RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Mid-day talker: Where does Matt Cassel rank among Cassel-esque Vikings QBs?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 3:36pm 295047511

bridgewaterThe Vikings traded Matt Cassel to the Bills today in a move that strikes us a little odd since Cassel is a very functional backup but that also signals that the Vikings have supreme faith in Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.

Our question of the afternoon is this: Where does Cassel rank among Vikings quarterbacks of a similar ilk over the past few decades? Minnesota has clearly had some very good QBs (even for very short periods of time); we’d consider Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper to be in that category, ahead of Cassel. Bridgewater is in a separate category since he’s still very new.

But among these QBs, where does Cassel rank: Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson, Sean Salisbury, Christian Ponder, Jim McMahon, Donovan McNabb and Cassel.

These are the guys who were constantly teetering between being starters and backups — functional in some ways, limited in others.

Our temptation is to put Johnson first because he stood the test of time longer than the rest. McNabb is at the bottom, with Ponder and Jackson right above him. The real competition is between Salisbury, McMahon, Frerotte and Cassel.

Something makes us want to put Cassel above the rest of those guys, but the numbers don’t really bear that out. So we’ll leave it open to interpretation in the comments.

Wednesday (McCoy deal shows Peterson's limited trade value) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 10:01am 295003801

zimmerpetersonVikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will reportedly meet with Adrian Peterson in Texas today, apparently because Peterson — who missed all but one game last season after whipping his son with a switch — has some hurt feelings.

It’s twisted, but sports are twisted. The upshot is the Vikings can now talk to Peterson — and next week, when the league season changes over and free agency begins, they could trade him.

The prospect of trading Peterson — combined with Dallas’ potential interest in him — has Vikings fans dreaming of a reverse Herschel Walker deal, whereby Minnesota would get a massive haul in return.

That dream should have been immediately realized as folly because the market for and importance of running backs is vastly different than it was a generation ago, but if it wasn’t, some other news Wednesday should snuff it out completely.

The Eagles have traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for a young linebacker coming off of a torn ACL, Kiko Alonso.

That’s it. No more. A clean 1-for-1 swap.

So now we know the trade value for an elite NFL running back (McCoy has nearly 3,000 yards rushing combined in the past two seasons) who is a better pass-catcher than Peterson (three years of at least 50 catches, including one year with 78), is three years younger than Peterson (McCoy turns 27 in July), is due to make less money and count less against the salary cap than Peterson and whose most significant proven off-field transgression is that he is a bad tipper.

That value is one young linebacker — a former second-round pick who had a very good rookie season, but one who is coming off a very serious injury and isn’t doing full-speed drills yet.

We have to imagine Peterson’s trade value is significantly less than that. The Vikings and Peterson might end up parting ways regardless, but now even more so than a day ago we should know not to expect much in return.

TFD: Joe Mauer is the lowest-ranked first baseman in ESPN's fantasy baseball ratings

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 6:43am 294911011

oswaldoThis is not a Joe Mauer cheap shot. Repeat: not a Joe Mauer cheap shot.

We’re merely passing along information that we thought was interesting. And yes, we will do so while freely admitting that fantasy baseball is not real baseball. They are, in the literal senses of the word, opposites.

But we happened to be browsing ESPN’s fantasy baseball ratings — why, we’re not sure, since we don’t have the patience for fantasy baseball and haven’t stuck with a league in 25 years — and were struck by the ratings of the MLB first basemen.

Of the 30 ranked by ESPN (Insider required), Mauer was dead last at No. 30. And he was the only one not ranked in the overall top 250.

Do with that information what you will. Aw, come on. Don’t rip on Mauer in the comments. It’s too easy (and besides, we do think he’ll have a bounceback year).

Minnesota United owner talks of 'higher professional level' of soccer at supporter group event

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 3rd at 2:49pm 294886501

Those who like to read between the lines can find some very interesting fodder from a Twin Cities soccer event that took place Monday.

Last night, members of the Dark Clouds — a die-hard fan supporter group for the local Minnesota United soccer club — held their “Supporters Summit” at the new Surly complex in Minneapolis. Interestingly, both the owner of United (Dr. Bill McGuire) and the team president (Nick Rogers) were also in attendance. And most interesting of all is what McGuire and Rogers were wearing as well as what McGuire reportedly said.

The backdrop for this, in case you did not know, is that United and the Vikings have been vying for an MLS franchise in Minnesota. The Vikings would have the team play in their new stadium; the United group would build a new soccer-specific stadium. Minneapolis is considered a frontrunner, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke very highly recently of United.

