Friday, October 31, 2008

No More Mo

Morris Almond said today that the Jazz won't pick up his option for next season. It would have paid him $1.16 million. Not only that, but the Jazz are currently trying to trade Almond. The leading candidates are the Spurs and the Pistons. I have no idea what the Jazz would get in return. That would be awesome if they could somehow trade him for a big PF/C defender, but that isn't likely.

If I'm not mistaken he is older than Brewer and Miles, despite being drafted more recently than them. But he would have been a nice backup option if the Jazz don't resign Korver next year. When the Jazz resigned Miles that likely sealed Almond's fate. He is a big time scorer but can't do much else at this point. The Jazz just have too much young talent at SG. I'm sad that Almond didn't get much more of a chance in Utah and I think he could be a great NBA player. But at the same time, I don't see how he would get much playing time here. I'm guessing that the Jazz plan on trying to retain Korver next season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thoughts on Opening Night

The Jazz managed to get by the Nuggets in their season opener despite playing without Deron Williams.

The "Lights Out" beginning was fantastic. I had chills the whole time. I might have to go to a couple more Jazz games this year because of the new intros and sound system. Deseret News was kind enough to have a video of it:,5563,600,00.html

Boozer was huge and that is what you have to do when Deron is out.

Price was good enough despite his shooting. I thought it was fitting that the last 2 free throws came down to him.

C.J.'s dunk in the first quarter was amazing.

AK was amazing off the bench.

Boozer and Okur had double doubles.

Not the prettiest win but a win is a win and the Jazz were able to do it without Williams.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Twins are due

Congrats to the Phillies. I'm okay with them winning it all.

Now that Philadelphia has itself a championship, it no longer is the city with the longest championship drought out of the 4-sport cities.

The current longest 4-sport championship drought? Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

The Twins are the closest thing Minnesota has to a title contender. Lets see if the Twins can capture their first championship since 1991.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ranking the Jazz Players 1-15 and a couple random notes

1. Deron Williams
2. Carlos Boozer
3. Andrei Kirilenko
4. Memo Okur
5. Kyle Korver
6. Ronnie Brewer
7. Paul Millsap
8. Matt Harpring
9. Ronnie Price
10. Brevin Knight
11. CJ Miles
12. Kosta Koufus
13. Morris Almond
14. Jarron Collins
15. Kyrylo Fesenko

Yet to come:
16. Ante Tomic
17. Tadija Dragicevic

Note on depth/Bench: The depth of this team is ridiculous. I'm trying to be totally fair to all NBA teams when I say I can't think of another team with that kind of depth. Look at the bench players: Andrei Kirilenko, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Matt Harpring, and even Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight. That 2nd team definitely wouldn't be the worst starting 5 in the league. If the starters can keep the games close, then the 2nd unit of the Jazz will crush opponents leading to several Jazz blowout victories.

Note on CJ: CJ Miles is arguably the worst player on the Jazz, yet he will start at SF. My guess is that the Jazz are trying to get Miles to have the same kind of season that Brewer had last year. Brewer was a seldom used, young player with loads of talent, who never did much when he played. But when he was stuck with Williams, Boozer, and Okur he exploded and became a marvelous player. Hopefully Miles will improve likewise by getting the bulk of his playing time with Williams, Boozer, and Okur. He should get lots of open looks if teams double-team the Jazz. Hey, if it worked for Brewer, then why not for Miles, who is just as (if not more) young and athletic.

Injury Note: Jazz announced that Williams will not play in the season opener tomorrow night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2008 NBA Predictions

Final Standings

Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics
Philadelphia Sixers
Toronto Raptors
New Jersey Nets
New York Knicks

Cleveland Cavs
Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers

Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards
Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Bobcats

Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento Kings

New Orleans Hornets
Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks
Memphis Grizzlies

Utah Jazz
Portland Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder

West Playoffs
(1) Jazz over (8) Blazers
(4)Rockets over (5) Spurs
(3)Hornets over (6)Mavs
(2)Lakers over (7) Suns
Jazz over Rockets
Hornets over Lakers
Western Finals
Jazz over Hornets
NBA Finals
Jazz over Cavs

MVP: LeBron James
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan
PPG: LeBron James
APG: Deron Williams
ROY: Greg Oden
Most Improved: Ronnie Brewer
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett
Most Declined: Steve Nash
Most Improved Team: Timberwolves

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Beatles learn to play Jazz

Andrei Kirilenko - Baby You're a Rich Man - Has any NBA player been payed so much to be the 6th man?

