Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bruno Boys Fantasy Football: 2011 Week 7 "Start 'Ems"

Here is the Week 7 edition of our "Start 'Ems", featured at Bruno Boys Fantasy Football.

Link: http://www.brunoboys.net/entry/week-7-fantasy-football-start-ems1/

Minnesota Twins Offseason Checklist

To say the 2011 season was a major disappointment for the Minnesota Twins is an understatement. A myriad of issues, starting with injuries to key players all around the diamond, led to a 99-loss campaign. During the offseason there are many decisions they have to make and areas that need to be shored up. Here are some of the more important issues I feel they need to address prior to next spring.

- Determine Why Injuries Were Such An Issue This Past Season


Whether it be an issue in the medical and training staff in terms of injury prevention and recovery or an overall culture of players not being willing to play unless they are 100 percent (I'm looking at you, Joe Mauer), something has to change. I don't want to get into issues of pain tolerance, etc., but what occurred this past season will not cut it if the Twins are going to return to contention in 2012 and beyond. Answers have to be found, and it seems the organization is willing to make changes to the medical and training staff to make that possible.


- Shore Up The Infield, Offensively And Defensively


For a long time the "Twins Way" has included playing excellent defense, even when they were not a contending team in the late 1990's. That went away in 2011, as Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka was not capable playing second base or shortstop and did not look like a major-league level player offensively or defensively. Trevor Plouffe looks major league ready with a bat in his hands at times, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired as shortstop. Alexi Casilla missed the end of the season with a hamstring issue, but he should have a role in the middle infield in 2012, either as the starter at one of the spots or the primary backup at both spots. Even third baseman Danny Valencia, who was one of the regulars who spent no time on the disabled list and was the team leader in RBI, had mental lapses and drew the ire of manager Ron Gardenhire on multiple occassions. Even first baseman Justin Morneau has to be considered a question mark, as a myriad of injuries (most notably related to his concussion in July 2010) have plagued him in recent years. Help may need to come from outside the organization, via free agency or trade.  I would expect a fair amount of competition for roster spots and starting jobs in spring training.


- Make decisions on pending free agents


The Twins have some notable potential free agents this winter, including jack of all trades Michael Cuddyer, outfielder/DH Jason Kubel, relief pitcher Matt Capps and relief pitcher Joe Nathan. Nathan has a contract option worth $12.5 million for 2012, but it would be assumed the team would like to bring him back at a lower salary if they want to bring him back at all. In my opinion Kubel is the most likely to leave via free agency, as he can likely get a fairly lucrative multi-year deal elsewhere and the Twins may find his asking price too high. Cuddyer was probably the team's MVP in 2011, as his ability to play multiple positions enhanced his value and also stands to enhance his value on the free agent market. Capps had a dismal 2011, with a 4.25 ERA and nine blown saves, so he should be elsewhere for 2012. How many, and which if any, of these four notable free agents the Twins retain stands to shape much of their offseason plan.


- Find Pitching, Both Starters and Relievers


The Twins had the worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball in 2011, as they failed to piece together a relief corp after losing four notable pieces from the 2010 bullpen during the offseason. The starting rotation was not a lot better, as injuries hit Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn at various points and only Carl Pavano made over 30 starts or topped 170 innings. The "pitch to contact" philisophy espoused by the organization does not seem to suit Liriano, who can be great at his best and mentally fragile at his worst, but the time to trade him while his value was highest may already be passed.
Settling on a closer will be key, and Glen Perkins was one of the bright spots of the season with a 2.48 ERA in 65 appearances out of the bullpen. Perkins may be a candidate for the ninth inning, or perhaps the aforementioned Joe Nathan if he returns. Moving Brian Duensing back to the bullpen from the starting rotation should help things late in games, as he is excellent against left-handed hitters.
Finding five consistent starters is perhaps the biggest key, and determining what to do with Kevin Slowey (as to include trading him this winter) may help clarify things. Whether it comes from inside or outside the organization, the Twins need to address their lack of pitching depth this winter and be willing to make a fair financial commitment to doing so if need be.


