April 24, 2013

Twitter Mailbag: Answers

Over the weekend I asked "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners to submit questions for this week's show via Twitter, but then we had a busier than expected episode with multiple guests and didn't have time to actually answer them. I always appreciate the questions and don't want them to go ignored, so here are my answers in written form:

@MattAnderson_WI: Was Aaron Hicks rushed to the big league team too soon? To what do you attribute his early season hitting woes?

Not sure if I'd call it "rushing" in a pejorative sense, but a 23-year-old skipping Triple-A to jump from Double-A to the majors is definitely an aggressive promotion and Aaron Hicks was good rather than great at Double-A last season. I think he'll be fine long term, but a high strikeout rate and questions about his passiveness at the plate have always been part of the equation with Hicks and I'd have started him at Triple-A.

@PatAarons: Who'll spend more time in the bigs this year: Hicks or Oswaldo Arcia?

That's tough to say, because in both cases the next couple weeks could determine what happens, but I'll say Hicks. Oswaldo Arcia's odds of sticking are hurt by the Twins' depth in the outfield corners and first base/designated hitter, whereas the opposite is true with Hicks and center field.

@ErikAmundson: When is Samuel Deduno going to get his chance at a starting job and how could he excel?

There's a decent chance Samuel Deduno would have begun the season in the Twins' rotation if not for the groin injury he suffered during the World Baseball Classic. He's still sidelined by that injury, so he needs to get healthy and start pitching again at Triple-A. As for how he could excel, not walking 4-5 batters per nine innings would be a good place to start. He shows more flashes of potential than your standard mediocre pitcher, but the end result is still mediocre.

@JonTerbush: Thoughts about Vance Worley's rough start given his regression from 2011-2012?

This question was submitted before Vance Worley threw seven innings of one-run ball against the White Sox on Saturday and my answer is that small sample sizes lead to overreactions, good and bad.

@skittermiax: Top five comedians?

I listen to a ton of stand-up comedy, so I'm going to be leaving out lots of favorites, but in terms of current, in-their-prime stand-ups I'll go with:

1. Louis C.K.
2. Hannibal Buress
3. John Mulaney
4. Gary Gulman
5. Tom Segura

@MNfanfromafar: Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer. If they perform well, where do they each finish the season?

It's been pretty tough to predict the Twins' promotion schedules lately, but assuming that they all continue to thrive at their current levels I'd guess high Single-A for Byron Buxton, Double-A for Miguel Sano, and Triple-A for Alex Meyer, with some chance of Meyer reaching the majors.

@twolvesfan: How soon do you see Miguel Sano reaching the majors?

Cliche as it may sound, this depends on Sano. If he continues to absolutely destroy high Single-A and keeps putting up huge numbers following what would presumably be a midseason promotion to Double-A then reaching the majors in mid-2014 might be possible. If instead he's merely good, or maybe even struggles at some point, then 2015 is more likely. Right now he's 19 years old and has fewer than 100 plate appearances at high Single-A, so the path isn't exactly set in stone.

@MattTrueblood: This week SI.com pegs the Twins to contend again in 2016. What's your timetable?

At this point I'd like to see the Twins be "not terrible" this season, move solidly into "respectable" territory in 2014, and get into "contending" range in 2015. If it takes until 2016 for them to put together a team capable of winning the AL Central that means they'll have gone five years with bad teams and that would be an awfully long rebuild in a perpetually weak division.

@vidbikecurlguy: Do the Twins take a pitcher this year in the draft? If Mark Appel is available do they take him?

I'm of the opinion that you should always draft the best player available in baseball, regardless of current needs, and the Twins appear to feel the same way. With that said, most of the consensus top-five draft prospects this year are college pitchers, including Mark Appel. Trying to predict the draft six weeks out is mostly pointless, but right now I'd bet on the Twins taking a college pitcher.

@OverTheBaggy: How many episodes deep are you into "Dawson's Creek" and have you felt your estrogen levels increase in that time?

After suggesting via Twitter that Michelle Williams might be the best actress currently and at Dana Wessel's urging I watched the 1998 pilot episode of "Dawson's Creek" last week on Netflix. I'd never seen the show before and won't be watching it again, but it did bring back some weird 1990s nostalgia and 15-year-old me might not have hated it. Based on the pilot alone, I'd likely have been on Team Joey.

@johnsoth: Regarding front office talk not matching their actions, is this normal across MLB? Is there less accountability in the Minnesota media market?

