Posted on: September 1, 2009 5:45 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2009 5:46 pm

Needed Harden for a better shot at Hardware

The Twins needed to get a deal done for Harden

By: Christopher Torola

The Twins took a stab at trying to bring over Rich Harden from the Chicago Cubs, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. Rumor has it that the Cubs wanted the Twins best two minor league prospects, Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere, both outfielders. Obviously I have no idea what went on during negotiations but I do know two things. The first, the Cubs need outfielders for the next few years. None of Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, or Koske Fukudome have too much left in the tank. The second being, the Twins are stacked with outfielders. Between Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young... along with Revere and Hicks, you would think that a deal should have been obtainable. 

If Harden would have been added to the Twins rotation they would have had decent 4 man roster for the playoffs, not to mention the extra push that may be needed to catch up to the Tigers. Scott Baker, Rich Harden, Carl Pavano, and Nick Blackburn could match up pretty well with most teams, as long as the Twins bats kept putting up big numbers.

I still see the Twins winning the American League Central, but I doubt that Brian Duensing or Jeff Manship would strike much fear into the hearts of opposing  hitters should the Twins make the post season.

Posted on: August 24, 2009 6:29 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2009 11:42 pm

Keeping the Faith

Keeping the faith.

By: Christopher Torola

The Twins are only 4 1/2 games out and have plenty of games left to play. That being said, you will have to excuse my morose attitude towards the team last week. 5 straight losing series is a tough pill to swallow. Luckily, all it took was a road split against a good Rangers team, and a road sweep against a bad Royals team to turn my attitude right back around.

Head into this week the Twins start a 9 game home stand that includes games against the Orioles, Rangers, and White Sox. All are winnable games if the Twins' pitching can find a way to stop giving up so many runs. Since the teams last break, they gave allowed almost 6 runs a game (5.9). To put that into prospective, MLB's worst team, The Washing Nationals, has given up 5.1 runs a game in the same amount of games. That is almost a run a games less then the Twins pitching staff.

I do believe that both the bull pen and the rotation are just going through a slump. They won't become world beaters this season by any means, but they are not as bad as the have been playing in the last few weeks. And while the pitching has been struggling, the BATS of the Twins have continued to mash. Joe Mauer is on his way to hitting over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs while maintaining a batting average around .375. If anyone else were to win the MVP it would be a travesty. Delmon Young has even hit 5 home runs in the last 3 weeks.

So here is to keeping the faith that the Twins hot hitting can continue to carry the team while the bull pen and rotation can attempt to right the ship.


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 14, 2009 6:47 pm

The End Is Near...

Can we now close the book on the 2009 season?

By: Christopher Torola

Having just lost 2 out of 3 games to a bad Royals team the Twins are now 4 games out of .500, and 5 games behind the AL Central leading Tigers. I know there are almost 50 games before the end of the season, and the Twins have made tougher comebacks to win the division in recent years... but it just doesn't feel the same. The pitching has been getting destroyed. I seems almost weekly a starter won't make it through the first 3 innings. They are going through what should be an easy part of the schedule, and they haven't won a series since sweeping the White Sox 2 weeks ago (for only there 3rd series win in the last month).

I will admit that the division is week. The A.L. Central is up for grabs, as no team has taken the opportunity to run away with it. I am usually ever optimistic when it comes to my Twins, but unless the team's attitude drastically changes, I can't see this being their year, and even if they do make the play-offs.... Things could get ugly playing a team like the Angels or the Yankees.

Here is hoping for a BIG final push... Go Twins!

Category: MLB
Tags: T Unit, Torola, Twins
Posted on: August 9, 2009 2:36 am
Edited on: August 9, 2009 3:35 pm

The Secret to winning your fantasy league!

So the one secret to winning is....

By: Christopher Torola

That there is no one secret that works. I have heard every publication or pair of knuckleheads on a podcast touting everything from "Draft the Opposite" to "The Magic Formula". They also claim to have mathematic proof and historical data to prove that their method works... the trouble though is that "Draft the Opposite" tells me to always draft wide receivers and quarterbacks ahead of running backs so you have the pick of the litter at those positions, and "The Magic Formula" was basically telling me that I have to take as many running backs as I can start with my first picks, since they score the most points. If they both have proof that their systems work the best, how can they be the complete opposite strategies?

So I have decided to put my strategy right here on this blog, and may even claim that it is the only sure fire way to win... why not? Everyone else is doing it. The trouble is, I like to look at drafts in many different ways.  You have to take into effect the different variables like, scoring system, league size, draft position, trends, possible injuries, the average barometric pressure and how they effect quarterback's passer ratings, and the other owner's temperament. Sadly, I don't actually have a system that will work with when taking all those variables into consideration... Instead, here is a list of some tips that have worked for me in the past.

