1. Do you believe Karl Anthony-Towns should have been selected to the All-Star game and is it big deal that he was not?
J.J Benz: I do believe that Karl Anthony-Towns deserved to make the All-Star team this year, especially in place of DeAndre Jordan. Often with All-Star snubs, it is hard to identify the player they would replace on the roster. However, this is a case where KAT is clearly better than the player ahead of him. 2 factors that shouldn’t matter but probably do: team record/performance and seniority in the league.
Kras: I think one could argue that Towns should have been an All-Star the way he has been playing this season. So far he is averaging 23 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 blocks. Although those numbers are all good, the only category he breaks the top 10 in is rebounding (8th). Whether or not Towns was an All-Star does not matter to me seeing how it is a meaningless game. In the grand scheme of things, I think Towns will see his fair share of All-Star Game appearances before his career is over. The year of the KAT is coming…
2. With players reporting to Spring Training in less than a month, is it safe to say Brian Dozier will be on the Twins opening day roster? Is there any chance he is moved before the start of the regular season?
Kras: I can’t imagine that Dozier would be traded at this point. With the limited time before the start of Spring Training 2017, I think Dozier will be on the opening day roster and the best chance to trade him again will be at the trade deadline later in the season. The Unfortunate part about that is it will be hard to imagine that his trade value would be any higher at that point than it is today. Even today, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for him or the Twins are simply asking too much for him. Best case scenario, Dozier has 40 HRs at the All-Star break this season and teams are lining up to make a deal to acquire the 2nd baseman.
Nate Leer: I would not say there is absolutely no chance that Dozier is moved before the season starts but it sure looks like he will be styling and profiling at 2B for the foreseeable future. As a Twins fan who feels they need to take the long view at this point, I can only hope that Dozier starts out a bit hot and a wanna-be contender develops a real need for righthanded pop from the infield. I have felt all winter that the Yankees would make sense as a trade partner because they stockpiled quality, close prospects last season. If 3B Chase Headley continues to suck at the plate, the Yankees could consider moving Starlin Castro there and pick up Dozier to play 2B. Dozier is young enough and under contract for a couple years so the Yanks can reap the benefits of his pop for years. Maybe the Twins could even throw in SP Ervin Santana and get back a couple young arms and a hitter.
3. Will Teddy Bridgewater be a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2018?
Nate Leer: I think Friday’s report that Teddy is likely to miss all of the 2017 season actually makes it more likely that he is a Viking in 2018. The Vikes have to make a decision on picking up his 5th year option for 2018. Teddy would get the average salary of the 3rd through 25th highest paid QBs, a number the Vikes can’t commit to when he is still a year away from maybe being able to play. If Teddy would have come back at some point during the season in 2017, he would have been backing up Sam Bradford. If Bradford has another solid to very good season, the Vikes should move ahead with him. Ideally Teddy could be a great backup. However, if he is healthy, and especially if he plays effectively for any significant stretches, Teddy will likely be in demand on the open market. That would price him out of the Vikes market as they will have to pony up for Bradford as well. On the flip side, if Teddy never even suits up in 2017, hopefully the Vikings can reward him for being a good pro and figure out a contract extension that gives Teddy some stability as he makes his comeback and does not hurt the Vikes from a cap perspective.
Kras: I don’t know what the future will hold for Teddy. We don’t know if Teddy will ever be able to line up under C again in his career. Assuming Teddy misses all of 2017, it gives the Vikings 1 more year to watch Sam Bradford and see if he takes another step forward with this team. It would be hard to see Teddy having a roll outside being the backup QB. I think if he can still play, he will want a chance. As it stands now, I personally think Teddy will be a Viking in 2018 but there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding his future, not only with the Vikings but in the NFL in general.
1. Will there be any major moves before the NBA trade deadline, i.e., Melo out of NY, Cavs adding playmaker?
Kras: I don’t think there will be much action before the deadline. Melo to the Clippers has been tossed around but how likely that is, I’m not sure. The Knicks are going to want more for Melo than what he is worth. With the dysfunction of the Chicago Bulls maybe some pieces there get moved. Even so, would those be major moves? I don’t think so. I think it will be a fairly quiet trade deadline in the NBA this season.
Nate Leer: I think it looks doubtful that a big name or difference maker will be switching teams during this season. The reality is that NBA contracts are tricky to move. Melo seems to be ready to move out of the Big Apple and team prez Phil Jackson definitely wants him out. However, if the Knicks try to get anything close to similar value for an expensive, old, limited player, Melo won’t be moving this winter. The only way a team picks up Melo’s money is if they think he can be the missing piece to a championship run this year. It doesn’t make much sense for a competitive team to give up one of its core pieces to bring in a new player. Plus, Melo would most likely not be interested in going to many of the potential destinations. Maybe the LA Clippers could work out a trade IF the Knicks are willing to accept a package of lesser talents. As for the Cavs, their owner does not seem willing to ante up more money to bring in a talented offensive player and they would also have to give up a player that is important to their success. Not likely.
2. What were your thoughts on how Tiger Woods performed this past week?
J.J Benz: I believe that there were some good things that Tiger can take out of his 2 rounds where he missed the cut at a course he knows well. On the first day he showed signs of the old Tiger by getting up and down in key situations. Tiger fans got their hopes up when he made birdies at the 10th and 11th only to finish the rest of the round at 5 over carding a 4 over 76. Showing signs of life are important for Tiger, now he just needs to figure out why he went on tilt for the last 7 holes. If it is rust or fatigue whatever the case may be, Tiger needs to get back into his routine of playing tournaments. It may take Tiger a while to make cuts consistently once he starts doing that winning will not be too far away.
Kras: Tiger didn’t make the cut this past week but that’s okay. It was his first live action Tiger has seen in some time and it will take a little time to work himself back into game shape. Overall, I thought Tiger looked pretty good. He will continue to work his way back from the injuries and personal issues that hinder him mentally. I think Tiger needs to work some issues out with his driver and worry about making putts and he should put himself in position to compete in a few tournaments. If/when Tiger plays in The Masters, that will be the real test for him.
3. Who is your pick to win Super Bowl LI?
Kras: As much I like how the Atlanta Falcons O looks, how does one bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? Pats over the Falcons 35-27
Nate Leer: New England in a lower-than-expected scoring game, maybe 30-24. RB LeGarrette Blount as MVP with 2-3 TDs and a ton of carries and yards.
J.J Benz: I think the Falcons and possibly Ryan makes a mistake late in the game. Pats win 43-38.