Al's Ramblings

Monday, September 29, 2003

(9/29/2003 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Memo to Trading Spaces, the pop remodeling show on TLC: Your 15 minutes was up 5 minutes ago. Get over yourselves. My wife enjoys it, but I have despised it since it premiered. To be blunt, pretending what color you paint a room means a thing is an embarassment to the species.

9/29/2003 09:41:00 PM

(9/29/2003 09:13:00 PM) - Al

I find it funny that everyone seems to be picking the Red Sox to beat the A's, especially since so many of the choices are from guys who preach "pitching and defense". I wish both teams could win, as both GM's have done a miraculous job. I will not be rooting or picking this series, aas I only hope the winner wins the Series.

NY in 4.

ATL in 4.

SF in 4.

9/29/2003 09:13:00 PM

(9/29/2003 09:10:00 PM) - Al

I watched Doug Melvin's appearance on a Milwaukee late night show via the internet tonight. A few "surprises":

1. He does not seem to think Bill Hall is capable of being a SS in the big leagues, at least not in 2004. He feels SS is a defensive spot, and that the Crew needs a guy who can field better than Hall.

2. JJ Hardy will probably be ready sometime in 2004.

3. Adding a pitcher or two to the rotation and a pitcher to the bullpen would seem to be foremost in his mind.

4. He finally said Keith Ginter was a good offensive 2B, and would be back in 2004. He questioned his defense. I'm not sure how good defensively Ginter is, but he's better than EY, which is plenty good considering Keith's offense in '03.

5. While he said the guys that played RF & C in 2003 did surprisingly well, he wants to find a "young guy with upside" to play RF in '04...and just said they needed to find a full-time catcher, and not depend on two fellas having superb, for them, seasons.

6. Doug Davis has himself a spot in the 2004 rotation. He is always mentioned in the same breath as Podsednik and Kolb as far as breakthrough players.

Doug seems like a good guy, and seems to have a plan; which is half the battle. He understands that the strength of the team is in its farm system, and that the payroll needs to be low and the additions need to be added to supplement the youngsters in 2005 and beyond. I may disagree with some of his feelings, especially that Hall can't be a stopgap to allow Hardy to develop and grow at Indy in 2004 (not to mention delay arby and/or free agency a year).

Also, entirely from "reading between the lines, there seems little doubt that the IF of the future has Fielder at 1B, Weeks at 2B, and Hardy at SS.

Finally, I wish Doug would at least mention that OBP is a driving force. Maybe he feels no need, but it would make me feel better. He seems as willing to give a guy like Wes Helms, who has never been an OBP man, a shot as he did Keith ginter, who has always shown outstanding plate discipline and has always had a good OBP.

In the end, I hope Melvin's choices are as good as it there's no way the Crew will have success if he fails to be lucky and good.

9/29/2003 09:10:00 PM

(9/29/2003 08:43:00 PM) - Al

BP had a compilation of the many playoff series that hasn't went the way you'd "expect". The last sentence of the article says the better team wins about 54% of the time. That would have been about my guess, as I would have probably said 55-60%. Simply put, in a 5 or 7 game series, anything can happen. The Tigers would beat any of the 8 playoff clubs once every ten 5 game sets, or something like that. It's just the way small samples go down. Read the article here.

9/29/2003 08:43:00 PM

Sunday, September 28, 2003

(9/28/2003 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Did anyone else notice Keith Osik finished the season with a .345 OBP? That's pretty darn good actually, it's above average for all players, and of course, catcher is the most demanding of all spots in the field. Meanwhile, Eddie Perez started off the year hot, but barely finished over the bare minimum .300 OBP needed to make yourself a viable offensive alternative.

9/28/2003 08:42:00 PM

(9/28/2003 08:37:00 PM) - Al

Sounds like the still liked "ball and glove" logo (also known as the "mb" logo) will be making at least a partial return, on hats and/or on batting practice jerseys. Ulice Payne said it was "under consideration" and that they had already talked to MLB about it, as they have to OK it, apparently. He also mentioned that "time was an issue", which tells me there will probably be an announcement soon, as to get the logo onto product for the Xmas shopping season.

Payne also coined a term, "Gold Rush", an attempt to have fans come to the park in Brewers' colors and/or clothing. He mentioned HOU and SF as examples, though SL is the first that came to my mind.

9/28/2003 08:37:00 PM

Saturday, September 27, 2003

(9/27/2003 07:54:00 PM) - Al

According to Lee Sinnis, SEA is "negotiating" with Jeff Cirillo, trying to get him to lower his no trade list to 4 teams, from 10. Why exactly it matters, as Cirillo is as close to untradeable as they come, is the question I have. Jeff has been awful since leaving Colorado, and has a terrible, makes you want to ban all long-term contracts type of contract ($6.725M in '04, $7.025M in '05, with a 1.25M buyout after 2005. That means any team trading for Jeff will owe him a minimum of $15 million. Cirillo has a huge negative value right now, as he is both ineffective and expensive.

Jeff's falloff occured almost exactly on cue, and is a lesson for folks wanting to sign guys to lengthy extensions who are on the wrong side of 30. For every Bondsian increase in production, you have several dramatic falloffs, many of which go unnoticed, as contracts end and players simply have no takers, and go away quietly.

9/27/2003 07:54:00 PM

(9/27/2003 07:24:00 PM) - Al

From the JS, from the organizational meetings taking place in Houston this weekend:

Among offensive areas targeted for improvement were hitting with runners in scoring position (.243 entering play Friday), getting runners in from third base with less than two outs, and not striking out so much (1,191 K's entering play Friday).

"We've got to keep working at it," Melvin said. "We strike out a lot. We need to put the ball in play more. We had trouble sustaining big innings."

Other than signing Royce Clayton and then letting him play far too long, I feel Doug Melvin did a very credible job in his first season as GM. This statement, however, would indicate he is going into the offseason with odd priorities. Doug needs to improve his team's OBP, at any and all costs. Worrying about strikeouts and BA with runners in scoring position (the epitome of a small sample) is foolhardy at best.

One guy I feel will be available this winter is Mark Bellhorn, a patient, slugging IF, who had a career season in 2002. In '03, he was stuck with two teams and managers who don't respect OBP at all, with Dusty Baker's Cubs and Clint Hurdle's Rockies (Clint said that Larry Walker, who had a .421 OBP, should consider retirement). Mark can play all four IF spots, and despite struggling this season, still managed "not to get out" 65% of the time, meaning he had a solid OBP of .354, very good for a middle infielder. Bellhorn takes a lot of walks (50 walks in 248 AB's, a Bondslike BB every 5 AB's) and seems to me would be a perfect utility guy in case of injury or Bill Hall struggles. He's likely to come cheap, likely signing for less than a million dollars, and may even consider a minor league contract (with major league camp invitation), which would leave a 40-man spot open until early April, when teams are less likely to have a spot to "steal away" a good prospect that you have to expose to waivers to take off the 40 man.

{Note: Isn't it nice we have to start worrying about having so many good prospects:}

But, with the statement Doug made, it would appear a "scrappy, gritty" pickup of some little contact hitter...who can't hit whatsoever, is a much more likely pickup. And that's a shame. It's all about the OBP, my friends. Baserunners equals runs.

9/27/2003 07:24:00 PM

(9/27/2003 07:01:00 PM) - Al

Wes Obermueller defies logic and common sense. He had 8 quality starts out of 10, but overall, was less than effective.

2-5, 5.07 ERA, 65.2 IP, 81 H, 25 BB, 34 K, 1.61 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 10 HR (1/6.57 IP)

I really enjoyed watching Wes pitch, probably because he works fast and "goes right after hitters". One can easily imagine Wes having a much better record, 4-3 or 5-3 comes right to mind. Yet, I cannot name you a single stat that would impress anyone, other than the 80% quality start percentage.

