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NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

9 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

  • Be sure to check out the Nine to Noon Show with Paul Allen today on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com. I will be joining the show at 9:20 to talk Twins. With the start of the Vikings season tonight, PA will be live from New Orleans preparing for the Vikings/Saints game, but we will be talking about the Twins.

TWINS ON FIRE, Sweep Royals

The Twins just finished a series at home in which they won eight out of nine games. The only loss on the home stand was the horrible 13 inning loss to the Detroit Tigers where many Twins fans thought the sky was falling down. Many thought that it would be the beginning of the end for the Twins and yet, as they have every other time they met adversity, they have gone on to sweep the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. I don’t care if the Royals have a lineup that could make the Eden Prairie American Legion team look big league caliber, it is still huge to get the sweep. There is a reason such teams are called “spoilers” at this time of year… because they have the ability to spoil playoff runs. The Twins have to bear down against the Royals, or in the upcoming series against Cleveland, in an attempt to not let down. Because if they continue to play good baseball, it’s hard to envision the team not making the playoffs.

Consider this: The Twins have 22 games remaining in their season. The White Sox have 23 games remaining. If the Twins continue on their current pace, they should go 13-9 the rest of the way. If they do that, the White Sox would have to go 19-4 the rest of the way in order to force a third straight Game 163 for the Twins. If the Twins play .500 ball (11-11), the White Sox would have to go 17-6. With a Magic Number of 18, it’s hard to imagine the Twins not winning the AL Central. Is it over yet? Of course not, but like I wrote, if the team just plays well down the stretch, it will be really hard for them not to.

The Twins are on pace to finish the season with a 96-66 record. It would mark the 14th time in the team’s 50 years in Minnesota that they had over 90 wins:

Year Record Win %
1965 102-60 0.630
1970 98-64 0.605
1969 97-65 0.599
2006 96-66 0.593
1991 95-67 0.586
2002 94-67 0.584
2004 92-70 0.568
1963 91-70 0.565
1962, 1967, 1988 91-71 0.562
1992, 2003 90-72 0.556

And five of those 90 win seasons have come during the Ron Gardenhire tenure. And yet there are still Twins fans out there that question every single move the manager makes. No, I don’t say that I agree with everything Gardy does either, and that’s OK, but sometimes I do think it is wise to step back and appreciate what Gardy has done. 

And I will argue that 2010 is his best work yet. I have never seen so many injuries in a season. Yes, other teams have injuries too, but not like this team has gone through. 2006 was an incredible year with a most unlikely second half. I think that this year’s team has more talent all-around, but that team had the AL MVP (Justin Morneau), the stat-heads’ MVP (Joe Mauer), the Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), a should-have-been Rookie of the Year despite his season coming to an early end (Francisco Liriano), and Torii Hunter talking away in centerfield.

One other thing to note about Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson… Baseball Prospectus has put together a statistic on Pitcher Abuse Points. It looks at the number of pitches that each pitcher has thrown. Considers how many pitches they average per start. It looks at the maximum number of pitches that starters have thrown in a game and other things. To no one’s surprise, Edwin Jackson is #1 in pitcher abuse points. Francisco Liriano is the first Twins pitcher to show on the list, at #63. Next on the list for the Twins? Carl Pavano at #118. The others are Kevin Slowey at #130, Nick Blackburn at #157, Scott Baker at #167, and Brian Duensing at #187.

It would sure be nice to get Danny Valencia back into the lineup. Matt Tolbert has done a nice job in his place the last five games. Valencia has put himself into contention for AL Rookie of the Year, but behind Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Austin Jackson of the Tigers, so it would be great to get him back. That said, Tolbert has done well, and consider this: In 2009, he was the Twins starting 3B in September. In 78 September plate appearances, Tolbert hit .333/.365/.464 and played great defense. It was such a surprise last year because coming into September, he had hit just .178 with the Twins in 129 at bats. His 23 September hits equaled his total for the previous five months put together.  

Speaking of Baseball Prospectus and some of their cool stats, they also look at the odds of teams winning their division, the wild card or advancing to the playoffs. Before last night’s win and White Sox loss, it listed the Twins as having a 89.6% chance of winning the division, and having a 90.1% chance of making the playoffs. I imagine that those numbers will be significantly higher when updated this morning.

The Twins should enjoy their off day today before heading back on the road. Hopefully Valencia, Jim Thome and Brian Fuentes will be able to get back on the field this weekend!

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1

Before getting to the picks, I would like to introduce this year’s panel (Please note that others have been invited and could be joining the weekly panel):

Jeff Manship – Jeff is in his fourth year on this panel. He was the Twins 14th round draft pick in 2006 out of Notre Dame. He has been promoted to the Twins five times this year, making one spot start and otherwise pitching in long relief.  

Alex Burnett – Alex joins the panel for the second time. The Twins 12th round pick in 2005 out of his California high school, Burnett surprisingly was on the Twins Opening Day roster. He showed his promise throughout the first half of the season before being sent back to Rochester. He recently returned to the Twins for September.  

Matt Fox – Matt is on this panel for the second year. He was a supplemental first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of Central Florida. His story has been well documented in the last week, since I was able to break the news that he would be making his major league debut last Friday. He pitched great against the Rangers.

Dan Osterbrock – Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. After a difficult 2009, Osterbrock was as good as any pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2010. He returned to Beloit and made five starts. He was twice Midwest League Pitcher of the week and threw a no-hitter. He was just as good the rest of the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. This is his second year on this panel.

Steve Blevins – Blevins is also on the panel for the second year. The Snappers’ reliever was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. He returned to Beloit to start the season  but throughout the course of the 2010 season, he was promoted to Ft. Myers and then to New Britain.

