Tag Archives: gleeman and the geek

It’s Almost Next Year! 2014 Twins Preview and Over/Unders

After what seems like an eternity, it’s finally opening day across Major League Baseball! My favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, is coming off of three consecutive ninety loss seasons (which is really really bad). Unfortunately, with the roster they’ve assembled, I’d be shocked if it doesn’t reach a fourth consecutive year. With that said, I’m still excited to watch the games on the visiting team feed through mlb.tv (listening to Twins announcer Burt Blyleven is excruciating…. for specific reasons, see here or here) because baseball is awesome.

2014 Twins Preview

Pitching Additions

Last year, the Twins had the worst starting pitching in all of baseball. It was so bad that the starting pitchers gave up almost a half run more than the second to worst team. It was so bad that opposing teams hit over .300 versus the Twins starters. To put this into perspective, there were only 19 players who hit .305 or above on the season and this was what the entire league AVERAGED versus the Twins. To combat this problem, the Twins signed Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and brought back Mike Pelfrey. As individual moves, all but the Pelfrey signing made sense. The fact of the matter is that Pelfrey was really bad last year, he doesn’t strike anyone out, and it’s like getting a tooth pulled watching his pace on the mound. Anyway, Mike Pelfrey aside, the pitching moves are not nearly enough to make the Twins relevant. Grade – C-

Hitting Additions

As if the pitching wasn’t enough to make a Twins fan cringe, the hitting was just as bad. The Twins were 25th out of 30 in team batting average and runs scored and did virtually nothing to improve it. The big addition was bringing in Jason Kubel who was released by Arizona last year and finished last year with a .216 batting average and 5 home runs. The other “addition” was bringing back Jason Bartlett to be a utility player. This move makes even less sense since he hasn’t played since 2012, and he seemed totally washed up then (for a local MN view of Barlett making the roster and how dumb the move is, click here.) Lastly, they added Kurt Suzuki to be their everyday catcher. Suzuki isn’t good. He’s not going to somehow turn good. How does this make the Twins any better? Why bother? Grade – F

Returning Players

I’ll talk about a handful of players and offer a few thoughts…

1. Starting with the incomparable Joe Mauer – This year Mauer moves to 1b to avoid concussions that have plagued him in the past. Mauer remains one of the best hitters in the league. His value is slightly diminished because he’s no longer playing a premium position, but you can still expect his career averages, which put him soundly on pace for the Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Twins ever.

2. Josh Willingham – The best hope is that he gets off to a hot start and the Twins can trade him. The worst-case is that he was what he was last year and is old and slow and washed up. My prediction is that he’ll hit around 15 hr’s, play horrible defense and the Twins will have to give him away at the trade deadline for a very low-level prospect.

3. Brian Dozier – One of only a handful of players who could have a role once the Twins are done rebuilding. The hope is that he continues where he left off in the second half of last year and becomes a solid every day 2b.

4. Oswaldo Arcia – Like Dozier, if things work out for Arcia, he could be with the Twins a long time. He’s arguably their best power hitter and is only 22 years old. The hope is that he continues to develop and the Twins play him everyday.

5. Josmil Pinto – See Arcia above and replace age 22 to age 24 for Pinto.

6. Glen Perkins – From Minnesota and played at the University of Minnesota. An all-around good guy and an absolute stud on the field. If Perkins continues from the last few years, he’ll assert himself as one of the best closers in all of baseball and one of the few bright spots on this roster.

2014 Prediction

Anyway, you can see the outlook doesn’t look good aside from a small handful of players. Las Vegas predicts the Twins will win 70.5 games. I think it’ll be even less. Hopefully the few young prospects will develop, and next year, my preview will be a lot more optimistic.

2014 Over/Unders

The last couple of years, a group of friends and I have been predicting the over/unders for the American League. My buddy Tom and I have a lunch bet on who gets more correct. I’ve included the great Gleeman and the Geek on the list since they are the impetus behind this.

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If you have any thoughts on the 2014 season, or want to get in on the over/under….. drop a note below or shoot me an email.