- Find Another Catcher


Joe Mauer played just 82 games in 2011, as he missed time due to multiple injuries ranging from vague and bizarre (bilateral leg weakness?) in April to pneumonia that ended his season early. He did see some time at first base with Morneau out, otherwise it's fair to say he may have missed even more games than he did. It has become clear that catching regularly is too hard on Mauer physically, for better or worse, so finding an upgrade over Drew Butera as his primary backup has to be a priority. The challenge may be finding another position for Mauer on a regular basis in order to keep him healthy, since his value would not be as great as it would be if he caught 130 games in a season.

All in all, the two key players in any potential Twins turnaround next season are Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. If both guys can remain healthy and return to MVP form, or somewhere close, everything else becomes a little easier.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rick Adelman-New Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach

The following is the "raw" version of a piece I wrote back in April about new Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman for a website that is now defunct, taking a look at his potential candidacy as head coach. He was officially announced as head coach on Wednesday.

The Houston Rockets and head coach Rick Adelman decided to part ways this week after four seasons with the team. The Rockets went 193-135 during Adelman’s tenure, including 43-39 during this past season as the team missed the playoffs. It has been reported the coach and team “mutually agreed to part ways.”


Adelman has a career record of 945-616 (a .605 winning percentage) as an NBA head coach, a win total that is good for eighth all-time. The highlights of his career include leading the Portland Trailblazers to two NBA Finals appearances in the early 1990’s and helping transform the Sacramento Kings into perennial Western Conference contenders in the early 2000’s. He has never won NBA Coach of the Year, but has finished second four times.


The Minnesota Timberwolves still obviously have Kurt Rambis as their head coach right now, but it is very possible he could be fired fairly soon as the team was just 32-132 during his two seasons at the helm.


As for Adelman, he will turn 65 in June and may not be interested in taking over the re-building project that is the Timberwolves’ franchise right now. That said, he has said he still has the desire to coach and may be interested in working with the pieces Minnesota has in place (Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, etc.).


In any case Adelman is likely be fairly highly sought after by any team that wants to make a head coaching change, due to his track record of solid success. If that is the case, he will certainly have opportunities with franchises that can easily be deemed as having a better immediate situation than the Timberwolves right now. It may come down to money, though Adelman may not be motivated purely by financial gain at this stage of his career. That may give the Timberwolves a chance to make a run at hiring him if they choose to, assuming they do eventually dismiss Rambis.





Bruno Boys Fantasy Football: 2011 Week 4 "Start 'Ems"

Here is the Week 4 edition of my "Start 'Ems" article, featured at Bruno Boys Fantasy Football.

Link: http://www.brunoboys.net/entry/week-4-fantasy-football-start-ems1/

Monday, August 15, 2011

Match Game!: Match The MAC School To It's Nickname

In association with my work at Rotowire.com, covering the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC), l've put together a "match game" of sorts to challenge you to match the school with it's nickname.

The only concrete rule: No "Googling" allowed.  I can't truly enforce the rule, but I'm counting on that anyone that tries it out will know they cheated and a crisis of conscience will prevent breaking the rule.

1. Toledo
2. Northern Illinois
3. Kent State
4. Buffalo
5. Temple
6. Eastern Michigan
7. Miami (Ohio)
8. Central Michigan
9. Akron
10. Western Michigan
11. Bowling Green
12. Ball State

13. Ohio

A. Bulls
B. Broncos
C. Zips
D. RedHawks
E. Falcons
F. Eagles
G. Bobcats
H. Cardinals
I.  Chippewas
J. Huskies
K. Rockets
L. Golden Flashes
M. Owls


Now give it a try, without cheating, and scroll down and check your answers






1. Toledo- (K) Rockets
2. Northern Illinois- (J) Huskies
3. Kent State- (L) Golden Flashes
4. Buffalo- (A) Bulls
5. Temple- (M) Owls

6. Eastern Michigan- (F) Eagles
7. Miami (Ohio)- (D) RedHawks
8. Central Michigan- (I) Chippewas
9. Akron- (C) Zips

10. Western Michigan- (B) Broncos
11. Bowling Green- (E) Falcons

12. Ball State- (H) Cardinals
13. Ohio- (G) Bobcats

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yahoo!/Associated Content: Minnesota Twins Trade Candidate-Delmon Young

Here is another another recently published post featured at Yahoo!/Associated Content, this time looking at outfielder Delmon Young as a potential trade chip for the Minnesota Twins.

