Thursday, May 30, 2013

Twins Youth Movement Update

Well, the Twins are who we thought they were.  They're clearly lacking in the pitching department, but the offense that "isn't a problem" has kind of been a problem too.

Rather than go over how much everyone sucks in the majors, let's look at some of the players that make up one of the deeper groups of prospects in major league baseball.

Aaron Hicks

No longer on prospect lists since he made the squad, but I still want to point out a couple of things here.  He continues to show flashes of power and is obviously good in the field.  Striking out 1/3 of the time is awful though.  And he's struck out in 7 of his last 20 ABs, so it's not like that ratio is decreasing.  What is interesting though is that Hicks was a natural right handed hitter that has turned switch-hitter; which isn't all that unusual, but he's hitting much better from the right side than the left.  (.257 vs .138)  He's also hitting better without the pressure of leading off (.258) and a has a nice amount of extra base hits (12).  It's still early and he dug himself a massive hole to get out of so I'd give him more time.  In fact, there's really no problem with giving him the rest of the year since we all know it's a lost cause.  If those splits don't improve though, I wouldn't mind if they considered making him a full time right handed hitter. 

Let's look at players in the minors that are on Jesse Siegel and Nick Shlain's top 200 list. 

#6 Byron Buxton, CF

We knew Buxton was a tools monster when he was drafted.  What we're coming to learn is that he may be in the majors much sooner than initially expected.  He showed power and speed in rookie ball in 2012, but hit just .216 in the Gulf Coast league after hitting .286 at Elizabethton.  In 2013, Buxton is a house on fire.  He's hitting 332/436/556 with 7 homers (23 xbhs) in 187 ABs.  He has a somewhat high K rate at 17.1%, but he has an incredible 15.4% walk rate.  He's also stolen 23 bases.  He's also an elite type defender in the OF with great speed and that mid-90s fastball arm.

Check out this recent quote from former scout Bernie Pleskoff:
Remember the name. Write it down. He's only in Low-A now. He'll fly through the system, even if the Twins want to avoid rushing him. He has a lethal combination of power and speed. He has to cut down on strikeouts to be even more effective, but the man can play. He already has seven home runs and 37 RBI to complement his .316 batting average at Cedar Rapids. He is my third highest ranked outfield prospect behind only Taveras and Yelich.

Keith Law has him #2 overall behind just Taveras. "80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, a very quick bat, a plus arm, the potential for plus-plus defense in center -- is accompanied by more present baseball skill than I realized last spring. He's already 19, so a late-season promotion to high-A wouldn't be too aggressive if he continues to rake."

So, doing the way premature math, if he goes to high A ball this year and does well, we could see him in AA next year at 20 years old.  Anything can happen from there.  Here he is mashing a walk off grand slam:

#7 Miguel Sano, 3B

Sano is in High-A Fort Myers after spending all of last season in Low-A.  Still, he's the youngest player in the Florida State league and is absolutely crushing it.  Did you know Doug Mientkiewicz is managing the Fort Myers team?  Me either until just right now.  He has this to say about Sano, "I don't get the final word, but I think he is ready for Double-A."  Miguel is hitting 343/437/657 with 13 homers (29 xbhs) in 181 ABs. He strikes out a tad more than 25% of the time, but he's showing huge power, so that might be acceptable.  He also walks at a decent rate of 11.7%. 

The biggest thing that could slow down Sano's rocketship to the majors is his defense.  He's currently at 3B still although many have projected him to 1B or a corner OF spot eventually.  He made 42 errors last season in 125 games at third, and so far this year he's made 11 errors in 49 games.   So, he's shown some improvement at least, but he's certainly not major league ready there.

Fast forward to about 1:18 to watch Sano go yahtzee off of something called Jacob Partridge here:

#50 Kyle Gibson, SP

Unless Kyle Gibson injures his shoulder killing and burying a hooker in Rochester, we'll be seing him pitch for the Twins in June.  Waiting until mid-June earns the Twins another year of control by going past the super two deadline.  You can't blame the Twins for this unless you thought they just needed one more arm back when they were a .500 team. 

Gibson is kind of a "flat-brimmer", but I think he pulls it off.
Gibson, 25, is just 4-5 so far this year, but he's sporting a 2.82 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 60.2 innings.  He's also only allowed 2 homeruns and just 48 hits.  And now I'm reading that he got beat up a little in today's start so add 6 runs in 6 innings today to those stats.  

#51 Eddie Rosario, 2B

Rosario is with our guy Sano in High-A ball and continues to hit.  In 2012 he moved from CF to 2B and did well.  This year he's only played 2B and is playing great defensively with just 3 errors in 41 games.  Eddie is hitting 324/365/503 with 4 homers (19 xbhs) in 173 at bats.  This is a slight improvement across the board compared to last year.  His walk rate is low at 6.3%, but he also has a pretty low K rate of 14.6%. 