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2013 MLB Over/Under Results

Thankfully, the debacle that is the 2013 Minnesota Twins has finally come to an end. The Twins finished by becoming utterly unwatchable and losing the last six games of the year to finish 66-96. Once Joe Mauer got hurt, I couldn’t bring myself to watch anymore. What’s worse, is the Twins have hardly anything to build on for next year. They have an above-average second baseman, a good prospect in Arcia, an amazing closer in Perkins, and Joe Mauer. They still have no pitching hardly any trade-able assets. The immediate future is certainly bleak in MN. Here’s to 2015 if Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano continue to progress.

Now that the season is mercifully over, it’s time to review the over/under predictions that were made in April. As is usually the case, this is a great study on I shouldn’t be allowed to gamble. If you are Gleeman, Tom or John Bonnes, I highly encourage you to start planning a trip to Vegas in late March of 2014.

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Update: Just received the following email…. too soon 😦

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If you have any thoughts or want to make fun of me for my horrible picks (although I was right on the Twins), feel free to drop a note in the comments.

It’s Almost Next Year!!! Opening Day on April 1!

Opening day is nearly here! The Minnesota Twins open at 4:10pm versus the Detroit Tigers on April 1. For those who don’t follow baseball, the Twins are coming off consecutive last place finishes in the their division. In 2011 they won a grand total of 63 games and in 2012 only won 66. This year doesn’t look to be much better with Vegas putting the estimated win total at a robust 68.5 wins.

Part of the beauty of opening day is that anything can happen for one game. The Twins are facing  the odds-on favorite to win the division in the Tigers. Detroit will be pitching Justin Verlander. He’s not only the best pitcher in the league, but also won the MVP two years ago making him the best player in the league. The odds are not in the Twins favor, but like so many things in life… hope springs eternal. If Baltimore and Oakland could compete last year, anything can happen. With that said, here are a few things I’m looking forward to this year.

  • Watching Joe Mauer play
  • Listening to and watching Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Charlie Steiner via the MLB.tv package
  • Seeing if the Twins can get any value from trading Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham at the trade deadline
  • Watching Trevor Plouffe and Aaron Hicks development (I think Plouffe is going to have another breakout year)
  • Watching Glen Perkins and Jared Burton
  • Reading the great Aaron Gleeman and Joe Posnanski (who can also be found at http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/)

Another one of my favorite things about baseball season is listening to the Gleeman and the Geek podcast for their annual Over/Under predictions. I thought it may be fun to jot down their predictions and join in with some of my friends. The plan is to check back at the end of the year with how everyone did. If we were in Vegas, my top picks would be the under on the Twins and Red Sox and the over on the Rays. With that said, below are the over/under predictions (Note: on the podcast, Bonnes said he was confident about 5, but I only counted 4).

overUnder

If you have anything you’re looking forward to for the upcoming MLB season or want to get in on the over/under fun please feel free to drop a note in the comments.

Ball Four: The Final Pitch Review

This Christmas and New Years, my plans involved driving thousands of miles to visit family. Because of this, I thought it would be a good time to give Audible.com a try. If you are unfamiliar with Audible, they are an Amazon company that specializes in audio books. I signed up for a 30 day free trial that included two free downloads and promptly pulled down Michael Lewis’ book titled ‘The Big Short’ that detailed the financial crisis in the subprime mortgage lending business. I chose this title because I liked reading ‘Moneyball’ so I thought this would be an equally interesting read/listen. It was a good book, but it was about as interesting as the financial crises can be, which is not very. I was looking for a more moving experience.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine | [Michael Lewis]

I had always known about the book ‘Ball Four’, but beyond knowing the author’s name and that it was regarded as the best baseball book ever written, I couldn’t tell you anything about it.  After listening to an episode of the great podcast ‘Gleeman and the Geek’ (see http://wp.me/pEvHa-2Z), co-host Aaron mentioned if he could download any book to listen to off Audible.com, it would probably be ‘Ball Four’. This was enough for me to give it a try.

Ball Four: The Final Pitch | [Jim Bouton]

After pulling the book down on my Samsung Galaxy S III using the Audible.com app, I was stunned to see the book came in at a whopping 18 hours and 32 mins. I figured it was probably a mistake and dove right in. The book itself is narrated by Jim Bouton himself which adds to the charm. The emotion he reads with makes the listener feel like they’re reliving the moments while they were happening.

