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.
Find him on Twitter
Fort Myers, Fla.
First impressions of some key people in the Twins' spring training camp:
-Byron Buxton: It might be the strangest thing I've ever seen in early spring training, when pitchers throw live batting practice to hitters. Buxton takes every pitch. He told me he wants to improve his pitch selection, and he's working on that by tracking pitches and not swinging.
Most young hitters want to show off, to hit tape-measure home runs. And that's what Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas do every day. Buxton is so supremely confident in his swing and ability to hit that he would rather spend live BP getting used to the movement of pitches. Remarkable.
-Miguel Sano: Yes, he's about 260 pounds. (Last I heard he weighed in at 255, and that was before dinner.) But he's not fat. He has massive legs and shoulders. He is a powerhouse. I think he'll be a better defensive third baseman than Trevor Plouffe and has a chance to hit 40 home runs in the big leagues whenever he settles in as an everyday player.
-Kennys Vargas: Excellent power from both sides of the plate. Needs to work on pitch selection, taking good at-bats, fielding, but he's come a long way. He, Buxton and Sano could play together at Class AA New Britain this season. They could put on a show.
-MIke Pelfrey: Looks to me like he's throwing easier and with more zip than last spring.
-Alex Meyer: Eddie Guardado pulled me aside and mimicked Meyer's motion. He said when Meyer leads toward home plate with a firm left (non-throwing) arm, his mechanics fall into place and he pitches with a downward angle that makes his fastball sizzle and his breaking pitches dive. When he gets lazy with his front arm, he tends to sling the ball three-quarters, losing velocity and downward movement.
Guardado, who is not always easy to please, says he ``loves'' Meyer, meaning Meyer can listen and implement advice. Meyer has by far the best arm in camp.
-Vance Worley: When he succeeded as a rookie in Philadelphia, he threw 93-94. Last year, he sometimes began games throwing in the high-80s, and sometimes it didn't get much better than that. He doesn't have the kind of pitch command to be able to throw 89. He tends to pitch up in the strike zone. He needs to recapture velocity to have a chance to make it back to the big leagues.
-Trevor May: Needs to work on control, but the Twins hope/believe he can develop into a member of their future rotation, which could look like this: Meyer, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kyle Gibson, May. (I listed six because someone always gets hurt.) Then the Twins have good young arms like Jose Berrios and Kohl Stewart on the way.
-Trevor Plouffe: Came into camp looking stronger, but he already had good power. If he wants to have a big-league career, he needs to become quicker and more alert at third base. He doesn't anticipate well and he lacks initial quickness, which is why so many seemingly catchable balls fly by him.
-Aaron Hicks: Let's face it. He's a mystery. I still believe he'll be a good everyday outfielder, with a high on-base percentage and excellent fielding range. But who knows when he'll figure it out? And if he succeeds this spring, that won't prove anything, because he succeeded last spring.
-Michael Tonkin: Excellent stuff, good attitude, could be a big part of the bullpen for years to come.
-Caleb Thielbar: Even in live batting practice, impresses with his stuff and aggression.
I'm not saying any positive developments in camp could make the Twins contenders. But I don't think they'll embarrass themselves this year the way they have the last three years.
I"ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 every weekday ,and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities (that's 1500 AM) at 12:15 or so with Mackey & Judd every weekday. I'll be back in studio with Scott Korzenowski 10-noon on Sunday on 1500ESPN.
You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Greetings from Fort Myers, Fla. Yes, it's beautiful here.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has hinted at a willingness to take 13 pitchers north when spring training camp breaks. Here's an early look at the possibilities, if all of the key figures remain healthy:
Starting rotation: Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are locks. Sam Deduno and Kyle Gibson are the leading candidates for the fifth spot. Deduno may have the edge because of his raw stuff and occasional games in which he looks unhittable, and because Gibson may benefit from another stint at Triple A. If both fail to earn the job, the next contenders would be Vance Worley and Scott Diamond. Worley is pitching to keep his career alive. Diamond would give the Twins a lefthander in the rotation. The most interesting aspect of this competition is that Diamond, Worley and Deduno are out of options. What happens if Worley fails to impress but the front office doesn't want to cut him for fear he'll resurface later as a success elsehwere, or for fear that cutting him will make the Ben Revere-for-Worley and Trevor May trade look bad? The easy way out might be to keep Deduno as the fifth starter, send Gibson to Triple A temporarily, and keep Diamond and Worley in the bullpen.
