Al's Ramblings

Monday, December 30, 2002

(12/30/2002 06:04:00 PM) - Al



Hope you had a great holiday and a hassle-free move. Just dropping you a line to ask what your hang-up is with Drew Olson. I found your blog midway through last season, so while I knew what you thought of his work, I missed your specific citations of his sloppy work. When today I saw your reference to his watching games at home, you got my attention.

I actually think Drew does a good job for a lousy paper. But I'm surprised to see him lumped in with a hack like Hoffman and a rookie like Cunningham. What gives?

For what it's worth, I think Michael Cunningham left the paper a few months ago, and they have not yet hired a new beat writer. Olson will remain the national baseball guy, though.

Keep fighting the good fight. Perhaps someday the Brewers will get it.



Thanks for reading and for the note. The holidays and the move went as well as can be expected. I found out that a cute 6 month-old will get more gifts than I've received in the past dozen years, but hence, I digress.

My beef with Olson goes way back, as he has written enough incorrect info for me to type up an entry of those alone. However, the forum in which we discussed these untruths does not have archives that go back to previous seasons, so I guess you'll have to take my word for it. His "chat" sessions are off-the-wall as uninformative as you could get from a baboon with locker room access. His "in jokes" and references to any and all things that are not Brewers related are legendary.

But, perhaps my contempt with Drew can best be described through my e-mail contact with him. The one in which he casually mentioned not bothering to actually going to the games was last summer, the night we signed Prince Fielder, if memory serves.

{Note to readers: As I type, it seems my memory is quite hazy. After I'm complete, I'll go back and doublecheck.}

This was also the game Alex Sanchez banged into the LF stands and had to leave the game. In the official recap, it was mistakenly reported as a fair/foul ball, can't remember which. I wrote to the JS (editor, MC, and Drew), and only Drew responded. In his reply, he said he had been watching the game at the JS offices, and when news broke of the signing, everyone scrambled around to get info. In the flurry of activity, this error had been overlooked.

Why, oh why, would you watch the game from your office when it's taking place just a few miles away? I wrote it off to laziness, which fits Drew's MO to perfection. Have you ever seen Drew have a story about what a scout thinks about a player? Remember, dozens of scouts dot the stands of Miller Park every home game. Rumors of possible deals abound in out-of-town papaers, but are ignored and/or weeks late in the JS.

If MC is indeed off to greener pastures, it is an excellent start. I do admire Mark Stewart's work covering the Badgers, maybe he'll get the nod and end the rich history of really sucky Crew coverage.

12/30/2002 06:04:00 PM

(12/30/2002 05:26:00 PM) - Al

TOR has signed Frank Catalantto to a 1 year/$2.2 million deal, and expect him to play RF. Cat is a nice player, but I have a tough time believing he will help the Jays...unless he eventually plays 2B or maybe 3B for them. I've always been a Cat believer, and his good OBP allows me to look the other way at his weaknesses. Funny, he has shoulder/arm problems in his past, and has a pretty weak arm for RF. Besides, he isn't going to be anything but mediocre in RF.

Cat, career--.296/.362/.463, 825, 101 runs produced
Ave 2B, '02--.268/.331/.392, 703, 79
Ave RF, '02--.271/.353/.458, 811, 97

Given that Cat has a weak arm for RF, to say he is exactly average doesn't seem a stretch at all. However, he's 22 runs above average as a 2B. Seems to me 2B is a perfect spot for him. It will be interesting to see if he does remain TOR's RF, or if the switch occurs to make him a valuable offensive 2B again.

12/30/2002 05:26:00 PM

(12/30/2002 12:59:00 PM) - Al

Rey Sanchez signed for $1.3 million, as the Mets will get almost exactly the minimum salary of $300K out of him.

I'm tellin' ya, a million dollars here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

12/30/2002 12:59:00 PM

Saturday, December 28, 2002

(12/28/2002 11:14:00 PM) - Al

So, I just checked the Journal Sentinel, to see how the Badgers did versus Temple today in basketball. However, though none of the info has been changed on the JS website, Temple beat Indiana today. A quick check of a REAL sports site, ESPN, shows the Badgers play 1/2 at Temple.