Certainly teams being less than forthright about their plans is common, but in the Twins' case it has increased significantly of late. My guess is that all the losing after a decade of mostly winning plays a big factor in both how the Twins speak publicly and how the media covers them.

@skittermiax: How much responsibility does the organization hold for the injury problems the Twins have?

This is an impossible question to answer with any sort of certainty, but I do think it's reached the point where the Twins stand out from other teams in a negative way. And that has nothing to do with the actual injuries, but rather the mismatched diagnoses and recovery timetables, hesitance to use the disabled list, and dispensing of information publicly.

@josephwgoodman: You've never called for the firing of Ron Gardenhire or the front office. Is that because of their performance or just not your style?

I've certainly never shied away from criticizing Ron Gardenhire or the Twins' front office, but I'm definitely not the "call for someone to get fired" type and in fact I think the proliferation of that is one of the worst aspects of modern sportswriting.

@johnmoz: How good does it feel not to have to watch Twins games?

I've watched at least 90 percent of the Twins' games every season for the past decade and this year won't be any different.

@RandBallsStu: Does John Bonnes have a go-to aftershave?

It's not clear to me that John Bonnes needs to shave. He tried to grow a beard for the entire month of November as part of "Movember" and the result looked like if someone had glued 10 random hairs to his face. He does always smell lovely, though.

@tony_basch: What's up with Jamey Carroll? If the Twins think they can be competitive this season should they use him more?

We talked quite a bit about Jamey Carroll's lack of playing time on this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode. Short version: I understand wanting to use younger players over a 39-year-old, but those younger players don't necessarily have much upside and Carroll might still be the Twins' best middle infielder. I hope they can find a trade for him, because Carroll can still have value. He hit .315/.378/.371 in the second half last season.

@tonyrossi22: Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey surgery recovery. Compare and contrast the Twins' approach with them. Is it age, investment, or other driving plan?

First, all that stuff about Mike Pelfrey returning from Tommy John surgery sooner than everyone isn't so impressive when it comes with a 7.94 ERA. Beyond that, their recovery timetables weren't much different. Kyle Gibson was back pitching in games about 11 months after surgery, it's just that those games were in the minors.

@MattAnderson_WI: Will the Twins have a starting pitcher win 13 games this season?

I'm not going to answer this, because I want to discourage people from caring about pitcher wins.

@Dwade: If walks and strikeouts weren't part of baseball and you just stood up there until you put a ball in play, what would Joe Mauer's pitches per plate appearance be?

I'm endlessly fascinated by game theory in baseball and poker and whatever else, so I'm putting this question last in case people want to discuss it in the comments section. My initial instinct is that with the elimination of walks taking away all motivation for pitchers to throw strikes the sport would basically be ruined and plate appearances would essentially last until everyone fell asleep.

This week's blog content is sponsored by DiamondCentric's new GAME SIX shirt, commemorating one of the best moments in Minnesota sports history. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

April 12, 2013


• I'm happy to announce that "Gleeman and The Geek" will be back on KFAN for a second season, beginning April 28. We'll be live on the radio every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. and you'll also be able to continue downloading the show as a podcast, which will be about twice as long as the radio show and include all the usual babbling you've come to expect. So you can tune into 100.3-FM, stream online at KFAN.com, or download the extended podcast version later.

Buster Sylvester, Assistant Meat Manager.

• I can't imagine sitting on the toilet for more than, like, six months without my laptop.

Grand Forks Herald or The Onion? You decide! (And that's after some post-mockery editing.)

• As long as Glen Perkins keeps pitching like one of those mythical "proven closers" I'm fully committed to making his dreams come true on a weekly basis.

• I still don't fully understand "weird Twitter" after reading Buzzfeed's lengthy oral history by John Herrman and Katie Notopoulos, but it was fascinating and funny.

• For a quarterback--even one known more for his legs than his arm--Denard Robinson sure throws a hideous ceremonial first pitch.

• Much like robbing a bank, the key to puking at a baseball game is to walk away as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

• My weekly appearance on Paul Allen's show involved 30 minutes of Twins talk, plus "intern gal" Barrett Anderson teaching me how to craft a successful pickup line.

• Rotoworld was on "Jeopardy" this week:

And he got it right!

• Spinoffs are generally a terrible idea, but "Better Call Saul" as a comedy could be funny.

• I'd have dropped out of college even sooner if this existed back then.

• Finally, some local politics I care about.

• This is the dumbest thing in the history of Fan Graphs.

