Al's Ramblings



Wednesday, July 31, 2002

(7/31/2002 10:08:00 PM) - Al

Bert Blyleven just informed us that Tony Graffinino is in his 7th ML season.

Why? He's 30. His numbers put him in such company as immortals such as Jeff Branson, Jeff Kunkel, and Enrique Wilson. He's not a bad player, but he has played the vast majority of his games at 2B, telling me he isn't even a true utility IF.

Seeing fellas like this hang on for nearly a decade tells me that the safe choice is often just easier than going with an unproven kid with more talent and a much higher ceiling. More rocks need to be turned over when guys like Tony are anything but stopgaps.


7/31/2002 10:08:00 PM



(7/31/2002 09:40:00 PM) - Al

E-mail land:

Al,

Enjoy your columns. I used to post at Fastball and now lurk at brewerfan.net. Just wanted to tell you what a good post you had re Sanchez last night. Keep it up.

Junior


Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading. For those of you silly enough not to check out Brewerfan.net, I will repost my feelings here on Alex Sanchez not playing versus LH pitchers.

We should be going out of our way to play Sanchez versus lefties, and give him a rest if necessary vs. RH's.

Lost seasons are perfect opportunities to give young players plate appearances and teach.

Meanwhile, we play Ryan Thompson like he's not a 34 year-old, and Mark Loretta as if it's 1999.

If you look up "lack of long-term planning" in the dictionary, the Brewers' logo is the only definition needed to give the curious a precise, concise meaning of the phrase.


7/31/2002 09:40:00 PM



(7/31/2002 08:17:00 PM) - Al

For some reason, ANA decided that the best thing they could do to hold off SEA & OAK was to acquire a platoon OF who cannot play CF. Don't get me wrong, Alex Ochoa belongs in the big leagues, but how exactly he'll make a difference to the Angels dreams of a pennant is beyond me. I would have been very happy if we had shipped off Ochoa AND paid his $900K salary to get the two likely "midlevel" prospects. We would have had to pay him anyway, so strengthening the system would have been gravy. But, according to the reports I've seen, we did not send cash to the Angels, just picked up Jorge Fabregas' dead weight...and dead it most certainly is. If the title of worst 25th man had not been bestowed on Lenny Harris a decade ago, when he turned 40, Jorge would win it unanimously. But, saving about $725K and picking up a couple kids is a nice day at the office for Dean Taylor.

Baby steps, baby steps.


7/31/2002 08:17:00 PM



(7/31/2002 08:09:00 PM) - Al

Remember earlier this year, Joe Morgan said that Jeremy Giambi was a poor leadoff hitter because he was a slow runner. Someone, I believe Neyer, said that was incorrect, and I agreed. On a Brewers board, I recall saying that I would all but guarantee that Jeremy scored more runs than Brewers projected leadof man, Eric Young. At the end of July, JG leads EY 48-40. While Young has stolen 15 bases, he has also been picked off numerous times, including on a 3-2 pitch last night on a move that a T-baller would have said was "icky".

If not for the "speed and contact" EY provides, one would think he was nothing more than an overpaid, below average 2B. It's just too damn bad "speed and contact" are all but meaningless.


7/31/2002 08:09:00 PM


Tuesday, July 30, 2002

(7/30/2002 08:58:00 PM) - Al

My kingdom for a trade. Well, at least a suburban townhouse for some veteran dumping. You surely don't see many deals being made, especially not for role players. I am pretty surprised barely a mention of Jose Hernandez has been made at this point. Watching the Braves, Jose would be an improvement at 1B, 2B, or 3B, and they'd be better with Jose at SS, pushing Furcal to 2B. SEA feels Carlos Guillen is the answer? HOU is on the edge of the race, they have Jose Vizcaino manning short.

Some other Brewers have little hope of finding a taker, being either overpaid, not that good, or both (or being confused with Lenny Harris). Mike Dejean has been rumored to have interested parties, ditto for Ray King, and Jose Cabrera would seemingly be worthy of the same, pitching decently as a starter in addition to his usual middle relief role. Valerio de los Santos has been excellent as a lefty arm out of the 'pen, and being one of the many Latinos who aged at an exponential rate this offseason (he's now 29), his ceiling is as a reliever. Sadly, I get the feeling there are some people in the organization who feel these fellas should be the nucleus of the 2003 bullpen...yes, heaven forbid a 60 win club not have a solid relief corps.

We have a few hours remaining to make a splash at the '02 deadline, but hoping to acquire another Sexson or Quevedo appears to be an unlikely event.


7/30/2002 08:58:00 PM



(7/30/2002 08:36:00 PM) - Al

Tonight on the MIL/ATL broadcast, Brewers color man Bill Schroeder said ATL's success could be traced to "good pitching and a balanced offense".

Please.

ATL ranks 10th in the NL in runs scored. However, they are only 9 runs below 6th place, and 12 runs ahead of 12th place. They are solidly in the middle of the pack, about as mediocre as a team can be. That said, the vast majority of their offense comes from Sheffield and the Joneses, Chipper and Andruw. Hell, that isn't even balanced.

Meanwhile, saying the Braves rank 1st in ERA is barely being truthful. They are a dominant pitching staff, a full 0.7 runs ahead of the 2nd place Giants. Add another 0.7 runs to the 2nd place ERA, and you have the 12th place Marlins. ATL's pitching staff has been stellar, and is the reason for their astounding dominance in the NL East. To put forth anything else is simply not prepping for your duty as an informed announcer. How pitiful.

Bill has never been a favorite of mine, mostly for his assinine view that the 8th place hitter should "expand the strike zone" to try and drive in a run. I believe that is also known as "swinging at a bad pitch", and that the 8th place hitter often isn't a whole lot better than the pitcher. Taking a walk to add a baserunner, tire the opposing hurler, and ensure the pitcher's spot doesn't lead off the next inning is by far more intelligent than hoping for a grounder to sneak through a hole by swinging at a ball in the dirt.


7/30/2002 08:36:00 PM



(7/30/2002 08:12:00 PM) - Al

I just got to thinking today that a couple folks on one Brewers board last summer kept saying how SF never had any injuries, that they had some revolutionary new training system, and we should hire one of their staff to be our new trainer.

Now, for those of you who don't know the '01 Crew, we suffered few hammy pulls and such. Severe ankle sprains, cracked bones, rotator cuff tears, etc. The idea anyone could have prevented these injuries is absurd. Longtime trainer John Adam was fired at the end of the season, however, though that isn't uncommon. The Twins also changed trainers after 2001, though they had been very healthy. Face it, in big business, personality clashes and other reasons are often the cause for such dismissals.

So, in '02, SF is literally the epitome of a beat up team...and damn near every injury is of the nagging, coulda been prevented category. Not only does this seem to prove "what goes around comes around", but also that signing older vets with your fingers crossed isn't often a good way to do business.


7/30/2002 08:12:00 PM


Monday, July 29, 2002

(7/29/2002 11:31:00 PM) - Al

Dave Stewart resigned today as pitching coach for the Crew...do I have to pretend to be sad? Bill Castro has been around as bullpen coach seemingly forever, and sounds ten times more excited about working with the young staff than Stewart ever did. Dave is possibly the most stoic individual in the history of mankind, and from Day 1, always seemed as if he was "slumming" because he wasn't the GM in Toronto. He didn't get good results from the young rotation, as Wright, Quevedo, Rusch, and Figueroa all have fallen off considerably from '01, and Sheets has been no more effective.

Amazingly, the blame has been extremely slow to find Dave. Despite a hellishly high ERA, 16th in the NL until the last week, no one has mentioned this fact in the Journal Sentinel all year. In fact, Mike Cunningham lavishly praised Stewart in a laughingly inaccurate portrayal a month or so ago. He has also seemed to take all aggressiveness away from the staff, as they pitched around good hitters all the time, even with no one on base. The funniest dimwitted event was Royster and Stewart literally creating a binder called "The Plan" which supposedly told each pitcher that they had to throw their "best" pitches in crucial situations. This was followed soon thereafter by a long losing streak, which leads me to believe the advanced scouts giggled in their reports nightly on this short-sighted idea.

Royster discussed today that he talked to Stewart all the time, and especially before road trips, hoping he'd stay on. That would be problem #1 to me. If the guy didn't want to be there, it's hard to imagine him doing his best.

He won't be missed at all by this fan.


7/29/2002 11:31:00 PM


Sunday, July 28, 2002

(7/28/2002 07:48:00 PM) - Al

Ozzie Smith was inducted into the Hall Of Fame today. I can't remember if Alan Trammell is on the ballot anymore or not. I have no doubt Ozzie was a dandy defensive SS, as he averaged about an extra half an out a game than Alan over his career. That's a lot of hits taken away, a lot of rallies squelched. But, to ignore the offensive part of the game is just wrong.

Ozzie--.262/.337/.328, 665 OPS
Alan---..285/.352/.415, 767 OPS

Just to do simple mathematics, if you had 9 Ozzies in your lineup, and they totalled 5400 AB's in a season, they'd score about 597 runs. A team of Alans? 789. Almost 200 extra runs, not to mention, you'd need a stellar defense to simply not suck scoring less than 4 runs a game, which is just what you'd get from Team Ozzie.

I'd rather have Trammell, to be blunt. The idea that Smith is oodles better is just wrong.

Compare Trammell to another fine SS in the HOF

Alan--.285/.352/.415, 767 OPS
? SS-.285/.342/.430, 772 OPS

Again, the mystery SS averaged about .5 more outs a game than Alan, just a bit less than Ozzie. But, the player in question was not just a first ballot HOF'er, but played much of his career at a less demanding defensive position... Robin Yount.

Alan Trammell is damn near as good as Yount. He deserved a lot better from a group of sportswriters who were so hung up on fancy glovework and the personality of Smith they ignored Alan's fine career.


7/28/2002 07:48:00 PM



(7/28/2002 07:24:00 PM) - Al

Nice series sweep by the Crew this weekend. Seems the Clint Hurdle is a genius talk was built on small sample overreaction. And allow me to say this...any club even considering picking up Mike Hampton has to be insane. Mike may well straighten out when/if he leaves Coors, but I can't imagine anyone betting $100 million that he will. O'Dowd has made some nice moves, but the financial suicide he's committed with Hampton and Neagle has COL lugging around a gorilla on their back.


7/28/2002 07:24:00 PM



(7/28/2002 07:16:00 PM) - Al

Several e-mails saying Dejean was at fault either more than Royster, or more than I said. I don't think Dejean was without fault at all, mind you, but to me, it's a lot easier to act foolish after a disappointing outing in the field than it is when your reliever is ineffective and mouthy. In my mind, there was NOTHING keeping Royster from simply taking the ball and ignoring Dejean. That would have kept the incident from escalating, and kept it off the highlight shows. As it was, Royster did nothing but act like a common idiot, and didn't exactly come off as a respected, thoughtful manager. A manager who belongs in his position doesn't feel the need to prove his power on the field. A manager trying to showoff for potential employers does.