- Watch for steep drops in talent on a given year and actually use tiers for the different positions. For example this year there seems to be a sharp drop in talent after both the first 4-5 running backs and the first 5-8 wide receivers. So if you are in a 12 team league, and you have the 12th and 13th picks in a snake draft, go ahead and take 2 WR or a WR and a QB.

Using the CBS average draft position or ADP: if you went with the top 2 RB's you would most like get 2 of  - Chris Johnson ADP 11, Marion Barber III ADP 17, or Brian Westbrook ADP 18.  With your next 2 picks, 36th and 37th, your QBs and WRs are the likes of Dwayne Bowe ADP 36, Kurt Warner ADP 37, Terrell Owens ADP 37, Wes Welker ADP 37, and Tony Romo ADP 39.

On the other hand, at 12th and 13th pick you can get WR and QBs like - Tom Brady ADP 12, Andre Johnson ADP 13, Randy Moss ADP 15, or Peyton Manning ADP 16. When it comes back around to picks 36 and 37 your available RBs are - Kevin Smith ADP 34, Larry Johnson ADP 40, Darren McFadden ADP 41 and Marshawn Lynch ADP 47.

Given these 2 options which team would you rather have after 4 picks? Team A - Marion Barber III, Brian Westbrook, Kurt Warner and Wes Welker or Team B - Andre Johnson, Peyton Manning, Larry Johnson and Darren McFadden? Need a hint? CBS projects Team A to score 847 total points and Team B to score 875 total points.

This works the same way for the running backs. If you have a top pick, you are going to want to take guys like Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Maurice Jones-Drew. Say your favorite guy is Tom Brady and you have the number 3 pick. You know he won't be there when it gets back to you, but Phillip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers will be. If you take Brady with the 3rd pick, your RBs that make it back to you are in the class of Ryan Grant and Ronnie Brown. The difference between Brady's projected fantasy points - 325 and Phillip Rivers - 318, is 7 on the year. The difference between Matt Forte, 196, and Ronnie Brown, 154, is 42 fantasy points.

- Avoid joining player runs. This goes back to the tiers and drops in talents, but if in the 5th round of a 10 team league some one right after you takes Jason Witten, and before it gets back to you Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez, and Greg Olsen are taken as well. You could take Chris Cooley with your 6th round pick to make sure you get one of the better tight ends, trouble with that, is Cooley should be able to go another round or two before you need to get him. Instead you could take Chad Ochocinco, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler or Santonio Holmes.

- Don't be afraid to start runs. In the last example it was good to be the guy the grabbed Jason Witten, just don't do it too early or it won't become a run, just a bad pick. If it works you got the best player at the position and forced everyone else to follow suit. This will generally only work with TEs and the mid-level QBs.

- Pay attention to draft averages and spot some underrated talent. Pick a couple guys to watch that look to out perform their average draft positions and target them. An example could be Cedric Benson. His ADP is 73rd and he is set to run the ball in with for the Bengals, a team that just lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh and does not have a RB by committee. 

- Load up on proven commodities in the middle rounds. Its fun to pick guys who are about to break out, but it is hard to get it right. Knowshon Moreno and LenDale White are both being drafted around the 57th pick. It is true that Moreno could break out, but chances are better he won't. White on the other hand has been getting better year by year, and he was more than serviceable last year.

- Go Bill Belichick if you can get away with it. Anyone feel like trading draft picks? If you can find someone to take the 7th overall pick from you for their 2nd and 3rd round picks... go for it. Then see if you can trade one of your two 3rd round picks for a 4th and a 5th round pick. The way I see it, two 2nd rounders, a 3rd rounder, two 4th and 5th rounders are better then just one pick every round. Good luck pulling this off; however, its a good lesson to apply to auction leagues as well. Spread your money out on good wide outs and 2nd tier running backs, avoid the few huge dollar guys. Since I called it Belichicking, i guess you should also tape your competition doing mock drafts.

- Take chances in the later rounds. Ok you got all your starters drafted, even have a good back up QB, RB, and WR. Sure Isaac Bruce is still available, but why not take a rookie wide receiver. Bruce or a player like him would be o.k., but you will never want to start him, not even on a bye week. If you take a late chance you might end up with this years DeSean Jackson.

-Lastly, and most importantly, take your kicker with your last pick. Nothing more needs to be said about that.



Posted on: August 2, 2009 9:40 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2009 10:57 pm

.500, is that it for the AL Central?

No Big Moves For The Home Team.

By: Christopher R Torola

The Minnesota Twins are at 52 - 52, 2 1/2 games out of first place. Behind both the Tigers and the White Sox. It looks like a 3 horse race until the end, but most likely one of the teams will drop out of the race before the end. So the question is, Who will join the Royals and the Indians as spectators during the pennant race and play-offs?

