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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
• My new boss was profiled bySports 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• I'm willing to help Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Jenna Fischerreach 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 Zulgadaway 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.
• 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 Marais 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Once upon a time Steve Carrell leaving The Officewould have made me sad, but it's tough to get too worked up given how far the show has slipped recently. It was a good run.
• Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history and the New York Times has an amazing video breakdown that sheds some light on how he's been able to dominate for 15 years with basically one pitch.
• I'm apparently one of the few people who loved Louis C.K.'s first show that got canceled by HBO after one season, so it's no surprise that I also love his new show on FX. They're running back-to-back episodes every Tuesday night and I highly recommend watching assuming that you enjoy things that are really funny. And if you've never seen his amazing stand-up before, watch this recent set on Lopez Tonight. If you don't laugh, we can't be friends any more.
• Freaks and Geeks is another show that deserved much better, but at least the Independent Film Channel will now be home to the old episodes nearly a decade after NBC sadly canceled the series after one amazing season. IFC also has Arrested Development re-runs.
• Some rare good news from the newspaper world: Let go by the St. Pioneer Press a year ago, friend of AG.com Phil Miller has been hired full time by the Minneapolis Star Tribune after doing a bunch of part-time work for them recently. I'm a little sad that Miller will be covering Gophers football after previously reporting on the Twins and Timberwolves, but his writing is so good it might actually get me to read about Tim Brewster and company. Maybe.
• Next time you get frustrated by a Twins baserunning mistake, rememberRuben Rivera:
Jon Miller's play-by-play really takes the clip to a whole new level.
• Rather than make some lame joke about fumbling, I'll simply link toAdrian Peterson and his Playboy-posing fiancee.
• Having chatted with him about such things, let's just say that this drawing ofJon Heyman is not a self-portrait.
• David Kahn has accomplished in two years what two decades filled mostly with losing could not, because between the draft and first couple days of free agency I'm giving serious thought to picking a new favorite NBA team. Any suggestions?
• This song randomly got stuck in my head last week despite not hearing it for 15 years, and I defy you to find a superior lyric: "Leave you kinda startled like the funk off a Frito / Make your man jealous while hoes cheese like Doritos."
• Based on this quote, I'd guess Ron Gardenhire reads Twins blogs, but not this Twins blog or any of the Twins blogs I read.
• For whatever reason I was very late to the Drew Magary party, but he's quickly become one of my favorite writers because of absurd-yet-interesting things like this. As for the question on the table, I'd definitely take the over on 25,000.
If there was no such thing as a "save" the Twins probably would have left Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth inning last night after he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on just 11 pitches, but instead they brought in new closer Jon Rauch. And guess what? Just like most quality relievers would do about 90 percent of the time in that spot, he was able to protect a two-run lead for one inning against the bottom of the lineup. So far, so good.
There was a last-minute change to the projected Opening Day roster, as Clay Condrey was placed on the disabled list with a strained right elbow and the Twins called up Alex Burnettto take his spot in the bullpen. Burnett thrived after moving to the bullpen in the minors last year and ranks No. 21 on my list of the Twins' top prospects, but the move was surprising because he's just 22 years old and has zero experience at Triple-A.
By choosing Burnett the Twins again showed how little faith they have in Anthony Slama's amazing minor-league numbers being for real. He's four years older than Burnett and had a 2.67 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 81 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He's not on the 40-man roster, but the Twins could have made a spot by putting Joe Nathan on the 60-day disabled list and if a minor-league reliever is getting a shot it should be Slama.
Last night Ron Gardenhire had his first shot to get Brendan Harris into the lineup versus a left-hander, but my hope that he'd sit Nick Punto for a clearly superior option offensively proved to be wishful thinking. Gardenhire cited their career stats against Joe Saunders and wanting the better glove behind Nick Blackburn, but they had a meaningless 15 combined at-bats off him and despite his rep Blackburn's ground-ball rate is barely above average.
According to USA Today the Twins have the 10th-highest Opening Day payroll this year after ranking 24th, 25th, 18th, 19th, and 20th during the previous five seasons. I'd expect them to eventually settle into the 12-18 range, but for now being a "big-payroll team" is fun. Of course, even with the Twins at a team-record $97.5 million the Yankees are out-spending them by a cool $110 million and a total of five teams have an edge of at least $40 million.
Sabermetrics has picked us to finish like fourth or fifth three years in a row. So you figure their numbers out. Numbers are good bases to go off things and try to figure things out, but for every number you throw out there that's not supposed to work, the human element's always coming.
Bad pitch, guy gets a hit. But he's not supposed to, still rips a pitch in the gap. Those are all great things and, over the course of time probably prove out pretty good. But I like the human element and I like the heart way better than I like their numbers. And that's what I'll always stay with.
I'm not even entirely clear about what Gardenhire is specifically talking about there, but I do know that "sabermetrics has picked us to finish like fourth or fifth three years in a row ... so you figure their numbers out" is just false and a strawman argument. Baseball Prospectus, for instance, has projected the Twins to finish first or second in five of the past six seasons, which is more often than the Twins have actually finished first or second.
Just a month after signing him to a minor-league contract the Twins have released Charlton Jimerson, which is no surprise. At the time of the deal I wrote that he "would be laughably overmatched in the majors" as a even a fourth outfielder and the Twins quickly replaced him with a better fit for that potential role in 29-year-old Dodgers castoff Jason Repko, who'll join Jacque Jones in the Triple-A outfield while competing for the same potential call-up.
Jones is obviously the sentimental pick and had an impressive spring, but as a right-handed hitter Repko might be a better fit in an outfield/designated hitter mix with lefty bats Denard Span, Jason Kubel, and Jim Thome. He hasn't played regularly in the majors since 2006, but fared decently against lefties back then and has hit .291/.355/.470 overall in 230 games at Triple-A. Plus, unlike Jones he's actually played center field regularly in recent years.
Much like Jimerson, the Twins also released 29-year-old left-hander Mark McLemore after inking him to a minor-league deal last month. Seth Stohsnotes that in addition to Jimerson and McLemore the Twins released a bunch of other minor leaguers like Jason Jones, Rene Leveret, Jonathan Waltenbury, Jeff Lanning, and Blair Erickson. As a 2006 sixth rounder who ranked 31st on my list of Twins prospects last year Waltenbury is the biggest surprise.
Jones was a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees last winter and the Twins gave up a decent minor league reliever in Charles Nolte to keep him in the organization after not making the team, but he never struck me as a particularly worthwhile pickup. Leveret has hit .303/.390/.442 in four pro seasons, including .286/.363/.399 at high Single-A last year, but lacks the power to be a legit first base prospect. Lanning was an eighth-round pick just two drafts ago.
Speaking of Seth, during the Twins-Cardinals exhibition game last week FSN coincidentally showed him eating in the bleachers. Bert Blyleven had been talking about how relaxing it was at Target Field, so when Seth popped up on camera he said: "Now that's relaxing, that gentleman stuffing his face." And since this is the internet, naturally a bunch of other people who noticed one of their favorite bloggers on screen captured the moment for posterity:
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