I'm sorry, but, how many major metro newspapers do you know who need help with D1 schedules? Drew Olson watches games on TV, Michael Cunningham gets a fact or two wrong every single day, and Dale Hoffman knows nothing. These are the best writers that can be found, apparently. I have heard many JS defenders say that the Packers coverage is excellent, and it well may be, as I never read an article. However, as a whole, it is without question, the worst major metro newspaper and web site that I've witnessed.

Really, what other options do I have, as I follow the Brewers and Badgers buckets? The Waukesha Freeman? Oh, the pain.

12/28/2002 11:14:00 PM

(12/28/2002 10:05:00 PM) - Al

It's rare I see a signing that makes me shake my head in awe, before i even see the money involved. Readers, I have seen one that is stupendously poor, allow me to fill you in.

The Mets just signed Rey Sanchez, who is 35 years old, to be their SS for 2003, supposedly "holding the spot" for top prospect Jose Reyes. Talk about settling for steady and unspectacular. Hell, how 'bout poor and barely major league worthy?

Sanchez, career--.275/.311/.338, 649, 63 runs produced
Average SS, '02---.265/.324/.398, 722, 77 runs produced

Rey costs the Mets about 1.5 wins before even taking anything else into consideration. I will be the first to say he is a fine defensive SS, but how many awesome fielding middle infielders do you know that have spent three and a half decades on the planet?

Anyone who has been reading Ramblings for any length of time knows one of my favorite unproven players is Marcos Scutaro, who is a 2B/SS/3B. He has played mostly SS in his minor league career, as he has 1850+ AB's at the AAA level alone. I have never seen Scooter take the field, but I do know I've read some opinions of him that he does not have the necessary range to play SS in the majors. To that, I reply simply that if Mark Loretta can play SS, Scooter can too. I'm sure his range is not average, but his hitting is.

In his AAA career, Scooter has put up a line of .289/.371/.418, a 789 OPS for a middle IF. Even being quite conservative in my projection, I have a tough time going any lower than .275/.335/.370, for a 705 OPS. He is also 27 years of age, the classic age for a player to peak. It seems to me Scooter is quite capable of being an average offensive SS, while quite likely below average in the field.

The astounding thing is, Scutaro is property of the Mets, for crying out loud. It seems pretty obvious they do not see him as anything but a utility guy, but the idea of running out and signing a 35 year-old who'll be fortunate to not get out 70% of the time, despite the fact they have Scooter, has me shaking my head. Much like the Crew signing Royce Clayton, I have to imagine there will be very similiar shortstops available on the waiver wire in late March, not to mention free talent types that are a half a score younger that are available NOW, or any other time. Granted, it may be difficult to find a good field/no hit SS (snicker, chuckle, guffaw), but it sure would be nice to see a braintrust smart enough to know Sanchez/Clayton "types" are a dime a dozen, while guys that can actually get on base and even put some extra base hits on the board from a position that is historically a small step above the pitcher's spot in the order has plenty of value, and is well worth taking a risk on.

12/28/2002 10:05:00 PM

Friday, December 27, 2002

(12/27/2002 08:19:00 PM) - Al

For a while, I enjoyed reading Rob & Rany on the Royals, which I even stole the idea of to bring a second voice to Ramblings. Rob Neyer recetly gave in and started writing on KC again, and Rany by far puts forth the best quote I've seen in some time.

I have never understood why the Royals are so deathly afraid of fielding a team without the safety net of veteran mediocrity. Almost every successful small-market team of recent vintage -- whether it's the A's, the Twins, or anyone else -- went through a phase in which they let the kids play, no matter how overmatched they were, in order to separate the guys they could build around from the ones they couldn't. Those teams never worried about supplementing their roster with veterans, and neither should the Royals.

And neither should the Brewers. The pure stupidity of running out to sign aging mediocrity, in an ironic hope to see a player on the decline receive a boatload of cash and hope they somehow reverse the all but inevitable effects of aging, simply doesn't make any sense. Throw some youngsters out there, see who sinks and who swims, and go from there.

I've actually seen folks on message boards say things like "If we sign this guy and this guy, we could win 70-75 games".

So? You win 75, your 32 year-old minor improvements run off elsewhere to guaranteed money, and you are in the same situation as have kids with no experience that you either throw to the wolves, sit on the bench, or return to AAA, where they have nothing left to prove.

