November 30, 2009

Computer Problems

I'm having all kinds of computer problems right now. First there was a fake anti-virus program popping up and ruining everything (it was called "Anti-Virus System Pro") and after seemingly ridding my laptop of that I've now got Firefox randomly redirecting me to different websites and opening up new tabs with unwanted advertisements. It's a disaster. Based on some Googling it looks like many people suddenly have the same issue, but I've yet to find instructions for how to fix it and am basically helpless.

I've already run Spybot Search & Destroy and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware in addition to both Windows Defender and Symantec Anti-Virus. Nothing seems to make it stop and I'm unable to even get to "safe mode" because it sends to me to the "blue screen of death." Is anyone familiar with the specific issues that I'm facing and knowledgeable about a solution? If so, please e-mail me.

November 29, 2009

Twins Notes: 40 Men, Name Changes, and Lawn Protection

  • With the Rule 5 draft coming next week the Twins protected Danny Valencia, Robert Delaney, Deolis Guerra, Alex Burnett, Loek Van Mil, and Estarlin De Los Santos by adding them to the 40-man roster. All six prospects would have been Rule 5 eligible for the first time. De Los Santos is the only surprise, because he's on the bubble for my upcoming top-40 prospects list and played this season at Single-A, making it unlikely that any team would be willing to keep him in the majors for all of 2010.

    Clearly the Twins love De Los Santos' glove at shortstop, because he had a career-year offensively this season and still batted just .289/.328/.393 with one homer and a 50-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 292 plate appearances. Steve Singleton, Brian Dinkelman, Ryan Mullins, Dustin Martin, Ramon Santana, Santos Arias, Matt Fox, Juan Portes, and Rene Leveret are probably the biggest names not protected by a 40-man spot, but they'll each likely narrowly miss my top 40.

    Deibinson Romero is also eligible for the Rule 5 draft after being taken off the 40-man roster. Romero was added to the roster last year at this time and ranked 24th on my list of prospects heading into the season, but hit just .225/.311/.369 at high Single-A as his stock fell significantly for the second straight year. Along with Romero, the Twins previously cut Brian Buscher, Justin Huber, and Armando Gabino from the 40-man roster and also cleared a spot when Juan Morillo signed with a team in Japan.

  • Add the Pirates to the list of teams that tried to get J.J. Hardy from the Brewers, reportedly offering up either closer Matt Capps or catcher Ryan Doumit. Capps is more a "setup man allowed to accumulate saves" than a "closer" and had a rough 2009, but he's still 26 years old with a 3.61 ERA and 208-to-50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 272 innings. Doumit is also coming off a rough year and is iffy defensively, but he's one of baseball's best-hitting catchers and under team control at reasonable rates through 2013.

    Combined with some previous reports about what the Brewers turned down for Hardy two things seem clear: Hardy still had plenty of value around MLB despite coming off a career-worst year and Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin is extremely high on Carlos Gomez. Based on counter-offers that Melvin supposedly made, he sees Gomez as having similar value to players like Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Paul Maholm, and Zach Duke.

  • Miguel Angel Sano has apparently changed his name, which is certain to raise a few eyebrows after the shortstop from the Dominican Republic signed with the Twins in September amid questions about whether he was really 16 years old. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com notes that he'd been using his mother's maiden name as a sign of respect that's common in the Dominican, but will now go by his father's last name as Miguel Jean. Adjust your 2017 replica jerseys accordingly.
  • Robb Quinlan is rumored to be on the Twins' radar, which isn't shocking for a native Minnesotan who played for the Gophers. Quinlan has spent the past seven seasons as a part-time player for the Angels and once upon a time was a very solid platoon player capable of backing up third base and first base. Unfortunately now he's 33 years old and has gone from passable to terrible at third base while hitting just .252/.305/.333 over the past three seasons. He's a marginal bench bat at this point.
  • Next time Minneapolis Star Tribune writer and KSTP radio host Patrick Reusse offers his opinion on something baseball related, remember that he wrote this in his "Turkey of the Year" column last week:
    Joe Christensen. Gentleman Joe is a Star Tribune baseball writer and also the Twin Cities' leading advocate for OPS, a make-believe number that Bill James acolytes have embraced. How often must we say this, Joe? Runs scored and RBI mean something; OPS doesn't.