#57 Alex Meyer, SP

The 6'9" Meyer was acquired in the Denard Span and is playing AA ball in New Brighton.  At 23, he's just two years removed from pitching for Kentucky in college.  He's shown some big time strikeout potential with 63 Ks in 54.2 innings pitched.  He has a mid-90s fastball and a mid 80s slider.  He's still pretty wild, with 4.15 BB/9; that will need to improve for him to take the next step.  This is also the main reason he has a 1.40 WHIP.

#86 Jose Berrios, SP

Jose Berrios was taken 32nd overall last year and pitched 30 innings in rookie ball and struck out basically everyone (49).  He's had 6 starts now in Low-A Cedar Rapids (Team Buxton) and is doing well.  He's thrown 33.1 innings, struck out 40 and walked just 6.  He also hasn't allowed a homer.  He has a 2.70 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. 

He's not super big at 6', 190lbs, so you have to wonder if he can remain a starter throughout the minors.  He has a good fastball that can hit the mid-90s.

#94 Trevor May, SP

Trevor May, like Meyer is also 23, but he came to pro ball right out of high school.  This means we can look at progression and trends as he moves through the ranks.  The big thing that sticks out for May is the walk rate; and not in a good way.  Throughout his minor league it's been around 5 BB/9 and it's right there so far this season as well (4.71).  Despite the free passes, he has a 3.88 ERA and is 4-2 at New Brighton.  

#149 Max Kepler, OF

Poor Max is broken.  He has a left elbow injury that hasn't allowed him to start his 2013.  We like him because he's German, though.

#179 Travis Harrison, 3B

Travis was draft in 2011 (50th overall) and is in his second minor league season.  The 20 year old has 8 homers (23 xbh) in 171 at bats for Low-A Cedar Rapids and has a 275/351/503 line.  In 59 games at 3B in 2012 he commited 24 errors.  So far this year he has 10 errors in 45 games at the hot corner. 

#212 Josmil Pinto, C

Wait, there's more?  Apparently their list of 200 goes beyond 200, so here we are.  24 year old Pinto is in AA and is hitting 337/430/537.  In related news, Drew Butera once hit .337 in a wiffle ball league.  He's also thrown out 32% of would be base-stealer-guys. 

So, no playoffs for the Twins this year, but maybe look for these minor league clubs to make the post-season.  Slap it high?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Look Back at My NBA Preview - How Horrible Was I?

Wolves get lucky #9 in this year's draft.

In honor of the Timberwolves not getting screwed (although not improving) in the NBA lottery, I thought I'd do an end of season recap.  Prior to the NBA season I picked the over under for each team with a brief team preview.  I didn't place any real money on these plays mostly because I hate waiting seven months for them to cash in, but unlike Mel Kiper who never looks back at his projections, we here at DWG take ownership of our awful predictions.

As I write this, I do not know the results of how I did, so this could end in apology or over the top gloating; but will likely end in a middling result where the only one that wins is the house.

In the Atlantic Division I had:

Nets: Under 46 -- They went 49-33.  LOSS
Knicks: Under 45.5 -- They went 54-28 LOSS
Celtics: Over 50.5 --  They went 41-40 LOSS (uh-oh)
Sixers: Under 45.5 -- They went 34-48 WIN
Raptors: Under 34.5 -- They went 34-48 WIN

What happened?

I had a 2-3 record in the Atlantic Division.  A lot of this could be attributed to the massive failure of the Celtics.  Rondo only played 38 games before tearing an ACL.  Rookie Jared Sullinger was also lost for the season and Jason Terry decided he was so very old and so very tired.  The Knicks had a great year on the back of Carmelo Anthony.  Ray Felton got back to being a good fat-back (Barry Foster) as opposed to a bad one (LenDale White) and the Knicks had a lot of depth to overcome injuries.

In the Central Division I had:

Cavaliers: Under 30.5 -- They went 24-58 WIN
Bulls: Over 47.5 -- They went 45-37 LOSS
Bucks: Over 36.5 -- They went 38-44 WIN
Pacers: Under 51.5 -- They went 49-32 WIN
Pistons: Under 31.5 -- They went 29-53 WIN

What happened?

Woohoo!  4-1 here.  The lines were pretty well set for this group wiht all teams within 2.5 wins except the Cavs.  The Bulls got strong for their playoff push, but couldn't quite pull out the 48 wins I required.  My boyfriend Paul George and the Pacers had/are having a great year, but that 51.5 number was just too big like my cholesterol.

