Friday, December 26, 2008

Injured Jazz = Dangerous Team

There are two things that don't end for the Jazz: their injuries and their depth. With Boozer, Okur, Millsap, and Collins all unavailable to play due to injuries things were looking pretty grim for the Jazz. But it looks like the Jazz might have another Millsap-like rookie: Kosta Koufos. The guy shot 8-11 on the night to end up with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and a couple steals, assists, and blocks in 29 minutes. Remember, this guy is just 19. Perhaps he will end up being the best Ohio State center drafted in the past couple years (#1 overal pick Greg Oden being the other.) He looks great even as a 19 year old. And Kirilenko filled in admirably at power forward. D-Will even had 4 steals, which is a great number for him. Really, everyone came out to play and it was an extremely pleasing game to watch. The Jazz are a fun team to watch most nights, and it is especially fun to watch young players like Fesenko, Koufos, Miles, and Brewer play key roles in a victory. I am definitely ready to get Millsap, Boozer, and Okur back, but it is fun to watch some other players step up and to see the Jazz win despite being so thin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Beatles play at the Twins Metropolitan Stadium

The day was August 21, 1965. The day the Beatles visited Minnesota. They played at Metropolitan Stadium, the Twins old ballpark. Now standing where that ballpark was is the Mall of America.

Ringo was very interested in the Twins. He sat in Harmon Killebrew's chair and he got out the Twins gear after asking if it was okay, but none of the other 3 Beatles wanted to play with him. Ringo and George each asked for a Twins hat and autographed baseballs by the Twins players. Ringo thought the Twins would do very well that year. They sat in the Twins clubhouse while waiting to perform. They ran out of the dugout onto the stage which was around the pitchers mound. The crowd went berserk but they were a little more subdued because of the announcement that if any people ran onto the field during the performance the Beatles would immediatly stop playing and leave the stadium. This was a short while after Shea Stadium where tons of fans were tackled as they tried to approach the Beatles. Tickets were $5 dollars. Not all the Beatles thought Minneapolis was that memorable. John Lennon admitted later that he was in the car and he forgot where they were so he was going to ask someone but decided not to, so they wouldn't hurt their feelings. I'm sure the Beatles wish they would have stayed a little longer. They flew out to the west coast after spending time in Minnesota, but they had to make an emergency landing because of an engine fire.

There is an entire book on the Beatles trip to Minnesota and their performance in the Twins stadium.

Twins in the World Baseball Classic

With the 2nd World Baseball coming up in a few months it is time to wonder which Twins will participate. Last time I seem to remember both Liriano and Santana pitched for their countries and I don't remember anybody else going, maybe Dennys Reyes and Luis Castillo?

As for this year here are some possibilities:
Justin Morneau - Canada (Already confirmed)
Jesse Crain - Canada

Joe Mauer
Joe Nathan

Dominican Republic:
Francisco Liriano
Alexi Casilla
Carlos Gomez

Luke Hughes (Twins AAA 3B)

Jose Mijares

I'm probably missing some others but those are ones that come off the top of my head. It will be interesting to see what kind of participation the WBC gets from the MLB players and how the rosters turn out. Japan won last year and anything can happen since most of it just depends on a couple of games but I'm sure once again the four favorites will be the Americans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Japanese with Venezuela and Puerto Rico also making things interesting. Canada and Mexico could be spoilers but unlikely to win it all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

State of the Jazz

It seems that the Jazz have been a three headed beast as of late with Okur, Millsap, and Williams leading the way. Nobody else has been a huge contributor game in and out like them. I am starting to wonder about this season. Most viewed it as our big shot to win the NBA title. I'm not sure how wide open that window is currently. Of course there is still plenty of time left in the season, and there are a lot of games to be played. But now word has it that Boozer might need surgery. I just don't see how he could opt out of his contract if that happens. You'd have to imagine that he would stay one more year to have a great year so that teams will be more willing to pay him. And as good as Millsap is this year and as good as he will become, as of right now we still could use Boozer's offense.

If this turns out to not be a title run year (which it easily could still end up being) it certainly isn't a rebuilding year either. Just a regrouping year. Besides Memo, the 4 other starters are young, very young. Millsap, Brewer, and Williams are all going to be key cogs of this team for a very long time. If the Jazz fail to make a deep run in the playoffs, I'm sure it won't be the last shot that Williams has at an NBA title with the Jazz. This team will only get better and Millsap has proven he can put up Boozer-esque numbers while playing much better defense and staying healthy. And remember the Jazz have the Knicks first-round draft pick in 2010, which could be a very high pick. And we all remember the caliber of player the Jazz were able to select the last time they had a top 5 pick.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twins Time Machine: 2002

Let's take a look back at the 2002 season. The season where the Twins finally made the playoffs again. The 2001/2002 Twins teams were the ones that really started renewed interest in the Twins, after a decade long slump. Let's take a look at where they were playing in 2008, since all have left the Twins.

