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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On my way to Detroit for the Twins opener, and feeling like this team has gone from mildly promising to ominous since Ervin Santana's suspension was announced.
The suspension means that Terry Ryan's new plan to improve the Twins rotation has failed.
Time to go back to Plan A.
The pieces to Plan A are still in place. It's just that one of them isn't very impressive, and the other two are at best delayed.
Ryan's original plan to upgrade the Twins rotation was to trade cente rfielders for young pitching. He sent Ben Revere and Denard Span to the East Coast for Vance Worley, Trevor May and Alex Meyer. When Worley failed, he found himself signing Ricky Nolasco.
Worley was awful. Nolasco was awful. Now that Santana has been revealed as a cheat, Ryan needs the remaining two pieces in his original plan to succeed.
Meyer and May could be the key to the season.
A rotation featuring Tommy MIllone and Mike Pelfrey is not optimal. Given the unliklihood that both will be competent, Phil Hughes will repeat his breakout performance of last year, and Nolasco will be more than a fourth starter, eventually the Twins will probably have to turn to Meyer and May eventually to save their rotation.
That's fitting, in a way. Ryan correctly finds free agency to be a high-risk approach to team building. He built his reputation and the Twins roster from 1998-2007 with excellent trades. If Meyer and May produce, he will again have helped a bad team improve with astute trades.
If Meyer and May don't deliver, then this will be another lost season, and the Twins' wave of excellent position-playing prospects may arrive in the big leagues to find that the pitching isn't good enough to win, no matter how well they play.
OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK.
This really is the state of hockey. It's not just a self-serving slogan.
There are two Minnesotas when it comes to winter sports. There are regions of the state where basketbal rules, and there are those where every backyard holds a homemade rink.
This winter, this is the state of...you know.
The Wild is on a remarkable run that will lead to a bound-to-be-compelling playoff.
Gopher men's hockey has righted itself and made the NCAA tournament, where it will face Minnesota-Duluth and share a field with No. 1 Minnesota State-Mankato and St. Cloud State.
Gopher women's hockey won its third title in four years on Sunday at Ridder Arena. (My piece on goalie Amanda Leveille is here).
Meanwhile, the Gopher basketball team did not make even the NIT, and the Wolves, for all the promise of Andrew Wiggins, are currently unwatchable.
So, until further notice, this is the state of hockey - a state filled with great arenas and great teams.
Tonight my guest will be former St. John's quarterback, keen football observer and relentless world traveler Tom Linnemann, at 5 p.m. at The Local on SouhanUnfiltered.com. We're going to talk about Peterson, Bridgewater, Zimmer, the draft, Melrose's state title in basketball (Tom's an alum), and what it was like for him to surf in Australia, or slum in Viet Nam, or live in Toronto, or return to Minnesota. I guarantee a great conversation.
You can drop by or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
I started covering the Twins as a beat writer in 1993. As a reporter covering spring training, you crave news.
When someone pressed Paul Molitor this spring over what his Week 1 rotation would be, he looked up, blinked and said, ``That's news?''
Well, it's spring training news. People are interested, and there isn't much else going on.
One thing I learned over the years was that most spring training ``news'' is aimed at what will happen on Opening Day. Who will be in the lineup? Who will be on the big-league roster? Who will be sent down? Who will take the mound?
It's all interesting stuff. A lot of it has little to do with what the roster will look like by April 15, or May 1, or June 1.
This week, the Twins sent Alex Meyer and Michael Tonkin to the minors. I think Meyer and Tonkin will be important players for the big-league team this season. They just won't be with the team on Opening Day (barring other injuries between now and then.)
Meyer. Tonkin. Miguel Sano. Eddie Rosario. Josmil Pinto. Maybe even Byron Buxton.
All could play key roles for the Twins this season, and all have been or probably will be optioned to the minors during camp.
The Opening Day roster is a function of the front office's hope. It hopes Aaron Hicks will prove he deserves to be an every day player. It hopes that Mike Pelfrey, or Tommy Millone, or Trevor May can hold down the fifth spot in the rotation. It hopes the team will stay relatively healthy.
By May 1, or June 1, you will have a much better idea of the best big-league roster the Twins can muster than you will on Opening Day.