    You know a columnist has officially fallen into the "get off my lawn!" stage of his career when he's finally getting around to railing against a stat that has been widely used for a decade. At this pace Reusse will mock Joe Christensen's great-grandchildren for using VORP in 2089.

  • More importantly, only 86 more days until Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

  • Once you're done here, check out my NBCSports.com blog and Twitter updates.

    November 23, 2009

    MVP! MVP! MVP!

    It's a shame that the voting wasn't unanimous, because there should be no doubt that Joe Mauer was the American League's most valuable player this season. After spending all of April on the disabled list Mauer put together a five-month stretch that ranks among the greatest performances by a catcher in the history of baseball, hitting .365 with a .444 on-base percentage, .587 slugging percentage, 28 homers, 59 total extra-base hits, 76 walks, 94 runs, and 96 RBIs in 606 plate appearances.

    Prior to 2006 no catcher in the AL's century-plus history had ever won a batting title, but Mauer now has three in the past four seasons. This year he also led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, becoming the first catcher in either league to win the sabermetric triple crown and the first AL hitter from any position to do so since George Brett in 1980. His batting average is the highest of all time for a catcher and his adjusted OPS+ of 177 ranks second behind only Mike Piazza at 185 in 1997.

    Among catchers only Piazza and Johnny Bench can even claim to have had a season within the same stratosphere as Mauer. He batted .377 against righties and .345 against lefties; .388 at home and .345 on the road; .373 in the first half and .358 in the second half, .377 in wins and .352 in losses; .350 with the bases empty, .385 with men on, and .367 with runners in scoring position; .354 with none out, .379 with one out, and .360 with two outs; .367 at night and .362 during the day.

    Despite sitting out the entire first month Mauer easily led the league in Value Over Replacement Player, producing 91 more runs than a replacement-level catcher. Derek Jeter ranked second, 73 runs better than a replacement-level shortstop, and Mauer bested every other AL hitter by at least 30 runs of VORP. He also won his second straight Glove Glove, logging 939 innings behind the plate in just five months to rank fifth in the league for the whole season, pushing his overall value significantly higher.

    All of which is why it's a shame that one of the 28 voters declined to give him a first-place vote, robbing Mauer of the chance to become just the 10th unanimous MVP in league history and the first since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997. Ultimately the award is the same every year, but through the eyes of history not all MVPs are equal and Mauer warranted that little added distinction for leaving no doubt with anyone save for voter Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News that he was the league's best player.

    Mauer thoroughly dominated the old-school stats, newer mainstream numbers, and advanced metrics alike while adding to his already unmatched offensive value with superior defense at the game's most demanding position. By comparison, when Justin Morneau won the MVP in 2006 he failed to lead the league in any major categories, placed just seventh in batting average and eighth in OPS, and ranked 13th in VORP while playing unspectacular defense at the game's most offense-driven position.

    In my opinion Morneau is among the more undeserving MVP winners in recent memory, but whether or not you agree with that admittedly unpopular stance among Twins fans it seems obvious that there's a difference between what he did in 2006 and what Mauer did this year. A unanimous vote would have preserved that difference for all time, but then again Mauer was so amazing that tomorrow or 100 years from now no one should need 28 (or 27) writers to them he was the MVP. Some things are just true.


    Once you're done here, check out my NBCSports.com blog and Twitter updates.

    My Ballot: American League MVP

    While we wait for Joe Mauer to be named AL MVP, you can check out my entire 10-man ballot and read a lengthy article explaining my choices over at Circling the Bases:

    NBCSports.com - My Ballot: American League MVP

    UPDATE: Mauer won, with 27 of 28 first-place votes. More tomorrow, obviously.


    Once you're done here, check out my NBCSports.com blog and Twitter updates.

