Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A look at the Jazz Offseason pt. 2

At locker room cleanout yesterday, everyone made it clear that they wanted to stay with the Jazz next year.  That might just be talk but it does make me wonder if this team will change a huge amount or not.  Sloan said that they are just one good player away from the Finals.  I really like this team and I'd rather see them try to make just a couple improvements instead of blowing up the whole team.  Chemistry is important, and it's hard to just throw a bunch of new guys together and expect them to win.  

What the Jazz really could use is someone just dumping a good player on them without having to give up anything of much value (like Pau Gasol going to the Lakers).  That isn't likely but the Jazz have shown to be adept at trading unwanted pieces for valuable players (see Derek Fisher and Kyle Korver).  

Luckily the Jazz do have some players that could be traded.  Matt Harpring jumps to mind, as he has a $6.5 million expiring contract, and those will be all the rage this season as everyone will want to have money for the crazy 2010 free agent class.  Andrei Kirilenko has a salary that nobody covets, but a few teams would like to have him(Golden State Warriors.)  CJ Miles best years are ahead of him, you'll have him for 3 years at a rate that won't kill you, so some team might want to take a chance on him (Oklahoma City Thunder).  And the Jazz have an interesting little draft pick that could end up being extremely valuable (New York Knicks 2010 1st round draft pick.)

Who might be the missing piece(s) of the Jazz puzzle?  You'll have to wait for the answer.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A look at the Jazz Offseason pt. 1

Jazz players with a contract for 2009/2010 season (6): Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Miles, and Kosta Koufos.

Players who can opt out (3): Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, and Kyle Korver

Restricted free-agent (1): Paul Millsap

Team option (1) : Kyrylo Fesenko

Unrestricted free-agents (4): Brevin Knight, Jarron Collins, Ronnie Price, Morris Almond

Note: Jazz also have NY Knicks unprotected 2010 first round draft pick.

Areas where the Jazz need improvement:
Defense. PF/C with some great defense is very much needed.
Toughness. Who is tough besides Harpring? Maybe Millsap, Williams, and Price.
Points/outside shooting from the SF/SG positions.
Players who can win on the road, and who don't give up big leads.
Another player who can create his own shots besides Williams.
A solid backup point guard.

These are some of the things the Jazz brass has to think about this offseason. Maybe it was a good thing they lost in the first round so they have extra time to prepare?

The only thing the Jazz don't have to worry about is the starting point guard. I'm a little opposed to blowing this whole team up, because had they not had all those crazy injuries, I'm pretty sure they would have made it to the Western Conference Finals this year. But even if the current team was healthy and playing well together they still had some problems.

There is a lot to talk about, but for tonight we will just guess at who will be back for next year. Almond is definitely gone. I'm thinking Korver and Okur will not opt out. I think Knight will be gone, but Price will stay if he's willing to sign a small contract. Collins will probably be gone, and since Fesenko can't play in the D-League next year, I think the Jazz will stop their silly experiment with him. And now we come to the big question. Millsap, or Boozer. The only team with cap space that looks like a decent team to play for is Detroit, and so I think we will not lose both Boozer and Millsap, but I'd be shocked if we could afford both of them. But I really have no idea which of those two will be wearing a Jazz uniform next season.

So if the Jazz don't make a trade this offseason (Note: I am pretty sure they will), here are ten players who will be back with the Jazz: Deron Williams, Memo Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Miles, Kosta Koufos, Ronnie Price, and either Boozer or Millsap.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The Twins ERA is not a pretty thing.  If you don't count Jose Mijares (who has only pitched in one game), then only Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan have an ERA below 5.00.  That includes all starters and bullpen pitchers.  Sick.  The total ERA for the team is 6.03.  

Another disturbing stat:  The Twins have the worst run differential in the majors.  They have already been outscored by 31 runs.  How are they 7-9!?  With that kind of run difference, I'd expect only 2 or 3 wins so far.  