Latest podcast (think radio on demand) at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Gophers senior associate athletic director Dan O'Brien, on Jerry Kill, what Kill thinks of me, his son's battle with cancer, and the future of Gophers athletics. Great stuff from a really good guy.
Other recent podcasts: Quincy Lewis and Michael Russo.
Next podcast: 5 p.m. Monday with old friend Tom Linnemann, the former St. John's quarteraback and world traveler.
Devan Dubnyk wasn't the problem in the Wild's 3-2 loss to Washington on Thursday night.
Alex Ovechkin made one stunning play to score a goal, and scored another off a faceoff on a shot that Dubnyk never saw.
In general, it was typical of the Wild's recent losses - by one goal, at home, to a physical team.
Wild coach Mike Yeo has played Dubnyk relentlessly since he arrived. I don't think Dubnyk looked tired on Thursday, but I was curious about Yeo's philosophy, so I asked if he has seen any signs of fatigue from his goalie.
Yeo's full answer:
``I thought he was really good tonight. I don’t think we could fault him on anything tonight. I know there’s a lot of talk about this right now, but looking at the minutes he’s played…
``We just played a goalie of a team that’s been battling for first place in the conference, (Nashville's) Pekka Rine, and they played him four games in six days. They’ve been playing him every day. Carey Price is playing every game. That’s where the league is at right now.
``The game means something so you're going to go with the guy you think is hot and the guy you think gives you the best chance that night. Certainly it's something to keep an eye on, But I haven’t seen anything. For some reason, it’s a story that keeps coming up, and I haven’t seen any reason for it.''
For the record, I'm not actually second-guessing Yeo on this. He has one goalie playing exceptionally, and two who can't be trusted. I'd do the same thing.
I do wonder if Dubnyk will wear down, and whether playing every game will catch up with him in the playoffs, if the Wild makes it.
The gap between Dubnyk and the backups is so immense right now, Yeo has little choice but to keep playing Dubnyk.
Last 3 podcasts this week on SouhanUnfiltered.com: Quincy Lewis, Peter Killen and Michael Russo. Friday night, 6 p.m. at O'Gara's, my guest will be Gophers senior associate athletic director Dan O'Brien, who was born in Winthrop and attended St. Thomas.
Stop by or use SouhanUnfiltered.com like a radio DVR. It's radio on demand, available any time on any computer or device.
JImmy Johnson says he sees a lot of himself in Chip Kelly.
As someone who covered Jimmy in Dallas, and has admired Kelly's work at Oregon and with the Eagles, I agree. They're both cocky-yet-likeable mavericks.
Here's the difference:
Most in the NFL wrongly saw Jimmy as a rube, a guy who won in college mainly because he cheated, and because his rah-rah act worked on 20-year-olds.
NFL people are not underestimating Kelly.
Jimmy went 1-15 his first year, laying in the weeds. That's why Mike Lynn thought he could pull a fast one on him with the Herschel Walker deal.
Kelly has had two 10-win seasons. The NFL will not overlook him.
As for Kelly's wild offseason, I can't believe the ridicule Kelly is receiving.
Jeremy Maclin is an above-average recekver made to look like a star by Kelly's system. Kelly didnt' ditch Maclin; he just refused to overpay him.
Anyone who watched Nick Foles play full games instead of just on highlights knows that he was another beneficiary of the system. He was not an accurate passer. Sam Bradford should be better than Foles, if Bradford can stay healthy. That's a risk, but so is counting on Foles to get better. He regressed last year.
As for LeSean McCoy, he is more spectacular than reliable. Again, Kelly didn't so much ditch McCoy as seek better return on his financial investment. By trading McCoy, he got back a very good linebacker and cleared space to bring in DeMarco Murray, who is a better every-down back than McCoy, and better equipped to punish defenses that try to go small to deal with the Eagles' spread offense.
Kelly is doing what shrewd managers do - looking past name recognition to true value.
Radio on demand: My podcast will be at Kieran's Irish Pub (across from Target Center) at 5 p.m. tonight with former Gopher star and NBA analyst Quincy Lewis. Stop by, or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Wednesday, MIchael Russo and I will be at Liffey's Irish Pub by the XCel Energy Center at 4:30. We will be giving away a gift at that one.
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