7/28/2002 07:16:00 PM



(7/28/2002 07:00:00 PM) - Al

Paul Shuey to LA, Kenny Lofton to SF. The Giants would have been a lot better off finding a good minor league OF than wasting time on Lofton, who's been living on his reputation for several years. Hitting .200 since May 15th, I believe they said. That'll put SF over the top.


7/28/2002 07:00:00 PM


Friday, July 26, 2002

(7/26/2002 12:37:00 AM) - Al

On ESPN, they just showed highlights from a bass fishing tourney. Seriously.

I guess it's for folks who find NASCAR just a bit too mentally challenging. Betcha everyone of 'em can drink their beer while chewing a cheekful of tobacco.

"Well, done dar see dat? Mickey caught him a 3 pounder, look like he go be tuff to beat."

"World Series, are ya kiddin? Bubba's readying hisself to bait a hook. MAAAA, will ya shut up them youngins!!!!"

I don't think I've ever felt so intellectually superior in all my life.



7/26/2002 12:37:00 AM


Thursday, July 25, 2002

(7/25/2002 11:06:00 PM) - Al

Mike McFarlane just said Ray Durham adds speed and veteran presence to the A's, but it took Brian Kenny to mention his .391 OBP. Forest for the trees, Mike.


7/25/2002 11:06:00 PM



(7/25/2002 11:00:00 PM) - Al

Last night, I saw that Tom Goodwin was playing for Barry Bonds in LF. That may be the biggest dropoff in run production from one position in history. If I recall correctly, Goodwin was exactly replacement level...in CF last year. Let's see, Bonds coming off the finest offensive year ever, and he's replaced by a crappy CF whose only offensive skill is being able to run fast. Almost enough to make one wonder why SF has Grandpa Shawon Dunston on the roster rather than a Izzy Alcantara/Matt Stairs type.

Speak all you will about the need to have worthless filler like Dunston on the bench for chemistry and leadership purposes, but sooner or later, you need to score some runs or prevent them. Dunston has done neither for years, yet he still occupies a roster spot, much like former NBA 12th man Alton Lister.

Maybe Shawon is used during practice to simulate the other team's big man. It makes as much sense as any other reason.


7/25/2002 11:00:00 PM



(7/25/2002 09:16:00 PM) - Al

The "official" towel has been thrown in, though realistically, the White Sox have been out of the playoff picture for a month. The Twins have nothing to concern themselves with except deciding on their playoff roster, and hoping their main cogs stay healthy. Looking at them from my close perspective, I'd say their weak spot is 2B, though I love Luis Rivas' future, his present is kinda murky. Adding a 2B, preferrably a RH bat with a bit of pop, would look huge right now. BUT...not exactly a plethora of them around, and I doubt Jeff Kent is available. Funny, I picked David Ortiz on almost every one of my nine fantasy teams, cut him on many, and now own him again on 7 or 8 clubs. MIN still flies under the national radar at wonderous levels. The ESPN piece on Baseball Tonight last evening was as silly as it gets. According to ESPN, the Twins are good because:

1. They have played together for years.

2. They play in the Metrodome.

And they have little chance to beat the Yankees because "they give up a lot of HR's".

#1 is simply wrong because it is untrue. Mike Jackson, JC Romero, Kyle Lohse, Rick Reed, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, and many others weren't even part of the '01 team to speak of, never mind "years".

#2, packaged together with video of someone losing a fly ball in the roof, followed by an OF fumbling a base hit is nice and simple, but also incorrect. I have seen Jacque Jones lose several fly balls in the roof the past few years, and have trouble recalling any opponent losing one. I'm sure they have, but very few. Bobbling a base hit on artificial turf is a reach at best.

Finally, the Twins have an above average pitching staff, despite having Brad Radke and Joe Mays barely contribute a bit the first 100 games. Seriously, we're talking about two excellent starters, not just normal #1 and #2 guys. They have allowed a good number of home runs...which count just like any other run(s).

MIN is dominant because they score a lot of runs, give up less than average, and prevent quite a few with the best defense in the game. I'd just like to add no one mentioned a thing about the Twins fine OBP. Cliche ridden former players often can't see the forest for the trees.



7/25/2002 09:16:00 PM



(7/25/2002 08:46:00 PM) - Al

Well, it was nice to see the Crew get some airtime on ESPN last night, even if it was because of an immature argument on the mound between Royster and Dejean. While I hear Dejean said something to start the whole episode, every version I saw showed Royster being the ignorant buffoon he is and attacking Mike verbally. Dejean has a lot of anger and frustrations, as he's been used hellishly by the regime of idiots, and it's easy to lose one's emotions in the heat of battle. Why exactly Royster lost his cool after sitting dumbly on the bench all night is beyond me, however. He may indeed be the stupidest man alive.

One inning removed from allowing, for at least the third time this season, the current pitcher to hit for himself, and then bringing in a fresh arm to pitch the next frame, it is painfully obvious Jerry embarasses himself on a nightly basis, and most nights, many times. This is a guy who couldn't plan his way out of an imaginary box that mimes get stuck in.

Let's look at Dejean's use the last couple weeks. Remember, this is a guy who is either your best or 2nd best reliever.

7/11--1 inning
7/14--1 inning
7/17--1 inning
7/21--1 batter

Entering last night's affair, Mike has been called on 4 times in the previous 13 games. That would put him on a pace for 50 appearances and about 42 innings over 162 games. Is that enough to stay sharp? Of course not. I guess it would be more understandable if the Crew was loaded with starters that went 7-8 innings a night, but they aren't, damn it. Dejean has been set up to fail, and he did, failing to pitch effectively. Even so, he didn't pitch all that badly, getting one out, having the LF drop a fly ball, and giving up 3 singles.

Royster's horrendous use of his bullpen closer once again shows how overmatched he is intelligence wise. The man simply has no idea how to set his players up for success. Without a long-term plan, he has no idea how to implement a short-term plan, so he just sits nightly and does things like let his closer rot and let a pitcher he's about to replace bat for himself. We're talking about Tony Muser Jr. here folks, no idea, none at all.

Now don't get me wrong, Royster is not the problem. Having no respect for OBP is the problem, having a NL worst (at sea level) pitching staff is the problem, overpaying and respecting mediocrity and below average players...

*cough*
Lenny Harris
*cough*

...is the problem. That said, Jerry Royster is truly awful. I'll be the first to say he hasn't cost us over a couple wins, but he's made gaffes at a rate only matched by Brenly in the '01 Series.


7/25/2002 08:46:00 PM


Tuesday, July 23, 2002

(7/23/2002 10:19:00 PM) - Al

From the e-mail files:

Hey Al...nice to see that Dave Pinto has stirred you up. I thought I would comment a bit about what I see on your blog these past few days. I'll take a few quick hits and await your response:

Tiger Woods--The guy is a emotionless cypher, a machine who plays golf. Hrm, just like a lot of other golfers. The guy has no arisma, he's just a good golfer. All he's done is expose the game of golf's problems; nobody is trying to win any more. The money is too good now and "top ten finishes" are all that is important. Sort of what tennis is like now.

Insulting Montreal--I'm Canadian and have watched the Expos slow, sad slide into decline with a good measure of sadness. Montreal is no more deserving of contraction than Minnesota is. The OWNERS are the problem, not the fans, not the stadium. If the Brewers had been screwed out of two playoff runs and then owners who did nothing to improve the team but pocket the money the league gave them, I'm sure you'd feel the same way. Bud convinced the local taxpayers to fund an awful stadium (I saw a game there a month ago and came away with the feeling that it was like watching baseball in an oversized hockey arena, complete with neverending noise and advertising) and now the Brewers are experiencing a temporary boost in revenue. When your team sucks again next year, the stadium will be half empty while Minnesota reaps the benefits of a divisional title the Brewers will never, ever enjoy because of the twits who run your favourite team.

Anyhow, enough ranting. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing from you!

Chris


See, there ARE Montreal fans out there!!!! I cannot disagree that MON has had a tough run of luck, losing its successful '94 season to labor trouble, a horrible stadium, etc. That said, though I feel your pain, an average gate of 8000 folks makes defending the city's fan base all but impossible. Even with a park as bad as MON's, the Twins drew about twice as many supporters in '00 & '01, if I'm remembering my figures correctly. I will say it's dandy to see Montreal draw decently lately, it shows me a couple things...winning cures most all ills, the incredible marketing power of the media, etc. I wouldn't wish the MON situation on anyone, but I will say, in my opinion, there are a couple better options than MON. I'll root for them to be saved, but will not do so loudly.

I will admit, I enjoy watching Tiger play golf as much as I enjoy watching any golfer play. I tried to like golf, as it is a great game for you as you age, it combines walking, strategy, etc. I still recall quite fondly that I got my first par on the last hole I played, a week before my wedding 5 years ago. But I simply don't enjoy it. I have no illusion of ever being anything but awful, and don't feel paying $20 for a couple hours of sucking at something is a good use of my cash. I would have to play almost every day to be even respectable, you know, break 100, and I have no desire to do so.

I'd rather watch a MLS game than golf, and I doubt I can name over 5 players in the league. I do enjoy a good tennis match, the otrher sport you compared, and love playing tennis, though it's tough to find a competitive game. Golf seems so damn snobbish, and the idea of guys participating in an athletic event wearing my work attire is as dumb as it gets. Tennis has suffered in recent years from the top players not having the flair or want to promote themselves or their sport...but who can blame them, as both Agassi and Sampras have made enough to live a million years.

And, dare I not forget, thanks for reading.





7/23/2002 10:19:00 PM



(7/23/2002 09:36:00 PM) - Al

The first shot has been fired, and it looks like a direct hit. Tyler Houston was traded to the Dodgers tonight for two young arms, 23 & 24, both not just run of the mill prospects, but solid ones. The righty is a former 1st round pick, and the lefty is at AAA, pitching well. He looks to be more of a low ceiling, middle reliever type, but beggars can't be choosers.

Anyone else think that's a bundle for a basket of mediocredom having a career season? Me too. Not sure if a few teams were bidding Tyler up, or if LA simply feels he's worth the price for a shot at a playoff berth.

I can honestly say I'd have been very happy with the lefty who doesn't stand to be anything more than a cheap arm in the bullpen for a few years. Dean Taylor has always had stellar luck/skill with deadline deals, and getting anything resembling a prospect for a platoon 3B has be to be considered movement in the right direction.

We're talking about a club barely winning 33% of its games. Don't bother trying to build onto the foundation that's there, tear it down and start over. Maybe only 1.5 million come to Miller Park next year. Hell, let the casuals take a year off. According to my math, losing 500K in attendance will cost the Crew $9 million in revenue next year. Almost all other revenue sources will be unaffected.

