1. Should the Twins go all in to sign Japanese slugger/flamethrower Shohei Ohtani?
Nate Leer: Yes, I would like to see the Twins bid for Ohtani. Because of MLB rules, teams are capped at certain dollar amounts they can offer Ohtani and the Twins are one of the highest possible bidders. The amount they can offer will not break the bank for them and the potential upside of Ohtani, especially as a SP, makes it well worth the risk. I also think it would make sense for Ohtani to go to an AL team so he can DH semi regularly. That is his best opportunity for consistent ABs as it doesn’t make sense to risk hurting his throwing arm playing anywhere in the field. It seems the Yanks are the most likely landing spot so the Twins may not have much of a shot. I just hope they push all their chips in on Ohtani!
Kras: I think the Twins should give him a look. However, I am not very optimistic that Ohtani will end up being a member of the Twins. The Twins have not had a good track record in recent memory with signing overseas players and having them develop into quality major leaguers. I also think money will come into play as well. I believe if Ohtani is as good as indicated, he will end up in a big market. The only reason this makes sense to me for the Twins is if they think he can be their ace pitcher for the next 10 years. If they think he is just a slugger, that’s nice, but not what this teams is desperate for right now.
2. Is there any area the Vikings need to strengthen to make a deep run in the postseason?
Kras: The Vikings are about as complete of team as there is in the NFL. QB Case Keenum has gotten better with each game which has helped the O grow and become a multidimensional threat. On the other side of the ball, the D has been lights out most of the year, giving up only 290 yards a game to opposing Os. Their D is second best in run D yielding just 75 yards a game to RBs. Overall this team is in pretty good shape moving forward. However, if I had to pick one area that concerns me, it would be the K, Kai Forbath. With 4 missed field goals and 5 missed PAT attempts, Forbath has been a little shaky. For a team that has had kicking problems in the past, that might make Vikings fans nervous.
Nate Leer: Kras is right on with pointing out that K is the one big concern. However, there probably isn’t much the team can do to improve the situation at this time. They could go to the scrap heap of former Ks but what are the chances that there is anything better out there. Sometimes it can be helpful to bring in some other options in order to light a fire under an underperforming player but I don’t get the impression that Forbath’s issues stem from a lack of effort. Therefore, bringing in another option is only worthwhile if they think that guy can really provide an upgrade and they are unlikely to find such a player at this point.
3. How long do you see the Minnesota Golden Gopher mens basketball team’s unbeaten streak continuing?
Kras: Their win streak could come to an abrupt halt today when they play a quality and ranked Miami Hurricanes team. If the Gophs can win that game against Miami, the schedule will soften up some and they could make a run into the new year without a loss. The Gophs would be getting into the heart of the BIG 10 schedule at that point and the opponents will toughen up. I personally don’t think they will go undefeated into the new year but they will have a chance to win every game between now and then.
Nate Leer: It definitely appears that tonight’s Miami game is the biggest hurdle to the Gophs remaining undefeated well into the new year. After this game, they won’t play a team that is currently ranked again until mid February. Granted they could put up a dud at any point but this team should be too good to lose to unranked teams, at home or on the road. Making it to the Michigan State game on February 13 without a loss would likely mean a matchup of 2 top 10 teams and a possible duel for the #1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. That would be a fun matchup!
1. Do you believe Kevin Durant’s ankle will be an ongoing issue that will cause him to miss an extended period of time? Would that make the Warriors vulnerable in any meaningful way?
Kras: I don’t foresee his ankle coming into play over the long term but he has had a history of ankle and foot issues. This injury seems to be nothing more than a mild sprain at this point. KD has missed 3 games but appears to be on track to return to action soon. As far as the Warriors without KD, they would obviously miss him but they would be fine. They have enough other talent on that team that they have no need to worry much. Even in the playoffs, the are the kings of the West until someone can dethrone them.
Nate Leer: The fact that the ankle injury keeps coming up should be concerning for Warriors fans. As a fan of the league, I mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I always want to see the best players in the league healthy in the playoffs. It really sucked last year when Kawhi Leonard went down for the Spurs. I wanted to see what he could do against great competition with everything on the line. Durant really stepped up last year in the Finals and I would like to see if he can build on that. In the other hand, losing Durant would make the Warriors mortal again even if they still might be favored to win it all. Teams such as the Spurs, Thunder, Rickets and, of course, LeBron’s Cavs would have realistic shots to dethrone the champs. That would add some needed drama to the playoffs. Ultimately I would rather see everyone healthy, including Durant, and find out if any team is ready to put up a good fight.
2. Which NBA team are we more likely to see trade off its assets and start to rebuild, Clippers or Grizzlies?
Kras: At this point both teams are headed that way but I feel the disarray on the Grizzlies might give them a slight edge to start getting rid of some of the core players. PG Mike Conley Jr., until his recent injury, and C Marc Gasol are the two guys that I feel would bring the most back in return. SF Chandler Parsons may also be a piece that teams are interested in come the trade deadline. After just firing their head coach, the Grizzlies will try and put together a season yet. However, they may be better off reassessing where they want to go in the future and who they think is going to be a part of that. As far as the Clippers go, they may be looking at a similar situation. It will be interesting to watch the season play out for them as well. Will this be Doc Rivers last season in L.A?
Nate Leer: I think the Griz are also more likely sellers if they can find teams that are willing to take on the huge contracts of their best assets. I also think the Clips management and ownership is likely to want to stay relevant in the Los Angeles market and will not rebuild. Lastly, the Clips can look to a possible late season return of PF Blake Griffin as a ray of hope if they can claw back into contention.
3. Which 4 teams do you feel will be in the college football playoffs?
Kras: The 4 teams that I think will end up in the playoff will be Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Auburn. I think Ohio State will find a way to beat the Wisconsin Badgers and open the door ever so slightly for Bama to sneak back in and be the 4th team in the playoff. That said, it is entirely possible that if Ohio State beats the Badgers they would be able to leapfrog Bama and make it into the playoff themselves. I personally believe Bama would get the nod.
Nate Leer: Unlike Kras, I am picking Wisconsin to finish off their perfect season and be the 4th team in the playoff. I think the Buckeyes QB JT Barrett’s injury helps the Badgers and they have the most to lose with a loss. I have a feeling that if the Buckeyes win they still won’t make the playoff ahead of Bama but the Badgers are in or out based on the result.