Al's Ramblings

Thursday, July 31, 2003

(7/31/2003 09:56:00 PM) - Al

Good to win 3 of 4 from anyone.

That said, they have to be the dumbest group of hitters I've seen this year. Not a one of them know how to work the count, they just swing at everything. Other than Timo Perez and Phillips, who plays 1B, but can also catch, it's a team in need of massive rollover.

7/31/2003 09:56:00 PM

(7/31/2003 09:45:00 PM) - Al

The most prolific offensive position this year in MLB has been LF. Compare these for a minute:

Ave LF------.280/.357/.472, 829 OPS, 169 OXS
BOS team--.294/.363/.504, 867 OPS, 183 OXS

One thing many of us "statheads" often discuss is that we need to find good production out of each spot in the lineup. You can't afford to "punt" away a position, like SS, for defense. If you do that, that just weakens the entire team. Another thing I like to talk about is how beneficial it is to find a corner OF (like Bobby Kielty) that hits like a corner OF, but has the athletic ability and defensive game to play CF. Hence, it's like having three corner OF's in the lineup. Having Mike Piazza be your catcher is like having 2 1B, and no C in your batting order, a huge boost.

Theo Epstein has put together a team that hits like 9 LF's...only better. Granted, Nomar and Manny were there. But he picked up plenty of guys who were freely available; David Ortiz, Todd Walker, Bill Mueller, and Jeremy Giambi. Jeremy hasn't worked out, though on a "normal" team, he'd have got plenty of chances to right himself...on this club, he sits on the bench. He also added Gabe Kapler, who the Rockies cut loose, probably for reasons unrelated to baseball, even though all 29 other teams had every bit as good a chance at him.

This is an incredible offensive team, and as I pointed out, they might not even make the playoffs. One AL team will probably win 95-97 games, and stay home this October. Looks like a very interesting playoff race in the American League.

And unless a team gets hot in the NL, there may well be a 3-4 team race for the wildcard that goes to the wire. Could be an awesome last week or two of September.

7/31/2003 09:45:00 PM

(7/31/2003 09:19:00 PM) - Al

Ginter---.277/.346/.415, 761 OPS, 144 OXS
Helms---.251/.324/.440, 764 OPS, 143 OXS
Young---.252/.338/.416, 754 OPS, 141 OXS
Ave 2B--.275/.339/.407, 746 OPS, 138 OXS
Ave 3B--.259/.330/.424, 754 OPS, 140 OXS

Hard to believe these three are so very close, after two-thirds of the season. Note that even though Wes has a slightly higher OPS, Keith's OXS is higher, due to his higher OBP.

No activity at the deadline means Keith isn't much more likely to get extra playing time in the 2nd half. Ginter isn't the second coming of Joe Morgan, but he's cheap through 2005, and looks as if he'd provide better than average numbers at 2B, and close to it at 3B. I just wish this kid would get a chance. Like most players that work the count, take pitches, and see their share of 2-1 and 3-1 fastballs, he seems to be just a little better than people give him credit for.

7/31/2003 09:19:00 PM

(7/31/2003 09:01:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al-

Just wanted to comment on the Catchers Interference post you made. In high school I was involved in four of them (two while batting, two while catching), though only three were called (tee hee). I think the key is the sound. It has a distinct little sound much like when you double hit a ball
playing tennis. And yet, you know when the glove is hit first rather than a foul tip that smacks a catchers mitt immediately after the swing. I don't
know how to explain it--it's something that isn't easily recognized by anyone besides the batter, catcher, and umpire. But to those three, it isn't tough to distinguish.

Of course, if the catcher is lying on the ground grimacing and trying to close his now bare and swollen hand, that's also a clue.


I can't say I've ever seen an interference, even after thinking about it the last couple days. It seems to me that the catcher is usually only inches from the bat, so you'd think this would happen more often, wouldn't you? I've heard several announcers over the years say either they tried, or they knew guys that tried to hit the glove at times (not exactly awe inspiring confidence in themselves, huh?).

Thanks for the explanation, Jason, and for continuing to correspond.

7/31/2003 09:01:00 PM

(7/31/2003 08:51:00 PM) - Al


Pleased to see you giving Mr. Webb his due props; in all the Dontrelle-mania, he's been kinda lost in the mix, though this keeps the pressure off him.
Should point out that last night was actually his first NON-quality start, since he got pulled for a pinch hitter after five innings.

Keep up the good work!


Jim McLennan But it's a DRY Heat

Thanks for reading and writing, Jim, I linked your weblog above. I could care less about Willis' "style", as the minute he stops winning, that crap will subside. Webb has flat outpitched him thus far, though it's very close.

7/31/2003 08:51:00 PM

(7/31/2003 08:44:00 PM) - Al

The Cubs acquired Doug Glanville to "bolster their bench". Hee-hee. A smarter man than me said:

Shawon Dunston must not have been available.

The Red Sox released Chad Fox and called Jason Schiell up from Pawtucket. Hey, I know Fox is as injury prone as they come, and that he probably can't go much more than an inning at a time. Still, he had a better 2003 ERA than Jason. It almost seems Theo was too busy with other things and just said "Let's let him go somewhere else".

7/31/2003 08:44:00 PM

(7/31/2003 08:23:00 PM) - Al

Not so long ago, he was a kid who was a "stats guy", relying on an odd stat called OBP. Now, he's everyone's darling. The thing is, he may not even make the playoffs. As Jim Bowden so aptly put it today, "The real playoff race is between Boston, New York, Seattle, and Oakland...because one of them won't make the playoffs".

Then, Jeff Brantley said something to the effect of "Who cares about a player in A ball?", exposing him for the simpleton he is. Hence, I digress.

TOR says they had no decent offers for Escobar, Lidle, or Greg Myers. JP sounded disappointed. Kelvim was the best starter out there, it seemed to me. Not sure if TOR was willing to pay him in return for prospects or not (I assume so, they're paying Shannon Stewart), but HOU needs another starter, and heck, half the NL is in the wildcard race. The Escobar/Lilly swap made too much sense to happen, as that may have given OAK one of the best the last 20 years, and dare I say...ever? Honestly, I don't think you can argue that it would have been the best since the mid-80's Mets, with Aguillera as their 5th starter.

7/31/2003 08:23:00 PM

(7/31/2003 03:34:00 PM) - Al

Hard to believe neither of them moved. Perhaps a waiver wire trade, or possibly a deal hasn't been announced yet. TOR can't still see itself as contenders, can they?

7/31/2003 03:34:00 PM

(7/31/2003 03:31:00 PM) - Al

Last year, Raul Mondesi was dumped on NY, and many of us giggled that the Yankess thought this below average corner OF was worth anywhere near the $6 mil they had to pay him. Heck, TOR was giddy to dump half his $12 mil salary, and didn't really want much in return.

Aaron Gleeman dug through the archives and found this gem from TSN "expert" Ken Rosenthal:

Mondesi trade proof MLB needs cap: TSN's Ken Rosenthal tells Doug Russell and Chris Russell that Raul Mondesi's trade to the Yankees is simply a salary dump for the Jays and evidence that baseball needs a (salary) cap.

Actually, it just shows that TOR GM JP Ricarddi is ahead of many of his peers, as he knew in 2002 exactly what the Yankees know in 2003: Raul is less than mediocre, and not worth the trouble. I'm not sure if he's a win better than replacement level, honestly. Next year he'll probably sign a one year, $750K deal and have to fight for playing time.

7/31/2003 03:31:00 PM

(7/31/2003 03:10:00 PM) - Al

Freddy Garcia to PIT.

Good deal for both clubs, Theo got his 5th starter; Pirates get a guy who can play either 2B, SS, or 3B, hit well, and will be cheap until 2007. As part of this trade, almost all of the previous Sauerbeck trade was wiped out, due to Brandon Lyon going on the DL. The trade now is Suppan and Sauerbeck for Garcia. Excellent deal for PIT, as they got a kid who will help them for years.

7/31/2003 03:10:00 PM

(7/31/2003 03:05:00 PM) - Al

Moss and Ainsworth to BAL.

7/31/2003 03:05:00 PM

(7/31/2003 03:04:00 PM) - Al

ESPN has a special Baseball Tonighton this afternoon. Ravech, Gammons, and former GM Jim Bowden are the main guys, but every once in a while, they cut to Harold Reynolds and Jeff Brantley, two former players.

Listening to Bowden, who understands the ins and outs of the game, and Gammons, probably the most sabermetric guy among all the mainstream commentators is pretty much as good as it gets. They fully understand the business aspect, and know that this isn't an industry that overpays anymore.

Meanwhile, Harold and Jeff pretty much prove that players, by no means, understand the game better than management. I feel a little smarter every time they cut to them, as the cliches run wild, and neither has any idea about anything except "money wins championships". Harold actually said this nugget, "I think the fans will come out if you win...hey, you need to spend the money on players before you can win". Then, Jeff Brantley says, "Sure, OAK got Guillen, but they need to go after a guy that is a difference maker, and JD Drew is available. Thye have pitching in the minors at all levels, why not get him?" Well, for starters, JD isn't that good, though I've been picking him to "breakout" since the start of the century. Again, so simple, just like it's a fantasy league.

In other words, OAK has not won the past few seasons, as they haven't threw any money away on overpaid veterans that provided "leadership and chemistry". As the idea of "bargain hunting" has gained favor, teams have been more reluctant to pay big money for mediocre players, especially guys on the wrong side of 30.

7/31/2003 03:04:00 PM

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

(7/30/2003 10:58:00 PM) - Al

Frequent e-mailer Mike has started his own weblog, which can be checked out here.

7/30/2003 10:58:00 PM

(7/30/2003 10:45:00 PM) - Al

Gammons says they'll get great prospect Brandon Claussen, a solid AAA pitcher, often mentioned as an untouchable.

Suppan may go to SL, HOU, ATL or PHIL.

Vazquez will stay in MON.

Jose Guillen going to OAK looks to be the only "big" deal today.

Had to work tonight and in early tomorrow to let floor care out of the building. We'll see you tomorrow evening.

7/30/2003 10:45:00 PM

(7/30/2003 11:26:00 AM) - Al

Brandon Webb continues to be dominant for the D'Backs, making those who got all excited over the "stylish" Willis look silly. Webb has had 17 starts...and all 17 have been a "quality start" (6+ innings, <3 runs allowed).

7/30/2003 11:26:00 AM

(7/30/2003 11:22:00 AM) - Al

Gammons makes it sound as if CIN will soon deal Boone to LA or SEA. He'd fit in perfectly in Seattle, as Carlos Guillen went on the DL today, meaning Rey Sanchez actually may see the field.

7/30/2003 11:22:00 AM

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

(7/29/2003 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Glad I made sure Bill was in the lineup for all my fantasy teams that have him, as they were playing TEX, not known as a pitching powerhouse.

7/29/2003 09:54:00 PM

(7/29/2003 09:49:00 PM) - Al

Scott goes from the Angels (white flag?) to Chicago...and he's a very serviceable lefty reliever. Disregard any thought of him ever being a good starter, as he has a 5.28 career ERA in that role...but a 3.25 mark as a reliever. He gives the Sox another good arm out of ther bullpen, and he might make the difference for an extra win...for the Sox, that could be the difference.

7/29/2003 09:49:00 PM

(7/29/2003 09:25:00 PM) - Al

ESPN reports, Scott Williamson for a minor leaguer. Will Theo add a starter as well?

