|Listen up, buddy|
Ponder ApologyI think it's time I issued Christian Ponder an apology. I watched quite a bit of Ponder when he played at Florida State and I often felt that despite being surrounded by talent, Ponder failed to live up to expectations. He threw for 49 TDs and 30 INTs and averaged about 2200 passing yards during his 3 years as a starter. His arm wasn't much in doubt in college, but his decision making and accuracy were.
Fast forward to the Vikings taking him 12th and Ponder starting at QB for 11 games of the 2011 season. Again I found Ponder largely unimpressive. Occasionally he'd make some plays, but so did Trent Dilfer. My opinion going into this season was that Ponder's upside is a middle of the road NFL quarterback.
Ponder, I'm sorry. I had no idea that you'd come into 2012 looking like a right-handed Steve Young. You're completion percentage this year is 15% higher than anything you did in college or last year. Incredible! Ponder did throw his first two INTs of the year against the Titans, but I think he was just bored. Some credit has to go to the offensive line and the play-calling. The bottom line though is with time and opportunity, Ponder has taken advantage and made some great throws. Keep up the good work, it's fun to watch.
Gophers Owe Me an ApologyTwo Saturday's back the Gophers went into Iowa with a 4-0 record and got mutilated by the hated Hawkeyes. They came in with a number of injuries; Gray, O-line, the secondary... This didn't help, but I also thought the play-calling was a little wonky. It's ok to predictable when your line and quarterback can flat run the defense over, but this offense did not seem to cater too well to our personnel. Again, maybe this was due to injury. Shortell missed a number of throws that I'm sure he'd love to get back and our white speed receivers had some opportunities to bail him out and they couldn't come up with the big plays. Even worse was the defense. The Gophers D was putrid against the run and the pass. Ced Thompson got absolutely murdered several times in the secondary. What's even worse though is we didn't have injuries to our DEs and OLBs and they were getting killed against runs on the edge. Much credit has to go to the Iowa offensive line, but you can guarantee the rest of the B1G took notice and we'll see a lot of runs attacking our ends and OLBs.
|All 6'7" of Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks|
Mega LinebackerOver the last 10-15 years we've seen a greater prevalence of the big, play-making tight end in the NFL. There used to be the occasional Shannon Sharpe or Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, but now the league is filled with these guys. They're generally massive and athletic. Most of the time, NFL defensive coordinators defend these guys by roughing them up with linebackers and keeping some safety coverage over the top. This isn't working though, and I'd contend it's because most of the time the LBs and Safeties are not tall enough to compete with these passes. Last year, 5 of the NFL's leaders in receptions were tight ends.
Why isn't there a position to cover these guys? Many times, a big, athletic wide receiver will convert to cornerback or safety because he's not cut out to be a wide-out or he's just more suited for the defensive side of the ball. This should also be happening with tight-ends. There should be a mega linebacker position that is big and fast enough to hang with these tight ends. Mega-LB, think about it... the time has come.
|That's not how you hang yourself, Gardy.|
Did the Twins Play a Season?It seems like just yesterday I was mildly disinterested in whether our Twins could win 65 games or not. Now it's all over. You can always tell it's all over when you receive your annual Twins management apology email. You know the one, where they promise to work hard all off-season and bring it all together next year. Oh, and by the way, season tickets are available, you guys!
Sadly, the Twins are in danger of being this poopy for several years. They have no pitching. None. Look at DWGs post about their pitching. Brutal. Their other big problem is that they have set their "budget" at a point that doesn't allow the opportunity to take any big chances in free agency. Look, they might scrape by with the offense the way it is and there really isn't much in free agency there anyway unless they're signing Josh Hamilton (they're not). They positively cannot scrape by with that pitching staff though. And there are several middling, not too old, starting pitchers that will be free agents, but you're going to have to give them 3+ years and maybe $7-10MM per year. The Twins should get at least 2, if not 3 of those guys. Losing Pavano would free up a lot of that money. Pavano now throws 84, he's done. Here are a few starting pitching free agents I'd take a long look at if the purse strings were opened just a little bit:
Edwin Jackson (29) $11mm - Last off-season I was saying the Twins should give Edwin 4 years and $40MM and see what happens. He had a very nice year for the Nats despite ending up with a 10-11 record. He lowered his walk rate significantly and ended up with a 1.22 WHIP, which rules. Apparently last year Boras was looking for $12 a year for Edwin, again if I could do 4/40 I would. His average season over the last 3 years has been: 207 IP, 3.94 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, but a lot of his numbers continue to trend in the right direction.
Brandon McCarthy (29) $4.275 - McCarthy had an unlucky 2012, first with shoulder trouble and then being hit in the head by an Erick Aybar liner. There is supposedly a chance of Brandon returning for the A's in the playoffs, but they're likely out the door before that comes to fruition. Unlike Blackburn, McCarthy is a sinkerballer that actually keeps the ball down and is effective. Since coming to Oakland from Texas he's had an ERA in the low 3s and a miniscule WHIP. He doesn't miss a lot of bats. The head injury could possibly get you a discount on McCarthy.
Shaun Marcum (31) $7.725 - Marcum is damn near a 31 year old Pavano clone. Doesn't walk anyone, 1.22 career WHIP, no fastball at all, workhorsey. He kind of broke down last year, but if healthy he's the type of dude the Twins love. He has much success with a good change-up and a solid slider. 2-3 year deal in the $7-8MM range probably gets him.
Anibal Sanchez (29) $8MM - Sanchez put together two and a half solid seasons with Miami before being moved to Detroit. Sanchez has a very effective change-up as well, with a fastball in the low 90s.
Kevin Correia (32) $4MM in 2012 - Correia throws around 90mph, which the Twins would love. He sports a career 1.37 WHIP and is coming off one of his best seasons where he only threw 171IP and had a 4.21 ERA. He's on the cheap side of middle rotation filler guys. Maybe 2-3 years at $4-5MM a season would do it. He could also be a 1 year contract type depending on the market.
Jorge De La Rosa (32) $10.75MM - De La Rosa only had 3 (bad) starts this year as he was coming off of arm Tommy John in May 2011. He has an $11MM option for 2013 that the Rockies are unlikely to take, imo. Before arm surgery, the lefty was around 93mph and was sort of a late bloomer, winning 16 games in '09. Despite doing next to nothing for the better part of two years, I suspect a 3yr/25MM deal would be the neighborhood you'd have to be in to get Jorge.
Other jerks that would probably be a top 3 starter for the Twins: Derek Lowe (40), Jonathan Sanchez (30), Scott Feldman (30), Erik Bedard (34), Hiroki Kuroda (38), Kyle Lohse (oh god, 34), Ryan Dempster (36), Carlos Villanueva (29)
|Cold MN might make Amanda McCarthy sad. :(|