I feel Wes would be perfect as a long man out of the bullpen, as he throws strikes, hits good for a pitcher, and could spot start for you if needed. He's an older rookie, as he's 26. Let's take a gander at his AAA numbers, compiled in the PCL, an offensive league, though Omaha is not one of the more offensive parks, if memory serves.

10-7, 4.50 ERA, 120 IP, 126 H, 48 BB, 73 K, 1.45 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 12 HR (1/10 IP)

Certainly not all that impressive, dare I say, almost exactly what you'd expect given his MLB numbers and age. There is nothing in those numbers to indicate success is to come at the MLB level, at least as a member of the rotation. His future would seem as a middle/long reliever. Watching him, I think he could have a few seasons as a 4th or 5th starter, but the numbers indicate otherwise. As AAA depth, however, he's a great addition to the team.

9/27/2003 07:01:00 PM

Thursday, September 25, 2003

(9/25/2003 10:56:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers had just over 1.7 million folks come through the turnstiles in '03, which honestly isn't bad at all considering the "no chance" scenario entering the season. I'd have to look, but I doubt if Twins or the White Sox drew much over a couple million folks, despite being in contention and having playoff hopes the entire year.

UPDATE: Neither MIN or CWS drew 2 mil, both were in the 1.9 mil range.

9/25/2003 10:56:00 AM

(9/25/2003 10:54:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with a good article about the guys who should win the MVP's. The voters have messed up the AL awards FRIGHTENINGLY the past two seasons, in each case, giving the award to players who had far lesser seasons than ARod. Aaron uses facts and such to decide who should win, not "leadership" or "clubhouse presence", so you'll excuse him if his choices are a bit off the wall compared to the baseball writers.

9/25/2003 10:54:00 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

(9/24/2003 09:30:00 PM) - Al

I still remember that on the last day of County Stadium, they handed out schedules to the next season. The last couple nights on TV, Daron and Bill have hinted that they have the 2004 schedule (they knew how many Tuesday night contests were on the schedule, tonight they know we play the AL West in interleague play next year). I find it funny they wouldn't release it right away, but they must have their reasons. I can't think of a single reason not to publicize your 81 home dates ASAP, but what do I know?

9/24/2003 09:30:00 PM

(9/24/2003 11:46:00 AM) - Al

The mailbag looks like many Cubs haters hope the Brewers loses to HOU this weekend, as they do not want the Cubs in the playoffs. I know the Brewers will win somewhere between 66 and 70 games this year, and while it makes little difference, if any, but I'd prefer a higher number. I picked HOU and still hope they win, but I will be rooting for the Crew, thanks.

9/24/2003 11:46:00 AM

(9/24/2003 11:43:00 AM) - Al

The A's have the most wins in MLB since 2000. Talk alll you want about playoff losses, this is the best indicator of who has been the best team. The playoffs are a small sample, like it or not. Not many folks want to see a best of 21 series, so I understand it, it's just too bad. Looks like BOS/OAK and NYY/MIN in the ALDS.

9/24/2003 11:43:00 AM

(9/24/2003 09:07:00 AM) - Al

The Yankees' travelling secretary arrested for pushing a security guard.

Maybe George Costanza will get a promotion?

9/24/2003 09:07:00 AM

(9/24/2003 08:44:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman went over his Rookie of the Year picks yesterday, and I have to agree with both choices. Heck, Brandon Webb should be considered for Cy Young, as he's the 5th best pitcher in the NL, according to value over replacement level, he's the 5th best pitcher in the league. Webb would be my pick for Rookie of the Year in the NL.

9/24/2003 08:44:00 AM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

(9/23/2003 09:36:00 PM) - Al

Quick Q & A with Brewers' GM Doug Melvin over at the JS. I'm a bit concerned he didn't mention Keith ginter as "the type of player he needs to look for", but he seems to understand that the team is a couple years away, and that it makes sense to build with young talent with upside.

On the way home tonight, I heard a scratchy version of Jim Powell having a roundtable discussion with a couple writers. Both felt .500 would be a good goal for 2004, though one felt they would fall short. Both agreed 2005 was the "breakthrough" season, or the key. Also, a solid point was made that if the payroll ends up around the projected numbers of $30-35 mil, Geoff and Richie would be making about $16 mil, about half of it. To paraphrase, he said, "That seems unlikely". I feel Geoff may sign an extension this offseason, and unless Richie agrees to a one year extension (for 2005), he'll be dealt.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

9/23/2003 09:36:00 PM

Monday, September 22, 2003

(9/22/2003 02:08:00 PM) - Al

Gone to the Cities for a seminar. Back late Tuesday night.

9/22/2003 02:08:00 PM

Sunday, September 21, 2003

(9/21/2003 02:22:00 PM) - Al

Hall just homered. I wonder if he sees the ball better during the day, as I struggle to see at night, regardless of the lighting. I sure hope he's our everyday starter in 2004. He may not be even mediocre, but we need to let the kids play and see what they have.

UPDATE: Before today, Hall's day stats almost mirrored his night stats. And it should be noted most batters hit better during the daytime.

9/21/2003 02:22:00 PM

(9/21/2003 02:18:00 PM) - Al


Have you noticed Drew Olson's "blog" hasn't been updated in 2 weeks? I took it out of my bookmarks today.


Mike, I have one question...why would you bookmark Drew's page?

I admit though, the picture of him looking dazed and confused (insert your own punchline here) is priceless.

9/21/2003 02:18:00 PM

(9/21/2003 02:10:00 PM) - Al

Billy Hall has two doubles in his first two AB's today. I hadn't noticed he hadn't played the first two games of the series, but letting him sit on the bench while Clayton plays SS is almost unforgiveable.

9/21/2003 02:10:00 PM

(9/21/2003 01:35:00 PM) - Al

So, how overrated is "batting order protection"? Many folks, including myself, feel it is very overrated, and is barely worth mentioning. Today, Sexson came up with a runner on 3B and 2 outs. HR. So, the pitcher did not walk Richie, or even dream of pitching around him. Despite his nice numbers, Keith Ginter is hardly an offensive force compared to Sexson, and he was due to hit next. But, Schilling went right after Sexson, because he doesn't want to allow extra baserunners, and gave up a home run. Ginter followed with another HR, on the next pitch.

[That also makes the "veteran pitchers knock guys down more often" debate look incorrect, by the way.]

I pitch to almost every batter. I pitch to Bonds in the above situation, unless it's a tie game and the 8th or 9th inning, when one run is as likely to beat you as 2-3. Baserunners equals runs.

9/21/2003 01:35:00 PM

(9/21/2003 01:17:00 PM) - Al

I'm surprised there isn't even a tiny blurb about the Brewers' final attendance in the JS. Both writers, but Drew especially, seem to focus on the negative. Personally, I think 1.7 mil (or thereabouts) is a nice figure, especially after the very low estimates we saw by some.

9/21/2003 01:17:00 PM

(9/21/2003 01:14:00 PM) - Al


You seem to be a "baseball first, all other sports second" type of guy. Allow me to ask this: Why is the NFL and NASCAR so popular? I've tried to watch them, as my wife's friends are huge fans, and my wife is becoming involved. But, they are very lame to me, yet I watch several baseball games a night on my satellite package. Also, how close are the Rockies to competing, in your opinion?


William, you've put forth one of the mysteries of the universe. I do have an answer, though it won't be popular. Football and NASCAR are low energy, low thinking pasttimes. There's no thought to strategies, pitch counts, farm systems, etc. They only play (or race) one day a week. If you see every second of every game, that's only 16 days, 3 hours of committment. What astounds me is how few "fans" even do that. Every Sunday I work, I see tons of people out shopping, in Packers jerseys and attire, DURING the game. It seems those three hours a week is even too much to ask.

I will also add, the NFL and NASCAR are both bar draws, and neither requires a whole lot of sobriety to enjoy. Cars going around in a circle? Give me another beer. Punt into the end zone, bring us another round.