I can't believe JP of TOR hasn't jumped all over that proposed Casey Fossum/Kelvim Escobar swap.

The Red Sox may well have one of the best bullpens in the game come August 1st. Kim, with Sauerbeck and Embree from the left side; Timlin, Williamson, and Fox/Jones from the right, that's where they sit now from this vantage point, and that's pretty darn good. And they might not be finished.

The kid they gave up is a decent lefty pitcher in high A ball, 3.02 ERA, but only 6 K's per 9 innings makes him a low-ceiling prospect.

7/29/2003 09:25:00 PM

(7/29/2003 09:09:00 PM) - Al

Mike went the last two innings, picking up the save, which may have been a nice way of showing teams he:

1. Is "back in the groove".

2. Can go two innings, after being used all but solely for an inning at a time. Teams wanting Mike as a middle man or set-up man will be happy to see that.

7/29/2003 09:09:00 PM

(7/29/2003 08:50:00 PM) - Al

SEA just acquired Rey Sanchez, possibly the only SS in baseball that is worse than Royce Clayton. Pat Gillick is on record as saying he "doesn't pay attention to OPS". I guess he just proved it.

The real shocker is a team thought they could improve themselves by adding Rey to the bench...and it wasn't the Cubs.:)

7/29/2003 08:50:00 PM

(7/29/2003 06:43:00 PM) - Al

Glavine was removed after one inning, injury or was his huge contract dumped to a contender? I was actually thinking last night that I wonder if Glavine would accept a trade, as I assume he wanted to play in NY. Guess we'll find out soon if it's an injury or a swap.

EDIT: Tom has a minor injury of some sort, no trade.

7/29/2003 06:43:00 PM

(7/29/2003 06:38:00 PM) - Al

I don't think I've ever seen catcher's interference called before in my life. Odd to look at a replay and STILL not be able to see it, even though the umpire and Clark obviously both felt/saw/heard it.

7/29/2003 06:38:00 PM

Monday, July 28, 2003

(7/28/2003 09:24:00 PM) - Al

Cooperstown has asked Bob to speak at the induction ceremony on a yearly basis. Gee, who would have thought Bob was hilarious...except all of us who hear him all the time. Actually, considering his Tonight Show appearances for decades, you'd think everyone would have been well aware.

Read the whole story here.

7/28/2003 09:24:00 PM

(7/28/2003 09:19:00 PM) - Al

Casey Fossum sent down to "get some work" (and be heavily scouted, I'm sure), and RUTT favorite Lou Collier gets the chance to add some service time to his resume. I would assume Fossum may well be dealt before the July 31st deadline, and Collier may be sent back when a starting pitcher is received.

7/28/2003 09:19:00 PM

(7/28/2003 08:52:00 PM) - Al

EY runs into the third out of the inning at 3B, which I would call a rookie mistake, but I'd hate to imply that rookies are a fraction as ignorant as Mr. Young. Meanwhile, Royce Clayton fails to make any plays at SS except the extremely routine.

Luckily, Rusch pitched nicely, as did Estrella & Kolb in relief. Glendon could have easily left with a shutout, with some luck and SS defense.

7/28/2003 08:52:00 PM

(7/28/2003 07:08:00 PM) - Al

Tonight's game is a makeup of a rained out affair, and it looks like many folks chose not to come out. At the beginning of the game, there looked to be less than 2500 people in the crowd. Maybe it'll be a late arriving crowd, ala LA.

Suffice it to say, this is not a night to be a Shea Stadium scalper.

7/28/2003 07:08:00 PM

(7/28/2003 07:06:00 PM) - Al

Glendon pitching effectively so far tonight through 4 innings, will 2 solid outings be enough for a team to look past his numbers up until last week? From rumors and such, the only names I hear consistently mentioned are Kelvim Escobar, Cory Lidle, and Jeff Suppan (who threw a shutout today). While I know BOS or OAK have no interest in Rusch, would a team on the outside looking in (SL???, FLA???) give up a prospect for him if we pay his salary?

Not asking for the world, just a low ceiling AA kid would satisfy me.

EDIT: Actually, since being recalled, he has a 3.20 ERA in 4 appearances (3 starts and a relief appearance). So, it isn't just one start. I'm sure a few teams are looking at him tonight at Shea, let's hope they see what they want to.

7/28/2003 07:06:00 PM

(7/28/2003 06:37:00 PM) - Al


FYI on Jason Lane from AAA website...

{LANE IS BACK!: Outfielder Jason Lane has rejoined the Zephyrs after missing much of the season with a lower abdominal strain. Lane, is completing his second stint on the disabled list with the same injury. He was out for a month the first time -- May 13 through June 14, and went back on the DL on July 9. He saw a specialist in Massachusetts over the All-Star break and was activated before Saturday's game at Oklahoma.}

Great site, been a lurker here in Houston for a while. Ran across your site while keeping track of Shane Nance's progress. Hopefully he'll be given a true chance to stick, and will perform as he has throughout his minor league career.


Thanks for reading and writing, Greg. I hope Shane gets a chance as well. While I am fully aware lefty relievers aren't exactly difficult to find, and cheap ones are plentiful as well. However, since we have two (Shane & John Foster) who are doing fine in AAA, and will be inexpensive until 2006, I really don't see a reason to look for them.

It is difficult for me to understand how a team can put a guy out there for 15 inings and think they can "get a read" on him.

So, HOU bypassing Lane this time may have as much to do with his recent injury than being down on him. Still, I have to believe the Astros would trade him for an improvement on the 25 man roster...VDS maybe?

7/28/2003 06:37:00 PM

(7/28/2003 02:41:00 PM) - Al

HOU finally cut the worthless Brian Hunter...and still left Jason Lane in AAA, instead bringing up an OF named Colin Porter, who also has very good numbers.

If only the Crew had something HOU needs for their division title run, it seems as if Jason is severely undervalued by the Astros. I'd sure hate to add another Ginter or Franklin to the team.

7/28/2003 02:41:00 PM

(7/28/2003 11:51:00 AM) - Al

From Peter Gammons, who also says teams are correct in getting younger and cheaper:

Lord, please save us from the endless prattling about QuesTec. At the All-Star break, the ERA in games with QuesTec was 4.44, in games without it 4.43. What it's become is the convenient excuse for players and umpires alike, which brings us back to the Eddie Vedder line, "there's no right or wrong, but there's good and bad."

7/28/2003 11:51:00 AM

(7/28/2003 11:41:00 AM) - Al

Cincy has let their manager and GM go. I've always liked Jim Bowden, as he always seems to be a step ahead as far as acquiring young players. Much of the blame can be laid directly at the feet of the Red's owner, who signed Barry Larkin to a budget busting, far overvalued contract. However, as a GM, you're pretty much judged by your wins and losses, and Bowden hasn't won.

I can't believe Boone got a second chance after his effort in KC, and he did the same thing in Cincy, alienate his star players (benching Adam Dunn, despite a fine OBP), bouncing prospects like Brandon Larson up and down between AAA and the bigs like a yo-yo, and keeping Jose Acevedo in AAA despite the fact he appears better than any of the Reds' pitchers.

Don't forget, Cincy opened a new stadium this year, so the moves are likely a direct result of having to blame someone.

7/28/2003 11:41:00 AM

(7/28/2003 11:12:00 AM) - Al

The legend of Bobby Jenks is being reported on ESPN's SportsCenter. Bobby is legendary for his velocity...and his wildness. He's a kid from Idaho who dropped out of school, sound like he has a bit of a drinking problem, but proves that talent has nine lives. Despite his troubles, he's on the Angels' 40 man roster, and is back at the AA level, striking out 11 per 9 innings.

Of course, he's walked 6 per 9 innings, and allowed a lot of hits, considering how hard he throws...but you can't teach guys to throw 95-100.

7/28/2003 11:12:00 AM

Sunday, July 27, 2003

(7/27/2003 10:28:00 PM) - Al

Does anyone else still think ESPN's ball/strike graphic, the only one still in the upper left corner, as far as I can tell, is still vastly superior to the Fox one tyhat stretches across the entire top of the screen? With ESPN, you can see all the info with one glance. With Fox, your eyes have to search for the info you're looking for (the count, pitch speed, etc.)

I hated the Fox one when it came out, and as time has passed, I have gotten used to it, but still find the original version of ESPN much better.

7/27/2003 10:28:00 PM

(7/27/2003 10:15:00 PM) - Al

Have you ever just wondered how incredibly stupid the average criminal is?

This Carlton Dotson fool insists he doesn't do it, then tells the police where the body is.

Scott Peterson...from Day 1, he had a idiotic "plan", and has almost broken the record for the worst crime planning, held by...

OJ Simpson. Evidence so overwhelming, that verdict still sickens me.

Is this why we are unable to solve so many crimes, that the only people being caught are the ones who goofed so badly? Are there really folks of average intelligence getting away with stuff, just because they aren't complete knobs?

7/27/2003 10:15:00 PM

(7/27/2003 10:07:00 PM) - Al

Because Boston does two things extremely well:

1. Take pitches
2. OBP!!!!!

Today, Tim Hudson threw a CG against ANA. To complete 9 innings, Tim threw 105 pitches. Total.

Tonight, Jeff Weaver threw an excellent game against Boston, shutting them down through 6 innings. He was removed in the 7th, after throwing 110 pitches. The Red Sox broke loose against the Yankees bullpen, scoring 6 runs to take the lead.

If Boston was "aggressive", they would have had to face 8 innings of Weaver, followed by having to beat Rivera. But, since they work the count with a passion I've never seen, they were able to face the weakest part of the Yankees' staff...their middle relief. Even though Weaver was almost unhittable, they worked him for several walks, and made him throw a lot of pitches even though they got out.

7/27/2003 10:07:00 PM

(7/27/2003 09:04:00 PM) - Al

John Stossel feels building giant windmills would be a good idea. Heck, so does almost everyone, as wind is a clean power source that will never run out.

Who doesn't? Well, the Kennedys and Walter Cronkite, who would have to look at these giant machines from their Cape Cod mansions.

I'm all for it...but not in my backyard.

7/27/2003 09:04:00 PM

(7/27/2003 08:45:00 PM) - Al

Very long column about Michael Moore...and the truthfulness he passes off as "fact". According to this article, the much discussed beginning of his Bowling for Columbine film was pretty much complete fiction, despite being passed off as a documentary, by definition, based on actual events.

Save yourself about 10 minutes, and settle in with a cold beverage before clicking here.

7/27/2003 08:45:00 PM

(7/27/2003 04:21:00 PM) - Al

EY, picked off of 1B, down 4-1 in the 7th.

Thank goodness we have veteran leadership like this, or our kids wouldn't have anyone to teach them how to play the game.

What a frickin' embarassment. He may be the stupidest, most selfish player on the planet.

Oh, and he can't field either.

7/27/2003 04:21:00 PM

(7/27/2003 03:55:00 PM) - Al

Bill & Daron, missing the obvious. Franklin pitched around Todd Helton, walking him on four pitches, to pitch to hot bat Preston Wilson. You don't pitch around anyone, as that adds baserunners, and baserunners equals runs. Go right after guys. Now, Franklin is in a full blown jam, bases loaded, a run in, and it all started with stupidity. After the count was 2-0, Maddux should have rushed out there and told him to quit messing around.

Last night, after a bunt single by Helton:

You'll take that from him 4 times a game.

