1. What will come next for the Twins, after the firing of GM Terry Ryan?
Kras: I have a hard time believing that this will be the only change in the Twins front office before the start of the 2017 season. I’m not sure what or who will all change but when a firing of this caliber happens there is usually more changes that ensue. Team CEO Jim Pohlad has said that current Twins manager Paul Molitor will remain in that position going into the 2017 season. Although I think Paul Molitor should get another shot at being the manager, I think that should be the decision of the new GM, whoever that is and whenever that is. The Twins have some talent on the roster to work with, some of these guys are still young and could take another year (Buxton), but we have to hope the young guys pan out otherwise there could be major changes in the clubhouse as well.
2. With Ryan out, will we see the end of the Joe Mauer era in Minnesota?
Kras: Though the Mauer era should have ended some years ago in my opinion, it will be interesting to see what and how it transpires. Mauer does not have a trade favorable contract at all at this point. He is owed a lot of money and he is currently a below average 1st baseman at the plate and his defense isn’t good enough to make up for those short comings. Currently Mauer is hitting .261 with 8 HRs and 30 RBI, not overwhelming numbers for any 1st baseman. I would like to see the Twins be able to do something or get something either from Joe or for Joe that will have positive impacts in the near future, but I’m not going to bet on it.
Nate Leer: Between his full no-trade clause and being owed 23 million per year as a below average 1B, Joe is virtually untradeable. The real drama will be when the contract expires after 2018. Joe is a private person so maybe he just retires. Otherwise, he and the Twins need to figure out if there is any mutual interest and if there is a number that works for both sides. Realistically, paying anywhere close to even $10M per year seems too much for a player at a premium offensive position that has trouble hitting .300 OR 10 HRs. Plus the Twins may have plenty of better options at 1B. However, being a local guy, Joe is something of an icon in the Twin Cities so the PR hit letting Joe leave may be worse than the Twins want to deal with. Should be interesting!
3. Does Teddy Bridgewater have a better season by the numbers in 2016 than he did in 2015?
Kras: Outlook, not so good. Teddy will have the same weapons around him this year as he had last year with the addition of Laquon Treadwell and added pieces to the offensive line. Last year Teddy finished the season with 447 attempts, 3231 yards, 14 TDs, 9 INTs, and 8 fumbles. Teddy has thrown 14 TDs in each of the past 2 seasons which is consistent, but not that productive. With AP another year older, one would have to imagine that the passing game would be more on display than in past years. Teddy was sacked 44 times last year which also does not help but he should have a stronger offensive line in front of him this year. All in all I don’t think Teddy’s numbers will rise greatly this year but it is hard to imagine them getting worse.
Nate Leer: Teddy’s numbers have been so mediocre the last two year that he almost HAS to have better numbers if he plays all 16 games. That said, he might just be Alex Smith north – decent player who doesn’t hurt the team but also doesn’t show the ability to put the team on his back for stretches.
1. After the outburst by Chris Sale do the White Sox trade him? And what team would be a good fit for him?
Kras: Although Sales actions were childish, and creative, he is a gem of a pitcher. I can see a situation in which they would trade him because of his actions and the fact that he has had run ins with management in the past. Since it appears the Sox aren’t going anywhere this season they could trade him and get a hefty ransom for the ace pitcher. If I were in the front office of the Sox I would have to keep him. He is the best pitch in the A.L. and arguably a top 3 pitcher in the league, he is a guy you can build around, not only your pitching staff but ultimately your team. It is hard to find a guy that you can believe will win every time he is on the mound. If the Sox are serious about trading him I would think that every team would try and lure him in. Maybe the Rangers make a move for him? It’s hard to see him in the N.L. but I wouldn’t rule anything out.
2. With the looming 4 game suspension of Le’Veon Bell, how much does that affect the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Kras: I don’t think there is much panic on the Steelers side, other than wondering if Bell will ever get it together. The Steelers have dealt with, or should I say without, Bell in past seasons and they are equipped to do it again. Last year, and presumably for the first 4 games of this year, DeAngelo Williams will be the workhorse RB. In 16 games last season (10 starts) Williams rushed for 907 yards and 11 TDs. Beyond Williams filling the need at RB, the Steelers offense is well equipped with other talent. Big Ben is still the QB, Antonio Brown is arguably the best WR in the NFL, and a group of other young WR talent (Wheaton, Coates) and new TE in Ladarius Green means the Steelers should have an offense that can move the ball up and down the field. With the way they are set up, they should have the ability to strike quick or run the ball to burn the clock if need be. The Steelers will be an interesting team to watch to see how their offense operates.
Nate Leer: The Steelers seem to never panic and that sure is not going to be the case this year. DeAngelo Williams’s productivity last year, the fact that Bell is likely to only miss the 4 games and the passing game Kras mentions all add up to Pittsburgh still having one of the top offenses this year. They need to worry more about the D!
3. Which MLB closer is having the best season?
Kras: For me, I have to give the nod to the Baltimore Orioles closer, Zach Britton. He has been the model of consistency this year. In 41.2 innings pitched this year Britton has 48 K’s, a 0.65 ERA, and a 0.79 WHIP, all numbers have helped him record 32 saves on 32 attempts. There are plenty of closers out there that are plenty reliable and perfectly good options but I think all things considered Britton is the guy this year.
Nate Leer: A closer’s job is to get the last three outs of a game. Britton is 32 for 32 doing it so it is hard to argue against him being the best of the bunch this year. There are a few guys who seem more dominant – Chapman, Familia, Jensen – but Britton just keeps taking the ball and doing the job.