But United folks have been very quiet about their pursuit of a franchise, so a report from last night’s event is quite interesting.

Per MLS4MN:

Dr. Bill McGuire and team president Nick Rogers were each wearing two scarves that night – one for their team Minnesota United, and a second scarf from last year’s MLS Cup. At the end of the evening Dr. McGuire addressed the room full of Dark Clouds by sharing his vision for soccer in Minnesota:

“What we’re trying to do, and as you know we are pretty quiet about this, is fairly straightforward. We’re trying to do something that will bring soccer to the community at an increasingly higher professional level and make your bus trips from the Nomad (a soccer bar located just East of Downtown Minneapolis) shorter.”

It’s a bit cryptic, to be sure, and it’s not a victory speech indicating United — which currently plays in the second-tier North American Soccer League — has won the right to have the franchise. But even if McGuire didn’t specifically say MLS, he’s clearly alluding to the league, while the reference to a shorter bus trip is a clear reference to a new stadium in Minneapolis as opposed to United’s current home in suburban Blaine.

Saying even that much could be an indication that we are getting closer to an announcement that MLS is, indeed, coming to Minneapolis and that the United group will be the one bringing in the team. That would be consistent with rumblings we’ve heard in recent weeks.

Tuesday (Will Wild moves haunt in the future?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 3rd at 9:56am 294841501

One of our generation’s foremost philosophers once said, “If you want to get some, you’d better bring some.”

The philosopher, of course, is former Gophers football coach Tim Brewster. And like any good philosophy, the phrase can be applied to many facets of life.

We will apply it here to the Minnesota Wild and GM Chuck Fletcher, who for the third consecutive year have made the decision late in the season to given up pieces of the future to acquire what they hope is a better present day.

The question, then, is simple: Fletcher wants to get some players; did he bring too much to other teams, sacrificing a chunk of the Wild’s future in the process?

Much of how we answer that question depends on what you think of the Wild and how it is currently constructed. We know Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Jason Pominville will be here for a very long time. But we also know that a lot of their young players will reach payday age in the coming years, and the Wild presumably won’t be able to keep all of them. Rather, they will need to replenish the roster with more young talent.

That said, you can’t always worry about three or four years from now. The Wild is playing in a manner that suggests it could do some damage in this year’s playoffs. To get better, Minnesota again has had to give up players. You are not, after all, going to slay a bear with a pellet gun.

Big-picture, though, it feels as though Fletcher has given up an awful lot the past three years leading up to the trading deadline. Some of the moves listed below came a little earlier than the deadlinfletchere, but all were in the middle of seasons. The principal players and picks are listed:

*The Wild dealt a 2013 first-round pick and 2014 second (but got a 2014 fourth-round pick back) for Pominville.

*Traded 2014 and 2016 second-round picks for Moulson and Cody McCormick.

*Traded a 2014 fourth-round pick for Ilya Bryzgalov.

*Traded a 2015 third-round pick for Devan Dubnyk.

*Traded a 2016 third-round pick for Sean Bergenheim (and also got a seventh-round pick back).

*Traded a 2015 fifth-round pick (and Justin Falk) for Jordan Leopold.

*Traded a 2017 second-round pick for Chris Stewart.

*Received 1 sixth and 1 seventh round pick in minor mid-year trades in 2013.

If the fourth-rounder the Wild got back in the Pominville deal cancels out the fourth-rounder it traded for Bryz, the sum total the past three years one first-round pick, four second-round picks, two third-round picks and a fifth-round pick between 2013 and 2017 traded away. They have received two seventh-rounders and a sixth-rounder.

If we consider “premium” picks to be those in the first three rounds, the Wild has traded seven of those mid-season in the past three years.

This is not to say the trades have been bad, at least short-term. Dubnyk has been wonderful. Minnesota probably doesn’t make the playoffs without Bryzgalov last year. Pominville is a very good forward. And the deadline moves Monday could very well help fuel playoff victories. Overall, one would say Fletcher’s trade ledger looks pretty good, with a method to the madness.

But it is fair to wonder if the Wild will face a talent deficit in the long run even if it has a surplus in the short-term. That’s a price Minnesota appears willing to pay, putting even more pressure on this year’s team.

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Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 Bottom 8th Inning
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 Bottom 7th Inning
Baltimore 0
Toronto 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 1 Top 1st Inning
Cleveland 0
San Diego 0 Top 1st Inning
Seattle 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Los Angeles 0
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Oakland 2:05 PM
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Northern Ill 68
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Boston College 51
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