If you would, he'd have an OPS of 2000, twice what he has now. Giving the other team baserunners is not the way to shut them down. Simply put, it's a sign of not respecting OBP. You will never have success in baseball without a healthy respect for OBP. The organization, from the top down, needs to embrace the simple concept that OBP is king, before an ounce of success will be had in Milwaukee.

7/27/2003 03:55:00 PM

(7/27/2003 02:24:00 PM) - Al

Nice to see Ginter & Hall as the much younger (and every bit as good) DP combo. Bad luck hurt in the top of the first, as Ginter was hit by the batted ball of Jenkins as he was running on the pitch. Good thing it just grazed him, he could have been seriously injured by the line drive.

7/27/2003 02:24:00 PM

(7/27/2003 02:22:00 PM) - Al

For those who saw Bob Uecker give his speech at Cooperstown, it was a kneeslapper. Many tears of laughter were wiped away, by the crowd and the former players. No one gives a funnier talk than Bob.

7/27/2003 02:22:00 PM

(7/27/2003 01:09:00 PM) - Al

It's funny how all the players that are in the Hall are now older and unathletic looking. It's also strange to see how many great players looked a bit "out of shape" when they played, Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Yogi Berra, not to mention Babe Ruth.

Also, Robin Yount was as thin as any player in the game today...he looks like he never lifted a weight in his life.

You have to wonder who the HOF'ers are that say they will not ever return when Pete Rose is finally allowed in. Supposedly, there is a small, but very strong willed minority who have said exactly that. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

7/27/2003 01:09:00 PM

(7/27/2003 12:57:00 PM) - Al

After both of his home runs last night, Preston Wilson watched them fly out of the park. Of course, Bill "Back In My Day" Schroeder said that would have never happened 20 years ago, and can you imagine how Don Drysdale would have reacted to that.

My feeling on this is simple, who cares? If you don't want to watch his display after a HR, why not get him out?

What's funny is, I'm watching them introduce the Hall of Famers on hand at Cooperstown, and they showed a clip of Harmon Killebrew hit a blast out of the park...and sure enough, Harmon watched it for a second or two, then gave his bat a bit of a "fling", as many players do today.

I guess Harmon was ahead of his time...or was it just not talked about? I have to think if Mr. Killebrew did it, many others did as well. I know Reggie Jackson almost always did, and his "glory years" were over 25 years ago.

Bill and the like simply make themselves look foolish when they start talking about the "good old days". Today's players are in better shape and much more muscular than those that came before them. They throw the ball faster, hit the ball further, run faster, etc. Will they be even more talented in 20 years? You bet they will. So, how do you make yourself stand claim to have been "tougher" and "smarter".

It's as transparent as the day is long.

7/27/2003 12:57:00 PM

(7/27/2003 12:16:00 PM) - Al

I've got a couple e-mails lately when I question Ned's bullpen usage, asking what exactly I would do differently. I've spoke a couple times of the "chart" that SEA pitching coach Bryan Price keeps in his dugout. It shows when each reliever was used last, when they last warmed up, how many pitches they threw, etc. To show an example, I just whipped up the following example. From it, you can pretty much plan out your game plan for the day, as you know who you have available and for how long.

Danny Kolb---Last worked Wed, threw 2 innings and 26 pitches. Danny is in need of some work, and should at least get an inning of work today, to stay sharp.

Leo Estrella--Pitched an ineffective inning last night, threw 19 pitches. I cannot know for sure without speaking to him, but I assume he'd have no problem working an inning today, or at least a batter or two.

VDS--Pitched to 4 batters last night, did not retire a batter. Threw 18 pitches. Again, would have to verify with him, but I'd only use him to face a hitter or two.

Brooks Kieschnick--Last worked Friday, 1 inning, 17 pitches, did warm up last night. Up to an inning.

Mike Dejean--2 innings last night, 34 pitches, only use on a need basis today.

Dave Burba--2 1/3 innings last night, 49 pitches, need only.

Luis Vizcaino--1 out recorded Friday night, 15 pitches, ready to go today, despite warming up last night.

Taking a quick look, Kolb is your closer, while Luis is your long man. Leo, Brooks, and VDS are available for situational use only. Mike and Dave should get the day off, unless it goes extra innings.

Is that really that difficult? Making the entire list took about 10 minutes. I know going in that I would not be setting VDS or Brooks up for success asking him to throw 2 innings, for example. Now, if Kolb goes out and blows the save in the 9th, hey, things happen. All you can do is set up your guys to win.

Sometimes, you see things like Dejean rushing to get ready, which is exactly what happened last night. What's the rush, you have to be thinking several batters ahead at all times, thinking "what if". Nothing should be unplanned, or unexpected.

7/27/2003 12:16:00 PM

(7/27/2003 11:40:00 AM) - Al

Bob Uecker is scheduled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame today. Coverage begins at 12:30, and I'm not sure if they will show Bob's speech, but we can always hope.

7/27/2003 11:40:00 AM

Saturday, July 26, 2003

(7/26/2003 07:25:00 PM) - Al

Daron Sutton: Royce Clayton has struggled with the bat, but not with the glove.

10th in fielding percentage
17th in range factor
12th in zone rating

This is out of the 23 shortstops who have played enough to qualify. Sounds to me as if Royce has been almost exactly mediocre...hardly enough to make up for his offensive offensive numbers.

19th in BA
17th in OBP
18th in SLG
18th in OPS

This is out of the {ahem} 19 SS's who have enough plate appearances to qualify.

If playing Royce everyday is right, I don't want to be wrong. At best, he's in the lowest quartile, and that's if offense and defense are even. If offense is half the game, and pitching/defense is half, I'd say D is worth about 10%...meaning Royce is as ineffective as they come.

The mere fact he's still on the roster tells me the Crew is still living a couple decades behind the truly "up-to-date" teams. That he's playing every day is almost beyond the scope of reality.

7/26/2003 07:25:00 PM

(7/26/2003 07:19:00 PM) - Al

Remember how many folks always suspected the Twins of playing games with the A/C during their glory years? They may not have been conspiracy nuts after all.

I have to agree with the retired worker, it's just part of the home field advantage.

7/26/2003 07:19:00 PM

(7/26/2003 07:13:00 PM) - Al

Funny to see Dave Collins, ye of the sub 700 career OPS, on the team that traded for Tony Womack. Collins, you may recall, started the Crew's recent poor decision making by saying the Crew needed a leadoff hitter like Eric Young, old and not a high OBP man. Now, they have Womack, also age challenged and gifted at making outs (though, with respect to EY, Tony has really been crappy at it).

Remind me to never give Dave Collins an ounce of responsibility...he may be the most anti-forward thinking baseball man in the game.

7/26/2003 07:13:00 PM

(7/26/2003 07:07:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention how neither Harold Reynolds nor Peter Gammons would count the D'Backs out of the NL West race the other night. ARI was 10 games back at the time, and realistically, have no shot at all to catch up to SF. Let's take a closer look at the standings right now:

SF---66-37, on pace for 104 wins
ARI--56-48, on pace for 87 wins

We barely have over 2 months left in the 2003 season, and SF is on a pace to finish 17 wins ahead of ARI. So, what if SF slumps, say, plays .500 ball the rest of the way (they've won over 64% of their games so far). That would give them 95 victories, still 8 ahead of Arizona's "pace". Arizona would have to win 39 of their 58 remaining games (67.2%, compared to 53.8% thus far) to finish in a tie with SF, if they win half.

Harold & Peter need to run down to KMart and see if they have any guts on sale, because they're both lacking. It is very much mathematically possible for SF to not win the NL West, but also very unlikely.

7/26/2003 07:07:00 PM

(7/26/2003 05:14:00 PM) - Al

I watched some of the Cubs/Astros game today. In the 8th inning, Dusty Baker PH Lenny Harris and then PH Troy O'Leary (insert your own punchline here). What I found somewhat odd is that Dusty chose to have Lenny bat for Paul Bako. Both these gents played with the Brewers in the past, and I thought their career numbers were pretty close, hardly worthy of wasting a PH on. Well...

Harris---.274/.321/.354, 675 OPS
Bako----.245/.314/.337, 651 OPS

Wow, Dusty is a mathematical genius, huh? Always a good idea to sub a guy that will get on base 7 times more out of every 1000 PA's. Being that the Cubs were down 2, bringing the tying run to the plate was vital. Talk about throwing away a bench player.

7/26/2003 05:14:00 PM

(7/26/2003 01:04:00 PM) - Al

Lee Sinins reports BOS/TOR is close to a Kelvim Escobar for Casey Fossum trade. I feel that would be too much for the Red Sox to give up for 12 Escobar starts, but I realize the pressure to win in Boston is immense. I shudder to think how many prospects JP will garner from having the two top starting pitchers (Escobar and Lidle) on the market right now.

7/26/2003 01:04:00 PM

(7/26/2003 10:49:00 AM) - Al

BP is now a pay site, but they let Derek Zumsteg's ignorant crap still be read by any and all of us who refuse to pay. Derek is by far the worst writer not named Jim Caple that is allowed to write on a national level. He is as casual as they come, and worse, he often talks about the business side of the game. It's like listening to a 3rd grader tell you how the Space Shuttle works...not completely false, but it can't be passed off as truthful either. While you can excuse the youngster's simpleness, Zumsteg is almost always writing this way to mislead. Derek unloads two stunningly foolish quotes in his latest article:

The team doesn't turn into a pumpkin if they pick up half of a $7 million salary and that puts them at $81.5 million instead of just under $78 million.

There is no team besides the Expos in major league baseball that could not go out and find the money to add another player..

What's funny is, you get the feeling he actually believes that MLB teams have a gigantic vault full of cash, ala Scrooge McDuck. Or, every once in a while, a vice president of something stumbles while walking behind the couch in the team president's office, bends down and exclaims, "Look, we must have forgot to deposit last night's gate and concession receipts. Wow, must be a few hundred thousands dollars here!"

Please. Teams are businesses, just like any other multi-million dollar corporation. They do not have unlimited funds, and cannot spend money foolishly. Derek speaks of $3.5 million as if it's a glass of water (What's that old quote by the Congressman? A million dollars here, a million dollars there, pretty soon, you're talking about real money:). Now, if a team is really "that close" to a title, almost every single one of them will spend the extra cash. Carl Pohlad gave his GM, Terry Ryan, permission to "spend the money necessary", which as you can see, has led to MIN overpaying for many mediocre players. But, when you do spend more than you take in, a thing happens called "debt". While Derek probably just calls his folks for a bailout when this occurs, business has to do one of two things:

1. Reduce spending.
2. Increase revenue.

Otherwise, you continue to add to your debt, and sooner or later, that money has to be paid back. In fact, teams like the Brewers have a massive debt that must be repaid, estimates range from $50-120 million. You cannot "spend away" your debt, it must be paid. The Brewers have to at least pay the interest on the debt, and a small chunk of the principal, every year. Now, long-term debt does have tax benefits, as anyone who owns a house knows. However, few would argue being debt free is a goal worth pursuing.

At the end of the day, it is true that teams can afford to add payroll, but very few are in a position to do so. Picking up salary, while weakening your farm system, is a choice that can't be made with emotion, or foolishly. Suggesting otherwise reeks of a casual fan who lucked into a gig writing for a respected website.

7/26/2003 10:49:00 AM

(7/26/2003 10:30:00 AM) - Al

So, let me get this straight.

Thursday night, Ned used Kieschnick in the 8th inning, because Luis has been awful the entire season.

