1. What is your reaction to the Twins trading for SP Jake Odorizzi? Was it a good deal?
Nate Leer: Yes, this was an excellent deal for the Twins. Odorizzi isn’t a true #1 SP but he can slot in as another #2-3 type SP along with Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. He should eat a decent amount of innings and could thrive in Target Field. The Twins talented OFs also help Odorizzi as he can challenge hitters more up in the strike zone. Odorizzi is cheap ($6.3 million) but only signed for this year. It will be interesting to see if the team tries to sign him long term. If they can without breaking the bank, this deal will be even better. The Twins gave up a low level, mediocre prospect so getting even one year of 150-170 innings and a 4.00 ERA will be well worth it.
Kras: I like the move and I think it is a very good deal for the Twins. They have made plenty of moves in the pitching department this offseason and this one may be their best. Although Odorizzi is not Chris Archer, he is still a very valuable asset to this team. As Nate Leer point out, he has a favorable price tag albeit on a 1-year basis. Assuming the Twins don’t make anymore moves to the starting rotation they will have something to work with down in Fort Myers, FL. Given the Rays are trading everyone on their roster, I have to believe there is still an outside chance the Twins could land Archer as well. If the Twins front office can make that happen, LET’S PLAY!
2. Should the Twins pursue another pitcher, either through trade or free agency, or is their pitching staff complete?
Nate Leer: It sounds like they are pretty happy with the group they have but I really hope they watch for another deal that makes sense. Maybe they can get Jake Arrieta late in the offseason on one of the heavily front loaded deals that has become popular. It sure would put a nice cap on the offseason. Since the team did not have to spend much money to get Odorizzi or give up any significant prospects, getting a true #1 or at least another solid SP should be doable. On the trade market, Chris Archer would be the ideal target. Considering the prospects the team has coming, trading a major league player (OF Max Kepler?), hitting prospect (IF Nick Gordon?) and pitching prospect (Stephen Gonsalves?) for a stud with a favorable contract like Archer seems reasonable. If Arrieta and Archer are out of reach, even the likes of Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb would put a nice bow on the hot stove league. Let’s hope Falvine stays aggressive!
Kras: As stated above, I think they might be in the mix for Chris Archer. The Rays seem committed to hold on to him but for the right young mix of prospects they may make a move. With that said, they have made more moves this offseason than I can remember in recent memory. I certainly don’t expect them to make anymore moves but if they do they are playing with house money as far as I am concerned. Any addition to this already improved starting rotation would be great and really elevate this team’s chances to make it past a 1 game play in.
3. Do you see a meaningful post All-star break win streak coming from the Wolves or do you expect them to play average ball?
Nate Leer: I do expect this team to go on a significant run at some point and it will be interesting to see if that propels them to a #3 seed in the West. Their young players seem to be learning how to play D and win late in games thanks to the presence of Jimmy Butler and the other vets. As is pretty much always the case with teams put together with significant new members, continuity on O and D takes some time to develop. I have watched the young studs respond favorably to being coached up by the vets and that is the best case scenario. If Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are willing to use constructive criticism from Butler, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to better their games, this team’s upside is virtually unlimited. If they can take another towards realizing that potential this year, a long win streak could be the result.
Kras: I think they will remain relatively average. They have played 61 games this season and, although we have seen improvement, it has not been by leaps and bounds. This team still has flaws and Andrew Wiggins’s inability to play at a consistent level on a nightly basis is a big part of that. The Wolves could use a nice win streak given there are only 3.5 games between 3rd place and 8th place in the Western Conference standings. There is not a lot of room for error moving forward if they hope to remain in the top 4. Of there remaining 19 games, they have the Rockets twice, the Warriors and Spurs each once, and a game against the Wizards and the Celtics. Assuming they were to lose those games, they would have 13 games to try and make up any ground. I have a hard time believing they are going to win all those games. I think they will still be a playoff team, but they are far from a lock to be at home in the 1st round.
