Monday, April 21, 2008


Is he the answer? I wish I knew. I've had trouble making up my mind about the potential of the Vikings acquiring defensive end Jared Allen from Kansas City.

On one hand, there are the statistics, including 15.5 sacks last year. Oh, and Allen missed two games last season because of a suspension. You can't deny this talent. Allen is a world-class pass-rusher, and the Vikings are in desperate need of people who are actually capable of getting to the opposing quarterback.

On the other hand, Allen's past is checkered. He was suspended last year after getting arrested for drunk driving. Drinking is a big enough issue for the Chiefs that they don't appear in re-signing a legitimate star player for anything close to market value. They'd rather take whatever draft picks they can get for him and move on with their rebuilding.

For Minnesota to get Allen, they have to either sign him to an offer sheet and give up two first-round picks as compensation (Allen is Kansas City's designated franchise player), or they have to agree to a trade with Kansas City. Allen visited Minnesota over the weekend, and wasn't horrified with the state of the organization appeared impressed enough to sign there.

Now, there's the matter of working out a deal, should this be what the Vikings want to do.

Should this be what the Vikings want to do?

I'd have no problem whatsoever with the concept of making a deal for Allen, but this is costly in two areas for Minnesota.

First, they have to give up some sort of draft-pick compensation. A franchise player who signs elsewhere without a trade being worked out is worth two first-round picks. Kansas City won't get that from Minnesota (or anyone else) in a trade, but they are getting at least a first-rounder, and you can probably throw in a second first-day pick with that. So the Vikings are looking at giving up two first-day picks in a solid draft just to get the right to sign Allen.

And then there's the matter of signing Allen. He won't come cheap. Last summer, Dwight Freeney of Indianapolis got a six-year, $72 million deal, including $30 million in guarantees. I'm not saying Allen will ask for as much or more money, but you can bet something close to it is in store.

Kevin Seifert of the Star Tribune has an interesting point on another issue in the Allen story, which is whether the Vikings should try to get this done this week, or wait until after the NFL Draft.

By most accounts, the Vikings could have Allen today if they send Kansas City their first- and second-round picks in this weekend’s draft. That’s a premium price, one they might be able to lower into a first-and-third package by the end of this week. (As we’ve previously reported, the Vikings are close to an agreement with Allen’s agent on a multi-year contract extension.)

As the suggestion goes, the Vikings would sign Allen after the draft to a formal offer sheet for franchise players. The Chiefs would have the option to match, but they almost certainly would pass and accept the mandatory compensation according to NFL rules: The Vikings’ next two first-round draft picks, in 2009 and 2010.

True, the Vikings would enter the 2008 season with Allen plus a full draft class, including the No. 17 overall pick. But unless we’re missing something, this strategy seems to be a classic mortgage of the future in order to win now.

I tend to agree. Pay the price now and get it over with. If Allen isn't the answer by himself, the Vikings are going to need those 2009 and 2010 first-rounders to help stock the roster and build a winner around him.

Work out a trade. This can't be hard, considering how desperate the Chiefs are to rebuild. That said, I'm just not sold that this is the best move for the Vikings. This is a solid draft, and while the Vikings undoubtedly have the money, it's not necessarily the best idea to build a team through free agency and high-priced, high-profile moves.

NBA playoffs uncovering a new, bright star. I was pretty confident that the NBA season passed without me missing anything significant until I started flipping channels during Saturday's Boston-Montreal hockey game.

Basketball fans are probably going to be mad at me for this, but I have to be honest. I probably watched two hours of various NBA games this season, and it was mainly to see how badly the Timberwolves were getting slaughtered (usually pretty badly). The most I watched of any single game was Minnesota's win over Phoenix January 23. Al Jefferson was a monster that night, putting up a 39-15. Wow.

Anyway, I flipped to ESPNHD Saturday during the second intermission of the hockey game. I was mesmerized. Chris Paul is amazing. He simply took over the third quarter of the New Orleans-Dallas game, lifting his team from a double-digit halftime hole into a lead and eventually a double-digit victory. He's not a me-first player at all, and you can tell the Hornets players are killing themselves to help him out.

Paul had 35 points and ten assists for the night, and I have to think the Hornets made believers out of a lot of people, if only for one night. People make too much out of experience in the playoffs. Paul's talent is enough to overcome a general lack of experience. Granted, there are going to be pressure situations in this series, and there will be spots that Paul doesn't come up big in. When that happens, he'll be asked about his lack of playoff experience.

Brush it off.

At some point, New Orleans will be eliminated (it's highly unlikely that they are good enough to win a title this year). When they go out, people will blame their youth. The reality, as FanHouse's Matt Watson points out (sort of), is that "experience" is a media creation. When it's convenient to point it out, it's a big deal. But no one wants to point out that a guy like Tracy McGrady has a wealth of playoff experience, and that he's usually stepped up in the playoffs.

Don't sweat it. The "new NHL" is a myth, too. Sometimes, the media is misled and doesn't bother to do their research. Sometimes, they just make stuff up because they think we're stupid.

End of Wild. This is going to be a tough offseason for Minnesota. They have 13 total free agents (restricted and unrestricted), and it's likely that there will be impressive roster turnover, something that's not been common for the Wild.

Pavol Demitra (pictured) and Brian Rolston are among the unrestricted free agents, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard highlights the list of restricted free agents (read more here).

Michael Russo did a fantastic job covering the Wild this season, and he has another fine blog post up today talking about the offseason conundrum.
I will tell you Jacques (Lemaire) said this decision to or not to return is no different than any season. He’s up there in age (62) and wants to make sure he still has the fire and has certain questions answered by (GM) Doug Risebrough.

He did say he’s never had a harder time getting a team to play like a team in the regular season. He felt the team played exactly the way he finally wanted it to in the playoffs, and that’s why it’s a shame they’re out.

– Rolston reiterated he wants to be back, as did Pavol Demitra, Todd Fedoruk, Aaron Voros and Radivojevic. Matt Foy doubts he’ll be back. I did not see Keith Carney, and I’m not sure if Kent got him, but he’ll almost certainly play elsewhere (and will be missed by his teammates).

– PM Bouchard wants a long-term deal. Marian Gaborik did say an extension would be good this summer because a Marian Hossa-like distraction could ruin the team.

I've said already that I think Gaborik should be traded, but I'm starting to flip-flop on that a bit. And it's only been two days.

I do think Demitra should be allowed to move on unless the price is right (barely a raise off the $4.5 million he made). Rolston needs to be brought back unless someone makes him a stupid offer. If that's the case, let him go, because he's not worth tying up any large amount of the cap over.

But the Gaborik saga is interesting. I hope his future isn't tied to Demitra's, because I'm certain Demitra is on his way out. He was a passenger for most of the playoff series, and I wasn't happy with how he performed in a contract year.

Yost Tracker: 1. I'm not so mad about Brewers manager Ned Yost using closer Eric Gagne a fourth straight day. Frankly, he threw good pitches that were hit out of the ballpark. I can deal with that, because it's going to happen. Similarly, guys will get away with bad pitches that become outs. Oh, well.

Had "using a closer with a history of arm problems for a fourth straight day" been Yost's only crime, we wouldn't be here today.

Instead, Yost didn't stop screwing up Sunday's game in Cincinnati.

After deciding to lift Gagne, he went to Salomon Torres. This would be fine, except that the Reds had a gaggle of left-handers due up, and left-handed (and rubber-armed) reliever Brian Shouse was sitting in the bullpen.

Torres is right-handed, Ned, you idiot!

Reds win.


The first time is always special. Enjoy it, because we'll have forgotten about it by the time he does this for the fifteenth time.

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