So, down a run in the 7th, in Coors no less, Ned brought in Luis and pretended, I guess, that the game was lost.

I have often been critical of Ned's use of the bullpen, and he continues to ignore facts, and also refuses to get his relievers consistent work. Vizcaino hadn't pitched in 5 days, and a rusty reliever with an 8+ ERA is not who you use down one in late innings. Ned, while looking like an expert compared to Lopester, still has not figured out how to use a bullpen despite 100+ games to "work out the kinks".

Simply put, Estrella, Kolb, and VDS have been his best relievers this year. Dejean has been inconsistent the past few weeks. Brooks has been much better than expected, and rarely gives up a HR. Finally, you have Burba and Vizcaino. Dave & Luis, for the most part, have not pitched well enough to justify being used in a close game.

{I'd argue 37 year-old Burba has done nothing to justify being on the team, as he will not be a part of the next winning Brewers team.}

Simply put, when down by a run, Luis was no better than the 6th best choice. Also, it is no one's fault but Yost's that Luis went so long between appearances. What's funny is, down 4 in the 8th, Ned THEN brings in Brooks to pitch, in a lost cause.

Lack of planning like that will put you in the legendary category right quick.

Personally, I'd put Luis on the DL or try to send him down. There is something to be said about clinging to previous successes despite near immeasurable current failures. Burba should be sent down or DFA'd. Wasting two spots on guys that have shown nothing, with Doug Davis sitting in AAA, is not looking clearly at the situation.

7/26/2003 10:30:00 AM

Friday, July 25, 2003

(7/25/2003 09:41:00 PM) - Al

The more I see him, the more I like him. Again, he's not dominant, but he works fast, throws strikes, and goes right after hitters. Managed to go another inning without a run. That's a heckuva start in Coors.

7/25/2003 09:41:00 PM

(7/25/2003 09:29:00 PM) - Al

Hey, Wes made it through 5 innings with only 3 earned runs against him. I would probably let him go out for the 6th, unless his spot gets up to bat this inning. Actually, the guy has looked plenty good tonight, had a bad stretch, but plenty of guys give up HR's to Wilson & Walker at Coors.

7/25/2003 09:29:00 PM

(7/25/2003 09:13:00 PM) - Al

Wes O running into some trouble in the 4th, a walk, a triple, and two HR's. This happens all the time in Coors, Wes needs to settle down and get through the weak part of the lineup at least.

7/25/2003 09:13:00 PM

(7/25/2003 09:07:00 PM) - Al

BOS let Pedro go 128 pitches tonight versus the Yankees. I believe this is what we call "using your emotions rather than your brain". Talk about overreacting. What's funny is, the Red Sox do not have to beat the Yankees, just the A's (or any other 2nd place clubs). That's a dictionary definition of poor management. Using your ace starter who often suffers from minor injuries and "tired arm" for 128 throws is simply short-sighted.

7/25/2003 09:07:00 PM

(7/25/2003 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Scott Podsednik with two errors on the same play, bobbling the ball, then throwing to the wrong area. Taking his offensive struggles to the field with him?

7/25/2003 08:42:00 PM

(7/25/2003 08:24:00 PM) - Al

Wes Obermueller making his Brewers' debut tonight, 1-2-3 1st inning, including a fastball blown right past Todd Helton.

Tell you what, I have no illusion that Wes is a wunderkind. His ceiling is probably as a #4/5 starter, and is more likely to make his mark out of the bullpen. But, it sure is good to see the Crew using this season as a "tryout" of sorts. I know Dave Burba will not be a part of the next winning team in Milwaukee, I can't say that about Wes.

Every day is a building block for tomorrow. That's why seeing Royce Clayton out there because he used to not be awful is so bothersome.

7/25/2003 08:24:00 PM

(7/25/2003 08:19:00 PM) - Al

Not only did COL go out of its way to pick up the worthless Tony Womack, they insist on batting him leadoff. Total lack of respect for OBP.

7/25/2003 08:19:00 PM

(7/25/2003 02:09:00 PM) - Al

Word is over at that EY and VW may be traded within the next 48 hours. Let's hope this proves to be as reliable as it is hopeful.

7/25/2003 02:09:00 PM

(7/25/2003 11:38:00 AM) - Al

BP with a free column talking to a AL executive of some kind. You can read the whole article here.

Highlights include:

The Red Sox stole Kim from the Diamondbacks. That was a great move for them, and a total f***up for Garagiola. Hillenbrand's the same ballplayer as at least 10 guys they could have had for free.

Wiow, someone who thinks Shea is as mediocre as I do.

Ricciardi robbed the Twins blind in that outfielder swap in the long term

You know, I haven't heard anyone even disagree with this.

I love Toronto's position. They're out from under everything next year, they've got some minor league talent that I love.

TOR is in great shape for 2004, either BOS or NY could well slip to 3rd place.

You may see huge contracts for players, but they'll be shorter-term deals. I think the days of really long-term contracts for players is just plain over.

I'll let other teams take the risk. I'll gladly take a good player who'll sign a 3 year deal rather than a great one who signs for 5 years. I think teams are starting to feel this way as well.

7/25/2003 11:38:00 AM

(7/25/2003 12:01:00 AM) - Al

Shane Nance heading back to Indy to make room for Wes. Shane was not used very consistently, but didn't seem to be the same pitcher he was at AAA either. I like both he and Foster, and would not hesitate to let them be my lefty specialists in 2004. Good luck to Shane as he again tries to fight his way back.

7/25/2003 12:01:00 AM

Thursday, July 24, 2003

(7/24/2003 11:42:00 PM) - Al

While flipping tonight onto Fox News, I heard that several witnesses claim that Kobe Bryant's accuser bragged about her night with Kobe days before she went to the police, and word is her former roommate says she tried to commit suicide this past semester.

Hey, I have no idea what really happened behind closed doors. I will say, however, that a conviction in this case would appear to be as unlikely as OJ's actual innocence.

7/24/2003 11:42:00 PM

(7/24/2003 10:29:00 PM) - Al

OK, it's getting silly now.


Not only is he just a joy to watch, his production is extremely worthy of playing time.

Ginter---.274/.342/.419, 761 OPS
Young---.250/.332/.411, 743 OPS

Let's see, better offensively, better defensively (by eyesight anyway), younger, cheaper...what else is there?

And, by the way, one game of watching Royce Clayton try to hit literally offended me. Hall is not just the player with more potential, he's the better player.

Other thoughts from tonight's 2-1 win over the division leading Astros...

---Sheets is as good as he's ever been. Not unhittable, but dominant. If not for horrible baserunning, and overaggressive coaching (when the LF has the ball as the runner gets to 3B, probably not a good idea to send him home) this probably wouldn't have been a nailbiter. I don't even mind the fact that incredibly poor long-term planning has him arbitration eligible next year.

---I'm telling you, if Brooks Kieschnick was a member of a big media market team, he'd be on ESPN every night. What he has done is beyond description.

---Great to see Bob Uecker honored by the Brewers, along with former GM Harry Dalton, put on the Walk of Fame. Bob will be inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, several years after he should have been welcomed with open arms.

---Newcomer Wes Obermueller will get the start tomorrow night in Coors. I haven't heard who will go down, but if Bill Schroeder and Daron Sutton are to believed, they feel it may be Billy Hall. That would be too painful for words. I'm hoping Clayton is DFA'd, or Vizcaino is sent down. Luis is out of options, so he would have to clear waivers, but the market for relivers with a 9 ERA is rather limited, to say the least.

7/24/2003 10:29:00 PM

(7/24/2003 02:54:00 PM) - Al

While I was looking for some other info, a trade idea popped into my head:

MIL gets Ramiro Mendoza and Jeremy Giambi from BOS

BOS gets Mike Dejean and John VanderWal from MIL

I'm sure the Red Sox would have to send some cash as well, as RM and JG make about $2.5 mil more than MD & JV in '03. Pro-rated, that's about $1 mil for the rest of the year. Mendoza is due $3.5 mil in 2004, and I'll take a chance he remains healthy and is effective and very tradeable.

Mendoza is certainly a better starter than the Brewers have been trotting out there most days, and is 31. Giambi is a favorite of mine, as he is OBP personified. Dejean would fit right into the Red Sox's improving bullpen, and VW can PH and DH on occasion against favorable matchups (and if he plays at all in '04, he'll be welcomed back to the Brewers, with a no trade clause if he wants).

EDIT: Mendoza also has a career GB/FB ratio of just over 2...might be just the guy to bring into Miller Park, where the HR's fly out, but is pretty much neutral as an offensive park.

Ah well, makes too much sense to ever happen.

7/24/2003 02:54:00 PM

(7/24/2003 02:35:00 PM) - Al

Rumor has it Brian Giles has vetoed trades to both OAK & SEA. His agent denied those rumors, which the cynic in me says all but verifies their truthfulness. PIT may have to take far less than market value if they wish to rid themselves of Brian's large contract.

7/24/2003 02:35:00 PM

(7/24/2003 02:32:00 PM) - Al

Xavier Nady was sent to the minors after compiling a .304 OBP and a 674 OPS in his rookie season.

What's funny about Xavier is, when he was drafted, he was supposedly ready for the majors and played a tough spot to fill (3B). Now, he is a corner OF who barely gets on 30% of the time. He has power, and I assume he'll have a nice career as a mediocre OF. But, to say the least, it would seem he was very overrated. I'm surprised scouts didn't frown on him when they saw that ugly long swing.

7/24/2003 02:32:00 PM

(7/24/2003 02:13:00 PM) - Al

Watching the Twins/Royals on ESPN today, brief thoughts:

1. Darrell May's success tells me the Brewers need to be even more diligent in turning over rocks in its search for talent. The Brewers have signed several independent league pitchers this year, and good for them. May signed after a couple decent years in Japan, and from what i recall, only had a couple teams interested in him. There's no shame in trying to find lightning in a bottle, as minor league FA Leo Estrella and waiver wire pickup Danny Kolb seems to prove.

2. The Twins have Justin Morneau, a lefty batter, DHing versus May, a LH pitcher. Jacque Jones is also starting, and Dustan Mohr is sitting. Gary Thorne said today that Jacque says he's hitting lefties better this year, as he's seen more of them.

Jacque, 2003----.240/.267/.365, 632 OPS
Jacque, career--.219/.256/.318, 574 OPS

I guess it is "better", but it's still horrible. Last I looked, the Twins are in a pennant race. Might be time to inform Jones that he'll be platooning the rest of the way.

3. Matt LeCroy catching today, appears to have finally convinced MIN's hardheaded braintrust he can do that. You gotta wonder if AJ will be dealt to save money. They also noted Tom Prince is with KC's AAA team, and was promised he'll be up in September to be the 3rd catcher. Tom gets more of his ability than any player in the game. He's the epitome of "gritty", all the others are just runner-ups.

4. I find it funny LaTroy Hawkins has said he will probably leave the Twins when he's a FA. I'll admit, Hawk has value as a middle reliever, but his career ERA is over 5. LaTroy has finally found his calling, and I wonder how many other poor/below mediocre starters could be useful out of the 'pen. I would guess a pretty fair amount would be.

7/24/2003 02:13:00 PM

(7/24/2003 01:48:00 PM) - Al

The OBP bandwagon continues to grow. Check out this article at that discusses how Kevin Youkilis has become a prospect by taking pitches. .489 OBP? Jeepers.

7/24/2003 01:48:00 PM

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

(7/23/2003 08:56:00 PM) - Al

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, I now have a weblog that is supposedly written by a military man in Iraq on my favorites list. If you are interested, you can read it here.