• Between snow in mid-April and "Mason" being the state's most popular baby name it's been a rough week for living in Minnesota. Aaron ranked 70th for boys behind names like Jaxon, Bentley, Asher, Brody, Riley, Hunter, Cooper, Austin, Chase, Colton, Wyatt, Brayden, Aiden, and Jayden.

Denard Span has a plan to beat the traffic in Washington, D.C.

Kelly Oxford is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter and her new book is really good.

David Simon explained how recently decreased Orioles catcher Gus Triandos became a very memorable part of "The Wire."

• I'm ashamed to admit how I excited I was to listen to this.

• If you're at a stage in life where denying a rumor like this is necessary things are going well.

• Hey, don't blame me.

• Hermits need someone to look up to and I think we've found our man.

• He'll have to improve his 40-yard dash time to make it in the NFL, but Jack Hoffman is my new favorite running back:

Gutsy play-call on fourth-and-short, too.

• It took me a minute to recognize her and then me and my Lindsay Weir crush felt really old, but I was glad to see the perpetually underrated Linda Cardellini on "Mad Men." I'm now hoping for a Samm Levine cameo, although I'd probably settle for Martin Starr.

• On a related note, this conversation with my mom has a little bit of everything.

• If you watch "Mad Men" every week you should also be reading the shot-by-shot style analysis by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez every week.

• I'm basically in love with John Mulaney after seeing him live at the Varsity Theater last month, so this video was very funny.

• Should the Twins try to sign Justin Morneau to a contract extension? I'm glad you asked.

• If you're into sports or you're just a Haralabos Voulgaris groupie this video from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is a must-watch.

• "High Maintenance" is a funny, well-done web series about the life of a marijuana delivery man.

Christina Pazsitzky was great on "The Crab Feast" with Ryan Sickler and Jay Larson.

• Fun fact: Alexi Casilla has the second-highest stolen base percentage of all time behind only Chase Utley. Seriously.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode I staged an intervention for John Bonnes.

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

- "Aaron Glee"
- "Anna Kendrick fake sex tapes"
- "What was wrong with Kevin Slowey?"
- "Fashion icons in the 1980s"
- "Cleveland hotel SABR"
- "Lunchables after gastric bypass"
- "Where is Sam Dodono"
- "Will skinny guys date someone who's 153 pounds?"
- "Mike Trout shirtless"
- "Jason Kubel's sister"
- "Tim Brewster hates fat people"
- "Does Sid Hartman still drive?"

• Finally, in honor of "Gleeman and The Geek" returning to KFAN this week's AG.com-approved music video is "On The Radio" by Regina Spektor:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Territory Train, which takes the heavy lifting out of planning and executing Twins road trips. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 20, 2013

Twitter Mailbag: Answers

Last week I asked for mailbag questions submitted via Twitter, so here are about 2,000 words worth of me answering 140-character queries ...

@joewmitchell: With Aaron Hicks doing well, what chance does Joe Benson have to make the team? What should the Twins do with Benson? What will they do?

Tough to envision a scenario in which both Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson make the Opening Day roster. My guess is that Benson will go back to Triple-A and wait for Hicks to struggle or someone to get injured. I haven't given up on Benson becoming a valuable big leaguer, but he's certainly running out of time to do that or at least do that in a Twins uniform.

@Loosey1981: Assuming that Justin Morneau is with team all year and isn't traded, what will his next contract look like with his injury history?

Tough to predict. Even if he's healthy and hits like he did last season Justin Morneau may have a hard time getting a big multi-year contract. This offseason, for instance, Adam LaRoche got two years and $24 million at age 33 after hitting .271/.343/.510 with 33 homers. Morneau will be 32 and hit .267/.330/.440 with 19 homers last season. LaRoche's market was hurt by having draft pick compensation attached to his free agency, but the Twins may do that to Morneau too.

@Ausjin: If you were a closer what would your entrance song be?

In terms of an opening riff stirring up emotion I think "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes is tough to beat, but since that's sort of a sporting event cliche at this point I'd go with:

1. "Superfly" by Curtis Mayfield
2. "Regulate" by Warren G and Nate Dogg
3. "Hold On I'm Comin" by Sam and Dave
4. "Big Poppa" by Notorious B.I.G.
5. "Mr. Pitiful" by Otis Redding

Needless to say I spent more time thinking about this answer than all other answers combined.

@tonyrossi22: Why do the Twins have vastly different plans for Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson even though Pelfrey's elbow surgery was much more recent?

