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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We found that out last year with Brian Dozier, who has leveled off this season after a powerful start but still projects to hit for above-average power while playing a very good second base for years to come. This year, we’ve seen flashes of it from Kyle Gibson. We’ve seen a very good first 350 ABs for Danny Santana and a very nice first impression from Kennys Vargas.
The player we thought was primed for a breakout, though, was Oswaldo Arcia. Through the first half of the year, however, he was looking more like a bust than boom. Even now, his cumulative numbers are similar to his promising but uneven 2013 season.
Yet still, there are numbers within numbers and trends within trends that suggest he’s starting to figure it out and re-emerge as someone whose bat could be a key part of the future. In has last 43 games, Arcia has 12 homers and a .551 slugging percentage. He’s still striking out too much, but his plate discipline is improving (see for yourself if you still have the stomach for these late-season games). Arcia had a hit and two walks on Sunday, bringing his season BB total to 29 — not a lot, but a number that could go up as Arcia (just 23 still) matures even more.
We don’t ever see him as a .300 hitter. What we do see him as is a guy who can hit .250 with 25-30 HRs and enough walks to consistently post an OPS above .800. Even with his defensive shortcomings, that’s a positive player in the future. (His home run power and intensity, we should add, also make him the RandBall Better Half’s new favorite Twins player, joining a select group that includes only Eddie Guardado and Jim Thome. She desperately wants her nickname for him, O’do, to catch on).
So while the Twins’ starting pitching remains a mess despite their efforts to address it this offseason — and the team will never get out of its funk until that is solved — the establishment of some young bats this season is a nice development that has helped lead to the astonishing stat that Minnesota is 6th in MLB in runs scored.
We weren’t sure Arcia would wind up in that group, but he’s showing us down the stretch that he does, indeed, belong.
Well, that was ugly. Let’s get right to it with some immediate post-game thoughts:
1) The big story for the past 48 hours, without a doubt, has been the saga of Adrian Peterson. The bulk of the discussion has been on off-field matters relating to his indictment, and rightfully so. We had a chance to speak with a handful of Vikings fans at TCF Bank Stadium before Sunday’s game, and we were interested to hear their thoughtful responses when it comes to Peterson. Two fans wearing AP jerseys said they hesitated before putting their jerseys on for the game, but both essentially said they want to see how the process plays out before passing further judgment. Another fan, though, was wearing a Cordarrelle Patterson jersey that he bought Friday to replace his Peterson jersey. The fan, who has three young daughters, said he can’t support Peterson any more even if he will continue to watch the Vikings.
At noon, the focus turned to on-field matters, and the big question was how the Vikings would function offensively without a player who, even when he isn’t dominant (which he was not last week), gives opposing defenses plenty to think about. Matt Asiata does not similarly strike fear into opponents. We’re not sure how much of Sunday’s offensive struggle was due to Peterson’s absence, since Matt Cassel made some awful throws and the offensive line struggled all day, but a New England defense that looked ordinary at best last week looked quite good this week.
2) The biggest play of the game was probably Cassel’s first INT, an underthrown deep ball the Patriots returned to the Vikings’ 1 and cashed in for a score that tied the game 7-7 after an impressive first Minnesota drive. But the second-biggest play was the blocked field goal at the end of the first half; if Blair Walsh knocks it through, it’s 17-10 New England at the break, and the game is theoretically still up for grabs. Instead, of course, it was blocked and returned for a TD that made it 24-7. That play, combined with a big punt return by Julian Edelman, made us think about a story line that hasn’t popped up much but is still relevant: the absence of special teams coach Mike Priefer, who is serving his suspension after the Chris Kluwe investigation. Regardless of what you think of Priefer personally and whether he should still have a job, he has been a very good special teams coach during his tenure here. Joe Marciano was hired as an interim special teams coach, but it’s certainly possible that the Vikings missed Priefer on Sunday. He can return as early as this coming week if his suspension is reduced from three games to two.
3) We wrote on Wednesday that this game against New England would be the defining game of the Vikings’ season. Sure, it’s weird to think of Game 2 of 16 having that kind of weight, but we really felt it was going to be a test of where Minnesota really is. A win against New England meant the Vikings were suddenly 2-0 against what many thought was a tough early schedule. A loss meant a reality check.
Well, we certainly got the reality check. The Vikings have questions all over the field — still in the secondary, still on the offensive line and certainly at QB after Cassel’s performance. If coaches were geniuses a week ago, we can tap the brakes on that talk. Having Peterson removed from the game plan abruptly certainly didn’t help, but this loss was far more wide-reaching than just one player.
