How long until Minnesota United gets competitive?

Minnesota United

As we may have noted, the Minnesota sports scene is adding another member. Well, the team has been here for a while, but they are going be playing at the highest level of competition in their sport. Minnesota United, the NASL team from Blaine will be joining the MLS and moving to downtown Minneapolis, if all things go to plan. There are still things to sort out, like who is going to pay for it all (I think that the taxpayers are going to pay a fairly low percentage for this stadium. There is less enthusiasm for soccer than any of the other sports that have had stadiums built recently, including the Saints), but in the end, it seems pretty well assured that the team will start playing at America’s highest soccer level.

I’m looking forward to elite talent coming to Minnesota to play meaningful games, and I’m really excited about the possibility of Minnesota United playing internationally, in the CONCACAF Champions League. To do that, they either need to secure a top three spot in MLS play or win the US Open Cup. To do either of those things and secure their trip to play a team from Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean, they need to be competitive domestically. How long might it be until that happens.

The MLS has a strange strategy for rewarding free agents via something called “designated players” for international talent and “Generation Adidas” for domestic talent. There is a salary cap, ostensibly, but those two things above help to circumvent that cap. MLS plays a major role in player movement, particularly involving those players coming from overseas. There is a reason that Dempsey went to play in front of 60k every game in Seattle, or Thierry Henry ended up going to New York. That is to say, new MLS teams are given every opportunity to be competitive immediately.

Houston, for example, won the US Open Cup in their first TWO years of competition. Last season, teams that made it to the North American competitions included Seattle (7 years old) and before that, the Portland Timbers went on to play in the Champions League in only their second year of MLS competition.

A motivated, and even slightly practical ownership group will definitely be able to get United very near the top of the table very early in their time in MLS. History has proven that the league is more than willing to help make that happen.

Links of the Day 3/28/15

Busy day today, no?

The Twins made their decisions for final cuts. Jordan Schafer won the center field job. Jordan ff’ing Schafer.

The Elite 8 kicks off today.Wisconsin-Arizona and Kentucky-Notre DAme.

Russell Wilson can do anything. 

Baylor 81, Iowa 66 – This was the only team we track that made it all the way to the Sweet 16 this year. Great season, Lady Hawks!
Minnesota 4, Calgary 2- The Wild are doing what they can to get to the postseason and they might just be there.

Here’s something that bothers me about Duke




Why do so many players have the same damn haircut? I guess it’s one of those team unity things? Maybe it’s like the army, where you need to have neg-burns and leave it long on top instead of the classic buzz cut?

Anyways, perhaps this is just a sign of good cohesion, and it’s yet another sign that Duke will be winning the title next week.

Rhino and Compass Radio, Episode 11: The Sweet 16

The fella’s brackets are doing surprisingly well, so they discuss their insights for the rest of the Dance. Basebal season also begins in about 10 days, so they break down some news and views about the Twins, as well as the Indians, for some reason.

Links of the Day 3/27/15

NOW how are your brackets? This is the weekend pools are won or lost.

The Twins might trade for bullpen help. Sheesh.

Wisconsin, Arizona and Notre Dame won yesterday, but I think the attention will be given to the Kentucky Wildcats, who throttled West Virginia. 

The Vikings made perhaps the most interesting signing of the offseason

Nothing. There could have been basketball, but we all cheer for losers :(

Patrick Reusse has some interesting ideas for the Twins


The Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse penned an article about the Twins and the pending roster decisions before the season begins. He seems to have different insight into the team than pretty much any other analyst I have heard from. Let’s see what the venerable columnist has to say. It’s interesting from the title.

Twins have decisions to make left of right field, pass the aspirin

To be clear, this means that Reusse thinks there are problems in center field, well acknowledged, as well as left field, which… what? To put it another way: The only position that is settled is right field, which is manned by a nearly 40 year old that was among the worst fielders in baseball last year. OK, lets dig into the meat of the article.

The Twins have to decide if Tommy Milone, Trevor May or Mike Pelfrey will be the fifth starter. They have to decide between Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann as the backup catcher.

Wait, what? – Josmil Pinto

Reusse moves on to discuss the center field situation.

Molitor took a time-honored managerial tact and framed the center field quandary as if he were choosing among worthy contenders and not out of desperation.