Kyle Gibson – Kyle was the Twins 1st round pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri. He made his professional debut in 2010 with the Ft. Myers Miracle, but he also made starts in Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. It is likely Gibson will debut with the Twins in 2011. Gibson is on the panel for the second year.

Chris Parmelee – Chris is competing in this panel for the first time this year. He was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010. He began the 2010 season at New Britain but was sent back to Ft. Myers in mid-May. He quickly returned to New Britain where he played some of the best ball of his career. He will also be headed to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight season

Nate Hanson – He is from Chanhassen, went to Eden Prairie high school, moved on to the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. After spending 2008 in Elizabethton and 2009 in Beloit, he moved up to Ft. Myers in 2010. He was one of the team’s top hitters and hit 11 home runs. This is his first year on the panel.

BJ Hermsen – Another first-timer on this panel, Hermsen had a very solid 2010 season. He began the year at Extended Spring Training, but advanced to Beloit where he made several starts. He eventually was moved back to Elizabethton where he pitched really well.

Dan Slowey –Dan is the man behind a very interesting website called Blogonoscopy. This is his third year in the panel. He will be working hard to defend his 2010 championship.

Anthony Maggio – Anthony joins the panel for the first time. He writes on the Twins for Fox Sports North and does a terrific job.

John Bonnes – John has been involved in the world of Twins blogging longer than anyone else. He is The Twins Geek,. He is also one of the TwinsCentric group.

Josh Johnson – Josh has been writing at Josh’s Thoughts, an excellent Twins blog. He is on the panel for the fourth year.

Andrew Kneeland –Andrew is in his third year on the panel. He writes about the Twins blog where you can get your Twins Target.   

Travis Aune – Travis writes the Twins blog Travis Talks. He focuses a lot on the minor league system. He and I co-hosted Twins Minor League Weekly throughout the 2010 season. This will be his second year on the panel.

John Meyer – John is another very busy individual. His business is going strong into its second year and he does a great job as the Twins Most Valuable Blogger. This is his second year on the panel.

LaVelle E. Neal III – LaVelle has been on this panel for several years now. He is a Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which includes the blog Twins Insider. He also frequently appears on KFAN radio. He’s always a strong competitor in this competition.

Phil Mackey – P-Mac is on the Reusse and Mackey Show from noon to 2 weekdays on 1500espn. He frequently writes on the Twins at 1500espn.com. He is also co-owner of the MNPokerMag.com. He is one of the busiest sports media types in the Twin Cities, and this is his second year on the panel. 

Darren “Doogie” Wolfson – Speaking of busy Twin Cities media types, Doogie can be found everywhere. He now works for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, and is the host of Twins Wrap on 1500espn. He is joining the panel for the second year.

Seth Kaplan – Seth is the sports director for Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. He often is on Sports on Demand, a weekly Monday afternoon sports talk show on MyFox9.com.

Jack Michaels – Jack competes in this panel for the third straight year. He is the host of The Jack Michaels Show on ESPN 710 The Fan in Bismarck, ND, and has been kind enough to let me be on his show from time to time. He was the original radio play-by-play guy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks where he teamed with former Dodgers great Maury Wills.

Cory Hepola – Cory is currently a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. You can find much more about him on his personal blog that includes postings and videos and much more.

Vic Quick – Vic has been on this panel for a long time. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, and proclaims himself the biggest Texas Rangers fan in South Dakota. The Dallas native is also likely the biggest Cowboys fan in the state too! My former college roommate definitely knows his football, at least anything about Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman, well, and the Concordia Cobbers!

Roger Dehring – Roger is one of the more knowledgeable people you can meet when it comes to the Twins minor league system. He writes a Weekly Minor League Report for the Twinkie Town website.

Cody Christie – Cody writes the North Dakota Twins Fan blog, and is competing in the panel for the first year.

Topper Anton – Topper is on the panel for the first time. He writes the blog Curve for a Strike, and is the co-host on Fanatic Jack’s podcast.

Kirsten Brown – Kirsten will be making her debut on the panel this year. She writes the K-Bro Baseball blog and makes the best brownies ever!

Shawn BergOn the Road with Shawn is the name of his blog. The Minnesota native lives out in New York and frequently gets to Twins minor league games in Rochester and New Britain.

Emily Jipp – Emily joins the panel this year for the first time. She writes Cheap Seats Chatter. She’s also in charge of our Twoggers League, a fantasy football league with 14 Twins bloggers.  

Andrew Bryz-Gornia – You may have met Andrew at Target Field this year where he enjoyed watching games while being an usher. He writes Off the Mark and is competing in the panel for the first time.

Blake Meyer – Blake is the originator of an incredible Twins website, Twins Cards. If you go there, you can see Twins baseball cards back to the team’s inception. You can find autographs and memorabilia and much more. Blake provides us an international flavor to the panel!

Michael Brasel – Long time friend (well over 30 years now), Mike was listed among the best players I have played ball with. He was one of the original panelists.

The Week 1 Picks

Alright, to see this week’s picks, go to www.SethSpeaks.net.

More Minor Roster Moves

10 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Deolis Guerra has been terrific in 2010 at New Britain. He was known as having the top changeup in the Twins farm system, but he has made tremendous strides in terms of control. He has just four walks and 21 strikeouts in 29.1 innings. In five AA starts, he is 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA. And for his efforts and improvements, Guerra has been promoted to AAA Rochester. The right-hander just turned 21 years old in mid-April.

Cole Devries was also promoted to AAA Rochester. The former Gopher pitcher has been pitching out of the Rockcats bullpen this year after spending much of the 2009 season as a starter for New Britain.