Let's just hope this isn't the last move we see. A fire sale is needed, one of the five alarm variety. We may just have some small ammo remaining other than Jose Hernandez, but let's pull the trigger every chance we get.


7/23/2002 09:36:00 PM


Sunday, July 21, 2002

(7/21/2002 10:12:00 PM) - Al

I can't believe how surprised everyone is that Tiger Woods didn't WIN the British Open. The guy hasn't played since his last Slam win, and let's be honest, when it's the field verus one golfer, I bet the field every time. No offense to the man, but how early can he get up and hard can he work when he makes $40 million A YEAR from Nike? Everyone is still breathlessly awaiting his appearance in MN for the PGA. The man can do no wrong, he is everything golf and every sport needs.


7/21/2002 10:12:00 PM



(7/21/2002 08:23:00 PM) - Al

So, on Saturday night, after working late, I tuned into the TEX/OAK game on DIRECT. Billy Koch gave up a solo HR to Raffy to tie the game in the 9th, so in the bottom of the inning, after Dave Burba retired the first two batters, he "pitched around" Eric Chavez, walking him on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt.

Now, I hate the idea of giving the opposition a baserunner, unless it's obviously a good idea to do so. Pitching scared to a good, not great hitter with the bases empty isn't my idea of trying to win, it's trying not to lose. Suddenly, Burba was all over the place. He walked the next batter, hardly close to the plate. The first pitch to John Mabry bounced a couple feet in front of the plate, sending the runners to 2nd and 3rd. The OAK announcers then said, "Now, they'll probably walk Mabry". I thought to myself, you idiots. After all, despite a nice '02, Mabry is, well, John Mabry, a replacement level bench guy who sticks on rosters because of his defense and ability to play 1B/LF/RF. And, Burba hasn't been close to the plate since pitching around Chavez, no way they'll load the bases.

Then, TEX loaded the bases. Really. Like a drunk kicking a cop after being handcuffed, common sense played no part in the decision. You gotta be kidding me.

Olmedo Saenz stepped to the plate, and took the first pitch, about 3 inches high...still called a strike, however. Next pitch...about 3 FEET inside, HBP, game over. The A's were barely able to control their laughter coming out to shake hands, several, including Art Howe, didn't even try, chuckling and shaking his head all the way out.

What was that show's slogan, stop the insanity? Yes, please do.


7/21/2002 08:23:00 PM



(7/21/2002 07:57:00 PM) - Al

Let's see, since I last wrote, the Brewers have lost 3 times...and nary a rumor has come out of the Journal Sentinel. That would be newsworthy only if the JS EVER reported such items in their fine sports section. But, even with TWO Brewers' writers, they lack the energy and ambition necessary to dig into the trenches necessary to garner any nuggets of info. One of them writes nothing except prose telling us how damn efficient Royster and Stewart are, and the other...sits in the office watching the game on TV. Honest.

This is, of course, the annual trading frenzy which always happens because the deadline to trade without clearing waivers is 7/31. MIL, like their record would suggest, doesn't have a lot to offer, but even role players can improve a team's weakness and provide depth, in theory providing an extra win that COULD make the difference in a close race. The Crew has one decent starter they'd like to deal...but Jamey Wright has been horrendous this year, both injured and ineffective. Even though there may be a club that still feels they have a better chance with Wright than their current #5 starter, it's hard to sell a 2-9, 7 ERA to the faithful as an "improvement".

Actual possible destinations have been applied to a couple guys, Tyler Houston and LA's search for a 3B have been matched, while ANA has shown interest in Mike Dejean, as they have had the injury bug bite the bullpen. By far the biggest piece of artillery the Crew has remains Jose Hernandez, in the last year of a contract, and at worst, a Top 10 SS. He's hit almost as many HR's as Richie Sexson, who proves daily one needs not have legs to play MLB, a beacon of light for handicapable youngsters everywhere. The idea this 34-64 team's best option is to play their best player despite him being banged up pretty much sums up what's wrong with the organization...damn near everything. No club about next week or next year, what's good for today?

The next ten days may be as important to this team as any you'll see until at least next June's draft. If we're sitting here 8/1 and looking at the same 25 man roster, it'll be a sad time. The only bright spot seems to be the strength in the lower minors, several years from contributing positively. Until then, it's tough to imagine anyone but the diehards tuning in daily.


7/21/2002 07:57:00 PM


Thursday, July 18, 2002

(7/18/2002 07:53:00 PM) - Al

There's very little to talk about as far as the Brewers are concerned, they have played poorly after the break, and are now getting further banged up, with Sexson playing at half-strength, and Sanchez and Hammonds both hurting. If it was a fight, they would have stopped it by now.:)

Still, these are the times that separates the loyal fans from the bandwagon folks. Especially with minicamps beginning soon, discussing the 7th defensive back or the long snapper will soon take precedent in Wisconsin, as the Packers are and remain the darlings of the state.

I used to follow the Pack, but years of working Sunday and a general distaste for overgrown children blowing out knees and playing stupidly, but "with emotion" and being rewarded for it, has made me a VERY casual fan of the game. The discussion on the boards tends to get much more intelligent as the NFL fan stops posting, as in my opinion, football seems to have unknowledgeable "rah-rah" guys who can get away with watching something 3 hours a week and being considered "true" fan. This is also true of NASCAR and pro wrestling (hell, NOTHING ever changes in pro wrestling, except every couple years, the busty sidekicks go from brunette to blonde), from my very distant view of those societies. Personally, I do not think that there's a person watching the cars go 'round and 'round not holding their nth beer of the day, as I've never really heard a conversation about it that was intelligible.

So as the days grow short, the intelligent fan watches the season conclude, and looks to the hope of the following season, because regardless of your chances, everyone starts off 0-0. For me, Badgers basketball is my favorite diversion, but doesn't come close to the Brewers and MLB.


7/18/2002 07:53:00 PM



(7/18/2002 07:37:00 PM) - Al

The thing I find funny about most of the criticism of Bud Selig is the absolutely idiotic ideas that are proposed by those critical of him. No thought for the future of the game, or a 20-50 year plan, just thoughts off the top of their head...yet Bud is doing a poor job. Derek Zumsteg, who writes for Baseball Prospectus, as well as David Pinto of Baseball Musings have recently written how:

1. Contraction, what a stupid idea.

AND

2. You know, if many small market teams were eliminated, you could have some sort of regional "Super AAA" league that would be a great thing.

Please. At least be consistent with your thoughts off the top of your head. Today, Pinto suggested the Brewers are a poorly run team, and should be eliminated if any are. While I can't disagree about the management issues, the idea of somehow contracting the most profitable team with a state-of-the-art stadium has to be one of the sillier things I've ever seen in print. MIN was "chosen" because of its run down, hellish ballpark; with no plan to build a new one to increase league low revenues. MON...well, because they're Montreal. As much as I enjoy watching the Twins, they are still lagging in attendance to the Crew, despite being 11 games ahead in 1st place. That's an embarassing as any stat I've ever seen, and is simply inexcusable.

Now, if the Crew was still playing in County Stadium, I'd have to admit, they'd be right there with MON. But they're not. The facts don't change just because you don't like them.



7/18/2002 07:37:00 PM


Wednesday, July 17, 2002

(7/17/2002 07:49:00 PM) - Al

Torri Hunter, after being hit by a pitch, picked up the ball and fired it at the pitcher, resulting in his ejection, and a certain suspension to be forthcoming. Talk about checking your brain at the door. Hey, I know it hurts to get hurt by a fastball in the ribs, but to weaken your team by overreacting to it is absolutely unacceptable. He should apoligize to every one of his teammates, as he will have plenty of time, when he's sitting out to serve his punishment.

In the middle of a pennant race, that type of behavior will likely lose him a lot of respect from his teammates as well. Whenever winning games takes a back seat to your agenda, the only loser is the team.


7/17/2002 07:49:00 PM



(7/17/2002 03:35:00 PM) - Al

On Sunday, Ramon Ortiz pitched 2 innings for ANA, allowing 9 runs. He was removed to start the 3rd, down 9-0.

Why?

A manager has only two responsibilities: To set his players up to succeed and to do what's best for his club's performance, both short-term and long-term. The odds of winning the game in question is extremely slim. I would guess ANA will only score 10 runs in about 15 games this year. Let's not forget, the opponent, KC in this case, still gets to bat 7 times. You certainly don't want to manage to win this game, it's a good opportunity to get some guys some rest, let your 11th man pitch a few innings, etc.

Regardless, it is in the best interest of the team to allow Ramon, if healthy of course, to pitch another inning or two. At some point, you have to balance out the effects of an embarassing outing versus the innings saved, but after 9 runs in 2 innings, 12 in 3, or 14 in 4 is a step up. Sooner or later, someone has to "take one for the team".

As it turned out, KC won the game 12-3. ANA's bullpen pitched 6 innings of mediocre relief, in a lost cause. What's unique about this is, Monday night, ANA was involved in an extra inning affair with the Twins. Wasting those innings of meaningless relief Sunday may well have cost the Angels Monday's game as well, as they did not have a rested bullpen whatsoever.

Talk all you want about whether a manager decides to PH or hit-and-run, but how he handles "throw away" situations tells a lot about his ability to see the big picture.


7/17/2002 03:35:00 PM



(7/17/2002 03:13:00 PM) - Al

Sheets threw 119 pitches last evening. While that isn't enough to make me type out a hate filled rant against our braintrust, it certainly doesn't speak well for them either. It speaks volumes of the lack of direction the organization suffers through. With no hope or chance for postseason, one has to wonder what the negatives would be about imposing a "hard" limit of 110 pitches the rest of the way for the starters would be.

Sheets, Quevedo, and Rusch will almost certainly be part of our '03 rotation, risking their health by having them pitch an extra 10-20 pitches in this lost season is as ignorant as it gets.


7/17/2002 03:13:00 PM


Tuesday, July 16, 2002

(7/16/2002 09:24:00 PM) - Al

From the Journal Sentinel, Dean Taylor says what should have been said 3 years ago.

The Brewers haven't negotiated with any of their potential free agents and apparently are prepared to go with youth. Taylor said the Brewers want to acquire young players to "fill in the gaps" in their farm system, which has several promising players at the lower levels but not much above that.

"We need to start looking to the future," Taylor said. "We would be interested in any young, good players who are ready to play in the major leagues or who maybe are on the brink of being ready."


Sounds like the echoes of what I've been muttering since 'bout '95. The pre-arby years are by far the most cost effective seasons of a player's career. Also, if a player is injured or ineffective, he can be simply tossed aside like a chubby girl at a frat house. Having a player that is not only way below average...but costing $15 million per like Mike Hampton...and locked into a deal through the 2008 campaign is enough to scare me off long-term megadeals for life.