We need Joe Mauer!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The value of Joe Mauer

Sounds like Joe Mauer will return soon, May 1 would be a good bet.  The Twins haven't been spectacular thus far, but they could have done a lot worse than 7-7 without Joe Mauer.  Perhaps the absence of Joe Mauer has made people realize just how valuable he is to the Twins.  He is the heart of the Twins offense and defense.  Mauer is perhaps more valuable to his team than any other player in all of baseball.  He is simply irreplaceable.  Catchers who get on base 40% of the time and who have gold-glove defense and who throw base stealers out 40% of the time, don't grow on trees.  I don't think Mike Redmond and Jose Morales have thrown out a single base stealer this year. 

Justin Morneau has already won an MVP and finished second another time, so it's safe to say that many consider Morneau as the Twins MVP.  But Joe Mauer should have won the MVP both those years.  The problem is that he isn't a 30 HR hitter and his RBI numbers don't look pretty.  But he is always in the top 3 in on-base percentage, he takes extremely good at-bats, and he's the only American League catcher to win a batting title (and he's done it twice!) .  Honestly, Joe Mauer has a great shot of not only making it to the Hall of Fame, but as being the best catcher ever.

I'm not sure how much of an effect a catcher has on how a pitcher pitches, but it will be interesting to see if the pitching improves with Mauer back behind the plate.

Joe Mauer is signed through 2010, and I am hoping the Twins will give him a contract extension before he becomes a free-agent.  I'm sure the Twins would pay him gobs of money (which they should have due to a new ballpark), because he is the face of the franchise and he is Minnesotan.  He practically is Mr. Minnesota.  But I'd hate to see what would happen if he did reach free agency and the Yankees or Red Sox offered him a 7 year contract which would pay him $25 million a year...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jason Kubel - Twins Cleanup Hitter

Wow I just watched another incredible Twins victory! They might not have a lot of wins so far this season but they have already had 3 incredibly memorable ones.

Tonight Jason Kubel hit for the cycle and hit a grand slam HR to complete the cycle in the 8th and put the Twins up 11-9. That was exciting! Kubel was an extremely well-regarded prospect, some saying he was as great of a hitter as Mauer and Morneau, plus he played good outfield defense. But a knee injury a few years ago in the fall really hurt him and the next few years he regained strength but never really got back to his old level. People have been picking him to breakout for a few years now, and this might be the year it happens. I hope he is the everyday DH from here on out. Mauer and Morneau are the two best hitters and Kubel and Span are easily the next two best. I wonder how much longer people will pitch to Morneau to get to Kubel (which is what happened before the grand slam.) I think Morneau will start to see better pitches and he too will have better numbers. When Mauer gets back I'd love to see the top 4 of the batting order go Span/Mauer/Morneau/Kubel. I think batting orders are overrated but I do think it is important to get your best players more at-bats than anybody else and sticking them at the top of the order is the best way to do it. Plus Span and Mauer get on-base around 40% of the time, which creates excellent RBI opportunities for Kubel and Morneau.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

10 reasons why to be more optimistic about the Jazz

Such negativity abounds in Utah!  The woeful Jazz face the mighty Lakers in the first round and nobody thinks the series will last longer than 5 games.  I would agree that it doesn't look too promising, but come on I always find things to be optimistic in for my teams.  Here are some things that I find optimism in:

1.  Deron Williams.  When there's  D-Will, there's a way.  Does anybody doubt this guy is going to get 30+ points, 15+ assists every game?  This guy loves the playoffs and elevates his game to a whole new level in the postseason.  

2.  Last years series was closer than people realize.  We lost by 11 points in game 1, 10, in game 2, 7 in game 5, and 3 in game 6.  Plus we beat these guys in the regular season already as well.  I'm not predicting the series yet, but I'd be a little surprised if the Jazz were swept.

