February 24, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• There was some big news in the Twins blogosphere this week, as John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, and Parker Hageman launched a new site called TwinsDaily.com that combines their four blogs into one mega-blog and offers a platform for other writers to find an audience. I'm not involved with the site, but it's a great project and I'd encourage everyone to go hang out there (after you're done reading everything here, of course). Check out TwinsDaily.com.

• In which Craig Calcaterra reveals our private conversations and says Ronald Belisario bought drugs from my mother.

Raquel Welch has to be the best-looking 71-year-old person ever, right?

• Seems like Elijah Dukes misunderstood the whole concept of edibles.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis is beautiful and talented.

• Two great tastes that taste great together: Tom Scharpling and Marc Maron teamed up for a fantastic podcast that was about five hours too short.

• Twins beat writers aren't afraid to show plenty of leg at spring training.

• Sometimes perception and reality are a perfect match.

Nobody puts Niese-y in a corner.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was taped at Smalley's 87 Club in downtown Minneapolis, which closed up shop literally a day later. And if you've listened to the episode, that probably seems fitting.

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and the Wolves sing (sort of) "Tearin Up My Heart" by NSYNC:

If you can make it to the end Nikola Pekovic steals the show, as usual.

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland broke down some video for a very detailed, interesting analysis of Love's low-post game.

"Googly oogly oogly baby!"

David Price taped a commercial with Kate Upton, but his Rays teammate Evan Longoria is dating an actual Playboy playmate, Jaime Edmondson.

• Speaking of the Rays, this is the first ballpark giveaway guaranteed to cause nightmares.

• Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Novak in the same photo.

Bob Wickman's sexiness did not come naturally.

• Hell hath no fury like a baseball writer scorned.

• Friend of AG.com and Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Phil Miller was named one of the top 10 beat reporters in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Daniel Von Bargen, the actor who brilliantly played George Costanza's boss on Seinfeld and was also good in the highly underrated movie Super Troopers, attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.

• As if Louis C.K. writing and producing a sitcom for CBS wasn't confusing enough, apparently Ashley Tisdale has been cast as the star.

• One of my favorite shows, Community, is coming back on the air next month after a long layoff and threat of cancellation.

• Fear not: Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Kate Beckinsale is still great looking.

• I hope Greg Oden can find some happiness after basketball, because otherwise life isn't fair.

• And speaking of Oden's latest setback, Joel Przybilla is back in the NBA.

• Congrats to former "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for making the MLB Fan Cave's final 30 candidates. She's now headed to Arizona for spring training.

• Bonnes and I are planning a get-together for March 5 to watch the Twins-Red Sox spring training game on television. We'll have all the details next week on the podcast and our blogs, but in the meantime mark your calendar and start preparing your liver.

• Finally, in honor of Dukes' latest brush with the law this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Young, Wild, and Free" by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa:

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.

December 13, 2011

“Gleeman and The Geek” #19: Three Amigos

This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" was recorded at Old Chicago in Eden Prairie, the beer of choice was Grain Belt Nordeast, and we were joined by special guest Seth Stohs (and Phil Loadholt, sort of) for our longest and drunkest podcast yet. Topics included the good old days of blogging, Rule 5 pick Terry Doyle, the White Sox blowing things up, the over/under on Twins wins, Alexi Casilla vs. Luke Hughes vs. Trevor Plouffe, and tons of prospect talk.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 19

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

June 10, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by the Minnesota law firm Snyder Gislason Frasier LLC, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your legal needs ...

Justin Timberlake shows why kids should take singing lessons instead of blogging lessons if they want to one day grope the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com on national television.

Uncle Phil made a nice living as a judge, so he probably could have covered the $8,356 cab fare from West Philadelphia to Bel Air. That buys a lot of vanity plates and dice for the mirror.

UPDATE: Nick Nelson, the Twins blogosphere's unquestioned rap aficionado, passes along an extended version of the Fresh Prince intro that a) inserts a terrible verse into the middle of an otherwise enjoyable song, and b) ruins the humor from the above link with previously unseen (to me, at least) details about his trip. To ease the pain of all the childhoods ruined by the new information, here are a bunch of pictures of a grown-up Tatyana Ali.

