October 4, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Before getting to the links, I just want to say thank you to everyone who stopped by AG.com, followed me on Twitter, came to various get-togethers, and listened to "Gleeman and The Geek" this season. Being a Twins fan hasn't been much fun lately and at times writing and talking about a third straight 95-loss team felt more draining than rewarding, but knowing there are so many other people out there who also can't bring themselves to look away helped me keep going.

This was my 12th season blogging about the Twins and fan morale has never been lower during that time, but if you can stand all the losing there are certainly plenty of interesting aspects of a rebuilding team. It'll be business as usual here this offseason, which means weekly podcasts, my annual Top 40 Twins Prospects series, lots of free agency analysis, next-day break downs of any moves that happen, and player-by-player outlooks. And lots of other stuff too. Thank you.

• My favorite sentence from this excellent New York Times article: "A recent six-month fling with a 90-year-old woman he met at synagogue did not work out." Happens to the best of us.

• Back when I was shopping for a house I remember really enjoying looking at all the real estate photos online, but this website allows you to enjoy them on another level.

• Here's my analysis of the Twins bringing back Ron Gardenhire and his entire coaching staff.

• Incidentally, regardless of your opinion about Gardenhire re-signing his sunglasses placement and overall style during the press conference were amazing.

• Nothing has ever given more hope to the hopeless than 15-year-old George Clooney.

• For this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we tried something new by recording from the Target Field stands during one of the final games of the season and the results were interesting.

• For those of us in mourning after the "Breaking Bad" finale there's always the Latin American version starring Walter Blanco. There's a trailer and everything:

Can't wait to see what they do with the Todd character.

Francisco Liriano had a fun Tuesday night. And a few dozen internet friends who got together to watch him beat the Reds had fun too. I even dug this out of the closet for the occasion.

• If you want to read all about Liriano's big night, Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette put together a nice quote-filled story on deadline.

• Five years later, Chuck Mindenhall of MMAFighting.com wrote a lengthy article about the night everything came crashing down around Kimbo Slice.

• This is more or less how I watch sporting events at home, but he's taken things to another level.

• "Gleeman and The Geek" regular Kate Agnew was featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

• General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies might hire a stat-head to do ... something.

• There has since been backtracking, but that doesn't change the grossness of #playyousissies.

• SABR announced that next year's convention in Houston will be held from July 30 to August 3, which is less than ideal for me because it's during the trade deadline and will be 1,000 degrees.

David Temple and Than Tibbetts are the only tuba players I know/am willing to associate with, so this is how I choose to imagine their day-to-day lives:

Temple says I'm not the first person to make that joke, but that's just the sign of a great joke.

• We'll be recording the next "Gleeman and The Geek" episode Saturday at 612 Brew's (totally free) Octoberfest event. Beer, food trucks, live music, and at least one podcast. Should be fun.

• Living legend Carson Cistulli chatted with my hero Rob Neyer, so how I could I not listen?

• Twins social media guru Keith Beise, who got guilted into inviting me to the Deckstravaganza event last month, did an interesting interview about his job.

• Last week Keith Moyer was kind enough to invite me to chat with his sports journalism class and one of the students, Mike Potter, has a Gopher sports podcast that you should check out.

• I highly recommend checking out Nightingale restaurant/bar on Lyndale Avenue in Uptown. I've been there twice now and loved the vibe and crowd both times. They also have maybe my favorite bartender of all time, so look for the guy stumping people with hardcore baseball trivia. And the Minneapolis Star Tribune just said they have one of the Twin Cities' best hamburgers.

• I sat a few seats over from Corey Koskie at Target Field last week, which reminded me that he's one of the most underrated players in Twins history.

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

- "Aaron Glee"
- "Can you safely carry a child at 245 pounds?"
- "How will the Twins look next year?"
- "Bill Smith tough decisions"
- "Rob Dibble's ex-wife"
- "Michael Keaton married again"
- "Will elliptical give me my six-pack back?"
- "Aaron Gleeman on Tinder"

• Finally, in honor of the Twins' season mercifully coming to an end this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Love Is A Losing Game" by Amy Winehouse:


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March 9, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• Before getting to the good stuff, I want to thank everyone who read my post about losing 150 pounds in one year. Not only is it already the most-read post in this blog's decade-long history, the number of e-mails and tweets and links and comments that I received were overwhelming. Losing the weight felt amazing, writing about the experience made it feel even better, and the response might be the most rewarding part of the whole thing. Thank you.

• I'll have a full write-up Monday, but the Twins gave Glen Perkins a three-year, $10.3 million extension that buys out his first two and possibly first three seasons of free agency.