In the Southeast Division I had:

Hawks: Under 43.5 -- They went 44-38 LOSS
Heat: Over 60.5 -- They went 66-16 WIN
Bobcats: Over 18.5 -- They went 21-61 WIN
Magic: Under 23.5 -- They went 20-62 WIN
Wizards: Under 27.5 -- They went 29-53 LOSS

What happened?

3-2 here.  What happened here is the Hawks screwed me.  Both losses were pretty close.  The Heat had an amazing regular season and are on their way to another championship (not even worth blogging about).  They blew away the 60.5 o/u.  Charlotte beat their 18.5 over, but the bigger win here is they're getting rid of the silly Bobcats moniker and going back to the Hornets.

In the Northwest Division I had:

Jazz: Over 43.5 -- They went 43-39 LOSS
Thunder: Under 58.5 -- They went 60-22 LOSS
Nuggets: Under 51.5 -- They went 57-25 LOSS
Blazers: Over 33.5 (said I "really like this") -- They went 33-49 LOSS
Timberwolves:  No Pick (WTF?) -- They went 31-51 NA

What happened?

0-4...Well, all of the good feelings have gone as I'm proven to be a complete imbecile.  I was most off on the Nuggets as I really didn't appreciate the impact of Andre Iguodala on this team.  I lost the Thunder/Jazz/Blazers by a combined 2.5 wins, so that sucks.  The only good news is I probably would have predicted over for the Timberwolves and I'm sure the number was 40-ish for them.

In the Western Division I had:

Kings: Under 30.5 -- They went 28-54 WIN
Suns: Under 31.5 -- They went 25-57 WIN
Warriors: Over 36.5 -- They went 47-35 WIN
Clippers: Over 49.5 -- They went 56-26 WIN
Lakers: Under 56.5 -- They went 45-37 WIN

What happened?

5-0! And he's back off the ropes!  This division appears to be where Vegas was the most off.  Some of it certainly due to the Lakers making a dirty diaper of their season.  Steph Curry (Wolves didn't need him) and the Warriors really took a nice step forward despite injuries to Bogut and Lee and Rush; they could be one to watch next year.

In the Western Division I had:

Mavericks: Over 41.5 -- They went 41-41 LOSS
Spurs: Under 56.5 -- They went 58-24 LOSS
Grizzlies: Under 48.5 -- They went 56-26 LOSS
Hornets Pelicans: Under 27.5 -- They went 27-55 WIN
Rockets: Over 33.5 -- They went 45-37 WIN

What happened?

2-3, not the greatest finish.  The Grizzlies had a great year and really exceeded expectations.  Houston did well with THE BEARD in tow.  Everyone else pretty held to form.

Overall record: 16-13

So, to summarize, I know slightly more about basketball than a coin-flip.  Also, the division I watch the most was my worst; so I must be extra delusional when it comes to teams close to the Wolves.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thoughts before Canada

I leave for the big Canada trip Thursday morning with Bogart, Dawger, and Bear so I won't get a chance to talk at you for quite a while.  I'll leave a few parting thoughts here and then hopefully TRE can put up a couple of posts while I'm gone.

-  At one point it seemed like the Gophers had a strong shot at landing Memphis transfer Tarik Black, but once again when the big boys come calling the Gophers have little shot as Black has decided to enroll at Kansas, who also just signed the #1 player in the class of 2013 in Andrew Wiggins, called the best pro prospect since LeBron, and have gone from lots of question marks to a pretty loaded squad.  There are still a handful of interesting big man options out there (Juco and/or transfers) with the most likely to become a Gopher still Rakeem Buckles (no clue what exactly the hold up on this one seems to be) and man somebody better be coming.  Not that anybody is a difference maker at this point, but of the four big guys (yes, only four) the only one you can relatively sure you can rely on is Eliason.  I personally think Oto will have a big year and a definite Buggs fan, but so many question marks.  Might as well make the lane at Williams look like the Riddler's suit at this point.

-  Sometimes I'm wrong about things.  Not often, but sometimes.  Roy Hibbert is one of those times.  You know how completely worthless Hasheem Thabeet has been, even getting bounced down to the D-League?  I figured Hibbert would be right there with him. I should have known better with him coming out of Georgetown who, outside of Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, never miss on centers, but I thought he was doomed to failure.  This year he nearly averaged a double-double while finishing fourth in blocked shots (also Tim Duncan finished third.  Guy's immortal.  Immortally boring, but immortal).  So Roy, and Georgetown, I'm sorry for doubting.  And now that I've apologized and admitted my error, it's clear I am the better man here.