Morris Almond - Any Time at All - He'd be happy to get any NBA minutes after leading the D-League in scoring last year.

Kyrylo Fesenko - Back in the U.S.S.R. - Will he go to play in Ukraine again if he can't improve?

Jerry Sloan - In My Life - Will he ever win Coach of the Year in my lifetime?

Carlos Boozer - Can't Buy Me Love - Will he spurn the Jazz like he did the Cavs next offseason?

Ronnie Brewer - Carry that Weight - He put on 15 lbs. of muscle but will that slow him down?

Matt Harpring - Dr. Robert - Harpring's health could cause this to be his last season.

Jarron Collins - The End - Hopefully has come to his last season as mediocre backup center.

Kyle Korver - Fixing a Hole - Fixes a huge hole of 3 point specialist the Jazz have had.

Deron Williams - Getting Better - How much better can this guy get?

Memo Okur - I'm So Tired - Memo won't be saying this anymore after getting in the best shape of his career.

Paul Millsap - Here, There, and Everywhere - Millsap seems to be everywhere the ball is.

Ronnie Price - With a Little Help From My Friends - Hopefully he can lead the Jazz to victory with some help in Deron Williams absence.

Brevin Knight - Hello, Goodbye - This guy only has one year on a contract, could be a short stay with the Jazz.

CJ Miles - Twist and Shout - He's got to be happy he's in the starting lineup.

Kousta Koufos - Please Mr. Postman - This guy supposedly has extremely good manners, something Jerry Sloan likes.

Monday, October 20, 2008


So the latest word on D-Will is that his ankle injury will keep him out for at least 2 weeks - thus missing the first 3 games of the regular season. Korver spoke with D-Will yesterday, and Williams is trying to recover in time for the first game. I hope that if he does miss any games, that they won't be many and that the Jazz will win them. Remember last year in the wild west, just a couple of losses instead of wins made all the difference.

Garza for Young revisited

Matt Garza pitched a gem last night, putting the Rays in the World Series for the first time ever.
Twins fans will remember that Matt Garza was drafted, developed, and brought to the major leagues by the Minnesota Twins. In the offseason he was part of a trade that sent him to Tampa in exchange for Delmon Young and others. Delmon Young was rated the top prospect in all of baseball in 2006 and he was the #1 overall pick in the draft as well. He disappointed some with his 2008 campaign. I say to his critics: he was only 22, and those are pretty good numbers for a 22 year old. They were better numbers than Kirby Puckett's at his age.

And usually #1 prospects in all of baseball turn out to be star players. A look at some of the past Basball American top prospects:
2007: Dice K Matsuzaka
2006: Delmon Young
2005:Joe Mauer
2004:Joe Mauer
2003:Mark Teixiera
2002:Josh Beckett
2001:Josh Hamilton
and the list goes on. Come on, Dice K is the worst name on that list and lots of teams would love to have him. Garza is a great talent but if Young lives up to his potential, which he still will have lots of time to do, than the Twins will end up getting the better end of the deal. I remember lots of people complained about Mauer and Morneau's early major league careers. Morneau didn't have amazing numbers until mid-2006, even though he had been in the majors since around 2004.

Repeat: Delmon Young is a special talent and the Twins would be stupid to give up on him so early by trading him away.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jazz Predictions

Yes the regular season is still a couple of weeks away, but the preseason is upon us and before you know it the Jazz will be playing their first real game. Time for some predictions!

Record: 62-20.
What!? you may say. Many predict the Jazz won't do so well, especially after a quiet offseason. But they already made the move they needed to make last season: trade for Kyle Korver. Remember the Jazz had the best record in 2008 and project Korver's Jazz over a full season and you arrive at 62-20. Plus the team won't have another dreadful December like last year.

