyway and that's why he sucks and eventually everything will be back to normal.  I don't know.  All I know is right now he's completely worthless, yet $184 million dollars richer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week in Review - 7-4-2011

 Happy fourth of July everyone.  And that will be the entirety of my introduction.


1.  Mike Cuddyer.  It pains me to praise Cuddy.  There's so much to hate:  inability to understand what a "strike zone" is, inability to realize that he's getting that down and away in the dirt slider every time he has 2 strikes, and constant media whoring to name a few, but sometimes you gotta give credit where it's due:  Congrats on making your first all-star time, Cuddy Bear.  There's something to be said for a guy who can and will play LF, RF, 2b, 3b, 1b, and SS, especially on a team with a bunch of prima donnas who "don't like to DH" or "refuse to play anywhere except catcher."  More importantly though is he almost seems to have a knack for picking up his hitting when the team needs him most.  First, back in 2009 when he basically carried the offense on his back after Morneau went down and then currently with all the injuries with him being on fire since May.  He's not really an all-star, but they do have to pick one person from every team (Ron Coomer made it once for christ's sake) and I gotta say - guy deserves it.  Mainly because Kubel got hurt, but it still counts.  So congrats Cuddy.  I hope they trade you.

2.  Vance Worley.   As you've probably heard, the Philadelphia Phillies have quite the pitching rotation - Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt each would be the ace of nearly every other team in the league.  So the last thing they need (from an opponent point of view) is a good fifth starter, which means everyone should be looking around a little nervously after Worley's outing against the Red Sox on Wednesday.  He threw 7 innings of 5 hit, 1 run ball against the red-hot Sox, which now brings his ERA down to 2.57 on the year.  He's still more of a reliever being stretched into a starter, but with Oswalt on the shelf now they'll need him in the rotation full-time.  I was going to write something else but honestly does anybody give a crap about this guy right now?  Let's just wait for the playoffs and then we'll talk about him if we need to.

3.  Nick Watney.  He won the AT&T National by 2 shots after going bogey-free over the last 27 holes, shot a 62 on Friday to break the course record at Aronimink, and is on my fantasy team.  The perfect trifecta that every golfer shoots for.

4.  Aramis Ramirez.  I don't know if any single hitter is hotter than Ramirez right now.  He homered 4 times this week including a couple ninth-inning jobbers, one of which was off of Giants' closer Brian Wilson to tie the game - the first homer allowed by Wilson all year.  He also pinch hit and knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in a different game against the Giants and has hit .400 with 7 homers in his last 11 games.  To be completely honest there's little that bores me as much as the Cubs and the worldwide obsession with them, but sometimes someone just keeps hitting home runs and game winning hits off of people who don't generally give up those kinds of things and then sometimes I take notice.  This is one of those times.

5.  Bryce Harper.  Yes, Brian Harper's kid is proving himself to be a bit of a douche by doing things like blowing kisses to opposing pitchers after he goes yard, but he is also hitting the ever-loving shit out of the ball.  After demolishing the pitching in single-A this year to the tune of .318/.423/.554 with 14 homers, 17 doubles, and 15 steals, he just got promoted to double A ball.  At the age of 18. He's killed the ball at every stop so far (Instructional League, Arizona Fall League, and now single-A) and there really isn't any reason why he shouldn't continue to do so.  So basically a total asshat is going to fly through the minors without any issues and arrive in the big leagues with zero humbless and 100% asshattery.  This is going to be spectacular.


1.  Matt Capps.  I am so sick of Matt Capps and his stupid fat face and his stupid fake Jesse Crain necklace.  It was a stupid trade when they made it, especially when you consider how the team's starting catcher is more brittle than the 6-month old skeleton of that dead hooker I have in my closet, and it's an even more stupid trade now that Cappsy completely refuses to get anybody out.  Not that it should surprise anyone since the only really remarkable thing about his pitching is his consistent opportunities to get saves for shitty teams.  His career ERA, career WHIP, and career mediocre stuff basically scream middle reliever/low-end setup guy, but in 2007 the Pirates didn't have anyone in the bullpen and, after trying Salomon Torres with little success, made Capps their closer and he saved 18 games in mediocre fashion and has been tabbed a closer ever since, which is how we ended up here, with no back-up catcher and a shitty bullpen.  Huzzah! 

2.  Nick Blackburn.  Speaking of mediocre as shit pitchers who get far too much credit, welcome back to reality Nick Blackburn.  A soft-tossing nancy can actually have a long and lucrative career as long as he's left-handed, but seeing as Blackburn throws correctly he will instead continue to flounder about as a 5th starter, maybe 4th, and although he'll have very good stretches at times (like earlier this year) he'll also always fall back into line as a 4th or 5th starter, tops.  Regression to the mean is a very real thing, and also a cruel mistress.  And not the good kind.  You know what I'm talking about.

3.  Joe Mauer.  I know what you're thinking - "Dude, the Twins aren't playing all that badly right now, why so many Twins call-outs?"  And it's because these three guys have been just brutally bad.  I won't get into Mauer's deal too much here because I plan on writing an entire post about it later this week, but let me give you a little spoiler:  he sucks. 

4.  MLB All-Star choices.  Way to go morons.  And I'm not even talking about your average mouth-breather who shows up to games and votes for Derek Jeter and every other Yankee.  I think we've washed our hands of them, yes?  Then it's up to the managers to get everything else right.  Well not really.  Enter poor Andrew McCutchen.  Maybe the best hitting/fielding combo outfielder in the NL, but doesn't make it.  Why?  Because they took Pirate "closer" Joel Hanrahan instead because he has a bunch of saves and is actually having a really good year now that I look it up and he's a totally worthy all-star so I'm kind of losing some wind here.  But McCutchen is really awesome and deserves it.  Actually the fact that he doesn't make it and Cuddy does should really be enough reason to overhaul the whole thing, but I just got my new KC Royals hat in the mail so what do I care?

5.  Kenny Britt.  This guy is taking the art of "talented headcase" to a whole new level.  Whereas your classic headcases like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens generally don't harm anyone other than themselves (and possibly their teammates), Britt seems to be heading more down the Lawrence Phillips path.  Britt surrendered himself to police this weekend because of two warrants for giving false information on a drivers license application, which sounds pretty lame but then you combine that with his three arrests for resisting arrest, including one that ended up in a police chase, and he's going to end up doing something really, really stupid one of these days soon.  If you have him in a keeper league I'd unload immediately.  Call me.

Lastly, I'm sure you all want to know what was on the menu for 4th of July dinner.  Credit goes to Mrs. W on this one - she made a cucumber dill dip (awesome), blue cheese meatballs for the grill (super awesome), and corn on the cob.  The first two were just tremendous, and then corn on the cob is always good but kind of boring.   Anybody know a good way to fancy it up a bit?