Link To Article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8225039/minnesota_twins_trade_candidate_delmon.html?cat=49

Yahoo!/Associated Content: Minnesota Twins Trade Candidate-Kevin Slowey

Here is one of my latest published pieces featured at Yahoo!/Associated Content, looking at Minnesota Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey as a possible trade candidate.

Link To Article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8215687/minnesota_twins_trade_candidate_kevin.html?cat=49

Bruno Boys Fantasy Football: 2011 NFL Free Agency Preview: Quarterbacks

With the NFL looking to get back to business sometime soon, here is my latest post at Bruno Boys Fantasy Football taking a look at some quarterbacks that could be available in free agency and perhaps via trade. 

Link To Article: http://www.brunoboys.net/entry/2011-nfl-free-agency-preview-quarterbacks/

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yahoo!/Associated Content: Minnesota Twins Trade Candidate-Michael Cuddyer

This is my most recent published piece at Yahoo/Associated Content, looking at Minnesota Twins OF/1B, and 2011 All-Star, Michael Cuddyer as a possible candidate to be traded before the July 31 deadline.

Link To Article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8166515/minnesota_twins_trade_candidate_michael.html?cat=49

Yahoo!/Associated Content: Minnesota Twins 2011 First Round Pick Levi Michael

This was my first published piece featured Yahoo!/Associated Content, taking a look at North Carolina SS Levi Michael, the Minnesota Twins' first round pick in June's draft.

Link To Article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8124821/2011_mlb_draft_minnesota_twins_first.html?cat=14

Fan Huddle.com-Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Pitchers

Here is this week's edition of my fantasy baseball "Pitcher Pickups", featured at Fan Huddle.com.

Link: http://fanhuddlefantasy.com/2011/07/mlb-pitcher-pickups-7711/

Friday, July 1, 2011

Johnny Damon: Hall of Famer?

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Johnny Damon got his 2,654th career hit on Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds.  That would not be particularly notable except that he tied Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 71st place on the all-time hit list.

Earlier this season Damon hit the 500th double of his career, becoming the 11th player with at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 200 home runs and 100 triples.  The other ten are all Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, George Brett, Robin Yount, Al Simmons, Paul Molitor and Goose Goslin.  Elite company for sure, and leads to the question of Damon's own Hall of Fame credentials.

Damon is in his 17th major league season, and the Tampa Bay Rays are the sixth team he has played for.  He has been part of two World Series champions, in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox and 2009 with the New York Yankees.  But he would not be considered among the elite players of his era, as he has only been selected to two All-Star teams (2002 and 2005). 

As of this writing, Damon has a .287 career batting average with the aforementioned 2,654 career hits, 501 doubles, 224 home runs, 1,084 RBI and 102 triples with 392 stolen bases.  His career-high for home runs is 24, which he has done twice (2006, 2009).  He led the American League in runs scored (136) and stolen bases (46) in 2000 with the Kansas City Royals, and also led the American League in triples in 2002 with 11.  Those are the only times Damon has led the league in any category during in his career.

Damon does rank in the top 10 of active players in hits (fifth), doubles (sixth), triples (second), stolen bases (fifth) and runs scored (1,603-third), which all qualify as fairly unglamorous categories that stand to be overlooked considering the era in which he played a large portion of his career. 

In my opinion, Damon is a borderline Hall of Famer that looks likely to lose votes to his more heralded peers.  If there was a "Hall of Very Good" he may belong, and his longevity should be noted, but he is simply not among the best players of the past decade and a half or so.  There is the possibility Damon will get more votes as voters that choose to take a stance against players that are thought to be tainted by performance-enhancing drugs become eligible.  Those voters may take a closer look at his numbers and consider putting him on their ballot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Terrell Owens: Surefire Hall of Famer?