Leading Scorer: Carlos Boozer 24 ppg
Assists leader: Deron Williams 11.3 apg
Rebounds leader: Carlos Boozer 11 rpg
Blocks leader: Andrei Kirilenko 1.2 bpg
Steals leader: Ronnie Brewer 1.3 spg
3 Point accuracy: Kyle Korver 44%
Free throw accuracy: Kyle Korver 91%

Projected starting lineup:
PG Deron Williams
SG Ronnie Brewer
SF CJ Miles
PF Carlos Boozer
C Mehmet Okur

F Andrei Kirilenko
F Paul Millsap
SG Kyle Korver
PG Ronnie Price
F Matt Harpring
C Jarron Collins
PG Brevin Knight

C Kyrylo Fesenko
C Kousta Koufos
SG Morris Almond

Top 6 scorers:
Boozer, Williams, Okur, Korver, Kirilenko, Brewer

Really the only thing the Jazz lack is a dominant defender in the post. They have everything else.

Prediction: Utah Jazz 2008-2009 World Champions (if they play defense this year)

The sky is the limit with one of the best young players in the league in Deron Williams at the helm. They have 7 players who can drop 20 points: Boozer, Williams, Korver, Okur, Brewer, Harpring, Millsap. I believe they are the best offensive team in the NBA, the big question this year and what will determine how far they go is how much defense they are willing to play.

This is the deepest Jazz team ever. I don't know how they are going to find minutes for everyone. Harpring being hurt will help give more people minutes at SF/SG. This might be the deepest team in the NBA.

Jeff Hornacek said that this team is much deeper and dangerous and versatile than the 1997 and 1998 Utah Jazz.

There are good vibes coming from the players right now. Ronnie Price is saying he's never seen a team so focused on the same goal. Kirilenko is excited about leading the 2nd team as the 6th man. Williams continues to develop at an astounding pace. All the players are in top shape even Okur. They don't have a negative deterrent at the start of the season unlike last year when Kirilenko wanted to leave. The sky is the limit this year.

The bigger the better the Jazz!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trade Targets: Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre should be one of the Twins top trade targets this offseason. Brian Buscher was alright last year but he had terrible defense. A Buscher/Harris platoon would be ok but certainly not ideal. Danny Valencia is one of the Twins top prospects in the minor leagues but he probably won't be major league ready for a year. He should be the Twins 3B of the future starting in 2010. But the Twins know they are contenders to make the playoffs in 2009, and they'd like a good 3B.

Adrian Beltre fits the bill. We know the Twins tried to get him at the trade deadline this year, but the Mariners were demanding one of the Twins young starting pitchers. Beltre only has one year left on his contract so he should be a one-year rental, hence dropping his trade value. Plus Beltre KILLS the ball in contract years. In 2004 he was also in the last year of his contract. He hit 48 home runs, 121, RBI, .334 BA, .388 OBP, .629! SLG PCT, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention he plays gold-glove caliber defense and he is a right-handed bat. Think of the damage he could do batting in the Twins lineup with Mauer and Morneau!

The other benefit is that after he leaves the Twins for free agency in 2010, then the Twins will receive 2 first round supplimentary draft picks, a nice bonus, not to mention his $13 million dollar salary off the books. Then Danny Valencia would be ready to step in as the new Twins 3B.

Really it is a perfect fit. Unfortunately the Twins tried to get him in 2008 already and balked at the price tag. The money isn't the issue it's what the Mariners want in return. Now the Mariners are looking for a new general manager, and hopefully the new one won't be as stubborn. The Mariners need starting pitching. The Twins have lots of major-league ready pitching at AAA. I really don't think they should trade Liriano, Baker, Slowey, Blackburn, or Perkins for just one year of Beltre. But if they could throw in some top prospect pitchers then the Mariners might bite. If they need a 3B, Buscher could be included. If they have to trade one of their young, cheap MLB pitchers I would give them only Nick Blackburn. But the Twins likely won't do that.

Mariners get: RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Brian Duensing, 3B Brian Buscher
Twins get: 1 year of 3B Adrian Beltre

New lineup:

CF Span
2B Casilla
C Mauer
3B Beltre
1B Morneau
LF Cuddyer
DH Kubel
RF Young
SS Harris

Probability of Twins trading for Beltre: 31%

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bats Available

There are 12 free agents this offseason who hit at least 20 home runs during the course of the past season. Namely:
1. Adam Dunn - 40
2. Manny Ramirez - 37
3. Pat Burrell - 33
3. Mark Teixeira - 33
5. Jason Giambi - 32
6. Raul Ibanez - 23
7. Milton Bradley - 22
8. Casey Blake - 21
9. Jim Edmonds - 20
9. Bobby Abreu - 20
9. Kevin Millar - 20
9. Eric Hinske - 20

Joe Crede and Orlando Hudson also had great slugging numbers.