The book itself is a diary of Jim Bouton’s experiences during the 1969 season with the newly formed Seattle Pilots (the only team in the modern history of Major League Baseball to go bankrupt) and his subsequent trade to the Houston Astros. After finishing the main book, it is no wonder this was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Books of the Century.” The stories in the book are both hilarious and genuine.

What made the audio book amazing was what came after the reading of ‘Ball Four’. Every 10 years after the initial publishing, Jim wrote a follow-up (starting with the aptly titled ‘Ball Five’). These chronicled not only what had happened to Bouton over the previous 10 years, but updates on a lot of the ballplayers in the original book and commentary on the state of the game. Jim offered insightful comments on Pete Rose being banned from baseball (he thinks a gambling addiction is no worse than a drug addition and it’s hypocritical of baseball picks and chooses which addictions to punish rather than focus on the disease of addiction), Bouton’s being blacklisted from Old Timer’s Day from the Yankee’s and how he co-founded Big League Chew. In one of the final updates, Jim details any parents worst nightmare… the night he and his wife received a phone call that his daughter Laurie had been in a bad car accident and was in a coma. As a listener, hearing him talk about that night and losing his youngest child made not only the author tear up, but it got a little dusty in the car. His voice quivered and my eyes watered. I never expected to be so moved from what I thought would be a baseball book.

In the end, this book wasn’t about baseball, but rather a remarkable group of people living their dreams in an extraordinary time period and about perseverance and hard work. At the end of the book, I fondly look back at my baseball memories and the great friends I made playing baseball and can’t help but be thankful that Audible and Jim Bouton came together.

If you have any thoughts and you’re not too busy ‘beaver shooting’, feel free to drop a note in the comments.

Podcasts I love

WNCI is the popular station in Columbus. Unfortunately, all they play is overproduced music over and over and over again. If you want to hear Lady Gaga, that is the station for you. Fortunately, Columbus also features independent radio in the form on CD102.5, The Alternative Station. In my opinion, this is one of the best stations in the country. From the Big Room Brunch on Sunday (featuring live performances recorded in their studio) to Front Stage every night at 9pm where the station features local music.

The problem with only one station that I really like is that I can only listen so much every day before it gets repetitive. Thankfully, when I drive to and from work (as well as long roadtrips), I’ve found some great Podcasts to help pass the time. With that said, here are a few of my favorites.

1. Gleeman and the Geek – http://gleemangeek.libsyn.com/

For this podcast, it helps to be a Minnesota Twins fan, however, that’s only a minor requirement. Aaron Gleeman (aarongleeman.com) and John Bonnes (twinsgeek.com) team up to bring an entertaining podcast. I wish I knew a better way to describe this, but both hosts are very likable and the 90 minutes tends to fly by. Whether it’s Aaron giving updates on not leaving the house or John giving updates on a midlife crisis motorcycle purchase, it seems like you’re at the table with the hosts enjoying a pitcher of beer. If they ever have an episode at the Lions Tap (http://www.lionstap.com/), I may have to fly up to witness it.

2. Stuff You Should Know – http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/hsw-shows/stuff-you-should-know-podcast.htm

This is a podcast featuring Josh Clark and Charles W. (Chuck) Bryant that touches on various topics that people wish they knew more about. The informal banter and 20-35 minute length is perfect. The rapport that Josh and Chuck have is extremely entertaining. I’m convinced my friend Harold is also Josh Clark because they sound the same and have the same sense of humor.

Daves of Thunder – http://davesofthunder.com/

Perhaps the greatest podcast ever. I was crushed when this went away. It featured Hollywood writer Dave Feeney and radio personality Dave Dameshek in an hour that had amazing original content and amazing arguments. I remember waking up on Monday and downloading this podcast before I got in the shower and listening to and from work. Just dynamite. I wish there was a way to get this podcast back again.

Adam Carolla Podcast – http://www.adamcarolla.com/

The Guinness Record holder for most downloaded podcast ever. The production value is extremely high and the guests allow something for everyone. If you’re checking out the archives, I can’t recommend the Lenard Nemoy episode enough. Also, anything with Dr. Drew is a must listen to.

Others to check out: The Poscast with Joe Posnanski, This American Life and Planet Money.

If you have any podcasts you’d recommend, please feel free to mention them in the comments.