Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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A good idea realized

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Professional baseball, Target Field, Twins fans, Twins management, Twins offense, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 4, 2015 - 9:05 PM

Fort Myers, Fla.

Gophers baseball coach John Anderson said he got ``emotional'' on Wednesday afternoon, when talking with old Gopher teammate Paul Molitor about managing each other in the Twins' first game of spring training.

Molitor said, ``It was fun, especially once I got into the flow of the game.''

It was Molitor's first game as a manager. ``I was out there flashing signs the whole game, which is different,'' he said. ``Once I settled in, it was really enjoyable.''

The Twins used to open play against local Edison College. Then, because of the relationship between Ron Gardenhire and the Concordia staff, Concordia visited, even it for a scrimmage on the back fields.

Playing the Gophers is an upgrade in all sorts of ways. It gives more Minnesotans reason to visit Fort Myers. It pairs two famous Gophers - Molitor and Twins closer Glen Perkins - against their old school and their friend Anderson. It gives them a college opponent with high-end talent.

Some observations on the game, a 3-1 Twins victory:

-Perkins was fired up, saying he had more adrenaline than he's ever had in early March before. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

-MIguel Sano has tremendous bat speed. But we knew that. What was impressive was his foot speed. He stole a base and looked a little like a defensive end running a stunt when he steamed around second base.

-Byron Buxton hit doubles in his first two at-bats. The first was a hustle double on sinking liner to right-center. The left was a pulled shot down the leftfield line.

Molitor did address a mistake Buxton made, pulling Buxton aside after he scored on Kennys Vargas' two-out double in the first. Buxton coasted home, creating the possibility that if Vargas had been thrown out at second, Buxton may have crossed the plate too late for the run to count. ``He broke down a little early,'' Molitor said. ``You can't do that in that situation.''

-I felt sorry for the kids who had to face Michael Tonkin in the ninth. Tonkin has very good stuff, and it's time for him to be on the big-league staff.

-Watching Vargas take batting practice before the game, he responded well when asked to react to situations. Asked to foil an imaginary shift, he hit line drives the other way. Asked to advance runners, he produced ground balls to the right side.

-The Twins wil run something close to their ``A'' lineup out tomorrow in the true home opener against Boston at Hammond Stadium.

-My last 3 podcasts from spring training: Dave St. Peter, Eddie Guardado, Torii Hunter, all at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

@Souhanstrib

Too-early Twin prediction

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Target Field, Twins fans, Twins management, Twins offense, Twins transactions Updated: March 1, 2015 - 9:42 AM

Time for the too-early-to-possibly-be-right-but-predictions-are-silly-anyway Twins predictions for the near future:

I’m seeing so much young talent in Twins’ camp, and so much pitching depth, that I’m ready to be overly optimistic.

I see the 2015 Twins winning 84 games.

I see the 2016 Twins winning 90.

I see the 2017 Twins winning 93 and having a chance to make a postseason run.

Look at it this way: When the Twins traded Denard Span for Alex Meyer, they did so because they desperately needed to rebuilding their farm system and organizational pitching depth.

This spring, Meyer might have the best stuff in camp (with the possible exception of Jose Berrios). And he might not even win the fifth starter’s job. He may wind up in the bullpen.

Throughout history, the Twins have won when their starting staff has given them nothing more than quality starts. The team finished seventh in the big leagues in run scored last year even with Joe Mauer having one of his worst seasons. Danny Santana is already a polished big-leaguer. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton should debut later this season.

I never blamed the Twins’ losing on Ron Gardenhire or his coaches, but I do believe the clubhouse atmosphere had grown stale and unproductive.

It’s unpopular to say this given the Twins’ horrific four-year stretch, but this is a team on the rise. While so many people focus on payroll, farm systems are usually what win championships. Within the next five years, I believe you’ll see the Twins, Astros and Cubs vying for places in the World Series.

So, I had Torii Hunter on my podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

He told me about the time Corey Koskie hid in his car after a game, and Hunter almost stabbed him.

And what Eddie Guardado used to wear while pitching. (Think Victoria’s Secret.)

And how he became friends with Magic Johnson.

That and more available at SouhanUnfiltered.com (or subscribe for free on Itunes ,or listen at Souhan-Unfiltered through IHeartRadio).

I’ll have Eddie Guardado on later today to let him fire back at Hunter.

@Souhanstrib

Live from Fort Myers...Twins observations

Posted by: Jim Souhan under All-Stars and honors, Professional baseball, Target Field, Twins fans, Twins management Updated: February 25, 2015 - 2:19 PM

Fort Myers, Fla.

I use my column to delve into meaty topics. Here, I'll hit you with quick observations after a few days in Fort Myers:

1. Torii Hunter, as I wrote this morning, loves being a leader. He spends lots of time talking to Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks at their adjacent lockers, and pulls hitters out of the cage on the  back field to offer tips. One thing he emphasizes is ``loading'' weight onto the back leg to generate power.

2. With Hunter and Guardado back as full-time employees, the clubhouse, deathly quiet for most of the last four springs, is suddenly loud. You hear lots of laughter. Both go out of their way to engage young players.

3. Twins manager Paul Molitor said of pitching prospect Jose Berrios, ``He's 20 going on 35.'' Berrios is remarkably fit and polished. He has great stuff. He could rise quickly in the organization.

4. This might mean nothing, but Mike Pelfrey looks like he's throwing hard in bullpen sessions. He could fit into the staff as a fifth starter, long man or short reliever. Twins general manager Terry Ryan calls him ``a wonderful guy,'' and appreciates that Pelfrey wants to make good on his contract.

