Al's Ramblings

Saturday, August 31, 2002

(8/31/2002 08:39:00 PM) - Al

This may be the first time this year I've been shut out on Brewers coverage. No DIRECT, no radio, as the River Falls station is carrying the Badgers football game. I s'pose I could "watch" the game on the internet, but geez, that leaves something to be desired. Crew is leading 7-1, against a very average Reds team. Funny, all you have to be is .500 and you are included on the fringes of the playoff race. I imagine if Cincy won 16 in a row like the A's they'd still be behind SL, so any mention of contention for Cincy is fiction.

US Open tennis is on, I just enjoyed a Hingis/Coetzer match, as a red-blooded American male especially. Amanda looked like she was wearing lingerie out there, a litle black number. No men's matches telecast tonight, closest they've come to showing the male gender is when they talked to Martina Navratilova.

They just said that following the Capriati/generic female opponent match they will feature a doubles match with Hingis/Kournikova. And to think, some fools are out at parties and bars tonight.

8/31/2002 08:39:00 PM

(8/31/2002 08:15:00 PM) - Al

Mark Loretta was shipped to HOU for 2 PTBNL tonight. 'Bout damn time, though I'm a bit surprised HOU didn't want Jose Hernandez, as I believe they are still using Vizcaino as their everyday man. Good luck to Mark, he's a nice little utility IF, and a decent SS. It's not his fault he's a $1M a year guy making $5 mil.

8/31/2002 08:15:00 PM

(8/31/2002 03:14:00 PM) - Al

We should have another Phelps team to look at soon, as Part 1 came out last Sept. 3rd. I all but promise you Marcos Scutaro will be the 2B on this year's club, and with any luck, Scooter will be 2003's Bellhorn.

8/31/2002 03:14:00 PM

(8/31/2002 03:04:00 PM) - Al

I'll have to take a look at last years Ken Phelps' All-Star team, BP's look at good free talent guys that are available. I know Bellhorn was the 2B, and Izzy was the LF. I had a reader point out that Izzy was on a pace for 38 HR's and 94 RBI's over a 600 AB season, when he was sent down by the Crew. Yes, the last thing the Brewers need is a bench player with production like that. We'd be better off with a 3rd catcher who can't hit...but he brings a certain intensity to the, why are why on pace for a horrible season again? Based on the success of last year's team, we should go after every one of them this year to fill out the lineup and bench in '03.

8/31/2002 03:04:00 PM

(8/31/2002 11:48:00 AM) - Al

OAK won its 16th in a row, defeating the Twins 4-2. I found it funny that they had Ray Durham leading off at DH, exactly where the much more prolific Jeremy Giambi should be. Jeremy was traded away because he and Beane didn't get along, but he reason given to the public was his that mattered when he should have been DHing is another question for another day.

What's truly stunning is the talent the A's have, despite giving away a 900 OPS fella, they still are a top team in the AL.

8/31/2002 11:48:00 AM

(8/31/2002 11:42:00 AM) - Al

Ray Ratto's article is a very good one. Says that the players and Selig has a lot of PR they need to do, which is very true. Bud is a pathetic public speaker, and the players need to figure out how to drum up some support from the public who doesn't understand why they would consider striking when they make $2.4 mil annually.

8/31/2002 11:42:00 AM

Friday, August 30, 2002

(8/30/2002 08:23:00 PM) - Al

Bob Boone just brought in a reliever to put Sexson on intentionally. For all of his ability to overmanage, he still fails to do the easy things consistently. Knowing Bob, he has a 7-8 man rested bullpen, and he allowed his tired starter to go 122 pitches.

Genius is a relative term, and Bob is a hack, relatively speaking. If he didn't have Don Gullett working with his pitching staff, making silk purses out of sow's ears, he'd be long gone.

8/30/2002 08:23:00 PM

(8/30/2002 08:18:00 PM) - Al

Alex Sanchez is struggling mightily. He seems to have reverted to his long, ugly swing and is swinging at a ton of balls in the dirt. Hate to see a slump ruin a fine rookie season, but Alex has to get on at a 35% clip to have ANY value, as he hits for no power. Hard to do that with poor discipline.

8/30/2002 08:18:00 PM

(8/30/2002 08:16:00 PM) - Al

Matt Stairs just hit another HR tonight. He's done a wonderful job in a difficult position. Hard to believe SEA couldn't use him over a guy like Offerman whose only claim to fame is being able to play 2 positions (1B/2B) hellishly bad.

I've seen him play about 20 games now, and can truthfully say Adam Dunn is one of the worst OF's I've ever seen. Stairs is a ballerina in the OF compared to Adam. Dunn will get better, and I'd take him in a second and happily live with the miscues, but he's atrocious out there.

8/30/2002 08:16:00 PM

(8/30/2002 08:11:00 PM) - Al

This is kinda interesting.

Ave '02 2B--.269/.332/.395, 727 OPS
Eric Young-.277/.331/.377, 708
Belliard------.249/.315/.391, 706

EY and Belly's numbers are both 2001 and 2002 combined, which is actually an excellent representation of Ronnie, as he has 575 AB's combined, a full season. Despite the fact Ronnie has had a horrid '02, as he's been a part-time player for the first time in his life, he's produced every bit as much as Young over the past two seasons minus one month.

Also, I've never heard so many people so satisfied with below average production for a guy making $2 million.

8/30/2002 08:11:00 PM

(8/30/2002 07:41:00 PM) - Al

Royster just chose to let Figueroa hit for himself, down 4-1 in the 6th.

1. How long do you expect Nelson to go?

2. Why do we have a 7 man bullpen if you're not going to use it?

On the bright side, Nelson has pitched a wonderful game, save for a hanging change that Russel Branyan hit about 450 feet.

8/30/2002 07:41:00 PM

(8/30/2002 05:52:00 PM) - Al

Just read Jim Caple's "feel good" column. Talk about phoning it in. Other than a couple names, you know he had it written last night. Not one word about Bud getting it done.

Jim is so hopeless, he should be penning stories for the Journal-Sentinel.

8/30/2002 05:52:00 PM

(8/30/2002 02:34:00 PM) - Al

Pujols may be our league's MVP--Caray

So, is Chip a raving alcoholic like his granddad was? Christ. Barry Bonds may be having the greatest season of all-time. If you don't know what you're talking about, shut the hell up.

8/30/2002 02:34:00 PM

(8/30/2002 02:29:00 PM) - Al

On the Cubs broadcast, Chip Caray just said:

Mark Bellhorn may not start next year, but he's proven himself to be a valuable player.

That was followed by Dave Otto:

He may be a Tony Phillips type.

I guess since the Cubs are so damn stocked with great young talent...:)

Bellhorn should be the Cubs' starting SS or 2B next year, as he is adequate defensively, cheap, and excellent offensively. Great plate discipline, awesome power for a middle IF. If he isn't, they have even less of a clue than I thought.

8/30/2002 02:29:00 PM

(8/30/2002 12:55:00 PM) - Al

Hmmm, both fans that proudly started "anti-strike" websites are busy basking in attention on CNN. Funny how they managed to get the day off work...or are they being compensated? True fans?

Nope, not in the least. They are the ultra bandwagon jumpers, just like the ANA fans who threw things on the field last night. It's a damn shame idiots like this represent "fans".

8/30/2002 12:55:00 PM

(8/30/2002 11:59:00 AM) - Al

So help me, if Jose Hernandez is still on the Brewers 9/1, I'll be mighty unhappy. Give him away at this point, but get SOMETHING for him.

8/30/2002 11:59:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:57:00 AM) - Al

I think I'll be signing off now. I'm sure ESPN and such will be keeping us up to date now that it's not 5AM.

Here's hoping this sets off a tremendous close to the season, especially with the OAK/SEA/ANA fight in the AL West and wildcard; a solid NL Central race, and the NL Wildcard. I keep thinking of Apollo 13, the movie, when the Mission Control guy whose name escapes me at this second, after hearing that this could be NASA's biggest disaster, says:

With all due respect sir, I feel it will be our greatest triumph.

This could be a marvelous September and a glorious October. I hope the media keeps reporting on baseball at the same clip it has followed the possible strike. It could be a huge Fall for the sport.

Let's hope it is.

8/30/2002 11:57:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:49:00 AM) - Al

Locally, this gives MIN until Fall 2006 to get a damn stadium deal done. Knowing the policy of waiting until the last minute, it won't get done a second before that either.

8/30/2002 11:49:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:47:00 AM) - Al

ESPN says:

$182-258 mil in revenue sharing, almost a billion dollars total.

$117 mil is the luxury tax threshold, rate is under 20%. Tax is much higher the 2nd and 3rd year of a team going over.

Status quo rollover if an agreement isn't reached in 2007, numbers are in place for '07 if CBA isn't extended.

Union agrees NOT to fight contraction in '07, but the leases and such that killed it in '02 will still be in place.

8/30/2002 11:47:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:13:00 AM) - Al

Luxury tax exists for all 4 years, CBA expires 12/19/06, apparently the day before free agency. Oh, the details.

8/30/2002 11:13:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:08:00 AM) - Al


A agreement has been reached, you can post it if you wish, we have been told all games will be played today and there will be no strike.

I wish I would have checked my e-mail sooner, that arrived in my Yahoo box at 10:42, and appears to be 100% accurate. Damn. Thanks for the note though.

8/30/2002 11:08:00 AM

(8/30/2002 11:05:00 AM) - Al

It's official, 100% complete. Be interesting to see the details, but I stand by my feelings that this is in no way a CBA that will make it easy for the Devilrays and the Marlins to compete. OAK proves it can still be done, but again, I fail to see a huge difference between what it is and what it will be.

8/30/2002 11:05:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:58:00 AM) - Al

Press conference for noon Central, CNN says a union source said,"Congratulations are in order."

Unofficially, a deal is 100% complete.

8/30/2002 10:58:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:57:00 AM) - Al

I still find it very surprising that players turned down a salary floor because it could lead to a salary cap down the road. "Philosophical" differences are the only reason given, and there's no doubt it will cost the players money in the short-term.

8/30/2002 10:57:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:53:00 AM) - Al

The contraction part of the equation has been confirmed by several news organizations.

8/30/2002 10:53:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:45:00 AM) - Al

Tim Kurkjian just gave a 1-2 minute speech on what a good man and good job Bud has done overall. I feel Bud has done an OK job, some good and some bad. When I consider that Vincent was ousted and Giamatti was much disliked...until he died, of course, there doesn't apear to have been a "good" commish for decades. Amazing the game hasn't shriveled up and died, huh?:)

CNN is reporting teams are to report to the stadiums "in case of a deal", which tells me they are officially dotting the I's and crossing the T's. No way the union would send players to potentially violatile situations with thousands of fans if an agreement wasn't a certainty.

8/30/2002 10:45:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:39:00 AM) - Al

Denny Hocking says the "deadline" is 11AM Central time, at least to play the Cubs/SL game, if not all the games today.

8/30/2002 10:39:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:32:00 AM) - Al

CNN just said the Red Sox are boarding the bus and going to the airport. Great sign.

8/30/2002 10:32:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:28:00 AM) - Al

Fay Vincent feels this is a huge victory for Bud Selig, if a settlement takes place without any games being lost. I have to wonder if that farmer in MN that Caple nominated for commisioner would have got a $3.5 million agreement done?

