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We will refrain from making the "desperation at bar closing" analogy here because it is rather base in nature, but let it be said that the Twins might wind up looking smart -- or at least relatively smart compared to other teams -- by making two of their major free agency acquisitions early in the game.
Ricky Nolasco for $12 million a year (four years) and Phil Hughes for $8 million a year (three years) might not sound like bargains, but did you see that Scott Feldman got 3 years and $30 million from Houston.
He doesn't strike out a lot of batters. He has two decent years to his credit. He is 30 years old.
This is the market right now. Never mind that Robinson Cano got $240 million for 10 years from the Mariners. That kind of thing is going to happen when a team wants to make a splash.
It's the Feldmans of the world that could make the Twins look smart.
As we pondered the news that Gary Kubiak has been fired by the Texans -- the first NFL coach this season to get the ax -- we checked back in on the Bovada odds regarding the most likely coach to be fired (beyond Kubiak).
And, well, according to the odds it's a dead heat between Greg Schiano of the Bucs and Leslie Frazier of the Vikings. If you want to bet that Frazier won't be coaching the Vikings in Game 1 of the 2014 season, you need to wager $300 of your money just to win $100.
Kubiak led the Texans to back-to-back playoff berths in 2011 and 2012. The expectations were high this year. As so often happens when expectations go unmet, the coach takes the fall.
In particular, that has happened every time in recent Vikings history.
In 2000, Dennis Green took the Vikings to the NFC title game. In 2001, he was fired. In 2004, Mike Tice took the Vikings to the playoffs. In 2005, he was fired. In 2009, Brad Childress took the Vikings to the NFC title game. In 2010, he was fired.
In 2012, Frazier took the Vikings to the playoffs.
His fate in 2013 remains to be seen, and it's clear his team has not quit on him. But with four games left, the seat is plenty warm.
He's only 27, but he's won 16 and 18 games in separate seasons. That said, he's also battled some health issues and has never thrown more than 192 innings in a season.
Those are the stats that are sitting there in plain sight. But what if we go just a little deeper to find out exactly what kind of pitcher he is?
*Pitch type: Hughes has a good fastball, topping out around 95 and sitting between 92 and 93. He has thrown fastballs for about 63 percent of his career pitches. Some sort of breaking ball (cutter, slider, curve ball) has made up about 31 percent, while changeups have accounted for the other 6 percent. So in terms of how he attacks hitters, think about someone like Scott Baker, who has very similar pitch type numbers, though Baker has a little less velocity on his fastball.
*Type of pitcher: Sounds the same as the last category, but here we're looking at what batters tend to do when he's on the mound. Plain and simple, Hughes is a fly ball pitcher. Of MLB pitchers last season with at least 140 innings pitched, he had the fourth-highest fly ball percentage (46.5) in the majors. That's consistent with his career average (46.0). But his home runs per fly ball percentage wasn't bad (11.1, ranking 41st). His strikeout percentage last season during a down year (18.9 percent) ranked 61st among pitchers with 140 innings or more. That doesn't sound so great, but consider no Twins starter who threw at least 100 innings last season had a K percentage higher than 15. So it's an improvement.
*Ballpark effect: In roughly the same amount of innings home and away in his career, Hughes allowed 76 homers in Yankee Stadium and 36 on the road. He also has an ERA of 4.10 on the road compared to almost 5 at home. We're not sure if his old hitter-friendly home ballpark can be blamed for all of that disparity, but clearly he has been more comfortable away from Yankee Stadium and that should only be a boon for the Twins.
So the biggest questions for Hughes on this 3-year deal are these: 1) Can he bounceback from a subpar 2013 season (4-14 record, 5-plus ERA)? 2) How much will the more spacious Target Field help keep some of those fly balls in the ballpark? 3) Can he prove to be enough of a combination of durable and effective that he performs more as a No. 2 or 3 starter than someone lower down?
Kevin Hart is signing on to star with LeBron James in Ballers, the basketball comedy for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer and Michael Rosenberg are producing.
Hart will first co-write the comedy along with his scripting teammates Joey Wells, Chris Spencer and Harry Ratchford. He’ll then star as a man who lives in the shadow of his NBA superstar brother (James), but gets a chance to prove himself when he and some pals attend a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami. Hart is certainly dominant in the stand-up arena, but posting up against this screen sibling could be dangerous. Hart is under 5’3″ while James is a towering 6’8.” That kind of sibling size differential hasn’t been seen since Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in another Universal comedy, Twins. They’ll sign a director when Hart and his cohorts turn in the script. The plan is to start production next summer when James has time off.
Maybe the Heat will bow out early in the playoffs and give James more time to work on this masterpiece.
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