The two were promoted because Charlie Zink has been put on the Disabled List in Rochester. Also, after another horrible start, Yoslan Herrera requested his release and the team was happy to grant it.

Also, in a 1500ESPN interview with Jim Rantz this afternoon, he said that there have been several moves made in the last two days. I covered several of them over the weekend, but I apparently missed that Snappers closer Steve Blevins has been promoted from Beloit to AA New Britain. (CORRECTION – Although Mr. Rantz said that Blevins was headed to New Britain, he is heading to Ft. Myers. However, another move has Michael Allen moving from Ft. Myers to New Britain.)

Although he didn’t say it, he acknowledged that Kyle Gibson is ‘up for consideration’ for a promotion as well, and that they will think about it. Gibson starts tonight for the Ft. Myers Miracle, but clearly this move opens up a spot in the New Britain starting rotation for the Twins top pick in 2010. Of course, it is also possible that the Twins could promote Bobby Lanigan, who was excellent in April but had a tough first start in May.  

Any questions? Leave your comments here.

Roster Projection: Ft. Myers Miracle

25 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we jump into my Ft. Myers (Twins Hi-A affiliate) roster projection, here are a couple of quick notes on some upcoming podcasts:

  • On Wednesday, I was on This Call to the Bullpen, a Kranepool Society podcast. I talked about Mauer, Nathan, Target Field, and much, much more.  
  • Then later on Wednesday night, the Twins Geek and I will joined Fanatic Jack and Topper Anton on Jack’s Twins Talk show.  We discussed/argued the Twins bullpen, the backup catcher spot and much more.
  • There will be an episode of The Show on Thursday night at a special time of 8:00 p.m. The show is already filled with guests.
  1. I will be joined by Twins prospect Trayvone Johnson. The 2009 draft pick was selected as a catcher, but he has been moved to the mound.
  2. Next, JJ Stankevitz from the White Sox Examiner site will come in to talk about the team most of us believe will be the Twins primary competitor in the AL Central.
  3. Finally, Twins 17-year-old outfield prospect Max Kepler will join us for the last part of the show. Listeners to the show have been asking for me to try to get Kepler on the show and it finally appears to work.
  4. During The Show, we will also announce the regularly scheduled night and time for The Show throughout the 2010 season. So be sure to take in that show.

The Ft. Myers Miracle’s season also begins on April 8th with a road game at Bradenton. The following night, the two teams will play in Ft. Myers. The Miracle will be managed this year by Jake Mauer, who has managed the GCL Twins in Ft. Myers the last couple of years, after spending a couple of seasons in the Twins farm system.

So here are my thoughts on the 2010 Opening Day roster of the Ft. Myers Miracle:

The Hitters 

  Ft. Myers
C Danny Rams
1B Jonathan Waltenbury
2B Drew Thompson
3B Deibinson Romero
SS James Beresford
LF Evan Bigley
CF Joe Benson
RF Angel Morales
DH Michael Harrington
Bu C Jair Fernandez
Bu IF Ramon Santana
Bu OF Dominic de la Osa
Bench Nick Romero
DL (Paul Kelly?)
  (Nathan Hanson)

Analysis: If Danny Rams begins the 2010 season in Beloit, it would probably be for the best, but with the catching situation and the higher levels and the depth of catchers at Beloit, he may begin at Ft. Myers. Fellow non-roster invite to Spring Training, Jair Fernandez will likely spend the summer with the Miracle. Jonathan Waltenbury had a disappointing offensive season in Beloit in 2009, and I would anticipate seeing Nick Romero and Nate Hanson playing quite a bit of first base, Hanson against lefties. Hanson and Nick Romero can play around the infield and back up any of the other infielders. It will be good to see what Drew Thompson can do with a full, normal offseason. Deibinson Romero came off of the 40 man roster after a disappointing 2009 season, so I expect him to remain with the Miracle. James Beresford is definitely worth watching at shortstop. Joe Benson and Angel Morales are both high-ceiling prospects. Evan Bigley and Michael Harrington are just good hitters, both should hit a lot of doubles. I put Harrington as the DH because I think they’ll get his bat in the lineup and he will play a lot in the outfield too. Dominic de la Osa was shifted to the outfield from second base during the offseason. Yesterday I mentioned that I thought Rene Tosoni would move from New Britain to Rochester and Joe Benson would be promoted to New Britain. I anticipate that happening six to eight weeks into the season, and at that time, I would project Aaron Hicks to move up to Ft. Myers.   

The Pitchers 

  Ft. Myers
SP Kyle Gibson
SP Bobby Lanigan
SP Brad Tippett
SP Dan Osterbrock
SP Michael Tarsi
   
CL Billy Bullock
8L Matt Williams
8R Steve Blevins
BP Bruce Pugh
BP Kyle Carr
BP Dan Berlind
BP Michael Allen
   
  (Blake Martin)
  (Thom Wright)
   

Analysis: Apparently Kyle Gibson has been impressive already this spring, and the team’s top 2009 pick has a chance to move quickly. I expect him to start at Ft. Myers, spend a couple of months there and then move up to New Britain. There’s even an outside chance he gets to Rochester. Lefty Michael Tarsi missed some time at the start of last season but did adequately. I expect him to spend much of the season here. Bobby Lanigan finished 2009 in Ft. Myers’ bullpen, but I assume he will return to the role of a starter. Dan Osterbrock was disappointed with his 2009 season with the Snappers, but I anticipate him pitching better in 2010 with the Miracle. Finally, Brad Tippett is a guy every Twins fan should know out. He has impeccable control, but he knows how to pitch. I think he’s got a chance to be good. 