7/16/2002 09:24:00 PM



(7/16/2002 09:15:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers, down 1-0, had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th, one out, and Ben Sheets due up. Ben had about 90 pitches in, and I would have PH for him. I figured you'd only get another inning out of Ben anyway, so why not go for the run(s). As it turns out, Ben pitched the 6th and the 7th, so either his pitch count is higher than I'd like, or he got out of each inning with 10 pitches or so.

I will have to investigate this, but the MIL announcers say CIN has 10 relievers available. Even if one of these guys is a starter they are skipping, that's still 14 pitchers on the roster, 3 more than most clubs, and 2 more than teams carrying 12, which is the most I've ever heard of a team carrying on a true "this is the way I want it" roster.


7/16/2002 09:15:00 PM



(7/16/2002 09:08:00 PM) - Al

While I will usually leave the political commentary to the huge number of liberal blog folk, allow me to wonder how in the hell this California preppie punk goes on a vacation in the Middle East, decides to go to war against the USA, then wraps himself in the flag and the judicial system upon his return. Somehow, he manages to plea himself down to 20 years, which is what a ghetto fella gets for his third possession conviction under our odd "3 strikes and you're out" mandates. How weak of mind must this buffoon be, why couldn't he have just joined a cult at UC-Davis, and gone to poetry readings with girls he didn't want to sleep with?

The dude made a choice, and once again, personal responsibility for your actions is nonexistant in our society. Well sure, he was willing to join an army and carry a gun for the cause...but he's a nice young man. I'd sure hate it if I didn't have to support his sorry ass with my tax dollars.

He's not as hated in my mind as OJ Simpson, but he's close.


7/16/2002 09:08:00 PM


Sunday, July 14, 2002

(7/14/2002 02:25:00 PM) - Al

I keep forgetting to say this, but Road to Perdition is excellent. I've said it before, but they should just rename the Best Actor Academy Award "The Tom Hanks", and give it to the 2nd best actor each year Mr. Hanks decides to be in a film.

Not many men can play a hit man and make him the "good guy", Hanks does it effortlessly. Great actor, great movie.


7/14/2002 02:25:00 PM



(7/14/2002 02:14:00 PM) - Al

Richie Sexson hit a double to the gap in right-center. It bounced on the warning track, off the wall, and to the CF.

Trouble is, Richie stopped at 1B, because the man simply can hardly run, due to injury. And he's in the game, why?

Protecting your star player's health when your record is 33-58 is the only intelligent move...so why am I surprised that isn't what the Brewers are doing?


7/14/2002 02:14:00 PM



(7/14/2002 02:01:00 PM) - Al

With a 3-1 lead in the 3rd inning, Ruben Quevedo just pitched around Brian Giles, who walked. Giles, who had hit 3 HR's in the past 3 games, has 24 HR's this year...and has 300+ other PA's in which he hasn't hit a HR. Opposing scouts must just sit and smile slyly to themselves at Miller Park, and wonder how the Stewart/Royster combo manages to still have jobs in the majors.


7/14/2002 02:01:00 PM



(7/14/2002 01:18:00 PM) - Al

Today in MN, it is forecast to be 90+, with high humidity. My dog Ronnie and I just got back from a 15-20 minute walk, and the best word I can come up with to describe the conditions is "tropical". I hedged between that and brutal, but that could also describe cold, rainy, etc. Ronnie is mostly black, and he was panting wantingly after about 30 seconds.

So, I'm sure many Minnesotans, even those much more hardy than myself, will maybe do something outside, albeit briefly today, then retire to a movie theater, shopping mall, etc. And I'm sure many will turn on the TV to watch the Twins, as they continue to play well, the obvious class of the division.

Except, the Twins are not on TV today. Not on Fox Sports Net, not on free TV. It is a day off for the broadcast team, and one has to wonder why. The Twins broadcast 130 games a year, or looked at another way, are only NOT broadcast 32 games per season. Take away weekday matinees, and contracted cannot broadcast games (Saturday afternoons from June on are exclusive to FOX), that takes it pretty close to 32, you'd figure. I'm no expert, but you'd think April games on the West coast, that start at 9 or 9:30, would be cut from the schedule long before a Sunday afternoon in the middle of the hot summer.

I will simply watch the Brewers/Pirates, courtesy of Extra Innings, but will have no game to switch to during ads, which means my punishment (other than the obvious, watching the Brewers) will be that I will beforced to see a few more Lite Beer "how ironic" ads. Most folks would be forced to watch other events, which include NASCAR, golf, and bicycle racing.

Programming like that would be enough to push me to open a book and/or take a nap, and most locals will simply open an alcoholic beverage and sit in the shade. That isn't a bad thing, but it sure is a lost opportunity for the Twins and MLB.


7/14/2002 01:18:00 PM



(7/14/2002 12:44:00 PM) - Al

From the Journal Sentinel Brewers' coverage, the true embarassment of Milwaukee.

Jerry Royster, on why he didn't PH for Paul Bako, lefty hitting catcher, when a lefty reliever was brought on to face him in the 7th, down 5-3, runners on 1st and 3rd, one out.

I was counting on him right there to make contact," Royster said of Bako, a left-handed batter who seldom faces southpaws. Royster said he didn't hit for Bako because the Brewers were down by more than one run and, unlike the all-star managers Tuesday, he didn't want to run out of players.

"(Bako) making contact in that situation gets me a run," he said. "That was good enough for me at the time. I didn't want to run out of guys. Had I made that move (hitting Robert Machado), we would have run out of guys because I also would have needed a pinch-runner if (Machado) got a hit because that would have been the tying run.


I will type this slowly, in case Mr. Royster himself peeks in.

(Bako) making contact in that situation gets me a run

Let's see if I can come up with one situation in which "contact" DOES NOT get me a run. Well, here goes:

1. A ground ball back to the pitcher, 1-6-3 DP
2. 4-6-3 DP
3. 6-4-3 DP
4. 3-6-3 DP
5. 5-4-3 DP
6. Line drive, caught by the pitcher.
7. Line drive, caught by the 1B
8. Line drive, caught by 2B
9. Line drive, SS
10. Line drive 3B
11. Pop up, C
12. Pop up, 1B
13 Pop up, 2B
14. Pop up, SS
15. Pop up, 3B
16. Pop up, P
17. Short fly ball, LF
18. Short fly ball, CF
19. Short fly ball, RF

So, maybe what Jerry meant to say was, "Contact gets me a run...unless one of nineteen common plays occur".

I didn't want to run out of guys.

Better to finish the game losing and having several better options on the bench, unused, I guess.

Had I made that move (hitting Robert Machado), we would have run out of guys because I also would have needed a pinch-runner if (Machado) got a hit because that would have been the tying run.

First of all, that may be the stupidest thing Royster has ever muttered, since PRing for Machado would have been a non-issue, as he is the only other catcher the Brewers had. The "emergency catcher" would have been Tyler Houston, who used to catch, but now refuses to.

Secondly, Machado would have been the go ahead run, not the tying run. It's hilarious to me that not only does Royster not know the game situation to which he speaks, he is DEFENDING his own actions using an incorrect history.

Simply put, not PHing for Bako wasn't a horrible move, but the reasons why he played it that way are all but nonexistant. It was just a shot in the dark, throw a dart at a dartboard type of thing, as he couldn't even ratonalize it an hour later. Did Jerry "set up his players to succeed"? Did he plan out his bench usage to maximize their effectiveness?

No, he hoped for the best. Jerry seems to have caught the Dave Stewart disease that I call, "hey, don't blame me". Player does well, give me credit; player fails, they "failed to execute".

The worst move of the game was to allow Lenny (Career OPS of under 700) Harris to start at 1B. Harris has done nothing in a decade to justify being on a major league roster, never mind starting at the most important offensive position on the field. He was forced out at 2B with 2 outs on a dropped fly ball to RF last weekend, so he is likely the stupidest human being in the world, in addition to being worthless at the plate. The idea Harris is still on the roster speaks volumes on why this organization struggles immensely. 25th men on the roster can be picked up on waivers, signed as minor league FA's, and make minimum salary. Lenny was traded for and makes over a million dollars.

It's difficult even trying to solve the big issues when you have no idea how to fill the last spot on the roster without overspending for crap.




7/14/2002 12:44:00 PM


Saturday, July 13, 2002

(7/13/2002 06:05:00 PM) - Al

LA just lost the most important game of the year. I assume now tomorrow's game becomes the "most important"? McCarver is this century's P.T. Barnum.


7/13/2002 06:05:00 PM



(7/13/2002 06:02:00 PM) - Al

Got a e-mail from Walter in Eau Claire, a bit put off by my referring to Carson Park as "beat-up". I have to admit, I haven't visited Carson since '96 (I think), and while beat-up may have been accurate then, it may not still be. He spoke of much renovation, and if it has improved the grand old yard, congrats. It's still better than the Dome regardless.


7/13/2002 06:02:00 PM



(7/13/2002 05:59:00 PM) - Al

Last night on the Brewers' broadcast, Bill Schroeder (is it too much to ask to have anyone except a catcher who couldn't hit be a color man?) said he came up with a goal for the Brewers in the 2nd half. In his mind, a good goal would be to finish 10 games over .500 in the 74 games after the all-star break. As I thought to myself, .500 might be a more realistic, sensible goal, Bill said, as if to me, "who wants to have winning half your games as a goal"?

How 'bout a team that went 33-55 in the first half?

10 over would be 42-32...better than SL, better than the Twins in the 1st half. It would also give the Crew 75 wins, which many would say would be the worst thing that could occur, finishing near respectability with this low ceiling, over 30 group.

.500 would still give us 70 wins for the year, more than I think they'll finish with. .500 is a pretty good goal in my estimation, and likely still a very aggressive one. 10 over is as unlikely as Jennifer Love Hewitt finding my blog interesting and e-mailing pictures to me.


7/13/2002 05:59:00 PM



(7/13/2002 05:47:00 PM) - Al

Not much news on the Brewers front, but the more player for prospect deals you see made, the more you have to wonder why MIL's name hasn't been involved in one of them. With a group of overpaid utility veterans and a dire need for middling talent in the minors, especially the top two levels, damn near anything that combines getting younger and dumping salary would have to be considered a move in the right direction at this point.


7/13/2002 05:47:00 PM



(7/13/2002 05:43:00 PM) - Al

Don't look now, but HOU is only 4.5 games behind SL. I have trouble taking a team seriously until they hit the .500 mark, but I can at least imagine the Astros catching SL, and unless they make a couple more moves, no way Cincy is doing it.