1. Will the Toronto Raptors finish the season as the best team in the East? If not, who will finish ahead of them?
Nate Leer: While the Raptors should finish with the best record in the East, they are not truly the “best” team in the conference. They are an excellent regular season team with their best players on the perimeter and a score first style. I like a lot of their players, their coach and the fact they could easily secure the #1 seed. However, I don’t expect them to be able to beat LeBron and the Cavs whenever they meet them. Without a true superstar, the Raptors are not equipped to get to the Finals. The East belongs to the King as long as he wants it.
Kras: I think the Raptors likely finish this season as the top team in the East. The only team that is really within striking distance and could catch them is the Boston Celtics who currently sit 2 games back. The past few seasons the Raptors have shown they are a great regular season team but have faltered in the playoffs. Something worth noting: if the standings do tighten up, the last 3 games of the season the Raptors play the Celtics twice and the Cavaliers once. The East could be decided in that short stretch of games. More importantly, if the Raptor get bounced early from the playoffs, is it time for them to look at blowing up the core? Will Dwane Casey be on the hot seat?
2. Which remaining MLB free agent do you believe is the best potential value? Is there a certain team that would benefit from them?
Nate Leer: There could be plenty of bargains to be had as we get into spring training and guys just want to get out and play. There are some pretty high end players that will not get the years or guaranteed money they may deserve. There are also some decent players that will sign super cheap contracts including minor league deals with invites to spring training. The guy I think could provide the most value for a relatively small investment is C Jonathan Lucroy.
Kras: As Nate Leer states, there are plenty of potential values out there to be had especially given the SLOW MLB free agency we have seen so far. With teams reporting to camp, I have to believe some of these guys who remain free agents will get the itch to get back on the field and will lower their asking price to make it happen. My top 3 available players to be had are OF Carlos Gonzalez, 3B Mike Moustakas, and SP Lance Lynn. Both Lynn and Moustakas had solid 2017 seasons and may draw a bit more money. Gonzalez, on the other hand, is coming off a bit of a down year and could be a real steal for a team that signs him.
3. Which NFL Draft prospects are you most looking forward to seeing at the Combine next week?
Nate Leer: There are several players on my radar that will be intriguing to watch. Last year’s record for fastest 40 yard dash time by Cincy WR John Ross could fall when WR runs. Although that will be interesting to see, Ross is a good example of how little impact elite straight line speed has at times in The League. I will be much more interested in seeing how well the big WRs run. There are several HUGE WRs such as Courtland Sutton (6’4” 216), Equanimeous St. Brown (6’4” 205), Auden Tate (6’5” 225) who may vault in the draft with good 40 times and solid skillset displays. There are also some WRs with good size including Calvin Ridley (6’1” 188) Christian Kirk (5’11” 200) and D.J. Chark (6’2” 196) who will jump with elite times. If one of these players from either group really shows well at they Combine, he could be declaring himself as a rare commodity: a potential rookie impact WR.
Kras: I will be particularly interested in watching the DTs and DEs. As an avid Lions guy, I see how little they have on the defensive of the ball and how much help they need. With players such as DE Ziggy Ansah and DT Haloti Ngata set to be free agents, they need help. This coming draft class seems to have some serious potential and could help the Lions immediately. Without knowing exactly what scheme the Lions will operate with yet but given the New England ties, it would not be surprising to see them use a more 3-4 base. If that is the case, I think DT Vita Vea or DT DaRon Payne might be worth noting. DT Derrick Nnadi checking in at 310# might get the job done as well. With that said, they desperately need help on the edge. Even more so if they don’t keep Ziggy around. Assuming DE Bradley Chubb will be long gone by the time the Lions pick at 20, they could take a look at option like DE Arden Key, DE Sam Hubbard, and DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Again, there is a lot of options for the Lions and myself to take a look at. Who knows which sleepers will rise up before the combine is over and make themselves a priority to teams.