Bullpen: Glen Perkins will close. Casey Fien, Jared Burton, Caleb Thielbar and Brian Duensing are close to being locks. Anthony Swarzak has been a bullpen-saver the last two years and deserves to stick, but may face competition for the long role from starters without options who fail to make the rotation.
Kris Johnson is a lefty with good stuff. Michael Tonkin has the stuff to handle late-game roles once he cracks the big-league roster, and the field staff will likely want him on the team. There are a handful of other invitees with good stuff, but the last couple of bullpen spots could be used to protect pitchers who are out of options.
For all of their struggles the last three years, the bullpen is a point of strength. The Twins may be in a position to trade someone - Swarzak? - for a bat or young starting pitching if their key pitchers remain healthy.
This is a much stronger group than last year's, thanks to the addition of Nolasco and Hughes. And I didn't even mention top prospect Alex Meyer, who should be pushing for a spot in the rotation by midseason, if not sooner.
I'll be on the air weekdays in St. Cloud on WJON at 7:15 am, and on 1500ESPN at 12:15 with Mackey & Judd. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Last April, Peyton Manning took three of his favorite receivers to Duke to work out with his personal quarterback guru, Duke coach David Cutcliffe.
That meant that Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker spent some quality time together.
One night at dinner, the four received what they thought were their checks. Welker and Thomas actually received notes that said something like, ``The joke's on Decker.'' Decker received a bill for about $3,800.
``The table got real quiet,'' Thomas said. ``It took a while for Peyton to let Eric know it was a joke. Eric didn't know what to do.''
``Oh, I"ll get him back,'' Decker said. ``I haven't yet. I"ll wait for the right time.''
It's a beautiful morning in New York. I'm at the Lincoln Center today for the NFL's major press conferences. Both coaches will speak, as will commissioner Roger Goodell. I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and on 1500ESPN at noon, and will do Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500ESPN, from New York.
Speaking with writers who have covered him and various NFL people this week in New York, I’ve heard great things about new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
The consensus: Zimmer is a tough, genuine guy, demanding but likeable, and forthright with the public and press. And that he’s also an excellent coach.
As the Vikings found with Leslie Frazier, having a likeable, respected head coach is a great organizational asset.
So why are the Vikings screwing up Zimmer’s first few weeks as head coach?
Zimmer has already hired all, or nearly all, of his assistant coaches, but the Vikings haven’t announced the moves. By the time the Vikings holds a press conference to introduce the staff, the news will be old, the Vikings will look silly, and the introductions will seem stilted.
By delaying the announcements, the Vikings look hopelessly slow and obtuse.
Zimmer’s success and failure will depend on wins and losses, but it doesn’t hurt to make a good first impression, and the Vikings are making no impression at all right now.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon. We'll run Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon Sunday.
As I sit on a boat docked off Jersey City, waiting for the Broncos to speak this morning, I'm contemplating the Seahawks' divergent approaches to the demands of Super Bowl week.
Richard Sherman, the master marketer, has capitalized on the profile he raised with his post-game rant at the NFC title game by being accomodating, funny, glib. His teammate Marshawn Lynch has reluctantly answered a few questions each day before departing, risking a large fine from the NFL.
In my younger days, I believed that athletes should be forced to cooperate with interviewers. I still believe it's part of their job. But there is no effective way to make someone forthcoming, or interesting, or engaging. There are a lot of athletes I've covered I wish never conducted interviews, because the interviews are a waste of time if the interviewee has nothing to say.