My guess is, he'd still be trying to get through NY traffic, after eating a good breakfast at Denny's after staying in Jersey last night in his effort to find the closest budget motel.

8/30/2002 10:28:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:24:00 AM) - Al

If Miller's numbers are correct, about $170 million has been shared in revenue sharing this year. The number I've seen for the future is $258 million, and I think that's the final year, if I'm hearing things correctly. Much ado about not a whole lot. It isn't nothing, but taking $90 mil from the top 10 teams and giving it to the bottom 10 is NOT a fix all, by any means.

8/30/2002 10:24:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:20:00 AM) - Al

One thing no one has mentioned lately is whether or not a "competitive balance draft" will take place. This was proposed by Selig last winter, and in theory, would be the bottom 8 teams (lowest winning % over the past 3 years) each drafting a player from the top 8 teams (highest winning % over the past 3 years). No team could lose more than one guy, and each team would "protect" 20-25 guys on the 40 man roster that they would not lose.

8/30/2002 10:20:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:16:00 AM) - Al

Marvin Miller is on ESPN, and is the dictionary defintion of a bad interview. He is a labor lawyer, and obviously is still siding with the union. He's just working on putting his agenda out there, and it's too bad ESPN didn't pull the plug earlier.

8/30/2002 10:16:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:13:00 AM) - Al

You have to wonder if one of those teams is BOS, whose players are possibly as upset as any fan. Reporting at 7:30AM for a trip is hell for night owl baseball men, but then sitting there for over 3.5 hours, damn near the epitome of "hurrying up and waiting", may have been enough for some fellas to start a coalition saying "I don't want to miss a check, let's go to CLE."

8/30/2002 10:13:00 AM

(8/30/2002 10:08:00 AM) - Al

AP just reported the "no contraction" clause is included in the agreement on the table. It is now just over 4 hours away from game time in Chicago, and one would think something would have be in place in 90-120 minutes, or at least one game will be lost today.

I may not be a smart man, but the difference between the CBA ending 10/31 or 12/31 is lost on me. Either way the season is over, so I don't get it.

ESPN just reported that a deal will be done within an hour, and 3 teams have told the union they WILL NOT walkout today, regardless of the union decision.

8/30/2002 10:08:00 AM

(8/30/2002 08:56:00 AM) - Al


The sides are believed to have closed the gap to $3 million on the first year of the threshold for payroll tax. The players have proposed the tax kick in at $118 million. The owners have proposed $115 million. That gap was $18 million just 48 hours earlier. Additionally, the sides appeared to have agreed on a key compromise with the owners accepting the union's concept of a phase-in on revenue sharing over four years and the players agreeing to a payroll tax in the fourth year of the agreement.

And here's a first, I'm quoting myself from a week ago or so:

So, the luxury tax issue is thus:

Owners want a 37.5-50% tax on all payroll over $102 million.
Players want a 30-50% tax on all payroll over $130-150 mil (changes by year).

It certainly doesn't seem like a deal breaker to me. Mathematically, the middle ground would be about:

42% on payroll over $120 million. Is that REALLY that far from what either side is proposing? Is it enough for the players, who average $2.38 mil a man, to shut down the game?

Seems incredibly unlikely to me.

Looks like the owners gave up more ground AND allowed the "phase-in" concept. It would be mean of me to say that seems like a lot of ground to give to continue losing boatloads of money, so I won't...oops. I certainly have no sympathy for either side, as often said, it's billionaires fighting millionaires. But, I truly wonder why a group that claims to be losing tons of money would "give" so much when it has said for a long time that an entire reorganization was necessary.

8/30/2002 08:56:00 AM

(8/30/2002 08:33:00 AM) - Al

CNN's ticker says the union is considering postponing the strike for now, presumably because they are so close to an agreeement.

8/30/2002 08:33:00 AM

(8/30/2002 08:24:00 AM) - Al

Switching channels nonstop, I caught the tail end of a report that seemed to say that part of the CBA being discussed would eliminate the threat of contraction for the length of the agreement. The anchor said,

So, the Twins would be safe through 2006, the Expos safe through 2006, and any other team mentioned.

That's a mighty interesting development, huh?

8/30/2002 08:24:00 AM

(8/30/2002 08:21:00 AM) - Al

The CNN sports anchor just said "with attendance dwindling daily". What? Considering the first game , if a settlement is reached, will be at sold out or nearly always sold out Wrigley Field, that is a rather silly statement to make. It reminds me a lot of the guy who wrote how much 9/11 affected the post attack crowds...seemingly never once considering that the kids were back in school, most teams out of the race, etc, as he compared crowds to the season averages, always much smaller in September in the vast majority of ballparks.

This has really brought out the worst in the media, in every aspect.

8/30/2002 08:21:00 AM

(8/30/2002 07:50:00 AM) - Al

So much for 24 hour media updates. I got up at about 5:30 to let the dog outside quick, so I turned on the TV. Basically, I had to wait until the top of the hour for any update at all. Sounds like they are incredibly close, though at least one outlet mentioned a deal may not be in place to allow today's games to be played. Looks like no threat of a long strike, and it also appears ESPN missed a golden opportunity to solidify itself as a sports news source. Much better coverage on CNN and Headline News. ESPNews has shown the same taped update at 6:30, 7, and 7:30.

8/30/2002 07:50:00 AM

Thursday, August 29, 2002

(8/29/2002 10:19:00 PM) - Al

Wow. hasn't updated a thing on their MLB page all evening. I just learned from my local news that the two sides continue talking, that the owners made a new luxury tax proposal, and that a 10PM conference call is taking place with player reps as we speak. Apparently, ESPN is busy trying to figure out new ways to give Jim Caple more importance rather than reporting on the events of the day.

8/29/2002 10:19:00 PM

(8/29/2002 09:50:00 PM) - Al

So, what's the deal with people talking about the "last game at the Metrodome"?

Folks seem to forget the Twins cannot be contracted until 2004. Anyone seriously think a strike would wipe out the entire 2003 season? Once again, the media is very off base, and Jim Caple seems to be the ringleader of the diversion. Nice to see the idiot who nominated a small town farmer to run a $3 billion empire continues on the same road he always follows...

8/29/2002 09:50:00 PM

(8/29/2002 08:53:00 PM) - Al

A couple notes on recent moves by the Brewers.

1. I wasn't positive, but am now pretty sure that the Crew blew the last option for Ruben Quevedo when they demoted him. Talk about allowing your emotion and incredibly poor judgement to affect your roster for the upcoming season(s). Q would have still been able to go down to AAA next year, to work on his velocity and/or overall command if he would have simply been DL'd with "tired arm" or sent to the bullpen as the 12th man until 9/1, when he could have been shut down for good, as rosters expanded. As has been the case for the past 12+ months, roster management has been as bad as it gets.

2. Jimmy Osting was DFA'd, after 2 below average outings and one pretty solid one. Osting is a 25 year-old southpaw who had a very good season in AAA. I'm not sure what's worse, giving up on a guy after such a small sample, or the pure stupidity of why they did so. Nelson Figueroa was recalled to take his place in the rotation...though he could have been recalled Sunday when the rosters expanded and kept Osting until at least the offseason, when the thinking may be a bit less muddled by horrific results between the lines. Jimmy seems to at least have a future as a middle reliever, but as often is the case in MIL, no thought of "setting up a player to succeed" even took place. A fine year marked by good control, consistency, and quality pitching was overtaken by two subpar outings.

As I seem to state damn near daily, Jimmy Osting will never be a front of the rotation starter, and his departure is probably not going to effect the Brewers' W/L mark in '03 by more than a game at most. But, as a player still getting better and who would be cheap until 2006, he certainly isn't a poor choice to have on the 25 man roster either. His ceiling is no higher than a #4/5 starter...which every single team needs at least two of. Jamey Wright has made a career of being a #4/5 starter, and is making $4 mil this year. He carries with him the baggage of "good stuff" and "potential", which after six seasons in the bigs I can truthfully giggle at and compare to myself having the "potential" of Jennifer Love Hewitt reading my rambles and e-mailing me a long note saying she's been looking for someone with sarcastic wit and an immature sense of humor for decades (along with suggestive pics, I would assume). While it could happen, it's mighty doubtful.

Every year, a guy like Phil Nevin "breaks out" on the wrong side of 30, but most every other veteran stumbles along, more prone to injury, usually on a downward slope that started at 27/28 and will end when they retire. Paying these types $4 million and "hoping for the best" pretty much sums up the failure of the '02 Brewers. Letting a guy like Osting go does as well.

You can put together a pretty good bench and bullpen with the players the Brewers have let go this calendar year, most every one under 27 and with actual potential to improve. Despite this, Lenny Harris, whose best friend in high school was Og, the gent who discovered fire, and Jorge Fabregas, who has a career OPS of under 600 (really), are still being held onto like cheerleaders with low alcohol tolerance at a frat boy kegger.

You could fit everything the Brewers know about "free talent" onto the head of a pin, and still have room for Royster's ability to get the most out of his pitching staff.

8/29/2002 08:53:00 PM

(8/29/2002 08:07:00 PM) - Al

Off the subject a bit, but I'd like to say what you've all been thinking.

The mere fact Morgan Fairchild has not put a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger makes her a winner.

It's one thing to be a paid endorser for a product, it's yet another to participate in hellishly bad ads for hellishly bad products. The power of marketing is very strong, as proven by the fact Old Navy has managed to sell such headed for Goodwill crap as zipper vests and polo shirts with stripes wider than my head, with a campaign made up of nothing but B celebs and D level jingles.

Fairchild probably made more for her participation than I will in the next 5 years, but at least I have a shred of dignity. OK, I really don't, but at least the public doesn't giggle at me every time they see me on TV.

8/29/2002 08:07:00 PM

(8/29/2002 06:08:00 PM) - Al

Somehow, the Crew acquired a warm body (a 23 year-old speedster, good OBP) for Jamey Wright. That's not just good for the Crew, it's a step forward for an organization that can use a good long streak of nothing but.

8/29/2002 06:08:00 PM

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

(8/28/2002 05:56:00 PM) - Al

A few years ago, there were many "conspiracy theories" regarding everything from aliens to road signs. I still recall with great glee one of the sillier ones that suggested there was "codes" on the back of stop signs and the like that directed the military how to carry forth in the event of martial law. This was used in the recruiting of various militia groups, you know, the even thinking lads that blew up a building with a daycare in it, and set fire to their compound in Waco to "teach the gov't a lesson". My favorite line was Dennis Miller saying that it seemed a bit of a stretch to think the government could quietly set up a nationwide code on the back of road signs when they struggle mightily delivering the mail.

Perhaps the worst case of untruth since such myths were reported is the nature in which "facts" about baseball and attendance have been reported in the past month or so. Worse, the silly feeling that a strike will create some sort of huge fan backlash is unproven and nothing but speculation. I've heard the following phrase several times in the past 10 days:

There is so much more competition for the entertainment dollar, the sport may never recover from a strike.

So, who exactly is ready to step in and "seize" the $3 billion or so MLB creates in total revenue? Soccer? The WNBA? NASCAR and pro wrestling? Please.

I have little doubt that a strike, even a short one, would hurt the game short-term. But to say the game will be painfully crippled long-term is nothing short of random speculation.