I don’t think the Twins are desperate to find a center fielder, frankly. They are very confident in the center fielder they have coming up to the majors within the next couple of leagues. Now, a future right fielder? That might be an issue. But as for desperation, the Twins are just going to run players out into center field to kill time, not win the role long term.

Based on nothing more than opinion, I’m saying the next few days will determine Hicks’ fate with the organization: Either he will open the season sharing center field with Schafer, or the Twins will move Hicks for a fringe prospect before departing Florida.

So, again, despite the fact that there isn’t a long term solution at right field (or apparently left field, according to Reusse) the Twins, our esteemed columnist would rather give up on Hicks if he doesn’t win the center field job this year? Even though there is likely to be an opening in the near future, either as a corner outfielder, or at worst a fourth outfielder? He’s not a starter, so just get rid of him. That’s the strategy?

More intriguing than what’s going to become of Hicks is what’s going to happen with Oswaldo Arcia in left field.

“Oswaldo Arcia will continue to play left field and develop at the Major League level.” /column ends.

Excuses can be made that Arcia had a stomach problem for a week, and that he has been flipped from right field to left, but the fact is, there has been no more consistency, no more maturity in Ozzie’s game, than when he batted .231 with 127 strikeouts in 372 at-bats last season.

Aha. Issues with the batting average, I see. So I assume this article concludes with criticism of Brian Dozier, who hit .241 with 20 home runs (in significantly more at bats). I’ll check ahead…….. Nope. For the record, Arcia, despite his strikeouts, had an OPS+ of 108, which means he is already an above average hitter. Dozier’s last year was his first above 100, at 114 and he was rewarded with an extension. Granted, that was also in part due to his glove, but the point is, it’s foolish to criticize Arcia because of his bat. Especially since he’s only 23.

As a 21-year-old, he had a stroke to the ball that was short, quick, powerful, wonderful, and then he hit some bombs at Target Field, and heard the cheers, and enjoyed the journeys around the bases, and now he has this long swing with a wild finish, and he’s often futile against lefties, and what has to be done for Ozzie to be the standout hitter that most everyone thought he would become?

If you look at the numbers, though, Arcia was a better hitter last year than he was when he was 21. So I guess the thing to do is hope he continues on his current trajectory? If you extrapolate last season over the course of a full healthy year, and assume even just a little bit of further development, Arcia clears 30 home runs. Does he still get criticized in that event? Or no?

Asked if Arcia is in competition for a job in these final days of exhibitions, Molitor said: “I believe so.’’

All right. Probably should have led with this.

The competition is rookie Eddie Rosario, a different kind of hitter, but a good one, and also a better outfielder. Arcia might be advised to spend less of his energy raising Cain after bad at-bats, and more of it having good at-bats, or …

So you want to use a rookie to replace young, developng slugger Oswaldo Arcia, but not Hicks? You would rather use Schafer or Shane Robinson in center, but you would rather have Rosario (a natural center fielder, even) replace Arcia and have Jordan f’ing Schafer as your center fielder? And why, if we are looking for upgrades on outfielders, is the geriatric Torii Hunter not on the table? Most varieties of projection have Arica worth AT LEAST half a win more than Hunter this season.

OK, it’s probably not going to happen,

No shit.

know this: Left field has been as much of a mess as center.

Maybe Miguel Sano should start taking fly balls next to Buxton.

Come on now, Patrick. You’ve made it pretty clear that you aren’t fond of bad fielders in left, even if they do can hit 30 HRs a year.

Links of the Day 3/26/15

Basketball is back tonight, as if you didn’t know.

The Combine is DEFINITELY on the calendar. If you know that your prospective employer is testing, and you know when they are going to make the test, how do you do this?

It sounds like there is a good chance that the extra point procedures will be changed next season.

Here is a nice video on Byron Buxton from SI.