Billy Bullock became a closer last year at the University of Florida. He did well in his pro debut, and people are very excited about him. This is also a very strong bullpen. Matt Williams is from Australia and has always done well in the bullpen throughout his career. Steve Blevins had a good year in 2009 in the Snappers bullpen with the exception of struggles against one team. I really expect him to do well in 2010. Bruce Pugh is a guy that several of us have called a sleeper. It will be interesting to see whether he is starting or if he’s going to pitch out of the bullpen. I think this will be another case where he’ll start in the Miracle bullpen and by midseason, he’ll be starting. Kyle Carr needs to be healthy, but the lefty has put up terrific strikeout numbers when healthy. Dan Berlind needs to show something in 2009. It’s also possibly the last chance for Michael Allen, or Blake Martin or Thom Wright.

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net -

Just a quick update on tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Podcast. I really am excited about the new format and hope that it goes well. I’ll be able to mention more later about the specifics, but I can now say that both Denard Span and Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi have confirmed that they will be guests on the show. Be sure to check back right here for a link to the podcast itself. It will be posted right around 9:00. I will also be setting up a chat room for you to talk Twins and ask questions. There will be time at the end to take your questions and comments. There is even a toll-free phone number which is new, so anyone can call! It should be a fun show. I’ll head to the studio a little early to make sure we’ve got everything set up.

Today, we continue to look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. The specifics of the draft can be found in yesterday’s blog posting in which I showed our first eight rounds of picks. Today, I will post our selections for rounds 9 through 16 before finishing the draft on Friday. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

Round 9 – 33rd Overall – Roger – 3B – Wander Guillen

(I may have overreached with the selection of my third baseman, Wander Guillen, who was leading the DSL Twins in hitting and OBP at the age of 16!)

Round 9 – 34th Overall – Seth – OF – Oswaldo Arcia

(Had thought of taking him with my previous pick (or Wander Guillen, just to make Roger mad), but Arcia is another guy with five tools..)

Round 9 – 35th Overall – Josh – RHP – Shooter Hunt

(As I’ve said, I knew I needed to take a high-upside guy at some point and Hunt is just that. I originally wanted to take Oswaldo Arcia to fill out my outfield, but Seth took him with the pick before. Hunt may have the best ‘stuff’ out of any Twins farmhand and is thus a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, which is just what this staff needs. If he can regain any of sense of control, Hunt shouldn’t have a problem at becoming this staff’s ace.)

Round 9 – 36th Overall – Travis – RHP – Liam Hendriks

(I am very excited about the potential Liam has as he can be dominant.  He is very similar to Tom Stuifbergen except that I think Hendricks has the potential to be better.  I look for him to get better and better the farther we get away from his arm injury of a couple years ago.) (Seth Note – Hendriks missed the 2008 season, but it was not with an arm injury. He had some surgery on his spine.)

Round 10 – 37th Overall – Travis – 3BDeibinson Romero

(My interest in him is well documented as I used to always have him in my top 10’s and he has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.  I am curious how many chances the Twins are going to give to him because the potential is there to be very good.)

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

(Something that is worth noting about this process is that I’m not necessarily sticking to my Top 50 Prospect list. With the 38th Overall pick, I chose someone who didn’t even make my original Top 50. But since I’m making my team and I have to look at different aspects, Jorge Polanco (and others) have been taken higher than where they’d rank on my Top 50 List, which is kind of interesting to note. I wanted to have a defensively-gifted shortstop and I thought Polanco would be gone by my next pick, so I wanted to strike early. I also considered to wait a round or two and take Estarlin De Los Santos, but I am taking the risk on Polanco. Besides being defensively-gifted at a premium position, I also like that he’s viewed as a #2 hitter and incase I can’t grab someone who can handle the bat later (such as Brian Dinkelman), I want someone to bat near the top that possess good on-base skills and reports suggest that he has that potential. With this pick, I also considered Matt Bashore, who would have filled out my rotation.)

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

(He just has had such an amazing track record of success in his minor league career. He’s close to the big league club.)

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

(I went back to the DSL with my tenth pick to close out my starting rotation with Cesar Ciurcina.  Although he is a bit older, Ciurcina had numbers similar last summer to those put up by Salcedo the previous year.  Is Ciurcina as good as Salcedo?  We will know more about him after this season when we see him in the GCL.)

Round 11 – 41st Overall – Roger – 2B/OF – Brian Dinkelman

(I went back to the infield and took a young man who has been one of the better hitters every step of his career, Brian Dinkelman.  Dinkelman’s best position appears to be second base.  Is he good enough defensively to earn a spot with the Twins in the next 16 months?)

Round 11 – 42nd Overall – Seth – LHP – Matt Bashore

(I really want to grab a SS (probably Beresford), but Bashore, if healthy, was a top pick, and he’s left-handed.)

Round 11 – 43rd Overall – Josh – RHP – Michael Tonkin

(Out of all of the rounds, this one has stung the most. Both Roger and Seth consecutively stole my picks (Brian Dinkelman and then Matt Bashore), but thankfully there were still high-upside pitchers (like Michael Tonkin) available.  Tonkin has projectable size and should add velocity as he matures. I really feel comfortable with my rotation after adding Tonkin. Hopefully I can get to the same point with my lineup, because I’m concerned about what’s left and what I still need.)

Round 11 – 44th Overall – Travis – OF – Evan Bigley

(The sky is the limit for Bigley who hit the cover off the ball in E-town and then again in Beloit.  That led to a promotion to Fort Myers where he struggled a bit.  I look for a big year this year from Evan as I look for him to dominate the FSL and will be in New Britain before the end of the year.)