7/13/2002 05:43:00 PM



(7/13/2002 05:37:00 PM) - Al

Tim McCarver...could the man use any more cliches? From the beginning of the game until now, I don't think the man has uttered a sentence without putting in a "nugget of wisdom" said about a kajillion times since baseball was first played.

My favorite you ask?

McCarver: I know many people will say it's silly to say one game is the most important out of 162....

Why yes, yes it is.

McCarver:...but today's game is the most important game of the year for Los Angeles, and I'll tell you why.

Somehow, I knew he would. If it was possible for a man to mate with and/or marry his own voice, Tim would have done it decades ago.

McCarver:...The Dodgers have lost two games in a row to the Diamondbacks, but they've lost to Schilling and Johnson, and lots of teams lose to those two guys. But today, facing Brian Anderson, the Dodgers are facing a pitcher they should be able to defeat...so this is the most important game of the year for them.

Shiver me timbers, what an idiot.

Also, allow me to give a brief critique of ARI SS Tony Womack. The horror. Tony makes quite a few errors, and despite the fact he always seems to take a poor path to the ball, does have pretty good range, so I'll be nice and say he's average in the field. So far this year at the plate:

Ave SS---.263/.322/.395, 717 OPS
Womack-.255/.309/.322, 631

Good God. Worse yet, Tony leads off for ARI, because he runs fast. Every game, he gets more plate appearances than any other D'Back, though he gets out nearly 70% of the time. Over the course of the season, he'll get about 130 more PA's than the #8 hitter, which is where he should be hitting, unless Bob Uecker is your catcher. Jose Hernandez would be a huge step up for ARI, but it makes so much sense, it'll never happen.





7/13/2002 05:37:00 PM


Friday, July 12, 2002

(7/12/2002 09:10:00 PM) - Al

Just switched over to see how the Twins were doing. Pudge Rodriguez hits a line drive to short CF, and All Planet CF Torri Hunter got caught in between, and the ball short hopped by him. With no one out, it looked like a sure triple. Jacque Jones ran the ball down on the warning track, fired it in to the SS Guzman...and Steve Smith, TEX's 3B coach...waved him home. Guzman's throw bounced perfectly to the C, and Pudge was out by 10 feet.

This is the 2nd time this year I've seen this exact play, the leadoff batter thrown out at home while trying for the inside-the-park HR. It's something that should never happen, as far as I can tell, as you don't send the guy home unless you are sure they'll score. In both cases, the runner was out by a mile. In both cases, the runner was tagged out and like a compass finding north, they both immediately looked toward their 3B coach, as if to say:

1. What are you doing?

2. How do you keep your job?

At least tonight, Smith looked grumpily in, as if it was the runner's fault. Maybe he was upset the runner didn't slide, but I think he was simply upset at being "shown up", the nerve of being held rsponsible for one's actions. As I said before, I'd pretty much have to replace the 3B coach at the end of the half inning, as losing a runner at home before anyone is out is simply hellishly poor baseball. If your pitcher doesn't have it, you take him out. Ditto for the 3B coach. Sadly however, this never happens, because the coach is:

1. A buddy of the manager.

2. Has the built in excuse of "it was a judgement call" written into his contract.

What's funny is, it's nothing to be critical of a player for misplaying a sharp grounder with wicked spin on it, or hitting a ball hard right at an IF to start a DP. But, 3B coaches are kind of like drunken frat boys...regardless of behavior, they very rarely are held accountable, for reasons that are oblivious to me.

Losing a baserunner at 3B or home with no one out is the height of poor judgement, and is never acceptable. It simply shouldn't happen. Seeing two outs like that in one year tells me some guys are allowing emotion to get in the way of thinking smart, and that should never happen.


7/12/2002 09:10:00 PM



(7/12/2002 05:04:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I was reading your Blog (which is excellent by the way) and I noticed your take on sammy sosa's steriod test, which I'll summerize as: "If he has nothing to hide why doesn't he?".

If sammy takes that test then every player in the league is under pressure to take public steroids tests. If they don't then they must be on steriods right? But we know some players are on steriods, so by taking the test sammy would started a chain reaction that could have eventually nailed someone. One of Sosa's friends or co-workers. Do you think the rest of the players would have enjoyed the public steroid scrutiny? Think of the animosity it would have generated towards sosa from players. You can't expect the man to sell out his friends and co-workers like that to prove he's innocent, when there is no cause to think he does use steroids.

Josh Schulz
http://stlcardinals.blogspot.com


Thanks for writing Josh, and for the kind words. I hope you'll continue to check out the blog. I haven't checked yours yet, but will do so after I finish this.

I hadn't thought about this aspect, but it doesn't change my mind. Peer pressure, especially protecting those peers who are doing something illegal, unethical, and unhealthy, is not a good reason to do or not do anything. If Sammy doesn't want to be tested, for whatever reason, don't talk about it. Say no comment when asked, and go from there.

As you said, there's no doubt that there are a few players using performance enhancing drugs. I hope they can get testing into the next CBA myself, as it will eliminate most of the drug use, and even the playing field. Plus, if street drugs can be worked into the agreement (again, I can't imagine why not), it could help guys before a problem occurs, as it has in the NBA, in theory.
__________________________________________________


7/12/2002 05:04:00 PM



(7/12/2002 11:35:00 AM) - Al

Al,

Question for you, and sort of a favor if you're up to it: I'd like to know the hands down, full-out stadium story in Minnesota. Now, I know I could hit up the various media outlets around the country and in-state, but I'd like your opinion/facts as you see/know them. All of it, as much info as possible.

I suppose if you're not up to it, or don't feel like it, a link to what you think is the best, full coverage of the story would be fine. I figure it
could and would get kinda lengthy for you. But hey, that's a rambling if I ever heard one. :)

Thanks alot,

James


James sent me his season tiks he wasn't using for a Miller Park game my wife and I attended this past May, so I made this my priority. However, the more I considered it, the "whole" story would take up most of my day. I will give you the condensed version, with my opinions of whose fault it is. I may be sending you a couple links as well, thru e-mail.

The public and legislators in MN have made funding new stadiums and arenas an EXTREMELY low priority. A new hockey palace was totally ignored, until the NorthStars left. I've had a few people tell me that compared to the Twins, the NorthStars were regarded as an institution and numerous times, the phrases "Well, they'd NEVER leave. It just couldn't happen. We'd sue, the NHL wouldn't allow it, it's impossible." Even this past session, the ballpark was put off until no other issues could be brought up. It was obvious it was a hot issue, but no one cared enough to deal with it. So, they passed a plan that Gov. Ventura had proposed, which can be best be described as "wimpy". It's a barebones, almost epitome of "plain", proposal, simply for as little money as possible. No thought of infrastructure, a retractable roof, parking, etc. None. It limits the amount a city or county can pay for, and leaves the Twins holding the bag on any and all cost overruns, delays, etc. Of course, the city of Mpls has an ordinance that limits its contribution to $10 million, effectively eliminating them. St. Paul tried to convince the Twins they could pay their share with a 3% bar and restaurant tax. But, no data is available, no studies were done, they're all but pulling numbers from the sky. In fact, the Twins are paying for a study to see exactly how much can be raised from such a tax and how much they would be left to pay. It looks like the Twins are NOT going to promise to sign a 30 year lease and pay "their share", so no referendum will even take place. Unless a new deal is reached by next week, all goes back to square one.

Minnesota is known as a very liberal state, they supported both Dukasis and Mondale, for heavens sake. They pissed away millions of dollars to move a dumpy old house, I'm sorry, a historic dumpy old house last year. As school districts here find themselves getting less money from the federal and state government, only one solution is consistently mentioned: How can we get someone else to pay for our children's education and activities? This is by far the prevailing attitude in the entire Twin Cities area. Many suitors have looked at the Twins, the most mentioned is Glen Taylor, who owns the T'Wolves. Without a new stadium, no one is a bit interested, at least not at this point. The Metrodome is laughed at throughout the baseball world, and as an area resident, it is by far the worst place to watch a game I've ever come across. Both Midway Stadium (St. Paul) and Carson Park (Eau Claire) are nothing except old and beat up, and both are much preferred to the Dome. The dirty white roof not withstanding, all the seats face short CF, as that's where the 50 yard line is.

By the way, a proposed Vikings/Gophers stadium plan wasn't even voted on this past session...because the Vikings haven't threatened loudly to move/fold. That's what it takes in MN, loud whining gets action, quiet facts get you nowhere. As a baseball fan who can easily see the benefits of all sports and entertainment venues, it's embarrassing to the nth power. What's really pitiful is that the Wild have been so incredibly successful...and none even mentions what a huge mistake it was to not have hockey for several years while trying to "prove a point" that they failed miserably to do.

It has also not been lost on me that since the Twins were guaranteed to play in 2003, all momentum was gone. That returned it to the back burner, which is likely where it will stay until 5 minutes to the deadline. Some areas, St. Louis for example, recently announced plans to build a state of the art stadium, even though their present situation is a dozen times better than the Twins. Baseball is a priority there. At least at the moment, it isn't in Minnesota.

___________________________________________________________


7/12/2002 11:35:00 AM



(7/12/2002 09:34:00 AM) - Al

If not for e-mails, I might have to think to come up with ideas:)

Al,

Great site. I found yours via David Pinto's blog, by way of John Perricone's...whew.

Anyway, as far as I understand a salary 'floor,' it's basically a check and balance for teams like the Twins. Many of the rich owners are getting pissed with guys like Carl Pohlad (BILLIONAIRE owner of the Twins) pocketing the luxury tax cash they get and not putting a DIME back into their teams. The Twins have gotten good IN SPITE of Pohlad's best efforts, and the other owners aren't happy about it. A salary floor would ensure crappy (or trying to be crappy) teams don't run out a team of minimum-salaried guys and then pocket any money they take from other teams. It's issues like this that divide the owners, which makes me optimistic that if there IS a strike, it won't last very long, since there are so many splinter groups within the owners...

Anyway, I wanted to give you a positive side of the salary floor, in my opinion...

Great site,
John


Thanks for the e-mail and for reading John. Your view of a "floor" is agreed on by many, though not really by me. To get this out as quick as possible, if you're going to suck, suck cheap. In my view, they're only a couple real "stops" on the team building scale. One is you are capable or very close to capable of winning 90 games, which puts you in playoff contention every year. If you are not at that stage, you are building toward that level. Needless to say, if you win 84 games, you are likely a lot closer to the competing stage than if win 64, but you are both really at the same place, trying to add talent and get better in the future.

So, if you are in the building stage, it is good business to not overpay for a win or two; while if you are in contention for a playoff berth, a win or two may make all the difference between success and just missing. It seems to me that very few clubs that are winning 90 games are going to be an issue with the floor. Even the above mentioned Twins had a huge payroll jump as they try to get to the 90 win threshold for the first time. The youngsters they have cultivated and brought up through the system have matured, improved, and in some cases, like Torri Hunter, have had incredible success. They WERE cheap as they were building toward 90 W's, and now, are arby eligible and more expensive. The last couple years, MIN has had payrolls in the $18-25 million range, and have made small profits. Now, they are spending about $40 million, and look like the class of a weak division.

