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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Vikings GM Rick Spielman has drafted more Pro Bowl players than Packers GM Ted Thompson

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: April 24, 2014 - 11:57 AM

Your double-take statistic of the day comes from ESPN.com's Mike Sando:

The Minnesota Vikings have selected 61 players since Rick Spielman took over their draft room in 2006. Eight of the 61 have earned Pro Bowl honors. The Green Bay Packers have drafted 87 players since Ted Thompson became their general manager in 2005. Seven of the 87 have become Pro Bowlers. That's 13 percent for Spielman and 8 percent for Thompson.

The larger context explains that Thompson nailing his pick of Aaron Rodgers in 2005, while Spielman missed on first-rounder Christian Ponder in 2011 accounts for a more accurate measure of their relative draft success or failure.

It should also be noted that making the Pro Bowl is only one measure of success. A team can still build nicely through the draft simply by adding solid starters and depth.

That said, those raw numbers are interesting -- even if by our count the Packers have chosen 85, not 87 players since 2005, and the Vikings have chosen 62 players, not 61, since 2006.

You can expect this will be referenced a lot in the coming weeks, months and years.

Thursday (Time to flip-flop Deduno and Pelfrey?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Twins fans Updated: April 24, 2014 - 9:44 AM

It pains us to say this because we thought Mike Pelfrey was due for a big year -- so much so that we made a friendly wager with Jon Marthaler about it -- but it might be time, at least temporarily, to let Pelfrey cure what ails him out of the bullpen instead of the starting rotation. In his place, the Twins could seamlessly insert Sam Deduno -- either their best or second-best starter last year, depending on your perspective of Kevin Correia.

Pelfrey's velocity is down from a year ago, which as Nick Nelson notes is quite odd for a pitcher in his second year back from Tommy John surgery. He doesn't look overly confident on the mound, which is one of those "eye test" things but can be an important intangible.

Deduno has a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings out of the bullpen. He's been part of a very effective relief group -- one that has a run of 25 consecutive scoreless innings -- but his role as a long reliever is not nearly as important as a potential role as another solid starter in a rotation that could use some more stability.

Maybe Pelfrey gets one more try to sort things out. Or maybe, if the Twins are serious about continuing to be proactive about their roster, they make the move now.

TFD: Read an excerpt of local author's book on ugly MLB brawl, redemption

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Target Field Updated: April 23, 2014 - 4:40 PM

Local author John Rosengren has a new book out titled, "The Fight of Their Lives," which chronicles not only the infamous 1965 brawl ignited when Juan Marichal hit John Roseboro on the head with a bat, but also the story that followed.

Rosengren dropped us an e-mail this week to let us know the book is excerpted in SI.com. He describes the work thusly: "I was drawn to this event as a baseball story, set in the context of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, then saw it had deeper cultural dimensions, dealing with Latino immigration and domestic racial tensions, but when I learned the two men turned their fight into an occasion of redemption, I knew it was my kind of story, one I had to write."

Rosengren has multiple local events coming up to promote the book, including one May 2 at Target Field. If this sounds interesting, have a look-see at the excerpt at SI.com.

Adrian Peterson is most-Googled athlete in Minnesota, three other states

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: April 23, 2014 - 2:41 PM

Here's fun info graphic that ESPN tweeted out this morning. Looks like Adrian Peterson has the region on lockdown when it comes to Google searches. Also: LeBron James is ridiculously popular nationwide, but that's no surprise.

Wednesday (Joe Mauer piling up strikeouts) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Twins fans Updated: April 23, 2014 - 9:41 AM

 

Joe Mauer is still very much capable of squaring up a ball and hitting it sharply. Just ask David Price's protective cup, which Mauer blasted on the fly for an infield single Tuesday.

 

As a matter of fact, 28.3 percent of all balls he's put into play this season have been line drives -- a small sample size, but the highest number of any season in his career. The best full season was 2013, when his line drive rate was 27.7 percent.

Last year and this year, however, also have a more disturbing trend in common: a rapidly increasing strikeout total for a player who used to be one of the tougher guys in MLB to whiff.

Mauer had two more strikeouts last night, giving him 24 in just 19 games. That's obviously more than one per game for a guy whose career average is more like a strikeout every other game.

And the strikeouts have been coming in bunches. Mauer has 12 career games with three or more strikeouts (11 with three, one with four). Half of them have come in either 2013 or 2014. He has struck out either two or three times in nine of his 19 games this season.

As pointed out by Parker Hageman, Mauer is struggling particularly this season against non-fastballs, with just a .161 average against off-speed stuff before last night's game. He also hasn't fared well with two strikes, something he used to be well above-average at doing.

The big question is: should we worry? Part of us wants to say no because this is a 19-game sample size for a player with a much longer track record of success. He was striking out at a one per game rate for about the first third of last season before he started putting more balls in play, so there should be some adjustment coming.

Part of us, though, is concerned. When he was fanning last year, he was still maintaining a high average and hitting for power; through 49 games in 2013, he had 49 Ks but a .492 slugging percentage and .332 batting average. This year, he has just three extra base hits in 19 games. He just turned 31, and we can't forget that a concussion ended his 2013 season.

In other words, it's not time to pull the alarm yet ... but if we check back at, say, the 50-game mark and Mauer is still trending downward, you have our permission to be very concerned.

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