Round 12 – 45th Overall – Travis – LHP – Joe Testa

(This is a guy that just splashed across the scene in 2009 and turned many heads.  He changed the feeling of many that he was just another relief pitcher and convinced many that this is a guy that is worth keeping track of myself included.  I look for his career to continue to skyrocket after his monster 2009 season.)

Round 12 – 46th Overall – Josh – 1B/DH – Erik Lis

(I am lacking a strong bat from the left side and I am at the point where I want to start focusing on the bullpen, so I wanted to make sure I had Erik Lis wrapped up. He’ll fit well in the middle-of-my-order and will play first base (depending on who I could possibly grab later). I also considered Loek Van Mil with this pick).

Round 12 – 47th Overall – Seth – SS – James Beresford

(It is time to address the middle infield. There are three solid SS prospects, and I would like two of them. I guess that means I would rank Beresford the highest of the three.)

Round 12 – 48th Overall – Roger – LF – Juan Portes

(I needed to fill in the balance of my outfield and was elated that spring training invitee Juan Portes was still available. A very raw prospect when drafted in 2004, Portes had a break out year last summer when he led the Rock Cats in hitting.  Does he have enough power to make it to the Twins as a corner outfielder appears to be the biggest question?)

Round 13 – 49th Overall – Roger – 1B – Brock Peterson

(I filled out my infield with the best story in the organization the last several years, former 49th round pick Brock Peterson.)

Round 13 – 50th Overall – Seth – SS – Estarlin de Los Santos

(I guess that means I would rank De Lo second. The third guy to consider was Brian Dozier, but de Los Santos was added to the 40 man roster, and when healthy, he is probably the most pure Twins SS prospect (other than apparently 16 year old Jorge Polanco.))

Round 13 – 51st Overall – Josh – RHP – Loek Van Mil

(I’ve never been very high on Loek Van Mil. Besides his height, he doesn’t really appeal to me. He walks a lot of guys and at 25-years-old he will likely be starting the year in Double-A. But…but… I do believe that his high 90’s fastball would be perfect as a setup man and hopefully I’ll be able to nab Kyle Waldrop in the next round. Plus, I think a Van Mil growth chart would be a good promotion.)

Round 13 – 52nd Overall – Travis – RHP – Matt Fox

(I was hoping that Matt Fox would fall to me because I am very high on him.  He has battled through injuries and setbacks to become an option for the Twins.  I look for him to keep going on that road and, by season’s end, possibly get a call-up by the twins.)

Round 14 – 53rd Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Hirschfeld

(He is another guy I was hoping to get as he is another overachiever that just knows how to get hitters out.  He was very good for Fort Myers last year and can either start or relieve which I look to help him going forward.)

Round 14 – 54th Overall – Josh – RHP – Kyle Waldrop

 (As I mentioned above, I wanted to get Kyle Waldrop to help solidify my bullpen. So when I saw that he was available, it was an easy choice. I also considered both Spencer Steedley and Andrei Lobanov with this pick but I’ll probably end up waiting a few rounds with them…)

Round 14 – 55th Overall – Seth – RHP – Edgar Ibarra

(Ibarra was a very good pitcher for the E-Twins the second half of their season. Still some very good players left. Considered Reggie Williams.)

Round 14 – 56th Overall – Roger – OF – Brandon Roberts

(Seth again picked the player I was looking at for my next pick when he selected Edgar Ibarra, although he took him as a starter and I was looking at him in long relief.  With Ibarra gone, I went back to the outfield and selected Brandon Roberts who will be my center fielder and leadoff hitter.)

Round 15 – 57th Overall – Roger – RHP – Ben Tootle

(I followed with the selection of a high ceiling, hard throwing short reliever, Ben Tootle. Assuming his arm problems of last summer are behind him, Tootle could be on a fast track towards Minnesota.)

Round 15 – 58th Overall – Seth – C – Chris Herrmann

(Herrmann is moving to catcher. There are lots of catchers in the Beloit picture. I need a catcher, but Reggie Williams can’t last until my next pick, can he?)

Round 15 – 59th Overall – Josh – RHP – Pedro Guerra

(With short relief already under wraps, I felt the need for a long reliever. Guerra has dominated the Dominican Summer League two years in a row and should be making his appearance in the States this season. It was a coin flip between Guerra and Danny Ortiz, but hopefully I’ll be able to get Ortiz in the next round.)

Round 15 – 60th Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Blevins

(One of my favorite people in the organization, and that has nothing to do with his stuff, as he is a genuinely nice guy.  On the field, he is a pretty good pitcher also, as he put up good numbers at Beloit.  I look forward to seeing what he can do going forward as he has the talent to be a future Twin if he keeps improving.)

Round 16 – 61st Overall – Travis –  SS – Brian Dozier

(He is one of those guys that I was not sure how good he could be and dealt with some injuries down the road.  With the promotion of Tyler Ladendorf, Dozier got to show what he could do and man did he deliver.  I am interested to see how fast he can move through the system as a college guy if he wants to play for the Twins he is going to have to skyrocket, but the talent is there to do it.)

Round 16 – 62nd Overall – Josh – OF – Danny Ortiz

(As I mentioned with Pedro Guerra, it was a coin flip between the two. Luckily, I got both. Danny Ortiz missed all of the 2009 season with injury but was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. At 5’11’’ and 166 lbs., he still has a lot of power and will fit in nicely with the rest of my lineup.)

Round 16 – 63rd Overall – Seth – CIF – Reggie Williams

(He lasted until my next pick!! Need a 1B and a CI, and Reggie Williams played a lot of 3B, but can also play MI and OF.)

Round 16 – 64th Overall – Roger – 1B – Whit Robbins

(I filled my reserve corner infield spot with the selection of Rochester/New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins.)

There is Part II. Check back tomorrow for the third and final part of the minor league draft, and more.. Feel free to leave your comments here.