I picked the Rockies as a surprise wildcard pick this year, mainly just because I had no idea who would win it, as I saw several clubs would looked even. I think they're a decent club, but they need to build a team solely for Coors Field. Pretending they do not play in a ballpark that is vastly different than all others is insane. They need to put a slo-pitch softball offense out there, and a pitching staff full of ground ball pitchers. Paying guys like Kile and Hampton millions to suck is absolutely insane.

Could they contend in '04? Yes. Will they? In the NL West, I doubt it, but there's an offseason to go.

9/21/2003 01:14:00 PM

Saturday, September 20, 2003

(9/20/2003 10:17:00 PM) - Al

Talk about much ado about nothing. After a year of horror stories about how the Crew might only draw 1.2 or 1.4 million, the facts show that the Brewers will easily top 1.6 mil, and look to finish closer to 1.7 million than 1.6 mil. While we are again hearing rumblings of "2004 is going to be a tough sell", I have to look at it just the opposite. The minor league system is so good, even the casual fan is hearing about them. The '02 season was hellishly bad, and while 2003 will not bring a winning record, the team is light years ahead of the '02 group. They are young and for the most part, will be back in '04.

It's difficult not to be impressed with Ulice Payne and Doug Melvin. They have listened to the fans, and have, for the most part, got rid of veteran mediocrity and replaced it with youth. Would the Crew have won a few games had they kept Dejean and VDS? Probably. Let me know when 70 wins gets you to the playoffs, as if it doesn't, it means nothing.

9/20/2003 10:17:00 PM

Friday, September 19, 2003

(9/19/2003 09:23:00 PM) - Al

Overheard tonight on the Brewers' game:

From prospect Corey Hart: I don't take a lot of pitches.

That can't be good. I hope I'm way off, but I don't even have Hart in my Top 10 prospects. If he can play 3B in the bigs, he'll likely be at least a platoon guy, or a reserve 1B/3B type, but tall guys tend to have a long, awkward swing. Plus, despite success, he has never been an OBP guy. Judging by that remark, he likely won't be.

From Bill Schroeder: You gotta go right after Randy Johnson, you can't go up there taking pitches.

What a simpleton. What Bill is trying to say is that if you get down 0-2 or 1-2 in the count to Johnson, there's a good chance you'll get out. However, running up there and swinging at the first pitch, which is exactly what crappy players like Schroeder do/did, not only doesn't get a hit, but conserves RJ for a possible 9 inning, 100 pitch outing. Luckily, with Ginter, Clark, and other players that "work" the count, Johnson had thrown 86 pitches through 5 tonight, and will only go 6 innings tonight.

There's nothing wrong with swinging at a first pitch fastball. But, thinking that's the only way to win is foolish, and shows little understanding of the game within a game.

9/19/2003 09:23:00 PM

Thursday, September 18, 2003

(9/18/2003 06:02:00 PM) - Al

USA Today named Prince Fielder its minor league player of the year. I've forgot to mention that recently on the radio, Jim Powell said that he was told by either Melvin or Ash that a "respected GM" had called Prince "the best hitting prospect he'd ever seen".

That's about all you need to hear. Barring injury, this kid is a can't miss.

9/18/2003 06:02:00 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

(9/17/2003 10:04:00 PM) - Al

The legendary SL fans just lost a lot of respect in my mind, booing loudly after Brooks Kieshnick hit a towering HR off Jason Isringhausen. Izzy has been solid, not spectacular, but certainly shouldn't be booed for giving up a long ball. By far, his error was walking Osik to lead off the inning. Unless it's a total lack of effort, which hardly ever occurs, I abhor booing. It shows a rudeness that has no place in sports.

9/17/2003 10:04:00 PM

(9/17/2003 09:42:00 PM) - Al

Ginter hitting 3rd tonight. As close to meaningless as the batting order is, I like that alignment. Ginter takes a lot of walks, right ahead of Richie. I'd prefer Keith 2nd and Richie 3rd, but it's a good job of putting two OBP men together.

9/17/2003 09:42:00 PM

(9/17/2003 09:40:00 PM) - Al

Conti with all 4 RBI's tonight. Jason needs to get his name out there to get a shot next year with someone, as I can't believe the Crew will use a 40 man roster spot on him.

9/17/2003 09:40:00 PM

(9/17/2003 11:40:00 AM) - Al

Our cable guy, after being told the phone tech had said the cable and internet trouble was "unrelated".

They're always related.

9/17/2003 11:40:00 AM

(9/17/2003 11:39:00 AM) - Al

Nice story on Keith Ginter over at the Brewers' site.

9/17/2003 11:39:00 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

(9/16/2003 10:08:00 PM) - Al

Shane Nance looks to have "found that groove" with regualr work. No way a guy with a 1.50ish AAA ERA should struggle so in the bigs. He told Daron Sutton he had been "pitching differently" in the majors, trying to go away from the batters, despite that not being his prefered method of pitching. Dance with the girl that brought ya.

Somewhere out there, there's a physics major trying to figure out how 6-6 Luis Martinez was throwing fastballs at 85-89 mph, and Shane Nance, all 5-7 of him, has hit 92-93 consistently. Lotsa luck with that.

9/16/2003 10:08:00 PM

(9/16/2003 09:51:00 PM) - Al

A classic Tony LaRussa affair, 7 innings complete, just under 3 hours.

If not for Tony, games would average under 2:45.

9/16/2003 09:51:00 PM

(9/16/2003 06:45:00 PM) - Al


I agree with most of your analysis of the playoff races, but I think that LA is still in it as well.


They are still in it, as they are only 2.5 games behind Florida, and only a game in back of Philly. I just don't think they'll make it. KC is still "in it" as well, but I feel the same way about them.

Thanks for reading and writing, Rod.

9/16/2003 06:45:00 PM

(9/16/2003 06:04:00 PM) - Al

The ego of the cable/internet folks seems pretty darn high considering they sit and answer phones all day. Today, we lost our internet and cable about 11:30. We called and waited on hold for 15 minutes or so, then we had to "check our connection" with another cable. When it also failed, the tech asked us to try a third cable. My wife told him she was not going to try yet another cable to tell us the obvious, that it was not our fault. Then, the fella told us "Cable and internet problems are not related". The odds of losing both by coincidence are tiny, of course.

An appointment was made for tomorrow (between 8 & 5). So, this afternoon, two cable trucks were spotted along the main road we live on. A few minutes later, we had both cable and internet restored.

Not related, huh?:)

9/16/2003 06:04:00 PM

(9/16/2003 10:49:00 AM) - Al

With less than a couple weeks left, it would take quite a slump for either the A's or the Yankees to not make the playoffs. One spot is to be decided between the Twins and White Sox, and the wildcard is a battle between the Red Sox and the Mariners.

In the NL, the Braves and Giants have been all but in for months. The Astros and Cubs are fighting it out, as are the Phillies and Marlins. There are a few teams on the fringes in the NL as well, but to be realistic, it's extremely unlikely any team other than the 12 mentioned above will be in the playoffs.

Could this be the best playoff races ever? It has the potential to be great, and the rare rumblings about the wildcard are nonexistant. I'm thankful we had a commissioner with the foresight to change the ancient system, and accept the ignorant criticism that went with it. Some writers would still be playing without gloves if they could.

9/16/2003 10:49:00 AM

(9/16/2003 10:40:00 AM) - Al

The top 10 OBP teams, and their runs scored ranking:


There simply is not a better indicator of offensive production than OBP. Baserunners equals runs.

Remember how the media ignored ANA's OBP last season and said they were successful because "they made good contact"? Well, this year, ANA still leads the majors in K'ing least. The chart:


Some good, some bad. You could create a chart like that using doubles, stolen bases, even the age of the starting rotation's mother-in-laws. It's pretty much a random thing, as strikeouts are just barely worse than any other out, by such a minute amount, you can almost say it doesn't matter. Looking at the chart, it's easy to come to that conclusion as well.

It's all about the OBP...everything else is just unimformed talking. And if you want one talks about "making contact" more than Bill Schroeder.