-  Sam Deduno is back.  Again.  After an outstanding World Baseball Classic (3 starts, 0.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 17 K vs. 5 BB, team won the whole thing) some Deduno related buzz was generated that maybe he had figured things out.  Unfortunately fans would have to wait as Deduno didn't make his minor league debut until early May thanks to an injury suffered at the WBC.  So who is Deduno this year?  The 28 year old rookie of last year with the 57/55 K-to-Walk ratio?  Or the WBC hero?

It's really tough to tell so far with just 3 minor league starts under his belt.  Deduno has made the K/BB ratio a bit more manageable at 17/10 with his last start the best going 6 innings and striking out 8 while walking just two.  Of course, he also gave four earned runs in that one compared to just one earned in his prior to starts which encompassed eleven innings, when, of course, he struck out 9 while walking 8.  He's almost impossible to figure out.  I think it boils down to a guy who has decent stuff but little command.  He'll have games where he'll shut teams down like he did last year, and he'll have games where he doesn't get out of the third inning like he did last year.  Is he worth more of a shot than P.J. Walters or Cole DeVries in this spot?  I don't know, but the correct answer is Kyle Gibson, who, in case you missed it, has thrown complete game shutouts with 8 Ks and 2 walks in two of his last three outings for the Rochester Red Wings.  He's coming.  I don't know when the arbitration clock kicks on or kicks off or whatever it is, but he better be up the day after it happens.

-  Lastly, for those knocking the Pitino hire because he's only had one year of head coaching experience and is now in a major conference:
  • Billy Donovan:  previous head coaching experience before Florida - 2 years at Marshall
  • Jim Boeheim: previous head coaching experience before Syracuse - NONE
  • Roy Williams: previous head coaching experience before Kansas - NONE
  • Tom Izzo: previous head coaching experience before Michigan State - NONE
  • Brad Stevens: previous head coaching experience before Butler - NONE
That's a pretty good list.  People are morons.

-  And with that, I'm out for a while.  Wish me luck - mostly that I catch a lot of big fish, but also that I don't die in the wilderness.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Welcome aboard, Malik Smith

Because apparently Coach Pitino doesn't believe in every slowing down, there's even more Gopher news to report in this weird last 24 hours with Malik Smith transferring from FIU to join his former coach with the Gophers.  Smith is a true chucker who does very little else, but is a good athlete and is familiar with the system Pitino runs in which he did manage to average 14 points per game last year while shooting 36%. 

The hope is that Smith's game will be able to fit next to the other pieces the Gophers have so that rather than be the guy who has to carry the entire team's offense he's merely another cog in the great magnificent machine and his percentages and efficiency should go up, and hopefully he'll consider an assist here and there and maybe even grab a rebound if it bounces right to him.  One would think he could at least play some defense considering FIU was one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers last year, but he had the 2nd worst steal percentage on the team, a number that was only higher than Mo Walker and Elliot Eliason among Gophers last year. 

I realize this probably makes me sound like I'm pretty down on this, and maybe I am a bit, but not completely.  Smith is a scorer, pure and simple, and those don't grow on trees (I don't believe) so picking up a guy who can put the ball in the basket and is aggressive with it to join a team who was an offensive mess last year is probably a positive move.  His efficiency wasn't terrible last year despite the poor shooting percentage, and if he can take on a more complimentary role both of those should go up since in theory he won't be needed to jack up a ton of shots.  I do have concerns that he can't modify his behavior, as well as wondering if he'll be effective against better competition (FIU played Louisville and nobody else at all last year), but those things are for the coach to figure out.

Since Smith is a senior he only has one year left to play and he is supposed to be eligible right away so there's no waiting involved and another scholarship will be open for 2014.  Basically Pitino traded Joe Coleman for Smith and an additional scholarship that year.  He's clearly come in and decided to rebrand this team as his own and obviously his guy Smith fits his vision better than Coleman so he made the swap (no, I haven't seen anything definitive but the pieces and timing fit).  No doubt this move will probably rub some people the wrong way, just as letting Coleman go (meaning no more Minnesota born players are on the roster) will rub some the wrong way.  Me?  I was a fan of the hire from the get go and so naturally I believe in Pitino and generally support what he's done thus far, including jettisoning Tubby's recruits for next season and bringing in his own guys (by the way, Alex Foster is following Tubby to Texas Tech).  This move - the Coleman for Smith swap - however, has me feeling a bit unsure.  I liked Coleman's potential within the system Pitino was going to install.  Hopefully I love Smith.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Joe Coleman to Transfer? (and some other stuff)

 - The big news tonight is that Joe Coleman is considering transferring from the Gopher hoops squad with a meeting planned with Coach Pitino Wednesday to discuss his future, a meeting I'd wager was initiated by Coleman after seeing this giant influx of perimeter players.  This, in my not remotely humble opinion, would be a mistake by both parties.