    November 19, 2009

    Link-O-Rama

  • Zack Greinke outed himself as an FIP-loving stathead after winning the AL Cy Young.
  • Obviously the true test will come when the AL MVP is announced Monday, but so far at least I'm very pleased with how the Baseball Writers Association of America has voted this year. They've matched my choices for AL Cy Young, NL Cy Young, and AL Rookie of the Year while disagreeing only on NL Rookie of the Year. Hopefully the logic continues next week.
  • As described (and pictured) in the New York Post, Derek Jeter celebrated his fifth World Series title by "frolicking with gorgeous gal pal Minka Kelly in St. Barts." Bastard.
  • I'm very pleased to note that former Twins beat reporter Phil Miller has landed a new job helping to cover the Timberwolves for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Miller did a fantastic job covering the Twins at the St. Paul Pioneer Press before the newspaper fired him in the middle of the season and has lots of experience on the NBA beat from his time in Utah, so Wolves fans are lucky to have Miller for however long the job lasts. He's also one hell of a nice guy, so hopefully it turns into a full-time gig.
  • I'm in complete agreement with Newsweek's list of "12 comics who aren't funny."
  • I'd like to go through life without seeing New Moon, but am thrilled to have watched Three Wolf Moon:


    Aubrey Plaza and the world's greatest t-shirt is an amazing combination.
  • Most impressive accomplishment by a big-name poker player this month: Phil Ivey at the final table of the World Series of Poker main event or Erik Seidel at a restaurant table on Curb Your Enthusiasm? Seidel was also featured in Rounders, so he's quite a thespian.
  • This week former Deadspin contributor Rick Chandler joined me in the NBCSports.com blog family with Out of Bounds. For anyone keeping track, NBCSports.com's stable of blogs also includes Circling the Bases, Pro Football Talk, College Football Talk, Inside the Irish, and Beyond the Arc. We're going to have an amazing virtual Christmas party.
  • Speaking of former Deadspin staffers, Will Leitch penned an interesting piece about Bill Simmons forcing his way into the mainstream.
  • How amazing looking is Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Keeley Hazell? By posing naked in protest of people wearing fur she's somehow managed to make PETA seem less annoying.
  • After burning through all 103 episodes of Lost in under two months I've moved on to Mad Men, which is also spectacular. Thanks to everyone who suggested it as a show that I'd like, because now I can't imagine life without Don Draper and Peggy Olson (although at first it freaked me out that Zoey Bartlet was forced to take secretarial work).
  • Also, based on recent television viewing I've come to the conclusion that someone needs to create a show starring Evangeline Lilly and Christina Hendricks. We'll call it "Lost Men" and, really, the plot and various other details are unimportant.
  • Speaking of great TV, if J.B. Smoove improv'd this scene with Michael Richards he's a genius:


    For future reference, Danny Duberstein is good at two things.
  • My mom cooked me a whole shitload of meatballs this week, yet despite being a total fatso I came up just short of the world record set earlier this month.
  • Against all odds, I'm not the author of this 5,000-word guide to mastering all-you-can-eat buffets.
  • The whole "unborn son" thing is awfully optimistic in my case, but this site has some good "rules."
  • I'm trying to decide which is the more exciting Twitter brush with greatness: Lynette Carolla sending me an at-reply or Joe Sebok re-tweeting one of my dreams?
  • New blog to check out: Schlepping Minnesota Sports.
  • Some of the highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

    - Lincecum narrowly defeats Cardinals duo for Cy Young
    - Greinke captures Cy Young with 25 of 28 first-place votes
    - Scioscia, Tracy named Managers of the Year
    - Greinke in great company with Cy Young at 25
    - What are the Red Sox planning at shortstop?
    - Holliday reports show how offseason rumors can vary wildly
    - Coghlan, Bailey named Rookies of the Year
    - Reds re-sign Hernandez to one-year deal with 2011 option
    - Brewers decline Looper's $6.5 million option
    - Hudson, Braves make three-year deal official

  • Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Sia with a live version of "Little Black Sandals":


  • Once you're done here, check out my NBCSports.com blog and Twitter updates.

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