NOTE: This week we’re going to have a BBQ at Out of the Blue. Of course, BBQ around here stands for Brief Burning Questions, so if you’re hungry, you’re likely going to be left unsatisfied. Sorry about that. We’ll touch on sports and pretend sports—fantasy football, my golf game—and maybe apologetics. Or maybe we’ll save that for another week. Without further ado, light the BBQ.
Did the Twins do the right thing trading away Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar?
The Twins also dumped starter Lance Lynn and relievers Zack Duke and Ryan Pressly. July 31 was the non-waiver deadline, so there’s a chance they may not be done, though it’s likely they are. The Twins were within shouting distance—7-9 games—of first-place Cleveland when the deals went down, but their chances of chasing down the Indians were slim bordering on non-existent.
In return, the Twins received 11 minor league prospects—several with high ceilings, several with solid floors—and veteran infielder Logan Forsythe. Their farm system went from upper middle of the pack to borderline top five.
Dozier and Escobar were best friends and clubhouse leaders, and while Dozier was having a down year, he has had incandescent second halves before. Escobar was having a breakout year, leading the world in doubles and Brazilian restaurant shout-outs. Lynn is a serviceable starter, who was starting to find his control, while Pressly and Duke are good bullpen arms. They also— other than Pressly—will all be free agents after this season.
It was the smart move. Time will be the ultimate arbiter of that, but realistically, the Twins were not catching the Indians this season. So they stocked up the system. They weren’t counting on retaining the services of any of these guys, other than maybe Escobar. They weren’t going to pay Dozier what the market will dictate or they would have made a more serious effort to sign him to an extension. Top prospects Nick Gordon and Royce Lewis are in the pipeline and arriving soon.
The Twins will contend next season. They had an unlucky 2018 between the many injuries and the Jorge Polanco suspension. They’ve had bright spots—the maturation of Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario, who have become stars, Kyle Gibson finally figuring it out, Jake Cave and Mitch Garver flashing Potential—and they’ll have plenty of money to spend in free agency should they so choose. Hopefully, Escobar is one of their targets.
To steal a line, just wait ’til next year. Will Kirk Cousins survive?
I’m not talking about the season. I’m talking about the first preseason series.
Nick Easton is probably lost for the season. Mike Remmers and Pat Elflein are out. That’s three-fifths of the offensive line that wasn’t exactly elite last year. It’s also exactly what I was afraid of when the Vikings chose to pay a lot of money for Cousins instead of re-signing Case Keenum for much less and spending some money on the offensive line, the team’s biggest weakness last season.
Cousins and Keenum will face off when the Vikings play the Denver Broncos to open the preseason Saturday. Actually, they’ll each likely only play one or two series, and the Broncos, with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, have the personnel to make Cousins’ night miserable and short behind the makeshift line.
It seems pretty clear already that the Vikings will need to seek offensive line depth before the season starts to protect their $84 million investment and give him the time to find all his shiny new weapons—Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph. It’s hard to throw touchdown passes from your backside.
It’s football season! I’m so excited. Can’t you tell? Speaking of, who is your number one pick in fantasy football?
It’s got to be Todd Gurley, doesn’t it? He won me two titles last year, so I am biased. Gurley and the Rams will be really good again on offense.
But LeVeon Bell is running for a monster contract in Pittsburgh, and he’ll touch the ball 30 times per game. And David Johnson down in Arizona was a beast two years ago, and they’ll lean on him a lot.
It’s a tough call, and too early for me to make, and probably one I won’t make until I’m confronted with the choice, as 60 million people will do in the U.S. or Canada this summer. Yes, it’s estimated that’s how many people play fantasy football, which is kind of astounding.
I constructed my own fantasy football league when I was 16 in 1993. It was just me in the league. I made up four teams of my favorite NFL players and had them play each other every week. I had always had a fascination with statistics and numbers—I scoured the box scores of baseball, football, basketball and hockey games in the newspaper every day. I don’t know if I had heard of fantasy football, which then was pretty obscure, or if it’s something I came up with.
My favorite of the four teams in my league had my very favorite players—Barry Sanders at running back, and Herman Moore and Cris Carter at wide receiver— and was called Team Air after Steve “Air” McNair, my favorite quarterback.
It’s funny how I can remember silly little details like that from 25 years ago—I remember the red folder I kept the handwritten papers for the league in—but I can’t remember where I set down my glasses yesterday. I’m still looking for them.
I still play fantasy football. I’m the commissioner of several leagues. And yet it always makes me feel like a kid again, pouring over box scores. It’s one of the reasons football is my favorite sport to watch and write about. It’s what makes the quick passing of another summer palatable. It’s what gets me through half the winter.
It’s a passion and an enjoyable hobby. If you’ve never played it, you wouldn’t understand, and I answer with the t-shirt pictured. Speaking of hobbies… Is golf the worst four-letter word in the world?
About 15 years ago, I took up golf. I wrote a semi-regular column called “How Not to Golf.” It was a hit—to my ego. (Golf is hard!) But I loved it. I only wished I had started golfing as a kid, but I couldn’t really afford it. (Golf is expensive!)
In 2007, I was in a bad car accident and shattered my hip. My golf clubs mysteriously disappeared the next year. That combination of events kept me off the course for several years.
About five years ago, I bought some used clubs and started playing again. Last year, I bought new clubs and fully invested myself into golfing as much as I could afford. I’ve improved to the extent that when I played 18 with my buddy Shu earlier this summer, he said, “You don’t suck nearly as bad as you made it sound.” I love backhanded compliments.
The other day, I made two birdies for nine holes for the first time in my life. You may laugh, but I was pretty proud of myself.
I spend a lot of time golfing alone. It’s a chance to de-clutter my head, enjoy creation, mull creative ideas, talk to God, and every once in a while, hit a really, really good shot. So, no, it’s not the worst fourletter word in the world. That would be…
Case! Just what did you get into now?
Until next time…
Brian Miller is a longtime local writer who resides in Eveleth, MN. As always, he welcomes glowing accolades and scathing reviews at firstname.lastname@example.org.