May 16, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• Being able to "mute" people you choose to follow on Twitter is the most Minnesota thing ever.

• What's with the New York Times being obsessed with Uptown? And will Randball's Stu write a parody article about this one too?

• It's reassuring to know that Jay Z joins me on Team Rihanna.

• Also, if Rihanna and Drake can't make it work what chance do the rest of us have?

Aaron Rodgers is apparently dating Olivia Munn, which sounds fun except he probably has to watch "The Newsroom" in a non-hate watch way.

Jon Hamm is playing in the celebrity softball game at Target Field during the All-Star break so that he can see what a real man like Jim Thome looks like in person.

• I have a couple openings in my "Hardball Dynasty" league on WhatIfSports and the new season begins next week. If you're interested in joining, please read this first.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we discussed the whole Apple/MLB ruckus that got us kicked off iTunes and how we ended up on Keith Olbermann's television show.

Drew Butera took the mound for the Dodgers and, just like he once did for the Twins, looked like a really good pitcher:

I seriously think Butera should become a catcher/pitcher, ala Brooks Kieschnick. Why not?

Mike Redmond's preference for nude batting practice is always a great story, but especially when it's being told by Vin Scully.

Ben Revere's honeymoon in Philadelphia appears to be over. Great smile, though.

• "Gleeman and The Geek" producer Kate Butler sent me this article literally while she was running our live radio show, so you know it's extremely important.

• I wanna sit around and listen to Richie Havens with Joe Maddon.

Malik Bendjelloul, who directed the Oscar-winning documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" about Sixto Rodriguez, committed suicide at age 36.

Matt Williams and Kirk Gibson are the cutest:

Also worth noting: Gibson cheated.

• It sounds like the Twins have been unhappy with Aaron Hicks for a while and now they're telling the media about it.

Oswaldo Arcia is finally healthy, so naturally the Twins demoted him to Triple-A.

• I found this at my mom's house on Mother's Day, so for any parents out there with a sense of humor ... be careful what you wish for.

• On a related note, this is the best, most fitting picture of me and my mom that I could possibly ever find.

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

- "J.J. Hardy syphilis"
- "First base baseball"
- "Why pou got back to baby size"
- "Kent Hrbek net worth"
- "Leroy Hoard wife"
- "Do feet change shape with weight loss?"
- "Chris Colabello the real deal"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Empty" by Ray LaMontagne:


This week's blog content is sponsored by R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 12, 2014

Gleeman and The Geek #145: MLB, iTunes, and Mother’s Day

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included MLB kicking us off iTunes, Byron Buxton re-injuring his wrist, falling in love with Danny Santana, Keith Olbermann sticking up for us, Matt Guerrier and Chris Parmelee returning to the majors, the size of my ego, ignoring our mothers, demoting Pedro Florimon, Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco improving, Johan Santana's comeback, more concussions, and insurance denying MRI exams.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 145

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


This week's blog content is sponsored by R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 9, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• "Gleeman and The Geek" was removed from iTunes on Wednesday because MLB contacted Apple to inform them about several team-related podcasts whose titles and logos "include infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain clubs." For our podcast that apparently boiled down to the inclusion of the words "Minnesota Twins" in the description, because our title and logo certainly weren't infringing on anything.

MLB and iTunes were both incredibly difficult to deal with, but eventually after almost an entire day of nagging them via phone calls, e-mails, and Twitter messages we received word that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. I'm not sure I buy that, but ultimately I just wanted the silly podcast back on iTunes so people can listen to it and after 24 hours or so of being removed "Gleeman and The Geek" was finally restored.

And then, because my day wasn't surreal enough, Keith Olbermann devoted a segment of his ESPN show to "Gleeman and The Geek" being removed from iTunes. Seriously. Here's the video:

Thanks to Olbermann for sticking up for the little guy and also for making me laugh by questioning my sanity for "voluntarily talking about the Twins."

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded at my favorite bar, Stella's, and features me interviewing my favorite bartender, repeatedly revealing things I immediately regret revealing, and singing "Me and Mrs. Jones."

Shea Serrano of Grantland attempted to quantify which rappers you should and shouldn't get into a fight with and two of my favorites are on the extreme opposite sides of the spectrum.

• After studying Matt Daniels' brilliant analysis of the largest vocabularies in hip-hop I've come to the conclusion that the fewer words a rapper uses the more I like their music.

• Breaking news: Rihanna is more fun than Avril Lavigne.

• On a related note, Carmelo Anthony is only human.

• I'm way too excited about the news that the gross Rainbow Foods in Uptown will soon become a slightly less gross Cub Foods.

• One of my earliest crushes appears to be not doing so well, although maybe this is my chance.

• This video of two teenage girls fighting was fascinating and disturbing even before one of them got hit in the head with a shovel.

• Marlins minor leaguers are breaking their teammate's jaws in bar fights and I'm very proud of the photo I chose to use for the HardballTalk post.

• Who should be the Twins' starting shortstop? I'm glad you asked.

• As someone deathly afraid of talking to people on the phone I'm not sure if this chair would make things better or worse.

Glen Perkins agreed to play match-maker for me.

• It turns out at least one NBA player is a big fan of "Gleeman and The Geek."

• This is probably the best picture I've ever taken.

• I went to Todd Barry's crowd work-only show at The Cedar last month and loved it, so it was fun to hear him talk about that on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.

