1. Who has more potential trade value, assuming the Twins are looking to move one of these guys: Ricky Nolasco or Phil Hughes?
Nate Leer: Nolasco has this year and next remaining on his contract at $12 M per year as well as an option year with a $1 M buyout. That means a trade partner would be on the hook for about $20 M unless the Twins eat some of the contract. For argument’s sake, let’s say the Twins eat $5 M. Nolasco’s new team would be getting pretty cheap pitching at $10 M per year ($5 M for roughly half of ’16). Nolasco’s numbers are very average this year but he has pitched better as of late. A weak FA market after this year may also help his value much like it did for James Shields (traded from SD to ChiSox).
Hughes is making 9.2 M in 2016, then $13.2 M annually in 2017, 2018 and 2019. That means a trade partner would owe him around $45 M. As a Twins fan, I would love to see Hughes go but that contract seems untradeable. The Twins may have to eat $20 M which is too big of a hit for nothing as they still wouldn’t get much in return. More likely Hughes stays around for a year or two until his contract is whittled down some. Unfortunately, this is what happens when teams give more money to guys after one good year. The Twins certainly did not have to extend Hughes in late ’14 but they must have thought they could save money based on how well he pitched that year. Too bad he is just not that good and seems to wilt when the going gets tough.
Nolasco definitely looks like the more likely trade asset. If the Twins can get a couple lower level prospects without eating much of the contract, do it now!
2. Was the hire of Mark Coyle to the U of M AD a good hire?
Kras: Admittedly I don’t know much about Mark Coyle and what he has done as AD previously. I understand that he is a “fixer” of sorts, and he has quite the mess to clean up. Now even more so with the whole wrestling team drug scandal. It will be interesting to see how long it will take Mr. Coyele to get the university back on track. Coyle is a guy who seems to have family ties in the 5 state area here and seems to have wanted this job choosing to leave Syracuse after a 10.5 month stint.
3. Who are two Minnesota Vikings that you see having a breakout 2016 season?
Kras: I think this might be the year that Kyle Rudolph takes a back seat. It will be interesting to see how things shake out but I think MyCole Pruitt could be in line for a decent year. Rudolph has shown that he can be a force, when healthy. However he is only getting older and if he doesn’t produce this year I think it will be tough for him to have a role here going forward. Although Rudolph is the bigger of the tw0 TEs, that hasn’t really meant much in the Minnesota offense lately with Teddy throwing the ball and AP very much still the focal point. With the addition of Laquan Tredwell to the team via the draft, it can only help which ever tight end lines up on the field.
The other player I see taking a step forward the year would be CB Trae Waynes. I think that the former first round pick will start to have an impact on the field. With his good size, 6’0″ 190# and plenty of veteran help and leadership around him he should do fine. Waynes also has the benefit of Mike Zimmer who appears to have a good concept of what it takes to be a good defensive player. It is also not uncommon for CBs to take a couple of years to adjust to the NFL game, just ask Xavier Rhodes.
Nate Leer: Good points, Kras. I agree with the broader takes but would argue that Treadwell may actually hurt Rudolph some by being the preferred red zone target. That actually helps the case for Pruitt as he is a faster athlete who could contribute in ares Rudolph can’t such as stretching the field and TE screens. If Pruitt continues to develop, he will also be the better, more versatile blocker. That is a recipe for playing time!
1. Can the Cavs go back home and make it a series?
Kras: I think you can put a wrap on this series. At this point I don’t see the series reaching 5 games much less anything after that. If Kevin Love misses any time with the head injury that puts the Cavs at a greater deficit on the floor. With the Warriors bench helping them get the win in game 1 and Draymond running the show in game 2, they have shown they have multiple ways to beat the Cavs and that doesn’t even get us to Steph and Clay who are always making threes to make their presence known. Kyrie is only shooting 33% from the field in the first two games. Lebron admittedly was too reckless with the ball in game two but even if he doesn’t turn the ball over seven times that won’t be enough to overcome the Warriors offensive talents. It is looking like J.R. Smith is going to have to get red hot and Frye, Jefferson and Mozgov are going to have to figure something defensively to try and neutralize anything down low. I don’t see enough defense or offense coming from the Cavs to make a difference in this series.
Nate Leer: I get the opinion that this series is over. I will be interested to see if the pride of the vets for the Cavs can coax an effort level that let’s them get game 3. If that happens, it could be a series again. The Cavs did not put up much of a fight the first two games so we will see if they lay down and die or fight to the end. Players such as Love, Irving and even Lebron will write part of their legacies with how hard they battle back in this series.
2. Who is the early season front runner for the Cy Young Award?
Kras: Although it is early in the year and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season, there has been some pretty solid pitching outings this year from guys you would expect it out of. Kershaw, Arrieta, Sale and Salazar are all guys who are capable of pitching lights out any time they toe the rubber. Looking at the numbers of the top starting pitchers in baseball, one thing stands out. 8 of the top 10 pitchers (by ERA) are national league pitchers. Looking ahead at the rest of the year it is hard to predict what will happen with these pitchers but from what I have seen so far my picks would have to be:
NL – Clayton Kershaw: So far this year Kershaw has posted a 8-1 record backed up by 92.2 innings of work. over those 92 innings he has 109 SOs while yielding 6 BBs and 4 HRs. These numbers are good enough to post a 1.46 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP. Barring any injury it will be impressive to see how he can build on an already impressive 2016 resume.
AL- Chris Sale: I don’t think he is on the best team to produce the best numbers as far as wins and losses but I believe he is the strongest option to win the award. Sale has an impressive 9-2 record so far this year while posting a 2.54 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and 78 SOs. He has only 18 BB and 7 HRs given up this year.
Nate Leer: Yes and yes!
3. Who wins the U.S. Open at Oakmont C.C. next weekend?
Kras: There have been some good golfers playing good golf as of late it could still be anyone’s tournament but there are some golfers that I believe are getting really hot at the right time. Regardless of who wins the U.S. Open it should be good golf to watch and should come down to the wire Sunday afternoon.
5 players I could see winning:
- Jordan Spieth- He was the U.S. Open winner last year and has all the tools to win it again this year. He has been slightly shaky after his Masters finish but he has been playing well in a few tournaments leading up to this one.
- Jason Day- He is still the best in the world until someone puts together some tournament wins and is playing good enough golf to remain atop the world rankings.
- Dustin Johnson- Johnson is playing really good golf right now. In his last 8 tournament he has placed 28th or better and has 5 top 5 finishes as well. This could be the major that DJ breaks through and finally gets one.
- Rory McIlroy- Another guy who has been playing exceptional golf lately. Coming off the Irish open win a few weeks ago and after playing well at the Memorial Tournament, he is poised to make a run at the U.S. Open. He has recently made a change to his putting grip that seems to have helped him put more touch on the ball on the greens and that touch will be helpful during this tournament.
- Phil Mickleson- Being a lefty myself, I feel like there should be one on the list. Mickelson hasn’t been playing great golf as of late but he has been playing consistently. If he can hang around the leader board until Sunday, he has the experience and the game to make a push Sunday and get it done.
My Pick: Rory McIlroy- If he can keep up his hot putting, he is the man to beat. He can drive it with the best of them and with the added touch around the greens he is in a good position to bring home the hardware. If, however, his putting regresses from what it has been it, could turn into a long weekend for Rory. Personally I would like to see DJ and Rory battling it out in the final group on Sunday. Those two guys are on fire right now and it is worth watching them display their talents over the weekend.
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