Their recovery timetables actually weren't much different. Kyle Gibson last season, like Mike Pelfrey this spring, was back pitching in games about 11 months after Tommy John surgery, it's just that Gibson's games were in the minors. Their workload limits this season are different, but Pelfrey is a veteran former workhorse signed to a one-year contract, whereas Gibson has never pitched in the majors and is part of the Twins' long-term plans. I talked a lot more Gibson here.

@ErichHeber: What changes do you think should be made with instant replay and what do you think will be made?

There's been plenty of talk about what types of things MLB should be reviewing, but I'd like to see some emphasis placed on the review process. Instead of bringing the entire game to a halt so the umpires on the field can gather together, decide to review a play, and then leave the field to do so, why not add another umpire to the crew who just sits in a booth and looks at video? There's no reason why, in 2013, reviewing a play should take five minutes.

@DanaWessel: Parker Hageman and I are doing shots with Jon Taffer at one bar. Kate Mara is at a bar across the street. Which bar do you go to?

Sounds like one of those river-crossing logic puzzles with the a fox, a goose, and a bag of beans. I'd obviously go to the bar across the street, effortlessly charm Kate Mara within minutes, and invite her to the other bar to do shots with Dana Wessel, Parker Hageman, and Jon Taffer. And then just pray Taffer doesn't steal her away from me, which is probably the biggest challenge of the entire scenario.

@larneal: Will we ever get to enjoy Slama Time?

Looking pretty unlikely. At no point have the Twins shown any interest in giving Anthony Slama an extended opportunity despite consistently incredible numbers at every level of the minors and he didn't do himself any favors this year by struggling in a few spring training appearances. Plus he's 29 years old, so Slama might be a lesser version of himself by now anyway. He has a 1.99 ERA and 446 strikeouts in 325 innings as a minor leaguer and seven innings as a major leaguer.

@PRH1987: If Mark Appel is available at No. 4 will the Twins draft him?

As we saw last year, trying to predict how the draft will go on the day on the draft is very difficult. Trying to predict how things will go three months out is impossible. With that said, like last year Mark Appel is considered one of the best prospects available in a weak overall draft class. I liked the decision to pass on Appel and other college pitchers to take the highest-upside player available in Byron Buxton, but that will be tougher to do at No. 4 than it was at No. 2.

@JeremyWieland: Listening to your podcast and heard about the 612 Brew event, but can you please repeat the details?

Twins Daily is hosting a get-together this Saturday afternoon to watch the Twins-Rays spring training game on television at 612 Brew in Northeast Minneapolis. I'll be there, along with John Bonnes and the whole Twins Daily crew. Details here.

@Brandon_Warne: Who was prospect No. 41?

This year's last cut for my Twins top-40 prospects list was Caleb Thielbar, who surprisingly got added to the 40-man roster and projects as a potential middle reliever. I wrote about him here.

@swmrgngl: Which prospect outside of your top 10 has the best chance of being a top-five Twins prospect at this time next year?

Max Kepler, who just missed the top 10 because I try to be conservative with prospects who've yet to play against full-season competition. But it'll be a tough top-five to crack next year too.

@jmdunner: Who are your early projections for Twins minor league hitter and pitcher of the year?

Here are the Twins' minor-league award winners since I started blogging in 2002:

YEAR     PLAYER              PITCHER
2012     Oswaldo Arcia       B.J. Hermsen
2011     Brian Dozier        Liam Hendriks
2010     Joe Benson          Kyle Gibson
2009     Ben Revere          David Bromberg
2008     Ben Revere          Anthony Slama
2007     Brian Buscher       Kevin Slowey
2006     Alexi Casilla       Matt Garza
2005     David Winfree       Francisco Liriano
2004     Jason Kubel         Scott Baker
2003     Joe Mauer           Jesse Crain
2002     Lew Ford            J.D. Durbin

Not only is that a mixed bag, at best, quite a few of those winners weren't even considered quality prospects at the time they won the award. Hopefully this year will be different, since the Twins have no shortage of high-end prospects. Oswaldo Arcia potentially spending some of his season in the majors makes him a tough repeat pick, so I'll go with Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer.

@JosephKrueger: How many miles have you put on your car?

I bought my car on February 28, 2012 and as of March 20, 2013 it has 2,710 miles on it. By the way, I got multiple versions of this same question. Seriously.

@olerud1: What's up with Rich Harden? I haven't heard anything about him since they signed him.