8/28/2002 05:56:00 PM

(8/28/2002 11:31:00 AM) - Al

The Twins said in the paper today that they will carry 11 pitchers in the postseason. I think this is a big mistake myself, as they are choosing to go with only 14 position players, and more importantly 3 middle infielders, Guzman, Rivas, and Hocking. I suppose Koskie and Doug M. are the "emergency" reserves for SS & 2B. It seems silly to me because:

1. Who needs 11 pitchers for a 5 or 7 game series?

2. With guys going full speed and all out most every play, it seems to me the 2B and SS are at risk much more than they are during the season. While I'll be the first to say it is unlikely two middle IF's go down, even if just one of them does, you have to be able to PH for Denny Hocking, who is a worthwhile utility guy because he can play 7 positions at a good level, but should never hit in an important situation.

That 2nd 2B/SS is much more likely to matter than an 11th pitcher. If nothing else, it is likely you could use them as a PR at some point. While the Twins aren't slow by any means, Dustan Mohr isn't a speed demon either. An athletic middle infielder should take the 25th spot, loyalty to good performing pitchers be damned.

8/28/2002 11:31:00 AM

(8/28/2002 11:19:00 AM) - Al

Barry Bonds hit a very quiet 3 HR's last night. Without looking it up, I believe his .550+ OBP is the best baseball has seen in 50 years. Bonds may not be the nicest or most friendly guy in the game, but there's no doubt he's the best offensive player in the game.

8/28/2002 11:19:00 AM

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

(8/27/2002 09:55:00 PM) - Al

A couple weeks back, I received an e-mail from a gentleman claiming to be a Brewers "insider". I had no idea whether or not to believe him, but asked him to send me a e-mail using his Brewers e-mail addy. He wrote back and said he could not, since that would divulge his real name, as Brewers e-mail is addressed, for example,, or something like that. He did however give me a couple 'scoops", one of which has happened, and the other I will print below. I do believe my informant is legit, though I have no proof...of course, I have no idea how many of my e-mails are legit and how many are just teen cheerleader stalkers:)
So, read it for your enjoyment, and decide for yourself.

Insider: Just wanted to let you know that your ramblings have reached the Brewers offices. Many of us read the message boards, and is an excellent one. Your opinions, a lot of them at least, are agreed with by many at work.

{exchange about Insider's authenticity deleted}

Al: Tell me what you do for the Brewers, as much as you can without being pinpointed.

Insider: I coordinate activity in the offices of Miller Park. If there's something to be done to the field, seats, scoreboard, a leaky water fountain, whatever, it goes through my department.

Al: How long have you been there?

I: I started in the late 90's.

Al: What was the general feeling entering 2002? .500 mark within reach? Heading in the right direction? Expected attendance?

I: Cautious, even very cautious optimism. The lower reaches of the minors are as strong as they've been in at least a decade, but that doesn't mean a thing to most people, and the outcome of 2002. .500 was possible, but the concensus was 73-77 wins would be the eventual outcome. We budgeted for a gate of 2.4 million, 2.3-2.5 was the range used. Seeing a pace of about 2 million given the horrible record, we were likely projecting high.

Al: Tell me why you say 2.4M was high.

I: In season additions to crowd figures are pretty minimal, overall. Whether we're going good or bad, we sell about 2000 tickets the day of the game, unless something way out of the ordinary happens. We had some in house forecasts of 2.1 mil before the season started, based on the trends of County and Miller. Those forecasts will be trusted more next year.

Al: An ongoing point I make is the lack of respect the Crew has for OBP, and the silly way they respect things like making contact and veteran leadership. Your thoughts?

I: So much was made of the strikeout record last year, it was something that was going to be corrected. While I won't say making contact is vital to success, the feeling was it cost the team several runs due to just stranding runners at 3B with none and one out. No one says that about the Yankees though. The leadership part is bothersome to many. All of us want to like the team, and we don't want guys carrying guns or stuff like that. Glenn Robinson's behavior would not be tolerated on Brewers Way. But, we all realize Mark Loretta would have been released long ago if he made less money. Many of us felt Jorge Fabregas would never even be seen in a Brewers uniform, that he'd be released outright and that spot on the team would go to Raul Casanova. While I may feel Lenny Harris has a place in the game, unlike others, he isn't a #3 spot hitter.

Al: What's the deal with Ronnie Belliard?

I: My opinion is that he's thought of as a underachiever, and not a team player. Ronnie is a very quiet man, and tends not to be a cheerleader. I would also say he is being punished for not being a spunky prototype of a 2B, like Gantner. There really aren't many of those types left, as Jeff Kent is obviously a good 2B. I have also heard many comments made about Ronnie taking too many pitches. He has a couple big fans in the organization, but neither manager is one of them.

Al: How about Quevedo?

I: Quevedo looks to have suffered a wasted season. His body type is soft, and that draws questions. He is looked upon as too easygoing, though rumor has it he and a teammate had words and maybe pushes or a punch or two exchanged before he was sent down to AAA.

Al: Rumor on the teammate?

I: I've heard Ryan Thompson and Izzy Alcantara. I've also heard that it was just teasing with cursing, so who knows?

Al: Why not go younger and cut some of the waste?

I: I think you will see that. Nance, Lorraine, Mallette should all come up in September. There may be a couple more, but decisions have to be made about options and the 40 man roster.

Al: Strike news?

I: The organization is going forward assuming that there will be no strike. According to the most tenured employees, that was not the case in '94, nor before that in these cases. I'd say the odds of a strike are very slim, 5% or less. If I'm wrong, most everyone feels it would be a week or less. Before, the differences were huge and more grand in nature, it appears to be minor in nature this time, just about splitting up the money. No line in the sand has been drawn by either side.

Al: Keep us updated, my friend.

As you may have guessed, much of this discussion took place about a week ago, as Nance and Lorraine have already come up. As I said, take this for what you will. I like to think he's legit, but I have no way of proving it.

8/27/2002 09:55:00 PM

Monday, August 26, 2002

(8/26/2002 11:37:00 AM) - Al

Looking at the latest offer by the owners, one thing comes to mind? Um, timing????

One day after the union made a plan that was called "regressive" by the owners, they made another offer closing the gap in the differences in revenue sharing and luxury tax.

I can think of a couple reasons why this move was made, but neither is very flattering of the owner's plan. One is that they have a "script", all planned out when they will make each compromise, ensuring no strike. Two, there is trouble in the house, and the bickering is causing the steel wall of resolve to crumble.

Regardless, making a new offer less than 24 hours after a poor effort by the union can only be seen as weakness. At best, the owners seem to be giving ground while the union stands firm.

8/26/2002 11:37:00 AM

Sunday, August 25, 2002

(8/25/2002 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Just read that the Crew has brought Andrew Lorraine up from Indy and sent Matt Childers back down. Assume this means Jose "11 runs" Cabrera moves back to the bullpen, where he isn't outclassed by...damn near everyone.

It's been a contrast of late for the Brewers, hanging onto Jorge "Sub 600 OPS" Fabregas on one hand, and allowing younger lefties like Osting, Nance, and now Lorraine to have a tryout of sorts for 2003. Is Dean taking more control of the 25 man and looking ahead?

If so, what the hell has he been waiting for?

8/25/2002 09:48:00 PM

(8/25/2002 07:49:00 PM) - Al

USA defeated Japan 1-0 in Williamsport, PA. Bless 'em.

8/25/2002 07:49:00 PM

(8/25/2002 07:46:00 PM) - Al

The wife and I purchased tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld 10/18 today. They added a 3rd show, and I was lucky enough to see the ad in the papaer at lunch about 1PM that tickets had gone on sale at noon. We had debated going to the 9:30 show 10/19 (single seats only for 7PM by the time we saw the ad a couple weeks ago), but Kim said "9:30?" the same way I'd say "2AM?", so I was out voted, 1-1. Single guys, you don't understand...but you will.

We have been fortunate enough to see Bill Cosby and Dennis Miller in the last couple years, and Jerry is possibly my favorite. Funny how things work out sometimes.

8/25/2002 07:46:00 PM

(8/25/2002 07:13:00 PM) - Al

As promised, a couple notes about when Ronnie Belliard tends to play: His last 10 starts are as follows:

Date, Opposing SP, Runs scored by Crew

8-25, Kris Benson, 2
8-22, Randy Wolf, 0
8-16, Josh Fogg, 10
8-4, Miguel Tejera, 2
8-2 Julian Taverez, 1
7-28, Mike Hampton, 5
7-27, Jason Jennings, 6
7-24, Nelson Cruz, 12
7-18, Pedro Munoz, 2
7-16, Elmer Dessens, 1

One, even I was surprised I had to go back to mid-July to find Ronnie's last 10 starts. Two, while there aren't many Randy Johnsons and such, it seems as if Ronnie has faced a lot of good, mostly young pitchers. Maybe this is to give Ronnie playing time when "veterans" EY and Lo haven't faced the pitcher often, I'm not sure. Three, the Brewers have scored 2 or less runs in 6 of those 10. Safe to say those pitchers have pitched well, though the Brewers are a surprising 5-5 in those 10 games. Finally, while no one can argue Belly has struggled this year, his numbers have declined steadily since 5/9, when he was sitting at 71 AB's, well within the small sample range, of course (hell, he still only has 206 AB's, which many would say is a small sample, but nonetheless): .282/.346/.352, 698 OPS. This is below his career mark of 750 OPS, but not horrible for a middle IF (see Neffi Perez and Rey Ordonez). Ronnie averaged a couple AB's per game up to then, and since then has played rather sparingly, to be polite. I think it's safe to say Ronnie hasn't adjusted well to part-time status.

Talk about not maximizing what a guy can offer. Last year, Ronnie had a 800ish OPS, which was the 7th best in MLB among 2B. His career mark was higher than now, obviously, and he turned 27 in April, so he should be peaking, in theory of course. How have the Brewers utilized him? By letting him waste away nightly, though paying him $1.6 million. Meanwhile, Lenny Harris and Mark Loretta border on ancient, and will not return next season.

As I should rename the site, you gotta wonder.

8/25/2002 07:13:00 PM

(8/25/2002 06:31:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching the Litle League World Series, like I do nearly every year. Great fun, as the 12 year-old from Kentucky is throwing 78 mph, which is equivalent to 100+ mph as the mound is closer. Know what? I can't even throw the ball 78, as many of you I'm sure can't either. I topped out at 69 on the gun at the Dome, which I've thrown for several times. I can't really explain why I like watching the kids so much, as I never played the game at that age, due to living in the country and lacking transportation for the 2-3 games a week. Of course, I was scared to death of the pitches anyway, so it's not like it cost me a scholarship or anything.

I'm going to do some research on the pitchers Ronnie Belliard has been facing. It seems as if every time Ronnie starts, the Crew is facing a fine pitcher, often an ace. But, unlike Royster, who just says stuff and it's assumed to be true bwecause he's a "baseball man", I'm going to look back and see what I can find.

8/25/2002 06:31:00 PM

(8/25/2002 06:20:00 PM) - Al

Also, Raul Casanova was designated for assignment, and lefty reliever Shane Nance, acquired in the Tyler Houston dumping was brought up to make that a 12 man staff. Nance performed well, allowing only 1 runner in 7 men faced, too bad it was a HR.

Just a shame the Brewers haven't had the foresight to bring up more kids who deserve a chance and send useless role players a packing. Obviously, the only thing this team has to look at is '03, and there's no use playing guys who will not be around.

