9-17-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've made it to the end of another week! And hey, I actually get two straight weekend days off! Will wonders never cease?!

Actually, I've got no reason to complain. Things with the job are going fairly well at the moment. For those of you who've caught me on the air and passed along your praise and support, I couldn't be more appreciative, really.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to hear me, what the devil are you waiting for?!

I'm kidding of course... mostly... kind of... in a way...

Anyway. Things are going well so far, and hopefully they stay that way.

It's the weekend after all, what's not to feel positive about?!

Speaking of it being Friday, you all know what that means! So let's get to the Updating...

Right after the quote.

“The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.”
- Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881), British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure

If you're going to do something, just do the damned thing... right?

So let's get to it!

It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 88-58, in first place in the AL Central, and 9 games in front of the Chicago White Sox.

… and your 2010 AL Central Champions.

I know the Magic Number is still 8, and they haven't mathematically wrapped anything up yet. But a 9-game lead with 16 to go? I've held out a lot longer than some Twins fans I know, but yes, it's over.

The Whities desperately needed a sweep of this series to stay in the race, but instead it was the Twins breaking out the brooms to put an exclamation point on this race.

It was a fun battle, Fighting Ozzies, but you're cooked. Enjoy your off-season!

How nice is it to know that the AL Central won't need a Game 163 to decide it for the first time in three years?! Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the drama as much as the next person, but winning the thing in 162 games is nice if for no other reason than to change things up!

If you're worried that salting things away this early will cause the Twins to let up off the gas a bit, never fear. They're very much in the mix for home field advantage in the AL playoffs, so they won't be relaxing any time soon. They're now tied with the Yankees for the second-best record, and both clubs are a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Twins have been incredibly good at home (48-23) and hosting a couple of playoff series would greatly improve their chances of going to the World Series in their inaugural season in the new park.

So even though Minnesota will have the luxury of giving guys some extra rest here and there, my guess is their line-up will remain mostly filled with regulars so long as they're in the hunt for best record in the AL.

Keeping an eye on New York and Tampa will be important for more than just home-field advantage, however. One of those two clubs will be the the Twins first round opponent in the ALDS.

Though it annoys me to no end, MLB insists on keeping the rule that says that a Wild Card team can't play a team from it's own division in the first round, which means that the Wild Card club will likely play the Twins and the winner of the NL East will likely play Texas.

So which team would I prefer to face in the first round? That's a tough call. The Rays are playing slightly better ball, but the Yankees are so into the Twins' heads, that I think I have to say Tampa.

Though it'll pain my father (a Rays fan when it suits him) and my cousin Jamie (a Rays fan, especially when it annoys me), I think the Twins' best shot to advance is against Tampa Bay. Even though the Rays won the season series 5-3, if the Twins have home field, I like their chances.

Tampa's a great ballclub, no doubt. But their starters have been inconsistent, and their line-up can go quiet against good pitching. The Twins can run Liriano, Pavano and Duensing out there against them, with one of the best bullpens in baseball. Yeah, I definitely like their chances.

But first thing's first... home field. That means the Twins have to keep winning series, and that starts this weekend against Oakland. Here are the pitching probables:

Friday: Nick Blackburn (9-9, 5.51) vs. Brett Anderson (5-6, 2.94)

Saturday: Kevin Slowey (12-6, 4.24) vs. Dallas Braden (9-12, 3.56)

Sunday: Francisco Liriano (14-7, 3.28) vs. Bobby Cramer (1-0, 1.69)

The Twins then host Cleveland for three starting Monday night before taking a breather on Thursday and heading off to Detroit for a series starting one week from tonight.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 59-88, in last place in the NL West and 23.5 games behind the San Diego Padres.

As the season winds down, I'm trying to be more positive. Sure 2010 has ended up being a lost season for Arizona, and there's no guarantee that 2011 will be markedly better.

But that doesn't mean there aren't good things to talk about... even if they're not numerous.

Perhaps the brightest spot for the Snakes this summer has been the emergence of starting pitcher Daniel Hudson. After his victory Tuesday night - his fourth in four straight starts - Hudson is now 6-1 in his 9 Arizona starts, with a 1.67 ERA.

Not only are those numbers ridiculous, but when you put on your sabermetrics hat and go a little deeper, they get even better.

His WHIP is a gaudy 0.897. To put that in perspective, an average starting pitcher would be thrilled with a WHIP somewhere in the low 1.1's and the league average is 1.35. That means Hudson gives up nearly half a walk/hit less per inning than the average NL starting pitcher.

His strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at 4.92. That puts him fifth amongst NL starting pitchers in the in that category. The league average there? 2.28.

I won't force your eyes to glaze over from too many stats. But the kid's numbers are flat-out awesome. And considering the defense he's pitching in front of, they're even more impressive.

He's too young to declare him an “ace”, but he's certainly the best starter the Diamondbacks have on their roster right now, and assuming he stays healthy, he and Barry Enright have the potential to form the core of a very good starting staff.

And that's how a club starts to get their ship righted.

The D'backs finish off their current road trip (2-5 so far) with three games in Pittsburgh, starting tonight. Here are the match-ups:

Friday: Ian Kennedy (9-9, 3.87) vs. Brian Burres (3-3, 5.22)

Saturday: Barry Enright (6-4, 3.39) vs. James McDonald (3-5, 4.13)

Sunday: Daniel Hudson (6-1, 1.67) vs. Zack Duke (7-14, 5.78)

After that, it's a day off on Monday before the Snakes return home to face the Rockies and Dodgers.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 2-0 (0-0) and tied for first place in the Big Ten.

I know, I know. There still have been no league games played, so I shouldn't be talking about “place” yet. But I have no idea how long I'll be able to associate “first place” with Wisconsin, so I'm going to get the mentions in while I can!

So what can I say about last weekend's win over San Jose State?

Well... it was a win. But it was the most unconvincing 27-14 win you'll ever see.

After the 41 points the offense put up against UNLV, I was expecting a repeat against lesser competition at home. But mistakes plagued the Wisconsin offense and prevented that from happening.

Freshman running back James White fumbled through the endzone in the first quarter to kill what would've been an early touchdown drive. Fumbling running backs hurt the Badgers in a big way last season, and while White won't see as much time once the conference season starts, it's still troubling to see him put the ball on the ground that deep in the red zone.

In total, the Badgers put the ball on the ground four times. White's fumble was the only one the Trojans recovered, but still, if Wisconsin doesn't improve their ball discipline, I promise you there'll be a game where it costs them a win.

Scott Tolzien threw another interception resulting from a poor decision on his part this week. The rest of his numbers (15-22, 191) weren't terrible, but they don't make up for the pick and the trouble he had with the Center/QB exchange. One of those "woopsies" came on a fourth down play deep in SJSU territory and killed another potential scoring drive.

Overall it was a sloppy, sloppy win.

One of the few positives I can pull from the game was the fact that Wisconsin was only penalized twice for a total of 25 yards. Hopefully that's an indication that they don't lack discipline overall, and that the turnovers are merely an early-season fluke... hopefully.

John Clay continues his campaign for back-to-back Big Ten offensive player of the year awards - though at this point he's a clear second to Michigan's Denard Robinson. Against the Trojans he ran the ball 23 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

So far, Clay's been an absolute beast and (knocking furiously on wood) hasn't put the ball on the ground yet. If he keeps that up, the Badgers will be able to rely on him more and more, rather than having him split carries with Ball and White.

Regardless, the team will have to be better this week as they host the Arizona State Sun Devils at Camp Randall Stadium.

ASU comes in with a 2-0 record and big wins over Portland State and Northern Arizona. Okay, neither of those games tell us much, but they're still a BCS school and one with an experienced head coach. Say what you will about Dennis Erickson's ethics, the guy can flat-out coach, no matter how he gets his kids into school.

QB Steven Threet can whip the ball around pretty well, but is prone to tossing it to the other club on occasion. He's got three picks in the first two games already.

Cameron Marshall leads the rushing attack with four scores and a gaudy 9.2 yards/rush average. Containing him and preventing big gains will be a key to a Wisconsin win.

This will be a tougher test for Wisconsin, but it's a game they should win.

Kickoff's at 2:30pm central time, and it's available on ABC/ESPN. Check your local listings.

That's going to wrap things up for this week. I've got tickets to the Twins game tomorrow and will have to rush home to catch then end of Bucky/ASU. Should be a fun weekend.

I'll be back on Monday. Seems time to Peek at the Picks again doesn't it? We'll see!

Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. I pictured you gleefully starting this in the 8th inning of last night's game.

  2. I started the D'backs & Badgers sections around the 7th inning actually... but in the interest of not screwing with the mojo, I waited til the Twins game was over to start that part!