Also there are 12 players with 20 HR power available through the trading block:
Prince Fielder, Aubrey Huff, Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Adam LaRoche, Matt Holliday, J.J. Hardy, Melvin Mora, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Garrett Atkins.
(Thanks to MLBTradeRumors)

This is substantial because the Twins had 0 players with 30+ HR, only 2 players with 20+ HR and only 3 with 10+ HR. The Twins have the prospects or extra players for a good trade, and they have the money for a couple of good free-agent signings.

The names that jump out at me the most:
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Orlando Hudson
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Joe Crede
3B Casey Blake
2B Dan Uggla
3B Garrett Atkins

I will likely go more in depth about some of these guys that I would love to see the Twins go get, like Beltre, Hudson, and Hardy. But basically the Twins are sitting pretty to go make some big trades/moves, and I know they haven't in the past but now would be a good time to change.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Small Girl

"It was really hard. I am not big. I am not strong. I am a small girl," said Fesenko.

When I read this in the Deseret News all I could hope is that something was lost in translation. Fesenko played against an old, out of shape Shaq O'Neal last night. I wonder if Fess will ever be even a backup center in the NBA. He's got the size to be a force, especially on defense and on the boards.

Fesenko said, "I have a lot of work to do, and I have to start right now." Amen.

AK47 = 6th Man?

Jerry Sloan is toying with the idea of having Kirilenko come off the bench. I'm not opposed to it, it would give the 2nd unit more punch and Kirilenko would help pass the ball around more, and might get a few more shot chances. I'm guessing CJ Miles would start at SF as Matt Harpring is injured. I'm okay with Miles getting some extra minutes as well. I think AK might be more happy with the 2nd team because lets be honest with Williams, Boozer, Okur, and Brewer you aren't going to get many shot opportunities. But with Millsap, Korver, Price and company you become a lot more important. I just hope he gets more minutes at PF because it seems that is the position where he is amazing on defense.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The First Move of the Offseason

The Minnesota Twins exercised backup catcher Mike Redmond's $950,000 option for next season. This was a no-brainer as Redmond is one of the better backup catchers in the game. He is 37, and has a career .292 batting average. I think most teams wouldn't mind that. He is also a great leader in the clubhouse. Good move, but an easy and expected one.

Jazz/Twins similarities

I've noticed through the years that there are many similarities between the Minnesota Twins and Utah Jazz. In fact it sometimes makes it feel like I'm rooting for the same team in 2 different sports. I'd argue that the Twins are more similar to the Jazz than any other NBA team. Here are some similarities:

They both play at the loudest arena in their sport (HHH Metrodome and EnergySolutions Arena)

Both have abandoned one arena in the city (Metropolitan stadium, Salt Palace)

Both old stadiums have been converted to something else (Mall of America, Convention center)

Both are some of the best teams at home, away they are very mediocre.

They both are middle to small market teams.

They both are constantly underrated by the national media.

Few players thrive after leaving the team (exceptions: David Ortiz, Johan Santana, Mo Williams, Raja Bell. examples: Chuck Knoblauch, Doug Mientkiewicz, Cristian Guzman, Jacque Jones, Eric Milton, Eddie Guardado, Shandon Anderson, Greg Ostertag, Karl Malone, Bryon Russell, Gordan Giricek, etc.)

For a while they had the 2 longest tenured coaches with the same team: Jerry Sloan and Tom Kelly

Their best players are slightly underrated by the national media: Joe Mauer and Deron Williams

Neither team ever makes huge free agent signings or trades.

They both do above average in the draft

They both make some great trades every now and then (Pierzynski for Liriano, Nathan, Bonser.
Giricek for Korver. Jeff Malone for Jeff Hornacek.)

Both did very well when having one of the top 3 picks in the draft (Joe Mauer #1, Deron Williams #3)

Both are among the youngest teams in the league.

Both have been to the Finals/World Series 2 times in the past 21 years.