• Behold, the greatest restaurant review in newspaper history. Grand Forks must be amazing.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis is on the cover of Harper's Bazaar this month, with an interview and accompanying photo shoot.

Kris Humphries' sister, Kaela Humphries, recently signed a contract with Ford Models' plus-size division.

• Speaking of athletes' sisters, Holley Mangold is a 5-foot-8, 374-pound weight-lifter who made the Olympic team.

Bunk Moreland is "just a humble motherf***er with a big-ass d***" and a grocery store.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra is covering spring training and wrote an interesting piece about the downside of writers gaining access to the people they write about.

Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on the cover of Slam magazine hits a little too close to home for someone who used to have the old version taped to his bedroom wall.

• My lifelong dream of working with Beyonce is finally a reality.

Lenny Dykstra, who's three months younger than the still-pitching Jamie Moyer, was sentenced to three years in prison.

• Imagine paying someone to write this. And then imagine him being your doctor.

• Honestly, this lasted much longer than I expected.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded in front of an audience and includes John Bonnes singing (or at least "singing") and Nick Nelson reciting poetry.

• At this point Louis C.K. is everyone's favorite comedian and Todd Barry is also one of my favorite comedians, and for some reason this video cracked me up:

"You're not good at it."

• Congratulations to friend of AG.com and "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for beating out 22,000 other applicants for a spot in the MLB Fan Cave.

• Scientific evidence that we should all be afraid of gingers.

• This is interesting, but don't go getting any bright ideas.

Jon Hamm didn't play baseball with Roger Clemens at the University of Texas, but he did used to post comments on Deadspin.

• Speaking of Deadspin, they grabbed the "Best Shape Of His Life" baton from HardballTalk and ran with it.

Next thing you know Ice Cube will try to tell us that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

• The only thing minor-league baseball players love more than eating Chipotle is tweeting about eating Chipotle.

• More importantly: Did he set the record or not?

CC Sabathia must eat a ton of food at home, because otherwise if this is true he'd be shedding weight like crazy.

• Somehow this new sport still seems slightly less dangerous than football.

Elisabeth Moss on ex-husband Fred Armison: "He's so great doing impersonations, but the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person." Ouch.

• And to think, I was genuinely excited that my new car had a CD player.

Jose Canseco can't even do a proper Kenny Powers impression.

• SABR's website posted a bunch of information about the annual convention coming to Minnesota this summer, including the logo.

• Someone paid $8,100 for a Chicken McNugget that doesn't look like George Washington.

Don Mincher, who played a big part in Twins history, died at age 73.

Dan Duquette is not buying what Jon Heyman is selling.

UPDATE: Sometime between yesterday and this morning Heyman blocked me on Twitter.

• My favorite part of Grantland is NBA analyst Sebastian Pruiti breaking down plays.

• My latest podcast discovery, "You Had To Be There" with Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer, got a nice write-up in New York Times Magazine.

• Netflix streaming recommendation: Elevate, which is a documentary about teenage basketball players in Senegal trying to secure college scholarships in the United States.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Jay-Z sampling Bobby Bland's classic "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" for his own "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)":

January 27, 2012

Link-O-Rama

Rihanna seems like fun.

• In retrospect, Kevin Garnett had the right idea in this picture.

• If she wasn't already an Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate this quote would put Lizzy Caplan in the mix: "What I like to do every single night is fall asleep watching Larry Sanders."

Joe Mauer is engaged now, so perhaps there's a similar explanation for last year's injuries.

• One of my favorite comedians, Todd Glass, came out of the closet on Marc Maron's podcast and it was incredibly compelling stuff.

• Speaking of Maron, this article about podcasting quotes me right alongside him, which was a big thrill. And coincidentally the writer, Gaby Dunn, conducted the interview with Jewish porn star James Deen that appeared in Link-O-Rama last month. As always, life is weird.

• We had a first on this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode, as a random drunk woman interrupted the podcast to show us her bra for no apparent reason.

• Imagine a world in which Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young are all on the same American League team and someone else is the designated hitter.

Jimmer Fredette's transition to the NBA is proving to be a difficult one and Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland has a very detailed, interesting analysis of his early struggles.

• Speaking of NBA rookies, I bought one of these.

Katy Perry unfollowed Russell Brand on Twitter after their divorce, which is no doubt where this is headed too some day.

• I was talking about wrestling on Twitter, so my mom dug up this picture of me with Sergeant Slaughter in 1985:

I apparently inherited his jaw line from that one brief meeting.

• Fat-O-Meter update: This is day 330 of my diet and I'm down 140 pounds.