There was lots of initial optimism being reported about Rich Harden's health status when the Twins signed him to a minor-league deal back in December, but that's predictably disappeared. He's still working his way back from shoulder surgery and will begin the season at Triple-A, with the ability to opt out of his contract on July 31 if he's not in the majors.

@adamscoll: Is Josh Willingham the next Twin to be traded for more young pitching?

I've sort of given up trying to actually predict what the Twins will do in terms of trading or not trading veterans, but I certainly think trading Josh Willingham for young pitching would be a good idea. Might have been an even better idea eight months ago or three months ago.

@dhollett: Hearing a lot about Samuel Deduno lately, is he a fantasy sleeper?

I'm not sure if this was intended as a joke, but I laughed. Samuel Deduno is 29 years old and four months ago went unclaimed on waivers by all 29 teams after being dropped from the Twins' 40-man roster. I'd have no problem with him getting another chance as a fifth starter, because Scott Diamond will begin the season on the disabled list and it's not like the other options are any good, but 10 innings in March don't change much. Fun story, but we've seen it before.

@_TreyWarren: Your prediction for the Twins in 2013, over or under 75 wins? Over or under 85 wins in 2014?

We devoted half of last week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode to making over/under picks for AL teams, including the Twins. Their actual over/under win total for this season that you can place bets on is 67.5, so anyone who thinks 75 wins sounds reasonable should probably book a trip to Las Vegas. As for 2014, who knows how the roster will look by then, but right now 85 certainly seems pretty optimistic.

@ogs065: Is the podcast ever going to hold session on a Friday or Saturday night so more fans could potentially participate?

We've recorded a few episodes in front of an audience, at various get-togethers, but it's not much fun for anyone involved. It's basically just two guys sitting at a table talking, so no one would be able to hear much unless they're sitting next to us, and for us if a bunch of people are gathered somewhere stepping away to go talk to each other for 90 minutes is kind of a buzzkill. We'd need speakers and a more involved set up to make it at all worthwhile.

@Jerjo: Ever think of posting a transcript of your podcast for those of us who haven't got the time to listen?

I transcribed an episode once, for the Dave St. Peter interview, but generally speaking that sort of defeats the purpose of a podcast. Plus, transcribing audio is enough to drive a person crazy and would also take significantly longer than the actual recording (or listening) time of an episode. As a listener the beauty of podcasts is that you can pause and resume and fast-forward whenever, so consuming one 90-minute episode per week doesn't have to be some huge time commitment.

@ToddAbeln: What number of sacrifice bunts actually lead to runs? Compared to not bunting?

Depending on the game situation and the strength of the hitter or pitcher there are certainly many circumstances in which bunting is a good idea, but overall bunting hurts more than it helps. Good luck convincing all the World Baseball Classic managers, though.

@josephwgoodman: Why are the Rays so good at developing young pitchers? Do they see things other teams don't? Great coaching? Just luck?

I think the Rays, more than perhaps any other team, combine scouting and statistical analysis in a way that extends to every level of the organization. They have a ton of smart, new-school thinkers in the front office, a manager who's both player-friendly and very open to those new-school ideas, and a scouting department that repeatedly unearths gems in trades and mid-round draft picks.

@Hal_Stenson: Will you ever finish your all time top Twins countdown? I love reading the recaps and want to know the order of the top 10.

"Ever" is a very long time and I'll definitely finish the top-40 countdown some day, but it likely won't be anytime soon. I love researching and writing the articles and the reaction was always great, but they're very time consuming to do right and I've struggled to find as much free time as I had when it started years ago. One of the downsides to not being paid to write about the Twins. I left off with Roy Smalley at No. 15 and you can read the 25 completed write-ups here.

@PRH1987: When are you planning on posting your Twitter mailbag?

We're through the looking glass here, people.

This week's blog content is sponsored by DiamondCentric's newest shirt honoring the "Legends" of Minnesota baseball. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 14, 2013

Twitter Mailbag: Any Questions?

I just realized that the last time I did a mailbag post was way back before the offseason had even started, so I thought it would be good to open the floor up for any questions about the Twins, me, this blog, the podcast, or whatever else you have in mind. My only requirement is that they must be submitted via Twitter. Feel free to send as many questions as you want to @AaronGleeman and I'll answer them all here in this space early next week.


This week's blog content is sponsored by DiamondCentric's newest shirt honoring the "Legends" of Minnesota baseball. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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.

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