Both franchises moved to the current city from previous cities (New Orleans, D.C.)

Both have one of, if not the best 1-2 punches in the game (Mauer/Morneau, Williams/Boozer)

Last year both had one of the top scoring offenses in the league.

Both teams have 3 all-stars (Boozer, Okur, Kirilenko. Mauer, Morneau, Nathan)

Neither is very good at doing things fans generally love most (3-pointers, home runs) but both are very exciting teams.

Both play the sport the old-school way (picks, bunts, etc.)

Both teams have had a player win the MVP award in the past 12 years (Malone, Morneau)

Both teams collect good people. They avoid troublemakers in the clubhouse.

Both have announcers that get excited really easily but sound good when they do (Bremer, Bolerjack)

Anyways you get the point.

Help on the way?

Now that we have reviewed who some of the Twins' best prospects are, naturally one would wonder who can help the Twins in 2009. In 2008 several players helped tremendously such as Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Jose Mijares among others. Some, such as Casilla, Span, and Buscher weren't high on people's lists at the start of 2008. So I won't be surprised if someone not on this list helps out in a big way. With that being said here are some prospects close to the majors:

1. Jose Mijares. Left Handed Relief Pitcher. He should be the 7th or 8th inning set-up man. He was dominant in September.
2. Anthony Swarzak. Starting Pitcher. Won't start the season with the Twins unless they trade Blackburn or Perkins. Was lights out when he was called up to AAA.
3. Kevin Mulvey. Starting Pitcher. If Swarzak isn't the first guy to be called up, Mulvey would be in contention as well. Was solid, but not spectacular at AAA last year.
4. Brian Duensing. Starting Pitcher. Same story as Mulvey. Pitched in the Olympics. Had a better year in 2007 than 2008.
5. Phil Humber. Starting Pitcher. This guy will be with the Twins or dropped at the start of 2009, because he is out of options. He will likely be the long-relief out of the bullpen if Bonser is traded.

Others who could be called up if there was an emergency:
Danny Valencia 3B
Luke Hughes 2B/3B
Matt Macri IF
Roberty Delaney RP
Anthony Slama RP
Trevor Plouffe SS

It is hard to say who of these guys will be the Span or Casilla of 2009. My guess is that only Mijares will contribute out of this group. The Twins are too deep and young and they plan to fill some holes through trades or free-agency. Really it is too early to tell. Most these guys if they did come up in 2009 it would be after the all-star break, if not until 2010.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tim's Sports Blog Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects

20. Carlos Gutierrez - RHP - A - 22
Gutierrez was the closer for the Miami Hurricans but the Twins intend to use him as a starter. He didn't play much for the Twins because of his long college season with the Hurricanes. It will be interesting to see how his transition goes. Was a first round draft pick this year, compensation for Torii Hunter's departure.
2009: Playing at single A level
Major League Potential - decent middle of the order pitcher
ETA: 2011

19. Phil Humber - RHP - AAA - 25
Originally the #3 pick in the draft by the Mets a few years ago. Was terrible to start the year, but in August went 4 - 1 with a 2.74 ERA. Received a September callup and played the long relief role out of the bullpen. Is out of options so will likely resume that role in 2009 or be let go.
2009: MLB
Major League Potential : Long reliever/setup man/#5 starter. Perhaps higher if he turned the corner.
ETA: 2009

18. Brian Duensing - LHP - AAA - 25
Duensing was on the American Olympic team. Would be in the majors if he was in a different organization. He is at the back end of a logjam of pitchers. In 2007 he had a 3.24 ERA, this year it was a bit higher. Potential trade bait.
2009: AAA/MLB
Major League Potential- decent #5 starter
ETA: 2009

17. Joe Benson - OF - Low A - 20
He is one of he best athletes out of the Twins prospects. Was injured for much of 2008. Had 23 XBH in 234 at bats.
2009: A
Major League Potential: 25 HR power, 25 SB, great glove
ETA: 2012

16. Jeff Manship - RHP - AA - 23
Was lights out at A ball, was a little more shaky at AA, but finished the season strong. He will pitch in the Twins top prospect Arizona fall league.
2009: AA/AAA
Major League Potential - #3 Starter
ETA: 2010