9/16/2003 10:40:00 AM

Monday, September 15, 2003

(9/15/2003 09:49:00 PM) - Al

I may be the only male AND person over the age of 18 that feels this way, but I'm sad the WUSA "suspended operations" today. This was the women's pro soccer circuit, which had decent attendance (6700 a game), but said it was not profitable without more coporate sponsors, which, for those of you that don't understand, means it wasn't profitable.:) Corporate handouts may work for the "arts", but rarely play a part in pro sports.

I never sat down to watch a WUSA game, but I saw parts of a few flipping channels. Mostly, it's great for girls to have role models and to see women that have made good choices have success.

I wrote about an article back in June that detailed the women's pro leagues struggles, despite what I thought was good fan support.

UPDATE: The link is for all my posts that day, as this is before Blogger added indy links. Scroll down past the first entry.

9/15/2003 09:49:00 PM

(9/15/2003 09:18:00 PM) - Al

Great to see Rickie Weeks and Enrique Cruz get a few innings in tonight. I find it strange Ned hasn't decided to rest Sexson and Podsednik as well.

I wondered if Lopester had returned to the dugout tonight, watching an injured John VanderWal hop around in RF for a couple innings. VW can barely PH, never mind play the field. I realize John isn't a baby, and isn't risking "serious" injury, just a worse strain or whatever it is. However, that's as short-sighted a decision as I've seen this year. It also doesn't say a whole lot for Yost's ability to understand a small sample. I'll be the first to say Zocco, nor Conti have set the world on fire, but thinking a gimpy 37 year-old is going to be "the difference" between a win and a loss.

9/15/2003 09:18:00 PM

(9/15/2003 07:44:00 PM) - Al

Tough luck for Wes O tonight, a bout of wildness, followed by a ground ball that squeaked between Sexson and Ginter, and then a soft line drive just over Keith's glove, have him in a 3-0 hole. Sometimes, you'd rather be lucky than good.

9/15/2003 07:44:00 PM

(9/15/2003 07:17:00 PM) - Al

The Chicago Sun Times broke the news today that Steve Stone has quietly been trying to land a team in Las Vegas, the Expos, in fact. I'm on record as being 100% behind Portland, as they are the only city that has set aside money for a stadium. That said, Vegas would be my 2nd choice, as it has a growing population, and tourists galore. Imagine the Cubs backers that would travel to Nevada, for example.

I'm a firm believer that there will be at least 2-3 new cities in baseball by 2010, through one means or another. Vegas needs to be a little louder in its quest to be one of them. Approving some form of stadium financing would help a bunch.

9/15/2003 07:17:00 PM

Saturday, September 13, 2003

(9/13/2003 08:07:00 PM) - Al

Since Keith Ginter has been playing every day (since Wes Helms got hurt), his numbers are as follows:

.385 OBP, .483 SLG...and 16 of his 31 hits have been for extra bases. Keith would be on a pace for 40+ doubles and 20+ HR's, if he played in 150 games. I'll be the first to say 120 AB's are a small sample...but that's a mighty impressive small sample, huh?

I promise, that will be the last Ginter related note for a bit...damn restraining order.:)

9/13/2003 08:07:00 PM

(9/13/2003 07:52:00 PM) - Al

Thankfully, the Brewers were forced to pitch to Barry Bonds in the 9th. By going right after him, the Crew got the groundout to Clayton. Good things happen when you challenge the hitters.

The first pitch to Bonds was near the outside corner, but as Eddie Perez caught it, he jerked the ball about an inch closer to the plate, telling me he thought it was either a ball, or right on the border. Perez then got into a bit of an argument with the home plate umpire. Yost came running out, I assume to make sure Perez stayed in the game. Then, the goofy stuff started. Yost and the ump got into a shouting match, and Yost got tossed. What exactly Ned could see from his vantage point, to say the least, was unclear. It was a borderline pitch, but could have easily been called a ball.

The bothersome thing to me about this is, while Yost was screaming at the umpire AFTER being thrown out, Dan Kolb was forced to stand on the mound, waiting to pitch again. He did fall behind 3-0, but got it to 3-2, then got Bonds to ground out.

Hey, I'm all for keeping Eddie in the game, though he likely should have voiced his concern a bit differently, as it does nothing to slow down the game. But, arguing a ball/strike call, and then delaying the game, both seem like the acts of a man thinking with his heart and not his head.

9/13/2003 07:52:00 PM

(9/13/2003 07:40:00 PM) - Al

I only saw the last two innings of the Brewers' game today, and that was plenty to remind myself how incredibly overrated Royce Clayton is. On a pop-up to short LF, Royce raced back, looked up, and watched as it landed behind him, as he had overran it. Later, in the massive, exaggerated shift most teams employ against Bonds, Royce fielded the ball to the right of 2B, and his only play was at 1B.

Afterwards, the announcers said, "Royce looks mad". Obviously, it had never occured to Royce that on anything but a grounder hit like a shot, he would have to settle for the play at 1B, as Helms had to play pretty close to 3B, or the runner on 2B could have stolen 3B easily. It seemed pretty obvious to me Clayton had never thought of this before the play. Even I know that you have to know what you're going to do with the ball BEFORE you get it. As he caught the ball, he looked to flip to 2B...but, no one was within 50 feet of the bag except the runner. It's just painful watching him defend. At this point, with a sub .300 OBP, and, at best, mediocre defense, he's not as good as a waiver wire pickup.

Amazingly, someone will probably give him $1 million next year, because of his name and the fact he used to be pretty good. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Dusty Baker dialing the phone.:) My only hope is that team isn't the Brewers.

9/13/2003 07:40:00 PM

(9/13/2003 07:23:00 PM) - Al

Eric Young----.255/.337/.399, 736 OPS
Keith Ginter--.273/.365/.445, 810 OPS
Ave 2B, '03---.273/.336/.405, 741 OPS

Can someone tell me again why they thought EY was "the better option" because he was older? Remember the folks who said Ginter was a utility player? Hee-hee. Right now, Keith is about a win and a half "above average". If we had a whole team of those position players, that'd be 93 wins, with a league average pitching staff. Next year, Keith will make about $325K...the sound you hear is the 2B door being slammed shut.

9/13/2003 07:23:00 PM

Friday, September 12, 2003

(9/12/2003 10:39:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

Did you see this?


MILWAUKEE, WI -- The Milwaukee Brewers have recalled second baseman Rickie Weeks from Class A Beloit and he will join the club in San Francisco tonight prior to their game with the Giants, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager, Doug Melvin.

Weeks, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on Saturday, was the second choice overall in the June First-Year Player Draft from Southern University. This season, he played with Class A Beloit of the Midwest League and the Brewers rookie league team in the Arizona Rookie League, combining to hit .358 with one home run and 20 RBI in 21 games. With Beloit,
he batted .349 with a .556 slugging percentage and a .449 on base percentage.

Since the draft, Weeks has earned numerous accolades including the prestigious Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the United States. He was also named the Baseball America College Player of the Year and earned the Dick Howser Trophy from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. In their rankings of the top 100 draft prospects, Baseball America ranked him first among college players as the best athlete, best five-tool talent and best pure hitter, and he ranked second as the best power hitter and fastest baserunner.

"Since Rickie is on the 40-man roster and possibly may play in the Arizona Fall League, we wanted to get him to stay in baseball shape with the big club and receive the instruction and experience at this level," said Melvin. "He has a very bright future and we believe that this opportunity will be invaluable for him in his development as a player."

Weeks led all college hitters with a .479 average in 2003 for Southern University in Louisiana. It was the second consecutive season that he led the country in hitting. Weeks added 16 home runs and 66 RBI. He set a NCAA Division I mark with a career .473 average. The two-time All-American second baseman was successful in all 31 of his stolen base
attempts this season and was 68-for-69 in his career. He was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference's (SWAC) Most Outstanding Hitter and was the unanimous selection for the conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Weeks will wear uniform number 23 for the Brewers. He is the first position player from this year's draft to make it to the Major Leagues.