• This is absurd, of course, but he almost deserves it for not getting a prenup.

• I wonder what Justin Morneau and Corey Koskie think about this.

• Two great tastes that go great together: Kate Beckinsale and Maria Menounos.

• Stuff like this fascinates me: Back in 1995 the Mariners turned down a deal with the Yankees for a 23-year-old catching prospect named Jorge Posada.

Moneyball was nominated for six Oscars, including "best actor" for Brad Pitt, "best supporting actor" for Jonah Hill, and "best picture." I liked these outtakes better than the actual movie.

• Not only is new Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sabermetrically inclined, he announced via Twitter that Baseball Prospectus analyst Mike Fast is joining the front office.

Bill James used to write the occasional guest piece for The Hardball Times when I was there and it was a big honor, so Grantland talking him into being a regular is quite a get.

• As a Sarah Hyland fan, I might have actually tuned into the Golden Globes for this.

• I have some mixed feelings about this, but it's an interesting story and an important lesson when it comes to baseball rumors and reporting.

Zooey Deschanel, describing her college experience that sounds an awful lot like mine: "My specialness is not appreciated in this place." With the main difference being that mine still isn't.

• I've always said there's a little Gilbert Gottfried inside all of us:

 If you don't think that's funny we probably can't be friends.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Aubrey Plaza on meeting Ryan Gosling: "I think he has a girlfriend, but maybe I'll murder her someday and we'll be together forever."

Flip Saunders got fired by the Wizards, who hilariously replaced him with Randy Wittman.

JaVale McGee's mom seems a lot like my mom.

Harris Wittels, who once left a comment here, was cast in Sarah Silverman's new show.

• I watched all 10 episodes of Bar Rescue despite not really enjoying it and thinking the star is like Gordon Ramsay without the charm, charisma, and hair. Is that a recommendation?

• Showtime is following the Marlins for Season 2 of The Franchise, which leaves the door open for Ozzie Guillen to appear on Shameless. I'll bet he has great chemistry with Emmy Rossum.

• For anyone with HBO: Make sure to watch the documentary series about Freddie Roach.

• Speaking of great sports documentaries, the final episode of the series following MMA fighter Allistair Overeem is spectacular and features his recent win over Brock Lesnar. Great stuff.

• As always I'm proud to be a very, very small part of MinnPost, which saw its readership grow 21 percent in 2011.

• If you haven't already, go buy Seth Stohs' annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for 190 pages of hardcore prospect profiles, analysis, interviews, and rankings.

Nick Nelson's old blog-mate, Nick Mosvick, has a new blog all his own.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Work" by Gang Starr:

January 20, 2012

Twins Notes: Arbitration, invitations, compensation, and reconsideration

• Tuesday night was the deadline for players and teams to submit salary figures for arbitration hearings to be held next month, but the Twins avoided that with Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins by signing them to one-year deals. Liriano got $5.5 million for his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, which is exactly what I projected as his salary last month. Perkins got $1.55 million for his second arbitration year, which is slightly less than my $2 million projection.

Alexi Casilla did not agree to a pre-deadline deal in his second arbitration year, filing for $1.75 million while the Twins countered at $1.065 million. If the two sides fail to reach a compromise they'll go to a hearing, present their cases, and have someone choose which salary he'll get for 2012, but given that the Twins haven't actually gone to arbitration with a player since Kyle Lohse in 2005 and 2006 odds are they'll split the difference on a one-year deal before then.

• Last month the Twins non-tendered Jose Mijares rather than retain him via the arbitration process, with general manager Terry Ryan explaining that "we didn't want to go there" with a salary bump. That struck me as very odd, because Mijares was paid $445,000 last season and projected to make about $725,000 in 2012, whereas the new minimum salary is $480,000. No team cuts a player they think has any sort of value over $250,000. Or at least they shouldn't.

Mijares didn't spend much time as a free agent and ended up with more money than he would have gotten from the Twins, quickly signing with the Royals for $925,000. He was bad enough last season that bouncing back is certainly no sure thing, but considering Mijares' modest cost and the fact that he's 27 years old with a 3.16 ERA and .243/.310/.381 opponents' line in 154 career innings makes letting him go for nothing a questionable move.

Mijares was an easy target for criticism because of his weight and supposed poor work ethic, but the oft-repeated notion that he was an ineffective pitcher who failed in key situations isn't supported by facts. In addition to his 3.16 ERA in 154 innings Mijares held opponents to a .219 batting average and .590 OPS in high-leverage situations and had a positive Win Probability Added, which measures performance in context to reward doing well in crucial spots.