False alarm, you guys: Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz are still together. Phew. He's still two-timing his water, though.

Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine from Slate used a bunch of the data on Rotten Tomatoes for some sabermetric-style movie analysis and their findings are very interesting as long as you're not Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Anthony Weiner has lots of issues, but at least his taste in porn stars seems pretty decent.

• I'm willing to cut Weiner some slack, but only because he introduced people to Benjy Bronk.

• It was a big week for Bill Simmons. Not only did he launch Grantland, a photographer at the Stanley Cup Finals snapped a post-goal picture that features Simmons, his dad, and his dad's extraordinary mustache celebrating in the background.

• Sometimes just a headline is enough to know I'll be seeing a movie as soon as it comes out.

• Not mentioned in this story is that the NBCSports.com offices are in Stamford, Connecticut.

Bryan Harper is no Brian Harper.

• Seeing this drunk guy "walk" home is strong evidence that alcohol gives you super powers:

Without the booze I'm convinced he would have died 10 times during that video.

• Speaking of drunk guys, Seth Stohs e-mailed me this picture he took of me losing a staring contest to Lindsay Guentzel at approximately 1:00 am last Friday night:

Couple things. One, as you can clearly see losing weight hasn't decreased the size of my head any (and has had a minimal impact on chin count as well). Two, if you look very closely you can see two different Twins beat reporters in that photo, at least one of whom likes to quote xFIP.

• Also, check out how tough and mean Seth looked standing in front of the Harmon Killebrew statue at Target Field right before driving two drunk bloggers home:

Seth's look says "these guys aren't nearly as fun as they think they are when I'm sober." OK, enough of that. Thanks to everyone for putting up with me. I'm scheduled to leave the house again in 2014.

• Nothing has changed with old friend Carlos Gomez. Still can't hit, still makes great catches.

• Another old friend, Brian Fuentes, helped get Bob Geren fired in Oakland.

• Breaking news: Men like looking at boobs, even in France.

• My new boss was profiled by Sports Business Journal right after he spent $4.4 billion to retain the Olympics through 2020. I'm just hoping NBC still has enough money left to cover my next expense report.

• I've mostly been ambivalent about Anne Hathaway, but the glasses change everything.

• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and rookie Jerry Sands are both young and reckless.

Kevin McHale's introductory press conference as the Rockets' new coach was pretty funny, unless you're a Timberwolves fan.

Kathy Ireland is the latest opponent to take a loss against time, which remains undefeated.

• It was tough going months without listening to the "Two Jacks in the Hole" podcast with Joe Stapleton and Scott Huff , but this week they premiered a new (or at least renamed) podcast called "Huff and Stapes" and it was better than ever.

Willy Aybar: Mediocre baseball player, world-class scumbag.

• As a kid I remember listening to Joe Chevalier's national radio show many nights and simply assuming "Papa Joe" was in his sixties, but he passed away this week at age 62.

• Communication trumps run scoring when it comes to firing hitting coaches.

• Annoying reminder: If you'd like to sponsor AG.com for a week, click here for details.

• Finally, in honor of his retirement this week's AG.com-approved music video is "I Know I Got Skillz" by Shaquille O'Neal, which a 10-year-old me non-ironically memorized in 1993:

February 4, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• If you don't think this will soon be hanging on my wall, you clearly don't know me very well.

• NHL goalie fights are pretty funny to begin with, but NHL goalie fights ending after one punch are hilarious.

Henry Abbott of ESPN.com took a very interesting look at the difference between perception and reality when it comes to Kobe Bryant and "clutch."

• An army of Christina Hendricks look-a-likes sounds fine to me.

Rob Neyer is for me what Bill James was for many baseball fans in the 1980s, shaping the way I watch and write about the sport to the point that I've basically been attempting to do a semi-passable Rob Neyer impression for the past decade. He's the first online writer I read on a regular basis and I remain a huge fan, so much so that I've never really gotten over being starstruck when I see him each year at the Society for American Baseball Research convention.

