12-11-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've done it again. We've made it to the end of another work week. And for me, it's significant because starting Monday, I'm back to my Monday through Friday schedule... mostly.

I still have to work this Sunday, and I'm picking up part of a shift the following Saturday. So there's still some weekend work involved. But for the most part it's back to normal.

Yeah, I can't wait either.

But before we get to all that, there's a Friday column to crank out. I know some of you are wondering why it's getting up so late. That's because today was the final day of the “Don Shelby Show” on WCCO Radio. Don's retiring from radio and beginning his final year on WCCO TV.

So needless to say, things were pretty hectic around the studio earlier today. And instead of being smart and cranking out the column last night as I initially intended, I'm trying to piece it together during the Michele Tafoya show. So if you're reading this and there's a feeling of “stop/start” to the flow of the column, that's why.

… and I'm picking back up again. Let's get to the DFTU-ing before this thing goes completely off the rails, shall we?

”Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
- Bernard Berenson (1865 - 1959), American art historian

So “consistency” isn't always what it's cracked up to be, eh? Maybe writing this column piecemeal isn't the worst thing in the world?!

«Read More...»

With that, it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 14-13-3, which gives them 31 points. They're 5th in the Northwest Division and 14th in the Western Conference.

Okay, last place in the Northwest, and 14th in the West aren't good. But we're trying to be positive around here!

So I'll point out that the Wild are 11-4-3 in their last 18 games and 7-1-1 in their last 9 games. Anti Miettinen is on fire since he came back from injury, and Mikko Koivu has officially made the leap to becoming one of the league's dominant players.

Those are all great things.

The problem? 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points and a -17. If I told you that a forward had put up those numbers over 24 games, you'd either ask if he was a goon, or if he was on a plane headed to the team's AHL affiliate. Unfortunately, those numbers belong to Martin Havlat. And Havlat was signed to a six-year, $30 million deal. Obviously he's not a goon, and you can't pay a guy $6 million per season and have him down in Houston.

I don't know what the problem is. Maybe he's pressing. Maybe he's hurt and we don't know it. Maybe he's having trouble adjusting to Todd Richards' system. Or maybe it's a combination of all those things and more that we're not aware of.

All I know is that so far, Havlat's signing has been a complete bust. It's dangerous to say that after the 30-game mark of a season. But by now, I think we should've at least seen flashes from Havlat. Some dazzling plays here or there, just to show us his potential.

But the last time Havlat made me say “wow” was in a pre-season game against Chicago. And that was against a Blackhawk squad that brought along maybe 4 of their regulars. So it doesn't really count.

I'm hoping the Wild keeps on their current roll. I'd hate to see them go into full-on “Fire Sale” mode. In their history, we've never really seen that around here, and I'd really rather not start now. But even if they do, I'm not sure they could move Havlat's contract. That's a LOT of dough to take on for a guy who's not producing.

So if you can't demote him, and you can't trade him, what do you do? I think all the Wild can do is keep running him out there. Tweaking what line he plays on is difficult because other lines (Miettinen-Koivu-Brunette, Kobasew-Belanger-Latendresse and even Clutterbuck-Brodziak-Sheppard) are developing chemistry together, and you don't want to screw that up just to try and get Havlat minutes.

It's a tough spot for Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher. But then, that's why they're getting paid big bucks while I'm writing this blog for free!

The Wild continue their road trip tonight in Calgary before heading to Vancouver tomorrow night. Then they have a couple of days off before a home game Tuesday. After that, it's back on the road for an East Coast swing starting in Montreal on Thursday.

Arizona Diamondbacks: It's the off-season, duh! So there's no record to report.

But that doesn't mean there's not action to discuss.

The Winter Meetings have officially come to a close. There wasn't a ton of movement since a lot of teams are waiting until tomorrow when the deadline for tendering arbitration offers passes. Once teams decide who they will or won't offer arbitration to, that will increase the number of free agents available. Once that list is finalized, teams will have a much better idea of how they want to tweak their roster - whether by trade or free agent signing.

But there was one “mega-deal” that came off at those meetings, and the Diamondbacks were involved.

The biggest name involved was OF Curtis Granderson who's going from the expansive confines of Comerica Park to the monument-laden stretch of turf in centerfield at Yankee stadium. Granderson provides the Yankees with an upgrade defensively, speed on the base paths, and another lead-off option, allowing Derek Jeter to move back down to 2nd in the order. Clearly this was a win for the Bombers.

But what about the other two teams involved?

The Tigers get pitchers Daniel Schlereth and Max Scherzer from Arizona, and Austin Jackson and Phil Coke from the Yankees.

Detroit gets a lot of young talent and payroll relief, but in the short term they took a small step backwards.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, got some immediate help. RHP Edwin Jackson comes over from Detroit and RHP Ian Kennedy comes from the Yankees.

It pains me to see the Snakes give up on Scherzer. I know you have to give something to get something, but that kid's got a ton of talent and should be a fixture in Detroit's rotation for years to come.

On the other hand, Jackson's a known commodity. In the first half of the 2009 season, Jackson was one of the league leaders in Wins and ERA. He stumbled slightly in the second half, but he should fit right in as the second or third starter for Arizona.

Kennedy is something of a question-mark. He appeared in only one game for the Yankees last year, and has been in only 14 games in his major league career. Once thought of as one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects, his stock has slipped some in recent years. Clearly the D'backs are hoping that a change of scenery will help spark a resurgence in his mojo.

I've seen some analysis that indicates that Arizona got the bad end of this deal. And I'll admit that there are a lot of “if's” involved. “If” Jackson is more consistent in the second half, and “if” Kennedy can hold down a spot in the rotation, then I think this could be a good deal for the Snakes.

Like I said, I hate to see Scherzer go. Schlereth I can live without. I know, I know, his dad's and ex-NFL'er and current analyst for ESPN. Blah, blah, blah. The kid's young, and maybe will grow into a big league reliever, but I didn't see much from him last year that the Diamondbacks can't live without.

The deal ultimately should be a boost to Arizona's starting rotation. Now if they can get themselves back on track offensively, maybe this off-season will be a memorable one.

Spring Training is only 3 months away! (Yep, I can't wait either.)

Okay, that's going to do it for today. Sorry if it was a little dis-jointed, but thems the breaks when I'm trying to piece it together around “Don Shelby Day” in the state of Minnesota. I'm not making that up. The Governor actually declared it. Oof.

I'll be back on Monday with more of... I don't know what. But I'll have something! Until then, thanks for reading!

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