I had not, Mike, another regular writer. Mike also writes Cat's House, a blog that also discusses the Crew. Because Rickie signed a major league contract, he is already on the 40 man, and his option for 2003 has already been used, to send him to the minors. Therefore, it costs the Crew nothing except travel costs to have him with the Brewers. I doubt Weeks will do much more than pinch-run and/or pinch-hit, though he might sneak in a start or two when the Brewers play a team that's not in the race.

I saw Weeks play last week, and he's as close to "can't miss" as you can get. He has all the tools and all the numbers, including incredible plate discipline for a 20 year-old, not to mention the quickest bat I've seen since Paul Molitor retired. Weeks actually gets an extra "4th" option, as all players do who sign a major league contract right away as an amateur. For those keeping track, that means Rickie will have to make the team, at the latest, by April, 2007.

I am very much against the idea of a major league deals for amateurs, mainly because it takes a 40 man spot away. That said, barring injury, I have no doubt that Rickie will be in the bigs before that '07 deadline. I think it's pretty safe to say he'll be there at the beginning of the '06 campaign. Hopefully, he'll remain at 2B, as a middle infielder that can hit and hit for power is a rare commodity.

9/12/2003 10:39:00 PM

(9/12/2003 10:25:00 PM) - Al


Brady / Pods

I think going into this year, both of these guys were generally considered 5th outfielders, so the fact that Podsednik is considered a "starter" is strictly due to what has happened in '03. Here's my take on the subject: Podsednik has more value and brings more to the table than Brady does. Brady has always been a guy that can hit a bit, enough to be a serviceable player. He has been placed in a platoon situation for '03 which gives him the best opportunity to succeed. I haven't checked his lefty / righty splits... I'm sure you have.. I can't envision playing a guy with a sub 800 OPS in a corner outfield spot, particularly when he's got 4 HR and a .420 ish SLG. Those guys grow on trees... You are going to struggle with a guy like that in a production position, unless you have Nomar and Soriano in the middle infield spots..
Podsednik on the other hand, plays a more difficult position, has been in the lineup every day, and has 50 steal otential. He also has been drawing walks with Jenkins and Sexson behind him, which is more impressive than drawing walks in front of Keith Osik. So, basically, I think you have to consider Pods a player until he proves he is not. He may turn into Pat Listach, I dunno... But he should be in the lineup next year. I can't think of another young guy in his price range we could acquire and get that kind of production. Clark on the other hand, how many runs above replacement level is he?? at LF and RF?? How many runs below league average at the positions?? Much more replaceable.. But a good hand as a versitle 4th OF who can fill in when Jenkins gets hurt... My $0.02.

Keep up the good work...

First time writer DJG, thanks for reading and writing. He also hit on the difference between Pods being perceived as a CF, and Clark as a LF/RF. Clark has actually hit RHP's better than LHP's by a pretty sizable margin, which makes perfect sense, because Brady has spent most of his baseball life in the minors, where the term "good LH pitching" is pretty much an untruth. Brady is a very good 5th OF, and he's playing his way into position where I can say he's a nice option as a 4th OF. Funny thing is, if if weren't for Podsednik's breakout year, Clark would probably be holding down CF until Dave Krynzel's (or Tony Gwynn Jr's) imminent arrival.

9/12/2003 10:25:00 PM

(9/12/2003 10:16:00 PM) - Al


I know you've gotten some replies, but I thought I'd toss in my two cents.

It is an interesting observation that Clark and Podsednik are having similar years. And it probably is a matter of perspective. A couple of things that may be influencing the perception that Podsednik is much better than Clark.

1) First Impressions
Brady Clark has been around for a bit and been established as a reserve outfielder. Podsednik hit the ground running and has played very well. There's probably also some subconscious projecting going on that's probably not warranted. Just like the naked eye can't tell a .300 hitter from a .280 hitter, it also can't tell a 27 year old rookie from a 24 or 25 year old rookie.

2) The Power of Incumbency
Podsednik has played much more than Clark this year and established himself, at least in spectators minds, as an everday play. And while Podsednik has played well in center, Clark has been getting time at the corners where an .800 OPS isn't as impressive. In fact, it's slightly below average at the corners.

Brady Clark probably could be a decent starting centerfielder. Unfortunately for him, Podsednik has played better, albeit slightly, and over a longer period of time this year. And Podsednik is younger. Unfortunately because of perception, I doubt that the Brewers can do much with Clark except play him in a position that doesn't demonstrate his maximum value. It would be a nice problem to have if the Brewers were a contender.


Great to hear from Robert, a repeat e-mailer, and one of the wisest fans out there. He has my feelings summed up well, not only is Pods younger, he's playing CF. Clark is looked at as a corner OF, even though he's probably a better defender in CF than Scott. Good point about Pods being 27, which means he'll be a free agent at the tender age of...33. No way Scottie sees a long-term deal with the Crew, huh?

9/12/2003 10:16:00 PM

(9/12/2003 10:08:00 PM) - Al

Tell ya what, seeing Ben Sheets threw 125 pitches in a meaningless September game is about as painful as it gets.

Keith Ginter, starting for the Brewers; Eric Young, sitting on the bench for the Giants. That's the way it should have been all season, isn't it?

And again, seeing John VanderWal sitting on the bench with an injury, while we could have a minor leaguer of some talent added to the system, is both ironic and sad. Giving a country damn about whether we won that 68th game is exactly why this team is struggling a decade after their last success.

9/12/2003 10:08:00 PM

(9/12/2003 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder, on Marquis Grissom:

He makes good contact, and has a good on-base percentage.

For the season, Grissom's OBP is an embarassing .312, ans he has only walked 18 times in 540 AB's.

So, do you s'pose Bill prepares for his all? Is there a doubt in the world that he shows up for home games and asks, "Who we playin' tonight?"

The absolute worst in the business.

9/12/2003 09:54:00 PM

(9/12/2003 09:49:00 PM) - Al

Barry Bonds walked to load the bases...followed by a single, an infield single, and an error. Those who don't respect OBP are doomed to allow a ton of runs, because they are simply giving the opposition extra baserunners. The funny thing is, Bonds isn't even having a superb season, at least not superb in the Bonds' sense of the word. The best way to limit the offense is to "go right after" the hitters.

9/12/2003 09:49:00 PM

(9/12/2003 09:46:00 PM) - Al

It just amazes me how little people seem to understand about the simple mathematics of baseball.

Bobby Valentine saying last night that "the White Sox simply can't afford to lose two in a row to the Twins".

Jeff Brantley saying that "you can't afford to lose to the Indians AT ALL this time of year".

Is it me, or is it baseball people that are especially ignorant? The best team in MLB won't win 2/3rd's of their games, and no team other than the Tigers will lose 1/ why would anyone "expect" a team to do more than win 2 games out of three? They shouldn't...but again, it's just another way to separate the intelligent from the buffoons.

9/12/2003 09:46:00 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2003

(9/11/2003 08:58:00 PM) - Al

In response to an e-mail, it appears that the NY "Survivors" Fund does not have a way to donate online. While this is a very minor hinderance, many choose to donate online as it is very easy and quick to do that way. Regardless, if it's worthy of your time and money, it's worthy of a stamp as well.

9/11/2003 08:58:00 PM

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

(9/10/2003 11:26:00 PM) - Al

If you haven't already, please take a minute or two to click on the bottom link on the right, which helps to support the survivors of those who lost their life on 9/11, as well as all other public servants who perished in the line of duty on the streets of our nation's largest city.

My wife and I have donated annually since we became aware of it, and consider it to be a wonderful way to help others with our "disposable" income. While I'm well aware many are going through lean times, if you are a patriotic American, it's tough to visit that site without feeling guilty if you don't support it.

That ends my PBS-like begging.

9/10/2003 11:26:00 PM

(9/10/2003 10:59:00 PM) - Al

Most of you will be reading this on 9/11/03, and it is difficult for most of us to look at that day without thinking of the tragedy that occured a couple years ago. I thought I would print one of the better written articles I've seen in years, by the intelligent actor and game show host, Ben Stein.