7/23/2003 08:56:00 PM

(7/23/2003 06:38:00 PM) - Al


Any chance a contender could use Royce Clayton?


Not a contender with a clue. That said, Dusty Baker used to manage Royce, and his offensive numbers and oldness would put him exactly in the "mediocre" category of the Cubs' hellishly poor bench.

Actually, unless a SS gets hurt, I'd say no. Since it's unfair to hope for someone to go down, I can only hope for Dusty to express an interest in one of his old hard-nosed guys.

7/23/2003 06:38:00 PM

(7/23/2003 06:34:00 PM) - Al

There's a famous book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. In it (if I remember correctly), he argues that paradigm shifts in thinking don't come all of a sudden, but happen as an idea introduced by a young person gains acceptance as the old guard dies out. You're seeing that in baseball now. Twenty years ago, Bill was the young upstart. A few people in the business, like Sandy Alderson, got it. More importantly, young people got it, and as my generation comes to take charge of the game, those ideas are starting to push out the old guard. In another 20 years, the old guard will be retired or dead, and we'll all think how silly it was to judge players on batting average, RBI and wins.

From Baseball Musings, link to the right. David Pinto just putting into words what many of us have been thinking for a couple years. Alderson & James were the first to be noticed for it at least, though some have likely been using it for decades, just quietly. I think in 2020, you'll be able to count on one hand the teams not using the mathematics that many of us take for granted. While I'm sure new things will be in vogue by then (hopefully, a somewhat simple, yet conclusive defensive stat), I admit, the idea anything can be more accurate than OPS (or OXS to be more precise) would shock me.

7/23/2003 06:34:00 PM

(7/23/2003 06:28:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer's column today is on what contenders need to improve on. He only mentions one team that needs a 2B, and it's the same club we've talked about here a dozen times, the Twins. If OAK ships Mark Ellis to the Pirates, they may also have a need, but right now, it would seem it's either the Twins or just a team looking to add a reserve 2B/CF/PH, or maybe a platoon DH for a team looking for speed at the top of the lineup.

7/23/2003 06:28:00 PM

(7/23/2003 06:05:00 PM) - Al

Nice article on the long and winding road to being a conservative Dennis Miller has taken. I've always been a fan of Miller's, as he and Norm McDonald are the funniest news guys SNL has ever had. The link to the article can be found here.

7/23/2003 06:05:00 PM

(7/23/2003 04:08:00 PM) - Al

I've been begging the Crew to sit Royce Clayton and play anyone else since they signed him last December. Well, last night Billy Hall was given a shot at the SS spot, and responded with flawless defensive play, and a triple and a double at the plate. I hazard to guess it was the best game by a SS all year by a Crew member. Hey, I realize I'm using the smallest of a small sample, one game. I understand Billy is probably not going to be as good on defense as Royce most games, and will likely boot a few routine grounders. I realize his contribution on offense will not be much better than Royce's.

But, at the end of the day, we are all 100% sure Royce Clayton is horrible on O, and mediocre at best on D. He peaked years ago, and while he may still be better than replacement level (though I doubt it), he is hardly an answer.

Billy may never be better than he is now, and I'd guess he will never be league average. But, he's 23, and at least has the potential to not suck someday.

This is the most obvious choice I've ever seen.

7/23/2003 04:08:00 PM

(7/23/2003 04:00:00 PM) - Al

Great to see the trades beginning so early. I may be the only person on the planet that feels PIT got a decent deal yesterday, but I do. I still haven't heard an actual number as far as how much the Pirates are paying Aramis, but to get out from under that terrible deal ($6 mil next year) for an average at best 3B is a blessing and a half. And, they have the right idea trying to dump Jason Kendall's $10 mil a year contract as well. Jason is a better than mediocre C, but he's nowhere near the 8 digit plateau...very few are. PIT has realized that they need to retool, as they do not have the talent to get to the 90 win stage. When you make that decision, you need to pick out a future season (say, 2005) and get rid of anyone who will not help you win then. You can hang onto some vets and try not to suck as badly, but there's no reason to keep expensive fellas to win 60 games instead of 55.

OAK sounds as if they are very close to picking up Kelvim Escobar from TOR for Ted Lilly. That would be a dandy deal for both teams, as Lilly just needs to pitch every 5th day, but Escobar is a nice upgrade for the remaining 12-14 starts this year.

And for heaven sakes, let's ensure we dump at least EY and VW. I am hoping a couple more garner some interest (Eddie Perez, Dejean, VDS), but there's no way Eric or John should be on this team come August 1st.

7/23/2003 04:00:00 PM

Monday, July 21, 2003

(7/21/2003 10:01:00 PM) - Al

The fan forum just pointed out that if Matt Ford spends 15 days on the DL, then makes a few rehab starts, it is suddenly September, and the roster limit is 40 rather than 25. After playing most of the year with a 23 man roster, actually 23.5, as Ford was decent in middle relief, we're back up to 24 the rest of the way!!!

7/21/2003 10:01:00 PM

(7/21/2003 09:19:00 PM) - Al

RUTT pitcher Jose Acevedo with a stellar outing tonight against the Crew, difficult to believe he was wasting away in middle relief in AAA. I don't think Bob Boone would know a good pitcher if he sat on the bench overmanaging next to him.

7/21/2003 09:19:00 PM

(7/21/2003 09:17:00 PM) - Al

Looks like Keith Ginter will get pretty regular playing time for the next few days, as Wes Helms is injured with a bruised hand. Billy Hall is up, and I'd sure like to see him get some looks at SS. While I hesitate to say he couldn't be worse than Clayton, as his AAA equivalent numbers and Royce's actual MLB stats are almost the same, at least he'd be younger and have potential. No offense to Royce, but the fork has been stuck in him for a couple trips around the sun. It's as if I'm the only one who has noticed.

Matt Ford was DL'd today also. Gotta wonder how much his injury has affected his pitching.

7/21/2003 09:17:00 PM

(7/21/2003 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Thanks for the many e-mails of concern. My dad is not doing well, but is stable, and will probably be moved to a long-term care facility tomorrow.

7/21/2003 09:14:00 PM

(7/21/2003 12:26:00 AM) - Al

Updates may be a bit sporadic the next few days. I am taking a trip to go home and visit my dad, who has been in the hospital off and on for a while now, and who isn't doing all that well. Thanks for your understanding and I hope to be back soon and often.

7/21/2003 12:26:00 AM

Saturday, July 19, 2003

(7/19/2003 09:28:00 PM) - Al

I know Fox tried it a few years ago, and it failed miserably, but I really think it's time for a "Fox News" type of sports news network. ESPN's SportsCenter, which I still watch all the time, has almost become a parody of a sports newscast. Silly things like The Hot Seat are unbearable, and anchors attempting to get their own WB sitcom with "catch-phrases" and plays on words is horrible. I've never met anyone who doesn't despise Stuart Scott, yet he seems to be adding to his routine rather than holding back.

It's hard to believe CNN was once the only game in town, he said oversimplifying things a bit, but during Gulf War 1, it really was. I'd get home from work at 2-4AM, and watch CNN to see war coverage and get analysis. This past year, I shared the disgust many did at the overwhelming slant and bias. If you watched an hour of CNN, you'd be convinced we were losing the war, and our military was hungry and desperate. One of their on-air folks predicted a 3-6 month "battle for Baghdad" against the vaunted Republican Guard (you remember, the ones who dropped their weapons and fled after a few days of bombing from the US).

I feel the same way about ESPN. They seem to think they are the news, rather than just covering the news. Coming up in a coverage of ESPN prepping for a sportscast. Are you kidding? That's like a golf fan watching Tiger Woods eat breakfast, and then do some stretching exercises.

I have to believe that a sports network that stuck to the news and not adding cliches and opinion to a review of the day's events might be looked at as a good thing in 2003. As proof, I offer Karl Ravech hosting Baseball Tonight compared to anyone else doing so. Ravech is a guy who knows no more about baseball than Joe Six Pack, a .300 BA is good, Derek Jeter is a dandy leader (or winner), and "team chemistry" is the key to a winning baseball team. What's funny is, he will listen to the experts (of which, Peter Gammons is good, and Tim Kirkjian (sp) is OK; the rest, cliche ridden ex-jocks who know only that they were better baseball players than you), and then say, "Well, this is what I think". It's like asking John Daly how he hits the ball so damn far, and then listening to Pat Summerall say, "I've found keeping my head down adds an extra 10 yards".

Fox Sports News Net, anyone??

7/19/2003 09:28:00 PM

(7/19/2003 09:01:00 PM) - Al

Nice win for the Crew tonight, 1-0 over the Pirates. Danny Kolb went the last two iningas, allowing only a walk. Can you believe it, a pitcher being brought in the 8th and just going until he has trouble, or the match-up isn't good?

I think until you get to .500, I'd just have a bullpen full of cheap middle relievers. Heck, I wouldn't mind doing it with a contender, though when a game can mean the difference between the playoffs and staying home, I can see the reason to pay a closer.

The funny thing is, the goofballs on ESPN still haven't realized that BOS doesn't have a "closer-by-committee"...nor did they have one all year. They just tried to go with unproven closers, and their success was mixed. A true "committee" uses the hot hand, goes with the matchups, or switches lefty/righty a lot.

7/19/2003 09:01:00 PM

Friday, July 18, 2003

(7/18/2003 08:55:00 PM) - Al

Sorry about the problems with Blogger. I've been unable to log on (for the most part) to update Ramblings. Inventory went well, so now we just have to play catch up.

7/18/2003 08:55:00 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2003

(7/17/2003 10:35:00 PM) - Al

Not much time tonight, but I would like to say how funny I think it is that the braintrust feels Dejean can get 3 outs in the 7th, but not the 9th.

I find the whole aspect that somehow runs in the 7th don't count as much to be pretty comical.

7/17/2003 10:35:00 PM

(7/17/2003 12:08:00 AM) - Al

As expected, Aaron Gleeman writes about the Kielty trade, and says the exact same thing I did...of course, Aaron uses 3 times the words, but that's why we love him! Check it out, and shake your head as I am.

Giving up Bobby and still having a DP combo of Rivas/Guzman is simply unacceptable.

7/17/2003 12:08:00 AM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

(7/16/2003 11:20:00 PM) - Al

The Crank with an interesting post on how much of our economic problems can be directly traced to the state of California's distressed economy...California is a state that is almost totally in the hands of the Democratic party. That state's huge Dem controlled economy is up to 15-20% of the nation's Republican economy.

Ironic, huh?

7/16/2003 11:20:00 PM

(7/16/2003 10:56:00 PM) - Al

The Expos may play all 81 games in Puerto Rico next season, as they try and find a permanent home for the wayward club. As far as I can tell, PR is not being considered as the eventual home, as they have no stadium or a plan to build one.

I'm all for Portland, and I think putting the Expos in the AAA stadium there would be a better option than PR, myself. With some temporary seats, and most of all, a good broadcast deal, they could be much more profitable than the 51st state version, and help build toward their beautiful new stadium in 2-3 years. You could start priority season tickets, seat licenses, etc.

However, I do like the idea of playing a few series a year in PR, especially in April, May, and September, when many teams don't draw well anyway. It helps promote the game in all of Latin America, and many teams wouldn't miss 3 games in the cool weather months a bit. Move 12 games to PR, and take 3 games away from 4 teams who struggle to draw well in those months...that seems like a win/win to me.