• Fort Myers will be crowded after the Twins signed 25 players to minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training. I've written about most of those players, but neglected to cover J.R. Towles, Steve Pearce, and Aaron Thompson when they signed last month. Towles is the most interesting of that trio, both because he was once a top-ranked catcher prospect and because a decent alternative to Drew Butera as the Twins' third catcher would be nice.

After hitting well in the minors Towles hit .375 in a 14-game debut with the Astros in 2007 and was No. 53 on Baseball America's prospect list going into 2008. He flopped as a rookie, hitting .137 in 54 games, and has repeatedly failed in other brief chances with the Astros, hitting .187 in 155 career games spread over parts of five seasons. However, he's still just 27 years old and never ceased producing in the minors, batting .286/.389/.443 in 152 games at Triple-A.

Pearce was also once a top prospect, albeit briefly, ranking 89th on that same Baseball America list for 2008 after a monster 2007 season in which he hit .333/.394/.622 with 31 homers and 40 doubles in 134 games between three levels. He was already 24 years old at the time, his OPS dropped 300 points the next season, and Pearce hit just .232/.302/.366 in 185 games for the Pirates, but his Triple-A numbers remained strong and he's useful first base/outfield depth.

Thompson was the 22nd overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Marlins, but the left-hander's career never got enough traction to crack any top prospect lists. He pitched well in the low minors, but struggled some with injuries and has a 4.91 ERA in 473 career innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Thompson made his MLB debut last season, appearing in four games for the Pirates, but got knocked around and seems like a poor bet to make it back to the majors.

Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com did some digging and found that the Twins recently extended their television contract with FOX Sports North, signing a new deal worth approximately $29 million per season. That may sound like a lot and it's certainly a big improvement compared to their previous television revenue, but relative to many other teams it actually puts them at a significant disadvantage.

For instance, the Angels were able to hand out massive long-term contracts to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason because their new television deal pays around $150 million per season and that pales in comparison to the estimated $400 million in revenue the Yankees get per season from their own network. Even the Rangers, who weren't previously viewed as a big-market powerhouse, inked a new television deal worth a reported $80 million per season.

• Speaking of which, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune spit some truth about the Twins' television broadcast as it relates to an overall trend in local announcers:

It was uncomfortable listening to Twins telecasts last season as Dick Bremer and, to a lesser extent, Bert Blyleven spent most of the three hours nightly trying to explain away the 99 losses as something other than a disaster wrought upon the public by the front office.

Apparently, they did have permission slips to denigrate Kevin Slowey. Injuries and Slowey's attitude--those were about the only factors that could be identified by the long-serving duo for this fine baseball organization to have fielded the worst team in the American League.

And we can't forget that a Bremer-Blyleven telecast is always rich with the fable that there's a Twins Way of playing baseball: exceptional fielding, being smart and aggressive on the bases, and throwing strikes. No matter that you have to go back to 2006 to find a Twins team that stuck to those principles.

Amen. I'd guess that my television was muted for about 90 percent of Twins games last year.

• Cutting payroll by $15 million luckily hasn't stopped the Twins from spending on prospects, as they signed 16-year-old pitcher Mauricio Silva out of the Dominican Republic for $370,000. Ben Badler of Baseball America praised Silva's fastball-curveball combo and calls the 6-foot-2 right-hander "one of the more promising Latin American pitching prospects" eligible to sign in 2011. And this will make you feel really old: Silva was born in Brad Radke's rookie year, 1995.

• They'll also be spending big in the draft, because in addition to having the No. 2 overall pick by virtue of their 63-99 record the Twins are projected to receive the No. 32 and No. 67 picks as compensation for losing Michael Cuddyer and the No. 41 pick as compensation for losing Jason Kubel. Toss in their own second-rounder and the Twins will likely have five of the top 70 picks in June's draft, which makes for one incredibly important day in their rebuilding process.

• Back in early 2008, when the Twins were in the process of trading Johan Santana, various reports had them seeking Fernando Martinez from the Mets as the centerpiece of a deal. At the time Martinez was a 19-year-old center fielder who twice ranked among Baseball America's top-20 prospects, so the Mets balked at including him and eventually the Twins settled instead for a four-player package of Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Philip Humber.

Four years later none of those four prospects panned out as hoped and Guerra is the only one who remains in the Twins organization, but it turns out they wouldn't have been any better off with Martinez. Chronic knee issues and mediocre hitting caused his stock to plummet and last week the Mets placed him on waivers, giving up on Martinez for nothing. He didn't make it far, as the Astros used their No. 1 waiver priority to claim Martinez ... directly in front of the Twins.