The Twins have the easiest remaining schedule, but they did the least of the 3 prior to the trading deadline. They eeked out a trade for Orlando Cabrera, seemingly to appease Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Joe Nathan more than trying to win come play-off time. They need more than anything another starting pitcher. Having lost Kevin Slowey for the season and an uncertainty with Fransisco Liriano's forearm, the Twins will be in even greater need of rotation help as the year goes on. They were also in need of a a 7th-8th inning guy to go with Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares, but failed to do so before the trading deadline passed.

The Tigers and the White Sox both faired better in the battle of the trades. The White Sox got both Mark Kotsay and ACE Jake Peavy to bolster their rosters. The Tigers acquired Jarrod Washburn to round out their rotation. They also have a lot more home games left than the Twins.

I still have faith that the Twins will rally to win the division, but with questionable pitching they will most likely be out quickly come the post season when they have to face off with a team like the Red Sox, who picked up 5 players including Casey Kotchman and Victor Martinez.

Posted on: July 25, 2009 3:41 am

NY Nasty and I Face Off!

This week NY Nasty and I got to take part in the Community Faceoff, a new feature on the CBS community page.

Take a look at our Hall Of Fame arguments...

and don't forget to vote for your favorite.

Posted on: July 21, 2009 1:46 am
Edited on: July 21, 2009 11:04 am

Worst call ever! Twins A's game one

A terrible call to end the game. Michael Cuddyer was clearly safe at home on a wild pitch. At times like this, baseball needs to open up review to more then just home run calls. This was the difference in the game, and with the AL central being as close as it is this year, could cost the Twins the post season. The picture above shows about the point where the tag was applied.

Why is MLB willing to use replay on home runs, but not a play like this? A common argument is that it would slow down the game, but would it really slow it down any more then watching a manager come puff his chest out at the ump? Even if the average game is 5 minutes longer, is that such a big deal if they are getting the calls right?

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 20, 2009 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2009 12:46 pm

The moment I fell in love with a game.

"...and we'll see you tomorrow Night!" - Jack Buck

By: Christopher Torola

The day was October 26, 1991. I knew something special was going on because we had even been allowed to watch a baseball game in school earlier in the playoffs. My Dad was at the game that night with his boss. He had never been that big of a fan, but even he seemed a little excited. I was at home, watching the game with my mom... Homer Hankies in hand. It was Game 6 of the World Series, and the Braves were leading the series, 3-2. I was 11 years old.

In the top of the 1st, the Braves were able to get base runners on against Twins' starter Scott Erickson, but were unable to score. In the home half of the inning, rookie of the year Chuck Knoblauch hit a single, followed by a Kirby Puckett RBI triple. Braves' starter Steve Avery got Chili Davis out before giving up a RBI single to Shane Mack (his first hit of the postseason).

In the top of the 3rd, with a runner on first, Kirby Puckett made an run-saving catch high of the plexiglass in center field.

In the top of the 5th inning, National League MVP Terry Pendleton hit a game-tying, two-run home run. In the next at-bat, David Justice just missed hitting a go-ahead homer to right before making the third out.

In the bottom half of that inning, Dan Gladden stuck back with a walk and a stolen base. After advancing to 3rd on a Chuck Knoblauch single, he would be brought home by a Kirby Puckett sacrifice fly. The game was now 3-2 in favor of the Twins.

Top 7. Scott Erickson and Mark Guthrie would load the bases with one out for Twins' reliever Carl Willis. CBS commentator Jack Buck then declared that the series was on the line. Willis gave up one run on a fielders choice, and with the game tied, struck out David Justice to end the inning.

The score would remain locked as Willis went on to pitch a scoreless 8th and 9th. Rick Aguilera then came in to pitch a perfect 10th and 11th, striking out four of the six batters he faced.

Then, in the bottom of the 11th inning, Braves lefty Charlie Leibrandt made his first ever Major League relief appearance. Kirby Puckett was at the plate. The right-handed Puckett took the first three pitches of the at-bat... seeing two balls and a strike. And then it happened. On a 2-1, hanging change-up he sent the ball deep into the left-center seats, leading to my favorite moment in the history of the game.

A jubilant Puckett rounding bases with his fist in the air as the cheers and applause of 50,155 fans (my Dad included) filled the Metrodome, and Jack Buck famously declared, "...and we'll see you tomorrow night!"

The Twins would go on to win the World Series in dramatic fashion, with Jack Morris spreading 7 hits over 10 innings before Gene Larkin hit a walk-off, pinch-hit single to score Dan Gladden in a 1-0 game. Many fans, myself included, still remember it as the best Series to date. 

In Memory of Kirby Puckett

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com