5. When Ricky Nolasco arrived as the Twins' primary free-agent signing last year, he quickly gave the impression that he didn't want to do a lot of extracurricalars. He didn't like giving interviews. He didn't seem to work out hard. He didn't seem to connect with teammates.

Ervin Santana is the opposite. He gets to the clubhouse early, stays late, is friendly to all. His reputation as a likeable professional is holding true so far.

6. In the old days (when I was a beat writer), Latin American players were known for either having visa difficulty or inventing visa difficulty, and often weren't around at the beginning of spring training.

The Twins' Latin American players blow apart that stereotype. They're all in camp, and they're among the most avid and enthusiastic workers. Danny Santana in particular has impressed the Twins with his professionalism and attitude.

7. Torii Hunter spent part of the morning laying flat on his back in the clubhouse, trying to catch his breath. He took Buxton to the Twins' training hill by the minor-league fields for sprint-hill work. Buxton, an exceptional athlete, said the workout was draining.

8. I thought I was being clever, asking second baseman Brian Dozier about Paul Molitor's attention to detail. Turns out he's been asked that ``a dozen times.'' But he still gave me a great answer, which I'll use in an upcoming column.

-------

Today at 2:30 I'm doing a live podcast with Star Tribune hockey writer Michael Russo at SouhanUnfiltered.com (or Souhan-Unfiltered on IHeartradio). You can listen live or later.

On Friday, I'll begin a series of podcasts with key Twins figures.

Thanks for reading, and listening.

@Souhanstrib

On KG, AP

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wolves draft news, Wolves guards, Wolves injury report, Wolves management, Vikings injury report, Vikings management, Vikings off the field Updated: February 20, 2015 - 1:32 PM

Good get by ESPN's Ben Goessling, landing the Adrian Peterson interview.

Peterson told Goessling that he's not thrilled with the way the Vikings handled his suspension, and uneasy about the idea of wearing purple again.

That's a problem, in two ways.

First, it means that the Vikings may not be able to keep a very valuable player. I have a hard time believing Peterson will refuse to play next season in Minnesota, but his attitude could complicate the situation, or at least the relationship between team and player.

Second, it means that Peterson suffers from a syndrome a Twins employee long ago referred to as the ``Princess and the Pea'' problem. Peterson has been praised so often in his life, has been such a success, that the idea of someone questioning his character is not only repugnant to him, it's foreign to him. Instead of recognizing that the Vikings have to answer to sponsors, fans and the NFL at large, he wants to hold Vikings bosses responsible for not supporting him more fully. That is a special kind of entitlement, a special kind of crazy.

At this point, given all of the possible permutations, I've come around to believing that what's best for the Vikings is simply to pay Peterson's full salary next season, and try to win while he's still in his prime. My original position was that Peterson should be punished severely...and he was. Losing 15 games, virtually a full season, of his prime is a stern punishment for a despicable act.

All Peterson has to do now is appreciate that key Vikings figures want him back, understand the predicament he put them in, and go back to being a great player who will have to face a protest or two. It's that simple.

If Peterson can't see that, he needs to improve the quality of his entourage, and of his thinking.

--------

Got a little blowback for praising the Wolves' acquisition of Kevin Garnett.

I would not be defending the trade of Thad Young for KG in basketball terms. Young is a useful player in his prime. Garnett is a formerly great player nearing the end.

I'm praising it because basketball doesn't really matter right now in the Timberwolves' world. The games are meaningless. All that matters right now is developing Andrew Wiggins, and encouraging him to believe that, if and when he becomes a superstar, he has reason to considering staying in Minnesota and trying to win championships here.

Garnett isn't the only person who can make that argument to Wiggins. But he may be the only person Wiggins would have reason to listen to on that topic.

----------

Tonight, the SouhanUnfiltered.com podcast is live at O'Gara's Bar and Grill off Snelling, at 4:30 with guest Bob Sansevere. (I'm also doing daily radio hits with Bob on 105.1 The Ticket at 3:30 each afternoon.)

My band, The Bar Chords, will play at O'Gara's Shanty at 7:30 or so, and live karaoke starts at 9 with Le Bang. Stop by and say hello.

You can listen to this and all podcasts live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com, or at IHeartradio via Souhan-Unfiltered. (note the hyphen)

KG deal good for future, but means Thad deal was bad

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wolves coaches, Wolves draft news, Wolves management, Wolves players Updated: February 19, 2015 - 5:05 PM

Wrote about why I love the Wolves' trade for Kevin Garnett for the Friday paper.

Here's another way to look at the deal:
It means Flip Saunders blew it when he spent a first-round pick on Thad Young.

I didn't like that deal at the time. I came around to thinking it was sensible, until I watched Young try (or not try) to play defense. Then I hated it all over again.

Young was who we thought he was: Kevin Love Lite. He produced decent numbers but wasn't a winning player.

So I'm glad the Wolves dealt him for a player who could be the perfect mentor for Andrew Wiggins. But Saunders overestimated Young, and this team's ability to win.

========

Last podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com was with Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve at Kieran's Irish Pub. Reeve talked about how she got her start in coaching, and how she constantly sees flaws in MVP Maya Moore's game. Next podcast: Friday, 4:30 p.m. at O'Gara's Bar & Grill with old friend Bob Sansevere. My band, The Bar Chords, will play at 7;30ish at O'Gara's, leading into live karaoke.

Saturday, Strib hockey writer Michael Russo and I will do our latest podcast from the Alive&Social Network studios in Minneapolis.

Then I head to spring training.

Thanks for reading and listening.

@Souhanstrib

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