1. Will the Ervin Santana surgery force the Twins to go out and sign another free agent pitcher?
Nate Leer: The simple answer is no, it won’t ”force” them to do anything. The organization has enough SP depth to get by without Santana for a stretch and most people familiar with the organization already expected them to sign a SP. If management really thinks they are ready to compete, getting a 2nd tier SP becomes a little more urgent with the Santana news. With You Darvish going to the Cubs, the top target would seem to be Lance Lynn. However, I wonder if the club would be better off standing pat and letting the in house candidates get a long look. The reality is that this team, especially the pitching staff, does not seem good enough to legitimately compete with teams such as Cleveland. Pitching rarely comes at a bargain so this team might be best served to see how good the pitchers they have are and save their money for the right time.
Kras: I agree with Nate Leer on this one. The Twins don’t have to do anything, It would help to bring in a quality arm but they are far from forced to do it. I wasn’t big on giving Yu Darvish the deal he wanted. To be honest, I think a deal with Darvish could have been the next Joe Mauer contract that the Twins don’t need. I’m all for the Twins doing what they can to help the rotation. However, if it is going to be a $100+ million contract, I think they would be better off holding that money and looking at 1 of the FA pitchers that are coming up in next offseason’s class. With guys like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado set to hit the market next season as well, the Twins might be able attack the FA pitchers market with a little more money when everyone else is looking at top tier hitters. On this same note, it doesn’t appear that Santana is going to miss an extended period for this coming season. No reason to waste money.
2. Who should the Timberwolves pursue, if anyone, once NBA contract buyouts start happening?
Kras: To be honest I am not excited about any of the potential options that the Wolves may pursue. Derrick Rose does nothing for me at this point and I don’t think he would do much for this team. Assuming the Wolves would bring someone in, it’s hard to imagine that player having any sort of meaningful role. They have a perfectly good player in F Shabazz Muhammad who they refuse to use off the bench. With that in mind, it’s not very often HC Tom Thibodeau turns to his bench for any real purpose or amount of time, The D-Rose steam makes sense since he and Thibs worked together in the past but I don’t believe in that relationship much. Thibs got the guy he wanted out of Chicago. I believe that if there was someone the Wolves really wanted to get on this team they would have put their coveted 1st round pick on the table in a trade offer. Seeing how that didn’t happen, I have to think they are happy with where they are at.
Nate Leer: The steam is that the Wolves will be signing PG Derrick Rose but I don’t feel he adds much value to the team. He only helps the team if the ball is in his hands yet the Wolves have at least 3-4 guys who are better right now making plays. The player I think would fit best is G/F Arron Afflalo currently of the Magic. This team could really use a 3 and D swingman and Afflalo could be that guy. Anybody they sign is unlikely to have a big impact so hopefully they avoid any players that hurt the team chemistry or hinder the growth of the young guys. To me, trying to add Rose to the mix could do both. A guy such as Afflalo or even Joakim Noah who can help on the court without dominating the ball makes the most sense.
3. Do you like the hiring of Vikings new OC John Defilippo or would you rather have seen the team go in a different direction?
Nate Leer: I like it a lot. If Defilippo learned much from Doug Pederson, he should be able to bring a fresh perspective to the Vikes. Defilippo likely played a large role in the development of Eagles QB Carson Wentz and the reemergence of his replacement Nick Foles. That should be helpful as the Vikes try to figure out what to do at the QB spot. This guy may be able to help a ayet like Teddy Bridgewater take his game to the next level. Former OC Pat Shurmur did not impress me with his play calling. He failed to be creative when the team was in a hole, see NFC Championship game, and he refused to commit to the run well when the team had a big lead, see the Divisional round. I am excited to see what a smart, fresh offensive mind can do with the Vikes collection of talent.
Kras: I believe it is a good move. I must admit was a bit surprised when they did not give the job to long-time assistant Kevin Stefanski. However, if the Vikes are under the impression that DeFilippo will be a one and done, than this move makes a lot sense. It also makes sure that Stefanski will be available to them next season. To Nate Leers point, if Defilippo learned anything from Doug Peterson the Vikes O will be in good shape. Given they are uncertain at the QB position at this point, having a guy who worked with an underwhelming talent in Nick Foles will be key. Defilippo should be able to work with whoever the Vikes put under C this coming season.
1. Was Josh McDaniels unexpected return to New England as opposed to taking the Indy head coaching job a sign that Bill Belichick is planning to retire soon?
Nate Leer: It sure would make sense that owner Bob Kraft and Belichick used the attraction of McDaniels having the opportunity to run the show in the next few years as an option incentive to stay. It is hard to imagine a scenario where McDaniels passes on a chance to be in charge without assurances that he will have a better option in the near future. To be fair, there are several reasons to not want to take the Indy job, most notably the meddling owner, but McDaniels seemed to already have crossed those mental bridges by verbally accepting the job. I applaud McDaniels for passing up short term money and prestige for a possible better long term payoff but I do think there is more to the story that we may never know.
Kras: To me, that is the only thing that would make sense. McDaniels didn’t have much success in his previous HC gig but that was some time ago. I would think he might be ready to give it another shot. In fairness to Josh, Indy has plenty of questions when it comes to personnel especially at the QB position. The Colts also have nothing on the D side of the ball. On that note, it is not a good look for Josh to have made commitments to other coaches who were supposed to join his staff. Leaving them in limbo and running back to New England may have lasting effects on his career if it doesn’t work out with the Pats the way he may be hoping it does.
2. Who was the biggest winner or loser of the NBA trade deadline?
Nate Leer: I think the biggest winner was the Cavs. They took on a lot of money for next year but the key players they received are young enough to help with a potential rebuild. I have always been a fan of G Jordan Clarkson and PF Larry Nance. They inject much needed athleticism into the Cleveland lineup that LeBron should be able to highlight. That talent infusion should be enough to get them into the NBA Finals. If the team has enough success, LeBron may be interested in staying. However, even if LeBron
Kras: I think the biggest loser of the trade deadline might be the Los Angeles Clippers. Having traded away PG Chris Paul and PF Blake Griffin already, I think they should have tried to move on from C DeAndre Jordan as well. They should have tried to get what they could for him now before he can potentially walk out the door as a free agent with his player option. The Clippers have long been a fringe contender and now the band might completely fall apart. I am not convinced Doc Rivers will be the HC there next season. The lack of movement from the Clippers might be a move to hold money for LeBron James this coming offseason. That would be the only way they can come out winners in the long run.
3. Is the Eagles O likely to take a step back after losing their OC and QB coaches or will HC Doug Pederson be able to keep them on track?
Kras: I think they will be very comparable to where they are this year. Doug Pederson appears to be the brainchild of the Eagles O. As long as he is still in Philly they should be able to move the ball and put points on the board much like they did this season. The Eagles will get QB Carson Wentz back at some point and that will certainly give a boost to that O. If TE Zach Ertz and WR Alshon Jeffery can remain healthy as they did this season, it will go a long way towards making Pederson’s game plan look good. I think the more interesting thing to watch will be what Frank Reich and John DeFilippo do in their respective positions with their new teams.
Nate Leer: Kras is correct, Pederson was the main man regarding the Philly O and that won’t change because of the loss of talented assistants. Kras also breaks down the talent that will be returning for Philly and that is probably the biggest factor in how well the O plays next year. To Kras’s point, Jeffery and Ertz have been injury prone throughout their careers so that is the bigger issue. Some other players emerged for Philly and they still have a great play caller in Pederson so this O should be very good to great again next year.