7/16/2003 10:56:00 PM

(7/16/2003 10:47:00 PM) - Al

While ESPN says MLB All-Star ratings did not go up, that seems to be a headline with a bit of bias. In truth, the game got a 9.5 rating, the same as the 2002 affair. This is the first time in 5 years that ratings did not go down, and the total viewers actually went up by a million people.

In today's TV environment, lower ratings are expected, with the proliferation of satellite and cable companies offering a couple hundred channels, and networks losing viewers to "specialty networks". Seems to me, maintaining the same viewership is a nice moral victory.

7/16/2003 10:47:00 PM

(7/16/2003 10:41:00 PM) - Al

Julio Lugo found not guilty of assault today. Tell me again why HOU lost a guy with talent for nothing again? Talk about overreacting and letting your emotions dictate your business.

7/16/2003 10:41:00 PM

(7/16/2003 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Every once in a while, you see a trade so ridiculous, you're sure something other than talent played a major role.

Billy Beane, a GM who has shown a very keen eye for talent, dumped Jeremy Giambi for journeyman John Mabry. As it turns out, Jeremy had shouted obscenities at Beane on a flight.

ARI traded for Shea Hillenbrand, apparently not realizing he is a mediocre 3B with a pitiful OBP. They also gave up a fine young pitcher for him.

Today, the Minesota Twins gave away Bobby Kielty, a fine young OF, who would have been mega cheap through 2004, and MIN property through 2007, to the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite my admiration for Bobby, the Twins do have a huge weakness at both middle IF positions, as I've documented here. Sometimes, you have to trade a player you don't want to in order to improve your club. I've spoken a couple times here about not letting emotions get in the way of sound judgement.

But, if you're a KC or a White Sox fan, you'll be happy to know the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart for Kielty. That's right, Stewart, a LF (and one with a pitiful arm at that), and both weak spots are still there and terrible. While TOR does pick up Stewart's salary, MIN just dealt 4.5 years of Bobby Kielty for 70 games of Stewart, and maybe a supplemental pick in next June's amateur draft, if MIN risks offering Shannon arbitration, where he'll make $7 million, and MIN has a boatload of cheap replacements.

Is it possible I'm overreacting? Well, let's look at the numbers, as I am a big Shanon Stewart fan:

Stewart---.301/.367/.447, 814 OPS, 163/217 SB's, 75% success rate in about 5.25 years
Kielty------.269/.375/.444, 819 OPS, 13/16 SB's, 81% sucess rate in about 1.5 years

Congrats MIN, you just acquired an exact twin of the player you traded away. I added in the nearly meaningless SB totals because, let's face it, that's why MIN got him. Of course, if you do the math, Shannon is on pace to steal about 13 bases in the 2nd half, while Bobby would have only swiped 4, if career totals hold true.

Let's look at GM Terry Ryan's quotes:

Hopefully we'll come back and have renewed vigor and get after it...It's a situation where we are bringing in a guy to help us ignite this offense at the top of our lineup.

Translation: What this team needs is a stolen base threat at the top of the lineup.

I assume Stewart will lead off, but the main problem here is Christian Guzman hits 2nd for the Twins...he of the .286 OBP last I looked. MIN is exactly where they should be, based on runs scored and runs allowed. I don't see how adding a guy with all but an identical OPS to the lineup will aid them in scoring more runs, as any extra bases Shannon picks up will likely be made moot by the extra outs he causes by being thrown out.

Before we go, let's take a gander at what TOR GM JP Ricciardi said:

Once again, we got a player we've liked for a long time, he fits everything we're trying to do offensively. We've got this guy for the next four years before he can become a free agent, this is basically getting Shannon Stewart from the start all over again.

Yes it is, JP, yes it is.

7/16/2003 10:14:00 PM

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

(7/15/2003 10:43:00 PM) - Al

Joe Buck & Tim McCarver are imitating that Seinfeld episode in which the "close talker" appears, as they stand about 3 inches from each other as they discuss the game. By the way, what did Joe do to his hair? He looks like a 45 year-old California surfer dude. What a clueless idiot.

7/15/2003 10:43:00 PM

(7/15/2003 10:23:00 PM) - Al

Can you imagine the furor? I'm sure Jim Caple will be all over this one. Oh wait, no chance to pick on Bud without giving any better option? It won't be mentioned. Japan's all-star game ends in a tie, and no one could care less.

7/15/2003 10:23:00 PM

(7/15/2003 03:03:00 PM) - Al

Posting will be light the next few days, as I have inventory this Friday. Hopefully, a return to normalcy will occur soon thereafter.

7/15/2003 03:03:00 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003

(7/14/2003 10:18:00 PM) - Al

Rickey Henderson has signed with the Dodgers. Platoon with Burnitz in LF, perhaps?

It's about time someone finds a spot for a guy who still gets on base 35% of the time.

7/14/2003 10:18:00 PM

(7/14/2003 09:31:00 PM) - Al

I'm trying to decide what the worst thing about the Home Run Derby has been:

1. The version of the classic Don Henley song "Boys of Summer" by a group that should be called, "Young, Loud, and Not Very Talented". Do you s'pose one of their dads owns the recording company?

2. Chris Berman...I believe I'd rather be listening to Matt Vasgersian and Hawk Harrelson. It's like no one told Chris his 15 minutes were up many years ago. I think I'd rather watch a cat torture a mouse.

3. I believe the monkey from Friends was directing during the first couple batters. I don't believe I saw a single Sheffield or Anderson HR land in the stands during the first round. I did, however, see several shots of nameless fans.

4. Listening to Joe Morgan...and to think, we used to think he was an intelligent man. Who wrote Moneyball, Joe?

5. Wondering why ESPN thinks I give a rat's behind about a fan who will win a house depending on which player wins the contest?

6. Wondering why not a single one of the kids in the OF can catch a simple fly ball?

By the way, I found it humorous when they showed highlights of early contests with tons of empty seats. I guess it took a while to catch on, though I've always thought the HR Derby was a lot more fun than the game.

Nevermind, by far the worst thing about the Derby is that the celebrity softball game is passed off as ESPN programming and follows the HR contest. Pardon me, but Lifetime is showing an interesting docudrama on eating disorders.

7/14/2003 09:31:00 PM

(7/14/2003 06:55:00 PM) - Al

Reviewing my Ramblings' Underutilized Talent Team selections, let's start at catcher:

{In order to qualify for RUTT, you have to be 29 or younger, be unsigned as of 1/7/03, and if signed, not be counted on to start and making less than $1.65 million (75% of the MLB average).}

CATCHER--Ben Petrick has been a highly thought of catcher for the entire 21st century in Colorado, but has yet to be allowed to just go out and do the job. Instead, they've harped on his pitch calling, defense, and fiddled with him at other positions (LF being mentioned the most often). What is obvious to me is apparently unthought of in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains...if he's good enough to play LF, he'll be a star catching.

In his major league career, filled with sporadic playing time, and being told what he cannot do, he's managed these numbers:

Petrick-----.265/.350/.466, 816 OPS, 163 OXS, 73 runs produced
Ave C, '02-.250/.315/.379, 694 OPS, 119 OXS, 54 runs produced

Even figuring in only 450 AB's, rather than the full load of 600, Ben is 19 runs better than the average catcher out there. Is he a defensive stud? Probably not, but he can smack the ball, and is very deserving of a starting job.

My reserve is 27 year-old Javier Valentin, who was acquired by the Brewers this offseason from the Twins. Javier was Terry Steinbach's backup in MIN in '97-'99. He has spent his last three years in Salt Lake City and Edmonton, and has put up solid numbers in over 1000 AAA AB's, .293/.356/.511, 867 OPS, 182 OXS. Even expecting a 25% dropoff, there's nothing wrong with a 137 OXS from your reserve catcher, heck, it's still better than most.

Hopefully, Ben has finally found an opportunity to shine, as the Tigers' acquired him Saturday, and one look at their catching corps shows me Ben will play A LOT behind the plate. In AAA this year, Ben continued to hit, .259/.333/.500, an 833 OPS, just above his career AAA marks. Javier has been Toby Hall's backup in Tampa Bay, and has done a credible job, hitting .255/.276/.426, 702 OPS. That's just about average, and if he ever picks up his walk count, his OBP will get up to where it should be, and he'll be better than mediocre.

I must admit, seeing Greg Myers and Tom Wilson platoon their way to the best offensive numbers in the game behind the plate have made me smile as well. If I would have been doing a RUTT for the last 10 years, Wilson alone would have likely made it 5 years in a row, as he was the best offensive catcher in AAA for many years running, until Billy Beane gave him a chance in 2002. JP picked up Tom up in a trade, and has given him playing time and has been rewarded for it. To see guys be written off despite never getting a chance is part of the reason RUTT was born. You never know until you let a guy pass or fail on their own.

David Ortiz is spending his Year of 27 patrolling 1B for RUTT, and we're happy to have him. David was the Twins DH until they had to let him go in a cost cutting move. David is a cheap alternative who takes plenty of walks (one every 8 AB's) and has HR & doubles power. Let's compare him the MLB average:

Ortiz----------.266/.348/.461, 809 OPS, 160 OXS, 96 runs produced
Ave C, '02--.272/.361/.461, 822 OPS, 166 OXS, 100 runs produced

Considering Dave will likely sign for under a million per year, and is entering what could well be his peak age, we can expect league average production at a very minimal cost.

For my backup, I choose Julio Zuleta, a 26 year-old fromer Cubs prospect who signed with BOS as a minor league FA. Julio's AAA numbers are .302/.364/.560, 924 OPS, 204 OXS. He's a big RH hitter, who doesn't walk enough for my personal taste, but he gets on base and he's got nothing left to prove in AAA. Expecting a 25% falloff, a 153 OXS isn't going to embarass anyone, and it would probably be higher if he were either platooned or rested versus the best RH you play each series (this is what I call "setting up a player to succeed"). Heaven knows they're plenty of LH hitting 1B out there begging for a chance to get 200 PA's. Julio deserves to be on a 25 man roster next April 1st.

Dave had few choices, and ended up with Theo's OBP boys in Fenway Park. Somehow, I assume he'll never make another RUTT again, as he may have sewn up an everyday job for the next 5-7 years. Ortiz has had an outstanding year, .300/.383/.550, 933 OPS, 211 OXS. What's truly amazing about Dave is not only did 29 teams feel they could do better at 1B, but 13 AL clubs didn't think he would make a good DH, including the Twins. Julio has done what he always does in AAA, abuse pitchers at a .275/.336/.505 clip, a 841 OPS. As I said then, with many LH hitting 1B that could use a platoon partner (Randall Simon, Doug M), as well as the plethora of incredibly worthless bench players (the majority of whom play for the Cubs), you'd think a guy that can flat out hit for power would find a spot on a 25 man.

Jarrod Patterson is the exact type of player that we love to uncover. I had planned to use Ronnie Belliard as my 2B, but because of his broken finger (wrist?) suffered in winter ball, I decided to make him my reserve. So, I went about finding me a good, young 2B who is not considered a true "prospect". And looked. And, looked. I am not sure why exactly this has become such a hole in baseball. There are many more quality offensive shortstops than 2nd basemen, which simply makes no sense. Every 2B that hit at all was 30+. The only other players I found were Marcus Giles and Keith Ginter. Giles, a quality player seemingly stuck on the ATL bench for no apparent reason. However, Marcus is both under contract and in the hunt for playing time, thus ineligible for RUTT. Ginter is stuck behind Eric Young and Wes Helms in MIL, though neither is a bit better than Keith. Given Helms' lack of production and the Crew's desire to trade EY, Ginter seems likely to see plenty of action as well.