Here was the common lineup, along with how they did in 2008:
LF Jacque Jones With Tigers/Marlins. a little over 100 AB. 1 HR. 7 RBI. .108 BA.
SS Cristian Guzman With Nationals. 9 HR. 579 AB. 55 RBI.
1B Doug Mientkiewicz With Pirates. 285 at-bats. 2 HR. 30 RBI. .277 BA.
DH David Ortiz With Boston. 23 HR, 89 RBI, 416 AB.
CF Torii Hunter With Angels. 551 at-bats. 21 HR. 78 RBI.
3B Corey Koskie Not in MLB. Last team: 2006 Brewers.
RF Dustan Mohr Not in MLB. He had 16 at-bats with the 2007 Rays.
C AJ Pierzynski With White Sox. 13 HR. 534 at-bats. .281 BA.
2B Luis Rivas With Pirates. 3 HR. 206 at-bats. 20 RBI. .218 BA.

The pitching staff:
Brad Radke Retired after pitching for Twins in 2006.
Johan Santana With Mets. 16-7. 234 IP. 206 K. 2.53 ERA.
Eric Milton Not in MLB. Last team: Reds.
Kyle Lohse Pitched for Cardinals in 2008. 3.78 ERA. 200 IP.
Rick Reed Retired after pitching for Twins in 2003.
Joe Mays Not in MLB. Last team: Reds.

Juan Rincon Dropped by Twins picked up by Indians. 5.60 ERA, 27 IP.
JC Romero Pitched for Phillies. 59 innings. 2.75 ERA.
LaTroy Hawkins With Yankees/Astros. Pitched 62 innings.
Eddie Guardado Traded back to Twins mid-season. Only pitched 7 innings with Twins.

Well there are a decent number who just don't matter in baseball anymore: Jones, Koskie, Mohr, Radke, Milton, Reed, Mays, Rincon.
There are a few doing great: Hunter, Ortiz, Santana, Lohse, Romero, Pierzynski.
And there are some who will likely be done soon: Guardado, Hawkins, Rivas, Mientkiewicz.

That was a great team but it wasn't good enough to win a World Series. The 2002 team would lose to the Angels in the ALCS. Now they are all gone. I wouldn't mind having Ortiz, Hunter, and Santana back in Twins uniforms.

My Top Ten Favorite Twins Players of All-Time

Same rules apply. Hence no Killebrew, Oliva, Kaat, Blyleven, or Carew.

1. Johan Santana
2. Kirby Puckett
3. Francisco Liriano
4. Justin Morneau
5. Joe Mauer
6. Chuck Knoblauch
7. Kent Hrbek
8. Torii Hunter
9. Brad Radke
10. Corey Koskie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Top Ten Favorite Jazz players of all-time

Note: I only put players I remember seeing play on the list. Hence Maravich, Dantley, Griffiths, etc. are disqualified.

1. Karl Malone
2. John Stockton
3. Deron Williams
4. Andrei Kirilenko
5. Jeff Hornacek
6. Memo Okur
7. Bryon Russell
8. Paul Millsap
9. Carlos Boozer
10. Donyell Marshall

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Carlos Boo$er to opt out of contract

So my last post was quite timely. Honestly I really don't expect Boo$er to stay with Utah for next season. Remember what he did with Cleveland? He could have stayed and played with LEBRON JAMES so what makes you think he will stay in Utah just to play with DERON WILLIAMS? Millsap will be the man here after this year. And I am excited about it. Boo$er won't get much better but the sky is the limit for Millsap. Yes Boozer is an incredible offensive player and rebounder. Millsap will get better though. And I for one am willing to let some other team pay Boozer max contract money while he spends at least 1/4 of the season on the bench. Millsap is more like Karl Malone than Boozer. Boozer is too weak on defense. Millsap has a more complete game like the Mailman. They even went to the same college. With Williams and Millsap we will have the true heirs to the Stockton to Malone leaders of the Jazz.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boozer or Millsap?

I guess one positive of Boozer being out is that the Jazz get to see what Millsap brings to the table getting starter's minutes. He has been solid, posting a double-double in the past 11 games. That is great. Against Boston he looked fantastic, showing off an amazing array of offensive moves. Millsap would definitely get the edge on defense, he picks up more blocks and steals than Boozer. They are both elite rebounders, although I think Millsap might have the slight edge. He did lead the NCAA 3 straight years in rebounding. But Boozer definitely has the edge on offense. It is Boozer's offense that we are missing right now. Millsap could obviously develop more and become a much better offensive player.

