October 18, 2007
In other words, Walters has confirmed that the team plans to put a player in center field next season.
If the Twins can't re-sign free agent Torii Hunter, plans are to trade, sign a free agent or go in-house to find his center field replacement.
In terms of running style and immediate impact, the Eric Dickerson comparison is a pretty good one.
I think people were saying [Gale] Sayers and [Eric] Dickerson, kind of a combination there. That's what he looks like to me. He's got that shift of gears like Sayers had and of course he has that tremendous speed that Dickerson had; somewhere in there. I was there George Rogers' rookie year and I was there Earl Campbell's rookie year and those guys were amazing and had great years and this guy is right up there with them.
Similar sentiments have occasionally been posted in the comments section here and the randomness of bringing my name up in the Simmons thread makes me think that they came from the same person. Anyway, it's often difficult to explain your feelings about something as subjective as writing or comedy, but the short version is that Simmons strikes me as funny, entertaining, and likable. Souhan is, to me at least, none of the above. In baseball terms, it's the same reason that not all .250 hitters are equal.
Aaron Gleeman mocks a writer at the Star-Tribune for his "lame" pop culture remarks in the writer's column yet clearly adores Simmons. In five years if Simmons has been unable to make a transition will Gleeman still be complimentary?
If a designated hitter bats .250 with zero power and no plate discipline, he's a whole lot less valuable than a Gold Glove shortstop who bats .250 with 50 homers and 100 walks. To me Souhan is like the .250-hitting DH in that he brings very little to the table along with his hit-or-miss pop-culture references and attempts at humor. He's not consistently funny or capable of particularly good analysis, and he's not the world's greatest story-teller. Souhan hits an empty .250.
Meanwhile, Simmons also fills his columns with pop-culture references and attempts at humor, but the difference is that he's actually funny, entertaining, and likable. Whether the question is how I can like Simmons and not Souhan or how I can praise one .250 hitter while criticizing another, the answer basically boils down to "one is good and the other isn't." I won't delve any further into my oft-stated dislike of Souhan, but I will point to this video of Simmons doing ... well, just watch:
Perhaps it's projected feelings about myself, but it's my experience that many writers are disappointing outside of writing. As I've said many times, I got into writing partly because it doesn't involve talking, and I'm guessing that I'm not alone. Simmons' massive popularity means that he could no doubt do tons of radio and television if he chose to, so the fact that he doesn't suggests that he might feel similarly. In fact, the above video begins with him saying, "I'm terrible at TV, why did you make me do this?"
Of course, the video actually shows Simmons coming across almost exactly as he does in print--funny, quick-witted, personable--and his weekly podcasts on ESPN.com are fantastic for the same reasons. That might not seem so remarkable, but for many and perhaps even most writers it is. All of which is to say that Simmons is far from perfect and open to criticism, but strikes me and a huge number of people as funny, entertaining, and likable in print, on radio, and now in videos. Souhan? Not so much.
Hitting .365 in 2000 was a massive fluke in the context of his entire career, but Barnes likely deserved more of a chance to sink or swim in the majors given that he hit .303/.364/.448 in 960 minor-league games spread over a decade. Now 31 years old he's given up on becoming a major-league outfielder again, but is trying to get back to the big leagues as a knuckleball pitcher. Here are Barnes' combined numbers since moving to the mound two seasons ago:
G GS IP ERA SO BB HR OAVG
41 31 187.2 4.46 153 153 18 .225
A 153-to-153 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 187.2 innings is obviously ugly (and Barnes also plunked 27 batters), but his .225 opponent's batting average shows that he's plenty tough to hit and knuckleballers can't be judged like traditional pitching prospects. For instance, during his minor-league career Tim Wakefield posted a 4.83 ERA and 204-to-180 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 393 innings, which isn't the sort of performance that would normally portend a 15-year, 168-win (and counting) career in the majors.
Grabbing LeBron James is fun, but grabbing LeBron James and then watching as essentially every star or quasi-star comes off the board long before it gets back around to you is slightly less fun. You can follow along with the snail-like draft on CBSSports.com and once the season begins you'll be able to see just how out-classed I am when going up against guys who actually write and talk about basketball for a living.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.