What possible good could have come from the Twins signing a couple guys like Eric Young to artificially inflate their payroll to meet a baseball imposed "floor"? None. In fact, let's assume EY was a FA in '01 rather than '02, and MIN would have signed him, to add that elusive veteran leadership and promote team chemistry to the obscene levels the '02 Brewers have. Not only would it not have helped, it would have HURT the Twins, as a youngster named Luis Rivas would not have received the playing time he did to assist in his development. Rivas is still very young and is an important cog in the Twins hopes. Those plate appearances he got in '01 can only help the Twins get to the next level.

The idea of a floor benefits no one except overpaid examples of mediocrity, nearly without exception 30+ year-olds whose skills are declining with more haste than the memory of their solid seasons many years previous.

One last thing, I do agree that a strike will likely not last long at all, not only are the owners not in agreement on hardly a thing, the debt Mr. Selig speaks of is real, though his claims of heavy losses may be exaggerated. If Fred's Bank and Taxidermy has money come due from the DevilRays on 9/1, Fred doesn't stop stuffing road kill to call and say that because of the strike, he will just put off payment until things are settled and cash flow is better. That's why 90% of small businesses fail, because of debt, usually associated with the startup costs. Banks are very cold, and don't care about anything except payment. Threats of foreclosure and such is enough to push many teams to break ranks and push "to get it done".
_________________________________________________________________


7/12/2002 09:34:00 AM



(7/12/2002 07:51:00 AM) - Al

Last night, Alex Ochoa was a defensive replacement for Matt Stairs in the 9th inning for the Brewers. Later in the evening, Rusty Greer was a defensive replacement for Kevin Mench in the TEX/Twins game. The interesting similiarity is this: Both entered in a TIE game, and in the final inning of the game, both Ochoa and Greer came to the plate and made an out.

How silly is this? If the defense in a corner OF spot is so damn important, why not start them, after all, it's also a tie game at the beginning of the game. So, in the 1st inning, opffense takes priority, yet in the late innings, defense does? Do runs scored in the 8th and 9th not count as much as those scored earlier? Runs prevented early on somehow don't matter?

Please. Make up your mind, and be consistent. Corner OF's average less than 3 total chances a game. The odds are, if they do touch a ball, it will be an easy fly out, or tossing a base hit into 2B. Somehow thinking that preventing a run is more important than scoring one in the late innings tells me that neither Narron or Royster are doing anymore than going with their last brainwave. They hadn't planned out a thing, and in both cases, it showed.

Greer is a LH hitter, and the Twins' closer is a lefty. Ochoa is a RH hitter, the Pirates' closer is a righty. This simple fact was lost on both Jerrys, even though it's general knowledge and quite obvious...but apparently, not obvious enough.



7/12/2002 07:51:00 AM


Thursday, July 11, 2002

(7/11/2002 08:05:00 PM) - Al

Nothing better than turning on the Brewers opening the 2nd half...and watching Richie Sexson barely able to run because of a bad hammy...yet still playing, as if it was the 7th game of the World Series. If you don't learn from your past mistakes...A team as famous for rushing guys back and playing them until something pops as the Crew needs to seriously examine priorities. Often the Twins put a guy on the DL even though he's only supposed to miss 7-10 days, to give them extra time to heal.

One team tends to have a lot of guys DL'd for a short period of time, one for much longer...I bet you don't need two guesses to figure out which is which.


7/11/2002 08:05:00 PM



(7/11/2002 06:30:00 PM) - Al

As simple as it is, it occurs to me I haven't discussed the division races at all yet. As we reenter baseball season (yeah!) tonight, I thought this would be a perfect time, and to review my preseason picks.

AL East: NY 96 (wins), BOS 84, TOR 72, TB 68, BAL 65

It looks like NY will win about 100, so it's up to BOS to keep up, or play for the wildcard. Honestly, BOS should probably settle for the 90 or so wins they will likely get and go from there...but they won't. Surprising to see BAL ahead of TOR, but I didn't really expect the Jays to go into rebuilding with such vigor.

AL Central: MIN 90, CLE 84, CWS 80, DET 76, KC 65

As of this second, it's the Twins to lose. With the Sox on pace for 77 wins, a .500 record may be all it takes, and it's difficult to believe the Twins won't win 81.

AL West: SEA 102, OAK 101, TEX 85, ANA 79

I still feel the top two teams in the AL play in the West, and no, ANA isn't one of them. No doubt they're a lot better than I felt, but to imagine them winning more than the A's over 162 is tough to fathom.

NL East: ATL 90, FLA 83, MON 80, NYM 78, PHIL 75

I'm picking the Braves every year until they either announce a rebuilding plan or lose it. Looks like with the Marlins cutting salary, they will cruise to the title.

NL Central: HOU 92, SL 90, MIL 83, CIN 81, CHI 75, PIT 64

Obviously, the Brewers was a pick with my heart and not my head. If pressed, I would have said 78, but they aren't THAT far apart. I'm looking great with my pick of the Cubs to fall, but awful with my pick of the Astros. They still may surge, but 92 was a reach.

NL West: SF 86, ARI 84, COL 77, LA 73, SD 70

I must admit, seeing many pick the Padres to win made me shake my head and wonder if I had forgotten they signed a Freddy Garcia type FA. I wondered if the Dodgers would score 600 runs, and who would have thought Odalis Perez was an all-star?









7/11/2002 06:30:00 PM


Wednesday, July 10, 2002

(7/10/2002 08:26:00 PM) - Al

Watching the AAA all-star game, just saw former Brewers' farmhand Marcos Scutaro drill a double. He does look rather short, and I would guess that is a major reason he's on his 3rd organization despite excellent stats.Why does height matter, you ask? I suppose it does give you a bit more range on defense, and shorter players are also "smaller" on average, making them a slight bit more injury prone, I would assume. For instance, I would say the average height and weight of a 5-11 guy is 175, while a 5-9 fella probably runs 160.

Does it matter? Not a bit. In the case of baseball, if a guy can play, a guy can play. Worrying that a player is smaller than average rather than looking at his results is shoddy evaluation, and nothing else. Whoever is the first to give Scooter a chance will be rewarded, 5-8 or not.


7/10/2002 08:26:00 PM



(7/10/2002 03:44:00 PM) - Al

Jason Nelson is another Brewers fan with whom I share correspondence. In a blatant rip off, what follows is the first edition of Jason & Al & the Brewers.

Al: First of all, reading Don Fehr's feelings, the idea of a strike seems downright goofy. Minor disagreements over how to split local revenue, and the owners want a luxury tax, players don't. How can this not get settled?

Jason: "Goofy" seems like the perfect word. Even the players at the all-star game sounded goofy. They all want to talk tough,
but in the end they really aren't that far apart...if they were, they certainly would have set a strike date, considering it would have been the perfect time, as they would have attracted all of the attention from the all-star fanfare to them.


Al: So, after what appears to be a huge success at the Miller Park All-Star game (except that horrible anthem, Roseanne would have been better), what moves do I expect?

Hernandez and Houston should be dealt, as they are in the middle of excellent, career best seasons. Both are far past their primes, and these seasons shouldn't be looked at anything but fluke occurances that need to be taken advantage of.

Jason: I pretty much echo those sentiments. I think Hernandez would have the most value if we could ship him to an AL team,
where they could also utilize him as a DH. I see a couple of possible matches in the AL: the White Sox, who have the light-hitting Royce Clayton, and the Angels...while they have Eckstein, they could plug Jose in at DH and move Brad Fullmer to first base.
As far as Houston goes, I would move him as soon as I got a good offer, that had a young pitcher that is major-league
ready, or will be next season.

Al: I feel the NL also has many matches, as at least a couple teams in the race have way below average production from SS, LA and ARI being two of them. If we'd take salary back, ATL may even add Jose to be a utility fella. Harris and Loretta should be given away, if necessary. The idea of these two clods holding down roster spots on a 60something win team hurts my feelings.

Jason: Unfortunately, I think Loretta is unmovable...I'm sure the Brewers have gotten offers for him, if they pay some of his
contract...but of course, we all know what Wendy Selig-Prieb would say to that. As far as Harris goes, you are quite correct...the fact that he has a roster spot on a team that is "rebuilding" is a disgrace. If you need "veteran leadership" that bad, your
coaching staff isnt doing its job. Dave Stewart and Cecil Cooper were All-Stars in the bigs, and both played in the
World Series. That should be enough "leadership". I will say this...if there is one thing Drew Olson is right about, I hope he is right about other teams actually having interest in him...the utter thought that we could get a decent player for him is just crazy.


Al: If we get someone to take Mark and pay $500K of his salary, that's $500K to the good. Lo is worth nothing to us sitting on the bench. Wright needs to go, and no value can be assessed without seeing how his next few starts go.

Jason: I think Jamey's July starts will determine how much (or how little) value he has. Jamey is just a player you shake your
head at...his stuff is so good, you just wonder how good he could be. My guess is if they try to move Jamey, they try to get an infielder in return who could play if Houston and Hernandez are no longer with the team after the deadline.

Al: There are a few others who may have value as a role player; Stairs, Dejean, Ochoa to name a few. Bako is a name not mentioned that should be, a contender might see him as a useful reserve C, and may overpay a bit as he's a lefty bat. I don't think he's a bit
better than most backups, and certainly isn't a starter at the big league level. Turning a spare part like Paul into a potential useful addition in a couple years is exactly what this club needs to do...and something we have rarely done in the past.

Jason: I think Dejean would have GREAT value. He is cheap, and versatile...he has shown he can get it done both as middle
reliever, set up man, and now closer. And with only one more year left on his deal IIRC, I wouldnt put it past a contending team with a closer who has injury problems (perhaps Anaheim again? Percival has proven to be quite fragile of late) to offer a minor leaguer with a high ceiling for Dejean. Personally, I think the Brewers have a closer in Luis Vizcaino...he just doesnt have that job yet. Since Bako is a FA after this year and would be cheap anyway, I doubt he has much value, other than maybe a possible throw-in to help even a trade out a bit. If Stairs could really get hot in July, I suppose he could also have value, to an AL team anyway.

Al: In my opinion, Bako has MORE value because of his upcoming FA status. He is a nice upgrade and will cost $233K the rest of '02, and then you can say goodbye quickly and painlessly. Ditto for Stairs, cost of $166K from 8/1 on. If he gets a couple pinch hits, that's well worthwhile.