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 16 (and links)

24 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Here are our expert panels’ picks for Week 16. I would like to thank all of them for participating throughout the year. I am off to church now, but I hope you’ll check out the below sites. When I get back, I may have time to post the links, but they should all be on the left side of this screen. Many of the bloggers and writers are on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to follow them there as well. Here are our NFL “Expert” Picks Panel:

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Christmas Eve. Please feel free to discuss here.

NFL “Expert” Picks – 2009 (Week 1)

10 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The NFL season starts tonight with one game. That means one thing… it is time to start up this year’s version of the NFL “Expert” Picks at SethSpeaks.net. There are a few changes to the panel this year. A few new bloggers and media types join the panel. There are also several other Twins minor leaguers who have joined this panel. That is exciting, especially since all of the players from last year returned. With the promotion of Jeff Manship to the big leagues, we now have two Minnesota Twins players making picks each week. The goal will be for us to get these posted in time for you to review them before you need to turn in your office pool picks. So, with a game tonight, here are our picks for this week. If there are just games on Sunday and Monday, I will attempt to post them by Friday morning.

The format will be a little bit different in an attempt to try to make it a little more concise. We will try it out, but if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. We are now over 30 panelists, so it will be a bit of work. I will try to update the Standings in a timely manner each week.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me or leave some Comments here. If you want, post your picks.

The Panel

Before getting to the picks, I would like to introduce this year’s panel:

Seth Stohs – It’s me… you can find me here, or at TalkinTwinsBB.wordpress.com. I also write a weekly blog for the Star Tribune Your Voices blog. Monday nights, you can hear the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast at 9:00 central time. Last fall, I wrote the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2009 (Which is now on sale!), and in July, I joined the TwinsCentric group and helped write the TwinsCentric July Trade Deadline Primer.

Kevin Slowey – Kevin is back for his fifth year on the panel.The loyal Steelers follower, Slowey will not only make the picks each week, but he will tell us how many points the Steelers will win by! Slowey had a very solid first half with the Twins, but wrist problems cost Slowey the second half of this season. He had wrist surgery and looks to come back in 2010 where he left off.

Jeff Manship – Jeff is in his third year on this panel. He was the Twins 14th round draft pick in 2006 out of Notre Dame. He started the 2009 season back in New Britain. He was promoted to Rochester at the midpoint of the season. He pitched very well with the Red Wings and when there was a need with the Twins, Manship was promoted to the big league club. He was recently moved into the starting rotation and done well.

Kyle Waldrop – Kyle won this league championship three seasons ago. He has also had the best record of Twins players the past two years as well. After missing the 2008 season, Kyle came back with a very strong 2009 season. He pitched in the Ft. Myers bullpen for the first half of the season. He was promoted to New Britain where he was even better. In 31 games (and 55.2 innings), he had a 1.46 ERA.

Joe Benson – Joe is also in his third season on the NFL “Expert” Picks panel. The Twins 2006 2nd round pick spent two years in Beloit. This year, he moved up to Ft. Myers and re-established himself as a top prospect.

Steve Singleton – Steve is now in his second season on the panel. He got off to a slow start in his return to Ft. Myers. He received a promotion to New Britain and he took off from there with the bat. He also got playing time at his preferred position, SS. Recently, he earned a spot in the Arizona Fall League.

Alex Burnett – Alex joins the panel for the first time. The Twins 12th round pick in 2005 out of his California high school, Burnett would be his team’s top starting pitcher at each level. So it was a surprise when he was sent back to Ft. Myers this April and put into the bullpen. That decision proved to be a wise one as he dominated the Florida State League. He earned a promotion to AA New Britain where he was even better (1.79 ERA in AA, 1.99 ERA in FM).

Matt Fox – Matt was a supplemental first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of Central Florida. He had surgery in 2005, and since then he has gradually regained arm strength as he has moved up one level each year. This year, he was arguably the best pitcher at AA New Britain. He went 9-9 with a 3.58 ERA in over 150 innings pitched. His numbers would be even better without a rough July. He should move up to Rochester in 2010, and we may see him with the Twins next year as well. This is the first year on this panel.

Mike McCardell – Mike was the Twins 6th round pick in 2007 out of Kutztown University. He has been very good ever since. He began this season with Ft. Myers where he made 17 starts. He was promoted to New Britain where, after a rough first start, he has been one of their better pitchers. This is his first year on the panel.

David Bromberg – Coming off of a season in which he was named the Florida State League’s Pitcher of the Year, Bromberg joins this panel for the first time this year. In 2008, he led all Minor League Baseball in strikeouts. He was the Twins 32nd round pick in 2005 but went to Junior College before signing as a Draft and Follow in 2006. Bromberg is arguably the Twins best pitching prospect.

Dan Osterbrock – Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2008. He moved up to Beloit this year. He ended this season strong, being named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week after giving up just two runs in 13 innings over two starts. This is his first year on this panel.

Steve Blevins – Blevins is also on the panel for the first time. The Snappers’ reliever was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. This year, he went 3-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Opponents hit just .262 off of his this season. He showed improvement from the first half to the second half of the season and hopes to build on that for 2010.

Shooter Hunt – Shooter Hunt was the Twins supplemental first round pick in 2008. He was drafted out of Tulane, and is a huge football fan. This is his first year on the NFL “Expert” Picks panel.

Kyle Gibson – Kyle was the Twins 1st round pick just this June, 22nd overall, out of the University of Missouri. He fell to the Twins due to a fracture in his forearm that has since healed. He signed shortly before the August 17th deadline and has reported to Ft. Myers. He will officially join the Twins in Instructional Leagues and make his debut next spring. Gibson is on the panel for the first time.