8/25/2002 06:20:00 PM

(8/25/2002 06:17:00 PM) - Al

Last night, Jose Cabrera threw 115 pitches, and allowed 11 runs. So, can you imagine a manager that has a well thought out plan and intelligent method of utilizing his now SEVEN man bullpen letting his middle reliever turned starter get pasted like that?

Well no, but then again, I'm so stupid, I know damn well Jorge Fabregas is a horrible, horrible player.

8/25/2002 06:17:00 PM

Saturday, August 24, 2002

(8/24/2002 10:33:00 AM) - Al

Antyone wondering why we would keep a complete hack like Jorge Fabregas on the major league roster? Look no further.

"Jorge brings a certain intensity. I want to see it."--Jerry Royster

I guess when you look at it objectively, you almost have to admire Fabregas and Harris. Neither has more ability than would fit on the head of a pin, but because both take advantage of the fact many "old time baseball men" feel those aforementioned "intangibles" help a team win, they do whatever it takes to fool their bosses and stay on a roster.

I have common sense, and I know that the way to win games is to maximize my runs scored and minimize the oppostion's. I also know that OBP and SLG are directly proportional to scoring runs, a full one half of the above equation.

I've looked and looked for a way to measure "intangibles", and there isn't one, because it is a fallacy. Results are all that matters. Anyone who doubts that can take one look at this miserable group. They are old, have no future, and actually, have had no success in the past. Whether or not they are liked or are "scrappy" or "gritty" is inconsequential.

8/24/2002 10:33:00 AM

Friday, August 23, 2002

(8/23/2002 09:17:00 PM) - Al

So, after the first two hitters were retired on two pitches, Veteran Leader, Team Chemistry Builder Extraordinare, Older Player Who Chided Another Player Publicly For Laughing After Missing A Fly Ball (the epitome of not being a good teammate, irony of ironies), Man Who Understands How The Game Is Supposed To Be Played Lenny Harris...grounded out on the first pitch.

We are waiting for confirmation that immediately after the 3rd out was recorded, Jerry Royster shouted, "Way to be aggressive, Dirt", and decided to cut another youngster in order to make room for a fossil he bought on E-bay this afternoon for $71.45.

On the bright side, not only is life statistically about half over (the pain, I can't stand the pain), but I'm guessing that "clunk" sound was the Brewers officially hitting bottom.

So, I am not an expert on the first chain of life, but even creatures made up of one molecule know enough to take a damn pitch in that situation. Of course, we are talking about Lenny Harris, the "experienced leader" who was the runner at 1B with two outs earlier this year who was thrown out at 2B...on a dropped fly ball to the RF. Apparently, keeping your head out of your ass and having a clue is not a prerequisite for being a genius of an old ballplayer...just sucking for years is enough.

8/23/2002 09:17:00 PM

(8/23/2002 08:40:00 PM) - Al

Raul Casanova was activated today, and Izzy Alcantara was DFA'd. I could write a plethora of reasons why this is positively puzzling, but suffice it to say, this was a move for one You'll be happy to know the team saved about $33K by designating Izzy for assignment. Sure Izzy has a chance to be a decent platoon OF at least, and is far younger than Ryan Thompson, another reserve OF. Sure he's produced at a decent level in the majors offensively, while struggling defensively.

So, pray tell, is Jorge Fabregas a part of the future? Of course not, but why keep a role player of some merit around when you have to pay Jorge anyway? Fabergas' only claim to fame is the debate I started among loyal readers over who is the worst player in MLB, Fabregas or Lenny Harris?

Tell you what, it's pretty difficult to imagine this braintrust putting together a young team with some ceiling for '03 when they see value in Harris, Fabregas, Casanova, Thompson, etc. No respect for OBP, far too much emphasis on defense, and "intangibles". If you are a young reader and do not know what intangibles are, allow me to define them for you.

Intangibles: Qualities which do not win games, also known as "keeping the guys you like". A make believe reason to keep and play older players with little talent and no future, while discarding and benching players with more ability and much greater potential.

Here's something interesting, let's say for whatever reason, one night the Brewers start Belliard at 3B. Want to see the weakest bench in MLB history, my friends? And, bouns points have been awarded for the fact that EVERY SINGLE ONE is 30+ years of age.

C--Bako, 30, .246/.317/.338, 655 OPS

C--Fabregas, 32 .243/.286/.312, 598 (I've never seen it actually typed out before, holy how are you in the majors, Batman?)

C--Casanova, 30, .233/.301/.370, 671

IF--Loretta, 31, .289/.354/.383, 728 (you ever wonder what it would take to see a list that Lo was the bonafide offensive powerhouse?)

OF-Thompson, 34, .243/.301/.425, 726

PH-Harris, 37, .271/.319/.350, 669 (Hi, I'm Lenny Harris, and I'm ALMOST as productive as Raul Casanova!)

I'm certain seeing Bea Arthur naked and turned on would be no less frightening.

8/23/2002 08:40:00 PM

Thursday, August 22, 2002

(8/22/2002 11:32:00 PM) - Al

Simply amazing. The recap of today's Brewers game in the JS talks about how Izzy Alcantara dove for a ball in the 1st inning, and that he and Alex Sanchez chuckled about Izzy taking a header at some point. Of course, no error was made, it was an attempt by a poor fielding OF. But, in the eyes of Royster, Harris, and the absolute idiots at the JS, chuckling at not making an impossible play is exactly why the Brewers have a poor record. Nothing to do with a horrendous 37 year-old playing LF, a putz for a manager, no respect for OBP, high ERA, etc. These guys are as ignorant as they come. If they aren't smokin' crack, they may as well be.

What IS funny, however, is why no one even brings up the fact that Izzy played RF, and Ryan Thompson, a much better defender, played LF. LF is where you hide your worst arm, or your worst OF defender, because in many cases, a runner still cannot go from either home to 3B or 1B to 3B because the throw from LF is so much shorter than from RF. A 6 year-old could tell you that the corner OF's should have been swapped, but there isn't even a hint of that thing called "planning" in the dugout.

No understanding of the game at all. As I posted earlier, I saw more lack of effort in the Twins game tonight than I've ever seen in a Brewers tilt. These guys get it less than a grad student who studies in the library at 11PM on Homecoming Saturday night.

8/22/2002 11:32:00 PM

(8/22/2002 10:44:00 PM) - Al

It is official, the only thing between a MLB settlement is the luxury tax issue.

Revenue sharing is not settled only due to stubborness. The players have proposed $238 million change hands, $270 million in the owners' plan, using 2002 figures. $32 million isn't enough to concern yourself with given the game produces over $2.5 billion in revenue each season.

So, the luxury tax issue is thus:

Owners want a 37.5-50% tax on all payroll over $102 million.
Players want a 30-50% tax on all payroll over $130-150 mil (changes by year).

It certainly doesn't seem like a deal breaker to me. Mathematically, the middle ground would be about:

42% on payroll over $120 million. Is that REALLY that far from what either side is proposing? Is it enough for the players, who average $2.38 mil a man, to shut down the game?

Seems incredibly unlikely to me.

8/22/2002 10:44:00 PM

(8/22/2002 09:34:00 PM) - Al

Watching the Twins/KC game tonight, as the Crew lost this afternoon. R. Hernandez, who is 3-1 with a 3 ERA started for KC, and looked not real sharp. They said he was making his first start in 11 days, as he was returning from "tired arm". This interested me as we all know the Brewers totally ignore "tired arm" to the point of allowing guys like Quevedo to pitch every 5th day despite overwhelming evidence they need time off.

Later on in the game, the Twins announcers said why KC gave him the time off. Loss of velocity? Nope. Ball hanging up? Ineffective? No and no. KC gave him ten days off because...he said his arm was tired.

Honest. Does anyone, for even a split second, think this would be reacted to the same way in MIL? Please. Immediate claims of "excuse making" would fill the air, previous pitching guru Dave Stewart would have questioned the "desire" and "manhood" of the pitcher. Royster would say matter o' factly that the team needed more "team players" and then put Lenny Harris in LF, batting 3rd (681 career OPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Ignorant sportswriters named Mike Cunningham that work for the Journal Sentinel would question the "conditioning" of the pitcher, then make their 14th editing mistake in the past 10 days. Drew Olson, would write that said pitcher would rather play for a losing team where there's no pressure than a contender. How he comes to this conclusion watching home games from his desk rather than Miller Park is apparently proof that he is just that damn intelligent.

If there's ever been a team that needs a complete implosion, the '02 Crew is it. From the top down, save maybe six players (Sexson is very good; Sanchez, Vizcaino, and Sheets are cheap and have talent; Quevedo and Belliard are solid players, though horribly abused), a "start over" should be declared. When you're beginning with only 6 guys, it's safe to say you're building from scratch.

Player evaluation, prioritizing what's important (OPS, average production for below average cost, youth) and what isn't (BA, contact hitters, team speed, attitude, leadership, chemistry), and simply understanding that paying good money for mediocre production is absurd would be great places to begin.

What's funny is that Royster keeps harping that the team isn't "playing hard", and yet, in tonight's MIN/KC affair, I've seen no less than 10 cases of guys not sprinting after balls in the field, not running down to 1B on ground balls (Luis Rivas was still in the batter's box once when the P made a 1-3 out), jogging on the bases (Mike Sweeney's movement to 2B on a wild pitch was somewhere between walking and skipping), etc. I haven't seen this from the Brewers in a game all year. Lack of effort, no. Lack of results, yes. Jerry just would rather complain about it than accept any responsibility. On the bright side, he hasn't allowed a pitcher to hit and then replaced him before taking the mound again in a couple weeks. Way to plan, Coach.

On the bright side, there's nowhere to go but there?

8/22/2002 09:34:00 PM

(8/22/2002 09:16:00 PM) - Al

OAK just won their 9th in a row, and SEA won as well. For the first time I can recall, the 4 clubs I picked for the postseason in the AL would make it if the season ended today.

8/22/2002 09:16:00 PM

(8/22/2002 09:09:00 PM) - Al

Nice article by our sometimes correspondent, Jason Nelson, over at, where he does the Daily Brew segment. He discusses how he would build the 2003 team, cheaply and in theory, with not nearly the poor results the '02 bunch has put forth. I disagree with a couple choices, but feel the overall idea is quite sound. BP is fond of discussing knowing your place in the "success curve", which to simplify as much as possible is, if you're going to lose, lose cheaply with youth that will get better with playing time. The idea that the Crew is paying $50 million for a 55-60 win team is very sad. A team made up solely of AAA players that are not on 40 man rosters, "free talent" if you will, would win in the vicinity of 35-45 games...and cost $7.5 mil, if the minimum salary does indeed increase to $300K, as proposed in the labor talks. So, that's about $40 mil for 15-25 W's.

I suggest checking it out, and when you do, take a good look at, one of the top two or three best fan sites in sports. Save this for when you have at least 30 minutes to check out the features. There's little doubt it has the most intelligent message board. For a good laugh, meander over to's Brewers board sometime. The difference between the two is stunning.

8/22/2002 09:09:00 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

(8/21/2002 06:34:00 PM) - Al

In what must be damn near a mathematical impossibility, at this moment, 3 of the 4 teams in the AL West have 75 wins. And regardless of whatever, no more than two of them can make the postseason. Many people, including myself, have been patiently waiting for ANA to lose a few in a row and fall back to their rightful spot in the standings about 7-10 games behind OAK & SEA, they haven't done it yet. Great race.