So both will likely be up for new contracts after the season and it is likely the Jazz will only be able to afford one of them. So which one do they choose? I really don't know. The Jazz aren't playing too well without Boozer right now. But that might also be attributed to Williams being slowed by his injury. But we would all hate to see Millsap become an all-star with a different team. He will likely be cheaper than Boozer, and he is much less injury prone than Boozer. After all, Millsap has not missed a game yet in the NBA. Boozer is about 3 inches taller than Millsap.

I think I'd lean towards keeping Millsap. It might be crazy to let go of an Olympian, but maybe Boozer doesn't want to re-sign here. It will be an interesting offseason.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ty Wigginton for Twins 3B

Breaking news: The Astros just non-tendered Ty Wigginton. Which basically means he is a free-agent. Go get him Bill Smith! He had 23 home runs last year to go along with .285 batting average .350 on-base percentage and .526 slugging percentage. He would be a great addition. He is just 31 years old. I really hope the Twins sign him. He would give the Twins some much needed power and a right-handed bat. I could be fine with an infield of Morneau, Casilla, Punto, and Wigginton. Looking at the other options and I am not as mad about resigning Punto. Maybe I will write about that later. But if it is the Punto of 2006/2008 and not of 2005/2007 then it will be a good signing by the Twins. Good, but not great. I would love to see the Twins get Wigginton.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Nick Punto re-signs with the Twins

Well Nick Punto Just re-signed with the Twins. Something like 2 years for 8 million with an option for 2011. So that is the best the Twins can do at the Winter Meetings? I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baseball Winter Meetings 2008

This week is when all the baseball GM's meet for a week and discuss trades and such. This year it is being held in Las Vegas. This is perhaps the busiest week during the offseason and definitely the one that spawns the most rumors. Which means I am constantly refresing my RSS feeds to get the lastest updates.

Here is some rumors from the start of day 1:

-Add Miguel Tejada to the list of players the Twins might try to trade for.

-Add the Phillies to the growing list of teams who want Delmon Young. The Twins would want someone like top prospect Jason Donald in return.

-A Seattle writer thinks perhaps Beltre's price tag has gone down. Something more like Cuddyer plus a good pitching prospect or two. I wouldn't mind that deal.

A lot of things get tossed out there as possibilities but most of it will never actually happen. But I think this year the Twins are out to get something big done, so it will be interesting to follow the Twins rumors.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ranking my preferences for the MLB teams

From favorite to least favorite:
Teams I love to see do well:

1. Minnesota Twins
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Oakland Athletics
6. Florida Marlins
7. Toronto Blue Jays

Teams I am indifferent about:
8. Seattle Mariners
9. Arizona Diamondbacks
10. Los Angeles Angels
11. Philadelphia Phillies
12. New York Mets
13. Baltimore Orioles
14. Kansas City Royals
15. Texas Rangers
16. Washington Nationals
17. St. Louis Cardinals
18. Cincinnati Reds
19. Milwaukee Brewers
20. Houston Astros
21. Pittsburgh Pirates
22. Los Angeles Dodgers
23. San Diego Padres
24. San Francisco Giants
Teams I really can't stand:
25. Chicago Cubs
26. Detroit Tigers
27. Cleveland Indians
28. Boston Red Sox
29. Chicago White Sox
30. New York Yankees

Twins break off talks with Casey Blake

The latest reports about the Twins pursuit of free agent third baseman Casey Blake are that the Twins broke off talks with Blake yesterday after the Twins wouldn't guarantee a third year in their offer. With winter meetings next week there will be lots of players for the Twins to look at and they didn't want to waste all their time with Blake.

I'm a little sad that the Twins didn't sign Blake, but I am glad they didn't sign Blake to the terms he was demanding. During that third year, the Twins would have been paying a 38 year old 8 million a year to play 3B. Besides I'm not too sure he is a huge upgrade over a Buscher/Harris platoon at 3B.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Raptors at Jazz Game Recap

Utah Jazz 114, Toronto Raptors 87

-Biggest news was the return of Andrei Kirilenko, Brevin Knight, and Matt Harpring from injuries.

-Harpring was outstanding posting 14 points and 7 rebounds in just 12 minutes of play. Perhaps he can be a big contributor this season.

-Williams is looking much more confident and some of the drive to the lane he took wouldn't have come if his ankle was bothering him a lot.

-Millsap's final line: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal. Carlos who?

-Koufos also came in and scored 10 points in 6 minutes of garbage time.

-And Memo Okur led the way with 21 points.

-The Jazz are getting closer to being at 100% full strength. They proved that with most their pieces effective, they can play extremely well despite not having one of their stars (Boozer). Which is good because he might not return next season.

-Nice win for the Jazz on national television. You get the feeling that momentum is starting to be on their side and that they are about to show us what they are possible of doing this season.

