Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXIX

Chris Kluwe, outspoken advocate for many things (most noteworthy is "marriage equality"), has nearly 180,000 followers on Twitter. Given the responses to many of Kluwe's tweets, I surmise that hundreds follow him for the sole purpose of imitating a barking, clapping seal who was just thrown a sardine. And there have been more than a few vomit-inducing retorts to Kluwe, something along the lines of "I'm so grateful I can share the world with you!!!" Seriously!

Recently, the local rag City Pages got in on the act, expressing thankfulness for this Kluwe "witticism":

I interpret Kluwe's take here as the NFL appearing committed to putting an end to "bullying" in locker rooms yet won't demand the Washington pro football team change its name.

Is the name "Redskins" really a pejorative as some suggest? Well, there does appear to be some debate about that. But if there is legitimate outrage over the nickname "Redskins" then by all means people should protest accordingly. In fact, if there somehow is a boycott large enough to hit the Redskins franchise where it hurts (i.e. its bottom line) then they would have to seriously consider changing its name.

But if detractors demand that, say, Congress pass a law outlawing such sports teams' nicknames (therefore leaving it to the state to determine what is and what isn't offensive) or use bigoted slurs (even if in a so-called humorous context) to demonize the offending teams' owner? Wouldn't that too fit the dictionary definition of "bullying?"

-When Josh Freeman started at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings a few weeks ago, it was the third starting QB the Vikings utilized through six games of the 2013 NFL season. Later that week, a Packers fan posted a little factoid on Facebook which pointed out that Green Bay had also put forth three starting QBs.....but in a TWENTY ONE year span.

My how the tides have turned in just three short weeks.

It is expected that Scott Tolzien (who came on in relief of starter Seneca Wallace this past Sunday) will start at quarterback for the Packers this Sunday. So not only do the Packers now have the distinction of starting three QBs in a season, but also in consecutive weeks (Aaron Rodgers in Week 9, Wallace in Week 10 and then Tolzien coming up in Week 11). The last time the Packers franchise achieved such a feat? You have to go all the way back to the first three weeks of the 1987 season when they started (in order) Randy Wright, Don Majkowski and Alan Risher. And the only reason that occurred was due to Week 3 being the first week of replacement players taking the field due to the NFL players strike.

It was reported Monday that Green Bay signed former backup QB Matt Flynn to be the second stringer on Sunday. If, God forbid, Tolzien suffered an injury next game, Flynn may be needed to come in and start the following week. Has any team in NFL history started a different QB (in a non-strike season) in four consecutive weeks? Might be worth a little research.

-With Minnesota Twins C/1B/DH Joe Mauer (who will turn 31 in 2014) about to enter year four of his 8-year/ $184 million contract,  there has been plenty of offseason speculation about his abandoning his catching duties altogether. The idea being that catchers typically wear down physically as they get in to their 30s. With Mauer being a lifetime .323 hitter (with a .405 OBP), it would behoove the Twins franchise to make the necessary move to preserve those fantastic stats.

On Monday, it was made official: Joe Mauer will be a full time first baseman beginning in 2014. Some initial fan reaction suggests that $23 million per season for a "singles hitting" first baseman is way overpriced and that such a position should belong to a power hitter. But 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey, as usual, brilliantly rebuts such hollow claims.

First off, home runs are overrated when standing next to on-base percentage and starting pitching. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series two years ago after hitting the fewest amount of home runs in baseball. And since 2001, the top run-scoring team in the major leagues each year has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in on-base percentage in all 13 seasons. How many times did those teams rank No. 1 or 2 in home runs? Three times.

On-base percentage is king, and Mauer would have ranked second among first basemen in on-base percentage last year. Mauer also would have ranked sixth in OPS and 10th in slugging among first basemen, and it's likely those numbers will improve without every-day catching duties.

Secondly, according to Fangraphs' dollar valuation system, each Win Above Replacement is worth between $5-6 million. Mauer, despite the concussion, was a 5.2-WAR player worth $26 million in 2013. He is projected to be a perennial 4- to 4.5-WAR player at first base over the next few seasons, which makes him worth more than $20 million per year. Plus, his contract isn't preventing the Twins from signing anyone.

As for the asinine "singles" notion, Mauer was on pace for at least 45 doubles last year before the concussion, which would have ranked third behind only Matt Carpenter and Manny Machado.

The bottom line is Mauer's bat (which makes him most valuable) will now be in the lineup (barring injury) 145-150 games per season. As the Twins await some of their blue chip prospects to develop over the next year or two, having a foundation with Mauer continuing his high productivity at the plate had to be top priority.


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