Hilarious person on Twitter and big-time baseball fan Alison Agosti was a guest on "Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend" with, coincidentally, Alison Rosen.

• Friend of AG.com Lindsay Guentzel is hosting a bowling-and-beer party Saturday night at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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

- "What language does Eddie Rosario speak?"
- "What are Eddie Rosario's accomplishments?"
- "Pizza diet to lose 60 pounds"
- "Brian Dozier trade contract"
- "Stella's blog"
- "Outstanding Minnesota Twins ball players"
- "Joe Nathan's hobbies"
- "Built like a fire hydrant"
- "People staring at phones together"

• Finally, in honor of our MLB/iTunes experience this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Fight The Power" by Public Enemy:


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May 7, 2014

Who should be the Twins’ starting shortstop?

eduardo escobar and pedro florimon

Pedro Florimon started 127 games at shortstop for the Twins last season and began this season in the same role, but now the 27-year-old defensive specialist finds himself mostly on the bench in favor of Eduardo Escobar. Ron Gardenhire has said that he plans to mix and match, but with Florimon hitting .109 and Escobar hitting .348 it seems safe to assume that Escobar will get an extended opportunity to claim the gig as his own.

Florimon was always ill-suited to be an everyday player because he just can't hit and his defense, while very good, is not at the elite level needed to cancel out his lack of offense. For his career he's hit .208/.268/.306 in 678 plate appearances as a big leaguer and .250/.317/.352 in 1,150 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A. For some context, consider that bad-hit, good-glove role model Nick Punto's career OPS is 73 points higher than Florimon's mark in the majors.

On defense Florimon makes lots of slick-looking plays, but he also botches his fair share of routine plays and overall Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as 3.4 runs above average per 150 games. That's good but not great and when combined with a terrible bat makes him a utility man-caliber player being pushed into a larger role because the Twins lack other decent options. Or do they? Escobar is hitting .348 and delivered a game-winning homer Monday night, after all.

Of course, even with his good work in a small sample of action this season Escobar is still a career .244/.295/.335 hitter in 383 plate appearances as a big leaguer. He also hit just .266/.312/.376 in 875 plate appearances at Triple-A, which is basically what Florimon did with slightly more power. However, it's worth noting that Escobar is a couple years younger than Florimon and has recently shown some actual signs of improvement offensively.

In addition to hitting .348/.380/.522 in 53 plate appearances for the Twins this season Escobar also hit .307/.380/.500 in 188 plate appearances at Triple-A last season. That's still far too small of a sample to get particularly excited about, especially when the good overall production comes along with poor strike zone control, but unlike with Florimon there's at least a little something on which to base some level of optimism for Escobar's bat.

Defensively he's logged a grand total of just 375 innings at shortstop in the majors, so it's tough to make any real judgments, but Ultimate Zone Rating shows Escobar as 11.3 runs above average there per 150 games. Toss in the consistent praise he received defensively in the minors and it seems fairly safe to say that Escobar probably has at least an above-average glove there. So he's younger than Florimon, can't be any worse offensively, and may be as good defensively.

That's enough to convince me Escobar should be above Florimon on the shortstop depth chart, but then again they aren't the only two options. Eduardo Nunez, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last month, has plenty of experience as a starting shortstop in the majors subbing for Derek Jeter and the Twins seem convinced that he has offensive potential at age 26. Sadly, his defensive numbers are historically awful and there's little evidence that he's not a terrible hitter.

For his career Nunez has hit .268/.314/.379 in the majors and .272/.315/.365 in the minors, including .275/.318/.360 in 716 plate appearances at Triple-A. He's a better hitter than Florimon and might be a slightly better hitter than Escobar, but Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Nunez as 33.9 runs below average per 150 games at shortstop. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt and cut that number in half Nunez isn't so much a shortstop as a guy who has played shortstop.

And then there's Danny Santana, a 23-year-old prospect called up from Triple-A way ahead of schedule because injuries left the Twins short-handed. Santana has gotten a surprising amount of prospect hype for someone who hasn't actually done much to deserve it. He's posted some decent batting averages in the minors, which along with good speed and athleticism tend to get lots of people excited, but he's also never cracked a .750 OPS in a season and makes a ton of errors.

Last season at Double-A he hit .297 with 30 steals in 137 games, but he also managed just two homers and 24 walks in 587 plate appearances. This season at Triple-A prior to being called up Santana hit .268/.311/.381 with zero homers and a 28-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 games. He's clearly not close to being MLB ready and there's plenty of reason to question whether he'll ever be ready to contribute as more than a utility man.

In the short term Escobar over Florimon seems like a fairly easy choice for Gardenhire and in the slightly longer term perhaps Santana will emerge as a viable option late this season or next, but as has been the case for more than a decade now the Twins lack long-term shortstop options that look capable of being assets both offensively and defensively. Their next good shortstop probably isn't in the organization, assuming such a person has even been born yet or will ever exist.


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May 5, 2014

Gleeman and The Geek #144: Mauer’s Back and Stella’s

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included Joe Mauer's back injury, too many pitchers, dumping Mike Pelfrey from the rotation, giving Sam Deduno another look, hanging out at my favorite bar, Aaron Hicks' concussion, Jack Morris winning the facial hair battle, Chris Colabello's adjustments, mailbag questions from listeners, and special guests Lindsay Guentzel of K-TWIN and Farrah the world's best bartender.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 144

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

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