April 19, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• I'd have pegged Jose Mijares as the perpetrator, not the victim, in a "someone farted in the bullpen" situation.

• I was trying to keep this a secret, but I guess the news is out: I live in Michigan now and have a 6-year-old son.

• I took issue with IMDB's ranking of the top 10 baseball movies of all time, so I put together my own list over at HardballTalk. Despite blogging since 2002 it was my first real foray into making lists for people to argue about on the internet. And boy did they!

Kyle Buchanan of Vulture did some interesting research (with graphs!) about how male movie stars get old and their female love interests stay mostly the same age.

• As a freshman in college I had three roommates I'd never met before and within the first week two of them uttered the same phrase as Oklahoma politician Bill Johnson.

• I have a few openings in my "Hardball Dynasty" league on WhatIfSports and the new season begins next week. If you're interested in joining, please read this first.

• One of my favorite writers, Joe Posnanski, did a lengthy feature on one of my favorite coaches, Gregg Popovich, and not surprisingly it's great.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode a woman named Delilah interrupted the show, decided she liked us, and stayed to chat for a while.

• I didn't think it was possible to be any more into Alison Brie, but then I watched her 22-minute chat with Paul F. Tompkins.

And there's more where that came from.

• On a related note, my favorite moment from the most recent "Mad Men" episode? Please do!

• Of the several million "Mad Men" recaps I read each week Molly Lambert's for Grantland always rate at or near the top.

Justin Bieber on Anne Frank, obviously.

Ben Revere is not off to a good start in Philadelphia and the complaints sound familiar, but his catch Monday night was incredible. Of course, not every attempted great catch works so well.

• I'm getting pretty sick of Glen Perkins trying to ride my coattails to fame.

• Between the weather and the score last Friday night's Twins-Mets game was depressing, but the highlight was what happened when a bat flew into the stands. My new best friend is the guy in the Johan Santana jersey holding an ice cream cone.

• My favorite baseball player is selling his house and it's cheap enough that I think we should all pool our money together and buy the place.

Rasheed Wallace announced his retirement again and I'll choose to remember him like this.

Adam Scott is sick of Adam Scott.

• I joked on Twitter that Carlos Quentin's punishment for charging the mound on Zack Greinke should be having to do the same on Kyle Farnsworth, and Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com looked into Farnsworth's "weapons-grade soup-bones."

Faith Hill is stepping down as the "Sunday Night Football" theme singer, so I've put in a request with the NBC higher-ups to do the right thing and replace her with Mase.

• Oh, no big deal, just Dolph Lundgren singing (and drumming) Elvis on Eurovision:

Amazing.

• I enjoyed this chat between official pitcher of the internet Brandon McCarthy and living legend Carson Cistulli, who also had a good chat with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic about life as a baseball beat reporter.

Nate Sandell of 1500ESPN.com wrote a good piece about new Gophers basketball coach Richard Pinto being a stat-head.

• My fellow "Chopped" fans will love frequent judge Scott Conant's appearance on "WTF" with Marc Maron. He was great and hopefully it convinces Maron to interview more chefs.

Norm MacDonald's weekly video podcast has quickly become a must-watch and Russell Brand was an especially entertaining guest.

• Link-O-Rama regular Dana Wessel was a guest on this week's "The Sportive" podcast, if you're into that type of thing.

• I watched "The Campaign" on HBO and it was decent, but far more interesting was discovering that the actress who played Will Ferrell's wife was married to both Dennis Hopper and French Stewart in real life. How do you think she describes her "type"?

• My love for Mets right-hander Matt Harvey knows no bounds, unlike my photoshop skills.