Fourth is a time of celebration, but also of gratitude

By Ben Stein

"America is essentially a dream." A decade ago, I heard Martin Luther King Jr. say that in a recorded speech, and it has stuck with me as we near Independence Day 2003.
A few fragments of the glorious dream that is America come to mind especially as we are still reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. We are starting to realize how many people in the rest of the world wish us ill. And we realize from the cruel example of Iraq just how hard it is to start a democratic republic on the ashes of despotism.

About seven years ago, I sat in the makeup room for the TV show Seinfeld. The makeup artists were telling Jerry Seinfeld how talented he is and how lucky the world is to have his talent on their TV screens. I added that Seinfeld himself was unbelievably lucky to have been born in America when he was. One of the makeup artists told me rather tartly that Seinfeld was so talented that he would have been a huge success no matter where he was born or when.

"No," I said. "If he had been born a little Jewish boy in Poland in 1930, and had stayed there, he would have been gassed or shot. If he had been just as talented as he is, anywhere in Eastern or Central Europe anywhere near the start of World War II, in all likelihood, he would have never survived to show the world his talent. It is only in America, with its limitless opportunities for everyone, that Jerry's talent could reach the world the way it has."

My recollection is that Jerry looked levelly at me for a few moments and then said, "Amen."

Years before that, I said to my father that as I surveyed how great our lives were, I had to conclude that at no time in history had Jews lived as well as they live in America. My father corrected me. "Benjy," he said, "at no time in history has any group lived as well as they live in America. Not German-Americans, not Irish-Americans, not Hispanic-Americans, not African-Americans, not Asian-Americans, all of us live better here than we would have lived anywhere else."

To which, as I recall, I said, "Amen."

The beauty of July Fourth is that it marks the anniversary of the founding document of America, which is novel in that it says that this new nation will aim not at exalting a king, not at enriching a nobility, but at setting up a framework where all men could reach for their goals and dreams. For the first time, a state was created not to entrench the privileged few, but to allow opportunity for everyone. That state originally was horribly stained by racism and slavery, but after a horrendous Civil War and a century of slow progress in civil rights culminating in a bloody struggle, America, starting about 30 years ago, has finally lived up to its magnificent promise, for all men and all women.

The roads to anywhere are wide open. From a time when I was a child and African-Americans were mostly janitors in the federal government, we have moved to having a distinguished black man, Colin Powell, as secretary of State. From a time when women brought the coffee, we have a woman, Condoleezza Rice, as national security adviser, and we will undoubtedly have a female president soon. The gates are open to Jews, Muslims, Asians. The children of Hispanic migrant workers can grow up to be TV stars and will some day be presidents. This is why while some people in the other nations of the world may hate us, their people flock here by the tens of millions to build better lives.

My generation, growing up in a small town in Maryland in the 1950s, felt extreme gratitude at being Americans. Gratitude was the air we breathed. Now Americans spend too much time complaining and pointing fingers. There is still plenty to do, but it should all be done in the context of wonder and gratitude at what has been done.

We owe many moments of thankfulness to the men and women who made the Revolutionary War a success, who won the wars that needed winning, who died in the Sunken Road at Antietam, Md., or at Vicksburg, Miss., at Belleau Wood or in the Huertgen Forest or in a frozen field in Luxembourg at the Battle of the Bulge or in murderous red sand at Iwo Jima or on hopeless reservoirs near Chosin or in the swamps of Vietnam or in the Hanoi Hilton prison camp or in Kunduz, Afghanistan, or in Falluja, Iraq, right now.

We also owe debts to the men and women who fought the civil rights struggle here, to such heroes as Medgar Evers, the martyred Mississippi head of the NAACP shot in the back by a cowardly racist; Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Earl Chaney, the two whites and one black who were murdered near Philadelphia, Miss., because they were helping African-Americans register to vote; and above all Martin Luther King Jr., who led us on a moral crusade as important as any we fought abroad.

It is July Fourth, time for celebration and hot dogs and fireworks ā€” but above all, a moment for gratitude. We live in dangerous times, but also in the greatest times, in the greatest country this earth has ever known. Of course, let's be happy ā€” but also grateful. Our laughter is made possible by the blood of heroes. As we smile on this summer day, let's remember them and the dreams they and their families lost so we could have ours come true.

Ben Stein, a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors, is an actor, writer, lawyer and celebrity judge on Star Search.

Thank you to those in the military who are or have defended our country.

Thank you to those who are public servants, especially those EMT's, police, and firefighters.

Finally, let us all be thankful that, as Stein points out, we are lucky enough to be American citizens. There has never been a better time to be a US citizen. You know what? In 50 years, it'll be even better.

9/10/2003 10:59:00 PM

(9/10/2003 10:44:00 PM) - Al

After two days in Madison, I was at the store from 9:30-9PM, as I had to be in early for a tour. Sorry about the lack of posting.

9/10/2003 10:44:00 PM

(9/10/2003 10:09:00 PM) - Al

All my responses on the Clark/Pods comparison agree with what Mike said, briefly.

heya Al,

I'm thinking maybe it's just because Brady has been platooning all year? Because really, his resume isn't far off of Podsednik's, it really isn't.


A couple did mention they were a bit surprised how close the numbers were overall. If we can make folks think of the game a bit differently, that's great.

9/10/2003 10:09:00 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

(9/09/2003 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Kolb, he of the 98 mph stuff, pitched "around" Jeff Bagwell, and has now allowed Bagwell to score.

This game has been a dictionary definition of what happens when you don't respect OBP. Baserunners equals's as simple as that.

9/09/2003 09:48:00 PM

(9/09/2003 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Dan Kolb, tonight is armed with a 98 mph fastball, and a 91 mph slider. I have to believe you can count the number of pitchers with a 90+ "breaking ball" on one hand. Geesh.

9/09/2003 09:41:00 PM

(9/09/2003 09:28:00 PM) - Al

Daron Sutton, when Luis Vizcaino came in:

His ERA since August 1st...just over 3.

Is that a small enough sample to mean nothing? Luis gave up a 3 run's that walk look now?

If I had six months to live, I'd spend it with Bill'd seem like 5 years. I honestly don't know how the idiot manages to find the park each night.

9/09/2003 09:28:00 PM

(9/09/2003 09:21:00 PM) - Al

My kingdom for a clue for Bill Schroeder:

Suggesting they "not give him anything to hit", that's Hidalgo, with one man on, Brewers up 6-3.

Hidalgo can't do anything except make it 6-5. He did end up walking, which brings the tying run to the plate. Honestly, it's like Bill loses a bit of understanding every single day. Go right after the hitters, walks equals baserunners, baserunners equal runs.

9/09/2003 09:21:00 PM

(9/09/2003 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Zocco got his first big league hit. That's one more than every single person I know.

Jim Powell said last night that Cecil Cooper, Indy's manager, had nice things to say about both Zocco and Jason Conti, saying that while neither is likely to be a starter, both seem like they could spend a few years as reserves in the bigs.

9/09/2003 08:42:00 PM

(9/09/2003 08:39:00 PM) - Al

Scott Podsednik has basically come out of nowhere to have a good season. Since playing every day, and playing part-time most of the year, Brady Clark has also had a nice year.

So, why is it Brady is looked at as a reserve, and Scott is looked at as a starter? I think that way, and I feel most folks agree. Brady is a couple years older, but that's about it. Any reasons why this bias exists, e-mail me.

9/09/2003 08:39:00 PM

Sunday, September 07, 2003

(9/07/2003 02:33:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin has closed the Brewers' Dominican academy, and will use that money to continue to sign Dominican players and move them to the US. I hate to see the Crew close it, though the results have been, well, nearly nonexistant. Supposedly the annual cost was about $400K, so it wasn't really a major part of the budget, to say the least. To me, I'd rather have the risk/benefit of having 30 young men under contract than going after 4-5.