15. Trevor Plouffe - SS - AAA - 22
Had 49 extra base hits in the minors last year between AA and AAA. Plays solid defense, could be the Twins future SS of the future. I'd prefer to see the Twins get someone bigger through a trade like JJ Hardy, but he isn't a bad option for the future.
2009: AAA/MLB
Major League Potential - MLB SS with some pop and good defense
ETA: 2009

14. Chris Parmalee - OF/1B - Low A - 20
Parmalee was injured for much of last season. In more or less half a season he had 14 HR and 49 RBI. Probably would have led the organization in HR's had he stayed healthy. Bad BA and strikes out a lot. An Adam Dunn type. The Twins best power prospect.
2009: A
Major League Potential - Corner outfielder who either hits a HR, strikes out, or walks most at bats
ETA: 2011

13. Shooter Hunt - RHP - Rookie League - 22
A first round draft pick for the Twins in 2008. Started out with the Elizabethton Twins and gave up 1 run in 19 innings. Was moved up and didn't fare quite as well but the potential is definitely there. Has the best curveball in the Twins organization.
2009: Low A/A
Major League Potential: #2 or 3 pitcher
ETA: 2013

12. Anthony Slama - RHP (Reliever) - A - 24
Slama likely had the best season of any Twin minor leaguer. It is hard to know how to rate his numbers because for his age he should have been in AA or AAA ball. But in 51 games (71 innings) he was 4-1, had 25 saves, had a 1.01 ERA, a .95 WHIP, struck out 110, gave up just 43 hits and 24 walks. I was hoping he would be up with the Twins in September but alas he wasn't called up. He better get some serious innings at higher levels so the Twins can see what they have on their hands.
2009: AA/AAA
Major League Potential: Lights out reliever, perhaps future closer
ETA: 2010

11. Tyler Robertson - LHP - A - 20
In 15 starts he went 5-3 and had a 2.72 ERA. He was injured most the rest of the season, or else he likely would have ranked much higher. Some people rate him sas the Twins best pitching prospect.
2009: A
Major League Potential: #2 or 3 pitcher
ETA: 2011/2012

10. Kevin Mulvey - RHP - AAA - 23
Mulvey had a 3.77 ERA and struck out 121. He was the most consistent starter in AAA, and could step into the rotation if something happens to one of the big league starters.
2009: AAA/MLB
Major League Potential: Solid back end of the rotation starter
ETA: 2009

9. Deolis Guerra - RHP - A - 19
Ok Guerra didn't have a great season, but he the youngest player in A ball. Really most players his age are a few steps back, if not just getting out of high school. He still has the potential to be an ace and the biggest piece in the Johan Santana trade.
2009: A/AA
Major League Potential: #1 Starter/Ace
ETA: 2011

8. Wilson Ramos - C - A - 21
The Dominican Ramos hit 13 HR and 22 doubles while hitting around .300. A very good catcher with a great arm. Those are good numbers for a 20 year old in a pitcher friendly league. He could take turns DHing and catching with Mauer when he arrives.
2009: AA
Major League Potential: Slugging catcher who could move Mauer from the plate
ETA: 2010

7. Luke Hughes - 3B/2B/CF - AAA - 24
Hughes came out of nowhere to climb high onto the Twins prospect lists. In April alone he slugged 8 HR's and hit well over .300. He was injured off and on but made his way to the all-star game and earned a promotion to AAA. He could add some needed power to the Twins in 2009 as one of the team's infielders.
2009: AAA/MLB
Major League Potential: decent power bat
ETA: 2009

6. Anthony Swarzak - RHP - AAA - 23
Swarzak was stuck at AA at the beginning of last year and he didn't do so hot, perhaps disappointed he wasn't at AAA. When he did move up he was lights-out. He went 5-0 with 1.80 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. The best starting pitching prospect. If Perkins or Blackburn are traded he could step into the Twins pitching rotation.
2009: AAA/MLB
Major League Potential: #2 starter
ETA: 2009

5. Jose Mijares - LHP (Relief) - AA - 23
Mijares was in a terrible accident before the season that cut his season short. However he was called up to the Twins in September and quickly evolved into the 8th inning set up man. He was amazing and was the best reliever down the strech. Look for more of the same, although might be moved to 7th inning with Neshek coming back.
2009 : MLB
Major league Potential : Great lefty, primary setup man, future closer
ETA: 2009