3.  If the Jazz manage to steal game 1 (or game 2) the Lakers will be feeling extreme pressure and all the Jazz would have to do is win out at home, which is what they are best at.

4.  I know they are not playing well together right now, but who says that couldn't change with 
just one game?

5.  Many of these guys might be wanting to get raises in the summer.  Beating the Lakers would sure look nice on a resume.

6.  If you ignore their recent slide, the Jazz are the best 8th seed I can remember.

7.  No back-to-back games.  The Jazz had one of the best records in the league when playing a game with a day of rest.

8.  Matt Harpring will cause more frusteration for Kobe than he's used to.

9.  Remember when Williams was hurt this year, and after he initially came back it took him a few weeks or months to get back to normal, but all of a sudden he clicked and was amazing?  I present to you Carlos Boozer...

10.  Hopefully the Jazz players remember Larry Miller and all he did for them and that alone helps to fuel their desire to win this year in the playoffs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Utah Jazz 2010 Lottery Pick

No I'm not talking about the Jazz own draft pick being in the lottery next season, although it feels like that's where they're headed.  I'm talking about the Knicks pick that we get next year.  We'll use this seasons records/standings to predict where the Knicks will end up.  Currently, the Knicks have the 8th worst record in the NBA.  I'd say their record wouldn't get better or much worse next season.  Looking at the teams below them, I'd say the Wizards and the Thunder will be much better next season, I'd even put the Timberwolves in that group.  Perhaps one (or two) of the Clippers or Grizzlies or Warriors perform better next season.  Obviously some teams will be injured like the Wizards were this season and they might fall below the Knicks, but if that doesn't happen, I'd predict the Jazz will get no worse than a top seven draft pick, with a decent shot at #1, #2, or #3!  And we all know what happened the last time the Jazz had a pick so high...  Deron Williams, you might just be getting a superstar teammate in 2010.

Ranking the Twins position players

Note: These rankings take into account offense AND defense. These aren't necessarily based off numbers. This is how I'd rank their value for the next few months:

1. Mauer - Arguably more valuable to the Twins than any other player is to his team in the majors.
2. Morneau - I'd hate to imagine where the Twins would be without his bat.
3. Span - Gets on base at a great rate, has gold glove defense at all three outfield positions.
4. Kubel - Has great bat, but Span's defense is much better.
5. Cuddyer - The next five could be ranked in almost any order. Cuddyer is a nice right-handed bat with a great arm.
6. Crede - Superb defense, with some nice pop in the bat, although he could get on base at a better clip.
7. Casilla - Has developed into a superb #2 hitter, and I love his range at 2B, although he still makes silly mistakes.
8. Gomez - If his new plate approach develops him into a more patient hitter and he develops a bit more power, he easily cracks into the top five, as he is already the best defensive outfielder in the majors.
9. Young - Don't know where to stick this guy. I'd love to stick him at #3 on this list as that is where his potential is. Still is very young for the majors, we'll see how this season turns out.
10. Punto - He is better than I give him credit for, defense is great, although very over-rated.
11. Harris - Decent bat, can play all over the infield, although not very well.
12. Redmond - One of the best backup catchers in the majors hands-down.
13. Buscher - I really like his bat, his defense is likely why the Twins signed Crede.

MLB Power Rankings

After one week of play:

1. Marlins
2. Braves
3. Cardinals
4. Blue Jays
5. Padres
6. Mariners
7. Cubs
8. Orioles
9. Dodgers
10. Tigers
11. Yankees
12. Mets
13. Angels
14. White Sox
15. Rays
16. Phillies
17. Royals
18. Rockies
19. Twins
20. Rangers
21. Reds
22. A's
23. Red Sox
24. Milwaukee
25. San Francisco
26. Pirates
27. Arizona
28. Indians
29. Astros
30. Nationals

And in other news, at their current paces, Denard Span will have 139 RBI at seasons end, Morneau will hit 46 HR and have 162 RBI, Francisco Liriano will be 0-46.