Joe Mauer turns 30 years old today and I choose to celebrate by looking at this picture again.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Corey Koskie net worth"
- "Is Miguel Sano that good?"
- "FSN naked girl"
- "Sid Hartman drinking hot chocolate"
- "Is Jon Taffer Jewish?"
- "Jon Taffer in Minnesota"
- "How did Kevin Goldstein get famous?"
- "Men line up Target Field restroom"
- "Twins pitching still sucks"
- "Mila Kunis tired"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Vivrant Thing" by Q-Tip:


This week's blog content is sponsored by DiamondCentric's new GAME SIX shirt, commemorating one of the best moments in Minnesota sports history. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

January 18, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• When we started "Gleeman and The Geek" the basic idea was simply two guys having a long, unedited conversation over some beers. Conan O'Brien and Jack White had the same concept while adding in smoking and being far more interesting, and the result is absolutely fantastic.

• Big deal, I've been making up fake girlfriends for years.

• On a related note, Amy Webb developed a sort of sabermetric approach to online dating.

• I thought of a new pickup line on Twitter and Jon Shields was kind enough to give it life.

• My favorite lead sentence of the week, from Marino Eccher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "An Eagan lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client whom he represented in a divorce, then billing her for time they spent having sex."

Pete Rose's new reality television show is exactly what you'd expect.

• Who mocks stat-heads and who hires stat-heads?

• Longtime readers and/or Twitter followers probably know that I'm obsessed with the "Hardball Dynasty" game on WhatIfSports, running two leagues and frequently recruiting new owners. One of those new owners is Carson Cistulli of Fan Graphs, who had WhatIfSports president Tom Zentmeyer on his podcast to discuss the game and the website and the role of sabermetrics in everything. And they even talked about me and my "dominance" for a little bit.

• Old friend Denny Hocking has been named the Angels' new rookie-ball manager.

• I'm way more upset about this week's "Top Chef" elimination than I was about Miguel Cabrera beating Mike Trout for MVP, and Keith Law's recap explains why.

• After a month-long break John Bonnes reunited with me for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and naturally we talked mostly about drugs and Bar Mitzvahs.

• Not only is Rob Delaney a good stand-up comedian and must-follow on Twitter, he brilliantly analyzes baseball's sexy scouting lingo:

His mustache really puts it over the top.

Worst e-mail ever?

More reason to wish the Twins had signed Brandon McCarthy.

• I'm going to TwinsFest this year for the first time since 1995 or so. We have some interesting podcast-related plans that may or may not actually happen, but I'll definitely be at the Twins Daily get-together Saturday night at Hubert's and I'll also definitely try to re-enact this picture.

Milton Bradley is no longer a baseball player, but he's still a scumbag.

Anna Kendrick's tweet about Ryan Gosling was especially funny/bold considering she might actually run into and/or star in a move with him at some point.

• Friend of AG.com and fellow Twins blogger Seth Stohs' fifth annual "Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook" is now available as a paperback and ebook. with 191 pages of unique, in-depth content covering every key prospect, draft pick, and minor leaguer in the organization.

Pop quiz, hotshot: Delmon Young or Delwyn Young?

Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com covers mixed martial arts as well as any journalist covers any sport and I've become a huge fan of his over the past few years, so I really enjoyed Vice's video profile of him. His story is very interesting and a lot of it hit home with me.

Old Time Family Baseball is doing its annual charity blogathon this weekend to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, with non-stop blogging by Michael Clair and lots of good guest posts.

• Some recent Netflix instant recommendations: "God Grew Tired Of Us," "The Company Men," "You Can Count On Me," "Jeff, Who Lives At Home," "The English Patient," "Gosford Park," "The Wave," "Biutiful," "Sleepwalk With Me," "Take This Waltz."

• This week in Chelsea Peretti being the best.

Jessi Klein was a great guest on Dave Hill's always laid back podcast.

• Three months ago Adam Meier sponsored a week of AG.com for his mother, Emily Meier, promoting her self-published fiction writing as she battled cancer. I'm sad to report that she passed away last week, but I would encourage everyone to please check out her website and continue to give her the audience that she struggled to find.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Patrick Reusse weight loss"
- "Van Morrison divorce"
- "Chris Pratt Norwegian"
- "Jessica Alba porno"
- "Mitch Hedberg talks about baseball"
- "Plan to lose 150 pounds"
- "Why my body craves a cheeseburger"
- "Geek with turtleneck"
- "How much does Amy Grant weigh in pounds"