Dan Slowey –Dan is the man behind a very interesting website called Blogonoscopy. This is his second year in the panel.

John Bonnes – John has been involved in the world of Twins blogging longer than anyone else. He is The Twins Geek,. He is also one of the TwinsCentric group.

Stick & Ball Guy – SBG is the creator of The World’s Greatest Online Magazine, one of the top blogs you’ll find on the Twins, but he also is active in discussions surrounding the Timberwolves, Vikings and much, much more.

Nick Nelson – Nick is another long-time Twins blogger who has been part of this panel for a few years now. He is the lasting author of the Nick’s Twins blog. He is also a writer in the TwinsCentric bunch.

Josh Johnson – Josh has been writing at Josh’s Thoughts, a very good Twins blog. Josh recently headed back to college, so hopefully that homework stuff doesn’t get in his way too much! He is on the panel for the third year.

Parker Hageman –Parker is the author of the excellent Over the Baggy blog, a very thought-provoking Twins blog. Parker is another member of the TwinsCentric group. This is his second year on this panel.

Andrew Kneeland –Andrew is in his second year on the panel. He writes about the Twins blog where you can get your Twins Fix. He also writes at times for The Bleacher Report

Travis Aune – Travis writes the Twins blog Travis Talks. He focuses a lot on the minor league system. He has been a frequent guest on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. This will be his first year on the panel.

John Meyer – John is another very busy individual. He’s got new businesses in the works to go with the great job he does as the Twins Most Valuable Blogger. This is his first year on the panel.

Brian Pietrzak – Brian is on the panel for the first time this year. He writes the Minnesota Twins page for Examiner.com.

LaVelle E. Neal III – LaVelle has been on this panel for several years now. He is a Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which includes the blog Twins Insider. He also frequently appears on KFAN radio. He’s always a strong competitor in this competition.

Howard Sinker – Howard provides Twins fans with A Fan’s View from Section 220. The former Twins beat writer (1982-1987) is still working at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Phil Mackey – P-Mac is a regular contributor to many of the shows on KFAN. He is the voice behind Twins Weekly. His personal blog can be found at www.PhilMackey.com. He is also heavily involved in  MNPokerMag.com. He is one of the busiest sports media types in the Twin Cities, and this is his first year on the panel.  

Darren “Doogie” Wolfson – Speaking of busy Twin Cities media types, Doogie can be found everywhere. He has a Star Tribune Your Voices blog, writes for gopherhole.com and works for cbssports.com… among other things. His radio background has allowed him to be a guest on several local radio shows. He is joining the panel for the first time too.

Jonathan Mayo – Jonathan has been on the panel three other years. He did take a year off to write a book, Facing Clemens. He is a senior writer for MLB.com and MiLB.com where he blogs on the Minors and the Draft.

Jack Michaels – Jack competes in this panel for the second straight year. He is the host of The Jack Michaels Show on ESPN 710 The Fan in Bismarck, ND, and has been gracious enough to let me be on his show from time to time. He was the original radio play-by-play guy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks where he teamed with former Dodgers great Maury Wills.

Cory Hepola – Cory is currently a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. You can find much more about him on his personal blog that includes postings and videos and much more.

Vic Quick – Vic has been on this panel for a long time. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, and proclaims himself the biggest Texas Rangers fan in South Dakota. The Dallas native is also likely the biggest Cowboys fan in the state too! My former college roommate definitely knows his football, at least anything about Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman, well, and the Concordia Cobbers!

Roger Dehring – Roger is one of the more knowledgeable people you can meet when it comes to the Twins minor league system. He writes a Weekly Minor League Report for the Twinkie Town website.

Blake Meyer – Blake is the originator of an incredible Twins website, Twins Cards. If you go there, you can see Twins baseball cards back to the team’s inception. You can find autographs and memorabilia and much more. Blake provides us an international flavor to the panel!

Michael Brasel – Long time friend (closer to 30 years than either of us want to admit), Mike was listed among the best players I have played ball with. He was one of the original panelists.

WEEK 1 Picks

Alright, here are our picks for the first week of the season:

To see our Week 1 picks, you will need to go to SethSpeaks.net.

Friday Night Lights

18 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

TWINS 11, ANGELS 9

KEYNOTE STORY – I mean, really… is there any question who produced tonight’s big story? Jason Kubel came into his 8th inning at bat with a single, a double, and a triple. He had already missed one opportunity to hit for the cycle. The Angels had intentionally walked Justin Morneau in front of Kubel to load the bases. So, with the Twins trailing by two runs, Kubel came to the plate and on the second pitch, he gave himself the cycle and he gave the Twins the lead with a grand slam. Kubel became the ninth player in Twins history to hit for the cycle. Carlos Gomez was the most recent, and he did it in 2008. More importantly, Kubel’s blast completed a comeback that saw the Twins fall behind 8-3, and then 9-4 going into the bottom of the eighth. Kubel’s home run capped a seven run inning. He went 4-5 with five RBI. Here are a few other thoughts on the game:

·         Nick Blackburn pitched pretty well. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.

·         Unfortunately, the bullpen did not help him out. Five runs scored in that 7th inning for the Angels. Jesse Crain came in with runners on and it didn’t go well. He had to throw 30 more pitches and got just one out before four runs scored on two hits and three walks. Matt Guerrier came in and gave up a run over the next 1.1 innings. Another rough night for the Twins bullpen.

·         Once Kubel gave the Twins the lead though, Joe Nathan came on for the ninth inning and pitched a perfect ninth inning.

·         For the first time this season, Jason Kubel played in the OF, making the start in LF.

·         Denard Span made his second consecutive start in CF which means that Carlos Gomez did not start for the second straight game.