You see it every year, bad organizations make bad decisions. The cubs have Soi and Hill to play 1B & 2B, they've proven they can play very well one level below the bigs, and appear ready to make the jump. So, CHI goes out and get Karros and Grudzielanek, two hellishly overpaid , 30+ vets who have proven over time they are below average big league baseball players. Not bad, mind you, but simply not worth anything other than a one year, $1.5-2 million contract. The Cubs were so anxious to dump a bad contract (Todd Hundley), they took over two of them from LA. The only guys that will likely suffer are the Cubs fans, and the two youngsters who should be playing every day.

There is nothing the Brewers need more than to put a group of kids out there and hope for the best. Any team who lost 90 games last year would be well advised to do the same. Signing Royce Clayton in hopes of proudly winning that 75th game is insane.

12/27/2002 08:19:00 PM

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

(12/25/2002 06:26:00 PM) - Al

A couple months ago, Anaheim won the World Series, and ever since, we have read numerous times that the Angels won because of some goofy combination of making contact, "playing together", etc, so forth, blah, blah, blah. Today, in a Xmas JS story about the Crew (decent articles do come as often as Santa in the JS), we see this blurb, courtesy of GM Doug Melvin and reporter (term to be taken loosely) Drew Olson:

He (Melvin) wants his club to embrace the all-for-one, one-for-all ideals that the Anaheim Angels used to win the World Series in October and capture the imagination of local fans.

"It's a process," Melvin has said often since joining the Brewers. "Everybody has to be involved in it . . . the players, the coaches, the front office and even the fans.

For a few moments, let's just ignore the revisionist history here, shall we? Those of us with a memory longer than yesterday's news recall the embarassing behavior of Angels' fans the night before the proposed strike; vulgar chants, many delays due to items being thrown on the field, the umpires having to conference and the word "forfeit" being discussed, but sadly, not used. Such boorish events should have led to security measures being improved, but it appears it meant that ANA fans were simply embracing the ideals necessary for a winning club. Christ.

I've just about had it with the pure untruthfulness being written as fact. As I have written before, ANA did K less than any other AL team in '02, just like KC did in '01, while sucking immensely. Anyone looking to prove a correlation between the two had better have Ted Kennedy's skill at, um, taking the truth and rearranging it in such a way as to not only making him innocent, but making him a hero. It takes quite a man to not just fend off vehicular manslaughter, but to be reelected time after time to the highest office in the land in the legislative branch DESPITE his dubious past is legend. Slowly, but surely, the '02 Angels are taking on such a mythlike quality.

Once again, the following are facts:

4th in R scored
4th in OBP
6th in SLG
5th in OPS

2nd in ERA
3rd in WHIP
4th in OPS allowed
1st in R allowed

2nd in fielding pct.
1st in zone rating

Tell me, what exactly does being in the top 4 in offense, pitching, and defense have to do with "all-for-one, one-for-all ideals"? It seems to me that the reason for ANA's success was the fact they were excellent in what's important, such easy to pin down things like scoring runs with good OBP and above average SLG, and preventing runs with good pitching and defense.

All this led to ANA having the best run differential in MLB last season. The idea their success was because of hustle and hitting behind the runner is as ignorant as it is incorrect.

Trying to build a team like ANA is a good idea. But in order to copy their success, a GM is going to have to build with OBP, SLG, ERA, WHIP, and good defense. Finding guys who are "gritty" and "tough" and 'team oriented" is as short-sighted as driving off a bridge because you want to be a senator.

12/25/2002 06:26:00 PM

Monday, December 23, 2002

(12/23/2002 08:56:00 PM) - Al

I finally remembered to look up something I thought about when PHIL signed Thome to that jillion dollar deal, and let Jeremy Giambi go for almost nothing. Nobody loves Jim "OBP" Thome more than me, but the idea of spending that kind of money on one guy, especially a 32 year-old, bothers me. Now I know Jim Thome is a wonderful 1B, certainly one of the top 3-5 in the game. I wondered just how much better Jim was than Jeremy. Let's look at the numbers:

Giambi career--.269/.381/.437, 818 OPS, 100 expected runs produced (600 x OBP x SLG)
Giambi 2001/2-.273/.400/.475, 875, 114
Thome career--.287/.414/.567, 983, 141
Thome 2001/2-.295/.425/.645, 1050 (yikes!), 159

Wow. Jim Thome has outstanding numbers any way you slice them, even better than I'd imagined. It seems a safe bet that he will not produce at his '01-'02 levels, especially when you consider he'll be seeing lots of pitchers for the first time, etc. But, a fall back to his career norm is very good, and I'd expect a final tally somewhere in between. .290/.420/.590, 1010 would be my projection as of today.