Although Coleman may have a rough outside shot and is the worst defender on the team (particularly off the ball) and has the game of a 4 in the body of a 2, he's still a valuable player and should fit in with Pitino's system quite well.  Coleman seems to excel when he can get out and run and use his almost unreal ability to score in the paint for a little guy.  In the half court his weaknesses (and we might as well throw sub-par ball handling and decision making in there as well) are magnified, but in a more free flowing game he can excel with his athleticism, which allows him to gamble on defense for steals (which he could do more easily with Pitino than Tubby).  It would be hard for Coleman to find a better system for his skill set, and it would be hard for the Gophers to replace his production for next year at this late date so it really doesn't make any sense for him to leave.  Though if he does it makes a lot more sense to go after Malik Smith (referenced below in a bullet point I wrote before all this Coleman shit broke out)

And now that I glance at Twitter in order to make a comment about Harrison Barnes looking good I see everyone is now suddenly reporting that Coleman has asked for his release.  Unless Pitino was like "Hey Joe why don't you go" with the intention of bringing Smith in this is just a baffling decision by Coleman.  And, frankly, it sucks.  No matter what you think about Coleman (and he clearly had his faults) I really think he would have thrived under Pitino.  I guess we'll see by tomorrow what's true and what isn't.  All of this is a little bit baffling.  I think pretty much every transfer during the Tubby era made some sense (maybe with the exception of Iverson) but this one has me confused.  I'll be interested to see what leaks in the next few days (if it turns out to be true).

- With Wednesday being the last day to sign recruits for the 2013-2014 season and nobody on the Gophers radar it appears the Gophers will be looking at snagging a transfer in order to fill out the roster.  Right now Malik Smith, formerly of FIU, Tarik Black, formerly of Memphis, Rakeem Buckles, formerly of Louisville, and Joey King, formerly of Drake, look to be the candidates.  Black is the definite prize of the group, but he's being chased by teams like Duke and Kansas which makes him a pretty big longshot.  Smith averaged 14 points per game last season at FIU as a junior, but he's yet another guard and after signing Daquean McNeil and Dre Mathieu a big man would seem to be a better option which is why, among other reasons, the most likely new Gopher will be either Buckles, King, or both.

Buckles, who was with Pitino at Louisville before following him to FIU, is looking to transfer from FIU and Minnesota makes the most sense.  He's a power forward who has been injury prone but talented and he's a senior which means he'd not only (most likely) be eligible right way but also would only take up a scholarship for one season, both of which are attractive to a new coach trying to build a program using his players.  King, a 6-9 PF with a nice outside shot, is from Eagan and is looking to transfer closer to home due to some personal issues of some sort, meaning he'd likely get a waiver and be eligible this year just like Buckles, but he still has three years of playing eligibility.  It sounds like his game would fit what Pitino wants, it's just a matter of if he's good enough (7pts & 3rebs in 19 minutes per game for Drake last year with outbursts of 21 pts twice including vs. Xavier).  There are conflicting reports on whether or not he's been contacted by the Gophers or contacted the Gophers with some reports he's been asked to come in as a walk-on.  So who knows, but the team probably needs at least one of those two for next season seeing as a front court of Eliason, Walker, Oto, and Buggsy is what some might call really pretty bad.

-  I'm sure most people who would be interested have already checked out this Hicks catch, but here it is again.

I don't think it beats Revere's from last season, but that's a pretty damn good play.

-  Also, Glen Perkins really likes nerd stats.

- Congrats to stryker, who wins a DVD/Blu-ray copy of the Sandlot by being chosen at random from those who left a comment below the post about The Sandlot.  Just think, it could have been you if you weren't so damn lazy.

-  I think, seeing as how we're a cynical and sarcastic society and bloggers seem to lead the league in both, that I'm supposed to hate the new Vikings Stadium but I actually like it.  Retractable roof wasn't feasible due to budget and keeping in mind they had a limited space to build and couldn't turn it into a giant corporate like campus area, I think the design looks pretty good.  I understand how somebody could hate it with all the glass and what not, but I dig the look. 

-  Andrew Wiggins, the #1 prospect for the 2013 college basketball season, is taking his talents to Kansas for next year, ending speculation that he was heading for Florida State (both his parents were athletes at FSU) and pretty much guaranteeing that the Florida State/Gopher game at the barn is going to be so boring I'm going to want to die. Remember when Georgia Tech came here when they had Bosh?  The Jackets sucked, the Gophers sucked, but it didn't matter because Bosh was fun to watch.   And Wiggins is supposed to be way, way better than Bosh ever was in college. 

