Friday, November 25, 2011

MLB Off-Season Notes

I know you guys all don't give a rip about my baseball thoughts.  BUT I HAVE OPINIONS THAT NEED TO BE EXPRESSED.

Twins Signings - Carroll and Doumit

The Twins added veteran Jamey Carroll to the middle infield mix with a two-year, $6.75MM deal.  There is a mutual option for 2014 that is vested if Carroll has over 400 plate appearances in 2013.  Carroll is a nice bat to put in the #2 spot in a lineup.  He can hit for average (.278 career) and he knows how to take a walk (.359 career OBP).  He'll be 38 in 2012, so he might be too tired for a lot of night games which is problematic. The early word is that he'll be playing shortstop.  At shortstop he has NO range, but a pretty solid glove. Sort of in the Derek Jeter mold; so maybe he'll get a bunch of undeserved gold gloves?  It would suck to keep jerking around Casilla, but I think he'd be better at SS with Carroll at 2B where he's played the overwhelming majority of his career.  (554 games at 2B, 224 at SS, 225 at 3B - Don't do it, Gardy!)

This is a good move because middle infielders in today's MLB are garbage.  With Casilla and Carroll in the MI, you have two above league average players.  Think about that for a minute.  Meanwhile, 24 year old shortstop Brian Dozier ripped up high A and AA last year and played well in the Arizona Fall League (296/358/454).  You have to think there's a chance he gets a shot at starting shortstop in 2013 and maybe a September call up in 2012.

Can't we play games at 5am?

Ryan Doumit is also a good signing.  You may recall back on 9/28 I listed Doumit in the Poo Poo Platter of catching options the Twins should explore.  The Twins landed him for an incentive-laden one year deal with a $3MM base salary. 

Doumit isn't the best defensive catcher in the world.  He also gets injured quite a bit, so he should fit in well in the clubhouse.  No one likes the guy that never misses a day of work, right?  And as a bonus, Doumit also can play 1B and RF at a below average level.  So, what does Doumit do well?  The guy can hit.  He only managed 236 PAs last year, but posted a very nice 303/353/477 line.  That's a little bit above his career number, but the bottom line is he's not going to hit .200 like Butera and he's going to give you a little pop too.  Doumit should allow Mauer and Morneau some days where they just DH or even take the day off. 


Joe Nathan to Texas

Speaking of old guys; Nathan signed a two-year, 14.75MM contract with the Texas Rangers.  History has shown that almost all multi-year free agent deals for relievers don't pay off, let alone a deal for a 37 year old pitcher that lost 2 mph on his fastball after having Tommy John surgery in 2010.  Nathan one among the best in the league when he was healthy, I just don't think he'll ever get back to that level.  And for the Rangers, who are finally moving Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation, Mike Adams would be a better choice to close.  He's like a spring chicken at 33 years old!  Best of luck to Joe, but the Twins dodged a bullet here.

Cuddyer and Kubel and Capps, Oh my!

With the Type A free agent change, the team that signs Cuddyer no longer gives up their first round pick to do so.  Now the Twins would receive a bonus pick in front of the signing team in the first round in addition to the sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.  Regardless, Terry Ryan did offer arbitration to both Cuddyer and Kubel.  Cuddyer has had a lot of interest from other teams, especially from the Phillies.  However, the Phillies recently traded for Ty Wigginton who has some of the same features that Cuddyer does.  Namely, they both can play a few positions and hit a little bit. Wigginton isn't quite the hitter that Cuddyer is, but Wiggy can play 3B, which is a need for the Phils.  With the Phillies likely out, the Twins' chances of getting Cuddy back improve greatly.  The Red Sox are rumored to be interested in Cuddyer as well though. The Orioles also have interest it seems.  I'd like the Twins to get Cuddyer back, but if it's a 4 year, $40MM type deal I'd just assume avoid him and chase Josh Willingham instead.

Kubel doesn't seem to be garnering as much interest from teams as of yet.  I've read a rumor about the Indians being interested, but the did bring back Sizemore and they are lefty heavy in the lineup.  Last year the Red Sox put in a claim for Kubel before the Twins pulled him back; so there's potentially some interest there.