Ranking my preferences for the NBA teams

From favorite to least favorite:

Teams I love to see do well:
1. Utah Jazz
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Boston Celtics
6. Miami Heat

Teams I am indifferent about:
7. Atlanta Hawks
8. Golden State Warriors
9. Indiana Pacers
10. Orlando Magic
11. Memphis Grizzlies
12. Washington Wizards
13. Toronto Raptors
14. Sacramento Kings
15. Charlotte Bobcats
16. Oklahoma City Thunder
17. Los Angeles Clippers
18. New Jersey Nets
19. Philadelphia 76ers
20. Milwaukee Bucks
21. Dallas Mavericks
22. New York Knicks

Teams I really can't stand:
23. Chicago Bulls
24. Portland Trail Blazers
25. Detroit Pistons
26. New Orleans Hornets
27. Houston Rockets
28. Denver Nuggets
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Los Angeles Lakers

Jazz on National Television tonight

The Jazz host the Toronto Raptors tonight on ESPN at 8:30.

Kirilenko is planning to play. That is good news for the Jazz, they are 11-4 when Kirilenko plays.

Hopefully the Jazz will start to return to form with AK back. Now when they get Boozer back and Williams confidence is 100% along with his ankle fully healed then we will be able to see what the Jazz can do. But I feel that tonight is the beginning of the end (hopefully) of the Jazz being extremely limited due to injuries.

One other random note: Looks like former BYU QB Steve Sarkisian will be named the next head coach of the Washington Huskies football team. He is not going into a very good situation. Sarkisian was the QB of perhaps the best BYU football team in my lifetime (1996).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Boneheaded Gardy

I can never decide if I like Ron Gardenhire or not. He seems to get a lot out of his players (see 2008) but some of his lineup choices are maddening. I don't know what a player does to do to get on his good or bad side. Matt Garza was on his bad side and the Twins shipped him off to the Rays, where he is starting to look mighty good. Nick Punto is perhaps his favorite player ever and Gardenhire gave him way too many at-bats in 2007 and Punto posted some of the worst offensive numbers of all-time. Now it appears Delmon Young is on Gardy's bad side as well.

On Wednesday in Fargo, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the team's three starting outfielders should be Denard Span, Carlos Gomez and Michael Cuddyer.

"Those three guys have to play every day," Gardenhire told the Fargo Forum after speaking at a farm trade show. "Delmon is in the mix. He's a heck of a player, a heck of a talent. But to me, those three guys should be your outfield and then you go from there."

The Twins have been reportadly trying to see what kind of value they could get for Delmon this offseason. Looks like Gardenhire might be the one pushing for him to be traded. I thought he had a great season last year for a 22 year old. Remember this guy has all the talent in the world. But if you are trying to trade him, saying he wouldn't start over Cuddyer or Gomez does not increase his trade value! If I were Bill Smith I would make Gardy be quiet for the rest of the offseason.

There might be 2 shortstops I would trade Young for: JJ Hardy and Yunel Escobar. And I would hesitate before pulling the trigger on that one.

In other Twins news, it looks like it is down to the Twins and Dodgers in the running for 3B Casey Blake. If either team offers one more year or more money to their current offers, Blake will sign with them. I will not complain about signing Blake, especially if it is just a 2 year deal. He is 35, but could be our best 3B since Koskie. Plus we wouldn't give anything up for Blake, since he is a free-agent. That way we could have all our trade bait still available to fill the much larger SS hole with something besides Gardy's favorite player ever, Nick Punto.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jazz play the blues

Nobody could have predicted what has happened to the Jazz this season. Nobody thought they would have this bad of a record and be in 3rd place in their division at the end of November.

But looking past all the negatives I think there are quite a few silver linings so far despite all the depressing injuries that have occurred thus far.

1. Younger players develop - Out of everyone, I would say CJ Miles has developed the most out of the young players. He is starting to make the Jazz look good for signing him to a four year deal.

2. We are only 1 game out of 2nd place. I don't know if we can catch the Lakers but once everyone is healthy and if we can stay even with the others, then we should be able to lock up the 2nd seed, thus giving us home-court advantage until the Conference Finals, and we wouldn't face the Lakers until then.

3. Andrei Kirilenko's resurgence.

4. The bench/younger players are getting valuable experience, especially in crunch time. Even though Williams/Boozer/Kirilenko played in the Olympics, their time being out should get them some much needed rest. Come playoff time, I imagine Okur/Boozer/Kirilenko/Williams/Korver/Harpring/Knight will not be quite as worn down as the opposition. Really if you are going to be injured, I'd much rather be injured at the beginning of the season than the end and not be 100% for the playoffs.

To conclude, in April when we are looking back at this unprecedented injury problem we have had we might just look at it as a blessing in disguise. The only thing that is negative about it is that we likely can't get the top seed in the west. Other than that, nothing too devastating has happened, that is if we don't fall behind the rest of the competition.