• Finally, in honor of that great O'Brien/White chat this week's AG.com-approved music video is The Raconteurs' live version of "Old Enough" with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe:

November 14, 2012

Free agent pitching options: Middle-of-the-rotation starters

Twins starting pitchers combined for a 5.00 ERA during the past two seasons to rank dead last in the league and they head into the offseason with only Scott Diamond locked into a rotation spot. Terry Ryan has said he'd prefer to address the rotation via trades, which is no surprise for a team that's basically never pursued free agent pitching beyond bargain-bin shopping, but if they do decide to dive into the free agent pitching pool the water is reasonably deep.

In an effort to figure out the Twins' options I've separated the free agent pitching class into three categories: Top-of-the-rotation starters, middle-of-the-rotation starters, and back-of-the-rotation starters. Below are the middle-of-the-rotation starters, which I view as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter on a contending team and, for example, what Diamond seems likely to be long term if things go well and what new Cubs signee Scott Baker was before elbow surgery.

Shaun Marcum - RHP - 124 innings - 3.70 ERA - 4.21 xFIP - 109/41 K/BB

Marcum never threw hard, but has topped out in the high-80s since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2010. Despite that he has a 3.62 ERA and above-average strikeout rate in 520 innings during that time, thanks largely to a great changeup. After staying mostly healthy in back-to-back seasons Marcum again had elbow issues in 2012, but he pitched well in September. He's a prototypical Twins pitcher and the injuries could drop Marcum into their price range.

Brandon McCarthy - RHP - 111 innings - 3.24 ERA - 4.23 xFIP - 73/24 K/BB

A former top prospect repeatedly derailed by injuries, McCarthy finally got healthy and thrived for the A's before a second straight strong year was ruined by a line drive to the head on September 5 that led to brain surgery. Obviously his health is a serious question mark and McCarthy isn't as good as his numbers looked in pitcher-friendly Oakland, but he's a solid 28-year-old starter who fits the Twins' strike-throwing mold and is someone to root for on and off the field.

Joe Blanton - RHP - 191 innings - 4.71 ERA - 3.39 xFIP - 166/34 K/BB

Blanton missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury and on the surface his return was ugly with a 4.71 ERA and 29 homers in 191 innings, but his secondary numbers were far better. Not only were his 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings a career-high, Blanton had the NL's second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio and his 3.39 xFIP ranked 16th in MLB. At age 31 he's not really a breakout candidate, but Blanton is a strike-thrower with more upside than his ERA suggests.

Kyle Lohse - RHP - 211 innings - 2.86 ERA - 3.96 xFIP - 143/38 K/BB ratio

Lohse was his usual mediocre self for the first five years after the Twins traded him in 2006, posting a 4.66 ERA in 665 innings, but during the past two seasons he had a 3.11 ERA in 399 innings for the Cardinals while starting seven playoff games. At age 34 and with significantly less impressive secondary numbers Lohse is a good bet to be among the offseason's most overpaid free agents, but even if he were available cheaply a Twins reunion would never happen.

Francisco Liriano - LHP - 157 innings - 5.34 ERA - 4.14 xFIP - 167/87 K/BB

Speaking of unlikely reunions, Liriano is a free agent after the Twins traded him to Chicago for a pair of non-prospects in July. He was the same occasionally dominant but mostly frustrating guy in Chicago, tossing 57 innings with a 5.40 ERA and rates of 9.2 strikeouts and 5.1 walks per nine innings. For the Twins he had a 5.31 ERA, 9.8 strikeouts, and 5.0 walks. At age 29 and with all those strikeouts Liriano has more upside than most on this list, but ... who knows.

Brett Myers - RHP - 65 innings - 3.31 ERA - 3.92 xFIP - 41/15 K/BB

In both 2008 and this year Myers was shifted from the rotation to the bullpen and made a closer, with strong results, but he's also been a quality starter for most of his career. He has 247 starts with a 4.27 ERA and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, including a 3.79 ERA and 340/123 K/BB ratio in 440 innings between 2010 and 2011. As a fly-ball pitcher he struggles to limit homers, but Target Field would help that if the Twins are willing to bring in a not-so-wonderful person.