Ideally, the Twins get one of Kubel/Cuddyer back.  They need all of the power they can get.  As mentioned, I'd also like to see them pursue Josh Willingham.  Rumors of a deal involving Denard Span for Drew Storen interest me as I'm not excited about a lineup that starts both Span and Revere in the outfield.  They'd be about as potent as my dog (neutered) with Span, Revere, Casilla, Carroll and Mauer all in the lineup hitting less than 10 homeruns.

Josh and Ginger Willingham!

Justin Verlander, MVP

Ugh.  The hype-machine for Verlander's MVP candidacy (starting with Verlander speaking on behalf of himself) really did the job.  I'm not one of those guys that says a starting pitcher can't be MVP, but here's the only scenario where I think a pitcher deserves consideration.  It would have to be a season where hitting is down (like this year), and there are no real stand-outs among position players (not like this year) and a pitcher is head and shoulders above all others in the league (could definitely be said for Verlander).

The 2011 AL league average for batting was .258 and the OPS was .730, which is down from 2010 ("The Year of the Pitcher").  The last time the AL average was lower than that was strike shortened 1981.  The last full season was 1976.  So, in the lowest hitting year in 30+ years, we had some real stand-out seasons for some position players.

In 1976, the highest OPS (On Base Pct + Slugging Pct) was Hal McRae with an .868 mark.  (Shout out to Rod Carew for 2nd place with .858)  McRae hit .332 with 8 homeruns and 73 RBI.  McRae finished 4th in MVP behind Thurman Munson, George Brett and Mickey Rivers. Twins starter Bill Campbell was the highest finisher among pitchers at 8th.

In 1981, Dwight Evans posted a .937 OPS with 22 homers and a .296 average in only 108 games.  Evans finished 3rd in MVP voting behind Rollie Fingers and Rickey Henderson.  Only Bobby Grich had an OPS over .900 with Evans that year. 

Here are the OPS leaders from 2011 in the American League:

1.Bautista (TOR)1.056
2.Cabrera (DET)1.033
3.Gonzalez (BOS).957
4.Ortiz (BOS).953
5.Ellsbury (BOS).928
6.Granderson (NYY).916
7.Konerko (CHW).906
8.Avila (DET).895
9.Beltre (TEX).892  

To me, the MVP voting should have been a three horse race between Bautista, Cabrera and Ellsbury (taking into account his excellent D in center-field and epic stolen base total).  Josh Hamilton won the MVP in 2010 with a 1.044 OPS for further comparison.  You might say, well no one as lights-out as Verlander was in 2010.  I would then submit you the following comparison:  Felix Hernandez.


Verlander: 251
Hernandez: 249.2

Verlander:  2.40 (170 ERA+)
Hernandez: 2.27 (174 ERA+)

Verlander: 250
Fernandez: 232

Verlander: 0.920
Fernandez: 1.057

Pretty close, right? Well, Fernandez finished 16th in MVP voting. Verlander apparently gets a big boost from his record (24-4) which is the least telling of his impressive 2011 statistics.  Poor Felix played on a crappy Mariners team and went 13-12. 

It looks like it may be time for me to lump MVP awards in with All-Star game appearances and Gold Gloves; awards that given for all of the wrong reasons. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 (12?) Days Later Live Blog - Gophers/Badgers

6:45am - Load truck up for tailgating.  Come to the realization that I did not buy shot making materials.  Go to liquor cabinet and pour 1/2 bottle of Pendleton Whiskey, 1/2 bottle of Phillip's Blackberry Brandy and about 5 shots worth of El Jimador tequila into the shot jug.  Make mental note to stop at store for mixers.

7:15am - Finished loading truck, Swansley is here, we're rolling.  Stop at store for OJ, Diet Mountain Dew and Sugar Free Red Bull because I'm watching my figure.

7:45am - Almost to tailgate lot, but I get a phone call from my brother requesting a ride.  We turn around to go get him.  Wah wah.

8:30am - At the lot.  Either we're the dumbest people on earth, or these canopies that we keep buying and subsequently breaking because we can't get them to go up are absolute pieces of crap.  We got it up but it doesn't look right.  If we were architects we'd be fucking fired.  This time we bought the extra warranty though so I won't feel bad when we snap it in half next week.