4. Danny Valencia - 3B - AA - 23
Had an .850 - .950 OPS between A and AA ball last season. Hit 15 HR as well. Many view him as the Twins 3B of the future, perhaps as early as next year, but if not, then in time for the new ballpark.
2009: AAA / MLB
Major league potential: Good power & average, and good defense
ETA: 2009

3. Angel Morales - CF - Rookie ball - 18
Had a .623 slugging percentage and 15 HR in a short season with the Elizabethton Twins. A 5 - tool prospect. Could have easily been #1 on this list.
2009: Low A ball.
Major league potential: Solid middle of the order bat with power.
ETA: 2012

2. Aaron Hicks - CF - Rookie ball-19
The Twins first pick in the 2008 draft. He is one of the best prospects they have had in years. Many teams wanted to draft him as a pitcher, which tells me he will have an amazing outfield arm. A solid athlete who can hit for power, average, has speed, amazing defense, and a cannon arm.
2009: Low A ball.
Major league potential: Solid middle of the order order bat.
ETA: 2012

1. Ben Revere - CF - Low A - 20
Revere had the best season of any minor league Twin in 2008. He flirted with .400 BA for most the season and hit .379 with a .433 OBP and .497 SLG. He had 17 doubles and 10 triples, and 44 steals. Perhaps isn't the best defender at this point but he should improve thanks to his blazing speed.
2009: Play in A/AA ball.
Major league potential: SB machine, good leadoff bat.

Friday, October 3, 2008

First Look at the Twins offseason

Perhaps the biggest lesson the Twins learned from 2008: they can contend, even though they lost Santana and Hunter, and they can contend now. Just two more runs and they would have made the playoffs. Clearly the team isn't needing a big overhaul like last offseason. I'm sure they will make some moves this offseason as usual. We will explore what possible moves they might make, and we will discuss the moves when they make them.

First lets explore where the Twins currently stand:

Catcher - Joe Mauer is the best catcher in the game. He just won his 2nd batting title in 3 years and might win his first gold glove this offseason. The only think he could possibly improve on is HR power. Mike Redmond is a great backup. The Twins will pick up Mike Redmond's option for 2009. They are set at catcher.

First Base - Justin Morneau is solid all around like Joe Mauer. He played all 162 games this season and will likely finish 2nd in the MVP voting. He is locked up on a bargain contract through 2013. He doesn't really need a backup, although I've heard rumors that Jason Kubel is learning 1B so Morneau can DH when he needs a break.

Second Base - Alexi Casilla was a very pleasant surprise for the Twins in 2008. He'll be the #2 hitter in the lineup for a long time.

Shortstop - Now the Twins start to see some problems. Nick Punto is a free agent. I am hoping they don't resign him. Ron Gardenhire love Nick Punto like his own son. Ok he was alright in 2008 but he had one of the worst seasons ever in 2007. The Twins need a new SS. Casilla can play SS or 2B so look for them to fill one of those holes.

Third Base - Brian Buscher was solid in 2008, he hit around .300 and had he played the whole season he would have been on pace for 100 RBI. For some reason the Twins aren't sold on him. They do have 2 or 3 decent options in the minors that we will explore another day, but I wouldn't be surprised if they traded for someone like Adrian Beltre. Another big question mark.

Left Field - Delmon Young disappointed some with his .290, 10 HR campaign in 2008. I have one word for all those who think he should be traded: 22. Yes he is just 22 and very young. This guy was the top prospect in all of baseball 2 years ago when he was called up by the Rays! He was the #1 overall pick like Joe Mauer was! You don't give up on a guy like that. I remember Mauer and Morneau were a little underwhelming their first year in the majors as well. This guy is going to be a beast in the lineup. You don't give up on him early like the Twins did with David Ortiz.

Center Field - Carlos Gomez. See above. Disappointing year, but he is just 22 and has all the talent in the world. Fastest player in baseball, best defensive CF in baseball, you stick with him. He will get better exponentially.

Right Field - Denard Span. Span was the biggest, and most pleasant surprise of 2008. He took over the leadoff spot and was 2nd on the Twins in on-base percentage. He is a centerfielder so he covers right field as well as anybody. You also have Michael Cuddyer who was injured in 2008 but was signed to a big 3 year deal.