Much like the sobering loss to the Patriots in 2006 in Brad Childress’ first season — the Vikings entered that game 4-2 — this one is a reminder of just how far Minnesota has to go to be a consistently competitive team.
We’re having a hard time coming up with pearls of wisdom today, so we’ll go back to the always-available Plan B: find an amusing video and let you enjoy it instead of just babbling for the sake of babbling.
Please, then, enjoy the aftermath of a TD from what appears to be an 8-man football game in Tennessee. This is what happens when one person in a chest bump has more momentum than the other:
We’ve written here before about the tendency of Twins’ seasons since 2011 to go from OK to mediocre to bad to worse as the season progresses.
We wondered if this year would be different. And so far, that answer is a resounding “no.”
Minnesota was efficiently swept in a doubleheader Thursday, losing twice before almost every other MLB team could even lose once.
That brings the Twins’ record since Aug. 1 to 14-25 — awful, to be sure, but more interestingly it gives us some round numbers.
In games after Aug. 1 each of the last four seasons, the Twins are now a combined 70-140. It doesn’t take a math genius to know that’s a .333 winning percentage, meaning they are winning one of every three games in the dog days. (Frighteningly, that 14-25 mark this season is slightly ahead of the overall pace).
Some of this happens because the team lets younger players have a shot in the later months. But some of it could be viewed as an indictment of effort and leadership.
All of it should be remembered at the end of this year, and again in 2015 if the team starts off with a hint of promise before fading fast.
Or, at the very least, do you remember when Gibson was 11-9 with a 3.93 ERA less than a month ago?
And remember how there were outings where Gibson was simply unhittable, which made up for the (fewer) times he was shelled and knocked out of a game early?
Well, what was a promising season has turned to rubble. Maybe it’s not a total loss since we can still see the makings of a good pitcher in there, but if you were thinking a month ago that Gibson had the makings of a solid mid-rotation pitcher for years to come, you might be adjusting that expectation now.
Sure, this is still just his first full season. But in his last five starts, he’s allowed 22 ER in 25 innings — including three innings, 7 ER in the brutal first game of a doubleheader Thursday — and watched his ERA bloat up to 4.58.
He has an incredible eight starts this season of at least 6 innings and zero earned runs allowed. But bad Gibson has crept up more and more as the season has gone on, to the point that you have to wonder exactly where Gibson fits into the 2015 plans.
|Los Angeles||0||Top 1st Inning|
|Boston - A. Webster||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - K. Gausman|
|Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - J. Locke|
|Toronto - M. Buehrle||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - H. Kuroda|
|Washington - D. Fister||6:10 PM|
|Miami - T. Koehler|
|Chicago WSox - J. Quintana||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson|
|NY Mets - Z. Wheeler||6:35 PM|
|Atlanta - J. Teheran|
|Cleveland - T. Bauer||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - P. Hughes|
|Detroit - J. Verlander||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Vargas|
|Seattle - T. Walker||7:10 PM|
|Houston - B. Peacock|
|Arizona - C. Anderson||7:10 PM|
|Colorado - J. Lyles|
|Cincinnati - D. Holmberg||7:15 PM|
|St. Louis - J. Lackey|
|Philadelphia - D. Buchanan||8:35 PM|
|Oakland - J. Lester|
|Texas - L. Bonilla||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - H. Santiago|
|San Francisco - T. Hudson||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - O. Despaigne|
|San Diego||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Dallas||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Washington||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||9/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Denver||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Kansas City||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Chicago||9/22/14 7:30 PM|
|NY Giants||9/25/14 7:25 PM|
|(20) Kansas State||14|
|Old Dominion||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Troy||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Georgia Tech||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Eastern Mich||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|(11) Michigan State|
|Iowa||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Bowling Green||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Maryland||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Tulane||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Hawaii||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|North Carolina||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Army||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Virginia||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Rutgers||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Central Mich||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Utah||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Louisville||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Indiana||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Texas State||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Massachusetts||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia State||9/20/14 5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miss State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Utah State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miami-Ohio||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Ball State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|(14) So Carolina||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|Ga Southern||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|UNLV||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(22) Clemson||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Miami-Florida||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|California||9/20/14 9:00 PM|
|Louisiana||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|(2) Oregon||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(25) Oklahoma State|
|Appalachian St||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(12) UCLA||9/25/14 9:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Middle Tennessee||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|Duke||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|North Carolina||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|Real Salt Lake|
|Edmonton||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Ottawa||9/21/14 3:00 PM|
|Montreal||9/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/26/14 9:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/27/14 5:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/27/14 8:30 PM|
Poll: Which of these returning TV series are you most looking forward to this fall?