8/21/2002 06:34:00 PM

(8/21/2002 02:27:00 PM) - Al

I actually didn't get to watch much of the game last night, as heavy cloud cover forced us to TV for much of the evening. I was struck by the fact that in the 2nd inning, Mark Loretta SAC bunted in a 0-0 game with the #8 hitter and pitcher following him. Not sure if it was called from the bench or not, but certainly a lack of knowledge shown by someone.

8/21/2002 02:27:00 PM

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

(8/20/2002 07:58:00 PM) - Al

Sorry about the lack of rambles, especially considering the site had a record amount of hits yesterday. Not a whole lot of Brewers news, so it's tough to fill space some days. Thanks for checking in and please continue to do so.

8/20/2002 07:58:00 PM

Sunday, August 18, 2002

(8/18/2002 01:02:00 PM) - Al

Wow, right on cue, MIN sent Cuddyer down to "play every day", according to Gardenhire, and recalled Matt LeCroy. I would imagine Cuddyer will be brought back on 8/31, along with one other position player, to give the Twins their playoff roster of 15 players and 10 pitchers.

8/18/2002 01:02:00 PM

(8/18/2002 11:17:00 AM) - Al

Best player in the game not playing every day? Bobby Kielty, OF for the Twins, has a 900 OPS, and has seemingly been "beat out" by Dustan Mohr, who has a sub 800 OPS. Bobby's a switch-hitter, Mohr bats right. Bobby can play CF, Mohr can not, making any defensive edge Mohr has in RF seemingly very small.

On a related note, why did the Twins call up Mike Cuddyer to sit on the bench? Wouldn't he have been better off playing every day in AAA? I guess I can understand wanting him on the postseason roster, as he can play 1B/3B/LF/RF, but wasting 3 months of development is unacceptable.

8/18/2002 11:17:00 AM

(8/18/2002 11:11:00 AM) - Al

I'll take Proof Of Lack Of Planning for $400, Alex

Last night, Jimmy Osting started, and was then relieved by Jose Cabrera. Lets take a gander at how they fared, shall we?

Osting---4 2/3 IP, 0 runs allowed
Cabrera-2 1/3 IP, 5 runs allowed

For those of you that weren't feeling crappy like myself and didn't sit home and watch the Saturday night affair, let me describe to you the painful details. Osting was far from dominant, but, as you can see, pitched very well. PIT resembles a AAA offense without Brian Giles in the lineup, with a top three of Pokey Reese (hee, hee), Jack Wilson, and Jason Kendall. With a man on 3B and 2 outs in the 5th, Jimmy made some poor pitches, and walked both Pokey and Jack. So, Kendall up, bases loaded. After 4 pitches, the count is 3-1. It looks like Jimmy may walk in a run, or allow a hit, right? Nope.

In what would have to be described as the epitome of indecision, stupidity, and no frickin' clue, Royster trots out of the dugout to make a pitching change. Several queries come to my mind, including:

1. What the hell?
2. So, why didn't he do this BEFORE the AB began?
3. Why take out a pitcher who is hurling a shutout?

But Jerry, who obviously hasn't planned out a single thing since his reign began, at the drop of a hat, on the spur of the moment, just had a hunch that this was the correct move, so he did it. And, if you are a believer in "the end justifies the means", which I am not, the move even worked, as Jose retired Kendall.

So, in the botom of the 6th inning, Cabrera got into trouble, allowing a run or two, loading the bases...and no one stirred in the bullpen. Not a soul. Jack Wilson then hit a triple down the RF line, and by the time the dust cleared, after 6 complete, it was 5-0 PIT.

Now, let's study the consistency of Sir Royster's "thinking". The game is 0-0, starter is in trouble, yank him. 5-0, reliever is pitching at a level that could best be described as embarassing, leave him in. When you discuss the lack of planning in this instance, needless to say, the word "incompetent" has to come to mind.

8/18/2002 11:11:00 AM

Friday, August 16, 2002

(8/16/2002 09:11:00 PM) - Al

Has anyone else noticed that the AL West Coast teams are often home the same time, and ditto for the NL West Coast clubs?

Tonight, the A's, Mariners, and Angels are all playing late on DIRECT, and no others are. Not sure if this planned, but it happens way too often not to be.

8/16/2002 09:11:00 PM

(8/16/2002 09:06:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers jumped out to an early lead of 6-0 tonight, one could even say insurmountable aganist the Pirates, last in MLB in runs scored. Funny, PIT announcers said tonight that their club is last in baseball in "comeback victories"...but never mentioned that this fact makes perfect sense given that they don't score much.

So, after brilliantly pulling Ben Sheets after 103 pitches (yes, sarcasm implied), one of the mop-up men used to finish the shellacking was Valerio de los Santos, who has quietly had a wonderful year for the Crew. Returning from injury, VDS was welcomed back and has given the Brewers that all important "2nd LH in the bullpen". That is all well and good except for one thing:

VDS has been used almost exclusively as a long reliever, in unimportant situations, exactly as he was tonight. Despite the fact 75% of the season has been played, management seems almost unable to comprehend that VDS is performing well, and thus should be utilized differently than originally planned. For instance, Brian Giles comes to the plate in the 6th inning at a critical time, an option exists other than allowing your tired starter to face Giles. Nope. That "2nd lefty", billed as vital when you don't have one, is used solely to finish a 10-2 pasting of the worst offensive team in MLB.

I believe that's called maximizing your talent on hand.


8/16/2002 09:06:00 PM

(8/16/2002 08:54:00 PM) - Al

Watching a wonderful BOS/MIN game, which is 1-0 in the 7th. Many folks hate pitchng duels, but for the true fan, I don't think there's a more enjoyable evening. Seeing two hurlers, in this case, Pedro Martinez and Joe Mays, use their talents and their noggins to shut down the opposition is a sight not seen often, and one that should be relished. David Ortiz just hit a towering HR on a fastball right down the middle to make it 2-0.

And yes, even the Metrodome looks good with an estimated 40,000 people in the seats.

8/16/2002 08:54:00 PM

(8/16/2002 06:09:00 PM) - Al

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings says has a bomb up depicting the potential strike of the players, which he suggests is in poor taste. I haven't checked it out, but would never put that on a site of mine. I even think the FOX A-Team ad is questionable, as it shows Joe Buck aiming a weapon AND saying "Good Lord", which some would consider sacreligious. Not to mention the fact that it's not a bit funny, which is the biggest crime in my book.

8/16/2002 06:09:00 PM

(8/16/2002 06:03:00 PM) - Al

Not sure how many of you can get to Ramblings today. I can't get to the actual site though I can edit and add. I tried to get to Blogger to report the problem, but they are down also.

8/16/2002 06:03:00 PM

Thursday, August 15, 2002

(8/15/2002 11:04:00 PM) - Al

Just sat down to read my paper from this AM. Irony of ironies, this article was on Page 2 of the Express section, as Ozzfest is this weekend near the Cities, highlighting the band, Drowning Pool. Quoting lead singer Dave Williams:

The drink of choice is a "Jagerbomb." Jagermeister mixed with Red Bull. "The Jager and the Red Bull end up fighting all night long. You're up, you're down, you're up, you're down."

(discussing songwriting) We all just get in a room and jam with a case of beer and a bottle of whiskey. We like our music loud and our beer cold."

And, on Page 6 of the Local News:

The lead singer of the rock band Drowning Pool was found dead on the band's tour bus Wednesday afternoon, days before the band is to perform in Somerset, Wis. The body of David Wayne Williams, 30, was found in his bunk by band mates when they arrived at Holiday Inn...a spokesman said it was not immediately known how Williams had died...and said an autopsy would be performed.

Save your money, folks. Mr. Williams died from life. It is extremely disappointing and sad whenever someone so young passes away, regardless of the situation. I believe this is why they say, "Drink responsibly" at the end of the commercial.

8/15/2002 11:04:00 PM

(8/15/2002 07:59:00 PM) - Al


I really enjoy your baseball blog, good fun stuff to read.

I am AMAZED by the story you had a while back about Royster letting the pitcher hit and then bringing a new pitcher when the team gets out on the field. Three times, I almost think you have to be joking.

And the story about Royster saying teams missed the boat by not getting Lenny Harris at the trade deadline. I loved that! It sounds like Royster could be the worst manager in baseball after only a couple of months.

I'm a White Sox fan living up in Appleton. Grew up in the southern part of the state and have always liked the Sox (born in Chicago, don't hold it against me). And then as Bud Selig went on his merry way trying to ruin the game, it made me want to root for the Brewers even less. I do though, now find myself fondly remembering the days of Harvey's Wallbangers. Is there any more of a Wisconsins sports guy than Gorman Thomas?

Hopefully the Seligs will sell the Brewers to someone in Milwaukee, who wants to keep the team there and who is willing to take all of the team profits and build a decent team. I think if you get rid of the Seligs it will start bringing the fans back to the park. It's been far too long a decent team has played in Milwaukee.

Keep up the great work!


Thanks John, for reading and for checking the site out once in a while. And obviously, you don't understand how much of a "weapon" Lenny Harris is. I mean, a guy that can't play defense with a 680 OPS? What are ya thinking? By the way, Lenny Harris is batting 3rd tonight (honest), and he and EY just combined to get out on 3 pitches, as the PHIL pitcher has thrown 55 threw 6 complete.

Oh, where would we be without the "leadership" and "baseball savvy" of those two guys? That and 50 cents will get you a paper, and it is safe to say those two are among the most selfish stat hogs in baseball. Lenny has never understood that OBP is the key to offense, while Eric's has fallen yearly for a while. Yet, Jerry thinks they are the part of the future, apparently.

Need more proof Royster is a buffoon?

I, like most Brewers' fans, have a very soft spot for the Selig family. Bud damn near built Miller Park by himself, anyone who feels it would be a jewel of baseball without his tenacity and spirit is sadly mistaken. Also, let's not forget the stadium came with a huge pricetag of over $100 million the Crew has to pay, as well as debts from the last few seasons in County Stadium estimated at about $50 million. It's not like the extra revenue that Miller brings isn't earmarked for grabby hands.

Now, have they ran a franchise seemingly with no desire to be a playoff contender? They have been aiming for .500 for so long, the real goal of building toward playoff contention, 90 wins, has been lost in the silly goal of reaching mediocrity. Why we still have Jose Hernandez on the roster is the latest of incredibly puzzling decisions. There is very likely to be no FA compensation with the new CBA, so a box of balls would be better than nothing. Turning down a deal at the July deadline that included high potential young arm Jose Acevedo from Cincy...supposedly because MIL wouldn't pick up Hernandez's $1 million salary the rest of the season, was the reason given.

Now, we're paying Jose's salary now, and likely will have nothing for him after '02. Or, we could have had a pitcher with better stuff than results, who'll be cheap for a year or two. Downside is...?

As of yet, the fans do not need to "come back", they appear to be on pace to draw 1.9-2 million paying customers, wonderful for the product on the field. And giving a damn about the fans is why they haven't tore it down and built from scratch. 90 wins is the only goal, the fans will follow. Concentrate on the final goal, and not a single other detail.

8/15/2002 07:59:00 PM

(8/15/2002 01:21:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al-

Hope things are going good with the fam. I wasn't aware you were so in tune with music of today. I have a question for you. There's a song that plays at least once a day at work that I like. I can't make out many of the words, but I like the chorus. It's a female
singer and my favorite part goes something like: And I've been waitin' for you-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo. I like the woo
woo woo part. Any ideas, Mr. Casem?