- One of the things I said would be good about this Twins' season is that they'd be in a full rebuilding period which would mean we'd get extended looks at some guys and be able to get a handle on who has a future with the team and who doesn't.  Although the jury is still out on pretty much all the young players I've made my decision on one of them:  Chris Parmelee is freaking terrible.  After this year he'll probably spend a year or two bouncing between the bigs and AAA and eventually be waived and end up doing the same thing for another team.  In reality a pretty nice living that I would kill for, but it's over as far as him being the future of anything -other than like, really good softball player. 

-  Lastly, I got my Ontario Fishing License today.  I don't think I've mentioned this before, but a week from Thursday I'd heading off to Canada for a week long fishing trip to Lac Seul which is a 9 hour drive and 3 hour boat ride away with Dawger, Bear, Bogart, Bogart's dad, and a bunch of old people.  We will have no internet access and very little cell service which frankly sounds kind of awesome so you'll have to be in TRE's capable hands for a week so hopefully he can post some stuff that doesn't suck.  Why would you drive that far just to fish, you may ask if you're some kind of gay.  This is why:

This is Bogart from a prior trip, by the way.  Yes, I know it's hard to believe he's a super rich and powerful attorney.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Sandlot? On the Big Screen? Yes please.

Seriously you guys, this is pretty awesome.  Details below.  Don't forget to leave a comment with your favorite line from the flick to possibly win a free Blu-ray/DVD copy of maybe the best baseball movie of all-time.

The Sandlot” will be shown on the Target Field Jumbo Tron following the Minnesota Twins Game on May 19.  Director David M. Evans, as well as actors Chauncey Leopardi (Squints) and Patrick Renna (Ham) will be in attendance to sign autographs once the movie begins. Visit to purchase tickets.
ENTER TO WIN a copy of THE SANDLOT on DVD & Blu-Ray. Comment below on your favorite line from the film. One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of THE SANDLOT on Blu-Ray & DVD, in stores now! 

Make sure when you leave your comment you identify yourself in some way so we don't have a bunch of cheaters trying to claim this sweet movie for themselves.  Or hopefully it's a cluster so I can just keep it for myself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Welcome Aboard, Dre Mathieu

Now I have to worry about spelling his last name.  And the Gophers have two Dres to go along with their two Hollinses.  Sid is really going to have some issues keeping up this year now that the Gophers and Richard Pitino have signed JuCo PG Dre Mathieu.

Mathieu, the 5-9 (5-9!) point guard from Central Arizona College chose Minnesota over Ole Miss and Pepperdine who were also in his final three.  Although that might not sound like the greatest competition for his services, remember those were his final three that he had narrowed it down to.  He also held offers from UCLA, Memphis, and Washington State among others.  Mathieu isn't Tyus Jones or Rashad Vaughn, but he isn't Maverick Ahanmisi either - he's a pretty good pick-up this late in the recruiting season and a true point guard, FINALLY.

Getting a true point guard should do wonders for this team assuming Drizzy (his chosen nickname) is ready to go from day 1, and being a JuCo that should be the expectation (Andre Ingram excepted).  Dre Hollins should be able to spend more time at shooting guard where he's a more natural fit and this should make it so Maverick never ever ever has to dribble the ball.  Hopefully Mav becomes the guy who comes in at about the 12 minute mark in the first half, gets a chance to shoot, and if he makes it he can keep playing and if he misses he's done for the game.  This would make the back court quite small if Dre2 are out there together and since Joe Coleman is a teeny tiny 3 when he's on the wing, but Austin Hollins is a bigger and a very good backcourt defender and newly signed Daquein McNeil is 6-3 and scouting reports say he has the potential to be a "lethal defender."  They'll be fine.

As far as Mathieu goes, from reading a few scouting reports and watching a few highlights he seems to be an incredibly explosive athlete (reported 45 inch vertical) who is lighting quick and can get in the lane.  His averaging 6.1 rebounds per game this season is a testament to his athletic ability given his height, and his 6.5 assists per game help confirm that he's truly a pass first kind of guy, which he even alluded to on Twitter.  He can certainly score as well, averaging 17 points per game on 52% shooting, however he's definitely more of a driver than a shooter, hitting just 29% from 3 and I read somewhere he acknowledges outside shooting as a weakness.  In highlights he's certainly not afraid to drive all the way to the rim and is a talented finisher, although it will be interesting to see how that works against Mitch McGary and Adreian Payne rather than whoever he played in the California Penal League or whatever.  Worst case and the jumper doesn't develop he should still be able to find success as a Lewis Jackson type.  I'm just excited to have a real point guard around.