Giambi has had a stellar career as well, despite the best efforts of teams to give him irregular playing time, not respecting OBP, etc. He has had two years that put him in the same breath with Richie Sexson, one of the "next tier" of 1B (and he's played a lot of LF as well). He is right at his career peak, as '02 was his year of 27. Considering he has yet to get over 400 AB's, I would expect him to put together another year or two of stunning production. I would project Jeremy at .275/.410/.475, 885, given that he is going to Fenway in '03. That makes the expected production an edge to Jim, 149-117, a 32 run advantage. Using the 10 run rule, Jim would likely lead to about 3 extra wins.

Now, Jeremy would have cost about $3 million, and Jim is making $15 mil per. Could I use that $12 million to strengthen the Phils more than 3 extra W's? Well, if your standard of excellence is adding a win for $4 mil, I have to believe anyone can be your GM.

What about Thome's defense you ask? This was a surprising part of the research I did. I have never seen Giambi play 1B, but I have heard nothing but negatives. Thome is a good defender, which being a 1B, is about as important as a stripper being able to cook, but hence, I digress.

Thome--.992 F%, 9.32 RF, .819 ZR, 1 DP/per 10.2 innings
Giambi-.989 F%, 9.72 RF, .824 ZR, 1 DP/per 10 innings

Damn. If Jeremy is indeed a clumsy oaf at 1B, which I have come to just believe, his stats show he's falling down and looking crappy, but making the play. Granted, Jeremy has only played 72 games at 1B, a rather small sample to be appointing him the successor to Keith Hernandez (for instance, he'll never guest on Seinfeld:) But, the idea this guy can only DH seems to be greatly exaggerated. Thome may well be a better defensive 1B, but it seems to me Giambi could well have played 1B for PHIL and the $12 mil could have been spent better in the city of Brotherly Love.

12/23/2002 08:56:00 PM

(12/23/2002 04:51:00 PM) - Al

Just wanted to give a quick mention to Christmas Vacation, my favorite holiday film by far. My wife and I watch it every year around the 25th, and it is nothing if not classic. I still recall seeing it in the theater, way back in '89. In one of the best all-time scenes ever, which is not nearly as funny watching on TV, Clark finally gets his house Xmas lights working, and it is possibly the most grotesque, tacky, gawdy looking house ever, lights piled on top of lights. On the big screen, the scene literally illuminated the entire theater, so much so you could see better than when the house lights come up at the end. That was the first film I remember seeing that had the entire audience rocking with laughter from beginning to end.

For those readers who live in Eau Claire, I saw the film at the downtown theater I believe is now a church, not the budget cinema but the one a block or two away (the Hollywood?). While many ol' folks will bemoan the loss of the good ol' days of downtown, I know I had to park 6-8 blocks away, and would have had to pay parking if it had not been a Saturday night. Not only is that stupid, it's why downtowns have faded all but completely away.

12/23/2002 04:51:00 PM

(12/23/2002 03:57:00 PM) - Al

Wow, a few days ago, i suggested I could put together a pretty good team with solely available free talent. And well I could, but since every other column in the past couple days has done that, I will have to come up with something different. I believe I will wait until a later time, as my list will only include:

1. Players 29 or under
2. Players making less than 75% of the league average for '02 (if I recall, about 3/4th's of $2.2 mil, but I'll double check), in '03.
3. Players available as "free talent", or players being under utilized due to poor judgement. In this case, I'll be forced to bump a player up, like make an expected bench player a starter, or a AAA guy in the bigs.

I still expect to have a pretty good club, and a cheap, potential laden one at that. Look for that in the next month, when salary figures start being reported.

12/23/2002 03:57:00 PM

Sunday, December 22, 2002

(12/22/2002 07:30:00 PM) - Al

The mailbag, it is a brimmin'.