• Of course, the Santana trade didn't work out particularly well for the Mets either. He missed all of last season following shoulder surgery, remains a question mark for the beginning of this season, and is owed $55 million over the next two years. Santana did at least give them 600 innings of a 2.85 ERA prior to going down in late 2010, which is even better than his 3.22 ERA in 1,309 innings with the Twins.

Ron Gardenhire's son, Toby Gardenhire, has retired after playing seven years in the minors for the Twins and the former 41st-round pick is the University of Wisconson-Stout's new coach.

Seth Stohs' annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is now available and as always I can't recommend it highly enough. Well worth the price, for the 180 pages of content and to support all the free blogging Stohs has provided over the years. Go buy it, you'll be glad you did.

• For a lot more on how the whole arbitration process works, plus analysis of the Joel Zumaya signing and talk about what moves the Twins have left to make this offseason, check out this week's podcast with special guests Nick Nelson and John Bonnes' horrible beard.

July 22, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by Wholesale Gold and Diamond Distributors in Minneapolis, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your jewelry needs ...

• Not that it was ever tough to sell me bacon in the first place, but this is especially effective.

Bruce Willis has never looked so good.

• Earlier this week the Twins sold $391,000 worth of bobblehead dolls in one day.

Jay-Z and Kanye West teaming up for the sample-filled song "Otis" is interesting, but mostly just reminds me how awesome Otis Redding was.

• Sure, but at least it's a really great face.

• Congratulations to Jonah Hill for losing a ton of weight, although unfortunately for his career this means Hollywood will have to find a new fat guy to co-star in every comedy movie.

David Brauer of MinnPost reports that Chip Scoggins will soon become the Minneapolis Star Tribune's newest sports columnist after years of covering the Vikings alongside Judd Zulgad.

• Someone tell Adrian Peterson to get in line.

• I'm still grieving the end of Friday Night Lights, but Connie Britton has already moved on.

Friday Night Lights was able to squeak out five great seasons despite poor ratings, but sadly the similarly underrated and underwatched TNT show Men of a Certain Age isn't so lucky.

• Cleveland starter Justin Masterson shut out the Twins for 7.2 innings Tuesday night despite throwing a fastball on 103 of his 104 pitches.

• If you turned off last night's Twins game early, you missed Wilson Betemit make one of the worst throws in baseball history.

• I've never seen an episode of iCarly and presumably never will, but there's a big The Wire fan on their writing staff who deserves credit for this scene:

For anyone not smart enough to have watched The Wire already, here's the original scene.

• I'm not sure if Ron Gardenhire really loves Japan women's soccer, but we definitely know he pays off his bets.

• Rochester lost 18-3 yesterday and Toby Gardenhire threw a scoreless ninth inning.

• I'm hoping Rihanna has started a new fashion trend for exceptionally good-looking women.

• His bat no longer works like it once did, but Torii Hunter celebrated his 36th birthday earlier this week by announcing that he doesn't have erectile dysfunction.

• Grantland inducted my favorite book of all time, Ball Four, into their sports book Hall of Fame.

• It's been more than a decade and this still makes me sad and furious at the same time.

• As usual, things are going really well for the Canseco brothers. Jose has had a tough week.

Paz de la Huerta gives good interview, particularly for an insane person.

• Tuesday night's Conan had Marc Maron and Susan Tedeschi, which means they were just a Mila Kunis short of creating a show specifically for me.

Wonderful news for Jenna Fischer is slightly less wonderful news for her Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidacy and The Office.

Danny Valencia and Chris Perez had a sleepover.

Michael Rand posted a picture of what his Minneapolis Star Tribune colleague Patrick Reusse looked like in the 1970s and it's way too good not to share:

Mind. Blown.

Howard Stern won't take him back, so Artie Lange is doing a new sports radio show.

• Listening to Jonah Keri's podcast as Jon Weisman brought up my name and said nice things about me pretty much made my week. Us original baseball bloggers have to stick together.

• I actually thought about flying to Philadelphia just to steal all the tea.

• Congratulations to Sam Miller for his new gig at Baseball Prospectus and congratulations to Baseball Prospectus for hiring one of the best baseball writers around.

Ozzie is getting upset.

• One of my favorite writers, Clay Travis, launched a new site called Outkick The Coverage.

• Podcast recommendation: Nick Adams was great as a guest co-host on "Jordan, Jesse, Go!"

• I've extended the AG.com "sponsor of the week" program into September and October, so if you're interested in reserving a spot check out the details and current openings.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks doing a live cover version of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Bob Dylan:

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