What should we go after? Well, the organization has a huge black hole at 3B, a year ago, Eric Hinske would have been a good target. I'd say a good offensive catcher would be a nice thing as well, though they are few and far between. Let me once again throw Matt Lecroy's name out there. A power OF, and damn it, young arms, at every level of the minors. Truthfully, I'd happily take mediocre prospects at every level, as AA and AAA are still suffering from horrible drafts.

Jason: I would target the pitching first...as you mention, try to get arms that are already in the upper minors and would be
major league ready next year or in 2004 - especially for Hernandez, assuming that he doesnt completely fall off after the break (knock on wood). For the next "tier" of players (Houston, perhaps DeJean, etc.) I would use those players to try and feel position player needs at the high minors or ML level. But to be blunt, the Brewers are in the "get the best player available" mode...just get someone
with a high ceiling...and worry about the details later.

Al: One thing I find surprising is how most fans say Ben Sheets is untouchable, then don't even mention Ruben Quevedo. In my mind, Q has every bit the future Ben does, as Sheets seems to have regressed. He has lost all aggressiveness, his BB/K ratio looks
awful compared to '01.

Jason: I mentioned in my halftime article for Brewerfan.net that Ben has regressed in a number of areas...especially walks, which scares me, considering Ben is basically a two-pitch pitcher. Personally, I think Ben is not a #1 or even #2 starter. He certainly is
a bulldog on the mound and has as big of a heart as anyone, but he just doesnt have the stuff to be higher than a #3, IMHO. I agree with you...I think Ruben has a very bright future. He doesnt throw as hard as Ben, but he throws four pitches, and when he is on he is lights-out.

Al: Sheets seems to have fallen into the Royster/Stewart trap of "you have to add baserunners to shut the other team down". Ben has gone from stating his goal in spring training was to not walk a batter to pitching around Berkman to face Bagwell repeatedly. Now, Jeff isn't as good as Lance, but golly, he isn't like facing the pitcher either. Facing the cleanup man with runners on every time is not a winning recipe, but Ben seems to be listening to bad advice. Perhaps a bit too coachable?

Jason: I wouldnt use "coachable". I think Dave Stewart has had an impact on Ben...a very negative one. I feel from day one in camp, Dave has put a lot of pressure on Ben to "step up" and be a #1 starter...pressure that he shouldnt have at age 23 and pitching for a losing team. I think Ben's biggest problem is that he is trying to be too "fine" with his pitches, trying to walk that tightrope of not walking batters but not throwing gopher balls, either. Ben needs a little luck in terms of run support, and I think he needs Dave to back off a bit.

Al: Prediction for the second half? 74 games, I see 34 wins. Let's hope for more, but hope moves aren't made to add to that total.

Jason: I agree...the worst thing I fear is the Brewers making moves just so they can say in October, "See...we were playing real
well in September. We think we can be competitive next year"...blah, blah, blah. I would say a 32-42 second half.


7/10/2002 03:44:00 PM



(7/10/2002 08:59:00 AM) - Al

As one completely bored by wondering how we can make an exhibition game last the whole night, I thought I'd comment on the contract situation COL finds themselves in with Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton, two extremely overpaid, mediocre ballplayers. Neagle may be able to be dealt for Jason Kendall, a highly overpaid catcher. I can't believe anyone has a bit of interest in Hampton, making $15 mil and sucking daily, but the Mets are paying Mo Vaughn $14M, and apparently knew this when they traded for him, so I guess there's hope.

Lesson to be learned? Giving 30somethings past their prime huge deals is very silly. Even a very good player like Jason Giambi will be awful by the time his contract runs out...have you noticed Kevin Brown's production slipping just a tad. 3 or 4 more years of that, LA fans.


7/10/2002 08:59:00 AM


Tuesday, July 09, 2002

(7/09/2002 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Well, Miller Park has never looked finer, full of fans, and nothing but positive things being said about it and about the state of baseball. The entire owners/players "fued" seem to be over a few VERY minor issues (worldwide draft, possible drug testing) and a couple issues I call more minor than major: Sharing local TV money more, and a luxury tax on payrolls of $98 million or more.

To quote long forgotten Clara Peller...where's the beef? As Bob Costas said, TV revenue should be split 50/50, as even Yankees intrasquad games wouldn't draw squat for ratings. A luxury tax would almost certainly have to include a "salary floor", aka, a minimum team payroll. That makes me damn near gag, as it goes against common sense. When you are rebuilding, why should you spend $30 or 40 million just to spend it? It would surely mean signing or trading for overpaid veterans, and quite possibly having to play them to "put your best team on the field". Can you imagine the Twins a couple years ago having Brady Anderson man CF to meet their "floor", while a good D youngster named Torri Hunter sat on the bench? I'd prefer a tiny tax, perhaps 10%, and no floor myself, as I fail to see the players going for anything higher, the only issue that seems solely related to keeping player expense artificially low.

It makes more sense to me to share more money from tickets sold, perhaps split that 70/30 or 60/40, to make road attendance almost as important as home attendance. It would benefit draws like the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, etc, while hurting small market clubs that have few drawing cards. But it would also have baseball doing its best to promote markets like TB and FLA, as it would be "everyone's" problem, not just a couple struggling teams.



7/09/2002 10:31:00 PM


Saturday, July 06, 2002

(7/06/2002 10:38:00 PM) - Al

Let's see if you think this sounds like a Springer show: Daddy wants to be cremated after he dies. Despite those wishes, Junior wants to have daddy frozen, for reasons that seem to include selling the ol' man's DNA, as well as perhaps bringing Pops back to life in a few decades. The daughter's not sure what to make of all this.

We're not talking about dim witted West Virginian trailer trash, as this is direct from the wire stories of the finest hitter ever to play the game of baseball that wasn't named George Herman Ruth. Ted Williams passed away, and sadly, this is the story that made my morning paper. In addition to his stellar career, he was a pilot and instructor in two wars, missing five seasons to serve his country.

It's every bit as sad as the fact he died. If you wrote a fictional story based on Williams' life, even Disney wouldn't buy it. A storybook life, with a pitiful epilogue.


7/06/2002 10:38:00 PM



(7/06/2002 10:17:00 PM) - Al

Last night, our below average 34 year-old $2M 2B ran us right out of the ballgame. Tonight, Jerry Royster showed just how out of touch he is. With the bases loaded and two outs, Royster allowed Jamey Wright to hit for himself, down by two runs. Wright had thrown about 90 pitches, allowing 3 runs in 5 innings. I'll even give you that Wright, a good hitting pitcher, is almost as likely to not make an out as the PH, which would have been the ancient Lenny Harris, he of the career sub 700 OPS. That said...

...how many more innings do you expect to get from Jamey? One? The Crew had three rested relievers in the bullpen, and 2 more who had thrown an inning or less the previous night. Of course, when Jamey inevitably struggled in the next inning, he was left out there to struggle (you could just hear 'em, "Well, after letting him hit, it'd be silly to not get another inning out of him"), allowing 3 runs. And who was one of the pitchers brought in by Royster for an inning of mop-up relief? Nelson Figueroa...the ONLY MEMBER OF THE BULLPEN WHO COULD NOT BE DESCRIBED AS "RESTED", as he went two innings the night prior.

If you took an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of lineup cards, damn near every single one of them would outmanage Mr. Royster.

Seeing the Twins set up their players to win every night; it's almost like they're on a different level of the game. It would be similiar to watch a good athlete playing tennis for the first time, as he just tried to control the ball, keep it in the court, maneuver it over the net...then see a club pro take the court immediately following him. He'd aim for the corners and hit them, take pace off the ball while adding slice, and make perfect shots while charging the net.

My friends, that's what it's like watching the Brewers each night, then watching the Twins. It's night and day, and it's scary. It's baseball, the exact same sport, and the Twins just "get it". Whether it's trading a toolsy prospect for a 3rd string catcher, or making no effort to trade a perennially sore-armed reliever coming off a career season, the Crew, for the most part, doesn't.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in bed, weeping.


7/06/2002 10:17:00 PM



(7/06/2002 09:53:00 PM) - Al

Watching the Twins play the Mariners, one forgets that MIN is 7 games up with Brad Radke and Joe Mays barely contributing at all. They play the game as smartly as the Brewers don't, and every player on the roster is set up to succeed. Matt LeCroy is the best catching prospect in baseball, as he hits enough to play 1B, and is mediocre behind the plate. I have no idea what the Twins would want from the Crew for him...Mike Dejean would be a nice addition, but a solid reliever isn't worth a great hitting prospect, never mind one that can catch. MIN is just so smartly put together, it's almost like they're the anti-Brewers.


7/06/2002 09:53:00 PM


Thursday, July 04, 2002

(7/04/2002 06:28:00 PM) - Al

From the e-mail file:

"Al, enjoyed your look at the money wasting players of the Brewers. A couple questions, why not include Jeffery Hammonds, as his $7 million a year is way over market value. Also, can you easily name cheap replacements for the players you said were overpaid, or would you have just signed some veterans who were reserves or in AAA. Brewers In 2003!!!!"

The thought in question is:The Brewers are paying two catchers that have been released $1.55M, Bako and Casanova. Due to poor roster management, they had to release a decent, if unspectacular utility IF in Luis Lopez, who was overpaid himself at $700K. Eric Young makes $2M, and isn't nearly average. Utility IF's Mark Loretta and Lenny Harris make $6.1M combined, and barely play. Alex Ochoa is serviceable versus LH pitchers, and plays good defense, and makes $2.75M. Jamey Wright, who is still being paid for potential and has yet to pitch a full season, is making a whopping $4.2M. Two relievers on the DL, Chad Fox (one full season, two major arm operations) and Curtis Leskanic (good middle reliever, but overpaid after 2 good months as a closer) make $3.6 million combined. Jose Cabrera is a veteran reliever, and he makes $700K.

Add them up, and you have $21.6 million, over 43% of the total payroll, being spent on 10 players, only 9 still with the team, spots that could be just as easily filled by guys like Izzy Alcanatara, whose rights the Brewers own even. Commonly called "free talent", they are cheap, useful AAA vets who can sit on the bench just as easily as overpaid MLB vets can. But, you have to avoid giving inflated contracts to role players...and THAT'S the issue that has kept the Crew down.


To be fair, I was a big Hammonds signing fan though I knew we overpaid for him by $2-3 mil a season. If the signing happened today, I would bemoan the signing as overpaying for mediocrity. But to be fair, at the time, I liked Jeff signing with us. If I wanted an overpaid OF now, I'd simply trade some of my crap for one, at least I'd rid my club of some junk. And as it happens, Jeff is having a dandy season for a CF...too bad he's playing mostly RF in '02, where he's no better than average.

No way I resign injury prone catchers with bad knees and a career OBP of .305 for a million bucks. Bako was picked up in a trade in which we dealt also overpaid, yet highly skilled backstop Henry Blanco. Having a couple catchers like AAA vets Marcus Jensen and Jesse Levis certainly isn't much of a step down. Levis, in fact, has a career OBP of .336, which would at least get the pitcher out of the way more often.