Yesterday, Lynch had a teammate field questions. The teammate would then forward the question to Lynch, who was sitting next to him. Lynch would offer a one-word answer, then the teammate would offer an interpretation, attempting at humor, and sometimes succeeding in being funny.
if that's the best you're going to get from Lynch, that's the best you're going to get from Lynch.
Some people aren't cut out for mass media. They're naturally private, or quiet, or introverted. Lynch being uncooperative is actually much more interesting than Lynch using the more common approach of recycling cliches until everyone leaves him alone.
I'll be on WJON IN St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN at noon. Mark Craig and I will be writing stories, columns, notes and blog posts from the Super Bowl all week. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
|Professional baseball (149)||Vikings (201)|
|Gopher coaches (48)||Gopher quarterbacks (13)|
|Gopher recruiting (2)||Gopher road games (3)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (2)||Gophers recruiting (2)|
|Gophers spring football (4)||TCF Bank Stadium (22)|
|The Big 10 (25)||NCAA: football (14)|
|Gophers coaches (59)||Gophers players (38)|
|Tubby Smith (37)||Williams Arena (15)|
|Gophers post season (6)||Gophers roster moves (4)|
|Golf (23)||Soccer (4)|
|Twins news (38)||WNBA (7)|
|Wild news (31)||AFC (9)|
|Bears (24)||Ex-Vikings (15)|
|Football on TV (77)||Lions (16)|
|NFC (69)||NFL draft (27)|
|NFL post-season (30)||Packers (52)|
|Super Bowl (47)||Vikings coaches (100)|
|Vikings defense (47)||Vikings fans (31)|
|Vikings injury report (15)||Vikings management (77)|
|Vikings off the field (28)||Vikings offense (67)|
|Vikings quarterbacks (41)||Vikings road games (14)|
|Vikings rookies (4)||Vikings roster moves (3)|
|Vikings special teams (2)||Vikings training camp (5)|
|Off the field (5)||On the road (22)|
|Quarterbacks (33)||Rookies (3)|
|Roster moves (1)||Vikings draft (41)|
|Ron Gardenhire (120)||Target Field (140)|
|Twins fans (148)||Twins management (195)|
|Twins offense (109)||Twins transactions (90)|
|NBA playoffs (40)||Wolves coaches (72)|
|Wolves draft news (28)||Wolves guards (37)|
|Wolves injury report (7)||Wolves management (76)|
|Wolves players (59)||Wolves trade talk (14)|
|Wolves training camp (11)||All-Stars and honors (84)|
|Fighting (2)||Wild coaching (25)|
|Wild management (35)||Wild off-season news (3)|
|Wild player moves (4)||Adrian Peterson (64)|
|Anthony Herrera (2)||Antoine Winfield (16)|
|Ben Leber (1)||Bernard Berrian (7)|
|Brad Childress (29)||Brett Favre (55)|
|Brian Robison (3)||Bryant McKinnie (3)|
|Cedric Griffin (5)||Chad Greenway (11)|
|Chester Taylor (5)||Chris Kluwe (2)|
|Darrell Bevell (6)||E.J. Henderson (4)|
|Jared Allen (28)||John Sullivan (6)|
|Kevin Williams (5)||Leslie Frazier (52)|
|Madieu Williams (2)||Pat Williams (3)|
|Percy Harvin (26)||Phil Loadholt (3)|
|Ray Edwards (1)||Ryan Longwell (9)|
|Sage Rosenfels (1)||Sidney Rice (10)|
|Steve Hutchinson (7)||Tarvaris Jackson (12)|
|Tyrell Johnson (2)||Visanthe Shiancoe (5)|
|Brad Childress (29)||Darrell Bevell (6)|
|Leslie Frazier (52)||NHL news (9)|
|2010 Winter Games (13)||Olympic curling (1)|
|Olympic hockey (8)||Olympic skiing (4)|
|Olympic village (11)|