As far as the team goes, they're certainly going to be perimeter oriented with both Hollinses, the two new guys, and Coleman all set.  With Eliason the only real proven big man (well, semi-proven) somebody out of the group of Mo Walker, Charles Buggs, and Oto is going to have to step up, and probably two of them.  The Gophers are still working on Rakeem Buckles and Tarik Black, although it's now sounding like Black is leaning towards Oregon.  With the news today that Pitino target Joseph Uchebo has signed with Pitt the big man cupboard is suddenly looking awfully bare (guard Allerik Freeman, another target of Pitino, signed with Baylor today as well).  That's not a complaint, because I'm very pleased with what Pitino's been doing so far, and after watching this team for the last few years I'm looking forward to a perimeter based squad getting up and down the court in a big ole hurry.  Plus, believe it or not, I still believe in both Buggs and Oto - I really think one of them is going to thrive in this new system as a stretch 4.  Maybe both.  Dare to dream and all that.

Here's Drizzy dunking in an incredibly high resolution video so you can see those hops in action:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

-  Can anyone explain this Derrick Rose thing?  So with the Bulls up 3-2 they have a chance to close out New Jersey in Chicago, knowing a loss sends this back to a game 7 in Jersey so this is basically a do or die game.  Both Kirk Hinrich, who started at PG in place of Rose all year, and Luol Deng, probably the team's best perimeter defender, are out and in case you forget New Jersey has Derrick Williams.  In Game 5 in a similar situation (no Hinrich) Williams abused Nate Robinson for 23 and 10 assists, and as I write this mid-way through the second quarter he already has seven assists.  All this could potentially be handled by Rose, you know the former MVP and all, coming back and playing which, by the way, his doctor's have cleared him to do.  It's just weird. 

- I'm all over Revolutionary for the Derby on Saturday (10/1 right now I believe).  He's got good results, he's ridden by Calvin Borel (the pimp daddy of all jockeys) and he drew a position near the rail but not on it (#3) which is where Borel loves to be.  There's also a good possibility of rain and Revolutionary rates as the 2nd best wet track horse in the field (behind Oxbow) and Borel likes sloppy tracks as well.  Everything sets up well for Revolutionary, which actually kind of scares me a bit, but I put a good amount on him to win and boxed him up with Normandy Invasion and Orb in a trifecta.  I also let the wife pick a horse (Goldensoul because she's a hippy at heart) and let the daughter pick one as well (Charming Kitten because she's five) while throwing a bit on Will Take Charge as my longshot and still hold a WIN ticket on itsmyluckyday that I put down on a couple of months ago.  I hit the winner 3 years ago (Super Saver) and wife hit it last year (I'll Have Another) so I think we're due for another win.

-  I made the decision not to get HBO this year in order to save money and I knew Game of Thrones was going to be the biggest test.  They tried to suck me in with the free preview that let me watch episode 1 but I held strong.  Then I spent the night at Snacks' place and he's got HBO and has all the episodes and we watched two over there and I thought I was screwed, but luckily I remember that all HBO subscribers get access to HBOGO so I can used Snacks' ID and stuff and watched the last couple to get all caught up and my god this show is just so amazingly good.

I am a huge fan of the books and I never, ever imagined they could have done it this well.  All the cool shit from the books was done right and all the stuff they changed, added, or eliminated has been done exceptionally well to the point where I honestly don't have any complaints.  There's tons of hot chicks and boobs and butts and stuff which is of course welcome, but honestly the story and the drama completely sucks me in even though I know what's going to happen already.  Daenarys with the unsullied, Jamie's hand, the fight at Craster's, even something with no action like Sansa discussing Joffrey with Margaery (hot as fire) and Lady Tyrell are all good enough to be the biggest moment of the season in pretty much any other show, and we ain't seen nothing yet.  If I had to pick the best 3 non-comedic tv shows in history I'd go with Lost (the first 3 seasons or so), Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones, and GoT is so far beyond those other two it'd be like if Jim Thome raced a horse.  A good horse.  Also no, I have never seen The Wire or Breaking Bad (although I plan to eventually) so shut it.

- So Kahn out, Flip in, eh?  Tough to fault it, and I'm sure Glen Taylor pours himself a drink every time he watches Steph Curry score 16 points in a quarter and then thinks about Jonny Flynn is probably on the And 1 Tour at this point.  Really, outside of Darko over Melo and Wade and Oden over Durant that might end up the worst draft pick of this generation.  Unfortunately, because otherwise Dawger will rake me over the coals in the comments, I have to admit that I thought Steph Curry was on the fast train to bustville.  I was convinced his big numbers at Davidson were because he played sub-par competition and his team was so dependent on him that he was going to score big no matter what, but I though his absolute upside was a spot up shooter like Steve Novak or Craig Hodges.  My oh my was I ever wrong.  The guy is a completely dynamic scorer and one of the best shooters I've ever seen.  If he ever figures out how to drive to the rim he's going to be unstoppable, and he kind of is already.  It takes a strong man with a great character to admit when he's wrong, and that man is me.