That left Patterson, a 29 year-old 2B/3B, who is a AAA veteran very worthy of getting a shot. He's also a LH bat, which means he should have garnered at least a platoon job by now. In oodles of AAA time, Jerrod's numbers are:

Patterson---.300/.368/.481, 849 OPS, 177 OXS, 106 runs produced
Ave 2B, '02-.268/.331/.392, 723 OPS, 130 OXS, 78 runs produced

Assuming a 25% decrease in Patterson's productivity, that'd lower him to a 133 OXS, still better than your average second sacker. The Royals were wise enough to sign Jarrod, going against that organization's tendency to sign guys that can run and play lots of positions...but can't hit a lick.

As already said, Ronnie Belliard is my backup, hopefully he'll get healthy quick enough to contribute...looking over 2B, in the AL especially, there's plenty of spots available. Despite an awful '02, in which he was yanked between 2B & 3B unjustly and played sparingly for the first time in his pro career, Ronnie still has career stats of .263/.340/.396, 736 OPS, 135 OXS...which are better than average. If '02 was a fluke season caused by MIL using him poorly and setting him up to fail, the team that signs him will likely be plenty happy with his production.

As happened a couple times, my reserve got the opportunity my top choice didn't. That said, if I would have went with Giles, I'd have a MLB all-star...but that would have been cheating, as I expected Marcus to get a chance to play everyday. Ginter has also played nicely in limited playing time.

Jerrod got stuck in AAA once again, and compiled numbers like he always does, .259/.330/.468, 798 OPS. He did get a call up to KC right before the break, I hope he finds his way into some games. Belly spent some time on the DL, but has made the most of his return and 2nd chance in COL, .302/.378/.408, 786 OPS.

Marcos Scutaro is the choice at SS, which regular readers should have guessed long ago. Scooter, 27, does everything well for a SS except have good range. In 2-3 careers worth of AAA AB's (over 1800, I kid you not), let's look at Scooter's production:

Scutaro------.289/.371/.418, 789 OPS, 155 OXS, 93 runs produced
Ave SS '02--.265/.324/.398, 722 OPS, 129 OXS, 77 runs produced

Scooter has continued to improve over the past two years, with SLGings of .432 and .475, so it's unlikely he'll fall off a full 25%, but if he did, he STILL would be less than 10 runs off the pace of a MLB SS. Considering he's entering his Year of 27, this guy needs to get some playing time so he can have a career worthy of his talent.

His reserve is yet another ex-Brewers player, Lou Collier. This 29 year-old can play anywhere on the diamond except as part of the battery, and has even better AAA numbers than Scooter, .316/.387/.480, 867 OPS, 186 OXS. Collier has over 600 MLB AB's, however, so at least he's had a shot. The majority of them came as PIT's regular SS several years ago, and his MLB numbers are far from Ordonez like: .240/.314/.339, 653, 106, about 15 runs less than mediocre, a good step up from replacement level, not to mention Rey, Rey, Neifi, and the rest. It's a pretty safe bet Lou would improve handily if allowed to play on a regular basis. Collier also signed with BOS, meaning Theo seems to be assembling quite a OBP laden bunch.

He obviously doesn't get it, huh?:)

If there is any fairness in baseball, Scooter will find a team and gallop off into happiness, just like Tom Wilson did. Scooter, vet of now over 2000 AAA AB's, is struggling along like he always does, .299/.388/.509, 897 OPS and a 197 OXS. Compare this to Jose Reyes' numbers in Norfolk. Nothing like starting the ol' arby clock far too early for less production. Marcos was up for a 2-3 week stint, got hardly any AB's, and was summarily taken off the Mets' 40 man roster, meaning every team in MLB turned down a chance to add a utility IF to the roster that can actually not suck at hitting the ball. Lou is also doing extremely well, at .300/.360/510, 870 OPS, and yes, he can still play 7 positions and not embarass himself.

Mike Lamb is the Rambling 3B. Mike has done what has been asked of him by TEX, and has been punished for it every step of the way. Thye seem to be trying him as some sort of super utility guy, even teaching him how to catch in AAA for a short time last year, then abandoning the attempt after Lamb proved not to be Johnny Bench his first time out. Mike would be well off to complain to the media and get shipped out of TEX, to someone who would realize at the very least they have a platoon 3B on their hands.

As Mike enters his Year of 27, his career efforts look pretty good from here:

Mike Lamb---.287/.341/.394, 735 OPS, 134 OXS, 81 runs produced
Ave 3B, '02--.259/.330/.420, 750 OPS, 139 OXS, 83 runs produced

All but average at the MAJOR league level, mind you, and TEX just signed Herb Perry, career journeyman, reserve 1B/3B to a TWO year deal, at least double of what Herb is worth. Meanwhile, Lamb has to fight for every AB, and split his time between 1B/3B/DH, and maybe even a couple games in LF. Mike Lamb should be thinking of nothing but improving his gap power and raising his OBP a bit, not when and if he'll be playing.

His reserve at 3B is another 27 year-old from the Lone Star state, Morgan Ensberg. Morgan has produced at an incredible level at AAA, .299/.400/.510, 910 OPS, 204 OXS. Even allowing for a 25% decline, a 153 OXS is far better than your average MLB third sacker. After putting up stunning numbers like that, HOU isn't sure who'll they'll play at 3B in '03.

Both are doing fine, but Morgan has been Ruthian. First, Lamb has been beat out by Blalock and Texiera, and I can't argue about that. However, Mike continues to hit, .287/.376/.454, 830 OPS in AAA, and certainly should find another organization. Meanwhile, Morgan should probably be in the game tomorrow night if first half numbers are all that count: .311/.416/.617, 1033 OPS, 257 OXS. Do you think the Astros regret not giving this kid a shot until he was 27? This is the kid that HOU had so much confidence in they traded for Mark Loretta. Yes, heaven forbid they would have given some AB's to Ensberg, huh?

LEFT FIELD--Jack Cust is one of those guys who has dominated AAA ball so thoroughly, he should be in his 2nd or 3rd full season. Jack's main "fault" is that he has never played in the AL, where he could DH and not have to worry about his glove. Personally, I hire me a fine former OF to coach 1B (is there a more meaningless coaching position in all of sports?), and let him play LF. Most games, he'll catch a couple fly balls and throw the ball harmlessly into SS several times on singles and doubles. Jack's AAA numbers are frightening:

Cust-----------.272/.412/.524, 936 OPS, 216 OXS (216!!!!), 130 runs produced
Ave LF, '02--.271/.355/.452, 807 OPS, 160 OPS, 96 runs produced

Assuming a production drop of 25%, Cust would still produce 98 runs a year. Will he strike out a ton? Yep. Walk once every 4-5 AB's? That too. Also, Jack will be 24 this year, meaning he likely won't peak until 2006 or thereabouts. I'll take the risk that he might turn a single into a double once in a while.

Reserves are plentiful in the corner OF slots, but I went with Russ Branyan as my choice. .230/.317/.478, 795 OPS, 152 OXS, and he can also play 1B and 3B on occasion. I still just wish he'd get 500 AB's and just see how many HR's he'd hit.

Cust actually struggled some early this year, but has worked his OBP back to reaching base 40% of the time. Overall, he's .283/.419/430, 849 OPS and while it appears leaving the thin air of Colorado Springs has taken some of his power, he still "doesn't get out" at a superb rate. He can be my LF anytime, and he should be DHing in BAL by now, who picked him up this spring. Branyan has been injured some, but has done fine as well, .234/.379/.426, 805 OPS, in Cincy. If you notice, many of the RUTT players have somewhat low BA, and high OBP. What's funny is, it seems much of MLB still lacks the proper respect for working the count and OBP in general.

Bobby Kielty somehow sat on the bench behind Dustan Mohr in MIN last year, despite being superior to him in speed, defense, BA, OBP, and SLG. Bobby is the perfect CF, as he hits like a corner OF, yet covers enough ground to play the middle spot. Bobby's numbers in his part-time play over two seasons:

Kielty----------.280/.377/.458, 835 OPS, 173 OXS, 104 runs produced
Ave CF, '02--.268/.336/.428, 764 OPS, 144 OXS, 86 runs produced

26 year-old Kielty is not just 18 runs better than your average CF, he's 8 runs better than your average LF. Damn. While most folks debate whether the Twins should trade Hunter or Jones, I argue to trade 'em both, and put Bobby in between Restovich and Cuddyear. If one fails to there an easier spot to fill than LF or RF at the deadline?

Gabe Kapler is my reserve CF, as he's put together a career of .272/.335/.435, 780 OPS, 146 OPS, almost exactly in the middle of all CF, but he isn't even expected to start in COL, as he's stuck behind the immortal Preston Wilson, who's being paid one billion dollars over the next few years.

Everyone who knows what OBP is understood Kielty would be wonderful...and the Twins still seem to not really want to hear it. Bobby has followed up a superb 2002 with a nice 2003, .252/.371/.423, 794 OPS, and of course, he's outhitting Torri Hunter for the second year in a row. So, for those keeping track, Torri makes $8 mil per, Dustan Mohr plays despite being the anti-OBP poster child, and Kielty just produces. Kapler was released by the Rockies and signed by the Red Sox, and looks as if he just had a bad bunch of AB's in a small sample. .267/.325/.390 isn't really that bad for a CF anyway, and he'll do improve every at-bat.

Craig Wilson has spent the past couple seasons in a real life Far Side cartoon; the slugging 1B/OF has sat on the bench...while Kevin Young, the worst everyday 1B since he was moved across the diamond several years ago. So as the Pirates let Young, who hits like a middle infielder, play 1B daily, here is Wilson's career output:

Wilson---------.278/.365/.487, 852 OPS, 178 OXS, 107 runs produced (yes, these are MLB stats)
Ave RF, '02--..271/.353/.458, 811 OPS, 162 OXS, 97 runs produced

Wilson will spend his 26th year on Earth hoping to gain everyday playing time, even though his numbers aren't that far from those of Brian Giles.

Backing up Wilson is John Barnes, who in 1000+ AAA AB's, has struggled mightily to numbers of .322/.392/.498, 890 OPS, 195 OXS. While the expected drop would put him at a 146 OXS, he certainly should be platooning somewhere, or coming off the bench instead of guys like Shawon Dunston and Lenny Harris.

Craig has finally started to see semi-regular time, and has seen a fall in power, for whatever reason. .241/.344/.401, 745 OPS is below both what he should do and what he has done in the past, so I suspect we'll see a rise in the 2nd half. Barnes continues to just plug along, .313/.361/.478, 839 OPS in AAA, while Tom Goodwin is still a reserve OF in the big leagues. Oh yeah, that makes sense.

Does anyone else think that's a pretty good lineup? All are young, inexpensive, and have potential to still do better...though Ensberg may have hit his peak.:) And many of them have heard words to describe themselves like "4A player", "utility guy", and "not ready for primetime". If this collection of hitters isn't enough to make you look a little harder at guys that are non-tendered, or are blocked by a player or two right now, you are doomed to pay millions to mediocre free agents on the wrong side of 30 (can you say, New York Mets?).

We'll be back with the pitchers tomorrow night.