A couple questions from your 12/17 entry. Would you have offered Belliard arby even with a broken finger and a subpar '02? Also, Scutaro (who I feel is a nice offensive SS/2B prospect) really isn't "free talent", as he's on the Mets offseason roster. Finally, I don't think Ortiz is your best 1B option, not with Daubach and Fullmer out there. Nice to see you back blogging.

Your fellow blogger,


James, glad to be home and back online. Good questions, by the way.

1. In the Brewers' case, not offering Belly arby wasn't a horrible decision, just like not taking Cruz to arby wasn't a poor choice for TOR, even though he's a solid CF, who is primed for a career year. The terrible decision was to pay EY more to play inferior baseball, as his production declines and he gets closer to oblivion, just as Ronnie should be peaking. I will not argue Belly did not produce last year at all, but I still expect him to hit his career numbers. 2B is not a tough position to fill cheaply, though it was a black hole in the AL last year.

2. Free talent is a tough thing to define. Last season, BP included Durazo on their list of the best available free talent, and he was a highly thought of 1B then as well. Scooter is not being considered for a starting spot, so he wouldn't be very costly in terms of talent to trade. Granted that isn't "free", but it's in the ballpark.

3. I'd still take Ortiz, but I'm biased after having seen him play so well the past couple seasons. No doubt it's arguable. I believe it was written in the Gammons column that "this is a bad time to be a pretty good 1B", and I couldn't agree more.

12/22/2002 07:30:00 PM

(12/22/2002 07:06:00 PM) - Al

The reaction to the Millwood trade has been 99% negative, some borderline suicidal. I'll be the first to say it was a classic dumping, but I tend to be a bit more diplomatic about it. It was just like "non-tendering" Millwood, only they got a switch-hitting reserve catcher who won't suck. Also, ATL had not expected Maddux to accept arby, leaving them with a huge payroll overspend. If I would have been the GM, I would have looked at the following options:

1. I'm not sure if I would have offered Maddux arby, not at the expected $15+ mil payout.

2. Why sign Byrd for $5 mil a year, and trade the cheap Moss for Ortiz? In my view, both those moves are every bit as bad as having to let Millwood go.

3. Let's say everything had occured as it did. You don't have to start paying your team until April 1st. That's 90 days of wheeling and dealing to happen. You can even start talking BS that AOL/Time Warner has decided to raise the budget in order to make "one more run". If you say it enough, maybe someone would believe it, and offer nearly market value for Millwood.

12/22/2002 07:06:00 PM

Friday, December 20, 2002

(12/20/2002 10:57:00 PM) - Al

We're hooked up and living in Wausau now. Just saw the Braves dumped Millwood for AAA C Johnny Estrada. I don't love the deal for ATL, but Estrada can hit. But, ATL obviously felt they needed to rid themselves of Kevin's salary, and unceremoniously dumped him.

12/20/2002 10:57:00 PM

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

(12/17/2002 08:32:00 AM) - Al

I'm out 'til Thursday or Friday, it's moving time.

12/17/2002 08:32:00 AM

Monday, December 16, 2002

(12/16/2002 09:43:00 PM) - Al

Several hours after the official announcement, and half a day since I read the rumor, the Journal Sentinel still has not even mentioned it on their online site. Even if Drew Olson is busy swapping Boss bootlegs for a clue at a Nashville tavern, wouldn't you think a wire story paragraph would be justified? Absolutely, without question, the worst in the business.

12/16/2002 09:43:00 PM

(12/16/2002 09:32:00 PM) - Al

Some folks wet their lips and eagerly await the day teams can sign FA's. I eagerly await a week or so before Xmas, as this is when teams "non-tender" arby eligible players. This is for many reasons: Guys with 6+ years of service are nearly always over 27, when a player tends to have already peaked. Also, many of the non-tendered lot are available for 1 year deals, on the cheap, rather than multi-year, mega million dollar contracts. Case in point, today the Twins cut loose David Ortiz, while the Crew is expected to let Ronnie Belliard walk in the next couple days.