Good postings again. I've always liked Belliard (it appears you have too) and defended him even after the Vina trade. Why
he is on the bench is beyond me. And I got to talking to Wil Cunnane when I was in Des Moines. I told him I wished he was back in Milwaukee and he said it was nice, but the Cubs organization was nice, too. It's good to see him back in the majors--he just didn't look right in an I-Cubs uniform. He's not stellar, but it's nice to have him in the bullpen.

Gotta run. Take care!


First off, Bon Jovi has been my favorite band for more than a decade, which shows you how up on modern pop I am. For my money, Crush is the Jersey fellas best album, and I listen to it all the time in the car. I am only familiar with today's pop if the singer is a hottie, in most cases. But, if anyone knows what song that is, e-mail me.

Belly should be playing every day. Not a doubt in my mind. In his year of 27 no less, he wastes away.

Cunnane isn't a top pitcher, I know that. But he was so abused, and seemingly, no one noticed. Good to see him back in the bigs.

And, thanks for reading and writing, Jason.

8/15/2002 01:21:00 PM

(8/15/2002 12:58:00 PM) - Al

I just reloaded all the archive pages, for those of you that want to look back. Thanks for letting me know that they were far from perfect. Blogger will happily fix them...if you sign up for Blogger Pro and pay them to care. Otherwise, it's pretty much up to the individual to refresh them from time to time, apparently.

8/15/2002 12:58:00 PM

(8/15/2002 12:38:00 PM) - Al

Despite a plethora of web gems, the Twins lost last night, after 14 innings. Once again, when you see a blown save, take a look at the closer's usage of late. Everyday Eddie Guardado pitched one inning on 8/2, another a week later on the 9th, then was called on again last night, the 14th. Pitching on 4+ days rest is a recipe for disaster. Happens all the time, yet it rarely gets any mention in the mainstream press.

Yet another strike against the 7 man bullpen, which is why Eddie hasn't been getting any work. No excuse for not keeping your top three relievers from getting rusty.

8/15/2002 12:38:00 PM

(8/15/2002 12:20:00 PM) - Al

It is frustrating because I know we have guys that are capable of doing a better job," Royster said.

The dumbest quote since Mark Loretta said the Brewers were a bad team with too many good players.

Look at the OPS of the lineup Jerry filled out last evening.

697-706-760-890-801-826-680-745...681 for the PH he used.

How many runs do you see? I see a less than average amount, less than 4.

1. Sanchez has done an OK job, he sports a near 350 OBP, not bad for a rookie lead off guy. He has improved greatly since working with Cecil Cooper, and may well be an average CF in the future, and will be cheap the next couple years.

2. Eric Young hits an empty .280, which leads to a 706 OPS.

3. Jeff Hammonds's 760 isn't bad for a CF, but is unacceptable for a corner OF.

4. Where would we be without Richie Sexson?

5. Matt Stairs isn't an everyday player anymore, and has struggled a bit in '02.

6. Jose one wants him? HOU would rather have Jose Vizcaino at SS every day?

7. Loretta barely hits OK for a C, never mind 3B.

8. Machado hits at an acceptable level for a C.

Lenny Harris, damn near right on his horrible career statline. A good PH has a 800 OPS, not a sub 700. How this guy has remained in the majors in the last decade is a total mystery.

So, last night, the Crew's lineup had above average OPS at C, 1B, and SS. Why the surprise at the limited offense?

8/15/2002 12:20:00 PM

(8/15/2002 12:01:00 PM) - Al

From the Journal Sentinel's Michael Cunningham, proud grad of the Drew Olson School of Journalism.

Most of that ugliness is due to Milwaukee's inability to score runs.

The Brewers are 15th in runs scored, and 15th in ERA. PIT has more wins, and is 16th in runs scored. Preventing runs is equally important to scoring runs. Cunningham is a young writer who simply makes one incorrect statement every single column. It's an embarassment that this man still has a job.

8/15/2002 12:01:00 PM

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

(8/14/2002 11:22:00 AM) - Al

HOU is only 3 games behind SL, and just a bit more out of the wildcard race. It would sure seem to benefit HOU to go find a real SS, now that Lugo is out for the rest of the season. Jose Hernandez is available, though I'm not certain if I can get excited about Morgan Ernsberg, he's better than losing Jose for nothing at the end of the year.

8/14/2002 11:22:00 AM

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

(8/13/2002 10:24:00 PM) - Al



Yours seems to be the only blog that focuses on a losing team. I'm sure it's easier to write about winning, but that's why I always enjoyed Rob Neyer's take on the Royals. Not sure if you missed it, but the most shocking thing to me in the ESPN recap of the labor issues was that the owners proposed a salary floor, and the players said they were philosophically opposed to one. It's almost as if the players are strictly in it for union brotherhood and not for the money. That is doubtful, but any other reason seems just stupid.

Anyway, enjoy the writings, take care.


Robert, glad you enjoy Ramblings. I did notice the bit about the floor, but passed on it because I think a floor is foolish anyway, and would be loaded with exceptions. Besides, I have to believe if a weakened luxury tax is indeed passed, the floor would be dropped. Still, it is odd to see players turn down anything to raise payroll, whether it's goofy or not. Is it PR or is it a minor concession to make the point that a cap or a tough luxury tax is wrong? The latter would be my guess.

Excellent discussion issue however, thanks for writing and reading.

8/13/2002 10:24:00 PM

(8/13/2002 09:50:00 PM) - Al

Jacque Jones has never hit lefties, and very likely never will. Still, he's an everyday player for the most part, he plays 5-6 games a week. Just think if he was a RH hitter who couldn't hit RH pitchers...we'd have never heard of Jacque, he'd have topped out a AA at most. Seemingly not fair, but what is I guess.

8/13/2002 09:50:00 PM

(8/13/2002 09:46:00 PM) - Al

As the ball was lined into RC field, I thought to myself, looks like Torri has a bead on it. After yet another sprawling/diving catch, seemingly one of which occurs every single game, the crowd gave Hunter a standing O. I was holding Andrew, so I didn't get up, but I doubt I would have anyway. Just another one, happens all the time...ho-hum. There are still a few folks who believe Andruw Jones is the best defensive CF in the game; the type that ignores a dropped routine fly ball or two each and every year. There are probably still a Mike Cameron underdog believer as well.

Best of all time, that I've seen anyway. To suggest otherwise is hilarious.

8/13/2002 09:46:00 PM

(8/13/2002 09:41:00 PM) - Al

As the PA announcer went down the BAL lineup, one thing stood out...

Batting 3rd, and playing CF, Gary Matthews Jr.

And amazingly, with a powerhouse lineup which included Jr. in the #3 hole, BAL was shutout. As I've said before, batting order isn't very important, but c'mon. Gary has a career 718 OPS, and is putting together a career season of 27, and has a 817 OPS in '02.

8/13/2002 09:41:00 PM

(8/13/2002 05:27:00 PM) - Al

Off to the Twins game, taking my son to see his 1st MLB game. Too bad it can't be at Miller Park, but at 10 weeks, it's unlikely to be very memorable anyway. Will report on it later this evening.

8/13/2002 05:27:00 PM

Monday, August 12, 2002

(8/12/2002 10:53:00 AM) - Al

Just took a look at the disagreements between the players and owners over at ESPN. Once again, it's hard to believe a luxury tax is enough to strike over. All the other differences are minor and/or silly.

The one thing that struck me as strange is that players do not want to test for "recreational" drugs, though they are illegal and in many cases dangerous. Needless to say, it seems to me that's a strange stand to take, to protect guys that are endangering themselves and their family.

8/12/2002 10:53:00 AM

Sunday, August 11, 2002

(8/11/2002 08:15:00 PM) - Al

Good God, could Ted Williams' kids be any more trailer trash? All that's missing is the feature on late night TV showing the West Virginia shack they grew up in...without indoor plumbing, of course. You can damn near near see those youngins going down to the muddy creek with a bucket for Ma to wash the clothes.

If it's possible to award every one of these fools nothing and give whatever cash there is to Make A Wish, make it so.

8/11/2002 08:15:00 PM

(8/11/2002 06:43:00 PM) - Al

As nice as it is to see the Brewers win a couple in a row, one has to wonder why Ben Sheets was allowed to throw 124 pitches today. We're not talking about a 30 year-old pitching for the A's playoff lives, Ben's 24, and needless to say, the playoffs are not forthcoming in '02. I just wonder why you'd ever let a youngster like that go so long in meaningless action.

I was really hoping an experienced coach like Bill Castro would put his foot down, but it's quite possible Royster's still living in his own little world of incompetence.

8/11/2002 06:43:00 PM

Saturday, August 10, 2002

(8/10/2002 12:17:00 AM) - Al

OAK did hang on, despite 2 runners by the Yanks in the bottom of the 16th. Spectacular game.

8/10/2002 12:17:00 AM

(8/10/2002 12:13:00 AM) - Al

As long as I'm thinking about it, a quick note about young songstress Vanessa Carlton. If you are unfamiliar with her, you may well know her pop hit, which I believe is called "1000 Miles". She was given huge kudos for her CD by Rolling Stone long before it became a commercial success (do you ever wonder if critics wish they could take back good reviews to albums that become hits?). She's young, in the 18-21 range, and known for NOT wearing skimpy tank tops and short skirts. However, having just seem her interviewed on ET or Extra or one of those shows, she IS very attractive. She could easily be seen in a cheerleading attire in her next video, but is somehow getting press for being "the girl next door" and because of which, is given a ton of credit for her supposed stunning voice.

Right. I can name all the unattractive females in the last 20 years that have had commercial success without being good looking on one finger. Tracy Chapman. Carlton is nothing but a hottie who hasn't needed to prove it yet.

A few years ago, Jewel also came upon the scene, folksy, Alaskan, etc. Unkept hair, no makeup, wrote poetry on the side. She was on Leno the other night. She's now much blonder, much bustier, and much thinner than she used to be. She was a walking photo opp.

In a few years, if she's still in the business, you can damn near guarantee Vanessa will be also.

8/10/2002 12:13:00 AM

Friday, August 09, 2002

(8/09/2002 11:56:00 PM) - Al

Tonight, the place to be is DIRECT channel 754. Not only did viewers just witness Barry Bonds' 600th HR, they've been treated to a spectacular game now in its 16th inning, between the Yankees and A's. Due to a fluke of some kind, I believe the Raiders have a preseason game, and the extra innings, we've watched a split screen affair for the last 90 minutes or so, as it was supposed to be a (for CA viewers) day-night DH, with the OAK/NY game starting at 4PM on the West Coast, with the SF/PIT matchup following at 7:30. As I typed, OAK took a 3-2 lead. We'll see if it holds up or not.

I have to imagine many Yankees' players will spend the night in the clubhouse, as tomorrow's first pitch is at 1PM, and it is now almost 1AM NY time. Add in 30-60 minutes getting dressed, talking to the media, and eating the buffet; and understanding that most family men choose to live at least an hour's drive from Yankee Stadium, it seems silly to make the commute.

8/09/2002 11:56:00 PM

(8/09/2002 09:23:00 PM) - Al

Funny, the Cubs released Delino Deshields (yet another reserve IF much better than Lenny Harris let go, the 2nd this week) to bring up a 12th pitcher to "not put stress on their young arms".

I guess that doesn't include letting Prior throw 135 pitches, huh?