Roy Oswalt - RHP - 59 innings - 5.80 ERA - 3.27 xFIP - 59/11 K/BB

Oswalt talked about retiring because of back problems, sat out the first two months before signing with the Rangers, and then got knocked around for a 5.80 ERA while being demoted to the bullpen. At age 35 he may simply be nearing the end of the line, but a 59-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59 innings suggests Oswalt wasn't nearly as bad as his ERA. His velocity was the same as 2011, when he pitched well for the Phillies, and his track record is tough to beat.

Carlos Villanueva - RHP - 125 innings - 4.16 ERA - 4.09 xFIP - 122/46 K/BB

Villanueva had a lot of success as a starter in the minors, but has spent most of his big-league career as a long reliever and has been mediocre when called on to make spot starts. He started 16 times for Toronto in 2012, struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark while posting a 4.50 ERA, but also had an 86-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 92 innings. If given a chance to build up his arm strength as a full-time starter at age 29 he could provide nice value.

Erik Bedard - LHP - 126 innings - 5.01 ERA - 4.05 xFIP - 118/56 K/BB

He's basically never stayed healthy, has a reputation for being a pain in the ass, and posted a 5.01 ERA for the Pirates this year, but Bedard's superior secondary stats included 118 strikeouts in 126 innings. And during the previous five years his worst ERA was 3.76 and his worst strikeout rate was 7.8 per nine innings. I'd never invest big money or multiple years in Bedard, especially at age 34, but for the hope of 25 starts on a one-year deal he's got some bat-missing upside.

September 14, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• It took a while, but someone finally put all this newfangled strike zone technology to good use and produced some meaty, worthwhile analysis. Ground-breaking, really.

• In fairness to Mike Francesa, most of the time radio is a lot less exciting than you might think and all of the time napping is amazing.

• Between this story and this story it was a banner week for my Alison Pill crush.

• This should be required reading for any Twins fans/Minnesotans/sane people.

• For my purposes this New York Times headline might as well be "breathing is bad for you."

• As a lifelong Howard Stern fan, this was a big thrill. Seriously.

• Ah, rookie hazing: Bryce Harper is McKayla Maroney. And also one of the best 19-year-olds in baseball history.

• My favorite headline of the week: "DMX says he would beat up Drake in an elevator if it were 10 years ago." Is there room to open up shop in an elevator?

• After reading about how few people are watching the Astros on television I'm thinking maybe they should just start a podcast.

• My advice for this week's Gleeman and The Geek? Fast forward through the 90 minutes of Twins talk for the last 15 minutes of philosophical discussion about aging and life lessons.

• This week's AG.com sponsor is Darrell Roehl, a fiction writer who wrote a book about personal redemption, nostalgia, and the Minnesota Twins during the Calvin Griffith era. And not only that, his sons are longtime AG.com readers. Check it out.

• If you're into mixed martial arts, this roundtable show with Ariel Helwani, Mike Chiappetta, and Luke Thomas is a must-watch:

I used to work with Chiappetta at NBCSports.com and the few times we met in person he was very nice and very willing to talk MMA with me, so it's great to see him getting to shine.

• As a kid I used to listen to The Fabulous Sports Babe, so Michael Kruse's lengthy Grantland profile of the former nationally syndicated radio host was equal parts interesting and sad.

• Speaking of Grantland, they lured one of my favorite basketball writers, Zach Lowe, away from Sports Illustrated. Bill Simmons has built quite a stable of talent over there.

• I'm in favor of making Chelsea Peretti all-time podcast guest, much like all-time quarterback in playground football, so her appearance on NBA.com with Roy Hibbert was spectacular.

Brandon McCarthy is out of the hospital and joking about threesomes, which is great news.

• My latest weekly chat with Paul Allen on KFAN was filled with a shocking amount of baseball.

Mike Trout is the first player with a double-digit Wins Above Replacement total since Barry Bonds in 2004. He's also a 21-year-old rookie.