·         Span, Mike Redmond and Michael Cuddyer each had two hits. 

·         Saturday night, the Twins and Angels will play the middle game of this series, starting at 6:05 p.m. The Twins will send Kevin Slowey to the mound to face the Angels lefty Darren Oliver.  

 

HUMBER DFA’d, MORILLO CLAIMED

Hours before last night’s game, the Twins made a couple of transactions. First, they Designated Philip Humber for Assignment. It was time. He got a few opportunities and it was pretty clear that he would not be much help to even the back end of the Twins bullpen. I still contend that given time, he would have been better than Brian Bass, but the Twins bullpen situation requires immediate attention. He will go through the waiver process, and if he is claimed, he will go to the other team. If he is not claimed, the Twins will have ten days to trade him, release him or send him to Rochester. If they are able to, I think it would be great if he could remain in the organization.

 

Twenty-five year old Juan Morillo was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies, and the Twins claimed him. He has pitched in just 8.2 innings out of the bullpen in three stints over the last three years with the Rockies. Last year in AAA, in 59.2 innings, he gave up just 53 hits. He struck out 55. Unfortunately he also walked 56 batters. So why would the Twins want him? Well, that ability to throw 100 mph is something very few people are able to do. He is still very young, and many believe that Rick Anderson can work miracles. Worst case scenario – He never is able to find control, he walks several batters in low leverage situations. He sticks with the Twins for a few weeks, maybe a month, allowing Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama a little more time. Best case scenario – Rick Anderson finds something and Morillo gains some control. He pitches well in low leverage situation and gradually starts pitching in the 7th innings, then the 8th inning. Have I mentioned that 100 mph fastball? I see this as an excellent move for the Twins. It is a very low risk and potentially very high reward acquisition.

 

BULLPEN WOES

The last two games, the Twins starters have made solid starts. Then the bullpen has completely lost it. Jesse Crain has now pitched Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That kind of usage is what really hurt Matt Guerrier in 2008. Before being used frequently three straight games (and 14 out of 17 games in one stretch), he had nothing left. Crain and Guerrier are the Twins bullpen hopes to get the ball to Joe Nathan, so they really should not be used like this.

 

Here is me admitting I was wrong. I still have confidence in Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. I think Craig Breslow will be solid most of the time. And R.A. Dickey will be just fine as the mop up man. That means that Luis Ayala is a big question mark. I liked the signing when it happened. I do think he will be alright, and I don’t think anyone was claiming he would be an 8th inning guy, but he has been incredibly hittable to this point. We can’t give up on him yet, but I would also say that he may want to start performing soon because I think Bill Smith has shown he won’t hesitate to let a veteran go.

 

Juan Cruz would have helped this team. Joe Nelson would have been a great addition. Russ Springer could have helped out a lot. However, if they were being used as much as Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and others in the Twins bullpen are being used to this point, they likely would not be much more productive. And no, I’m not advocating the signing of Pedro Martinez at this point, unless he’ll sign for $2 million or less, and he won’t.

 

At this point, the guys they have need to be given a month. If at that time, they still are not ready, that is when they should go to Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama.     

 

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

With that, here are the reports on the Twins minor league games from Friday night, but first, be sure to check out this terrific article on Ben Revere. It discusses from a scout’s perspective what the Twins saw when they were watching him play (and they did a lot) in high school. I think the article gives a very good view of what scouts look for. The picture (see it at www.SethSpeaks.net) is of Ben Revere with his five Twins awards presented to him earlier in spring training.

 

ROCHESTER REPORT

Friday – Rochester 0, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 11 – The Red Wings were shut out for the second straight game despite notching nine hits. David Winfree went 2-4 with his fifth double. Reid Santos started and gave up five runs (3 earned) on eight hits and three walks in five innings. Sean Henn struck out five hitters in two shutout innings. Carmen Pignatiello moved back to the bullpen now that Brian Duensing is back with the Red Wings. He pitched the 8th inning and gave up six runs on five hits and a walk.     

 

ROCKCAT RECAP

Friday – New Britain 1, New Hampshire 11 – After a nice first AA start, this one didn’t go so well for Cole Devries. In 4.1 innings, he gave up five runs on six hits and three walks. But Yohan Pino’s performance was really non-good. In 1.1 innings, he gave up six runs on nine hits, including two home runs. Zach Ward struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings. Rob Delaney struck out two in 1.2 shutout innings. The Rockcats bats managed just seven hits. Erik Lis went 2-4. Toby Gardenhire went 2-3 with a double.

 

MIRACLE MEMOS

Friday –Ft. Myers 1, St. Lucie 3 – The Miracle managed just four hits in this game. Ben Revere went 1-3 with a walk and two stolen bases. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with a walk and a double. Tyler Robertson went the first four innings and gave up a run on two hits and three walks. He struck out three. Kyle Waldrop took the loss despite pitching very well. In three innings, he gave up one run on four hits. Spencer Steedley gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk in his inning.

 

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Friday – Beloit 6, Burlington 5 (10 innings)Ramon Santana is off to a terrific start for the Snappers this season. Tonight was his best moment yet of this young season. The shortstop went 2-5, but his solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning ended the game and gave the Snappers the win. Nick Romero went 3-5 with a stolen base. Dominic de la Osa went 2-5 with a double and a triple. Michael Harrington went 2-4 with his second double. Nathan Hanson was 2-4. Alexander Soto hit his first home of the year. Bobby Lanigan made the start. He gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Joe Testa walked three and struck out two in two innings. He gave up two runs. Steve Blevins struck out three in 2.2 perfect innings.

 

That is it for today. Enjoy your weekend!  Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

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