Actually, the reason for my post is because of the pitcher brought up. Wil Cunnane pitched nicely for the Crew last season, but his final numbers were less than stellar. Last year's manager, Davey Lopes, let Cunnane rot in the bullpen, once allowing him to go TWENTY days between appearances, if I recall correctly. I figured it out once, in his outings in which he pitched on three or less days of rest, he had a sub 4 ERA, somwhere in the 3.75 vicinity. Wil, after probably pitching nearly as well as any AAA reliever this season, was brought up by the Cubs.

I'll be the first to say the Brewers' extremely disappointing 2002 season isn't because they let Wil Cunnane get away. Wil is 28, and while he isn't much more than a cheap, durable 10th/11th man you can spot start if needed, his usage pattern was horrendous, and the braintrust didn't seem to ever figure that out. This year, Mike Buddie was overworked terribly the first couple months, then released. Again, Buddies and Cunnanes are somewhat easy to find, and they do not have a lot of value. Most effective AAA starters can be decent middle/long men, as well as start. You could even say neither Buddie or Cunnane is anything more than a 12th or 13th man on a good staff, fellas who will often start the year in the minors only to be called up when injury strikes.

My point is this; simply put, the Brewers have no idea how to maximize a player's worth, and worse yet, they have no idea how to set up their roster for success. They tend to place value on absurd, trivial details, such as "leadership ability" and "ability to make contact". Earlier this year, they decided to let Luis Lopez go, while keeping Lenny Harris. If you check, they have nearly the same offensive numbers, yet Luis is an accomplished middle infielder, and can play 3B/1B if needed. Lenny is awful anywhere and everywhere in the field. Both Cunnane and Buddie could have easily filled roles with the Crew as they wait for their prospects to emerge from the low minors, and done it inexpensively. But neither were deemed to be "good enough", after being utilized improperly.

Either could have taken the 40 man spot of Chad Fox, a reliever who has been injury prone his entire career. After a healthy '01, in which he was babied immensely, I begged and pleaded whoever would listen that we trade Fox for a healthier, if lower ceiling player. Alas, he has been injured the entire season, save for a week in which he was put on the roster, overused, and DL'd yet again. Honest.

The kicker here is, if borderline players are being used incorrectly, how 'bout the "average, mediocre" guys? Are they being set up to fail as well? Jimmy Haynes' stats are almost identical to his '01 numbers, except for his W/L mark. Jimmy had a fine year, but didn't get much run support. Then, late in the season, he was rushed back from injury and had a couple poor outings, pushing his ERA up to just under 5. For this and the irresistable appeal of a classic underachiever such as Jamey Wright, it was decided to offer Wright arbitration, and not offer Haynes arby. Worse yet, Jimmy wasn't even pursued as an unrestricted free agent, as he signed with Cincy for $500K. We had no problem gladly coughing up $1.2 mil for Fox's projected 70 innings, yet $750K was too much to pay for a mediocre 175 IP. Meanwhile, for much of the season, we've had a $700K middle reliever (Jose Cabrera) imitating a rotation member, with decidedly underwhelming results.

And, please, don't even let me get started that Ronnie Belliard, after putting together the 7th best OPS of any 2B in the game in '01, wastes away nightly, as a player that is inferior offensively and defensively, costs more, and is seven years older mans 2B.

If I didn't see it on a nightly basis, I wouldn't believe it myself.

8/09/2002 09:23:00 PM

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

(8/07/2002 03:24:00 PM) - Al

I tried to post this a couple weeks ago, but was unable to pull up the stats I wanted.

I have read many times that Ben Sheets is an unlucky pitcher that has been OK this year. I have also read numerous times how disappointing Ruben Quevedo has been, as has Glendon Rusch. Sheets is still getting credit for his fine 1st half of 2001, in which he represented the Brewers in the All Star game. Since then, he has been far below average. In his last 197 innings pitched, far from a small sample, his statline is as follows:

6-19, 33 GS, 197 IP, 240 H, 24 HR, 68 BB, 147 K, 5.25 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

Without looking it up, I can't believe that's any better than replacement level for a NL starting pitcher. Meanwhile, Rusch and Quevedo's '02 efforts are as follows:

Rusch-----5-11, 5.30 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
Quevedo--6-9, 5.33 ERA, 1.58 WHIP

Could you imagine seeing ERA's and WHIP's any closer than these three? They have been almost amazingly equally ineffective, yet Sheets is always looked at as some sort of martyr. Whenever the future is discussed, Sheets is always included, while the others are often left off the list.

Don't get me wrong, Ben is plenty young enough to have a wonderful career. As a young starter, his innings are creeping up much higher than I'd like to see, as the Brewers have NOTHING to play for other than protecting Sheets' health. He will likely get about 11 more turns, which would put him at about 210 innings...and one would have to ask why. Seeing a youngster of 24 throw that many innings for a last place club would classify as foolish in my mind.

Rusch is suffering from having several hellishly poor outings. In the majority of his starts, he's been fine, but seems to be a victim of Dave Stewart's inability to even pretend he gave a damn. His "falloff" from the mound has always been there, but has been more pronounced in '02, which tells me his mechanics are off.

Quevedo has lost about 7-8 mph in velocity from '01, which could be from overwork, a tired arm, weight loss, mechanics, mental in nature, or some sort of combination thereof. Stewart himself said Q had a tremondous velocity drop from the bullpen to the game earlier this year, but acted as if finding out why was someone else's job. Of course, considering I never saw Stewart with a radar gun when I visited Miller Park, you never know if it was real or imagined. Ruben had a stellar '01 late season with the Crew, after being given up on by noted guru of young pitching, Don Baylor (sarcasm heavily implied). He is supposedly 6 months younger than Sheets, though he appears older and was born in Venezuela, so his birth certificate could be as false as a set of LA breasts.

He has always K'd more than Ben, both in the minors and the majors. If he is indeed just 23, and it should be noted he did not add a couple birthdays as many other Latinos did this winter after returning for spring training, I feel his future is every bit as bright as Sheets'.

And honestly, by looking at Ben's last 200 innings or so, it is difficult for me to not say Ruben has a much brighter future. While I hope Ben closes out his 2002 strongly, it appears very unlikely he will. Also, Ben has already spent time on the DL, Q hasn't. I see Ruben as being the better pitcher in a few years, when both should be having their most productive time in the majors.

8/07/2002 03:24:00 PM

(8/07/2002 02:20:00 PM) - Al

The correct link for the Officer Down Memorial Page is now here or below.

8/07/2002 02:20:00 PM

(8/07/2002 02:14:00 PM) - Al

Thanks for the e-mails from two faithful readers informing me the link for the officers memorial page is down. I will post a new link if i find one.

8/07/2002 02:14:00 PM

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

(8/06/2002 09:30:00 PM) - Al

To jump to a lighter note, Alex Sanchez looks like the Alex of April an awful lot the past few days. Long, ugly swings, swinging at the first pitch a lot, etc. I hope it's just a case of facing good pitching, as Pedro Astacio certainly is an example of tonight. I can't imagine him as much more than a mediocre CF, as he lacks power of any kind, but unless he's able to continue reaching base at a .350+ clip, he's a 5th OF that runs great.

8/06/2002 09:30:00 PM

(8/06/2002 09:25:00 PM) - Al

I'm taking a break from my normal rambles to discuss an item close to home. As a Twin Cities resident that used to live in Eau Claire, seeing a Mpls cop shot in the line of duty that grew up in Bloomer, WI (about a half-hour from EC) was a bit saddening to say the least. The drunken coward of the shooter was also killed (that's a shame, huh?). Both the officer and the stupid fool civilian were women, which is a bit unique, but makes it no better or worse.

I once thought of pursuing a career in criminal justice, but one look at the hours they work and the damn near profane class of losers that cops deal with each day made me look elsewhere before I even finished high school. I am trying to be anything except hellishly angry about the events that lead to a 35 year-old woman being shot while responding to a call from the shooter's niece saying her aunt was a crazy woman with a gun.

I've asked this many times, but why are handguns even necessary? If you feel you need a weapon for protection, even though you're many times more likely to be shot than a non-gun owner (makes me feel safer), wouldn't a large hunting rifle be every bit as intimidating? Do you need a handgun for hunting? It has always appeared to me that handguns are for two types of folks, criminals and collectors. Collectors have no need to even have ammo in the home, as they can always go to a range to shoot if friends come over and want to see the gun fired (as I type, all I can think is, how goofy must these folks be?).

I simply can't accept the fact that meaningless deaths like this can't be either prevented or a lot less likely by simply making it more difficult and/or less convenient to keep a handgun around. I have no problem paying a bit more in taxes to put these ne'er-do-wells in criminal facilities before they shoot innocent folks with families, or at least the semblance of a life.

The idea that there are many human beings who own handguns that are druggies, idiots, both; or simply too irresponsible to live their own lives without endangering others purposely is such a frightening thought, accepting this as "just another tragedy" hurts my feelings. I have not a bit of guilt for agreeing with Dennis Miller, to paraphrase for the family audience, "If you any thoughts of killing or injuring another person in any way, I can only hope you do the right thing and kill yourself".

Shooting at a cop is nothing except the height of ignorance, and I'm glad the buffoon is dead. The idea that this has happened 450+ times in the the 21st century alone, means some drastic action is necessary, NOW. Debate all you will the merits of handguns, stiffer laws and harsher penalties are needed to keep innocent folks alive, and slow-witted, retarded, oafish dunderheads that even point a gun at another human being need to be tortured, then thrown into a small cell until the end of time.

May every single one of them meet the same fate as the moron that killed Melissa Schmidt, a painful death followed by an eternity of hell. And I say that without an ounce of remorse.

More info can be found at the Officer Down Memorial Page.

8/06/2002 09:25:00 PM

Monday, August 05, 2002

(8/05/2002 11:33:00 PM) - Al

I distinctly recall a conversation about 10 years ago that looking back seems incredibly unrealistic. Several of us were working at Pizza Pit in Eau Claire, and 2 others plus myself were discussing Seinfeld. I even remember the episode in question was when Jerry and Elaine visited Jerry's folks in FLA. One guy said his favorite was the Keith Hernandez show, and we went on for quite a while. 2 or 3 others listened, but had never seen the show, and had not or just barely heard of it. They asked things like when it was on, who was on it, and such. Considering that a decade later, TV Guide named it the best show ever and there was barely a whiff of disagreement, it just is strange that once upon a time, I was watching it and most folks weren't. All through the years, as the show became as big as any show ever, there was always a special place in my heart that I had watched and loved the show from the very beginning.

Last year, I began watching a show on HBO, Six Feet Under. I adored it, it was brilliant. Again, it was just cool having almost a hidden jewel that seemingly only I knew about. It was the second time I felt this way since Seinfeld This year, the 2nd season ran, and I was damn near overrun by 6FU stories and such, in every cheap mag and such. While it remains a favorite, the fact everyone now watches it and knows about it makes it a little less special. I just ran down the 23 Emmy nominations, and the majority of them are for the Pilot, which I can hardly recall. I saw my favorite, the one in which the porn star dies, a week or two ago, and it was even better than I remembered.

FYI, the other show I loved was The Family Guy, which was hilarious. I anxiously await the DVD, as I missed a lot of shows, as FOX literally never allowed the show to air twice in the same spot. I think I saw 6 or 7 shows, 2 of which were when I was was just flipping channels or hit "Guide" on the remote and there it was. Even though most folks never saw it, it's their loss, as I enjoyed every episode immensely.