Ladies and gentlemen, the first week of baseball!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Predicting home run totals

Last season the Twins only hit 111 home runs while their opponents hit 183 against them. Only two players on the Twins hit more than 20(Morneau and Kubel) and only one more hit in double digits (Young). That said, I believe the Twins will show much more power this year. Getting Cuddyer back is one reason, adding Joe Crede is another. A full season for players like Denard Span and Alexi Casilla should help their numbers. Getting better/older/wiser should mean improvements for Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young. Getting LASIK-eye surgery and talking to Harmon Killebrew should hopefully lead to improved totals for Justin Morneau(not to mention better protection for him in the lineup.)

Here is my predicted home run totals for the Twins:
Justin Morneau - 34
Jason Kubel - 30
Joe Crede - 24
Michael Cuddyer - 22
Delmon Young - 21
Carlos Gomez - 16
Denard Span - 13
Alexi Casilla - 12
Joe Mauer - 12 (If Mauer hit for 25-30 HR a year, he'd be the best catcher in history)
Brendan Harris - 6
Brian Buscher - 6
Nick Punto - 2
Mike Redmond - 0

Chances are at the end of the season, I'll look silly for those predictions. The Twins never hit for that much power. But this year just feels a little different...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thoughts on Stockton, Sloan

I'm sure you have all heard by now that John Stockton and Jerry Sloan will be inducted to the Hall of Fame this year. A few quick thoughts:

-Jerry Sloan has to be the first coach inducted into the Hall of Fame without ever winning Coach of the Year. Seriously, how did this happen?? It just goes to show that some of the postseason awards are a little silly.

-I find it quite ironic that Stockton (and Sloan) won't be the highlight of this years Hall of Fame class. The shadow of the man they could never quite escape looms over them again this year: Jordan.

-Couldn't they just bump Malone up a year so he could enter with Stockton and Sloan this year? Or let Jordan be the only inductee this year out of respect to how untouchable and important he is to the NBA, and at the same time letting Malone go in with Stockton/Sloan next year? It just feels funny to have Stockton and Sloan separated from Malone.

-Two years ago it seemed weird that the Jazz had only one player in the Hall of Fame, Pete Maravich. But by next year they will have increased that number to five, with Dantley, Stockton, Sloan, and Malone joining Maravich.

-The Salt Lake Tribune has been ranking all the Jazz players in history from worst to first. They are down to their top 10, and here is how I'd rank the players that they haven't ranked yet:
  1. Karl Malone
  2. John Stockton
  3. Pete Maravich
  4. Adrian Dantley
  5. Deron Williams
  6. Jeff Hornacek
  7. Carlos Boozer
  8. Mark Eaton
  9. Darrell Griffith
  10. Rickey Green

Baseball 2009 Predictions

Final standings:


Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals

Los Angeles Angels
Oakland A’s
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners


CY YOUNG: Francisco Liriano
MVP: Justin Morneau
ROY: Matt Wieters


New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates

Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres

MVP: Albert Pujols
CY YOUNG: Johan Santana
ROY: Cameron Maybin



And some Twins predictions:

HR: Morneau 34
BA: Mauer .319
RBI: Morneau 127
SB: Gomez 55

Worst BA: Punto .245

Wins: Liriano 18
SO: Liriano 234
ERA: Liriano 2.39
Saves: Nathan 40

Liriano will stay healthy
Mauer and Gomez will win gold gloves, while Crede, Span and Punto will receive consideration
Mauer, Morneau, Nathan, and Liriano will be all-stars
Crede will be one of the top five hitters on Twins
At least one of Crede, Young, and Cuddyer will hit over 20 HR
Twins will have one of the top 3 defensive teams in baseball
Slowey, Baker, and Liriano will all receive some Cy Young votes
Kubel will hit around 30 HR
Crain will be the 8th inning guy this season