Ortiz, 27---.266/.348/.461, 809 OPS
Ave 1B-----.272/.361/.461, 822

Belliard, 28--.263/.341/.396, 737
Ave 2B, '02--.268/.331/.392, 723

Would I hesitate for a split second to make this my right side of the infield for '03? Nope. I'd even give them each a 2 year deal at $1.5-2 mil per to make myself more attractive. Time after time we have discussed free talent at this site, and many times folks mistake this for minor league vets commonly referred to as "4A players". Not to say these guys aren't good value, as Mark Bellhorn, Eric Hinske, Alex Sanchez and countless others have proven. Still, many worship at the altar of The Church of Toughness, Grit, and Veteran Experience, and overpay for mediocrity. Tino Martinez is not just old, he's not even that good. Didn't stop a normally wise SL club from throwing away millions to bring him aboard...even though 1B is sinfully easy to find a competent bat for $500K annually.

Sometime after Xmas, we'll put together my Rambling Free Talent Team for 2003, in which I'll assemble a competent collection of the tired, rejected, and not yet old enough to be considered "leaders". My 1B and 2B slots are likely full, while anyone that knows me can fill out my SS slot with ink (it rhymes with Scooter). Dare I say, while it would not win a pennant, they wouldn't lose 106 games either.

12/16/2002 09:32:00 PM

(12/16/2002 09:15:00 PM) - Al

Helms, in his best season at AAA, put together a statline in the vicinity of .285/.320/.475, in '00. I projected him at .270/.300/.440, and sadly, he hasn't even done that yet. However, he does have yet to see regular playing time, and leaving him at the numbers above isn't that much of a stretch. Let's compare:

Wes Helms--.270/.300/.440, 740 OPS
Ave 3B '02----.259/.330/.440, 770

He is entering his season of 27, which should be his best. He also looks to be the everyday 3B, and will see action a plenty. I certainly don't see him outhitting "mediocre" however. As I said, I think he'll have a tough time keeping Keith Ginter on the bench.

I have a difficult time believing this is the best we could have done for Ray King, an ultra-cheap LH reliever, who had back-to-back very good seasons.

12/16/2002 09:15:00 PM

(12/16/2002 03:16:00 PM) - Al

Wes Helms for Ray King? What?

King, like most good LH relievers, is overvalued. But, he was cheap and sometimes teams overpay for a lefty in the 'pen, ala Mike Myers/Jack Cust.

Wes Helms will soon turn 27, and he has a career .287 OBP. He does have some power, but unless he's a catcher, you can't justify putting him in the everyday lineup getting out 71+% of the time. This has the potential to be a huge blunder, HUGE. I can't believe Helms will be able to keep a decent OBP man like Keith Ginter on the bench.

We did get a young LH arm as well, but I am having trouble dealing with the fact that Doug Melvin sees value in a 3B who can't get on base 30% of the time. Beane, Epstein, etc. must be giggling at us.

12/16/2002 03:16:00 PM

(12/16/2002 11:33:00 AM) - Al

The major league portion of the Rule 5 draft is complete, as the Brewers took a young SS from the Mets and a LH arm from Toronto. At least Melvin seems to understand the fact that this is a way of getting young talent with a high ceiling in a low risk/high reward sort of way. Last year, we wasted a choice on Ryan Christensen, whose equal would have been available as a minor league FA. Guys that can run and play a decent CF, but not hit, are a dime a dozen.

Matt Ford, the pitcher from TOR, had good numbers in A ball, about 7 K's per 9 IP, a 2-1 K/BB ratio, 1.23 WHIP, and a 2.37 ERA. He only allowed 7 HR's in 115 innings, a sign he may be able to transition as a mop-up reliever. I'd have preferred to have seen a better OBP from Enrique Cruz, the first pick in the entire draft, who is 21 and supposedly a very sound all-around prospect. .338 OBP from a 20 year-old in A ball doesn't translate well, and I hope he's REALLY 21.

Not bad selections, the only name that jumped out at me was CIN taking Luke Prokepec, former phenom of the Dodgers. Bowden always seems to be a half-step ahead, in my mind.

12/16/2002 11:33:00 AM

Sunday, December 15, 2002

(12/15/2002 11:30:00 PM) - Al

Others may well have heard of it before, but I saw my first ads for Joe Millionaire this evening. FOX has a new reality show that has 20 women fighting for the right to marry a fella who makes $19K per year...because they think he is worth $50 MILLION.

Ever since Christina Applegate combined black leather with a crucifix dangling on her cleavage, FOX has taken glee in the fact it will, without regret or pause, put anything on the air that may draw some eyeballs to their airwaves. Nearly two decades later, despite broadcasting the NFL and MLB, they still have this mentality, and bless 'em for it. Who else would have tried out the Simpsons? Malcolm in the Middle? If NBC has a hole to plug, it's Law and Order: Bike Patrol, or Dateline Friday, Special 3 Hour Edition.