Of course, at least they're planning on continuing to spend those dollars on scouting and development. I'd be more upset if that wasn't the case.

9/07/2003 02:33:00 PM

(9/07/2003 02:23:00 PM) - Al

Trot Nixon is a FA after this season, or so I think ESPN said this AM. Wouldn't he be a nice guy to go after? While I doubt the Brewers will end up with him, he certainly fits the criteria of a guy at or near his peak, with no real weaknesses (defense, speed both OK, and my, can he hit). With his past being a healthy one, I might even go four years with Trot...though someone may well do 5-6.

9/07/2003 02:23:00 PM

(9/07/2003 01:58:00 PM) - Al

I'll be in Madison doing another mass hire until later Tuesday night. Until then, check out some of the links to the right.

FYI, for those of you who have Aaron's blog bookmarked, he is now off Blogger (the lucky...). I updated his link.

9/07/2003 01:58:00 PM

(9/07/2003 01:56:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers just did the old "let the ball drop" play and took the fielder's choice on the faster runner at 2B. My greatest moment in softball was a similiar play. With one out, and a runner at first, the batter hit a high pop-up to me at SS. I wanted to let it drop, but was unable to glance at the batter to see if he was running. A second or so before it was to land in my glove, my friend and LF John hissed, "Drop it!", so I did. The ball didn't bounce, it just kinda spun. I picked it up, waited for a second as the 2B wasn't covering the bag, and then tossed it to him. He threw to 1B, and I looked to see where the batter was. It took a couple seconds...he was standing by the fence, setting his bat down with the others, looking puzzled out toward the field.

John later said a couple of our teammates said stuff like, "Wow, that was lucky" and "How did Al drop that?", having no idea it was done on purpose. Of course, you run the risk of the ball bouncing away, as you can't slow the velocity of the ball down with the glove, or that is called an "intentional drop" and the batter is ruled out. Looking back, it must have been a sandy field, as the ball never even came close to going anywhere.

And, as you may have surmised, if that was my greatest moment, I never had much of a career.:) I was a good fielder with limited range, and I was a singles hitter (and OBP man!), not a hard to find quality in slo-pitch. Sadly, my defense was why my bat was accepted...though I was ahead of the game, as my goal was "just to get on base", an early way of saying "just don't get out".

9/07/2003 01:56:00 PM

(9/07/2003 01:32:00 PM) - Al

Since the all-star break, in an admitted small sample (though not tiny) of 113 AB's, Keith Ginter's line:

.286/.394/.519/, 913 OPS

And I thought his 2003 811 OPS was really good, which it is for his salary. He's "not got out" just under 40% of the time. That's the key to scoring runs, baserunners. Just took a HBP to reach 1B against Kerry Wood. Ouch. No one notices it, or says much about it, but Keith is chiseled, much like Gabe Kapler.

9/07/2003 01:32:00 PM

(9/07/2003 10:41:00 AM) - Al

A while back, Doug Melvin said he would hesitate to trade John VanderWal since he really didn't have a corner OF to replace his production.

Since then, Geoff Jenkins has went down with a season-ending injury, and VanderWal has been bothered by a groin injury and unable to contribute a whole lot lately.

Life's sweet ironies...we'll never know if a true prospect was ever offered for VW, but if one was, he should have been snapped up like water in the desert. Rebuilding teams need a 37 year-old RF the last month of the season like I need a second helping of rich gravy.

9/07/2003 10:41:00 AM

Saturday, September 06, 2003

(9/06/2003 09:08:00 PM) - Al

The absolute epitome of what an owner should not be.

Talk about firing up his team...they lost 11-0 today. What a frickin' moron.

9/06/2003 09:08:00 PM

(9/06/2003 09:04:00 PM) - Al

The TV guys are wondering why Kolb wasn't brought in to hold the Cubs scoreless in the top of the 9th, down 1. If Kolb was "fresh", I'd agree, but he worked last night, and Rusch/Vizcaino have been solid, but weren't tonight. Daron and Bill lose any credibility they have (talk about not much ammo in that pistol) when they fail to say anything until after the runs have been scored.

Also, while I wouldn't expect anything less, it amazes me that neither ever mentioned the Brewers "working the count" as the reason Prior threw so many pitches in only 7 innings. It's like they haven't learned a thing since the late 80's. I sure wish we had some guys who realize we're playing 21st century baseball now. Last night, we had to tolerate the "back in my day" stupidness when Alfonseca pointed to the sky after he struck out someone.

Here's an idea, if you get on base, he won't showboat. While I don't see a place for it in the game either, he has every right to do whatever he wants if he's successful.

9/06/2003 09:04:00 PM

(9/06/2003 08:49:00 PM) - Al

Ginter with a double and a HR to the opposite field tonight. David Pinto just posted a chart today which lists how much hitters pull the ball, and Ginter is the most prone to pull as anyone on the club. Whether it was a fluke or a sign Keith is "learning" to go the other way better will have to be seen as time passes.

9/06/2003 08:49:00 PM

(9/06/2003 08:43:00 PM) - Al

46,200+ at Miller Park tonight, about 3,000 over the old record. Nice to see the fans come out, even if a lot are Cubs' fans. Nothing better than seeing Miller Park full.

9/06/2003 08:43:00 PM

(9/06/2003 08:40:00 PM) - Al

Mark Prior allowed to go about 128 pitches tonight. You cannot tell me he's going to have a injury free career, regardless of his nice motion. He's been abused a ton for a kid.

9/06/2003 08:40:00 PM

(9/06/2003 07:10:00 PM) - Al

Nothing I hate to see more than a first pitch bunt attempt against a pitcher of Prior's ability. The key thing is to work Prior, throw pitch after pitch, and hopefully wear him down so he has to leave before the 6th or 7th inning is complete. A first pitch bunt, meaning it's a strike, an out, or a single, is an equation you simply cannot mathematically justify.

9/06/2003 07:10:00 PM

(9/06/2003 07:04:00 PM) - Al

Might be a short night for Matt Kinney, 5 runs in 2+ innings, and his spot leading off the bottom of the 3rd. Plenty of time to come back, but with Prior on the mound, he'll have to lose it completely.

9/06/2003 07:04:00 PM

(9/06/2003 06:57:00 PM) - Al

It doesn't really surprise me after his crappy 2003 AAA numbers, but it appears obvious Jason Conti isn't in the Brewers' plans for 2004. Last night, even against a RHP, Conti sat in favor of Mark Smith, while tonight Pete Zoccolilo is getting his first start in the bigs.

Conti, you may recall, has had good numbers in AAA his whole career, better than Scott Podsednik's, in fact. He will never be a star, but he has a stellar defensive reputation, and seems like he might be a nice bench guy. It appears the Brewers will let him walk, which is fine, as 5th OF's are a dime a dozen, and Conti is not a kid anymore.

9/06/2003 06:57:00 PM

(9/06/2003 06:45:00 PM) - Al

How does Jim Rome still have a job? I just heard a promo for him on the Brewers' game, and he's a shadow of a sports personality, cliche after tired cliche. He talks about things like "guts" and "heart", as if talent is hardly an issue. I suppose that's part of his appeal to the NASCAR/talk radio crowd, whose idea of thoughtful analysis is yelling louder than the caller.

9/06/2003 06:45:00 PM

(9/06/2003 06:41:00 PM) - Al

Heck, Podsednik just made another curious fielding decision, and it's only the 2nd inning. On a gapper toward the "triangle" part of the wall, which faces toward CF, he let the RF play the it hit the wall and bounced toward CF, which wasn't unexpected at all.

Luckily, young Bill Hall saved the day with a dazzling pick and strong throw. I can't believe Clayton makes the play, as he doesn't seem to have the range Hall does, and throws like a girl compared to Bill.

9/06/2003 06:41:00 PM

(9/06/2003 06:25:00 PM) - Al

Podsednik with a stupid error to allow Sosa into scoring position, where he scored on a base hit. You have to hit the cut-off man, as the odds of throwing out the runer at home are tiny. While he has decent range, Pods certainly doesn't have a good arm or a real good sense of the game. Maybe my critique of Pods as "above average" the other night was a bit on the optimistic side.