Nothin’ last night

The Cleveland Indians are in the best position to win the AL Central


The AL Central may be one of the tightest in baseball this year. I’m not convinced that there will be any particularly strong teams, but rather a handful of teams that are positioned to be near average. I anticipate that, by the trade deadline, the division will be entirely up for grabs. Who could the

Let’s run through the contenders before we get to the subject of this post. The two most common teams that people are suggesting, aside from the Indians, that might end up in the post season from the central are Detroit and Chicago. Both are struck by similar issues, even if they don’t have similar recent track records. If they are having issues, or if there is a hole on the roster, they will be unable to patch it easily. They both have very thin farm systems, and would be loathe to address concerns by sending away major league talent. The Tigers talent is generally too old to fetch much in return anyways, and they are dead set on Going For It and have no interest in rebuilding. The White Sox ARE rebuilding, somehow, and still don’t have any minor league talent. Instead, they bought up as many free agents as they could. On paper, they have the best rotation in the division, especially since Detroit’s is crumbling, but they have almost no starting depth. Injuries happen frequently in starting rotations. The other issue for the White Sox is that so many of their top players are in the first year of new contracts. Trading away players in that situation is a bad way to get other free agents to come to the team in future years. I’m not confident swiftly assembled teams, particularly in their first year post-assembly, adding to my concerns about the White Sox’ ability to contend this year.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Royals and Twins. Despite reaching the World Series last year, the Royals are likely in a rebuilding more. They lost two of the stars from last year’s squad, with Billy Butler going to Oakland and James Shields going to San Diego. The good news for Kansas City, however, is that they have plenty of talent on the way in the minors and still developing at the Major League level. The problem is that they lack the starting pitching they had last year to get to the postseason this year. A strong bullpen is only effective if you can get there. The Twins fortunes this season depend almost entirely on their ability to get prospects to the major leagues. Now why, if they are successful, would they deal away from their hope for the future? There is no advantage, even if the Twins are doing well in July, to make a move to patch a hole. There is almost certainly someone coming up through the ranks to take over if someone is underwhelming at the Major League level, and there likely isn’t anyone that the Twins are ready to swap out quite yet.

That leaves Cleveland. I don’t think Cleveland strikes fear into many people’s hearts, but they do have a very similar team to the one that won 85 games this year, and has the potential to welcome Francisco Lindor to the field. If they can stay healthy, and Corey Kluber, pictured above, comes anywhere close to his 2014 season, the Indians will be in contention. The best part is that they are also in a position to trade from their minor league pool. They have a few near ready prospects, but they also have some interesting guys down in single A that could attract the attention of teams selling off veterans late in the year. Now is the time for the Indians to make a run, as they have plenty of good players at the Major League Level, and they won’t significantly impact their future if they go for it this year. More importantly, they have assets other teams may be willing to take on.

More than the current talent level from around the division, I look at the Indians situation as their biggest asset. They aren’t much better than the rest of the division, based on current talent, but they have the means to get there.

Links of the Day 3/25/15

9 months until Christmas!

So, I guess Kentucky ISN’T playing West Virginia tomorrow?

Minnesota getting a soccer team made the front page of one national outlet. It was not an American national outlet. 

Important blogger research. 

Minnesota 2, New York Islanders (SO) – The Wild win against Thomas Vanek’s old team. Well, he was with them ever so briefly.
Miami 63, Richmond 61 – The Hurricanes are going to New York! NIT Semi-finals, here they come!

Entertainment Roundup: James Corden comes to late night: This will work

CordenLast night, the dramatic makeover of CBS’s late night package took another step forward. After several months of guest hosts (which admittedly, weren’t all awful), James Corden took over the Late Late Show, which had been the domain of Craig Ferguson for 10 years.

There is perhaps less known about Corden than any new late show host since Conan O’Brien took over Late Night for NBC. O’Brien left a writer’s room to take over his show, but Corden has a long history of film and theater, most recently starring in Into the Woods, last year’s star studded musical.

The first impression is that Corden will likely emulate Jimmy Fallon, inasmuch as he is multi-talented and affable. His first episode made it very clear, however, that his show won’t quite be exactly what Fallon’s is.

There is a focus on his guests and Corden’s easy rapport with them, but rather than one on one time with a bunch of games, he features more of a roundtable with all of his guests out at the same time.

This isn’t going to be a writer written program like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel or even Stephen Colbert will be, and it isn’t thriving on being odd, like Conan or David Letterman. James Corden will thrive on power of personality. His background in the theater suggests a good stage presence, and a good relationship with many celebrities should allow for smooth flowing guest segments (in contrast, for example, to Seth Meyers, who was brutal) which is great, because much of the show is spent with those guests.

I’m intrigued to see how Corden will do, but after seeing his first episode, I’m optimistic that he will have an audience here in the United States.