I'm looking forward to seeing this Springer like diversion just to see these stupid, greedy, surgically enhanced vixens get the kind of man they truly deserve.

12/15/2002 11:30:00 PM

(12/15/2002 11:19:00 PM) - Al

Also, the Crew appears to be chasing Michael Barrett, a 26 year-old catcher for MON. Mike has put together a career of .260/.315/.387, and should improve a couple more years, as he will turn 27 after the '03 season. He wouldn't be a bad guy to go after...right?

Not bad, no. But nowhere near the smartest move we could make either. The time to go after Barrett was before he "broke out". After the '99 season, he was said to be a horrible defensive catcher, who had to be moved to 3B, because he was so much of a simpleton, trying to call pitches was affecting his hitting also. But, now that he is arby eligible, suddenly MON feels he is expendable.

Meanwhile, Ben Petrick struggles to garner any playing time at all with COL. His career numbers of .265/.350/.466 are far better than Barrett's, and his "weaknesses" sound identical to Barrett's supposed ones that were a result of a small sample and a coaching staff likely made up of Lopester "back in my day" types.

Barrett-----.260/.315/.387, 702 OPS
Ave '02 C-.250/.315/.379, 694
Petrick----.265/.350/.466, 816

Wait a minute, Ben is also not yet arby eligible, meaning he would be cheaper financially; and being he's in the doghouse in COL, cheaper in terms of what it would take to acquire him. Also, does anyone else think our entire plan is to pay about $2 mil a man to be painfully near the league average?

Of course, Ben has played half of his games in Coors Field. Other than that, Ben has no negatives, other than he is not "proven" (while Mike has had one good season, hardly proven for that matter).

Good God, how 'bout taking a risk, for crying out loud.

12/15/2002 11:19:00 PM

(12/15/2002 11:13:00 PM) - Al


So, Billy Beane picked up Euribiel Durazo, and Theo Epstein acquired Jeremy Giambi. Meanwhile, our braintrust is considering signing Mark Loretta...but only if we can snooker (I'm sorry, convince) someone into taking Eric Young off our hands.

The pain, I can't stand the pain!!!

Now, Durazo seems to have been bit by the injury bug, and Giambi is very likely baked out of his mind much of his waking existence. But, both can smack a baseball, and have either posted a 900 OPS consistently, or it is well within the realm of possibility. Theo and Billy are both nerdy men with a plan, while the Brewers appear perfectly content swapping one aging bastion of mediocrity for another...and pass it off as "progress". Sadly, Drew Olson and his trusty sidekick MC are just dopey enough to fall for it.

12/15/2002 11:13:00 PM

(12/15/2002 11:10:00 PM) - Al

Guess it coud be worse, we could have gave away two players for the right to pay Rey Ordonez $1.75 mil to play SS in 2003. Lotsa luck Lou.

12/15/2002 11:10:00 PM

Thursday, December 12, 2002

(12/12/2002 11:51:00 PM) - Al

Aaron over at Aaron's Baseball Blog gave this interesting factoid.

Check out these numbers for 2 Major League shortstops in 2002:

Player A--.308/.354/.508, 34 HR's, 30 2B's
Player Z--.288/.356/.478, 24 HR's, 24 2B's

Player A won the AL MVP, Player Z just got released by the Brewers.

Well, Jose did not get released, he wasn't offered arbitration, which I wouldn't have either. Jose isn't part of the future, hence, he shouldn't be part of the present. Still, seeing Jose's numbers damn near mirror Tejada's (108 runs created to 102), I have to giggle even more at the fact the vastly superior ARod somehow lost the MVP race to Miguel.

12/12/2002 11:51:00 PM

(12/12/2002 11:26:00 PM) - Al

Theo Epstein made his first trade, getting Todd Walker from CIN for prospects. Todd's a good hitting 2B, and proves that while Tom Kelly can run a pitching staff as well as anyone, he simply had no idea how to get the most out of his players. It's funny, but Tom literally gave up on the entire Twins team...AJ, Ortiz, Doug M, Hunter, Jones, and only went back to them because he ran out of Ron Coomer fill-in types. The funny thing is, Walker had a bad April...and was given up on after a couple fine seasons. Tom never did understand what a small sample was. Now Todd isn't a great player, he has horrendous defensive range, for example. Funny thing is, Kelly replaced Walker with Jay Canizaro, a career AAA 2B who wasn't nearly Todd's equal offensively...and may be the only 2B in MLB with WORSE range than Walker.