Don't even have to think about IF's, as Lou Collier and Marcos Scutaro both possess OBP and have very good pop for middle IF's, at least at the AAA level. I project Scooter far better than EY, and Collier would cost $5.8 mil less than Lo. To replace Lenny Harris, I suggest a good hunk of cheese...oh, I'm sorry, did I type that out loud? Last winter, I was all for giving Herbert Perry a shot, as he's always been an OK 1B/3B reserve, and I thought he could platoon with Tyler at 3B. When TEX signed him to a fair, yet reasonable ($900K in '02) contract, I suggested going after Rangers 3B Mike Lamb, who struggled a bit during his rookie year, and still performed much better than Harris has in his 50 year career. Either of these would be a much better use of a roster spot than Harris, who proves how important opportunity is in a career. The fact the organization seems to value his ineptness answers many questions about our decade long inability to break the .500 mark.

I already mentioned Izzy as my Ochoa replacement. He'd be poor in the OF, and hit better than Alex...while making less than 10% of Ochoa.

Jimmy Haynes outpitched Wright last year, is outpitching him this year, and signed for a paltry $500K with Cincy. Paying Haynes $1M, $3.2 mil less than Wright, we would have been healthier and been rid of our Darren Dreifort. Mike Buddie was released despite pitching well and never complaining when overused. He could replace Jose and save $500K. Allen Levrault was claimed on waivers by OAK when we signed ancient, low ceiling lefty Nomura last winter. Allen has been injured and ineffective in AAA, and still has 10 times the future as Nomura. Jay Tessmer pitched nicely in '01 for Indy, but didn't throw hard enough for MIL's taste. He was however, good enough to open the season for the Yankees dismal staff...how's that for irony? Robbie Crabtree has been solid for years for SF's AAA club, but also lacks the velocity to get a shot. Brian Mallette has been effective in AAA, and had moments while up briefly this year. Then, trying to show the Incredible Grumpy Man (Dave Stewart) how "tough" he is, he threw at a batter after a HR was hit off him. He needs to serve a suspension upon his recall, which probably means it will not come until the roster expands in September. Hopefully, a lesson was learned there; other than the fact we have a buffoon coaching our pitchers. Take your pick, any of above would be better choices than the oft-injured Fox (who should have been dealt after his rare season of health in '01) and Leskanic (overpaid and stupid enough to pitch when injured). You'd have a payroll of about $32 million, and a team not a bit worse...and quite possibly better, with a much brighter future.

Anyone who thinks Harris, Lo, Ochoa, and Wright have any place on a rebuilding club needs to seriously reexamine their priorities. We'd be better off releasing them and playing youngsters at this point, though a couple may be able to be dealt (re: given away) at the deadline.



7/04/2002 06:28:00 PM



(7/04/2002 06:09:00 PM) - Al

Despite not being on my Extra Innings package, I still enjoyed the 6th inning on of the Brewers game today via the grand radio voices of the Crew, Bob Uecker and Jim Powell. I'd listen to them even when I watched TV, but with the game bouncing off a couple satellites, the radio is ahead of the TV by 2-3 seconds, making it a tape delayed replay, damn near unwatchable. The Brewers came from behind to win after trailing after 8 complete innings for the 3rd time in about a month, after losing 114 of those games in a row. Did they suddenly "get clutch"? Of course not, I'd give all the credit to luck and running into a couple struggling closers. Does it matter if you score in the 1st, 7th, or 9th innings? Not at all. If anything, the Brewers are living proof that things DO even out eventually.

If I am remembering correctly, this is the first one run defecit the Brewers have come back from, the other couple being two run climbs. That has to be a bit unique in itself.


7/04/2002 06:09:00 PM



(7/04/2002 05:28:00 PM) - Al

Just saw a feature on a LPGA rookie golfer, who is being compared to Anna Kournikova. Natalie Gulbis is a young lady who just earned her card and has enjoyed two Top 10 finishes so far this year. She looks a tad like Anna, but as you'd probably guess, is a bit fuller figured than the rather petite Anna. But, she's blond, smiles a lot, and doesn't mind showing off her assets with short skirts. She is already making "high six figures" in endorsements, and seems to be a nice drawing card to a struggling tour.

So, what was the second half of the segment about? That many players hate her.

Well, hate may be a strong word, but many are upset about the money and attention this kid is getting. She has yet to win a tourney, or finish in the Top 4, yet she has the reporters talking to her and photographers following her around diligently. So, to be blunt, many women golfers are apparently idiots.

The LPGA has struggled for years with sagging ratings, attendance, and corporations dropping sponsorships. Much of this can be directly attributed to Nancy Lopez, one of the few recognizable names on the tour, getting older and not competing as much, and not being competitive in the tourneys she does participate in. Anything that puts butts in the seats...or in case, on the grass and/or promotes interest in the sport, should be applauded and used to the fullest.

Martina Navratolova, damn near the epitome of the "anti-Anna" said that Anna has brought many people into her game, and that the money Anna's made hasn't taken a penny away from any other player, it's been created because of how she looks. In fact, having Anna in the fold may have actually added some interest and money making opportunities for other players, Martina said.

Sex sells, petty jealousy does not. Is Tiger Woods a handsome devil? Yep. Michael Jordan has turned a few heads, Wayne Gretzky played pro hockey for a score and still looks better than me. Is it coincidence these guys are huge endorsers while 4 time Cy Young award winner Randy Johnson has few, if any off field chances to make a few bucks?

The others gals on tour ought to be kissing her feet.


7/04/2002 05:28:00 PM



(7/04/2002 04:27:00 PM) - Al

Happy 4th of July, and perhaps more importantly, Happy Birthday to the greatest country on the planet. Quite a bit of day baseball, though I'm sure many teams will have fireworks after their night games as well. I heard the crowd was a not-so-robust 16,000 in Cincinnati, for that surprisingly in contention (likely not for long) team. That's difficult to believe, you'd expect a minimum 25K for a holiday like today.


7/04/2002 04:27:00 PM


Wednesday, July 03, 2002

(7/03/2002 07:29:00 PM) - Al

One of the more interesting discussions I've had about a player's worth was talking about the contract CLE gave Matt Lawton, which if I recall, was a 3 or 4 year deal worth about $6.5 million a year. I said I felt it was a very short-sighted deal, as Lawton had always hit much better on turf, in 1999-2001, the disparity in OPS was 862 on turf, and 727 on grass. Others felt Matt's numbers were some sort of 3 year fluke, and they would "balance out" playing on grass about 145 games a year.

I just looked up the first half numbers, here they are:

Grass '99-'01--.258/.345/.382, 727 OPS
2002 thus far--.245/.356/.416, 772
Career-----------.272/.376/.423, 799
Turf '99-'01-----.305/.416/.446, 862

Almost exactly where you'd expect them to be, considering CLE plays on grass, yet some on turf when visiting. I guess I would have projected about a 755, so a bit higher. Still, he appears to be a lesser player on grass, and as a RF, not even close to being worth his current salary. It seems unlikely he'll improve, he's several seasons past his peak. Building toward the 2004 campaign, CLE would be wise to unload Lawton, if possible. He has value as an eagle eyed leadoff man...42 walks thus far, and only 16 K's, so he has excellent plate discipline.

Lawton also seems to have the capability to play CF, but rarely has. That would also increase his value, being able to play CF on a semi-regular basis at least. On grass, he looks to have nowhere near the offensive firepower to be a corner OF, never mind making that kind of money.


7/03/2002 07:29:00 PM



(7/03/2002 06:57:00 PM) - Al

Say what you will about Sammy Sosa, but if he isn't on steroids, he is stupid enough to be. By saying he'll take a test, then saying he'll only do it later, he opened himself up to be looked at with a question mark. You can have a cup of my urine anytime folks, because I have nothing to hide. If you don't mean it, don't say it.


7/03/2002 06:57:00 PM



(7/03/2002 06:53:00 PM) - Al

To steal a thought from George Carlin, is there anything more boring than watching a rich guy try and go around the world in a hot air balloon? I liken it to a kid in the neighborhood trying to stay on his pogo stick for 8 hours straight...it's a perfect case of no one caring but the person involved.


7/03/2002 06:53:00 PM



(7/03/2002 06:42:00 PM) - Al

The 33 year-old son of Ted Williams broke a rib and will miss 6 weeks of action. While I would have guessed falling down and breaking a hip, hard to believe Gramps hurt himself playing with kids. This has to hurt his chances of making A ball before he hits 35.

If I didn't know better, I'd think Williams isn't even a prospect.


7/03/2002 06:42:00 PM


Tuesday, July 02, 2002

(7/02/2002 06:29:00 PM) - Al

I get home, turn on the TV, and see the Brewers walk and bloop their way to an early 5-0 lead. One hard hit ball in the inning, but 3 walks killed the Pirates. It's funny, the PIT crowd booed and yelled, but the pitcher suffered from bad luck and an inability to challenge a batter, not bad pitching. Heck, 5 runs won't beat you very often, but the bullpen needs to hold the Crew down to a run or two the rest of the way to have a decent shot.


7/02/2002 06:29:00 PM


Monday, July 01, 2002

(7/01/2002 10:24:00 PM) - Al

I was talking to an aquaintance who works at the Metrodome, and he had a unique mention. He said the Twins are positive that Ryan Thompson was either getting signs, or somehow Tony Fiore "tipped" the pitch Ryan hit for a HR Saturday evening. I saw the HR, and it did appear to be on a low and outside breaking ball. According to him, Ryan was lunging over the plate as Fiore was still in his motion, and it was a topic of discussion among the Twins Sunday before the game.

There was a nice 5 minute story on the FOX pre-game Saturday with Kevin Kennedy saying how some catchers give away location before trhe pitch, and some give away fastball/breaking ball by how they squat. 1B/3B coaches are usually the guys stealing and giving signs, by yelling a cue of some kind to the batter. Interesting. I've read and heard many people say the '82 Brewers were the best sign stealers of all-time, with Ted Simmons supposedly the leader of the thefts. If only the '02 version was as successful as '82...


7/01/2002 10:24:00 PM



(7/01/2002 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Wow. Jamey Wright, whose season can only be described as awful, pitches 9 scoreless innings to beat PIT tonight. Hopefully, the Brewers will be calling every team tomorrow to promote interest in Jamey. I was even thinking about offering to give Wright to SL for a low level prospect, almost as a "Sorry about Mr. Kile" type of thing. Jamey has the potential to win 7-8 games the rest of the way, and I have to believe he's better than SL's 5th starter of the moment, who is Travis Smith, former Brewers farmhand, if I recall correctly.


7/01/2002 10:14:00 PM


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