• If you've ever wanted to play baseball scout--or maybe just go on record with your opinion of Ben Revere's arm strength and Josh Willingham's range--this is your big chance.

• I used to have nightmares about this happening to me in little league, so my condolences to Josh Beckett. Carlos Beltran is such a meanie.

• I can't imagine this movie not being great, just based on the ad.

• Someone please give friend of AG.com and fellow Twins blogger Nick Nelson a new job, if only so he'll quit giving me foot rubs.

Dan LeBatard and friend of AG.com Jon Sciambi were joined by Jeff Van Gundy and Stan Van Gundy for a great discussion about sports media, coaching, and Dwight Howard.

• Back by popular demand, this week's most amusing, weird, and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Tom Kelly Zubaz"
- "Maddie Bisanz age"
- "Brian Dozier is so cute"
- "Who is the father of Diora Baird's baby?"
- "Aaron Gleeman recipe"
- "Darin Mastroianni girlfriend"
- "Liam Hendriks girlfriend"
- "Lizzy Caplan looks like Zooey Deschanel"
- "Minka Kelly baseball hat"
- "Anthony LaPanta hair"
- "What a pound of rice looks like"

• Finally, just because I had a random memory about a kid named Ryan buying me Craig Mack's Project: Funk Da World for my 12th birthday this week's AG.com-approved music video is one of the songs from that CD to blow my 12-year-old mind, "Flava In Ya Ear":

March 2, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• Monday night John Bonnes and I are hosting a get-together/meet-up/viewing party.

• Who among us hasn't tried to steal hash browns by putting them in our pants?

Jonathan Abrams' "oral history of the scariest moment in NBA history" at Grantland is one of the best things I've read so far this year.

• I'd pay big money for a set of these wind-up action figures of The Wire characters, but sadly they're apparently not for sale.

• Of course, if a certain The Wire fan took up the cause he could probably change that.

• A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy got hardcore into sabermetrics because he "didn't want to suck at baseball anymore" and turned into one of the best pitchers in the league.

Billy Beane wasn't the only MLB general manager at the Oscars, as Ned Colletti snagged a seat right behind Michelle Williams despite the fact that Brad Pitt has never portrayed him.

• I suppose Fez from That '70s Show is basically a lateral move from Derek Jeter.

Ozzie Guillen has one rule: Don't be late for the f***ing National Anthem.

• After months of waiting and way too much online research I finally bought a new car.

Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley passes along this old video about Steve Carlton's sick slider:

"I hold it like this and I throw the s*** out of it."

• Congrats to Jim Souhan for becoming the one millionth mainstream media member to make a parents' basement joke about bloggers.

Mike Pomeranz is leaving his news anchor job at KARE-11 to become the Padres' new pregame show host on FOX Sports San Diego.

Jessica Alba lost her Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title in 2004 and has since had two kids, but she's still getting the job done.

• After years of tireless research I finally found the perfect podcast and it's Jen Kirkman's recent appearance on Todd Glass' show.

Luke Scott brought seven-foot-long, pig-killing spears into the Rays' clubhouse and then the next day he called Red Sox fans "ruthless and vulgar." Should be a fun season in Tampa Bay.

• In fairness, the straw man was really asking for it. Oof.

• The story of how a little-read 16-year-old blogger broke the Ryan Braun news weeks ahead of everyone else is pretty amazing.

• Being known as the world's most famous urine sample collector must be weird.

• Not only is Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch one of baseball's best beat reporters, he's a hell of an artist too.

• According to Chris Broussard of ESPN the Lakers turned down a trade for Michael Beasley.

Barely anyone is watching Luck on HBO, but I'm there every week for the slow burn.

• I watched the premiere episode of Awake on NBC and it hooked me, although I agree with Alan Sepinwall that there's reason to be skeptical long term.

Delmon Young remains as graceful as ever.

• Even the scariest baseball team of my childhood couldn't defeat time.

• My fellow Howard Stern fans will enjoy Artie Lange's appearance on Adam Carolla's show.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is John Mayer's new song "Shadow Days":