1. What do you make of the Twins 1-year deal with Logan Morrison? Where do you see him having the biggest role?
Nate Leer: I like the move but am a bit surprised they signed a lefty hitter with several righties on the market. LoMo definitely helps lengthen the lineup as he is a better power hitter than Robbie Grossman from whom he will probably steal the most ABs. With both corner OF spots and 1B manned by lefties, signing a righty would have given them an ideal sub for any of those spots and a great platoon option if one of them is struggling against left handed pitching. LoMo is only a 1B and DH at this point in his career but he hit a lot of HRs in bad hitters parks over the last few years. He should be able to produce for the Twins and may be Joe Mauer’s successor Mauer he retires or moves on next season.
Kras: I think this is another nice move by the Twins. I believe the bulk of his value will be at DH with some run at 1B to give Joe Mauer a day of rest. Morrison is on a 1-year $6.5 million deal which is a steal if you just factor last season’s numbers. Hopefully Morrison can bring 30+ HRs to this club as he did last season. With Joe Mauer being an average only hitter it’s not unrealistic to think Morrison can have more HRs in his time playing at 1B than Mauer will in his time there this season. As nice of a season as the Twins had last season, it is good to see management adding pieces like this to try and figure out how and where they can improve. Morrison might have a bigger role on this team than we think.
2. Will the Wolves remain a playoff team without Jimmy Butler? Do you think he will be back this season?
Nate Leer: It sure sounds like Jimmy will be back yet this season. I would expect him to be on the short end of any timeline to return so he may only miss a month. The injury looked like it was going to be much worse so they dodged a bullet. This is a big chance for Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to step up their games. Those 2 along with the deep supporting cast should be able to keep the team in the playoff picture.
Kras: I think yes is the answer to both questions. I do believe the Wolves will make the playoffs without Jimmy. If they are good enough to do that, I definitely think we will see Jimmy at that point. As Nate Leer points out, this will be a good chance for some of the other players to get established and find some rhythm heading into the stretch run of the season. Could we possibly see some run from Shabazz Muhammad before the season is over? I wouldn’t count on it but if not now, when. It will be an entire team effort to try and fill the shoes of Jimmy and no matter how hard they try, their D will not be as good as it is with Jimmy on the floor.
3. Should the Vikings have any interest in QB AJ McCarron? Is he any better than the options they already have?
Nate Leer: I don’t think McCarron is better than any of the Vikes 3 QBs to this point in his career but he has more upside and/or better health than all of them. If he is significantly cheaper than any of them, he would be a good option as a QB to come in and compete for the starting gig. Keeping Teddy Bridgewater for cheap and bringing in McCarron on a decent contract would create competition and depth for cheap. If the team can fill the QB position for around $12 million, they would have lots of cash to spend on other positions especially the OL.
Kras: I don’t think the Vikes will or should get into the AJ McCarron sweepstakes. He is a relatively unproven QB who I don’t trust any more than Case Keenum. If the Vikes do indeed pursue an option outside of the organization, I think they have to try and get the best option available, Kirk Cousins. McCarron may get a shot someplace but I don’t think it will be with the Purple.
1. Which team is more likely to get beat in the first round of the NBA playoffs Cavaliers or Spurs?
Nate Leer: To me this is definitely the Spurs for no other reason than they may not have a superstar the on the floor. The very strange case of Kawhi Leonard took another surprising turn recently when HC Gregg Popovich mentioned that he did not expect Leonard to play this year. While it now seems that Leonard will be back sooner than later, who knows if his season takes another turn for the worse. If that is the case, LeBron and the Cavs are much more likely to survive any 1st round challenge.
Kras: Of the 2 teams, I think the Spurs are the more likely team to be bounced in round 1. The biggest reason being the Spurs are in the West and teams seeded 5-8 will likely be tougher competition than the teams from the East. Another big reason that the Spurs are the more susceptible to going out in round 1 is the uncertainty of Kawhi Leonard’s health. Without Leonard they are closer to average than good.
2. Was the new Blake Bortles deal better for him or the Jags? Does this mean the Jags will be serious contender for the foreseeable future?
Nate Leer: I will answer the easy part first which is that this signing does not guarantee that the Jags will be a contender down the road. Reportedly Bortles deal helps the Jags with short term salary cap relief. That should help them keep their core players together possibly including resigning WR Allen Robinson. The ability to keep the team intact would go a long way towards the Jags being a legit contender next year. However, most teams not from New England have ups and downs from year to year that often have to do with health. Bortles is not a difference maker at QB and has shown progress in the past before regressing. If he has a down year in 2018 and the team suffers more injuries on D, they could easily fall out of contention. I do not know the long term effects of the contract on the Jags cap but I assume the short term help has some long term negativity attached. If that is the case, the Jags could be shooting themselves in the foot by committing big money to an unreliable QB. Time will tell on this one.
Kras: As it stands now I feel it is about 50-50. Both sides get what they were looking for. Bortles gets a little financial security and the Jags have their starting QB on a very team friendly deal. If Bortles regresses at all, then I think Bortles is the clear winner. I think VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin is the biggest reason for the Bortles having an uptick last season after having a couple down years. Coughlin was able to get the best out of Eli Manning when they were in New York together and now he has Bortles on a more upward trajectory. Nothing in the signing of Bortles guarantees they will be a legit contender. Although the O will need to pull their weight, the D is the strength of this team and will be much more the reason they are contenders moving forward.
3. Which NHL team did the best at the trade deadline?
Kras: I think the Detroit Red Wings were the winners at the deadline, albeit they were sellers. Sending Tomas Tartar to the Golden Knights was a good move for the Wings as they got a haul back in return. The Wings managed to get 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks in this coming year’s draft bringing their total to 11 picks. The Wings are a .500 team and they are poised to take a jump in the coming years. The need to get younger and more talented and they have the picks to do that. Whether through the draft or trading some of their picks, they are in good position to make a move up the standings sooner than later.
Nate Leer: I thought a couple teams did well on the same trade and one of them was, like Kras’s answer of the Red Wings, was a team that was a seller. The Tampa Bay Lightning got D Ryan McDonagh and F J.T. Miller from the New York Rangers in exchange for a package of picks and young players. This looks like a good move for the Lightning as it sets them up for a strong stretch run and both players they acquired are under club control next year as well. The move was more than a short term rental for them. The Rangers did well in this trade and several others by acquiring assets to spur their rebuild. Their model looks much like the Yankees moves a couple years ago to set themselves up for a relatively quick turnaround. This is especially important in a big market and they did well to jump start the process with an influx of young talent.