9:00am - The shots are great.  I'm convinced you can add orange juice and soda to turpentine and it would make a decent shot. "Why are my kidneys malfunctioning?  Who cares, more shots!"

12:00pm - Oops, 3 hours are gone.  Call comes in from my internet friend, Matt.  He's a Badger fan, so I plan on getting him drunk and stealing his wallet.  Our new friends from North Dakota (but still Gopher fans) are there too: Goatee, Beardy, Beardy2 and Short guy (Adam?).  They're all younger than us and haven't had the light in their eyes dim due to multiple Gopher football humiliations.

12:10pm - I put the cornhole game on hold to the ire of TREbro and friends to do shots with my internet friend. This is totally against the cornhole code and I know it.  iMatt proceeds to do a series of beer chugs with Beardy2.  Swansley has videos, maybe I can talk him to add them in, but right now I question his commitment to Sparkle Motion.

2:00pm - Beer: Gone. Shot jug thing: Empty.  Beer slams with iMatt vs. Beardy2 is a 2-2 tie.  Time to head to the game.

?:??pm - ????  There's a game in here doesn't go well.  I do remember we stayed for the whole thing.  iMatt complained about no beer being available and said he misses the Metrodome. 

7:00pm - At a bar downtown...Brothers maybe?  iMatt is with me. I've lost everyone else.  Oh, and I also got to drink with iMatt's friends: former Gopher Jon Michals and his brother Bobby.  Great guys, I hope they enjoyed my talking monkey act.  I remember talking with them quite a bit, but I could tell you a single thing we discussed.  I think Jon may be in real estate...if so, buy houses from him here  I bet he'll tackle you in your new home's yard for free after closing!

8:??pm - I look to my right and iMatt is gone.  He left his wallet at the bar and wandered off.  I go outside and ask the security at the door if "a guy with a red sweatshirt went this way".  Genius.  I go back to the bar and give the wallet to iMatt's friends (I think?) and I call a cab. $65 dollar cab ride later I'm home. 

This could have happened and I wouldn't have known.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why We Hate Part 3: Wisconsin Facts

Hate week continues with some important facts you should know about Wisconsin.

FACT: The female badger is called a sow.

This is apropos considering the female population of Wisconsin is, well, large.  Consider the following evidence:

Female American Badger (Sow)

OK, so finding the big ones on the internet was tough.  The one on the right has a dumb purse though.

 FACT: Iowa Grad/Wisconsin HC Bret Bielema has a "tiger hawk" tattoo on his leg.

So, dude goes to Iowa (hate), gets leg tat (lame) of hawkey (hate) and then goes on to be the HC of Wisconsin (hate)?  Bielema might be the AntiGopher™.

Badass tat, broski.

Go Badgers? Brandi Bielema: Hey girl!

Bonus pic of Bielemas for obvious reasons.

FACT:  The state seal of Wisconsin is dumb.

There is just too much going on here.  Horn o plenty? Got it. Dude in a sailor outfit? Got it. Anchor? Yep. Pick-axe? Of course.  Gun? NO!  You know who's seal has a gun? F'n Minnesota, that's who.


"Hey friend, coming to the harvest dinner? Don't make me pick up my musket, bro."

FACT: Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer were from Wisconsin.

Two of the most disgusting human beings to walk the earth made Wisconsin their home.  These serial killers both collected human body parts and made things out of human skin. You poor bastards are so bored out of your mind that you put penii in jars for safekeeping.  Not cool, dudes.

FACT: Dahmer tattoo guy is a Badger fan.

FACT: "On Wisconsin" was originally written for the University of Minnesota.

That's right, your school's fight song was meant to be submitted to Minnesota as "Minnesota, Minnesota" by William T. Purdy.  Even more messed up is a modified version of that song is your state song!  Talk about swinging from our coattails, sheesh. Be sure and let us know if you need any more cool shit to use as everlasting symbols of your state.

You're Welcome

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why We Hate, Part 1: A Brief History of Wisconsin Football

'Sup, y'all? So, we didn't get too into Hate Week for the Iowa game on account of the festering wound that had been the season up until that point. Our swagger was gone and, if our hurt pride had manifested itself physically as an open sore, it would have been ejecting a cheesy discharge, fasho. But, now that we've dispatched with the Wall Drug of college football and played competitively against #15 Michigan State in East Lansing, we're ready to commence with Hate Week - Eastern Edition: DIAF Wisconsin.

Some Chinese philosopher once said something about the importance of knowing your opponent so you can beat him, or something. So, before we dive headfirst into the true Hate Week activities, here is a very brief history of DIAF Wisconsin.

For the entire history of their football program, the Badgers have been in the upper echelon of the B1G. Beginning with a 10-1-1 record in their inaugural season, one in which they beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl, DIAF Wisconsin has been an annual contender for the B1G championship. Compiling a remarkable .691 winning percentage in their 18-year history, they rank ninth overall in all-time win percentage according to Stassen. Despite their success, they have yet to record an official national championship; though this can be better understood when recognizing DIAF Wisconsin is the newest BCS-conference team by a significant margin.

Their dominance in the B1G is reflected in their record against our Gophers, as the Badgers hold a 14-4 lifetime record against our beloved rodents. Please click on the attached Excel sheet below for a year-by-year breakdown of the Gopher/Badger meetings.

For Gopher supporters, it is difficult to comprehend the success of such a young program. We have wandered in the desert for 50 years, cycling through one imbecile coach after another, while this upstart team to our east finds paydirt with their first coaching hire, in the great Barry Alverez. We are left to do little but hope: hope that we can enjoy the 18-year run of success seen from this adolescent and hope we can muster the strength to derail them from their destiny of this year's national championship

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Days Later Liveblog: IWOA

8.42 Arrived. I overslept this morning, so we've already lost 12 minutes of valuable time to poison ourselves with alcohol to avoid this debacle

9.20 No frying pan. No Red Bull. Day is pretty much ruined, apparently. Got the canopy up though, after a solid 15 minutes of flailing about. 

10.16 JoeDirt from GopherHole gave us the hookup with a hot plate so we could cook teh eggs. He is the only positive to ever come off of GopherHole. Bless him. 

10.58 TRE sleep wasted, already. Will get a pic when he closes his eyes in fractional pass out mode. Just hoping for no puke volcano, for me myself.

11.31 Fat Iowa chicks playing bags with Garrity 2.0 next to us. Hope he dies in flames too.

12.06 Got that pic of sleepy TRE.

12.33 Was told I was too subdued last game to the point where security wondered what was up. Need to explain to Iceman Security that puke volcano happened later. He'd dig those bold puke flavors, you guys.

12.57 Still no Red Bull. Day is ruined.

1.41 Subdued here at SPTG. Siblings discussing how one should be getting drunker, while the other argues he's getting drunk just fine. Brotherly love, you know?

1.53 Packing up while Brother 2 does 12 consecutive shot of watery orange juice and a remnant of vodka. Pretty epic, though.

2.22 At the stadium before game starts. First time for everything.

2.44 Christyn Lewis. Eff. Surrounded by Iowa fans, btw.

3.01 Defense decent. Hope for today?

3.14 scoreless after 1. Offense down 152-55. Somehow still nil-nil.

3.49 DCT may be a man. A 60-yard man.

3.52 Well holy shit. Tied. At teh half.

4.05 Iceman with the brownies. Thanks, Iceman!

4.26 Reverse burn. Well, it was a run.

4.36 Cops in our section, not talking to me. That's a win. Some clown is mocking the cheerleaders and Herky. What sort of chowderhead rips the opposing team's mascot?

4.40 Didn't get booted, turned around and yelled "it was for being too cool!"

4.49 Guy back to standing and jawjacking with security. Chants of "Let's get kicked out!" commence.

5.03 Dude finally got booted for pointing at his crotch and yelling at Herky to suck his dick. Respect.

5.05 Oh, and were facing an insurmountable lead, down 11. Fucking rad.

5.22 Wow. Scored a TD and then got a sweet onside kick. Holy eff.

5.26 Fuck fuck fuck.

5.47 TD. Gray. THE RUN 2. And since it won't last....


6.07 On the field. Winning. VICTORY!