Designated Hitter - Jason Kubel. Was second on the team in HR with 20. Has a good bat.

Starting pitchers - Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, and Kevin Slowey are going to form the top of the rotation for a long time. Expect the Twins to lock them up to long term deals. Blackburn and Perkins are solid as well but they can be replaced by the Twins pitching depth.

Relief Pitchers - Getting Pat Neshek back will be huge in 2009. Losing Neshek cost the Twins the playoffs in 2008. Jose Mijares was called up in September and was lights out. Look for Mijares in the 7th, Neshek in the 8th, and Nathan in the 9th. Guerrier and Crain just need some rest. Craig Breslow was a good addition as well. Dennys Reyes will be a free agent, and probably let go with the emergence of Breslow and Mijares. Phil Humber and Boof Bonser also figure into the pitching plan somewhere.

Positions Set: C, 1B, one of 2B/SS, LF, CF, RF, DH, SP, RP.
Holes to fill: one of 2B/SS, 3B, maybe another reliever.
Surpluss players: One of Span/Young/Gomez/Cuddyer/Kubel. Blackburn, Perkins, Bonser, Humber.
Players likely gone: Nick Punto, Dennys Reyes
Estimated payroll: $49 million
Payroll room: up to $35 million (yes the Twins could actually go sign a big free agent or two, or make a big trade)

The biggest question is what to do with Span/Young/Gomez/Cuddyer/Kubel. 5 excellent players, with only 4 positions (LF/CF/RF/DH) to fill. Who do you make as trade bait? Cuddyer is my choice, but he is likely the least attractive.

In future posts we will discuss what to do with the surpluss of pitching and outfielders, what prospects could help in 2009 like Span, Casilla, Buscher, Blackburn, Slowey, Perkins, and Mijares did in 2008, a new top 20 Twins prospect list, potential trade targets, and potential free agents to be signed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

08/09 - Best ever for Utah?

Utah takes on Oregon State (who just beat #1 USC) tonight and BYU takes on Utah State tomorrow night. I predict a third straight BYU shutout victory. All signs point to an undefeated BYU team going up against an undefeated Utah team in late November, with both of them ranked in the top 10 (perhaps BYU as the #1 team in the nation?) and both vying for a BCS bowl game. Talk about the best rivalry game ever. If BYU won that game as well, it might just end up in the BCS title game. I've looked at the 6 teams ahead of BYU in the polls and I wouldn't be surprised if all of them lost at least one game between now and the end of the season. The problem is how many 1 loss teams would be ahead of BYU in the rankings? Either way BYU is poised for it's biggest season since 1984, if not ever.

Meanwhile of the professional side of sports in Utah, the Jazz are looking mighty fine in Boise according to head coach Jerry Sloan. Sloan usually rips into most the team for not being into shape but this time he has praised most of the players fitness, such as Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, CJ Miles, Memo Okur, and Morris Almond. This year's team will be EXTREMELY good. Expectations haven't been so high since Stockton and Malone ruled the west in '97 and '98. John Hollinger, ESPN statitician, predicts the Jazz will be the best in the west this year and go to the NBA Finals. Yeah that is right, the Jazz over the Lakers. Go check it out if you haven't already: I am thinking the same thing, but then again when don't I predict the Jazz will win it all?

But seriously this year could be the year. Boozer and Okur will be super motivated because it is their contract year essentially, with both of them likely to opt out of the rest of their contracts. D-Will has been improving at an exponential rate, and it is scary to think what he'll be like this year. Sloan says he will play Kirilenko more at the power forward spot this year, where he is much more effective. All 4 of the shooting guards are in tip-top shape, and all want to contribute as much as possible. Remember how good the Jazz were after they acquired Korver? They posted the best record in the league after that. And now they will have him right from the get go at the beginning of the season. Having a 3 point shooter who opens up the middle and who will make all the free-throws at the end of the game is an amazing benefit.

So, a BYU/Utah football game with the winner going to a BCS game, if not the national championship, and another Jazz finals appearance, if not their first championship? It doesn't get better than that folks, and that would easily top the 97 and 98 years where the Jazz went to the finals and the Utes ended up in the NCAA title game as the best sports year in the state of Utah.