-  So Byron Buxton hit another home run tonight.  That's his fifth for Cedar Rapids and coming into the night he was hitting .383/.510/.667 with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HRs, and 10 steals in 14 attempts.  Simply put - he's killing low A ball in just his second year and he's just 19 years old.  I know you don't want to rush a teenager, but it's just silly.  He's walking more than he's striking out, hitting for a huge average and showing massive power while stealing bases like crazy.  He leads the Midwest league in slugging, OPS, runs, and walks, is #2 in average and OBP, and is top 5 in homers, total bases, steals, RBI, and triples. Between him and Miguel Sano (.368/.435/.747 with 9 homers) the Twins might end up with two top 10 prospects when the mid-year Baseball America prospect ratings come out.  Pretty cool shit.

- I still can't believe Joe Johnson was ever a max deal player.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Richard Pitino is a Busy Beaver

Never let it be said that Richard Pitino is not ambitious.  There are so many reports about him visiting recruits and making offers it's gotten a little tough to keep up.  There's an offer out to SG Isaiah Whitehead who is #46 overall according to ESPN.  He's got a ton of really good schools after him (Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, Syracuse, UCLA) so it's going to be tough, but I won't rule the Gophers out yet because of the Kimani Young/NYC (Whitehead is from Brooklyn) deep connection.  It's hard to know just how much pull he has in New York since we haven't had a chance to see him in action yet, but if the Gophers can get Whitehead I'd say that's some pretty compelling evidence that it's not overblown.

Obviously Tyus Jones is the point guard to want for 2014, but it's not as if Pitino is putting all his chickens in that particular basket, offering 2014 PG Kaleb Joseph out of New England who ranks 54th in the class according to ESPN, as well as an offer to #41, Josh Perkins out of Colorado.  The Perkins offer was originally made by Tubby Smith and at one point Perkins had narrowed his list to 9 schools that included Minnesota.  I can't find any information if the offer still stands and/or the interest is still there on Perkins part, but with offers out now to 3 top 60 point guards just hitting on one of them would be outstanding.  Pitino also recently offered Wisconsin PG Sandy Cohen, who is apparently not in ESPN's database but according to Ryan James also received offers from Memphis and Marquette.  If he's anywhere near as good a basketball player as he is a father to Ryan and Seth on the O.C. he's going to be a star.  Jalyn Patterson out of Georgia is yet another point guard Pitino recently offered, which leads me to believe it's possible that Pitino understands how important point guards are.  I find this development a positive one.

On the wing, Brandone Francis is someone I know very little about but he's a guard from the Dominican Republic who is said to have interest in Minnesota and considering he has an offer on the table from Indiana that's probably a good thing.  There's more information about Terry Larrier (a SF and another NYC kid), a SF Pitino had offered when he was at FIU who he must have really liked to offer now that he's at Minnesota.  The kid's offer sheet doesn't look at that great (best offer is probably Dayton) but the scouting report on him is he's an incredible athlete and would fit well in the system Pitino is trying to implement. 

The last offer for 2014 that's been handed out recently by the Gophers went to 6-8 PF Abdul-Malik Abu from Boston who ESPN ranks as the 53rd overall in the class.  He's got a lot of offers from good schools so this is another highly competitive situation that the Gophers find themselves in.  Abu is another guy who may not be the most skilled but scouts rave about his athleticism and once again that is the type of big man who would fit what Pitino is trying to build.

It's an exciting time, man.  Between all the activity to fill the roster for 2013 (Pitino's name has also been mentioned with regards to a top 100 guard who just decommitted from UCLA and a couple of JuCo players along with being in the mix for Tarik Black among others) and an aggressive 2014 plan already it's tough just to keep up.  ESPN just came out and said they believe the Gophers are now in the lead for Rashad Vaughn's services in 2014 which, even if it doesn't come to fruition, is simply awesome.  There are rumors that Vaughn may be transferring to a prep school in Virginia or West Virginia or something for his senior year, and some think that helps the Gophers while others think it hurts them so who the hell knows.  All I know is this has already been a really fun offseason, and if Pitino gets this program as entertaining on the court as they've already been off it I can't wait.  And, perhaps most exciting of all, there's this tweet:

Oh my.