When it comes to bringing sabermetrics to a mainstream audience Neyer has been the single most effective baseball writer of all time, and that includes James. This week, after 15 years of great work at ESPN.com, he decided to make a change and is now the national baseball editor at SB Nation. And not only didn't he take even one day off between jobs, Neyer is churning out more content than ever at his new home. Congratulations and good luck to one of my heroes.

Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com wrote a guest column for the New York Times on Kevin Love's unique brand of greatness this season. And somehow he's not an All-Star (yet).

• I'm willing to help Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Jenna Fischer reach her goal.

• An unlikely radio partnership between friend of AG.com Phil Mackey and longtime Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse has been so successful that 1500-ESPN has decided to expand their show by another hour each afternoon. In addition to more Mackey they smartly also lured Judd Zulgad away from KFAN, where the fantastic Star Tribune reporter had been an exclusive Vikings analyst. It almost makes up for the times they mistakenly put me on the air.

Least surprising news of the week: A.J. Pierzynski is friends with the guys from Creed.

• As a lifelong Minnesota it takes a lot to impress me regarding winter driving, but this did it:

If you look carefully, I think the other car has a "Geek Squad" logo on the door.

Eric Stonestreet is outstanding on Modern Family, but his greatest contribution to society will always be snapping a picture of Minka Kelly and Sofia Vergara posing together at the Golden Globes and posting it on Twitter.

• Twins president Dave St. Peter is now on Twitter, so you should probably follow him.

• Based on this lengthy article in New York magazine I clearly picked the wrong type of website to start nine years ago.

• I finally saw "The Social Network" this week. I liked it a lot, and the script and acting were so good that I would've happily watched it go on for another five hours, but for whatever reason it struck me as just short of being great. My primary takeaways from the film: 1) Rooney Mara is responsible for everything, ever. 2) Guys named Zuckerman should never interact with Aryan twins. 3) Don't throw beer. Grade: A-minus.

Apparently the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com liked "The Social Network" too.

• Now that he's dropped the price, I think we should pool our money together and buy Shawn Green's house.

Seth Stohs' annual "Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook" is now available for purchase and you should buy it. Seriously. I can't stress this enough: You should buy it. Not only is it a great read and an amazing value at $14.95 for 170 pages, Seth has spent thousands of hours and most of the past decade churning out good baseball writing that can be enjoyed for absolutely free. Paying him 15 bucks for a good product seems like an easy way to show support. Do it.

• My latest podcasting discovery is "Pop My Culture" with Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland, which is basically hour-long, mostly silly conversations with various comedians and actors. For instance, here's one with longtime Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Linda Cardellini.

• If you have Netflix streaming and are as into offbeat documentaries as me, check out "I Like Killing Flies" and "I Think We're Alone Now." Both are equal parts engrossing and weird.

• Last weekend I had dinner at Mix Fusion Bistro in Eden Prairie and the food was every bit as good as when I reviewed the restaurant after it opened in July, with an added bonus that lots of people were there this time. Chalk one up for customers eventually finding a good product.

• I've done a 180-degree turn on the Super Bowl, going from initially believing in the Steelers as small underdogs to now thinking the Packers will win and cover the 2.5-point spread. For a slightly more comprehensive analysis of Sunday's matchup, read this.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Red Sox want David Ortiz to continue facing lefties even if he can't hit them
- White Sox GM after making 1984 trade for Ozzie Guillen: "I think we just signed a jockey"
- Andy Pettitte's retirement (and Jamie Moyer's injury) means no active pitcher has 200 wins
- Chris Carter is going to be disappointed when the A's send him to Triple-A
- Lance Berkman criticizes the Rangers in explaining why he chose St. Louis over Texas
- Royals' projected 2011 payroll is $33 million (or $2 million more than Alex Rodriguez's salary)
- If healthy, Jesus Flores could be trade bait for the Nationals
- LaTroy Hawkins expects to be ready for Opening Day after shoulder surgery

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Little Richard singing "Long Tall Sally":

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »