October 22, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #64: Offseason Primer and Transaction Tutorial

Topics for this week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" included previewing the offseason, how much money the Twins have to spend, appreciating Jim Rantz, saying mazel tov to "class act" Delmon Young, breaking down the free agent market position-by-position, my YouTube stardom, MLB-ready prospects, trying to predict Josh Hamilton's contract, clearing out the 40-man roster, adventures in dog-sitting, and a transaction tutorial.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 64

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

October 19, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• I had a pretty good worlds colliding moment this week, as my Chelsea Peretti crush and my baseball writing job crossed paths. And her reaction was about right.

Anthony Bourdain found out that Marlo Stanfield is still tracking Omar Little, and the whole thing should delight fellow "The Wire" fans.

• Just in case you forgot that Bill Murray is the best.

• MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson did the baseball equivalent of "Dewey Defeats Truman."

Alex Rodriguez has the Twins to thank for his playoff reputation not being even worse.

Jim Harbaugh shifted $75 million in bets by turning down a penalty last night.

• I'm not sure why, exactly, but John Bonnes thought it would be a good idea to record a video after we were done recording the latest "Gleeman and The Geek" episode. So here's me drinking beer and talking nonsense while he shines an incredibly bright light in my face in the middle of an otherwise dark bar:

Special guest appearance by our waitress! (And blame Bonnes for shooting in portrait view.)

• The above video was recorded Saturday night at The Lyndale Tap House, but afterward we felt further alcohol was needed and went to a new bar/restaurant called Nightingale that fellow Twins blogger Nick Nelson's brother and sister-in-law just opened last week. I recommend checking it out, because the place looks great, the employees and patrons were nice, and they have a good beer selection in addition to a big food menu.

• Thanks to everyone who submitted Twitter questions for my mailbag post earlier this week. I'll try to make it a semi-regular thing during the offseason.

• Within that mailbag post I recommended five podcasts, one of which was "Fan Graphs Audio" with Carson Cistulli and Dayn Perry. Their chat this week was a a fine representation of the show's overall brilliance.

• Like I've always said, working out is for chumps.

Ozzie Smith, who earned $32 million during his 19-year career, is selling all his stuff.

• Nobody puts Jeff Kent in a corner.

• Former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Elisha Cuthbert makes a pretty good Annie Hall.

• I'd order less Chinese takeout if dining in restaurants mirrored this story more often.

• I'm pretty sure this is what people from other countries imagine goes on in America always.

• My mixed feelings about Germans in general contributed to my enjoyment of this video:

I have no idea what he was saying, but the way he said it made everything much funnier.

• Good, because I really didn't want to think of Dane Cook as a co-worker.

• I've avoided anything even remotely related to politics for a decade here, but my "Friday Night Lights" fandom is too strong to ignore this story.

• Good to see that Zach Lowe didn't miss a beat moving from SI.com to Grantland. If you like basketball and smart analysis, he's a must-read.

• Whoever cast Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan as sisters is a genius.

• Not surprisingly the smart folks at Baseball America are on Team Trout.

This is an example of why almost all of my ESPN-watching involves live sporting events.

• Some more recommendations from my ongoing Netflix instant binge: "Klown," "A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt," "Indie Game: The Movie," "Backstage," "Jim Norton: Please Be Offended," "Bill Burr: You People Are All The Same."

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

- "I've had nine beers and I'm 150 pounds"
- "Joe Mande and Glen Rice"
- "Does Shana Hiatt have a baby?"
- "How many carbs in hunan chicken?"
- "Chris Ison Pulitzer"
- "Ashley Greene baseball"
- "How fat is Chuck Knoblauch?"
- "Delmon Young doppelganger"
- "Rachel Bilson favorite baseball team"
- "Jacqueline Bisset salaries"
- "Finding Minnesota pornographers"
- "Notes to put on a nerd's back"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Brandi Carlile doing a live version of "That Wasn't Me" for 89.3 The Current:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Audible, which is offering a free audiobook download for AG.com readers and "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners at AudiblePodcast.com/Gleeman.

October 17, 2012

Twitter Mailbag: Answers

Last week I asked for mailbag questions submitted via Twitter, so here are about 1,600 words worth of me answering 140-character queries ...

@mdidrikson: What is the best baseball book you've read?

Without question "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton. I've read it at least five times and it never ceases being amazing. For him to write something that great in 1970 is crazy. Meeting him at the SABR convention in Seattle a few years ago was a big thrill.

@caniwarrior: How did Rick Anderson survive the coaching purge?

Rick Anderson became pitching coach when Ron Gardenhire replaced Tom Kelly as manager in 2002, so the combination of a decade on the job and Gardenhire's support is a pretty strong one. My assumption is that Gardenhire fought to keep Anderson around, perhaps at the expense of multiple other coaches, but that's just speculation. Obviously the Twins' pitching has been in decline for a while now and Anderson is presumably on the hottest of hot seats.

@ZBurmeister: What are your favorite podcasts I probably haven't heard of?

I work from home and listen to podcasts constantly all day while I write for NBCSports.com, so at this point I subscribe to more than 40 of them. There's a complete list on the right-hand sidebar of this page, but in terms of podcasts you may not be familiar with my favorites right now are:

- "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka
- "The Best Show On WFMU" with Tom Scharpling
- "Fan Graphs Audio" with Carson Cistulli and Dayn Perry
- "The Long Shot" with Sean Conroy, Eddie Pepitone, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny
- "Throwing Shade" with Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi

And of course "Gleeman and The Geek." Once the playoffs are over and my work schedule settles down a bit I think I'll write up a guide to all the podcasts I like, because it's something people ask about a lot and as someone who loves the medium spreading the word would be nice.

@jacoblaxen: What is Terry Ryan's first move this offseason?

It's always hard to predict the timing of moves, but based on Terry Ryan's repeated comments about upgrading the rotation and not liking the free agent market my guess would be some sort of trade for a starting pitcher. Reading between the lines, it sure seems like he has a trade or two on the table that he feels reasonably comfortable with.

@skrypzUSN: Who would you rather see traded for starting pitching, Denard Span or Ben Revere?

It all depends on what type of returns they would fetch. Denard Span is a better player than Ben Revere right now and generally seems underrated by Twins fans, but he's also older, much more expensive, and much closer to free agency. If they both had identical trade value I'd probably lean toward trading Revere and sticking with Span, but they don't. Span should be able to command a lot more in return.

@commnman: Are there any bargain free agent starting pitchers you'd be comfortable with the Twins targeting this offseason?

Quite a few, actually. This is a pretty deep crop of free agent starters, at least relative to other offseasons. There aren't many elite, top-of-the-rotation options, but the Twins wouldn't be in the mix for them anyway and there are plenty of mid-rotation types available. As soon as the playoffs end I'll have an article breaking down all the options, but for now some names to ponder: Joe Blanton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ervin Santana, Gavin Floyd, Brandon McCarthy.

@dbrugg999: Twins talk is about how they need starting pitching, but what other position is crucial that they upgrade?

Middle infield, but that's been true for essentially the past decade. Right now Pedro Florimon is probably the favorite to start at shortstop in 2013, which says a lot about a lot.

@jackthumser: How closely do you follow other sports?

Pretty closely. I've always been a big basketball and football fan, and for several years I wrote about the NFL for Rotoworld. I know absolutely nothing about hockey and don't have a ton of interest in other sports except for mixed martial arts and, if you consider it a sport, poker.

@mattusaurus: Who has the best pitch in baseball?

Mariano Rivera's cutter was the correct answer to this question for 15 years, but since he missed the entire season I suppose we need a new one. Fan Graphs assigns run values to pitches and based largely off those my picks would be Craig Kimbrel's fastball, Fernando Rodney's changeup, Clayton Kershaw's curveball, Yu Darvish's slider, and R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. And along the same lines as Rivera's cutter, I guess Dickey's knuckler is the best.

@salmensays: Do right-handed hitters or left-handed hitters get more infield hits?

I'm guessing most people would assume left-handed hitters get more infield hits, by virtue of being a couple steps closer to first base. However, studies have shown that right-handed hitters actually get more infield hits because they hit more ground balls to third base and shortstop, which require longer throws than ground balls hit to second base and first base.

@ZnelND: Who's the best Twins prospect no one has heard of?

I'd say probably Jorge Polanco. He was overshadowed by Miguel Sano and Max Kepler when he signed for $750,000 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and then got off to a slow start as a professional, but Polanco had a great half-season at rookie-ball. He's years from potentially entering the Twins' plans, but as a shortstop with a good bat Polanco is one of their highest-upside prospects.

@jimcamery: Do prominent ex-players make better coaches than scrubs? Is there any real data?

That question was about Paul Molitor being turned down for a job on the Twins' revamped staff. Many fans assume that great players like Molitor would make great coaches, but there isn't much evidence to support that. Very few Hall of Fame-level players go on to become great coaches or managers and many of the best coaches and managers were marginal players. Molitor, for instance, was fired by the Mariners after one season as hitting coach in 2004.

@MeatSauce1: Bring Alex Rodriguez to the Twins?

That question comes from the world renowned Meat Sauce of KFAN fame, so of course I have to answer it. There's zero chance of the Twins trading for Alex Rodriguez, but it'll be interesting to see if the Yankees try to trade him, period. He's owed $114 million for the next five seasons and I'm guessing they'd have to eat at least $75 million to unload him. Also worth noting: Rodriguez hit .272/.353/.430 this season. Justin Morneau hit .267/.333/.440.

@mdidrikson: What's the best team in the past 25 years to not win the World Series?

There are a lot of them, because the nature of baseball means being the best team during a 162-game season and winning the World Series are often very different things. I'd probably go with the 2001 Mariners, who set the modern record with 116 wins and lost in the ALCS. Any good baseball team can beat any other good baseball team three times in five games or four times in seven games, which simultaneously makes the playoffs great and maddening.

@ScandiAngel: What's a reasonable expectation for Kyle Gibson in 2013? Will the Twins treat him like Stephen Strasburg?

I'm sure Kyle Gibson will be on a workload limit in 2013. In terms of what to expect, he's off to an impressive start in the Arizona Fall League and reportedly throwing harder now than he did before Tommy John surgery. He'll compete for a rotation spot in spring training before most likely heading to Triple-A. Expectations should be held in check because Gibson wasn't an elite prospect before the injury, but if things go well he could join the Twins' rotation midseason.

@jimcamery: Was Prince Fielder worth the money?

Prince Fielder hit .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers in 162 games, so he certainly earned his $23 million salary this season. That was always pretty likely, though, because he's 28 years old with a great track record. He's still owed another $191 million for the next eight seasons and the odds of the second half of that deal looking good for the Tigers seems iffy at best. Then again, I'm more or less against handing out massive long-term contracts to any player.

@SpitThatHotFire: Where do you see Josh Hamilton ending up next year?

Josh Hamilton is one of the most interesting free agents ever. Based solely on his track record at age 31 he'd be in line for well over $100 million, but because of his off-field (and on-field) issues it wouldn't surprise me if he signed for less than $100 million. As for where ... I have no idea. It sure seems like the Rangers don't want him back unless it's cheap and most of the usual free-spenders seem unlikely to go nuts for him. "Not the Twins" is the best I can do.

@wombat_socho: Is there any cure for Ron Gardenhire's addiction to scrappy/useless infielders?

Well, the most obvious cure is for the front office to stop providing him with such players, but then that brings up the question of who has the addiction in the first place.

@commnman: How are Twins fans supposed to decide between rooting for Delmon Young and rooting for the Yankees?

We actually discussed this at some length on this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and ultimately concluded that rooting for the Tigers made sense under these circumstances.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Audible, which is offering a free audiobook download for AG.com readers and "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners at AudiblePodcast.com/Gleeman.

October 15, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #63: SABR School

Topics for this week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" included watching an incredibly exciting postseason while trying to remember a time when the Twins were involved, the pros and cons of dog-sitting, going to "SABR School" with a tutorial on sabermetric stats and concepts, the Twins' improved farm system, Twitter's reaction to a blown save, and Delmon Young, Lew Ford, and the many other ex-Twins in the playoffs.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 63

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

Here's what our pre-show prep for this episode looked like:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Audible, which is offering a free audiobook download for AG.com readers and "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners at AudiblePodcast.com/Gleeman.

October 12, 2012

Link-O-Rama

Mila Kunis has been the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com since March of 2010, but it took Esquire until now to name her "Sexiest Woman Alive." Ahead of my time, as always.

Phil Ivey is too badass for his own good.

Hulk Hogan dominated my wrestling-watching experience as a kid and there was a brief period a few years ago when I listened to Bubba The Love Sponge regularly, so ... wow.

• Well, now everyone knows what to get me for my birthday.

• One bad thing about Louis C.K. doing basically every job involved in making "Louie" is that he occasionally needs a break. The good news is that he wants to do a bunch more seasons.

• I died for a good cause, at least.

• At least he died doing what he loved.

Chelsea Peretti started her own podcast and the first episode is predictably great, meaning it's time to promote her from frequent Link-O-Rama topic to OFGoAG.com candidate.

• I had dinner at a new, family-owned restaurant Tuesday and it was really good, so if you're near Eden Prairie and into Greek food check out Zorba's. Nice food, nice decor, nice owner.

• I still need a bunch more questions for next week's Twitter mailbag.

Every drink from every episode of "Mad Men"? Sure, why not:

I love that we live in a time when people get paid to create videos like that.

• On a related note, Jon Hamm and his girlfriend really hate the intentional walk.

• Having grown up listening to him on Howard Stern's radio show I consider Gilbert Gottfried a misunderstood comedic genius and his interview with Marc Maron didn't disappoint.

Behind the scenes of HardballTalk. (And here's the post in question.)

• Speaking of which, blogging is apparently the job of the future.

Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe wrote a really interesting article about the Patriots' no-huddle offense and how it was influenced by college football.

• "Barb Wire" came out when I was 13 years old and as such I watched it a dozen times once it hit cable, so the "How Did This Get Made?" celebration of its awfulness was fun.

• It sounds like I'll have only five more years to complain about how the light-rail doesn't do anyone in the suburbs any good, but I can squeeze a lot of complaining into five years.

• What to make of beat reporters stumping for players they cover come award season?

• For anyone else who loved "Looper" and is curious about the little kid, read this.

• Honestly, this isn't even fair.

Jeff Kent is still on "Survivor."

• I guess the Twins can just re-use this from last year, which will at least save some money.

• On a recent "Gleeman and The Geek" episode I mentioned possibly doing a second podcast about movies and television, and show favorite Kate Agnew wants to take me up on it.

Tom Hanks seems like he's probably the best person.

• I've binged on Netflix instant lately, so here are some recommendations: "Marley," "The Off Hours," "Tyrannosaur," "Neds," "The Unloved," "The Snowtown Murders," "95 Miles To Go."

• And of course if you've never seen "Freaks and Geeks," first of all why the hell not? Second of all, it's now available on Netflix instant.

• I have two openings in my Hardball Dynasty league on WhatIfSports.com. If you're interested, please read this for details.

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

- "Zubaz hipster"
- "J.D. Harmeyer crush"
- "Kyle Waldrop girlfriend"
- "Picture of money tree"
- "Why does Aimee Mann plays Gibsons"
- "Alison Brie velocity"
- "Hormel chicken"
- "Jim Rome wuss"
- "Delmon Young mustache"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Ben Howard covering "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen:

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