With the news late Sunday night that wide receiver Terrell Owens has surgery to repair a torn ACL in one of his knees sometime in the past month, it reasonable to think the 37 year-old free agent's career could be over.  It has been speculated he suffered the injury during a private workout or on set of the VH1 reality show "Single Girls", but that's really beside the point and he will be out six months regardless. 

It is worth noting Owens missed the final two games of the 2010 season, with the Cincinnati Bengals, due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. 

For clarity purposes I will put aside all of the controversy that has surrounded Owens during his career, from calling out teammates to doing sit-ups in his driveway to signing a football with a Sharpie after scoring a touchdown.  But all of those distractions do not mean anything in terms of answering this question:

Is Terrell Owens a Hall of Famer?

In 15 NFL seasons with five teams, Owens has accumulated 1,078 receptions (fifth all-time), 15,934 receiving yards (second all-time) and 153 touchdowns (second all-time).  He has led the league in touchdown catches three times (2001, 2002, 2006), and would almost certainly have topped 1,000 yards for the 10th time in his career and had double digit touchdowns for the ninth time if not for missing the final two games last season and he has 72 receptions for 983 yards along with nine touchdowns for the Bengals.

Some may call Owens a "stat collector" that has benefited from playing in a pass-happy era and as part of some pass-happy offenses with the 49ers and Eagles in particular.  Those that want to find on-field evidence of his ineptitude and lack of Hall of Fame qualifications will site his propensity to drop passes.

Owens is well known for keeping himself in top physical condition, so if anyone can rehab and make it back from this type of injury he probably can even at an advanced age.  He has proven he can be productive into his 30's, so a team that has a need at wide receiver down the stretch of the 2011 season could probably do worse than to consider signing Owens. 

Whether his career is over or not, Terrell Owens is certainly a Hall of Famer.  Voters will certainly look at his personality and ego and not vote for him, but the numbers he has put up place him among the best pass catchers of his or any era.  He will likely go down as one of the most dangerous receivers after the catch in league history.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Prospect Profile-Tennessee Forward Tobias Harris

2011 NBA Draft Prospect Profile-Tennessee SF Tobias Harris



Vital Stats


Height: 6’8”
Weight: 228 lbs.


Class: Freshman


Birthdate: 7/15/92



Tobias Harris was highly recruited coming out of high school, and was solid in his only season at Tennessee, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He was at his best late in the season, averaging 21.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in five March games with three 20-plus point games in that span. In the Volunteers’ embarrassing loss to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Harris had 19 points and five rebounds. That loss ultimately led to the exit of coach Bruce Pearl, and Harris opted to enter the NBA Draft despite a budding relationship with new head coach Cuonzo Martin.

Harris is considered a versatile “jack of all trades” that may be able to play both forward spots, but lacks certain things that may hinder him at either spot. His lack of size makes him ill-suited to play power forward at the next level right now, while a lack of foot speed and athleticism may prevent him from being effective as a small forward on both ends of the floor. He will almost certainly need improve his outside shooting (30.3 percent on three-pointers last season) to be successful offensively as a small forward if that is his ultimate position.

Despite his shortcomings Harris was consistent as a freshman, scoring in double digits in all but three games. He also seems to have a high basketball IQ and is considered a gym rat that will work on the areas of his game he needs to improve. It’s also possible he will fill out physically, as he will not even turn 19 until July, and be able to better hold up as a power forward in the NBA somewhere down the road.

Harris is widely projected to be a first round pick, and a recent mock at Draft Express.com has him projected as the 20th overall pick in to the Timberwolves. The team currently has a cluster of players that play his position, so an immediate fit is not obvious, but a trade or two could open up a spot for him leading up to draft day. A lot also depends on what Minnesota does with the #2 overall pick, as to include trading the pick, and what their perceived roster needs are later in the first round.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harmon Killebrew (1936-2011)

Today, baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew died today after a battle with esophageal cancer at age 74.

Here is my tribute to him, featured at Tree.com.

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I am a sportswriter based in Minnesota, and I contribute currently to a few sports related websites. I intend to use this blog to create visibility for my work.

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