7/14/2003 06:55:00 PM

(7/14/2003 05:33:00 PM) - Al

I plan on going over the RUTT team later tonight. As I hinted at before, if nothing else, it proves it's sure a lot easier to find good position players than it is decent pitchers...especially members of the rotation.

7/14/2003 05:33:00 PM

(7/14/2003 05:30:00 PM) - Al

Reports are out that the Mets have traded Jeromy Burnitz to the Dodgers for 2-3 minor league prospects. If hisory repeats itself, MLB will not announce the trade until Wednesday, after the all-star game is complete.

7/14/2003 05:30:00 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2003

(7/13/2003 04:18:00 PM) - Al

Since May 1st, here are Royce Clayton's numbers:


For those keeping track, that's a 586 OPS. I could find a better option at SS at any AAA game, and most AA ones. It's time to admit that was a horrible decision by the new regime and look to the future. Half a season to see what Billy Hall, Keith Ginter, or almost anyone under 30 can do would be a much better choice.

Just like you do when you're 26 year-old son is still living at home, you cut the cord, as it benefits both player and team.

Heck, Royce is just horrible enough with the bat that Dusty Baker may use him in Chicago.

7/13/2003 04:18:00 PM

(7/13/2003 04:08:00 PM) - Al

Both the Braves and Yankees were having discussions about Mike Dejean, as of yesterday, according to local papers in those two cities. That has probably kept Mike in the closer's role, in which he allowed 3 runs in one inning today. He has struggled a lot the past 2-3 weeks, though almost all of his troubles can be traced to his control and his tendency to allow HR's. Mike has always walked a lot of batters, as he never "gives in" to the batter. On 3-0, Mike still goes for the outside corner at the knees. It's not strategy I agree with, but it's the way he's always pitched.

Richie Sexson just kept Dejean from taking the loss today by tying the game up in the 9th with an RBI single. With Mike, if he's healthy, you have to keep pitching him, if not in save situations, in the set-up role that contenders want him in. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many people seem to think runs allowed in the 7th and 8th innings don't hurt you as much as those given up in the 9th. I believe Mike's troubles will fade with steady work, but it may not be pretty until he gets himself right again. If we can get half the load TEX got for Urbina (3 of FLA's top 7 prospects), it's well worth the risk of losing an extra game or two.

7/13/2003 04:08:00 PM

(7/13/2003 03:24:00 PM) - Al

Shut out on TV today, so I'm listening to the game on radio. Jim Powell is saying how intelligent the Rule 5 draft is to beef up the farm system. He mentions that both Cruz and Ford are 2nd/3rd round June draft quality, and only cost $50K each, while 2nd rounder Tony Gwynn Jr. cost just under $1M to sign. I agree completely.

At this point, however, I have to wonder if the Brewers would be wise to call the Mets and BlueJays and offer them a middling prospect (or cash) in order to be able to send them down, especially Cruz. I think the Brewers have made it clear they intend to keep them on the 25 man all year, so wouldn't it be better for TOR & NYM to get something? Also, it would allow the players to develop at the level they should be at.

I wouldn't make any top prospects available, but a good example of the type of player I'd offer up would be a Wes Obermuller, the 26 year-old AAA SP we got from KC as part of the Leskanic deal. Wes may contribute at the big league level, either as a middle reliever or a spot starter, but he is unlikely to ever be anything more than a role player. However, he's a lot better than getting nothing, and as a stopgap, he's not bad...once a 2nd round pick, he has tools, and though his ceiling appears low, so did Scott Podsednik's a few months ago.

In the Mets case, they are likely to need cheap fellas like Wes, as they undergo a rebuilding project. It sure beats getting nothing, and for the Crew, it would allow Cruz to get 200-250 AB's the rest of the way. I'd say it'd be a win for both sides.

Sadly, that's why it'll never happen.

7/13/2003 03:24:00 PM

(7/13/2003 12:07:00 PM) - Al

RUTT member Ben Petrick should get a chance to show what he can do now, as he was traded to the Tigers. He will be the bizarro DET backstop, as he may have a higher OPS than Brandon Inge and Matt Walbeck combined. Not sure if Ben is going to catch or play OF in the Motor City, but it's nice to see him get a shot.

7/13/2003 12:07:00 PM

(7/13/2003 01:51:00 AM) - Al

Found these tonight, and will post them for your enjoyment, supposedly "real" answers from the old Hollywood Squares with Peter Marshall (dad of former KC 1B Pete LaCock). For the most part, they are very funny.

Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: Only if you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.

Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A. Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.

Q. According to Cosmo, if you meet a strange r at a party and you think he's attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A. Rose Marie: No, wait until morning.

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I Love You"?
A. Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.

Q. What are "Do It," "I Can Help," and "I Can't Get Enough"?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more 'growing old' question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.

Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Of cours e not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q. According to Ann Landers, is their anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.

Q. While visiting China, yo ur tour guide starts shouting "Poo! Poo! Poo!" what does this mean?
A. George Gobel: Cattle crossing.

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused but it certainly isn't neglected.

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.

7/13/2003 01:51:00 AM

Saturday, July 12, 2003

(7/12/2003 08:53:00 PM) - Al

So, if I said I was in favor of killing children that were not "normal", do you suppose I'd be given an award for it?

You may want to read this before you say I'm being sarcastic.

I got nothing more to say.

7/12/2003 08:53:00 PM

(7/12/2003 08:30:00 PM) - Al

How the mighty have fallen. As of this second, the Twins are tied for 2nd place in the AL Central, 44-48. Heck, the Brewers are only 7 games behind that. But, with only KC ahead of them, and the underachieving White Sox tied with them, they still could easily win the division if they win 85 games.

7/12/2003 08:30:00 PM

(7/12/2003 03:06:00 PM) - Al

Today, the White Sox are using the lineup they'll need to implement if they are going to make it a race in the AL Central. Everett in CF, Konerko/Thomas at 1B/DH. Hey, Paul is having a down season, but he hasn't been any worse than any of the defensive CF's the Sox could run out there. Today, Konerko is 2-5, with a 3 run HR to put the Sox up 7-4 in the top of the 10th.

They could run off 10 wins in 12 games with that lineup, and I don't think they have anything to lose.

7/12/2003 03:06:00 PM

(7/12/2003 11:25:00 AM) - Al

Meanwhile, in CHI, Mark Prior has gone 110 pitches in 12 of his 18 starts, and over 120 4 times. The idea he'll have a healthy career is laughable, if this mistreatment continues.

7/12/2003 11:25:00 AM

(7/12/2003 02:42:00 AM) - Al

OAK had 16,000 spectators tonight, on a Friday, after a 100 win season. That's so low, it's scary. I guess BAL isn't a big draw, but c'mon.

MIL had a big crowd compared to their season average, 28,000. Gotta wonder what was going on in Northern California.

7/12/2003 02:42:00 AM

(7/12/2003 01:10:00 AM) - Al

ESPN had on a "pickle race" from the Louisville minor league game (I think), and the pickles all were carrying bats, and chased a player right off the field. I actually had hoped the Sausages would "challenge" the Pirates dugout the next day, but that probably wouldn't have been in good taste, I suppose.

7/12/2003 01:10:00 AM

Friday, July 11, 2003

(7/11/2003 11:31:00 PM) - Al


Hey, thought i'd send you my pick for the best Love pic. Agree?


Douglas' pick for the best JLH picture is here. I think she looks like Minnie Driver a bit, but to be honest, I don't think she's ever taken a bad shot.

7/11/2003 11:31:00 PM

(7/11/2003 09:45:00 PM) - Al

Bases loaded, two out in the 8th, down 5...and Royce Clayton is allowed to hit? Why does Ned insist Royce is anything but an awful hitter? The bench consisted of Eddie Perez and Brooks Kieschnick (and Enrique Cruz, possibly the only position player in baseball appreciably worse than Royce). What's truly sad is that Brooks is now into pitch, meaning he will bat leadoff next inning...and Eddie Perez will very likely finish the game on the bench.

Again, you gotta wonder about carrying 12 pitchers, plus Brooks. It's a blatant case of poor roster management, but I had no problem with it as long as it involved keeping Cruz and Ford. Now, it's just silly.

7/11/2003 09:45:00 PM

(7/11/2003 10:20:00 AM) - Al

Crank also says the same thing I have...that Ben Sheets is throwing too many innings at a young age, and comapres him to Cal Eldred's 1993 year of overuse. However, while Ben is on a pace to throw about 240-250 innings this year, he has only been asked to throw more than 110 pitches 4 times (out of 20 starts), and only once has he gone over 120 pitches. I admit, I'd try and limit his innings in the dog days of the Summer as well, but they at least seem to realize Ben should be treated with care.

7/11/2003 10:20:00 AM

(7/11/2003 10:06:00 AM) - Al

The Baseball Crank weighs in on how Glendon Rusch's ERA is 4 runs higher than his expected ERA. If you recall, Aaron Gleeman mentioned this in an article as well a while back. Aaron compared Rusch's numbers to Barry Zito's (scroll down to the SP spot, and notice why we call them Gleeman-length posts), and the two were strikingly close. I thought of that the other day, when Barry allowed 15 hits in 5 innings or so, and Glendon gave up a run in 6 frames.

At the end of the day, Rusch has had horrible luck, and while he has had far from a good season, deserves a lot better.

7/11/2003 10:06:00 AM

(7/11/2003 09:57:00 AM) - Al

Aaron logs in with a column about his life (I am truly jealous of him), and answers the age-old debates: Christina or Britney (answers correctly), Bull Durham or Field of Dreams (answers incorrectly), and who is the most beautiful woman in the world (answers incorrectly, as none of his 4 "top picks" go by the moniker of Jennifer Love Hewitt). Check it out here.

7/11/2003 09:57:00 AM

Thursday, July 10, 2003

(7/10/2003 10:49:00 PM) - Al

A fan over at just pointed out to me that Yost also used Eric Young to PH for the pitcher in the bottom of the 8th inning against Suppan (who is of course, RH)...then brought Kieschnick into pitch the 9th. Really.

So, not only did we not use VanderWal to hit for Clayton with the tying run on 2B in the 9th, we could have easily still had EY on the bench to PH for either VW or Brooks if the Pirates would have brought in a lefty reliever.

It's like Lopester's lack of planing invaded the home dugout in the late innings today. While in no way would making the proper moves guaranteed a win or even extra frames, Yost failed to set his guys up for success, without a doubt.

7/10/2003 10:49:00 PM

(7/10/2003 10:29:00 PM) - Al

ESPN reports the Brewers' PA gent, Rob Edwards, said this during the sausage race today, to loud cheers from the crowd:

They're rounding the Pirates' dugout, and they've made it safely!!

They actually interviewed the young lady in the costume (I'd guess "Mandy's" 15 minutes are almost up) on Sportscenter. She seems sheepishly embarassed by the whole thing, as her head was at the costume's neck level. That said, did Simon know that?

At the end of the day, Mandy is quite a leggy young woman, and Randall Simon is quite a poor example of a human being.

7/10/2003 10:29:00 PM

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

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

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.

I'm happy to pay taxes to help the helpless. I don't like paying taxes to help the clueless. Look at the Occupy movement...I'm forced to pay taxes to help those whose plight I delight in.--Dennis Miller

If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, and your life will be brief.--President Trump

Never have lives less lived been more chronicled.--Dennis Miller

I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.--Mad Dog Mattis

I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.--Thomas Sowell

Ramblings makes me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.--Marxist sympathizer (one of Ramblings' proudest moments)

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