When you see something through from the beginning, it's always more special. As happy as I am for the Twins, the Brewers remain my true team, and someday, the victory will be extraordinarily sweet. By then, there will be many bandwagon jumpers, folks who have heard the raves and invest little effort and try to reap the rewards. But the happiness they feel will be a mere fraction of what I will.

In a strange sort of way, whenever Seinfeld won anything, I always felt like I had went to grade school with the show. I knew it WAY BACK...and the uproar about 6FU has been quicker to occur, but vastly similiar. If only the Brewers could climb with any speed at all...but we all know it will be rugged and slow. I chuckle constantly at the remarks that the Twins "did it right" and such, but no one said that as they sucked year after year. Instead, people complained what a miser Pohlad was, playing these cheap kids, like Hunter, Jones, Ortiz, etc.

Make up your mind, you can't have it both ways. Enjoy all the good times, and enjoy the ones you helped along the way a bit more. I know I will...someday.

8/05/2002 11:33:00 PM

(8/05/2002 10:43:00 AM) - Al

Mark Prior was allowed to make 135 pitches yesterday. Wow. I guess I'd be a bit more, well, less shocked if the Cubs were in a playoff race, or not simply playing out the string. Prior should be on a hard limit of 110 pitches, and pulled out after 90 or 100 whenever possible. 135 is inexcusable. Hell, 125 is inexcusable, 135 is nothing less than a case of abuse the Chicago DA should be investigating.

8/05/2002 10:43:00 AM

Sunday, August 04, 2002

(8/04/2002 08:44:00 PM) - Al

I watched the last 45 minutes or so of Field of Dreams tonight on Encore. As much as I'd like to say if the players and owners sat in a room and watched it, a strike could be averted, that seems rather simplistic. As long as teams insist on paying incredible numbers for average performance, the problems that exist in the game will not go away, or even lessen. Baseball is the most simple and casual of all sports, and the game will not end if there is a strike. Still, as someone who only wishes the sport well, it''s very difficult to imagine a strike helping the game at all.

While I hope play continues, baseball will be alive and well in a decade or two.

8/04/2002 08:44:00 PM

(8/04/2002 07:21:00 PM) - Al

Yesterday, ANA signed Darin Erstad to a 4 year, $32 million deal. Darin isn't a bad CF, but the idea there's a team paying him $8 mil per reeks of poor judgement. However, not wanting to go off on a rant without some evidence that I'm correct, I did some research.

Let's look at Darin's OPS, year-by-year.

826-839-682-950-691-709 (the 709 is so far in 2002).

Career, Darin is a .292/.349/.435 hitter, good for a 784 OPS. He is perhaps the only player I've ever seen who has 3 seasons far below his career norm, and 3 seasons far above, including his 2000 season, which can best be described as a mutation. He will be 29-32 years of age during the lifetime of this deal. He is still young, but past his prime, in theory.

Let's compare Erstad to the "average" CF in 2002.

Darin-----.292/.349/.435, 784 OPS
Ave CF--.268/.338/.429, 767 OPS

Darin is almost exactly mediocre, and has a 50/50 chance of either being way better or way worse, if his penchant for avoiding his career numbers holds true. I would say the Angels just overpaid immensely for mediocrity.

Baseball Reference is an excellent site for comparing players of different eras, so I punched in Erstad's name. The most similiar players include:

Shane Mack (.299/.364/.456, 820), Marty Cordova, Ivan Calderon, Matt Lawton, Chet Lemon, and Steve Kemp. Good solid, everyday ballplayers, but not a one I'd pay $8 mil per year for. It kinda bothers me that Shane Mack, a 4th OF/platoon guy, has comparable or better lifetime stats than Erstad has put forth in 5 of his 6 seasons.

Finally, when I looked up Erstad's stats, they looked close to a CF I'm familiar with, and I was a bit surprised not to see him not in Darin's "players most similiar" column. Also, when clicking on the other players, a much maligned OF/DH was very close. Let's compare:

Erstad-----.292/.349/.435, 784
? CF-------.280/.341/.466, 807
? OF/DH-.276/.371/.454, 825

The Crew overpaid for Jeff Hammonds a couple years ago, and despite the fact he has been decent when healthy, has never come close to earning that kind of salary. Erstad is a good CF, but Hammonds has shown himself to be very capable as well.

Ben Grieve, why is this guy picked on so much? He should hit more than Darin, as he has less defensive responsibility, but again, Darin has hit as well or worse than Ben in 5 of his 6 seasons. Most folks view Grieve as some sort of outcast or leper, and yet, here's a guy being paid $8 mil to be not as productive offensively.

Darin Erstad is very worthy of his starting spot, don't get me wrong. If you put a team on the field that is entirely average, you'll win 81 games, which is pretty close to the 90 win "contending" threshold. But, starting CF's are worth about $3 mil in today's game, whether you think that's far too much or just about right, that's the case. Darin's defense is likely above average, as is his speed. Even by making the figure $4 mil just for fun, ANA is paying him double that, and given his age, you can expect his overall production to decline.

Honestly, I can't imagine a single player voting to walk out. The best thing for the players is just to get what they can and continue to let simpletons overpay for BA and SB totals.

8/04/2002 07:21:00 PM

(8/04/2002 06:10:00 PM) - Al

About the only thing to report in Brewersland is the apparent revelation that a CIN/MIL trade that included Jose Hernandez, Jose Acevedo, and Gookie Dawkins failed to go through because the Brewers were unwilling to pay their SS's salary.

So, you ask, aren't they going to pay Hernandez's salary now, and maybe have him leave for nothing, depending on the CBA that is eventually signed? Yep. Unless they are able to swing a waiver deal for a better prospect than Acevedo, a hard throwing 24 year-old RH who has never had success in the bigs, we just witnessed yet another example of the inability to understand what it takes to build a winner.

8/04/2002 06:10:00 PM

(8/04/2002 06:05:00 PM) - Al

A few days ago, Hal McRae made a fool of himself once again, a few years after he did the same thing in a profanity laced rampage in his post-game news conference. This time, he pushed pitcher Tanyon Sturtz in the dugout after the pitcher threw the water cooler.

Now, what exactly McRae did to "earn" another opportunity is the first unanswerable question. We're not talking about anything but a former player who has chosen to coach. There are several of them on every club. One has to wonder just how little effort folks put into a search for a new manager. Ron Gardenhire was very highly thought of a decade ago, after the Twins won the '91 Series. Then, the Twins went into a long rebuilding session, and interest in Gardy waned. So, now Ron is all but assumed to be the Manager of the Year after taking over for Tom Kelly, and has done extremely well. He has limited his pitchers to 100 pitches a start for the most part, and his bulpen usage has been brilliant. So, how exactly did MIN's decision to go young and cheap make Gardenhire less of a good choice?

Obviously, it didn't. The only thing that changed was the fact that the phone stopped ringing, as well as the fact many teams seem to look only at minority prospects.

McRae was an embarassment years ago, and still is. He has an awful team, and is unwilling to play the young talent he has because they won't win 100 games. Despite the fact he is a total idiot with a temper worthy of a domestic disturbance, he still has a job. So, what exactly does a man have to do to show that he has no ability?

Whatever it is, Hal has done it many times. It's almost like no one is paying attention.

8/04/2002 06:05:00 PM

Thursday, August 01, 2002

(8/01/2002 07:44:00 PM) - Al

Last week, the Crew called up Jimmy Osting from AAA Indianapolis, where he had a very nice first part of the season, I believe he finished with a 3.35 ERA. He's still just 25, and was an excellent minor league FA pickup last offseason. Much like Izzy Alcantara, one could argue he was one of the top 5 available 6 year FA's, and it's a credit to Dean Taylor he signed 2 of them. Sadly, the Brewers are famous for keeping guys around on the big league roster to be pets to the manager, and for the illusion of providing leadership, rather than taking the best 25 men north each year. So, that left deserving fellas, like Izzy and Jimmy, toiling in the land of Hoosiers and complete flatness.

Since then, MIL has played 7 games, and went to the bullpen 16 times. Not once has Osting been summoned into a game. The other two lefties have seven appearances. Since I assume (I know, I know) Jimmy hadn't pitched in several days before his recall, as he was in the rotation, I would say it's been in the neighborhood of 12-14 days since Osting has appeared in a game.

So, is Royster "setting Osting up to succeed"? You could argue he's actually setting him for failure, if and when he ever enters a contest for the Brewers.

What saddens me is whenever I do this type of research, spending about 10 minutes prepping, I always get the strange feeling I've done more time digging for info than Royster has since he was promoted.

8/01/2002 07:44:00 PM

(8/01/2002 09:59:00 AM) - Al

From Jerry Royster, whose cliched and assinine view of baseball is based entirely on sitting on the bench for decades and still not learning a damn thing. Those with working brain cells may want to sit down.

Royster said, "Lenny Harris is going to start playing some outfield, since he survived this (trading) deadline. Somebody is missing the boat. He's a guy someone can use. He's heating up like he always does this time of year. I'm going to use him out there."

Christ. Lenny Harris is a 37 year-old journeyman. The mere fact he gets credit for quantity rather than quality is hellishly embarassing. His career statline you ask? .270/.319/.350, 669 OPS, numbers acceptable for a backup catcher, or the manager's kid only. He gets out 68% of the time, and he hits for no power. I've said all year he's the worst player on a 25 man roster, and not only is his bat horrible...that's his strength. He is all but unable to manuever his frame onto the field without tripping or at the very least, getting his walker all dirty.

The fact the Crew seems to value his presence sums up our player evaluation rather bluntly. Would this clod have a place on a team that values, well, good offense? Of course not. Dusty Baker may like to add him to his geriatric set, but no one that truly understands OBP would do anything but giggle at the mere mention of this ne'er-do-well on a roster.

Worse yet, he has played some 1B, and now LF & RF appears on the horizon, the three spots on the field which require a minimum of a 800 OPS to don a glove and take up space in the field.

Also, not to allow facts to get in the way, but July seems to be Lenny's "best month", at least in '99-'01. Saying he mysteriously "heats up" in August is just inaccurate, and smells a lot like months of carefully cultivated sitting on the bench and pumping your performance up. You'd have to be a moron to believe it...or the manager.

Finally, let's look at Lenny's career OF defense numbers, because, they're worse than you could imagine. In over 200 career games in the OF, his range factors and league average range factors are as follows:

LF: Lenny, 1.02, League Average, 1.48
RF: Lenny, 1.11, LA, 1.71

So, you have two choices. Either give up half an extra baserunner per game AND have the equivalent an extra catcher in the lineup, OR you can put Lenny in his rightful place, on the bench, telling everyone how damn talented he is.

This is assuming Option #3, releasing his worthless ass and replacing him with an actual big league player continues to be ignored, as it has been the entire season.

8/01/2002 09:59:00 AM

These are the good old days. Some folks are just too busy wishing the streets were paved with gold to enjoy the good times.

Whatever strikes me as interesting, and serious Milwaukee Brewers thoughts. If you are a believer in respecting OBP, throwing strikes, and keeping the ball in the park, you may have found the place you've been searching for. I believe in low taxes, small government, and am not afraid to be labeled patriotic. If you are interested in sausage race results, walk up music, or professional wrestling, you may wish to click elsewhere.

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