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
The Twins are the best last-place team in baseball. There, I said it.
That, and other observations about the Twins' recent surge, are the subject of my Monday column. The numbers are against them, but it seems foolish to completely write off a team with a great history of comebacks that plays in a mediocre division.
The Twins have won nine of 11, and their starters have an ERA of 1.96 since June 2. The struggling White Sox come to town, then a lousy San Diego team, and the Twins should start getting key players back from the disabled list almost daily by mid-week.
Michael Cuddyer has five doubles, five homers and 18 RBI in his last 26 games. Alexi Casilla is hitting .337 since May 15. I don't know whether their recent success is sustainable, but I like watching Ben Revere and Casilla at the top of the order. Revere has to stay not just in the big leagues, but in the lineup, even after Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer and Jim Thome return.
You can't simply bench Delmon Young. He's swung much better in the last week, and he's too talented to write off this season. But Revere can spell the other outfielders and be a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. There's no reason to force Span or Kubel to play every day as they come off injuries while Revere's around.
I also believe that Rene Rivera has passed Drew Butera as the backup catcher. Rivera isn't a great hitter, either, but he is a very good defensive catcher and signal-caller, and at least he takes a good hack at the ball.
-My buddy Mike McCollow invited me to his buddy's basement this weekend to see Damon Dotson sing and play guitar. I highly recommend him. Great voice. He plays locally, and you can check him out at DamonDotson.com.
-Had Yahoo's great NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday Sports Talk. He downplayed expectations on Ricky Rubio, and when I asked if I had been too hard on David Kahn, Woj said, ``No.''
Also spoke with Twins president Dave St. Peter, who hinted that the Twins could be looking at some changes in their scouting operation. Personally, I think they need to take a hard look at their minor-league system. Too often I see (or hear of) guys getting called to the big leagues who haven't addressed their flaws (like Trevor Plouffe's throwing) or have not been taught some basics.
-I enjoyed covering the Lynx's home opener, and then they build a three-game winning streak and beat the defending champs and...take nine days off?
Bad timing. I do think this is going to be a good, entertaining, team, though.
-One thing I've heard from the Twins' clubhouse is that neither the staff nor his veteran teammates want Joe Mauer to return, catch a couple of games, and then start taking days off. They all want to see this guy be a workhorse the rest of the season. Be a workhorse, or find another way to stay in the lineup.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 on Monday, and all week. We'll run Sunday Sports Talk (also on 1500espn) from Target Field again next week.
Picked up on this debate on Twitter last night: Should we blame Delmon Young's error or the Twins' bats for their 1-0 loss at Cleveland?
Both are culpable, of course. But while all teams and hitters will have a bad night, and sometimes will simply be overmatched by a good or hot pitcher, all Major League leftfielders should be capable (and interested in) bending over to pick up a bouncing baseball.
I saw someone defend Young because he smashed a double. That is missing the point.
A year after generating hope that he could become an MVP-type player, Young has been an embarrassment this season. He's played horribly in the field and has produced a stat line that would make Matt Tolbert giggle.
I'm not a big fan of the stat OPS for precise measurement of offensive capability, but it does provide a good snapshot into a player's performance.
Consider these OPS totals:
Alexi Casilla: .653
Rene Rivera: .620.
Matt Tolbert: .578.
Delmon Young: .534.
The Twins are getting no offensive production out of a player whose fielding has suggested that he can be valuable only if he is an exceptional offensive player. If you're determined to prove via your fielding that you are nothing but a designated hitter, you might want to get a few hits.
The biggest, strongest Twin now has six extra-base hits in 151 at-bats.
At this point, my chosen outfield for the 2012 Twins would be Ben Revere in left, Denard Span in center and Jason Kubel in right, with the hope that Joe Benson makes a push to be a contributor or the first player called up in case of injury.
Now the Twins have to hope Young can at least play well enough to bring value in a trade.
And while he's here, Young should at least be moved to leftfield. He has a strong arm and limited range. That would make him a perfect fit for right field at Target Field.
-A new report alleges that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor made $40,000 autographing memorabilia. I hope he saved some of the money.
Pryor is skipping his senior year at OSU to enter the draft. His problem is, he's not a very good quarterback, and he won't be a good pro quarterback, and he's not gifted enough to make a living at another position.
I don't blame college athletes for wanting to make a little money while they're generating tens of millions of dollars for their schools. I just hope for Pryor's sake he has positioned himself to make a living outside of football.
-It's interesting that the Golden State Warriors hired Mark Jackson shortly after hiring Jerry West as a consultant. When Jackson was a Wolves' candidate, I kept hearing from my NBA people that Jackson had a terrible reputation as a selfish player and clubhouse lawyer, and that the Wolves were lucky they didn't hire him.
Now Jackson will take over a skilled team that plays almost no defense. Is he really the right man to fix that problem? I tend to doubt it.
-It's fascinating that lame-duck Wolves coach Kurt Rambis is now trying to publicly position himself to return, considering the disdain with which he treated everyone in or near the Wolves organization last year.
If he comes back, I hope he does so with some class. I've had more than a few people in the Wolves' organization tell me that he is the worst, most arrogant guy with whom they've ever worked. I don't think he coached well enough to deserve to return, but there has to be a good basketball brain hidden somewhere behind all that unearned smugness. Who knows? Maybe coming close to getting fired would be enough to jolt him into the right mindset for coaching a young team.
I'd still rather see Dwane Casey or Sam Mitchell running this team.
-I covered the Lynx home opener on Sunday, and I thought it was a good time. The atmosphere felt different than most sporting events, and I kept trying to figure out exactly what was different.
Then it hit me: I didn't sense any anger from the stands. Usually when you attend a pro sporting, or a major-college revenue sporting event, there is an undercurrent of angst and anger. Particularly at basketball games, you hear fans cursing the refs and opponents.
The people at the Lynx game just seemed happy to be there, happy to support their team. The Lynx players seemed unified and gregarious.
I think this is going to be a really good team, and while most people in my business mock the Lynx and the WNBA, I would love to see them make a run at a championship and give us all reason to pay more attention.
-LeBron James remains a mystery. He's the best player in the game in part because of his unselfishness and passing ability, but it is so strange to see the best player in the game content to let other people dominate the ball at the end of close games.
James was incredibly passive last night, and that's one big reason why the Mavs won Game 4. I'm still picking the Heat in seven games, but if the Heat had played with a little more intelligent and and intensity at the end of Games 2 and 4, it might already be over.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, as long as the Twins' game ends in time. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib. Tom Pelissero and I are starting to make plans for Sunday Morning Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500espn. We'll run the show from the St. Thomas Mobile Press Box outside Target Field.
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