12/12/2002 11:26:00 PM

(12/12/2002 08:21:00 PM) - Al

Home for the first time in almost a month, maybe a couple brief notes.

I saw last night that the Crew signed Royce Clayton. My feelings on Royce? He is an above average defensive SS, arguably worth about a win a year. Looking at his career stats, his defense is as good as Dave Concepcion, who Joe Morgan will tell you was worth 10 wins a season. Joe, of course, is way off, but it should be noted Royce is a fine defensive player, a top glove at SS. I was quite pleased we signed him to only a one year deal. It seems quite obvious to me he is seen as a stopgap, for 81-162 games.

Downside? Well, anything Royce gives you with his glove, his bat takes away. His career numbers are .258/.311/.372. It is difficult for me to be anything but disappointed with the idea of putting a fella in the lineup that makes an out 69% of the time. The average SS in '02 put together .265/.324/.398 numbers, meaning in 600 AB's they'd produce an estimated 77 runs (600 x OBP x SLG), while Mr. Clayton will produce 69. Add to that Royce is 33, he will unlikely match his career norms, it is easy to see Royce is 10+ runs under "average". Using the simple Rule of 10, which states every 10 runs scored (or ten runs prevented) is worth a win...good D + poor O = mediocre.

Royce signed for $1.5 mil, plus a $250K buyout for '04. In theory, there is nothing wrong with an average team paying an average SS $1.75 mil for a year's work. That said...

...The Brewers are far from an average team. They lost 106 games last year. If we were talking about a team on the brink of contention, signing Royce "to be safe" is a sound move. For a club with no chance of 90 wins in '03, it borders on lunacy.

...Not only will Royce cost $1.2 mil more than taking a shot on an unknown, if you can name me one person that will buy a ticket to see him play, you're a better man than I.

...My main beef isn't signing a "stopgap", with Bill Hall and JJ Hardy both a year or more away, that seems prudent. But, signing a somewhat pricey 33 year-old, average at best, whose best years appear half a decade behind him, is not a move I can agree with.

Who would I have signed to be the everyday SS, since there doesn't appear to be one on the 40 man? Two names that I would have tried to give an opportunity to are former Brewers, Marcos Scutaro and Lou Collier. Neither are half the defensive player of Royce Clayton, but both could likely get on base at a .350 clip, and both have shown excellent pop for middle infielders. BP put out a list of quality minor league FA SS's, the names they mentioned were Chris Sexton and Dave Post, both also good OBP guys, though both in the 30 year-old range. My idea is simple...why not take a chance on a quality AAA player making the jump? You'd save money, and maybe find a diamond in the rough, a guy that could play for 2, 3, maybe even 4-5 years at an above average MLB level. You'd there a real risk? Collier being a "disappointment" may well equal what Clayton puts on the board.

Royce's "best case scenario" involves him putting together a good 3 months and getting a middling prospect in return. An unproven player offers an actual ceiling, as well as the chance to use him in '04 and beyond, also for a very low salary. If you inserted Lou as the everyday SS, and he plays poorly, the odds are either Hall or Hardy would get the call in June or July anyway. Does it make a difference if the '03 Crew wins 69 games rather than 70? It seems to me the choice was made to go with "safe and steady" rather than "taking a chance".

Trust me, teams that win 56 games do not need to try safe and steady. There was literally no downside in rolling the dice and going with a good bat with potential...but it wasn't done. How exactly Royce Clayton helps the Brewers' organization reach their long-term goal cannot be seen from this vantage point. He's not a bad player, but his age, salary, and lack of upside keeps this from being an effective addition to the puzzle that is the Crew.

I liken this to a truck being stuck in the mud. A Collier type would have been like trying to shift into 4 wheel drive, might have worked, might not have. Signing Clayton is like washing and may look better, but your problem remains the same.

Oh, and the wash and wax costs more.

12/12/2002 08:21:00 PM

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

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