9/06/2003 06:25:00 PM

(9/06/2003 04:22:00 PM) - Al

BOS is only a game and a half behind the Yankees. Looks like the Yankees having a spot "sewn up" was a bit premature. I find it funny that no one has taken the suggestion of whoever it was and put NY, BOS, OAK, and SEA all in the same column, with a note saying that the top three finishers make the playoffs. That is by far the easiest way to look at it. Don't look now, but the A's are barely behind New York for the best record in the AL.

Allow me a second to make a rant that wears me down every September. It is not just the loss column that counts. I promise you the team with the most wins will make the postseason. The idea that the "loss column" is somehow magical is just as stupid as thinking BA and SB's are important offensive stats.

Back to your regularly scheduled ramblings.

9/06/2003 04:22:00 PM

(9/06/2003 04:19:00 PM) - Al

Ben with an excellent post at Universal saying that Matt Stairs, he of the 982 OPS versus RHP's, should be on a contender (remember, we said the same thing when he was a Brewer last year); and that the Shea Hillenbrand trade remains a fiasco for the D'Backs. Ben sends a lot of people over here, for whatever reason, so check out his writings.

9/06/2003 04:19:00 PM

(9/06/2003 03:44:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with a fact filled post that basically says Roberto Alomar is the most overrated defensive player on the planet. I'm surprised his offense hasn't bounced back a bit more, but his D has been average for many a year now, if you take a gander at his numbers. Luckily for Alomar, most people don't let the facts get in the way of their opinion.---Ramblings, yesterday


Fact filled???Weak stats like zone rating/range factor are facts??You follow baseball way to much to call such poor stats like these to be anything close to a fact.

That same zone rating stat would have people believe Kotsay and Biggio are a better defensive CF than Andruw Jones,that EY has more range 11 other starting secondbaseman,Wes Helms and Scott Rolen were near equal quality defensive thirdbaseman,Wil Cordero,Scott Hatteberg,and Sean Casey have more range than Doug Mientkiewicz,and David Eckstein has a higher zone rating and range factor than Cesar Izturis who is Gold Glove material even though he cant hit worth crap.If you put any relavence in these stats then in 2001 Eckstein was a better defensive SS than Omar Vizquel.Any stats that would leave that conclusion show how nearly worthless they are.

Alomar very well might be past his prime on defense and offense,but given how incredibly flawed those stats are that Aaron used you of all people should
know better than to use the phrase a "a fact filled post".


Mike, thanks for writing and reading. This is a nice, well-timed e-mail, actually, because it put me to work doing some research I never would have bothered with otherwise. As I expected, after studying up and looking at a variety of numbers, I came to the same conclusion I did before, which I will go over later.

First, let's define some things. Range factor simply measures how many assists and putouts a player makes, and divides it by games/innings. Zone rating divides the field into portions for every fielder. For instance, the LF may have from the 25 feet from the LF line to the exact midpoint between LF & CF. Not every ball is supposed to be an out, so the entire field is not "assigned" to anyone. Each year, the folks that do this (STATS, I think), redoes the assignments, so it is difficult to compare ZR from year to year.

In my view, range factor is a waste of time, unless you are comparing two players splitting time on the same team. If I play SS for a team with a lot of Leo Estrella types, my range factor might be 7.5, while if Mike played SS behind a bunch of fly ball pitchers, his might be 5.0...but Mike might be a lot better SS than myself. Now, if Mike and I split time for the same team, and I still have better numbers than Mike, you'd have to start to wonder how good he actually is. Now, many people also feel zone rating is stupid, as they argue (and are correct), many balls are impossible to field. The thing I like and feel is a nice thing about zone rating is that it also includes errors and "outs made". The way I see it, ZR is sort of a one stop combo of range, arm, and the ability to not make errors.

Again, let's use Mike and I as the example. Mike is the flashy SS who makes a ton of plays, diving, spinning, etc. However, he may boot the easy grounder. I will be (much like I actually was) the slow, surehanded one. I may not get to as many balls as Mike, but by God, if it hits my glove, it's an out. So, let's look at our numbers in a week:

Mike: 52 balls "in zone", 44 outs recorded.....846 ZR, 2 errors
Al: 52 balls in zone, 43 outs recorded...827 ZR, 0 errors

In the above example, Mike made 2 errors in the week...but still recorded one extra out than I did. How is that you ask? Well, Mike has more range. He probably got to 3-4 balls more than I did, and was able to convert them into 2-3 more outs. However, he made E's on 2 easy plays that I fielded cleanly. So, after a week, the rangier SS made one more out than I did, and thus had the higher zone rating. In Mike's e-mail, he said that ZR measured "range", and it does. But, in the end, it measures how many outs a player makes. For instance, if an OF is able to throw someone out at home plate, the assist adds another out to his total. So, instead of 45 outs in 50 chances, he changes to 46 outs in 50 chances. So, zone rating gives credit to all of a player's defensive attributes; range, arm, ability to complete the play without an error, etc. Because of this, I pretty much just use zone rating to measure defense.

I know there have been a few people say ZR is a poor stat, including someone at BP earlier this year, who called it, paraphrasing here, "numbers voodoo", if memory serves. But, ZR has been around for quite a while, and seems to be pretty consistent. It may not be perfect, as some defenders may get some unplayable rockets hit in their "zone". One has to figure, in 162 games, those things would balance out.

So, onto my research. It seems to me if I am to believe ZR is a "good" stat, it should be pretty predictable. So, I looked at some players I know are excellent defenders, and see where they have finished the past three seasons (what ESPN has on file). Let's take a look:

Torri Hunter-----1st, 6th, 5th
Mike Cameron--3-3-4
Carlos Beltran--2-2-6
Doug M....ich----1-2-8

It seems to me that in the case of those four, ZR is accurate, almost all Top 5 finishes in their position since 2001. Heck, three of them play CF, so they all can't finish first.

Let's look at the three OF's who I feel are vastly overrated defensively:

Andruw Jones---20-14-7
Vlad Guerrero---13-11-1
Ichiro Suzuki----5-17-11

While surprised to see Vlad was #1 in 2001, I believe he only had 6 errors that year, a low number for him. Other than that, they are right about where I'd expect, way below where the casual fan would put them.

Let's look at the bottom 2B in baseball, as the entire discussion is about Aaron's post about Roberto Alomar.

Soriano, Vidro, Walker, Rivas, Kent, Alomar

The only name I'm the least bit surprised to see is Jose Vidro, and I rarely see him play. Soriano isn't real good on D, Walker has no range, Rivas is crappy all-around, Kent is a slugger who is just a middle IF in name only, and Alomar is overrated.

Let's see, where has the immortal Derek Jeter finished the past 3 years:

last, 2nd to last, last

Despite a lot of supposed inconsistency, ZR seems to have the same bad fielders finishing poorly each year, and the good ones near the top. As far as your individual complaints, Mike, I would guess David Eckstein is just a good defensive SS. I can't say I've ever felt Scott Rolen is a top defender, though I've heard the media say he is. As for Doug M, he may have simply had an "off year" the year he ended up 8th. A couple bad hops, a couple cheap errors, etc. Kotsay and Biggio better than Andruw? Well, considering Jones drops an easy fly ball or two every year, in his quest to look "cool", he starts off having to make up ground. Biggio has looked good to me for a former 2B, and he may be helped by guys taking chances on his arm, as the last time I checked, he had an assist to error ratio of 8-1, or something like that. That's 8 "extra" outs and only one "oops", which makes him +7.

Someday, there may be a better way of measuring defensive performance. Until then, I see two choices:

1. Listen to the biased media and baseball folks in general, based solely on what they see and what they remember.
2. Use zone rating.

The memory plays tricks, as I just read Bill James say recently, paraphrasing here, "If no one kept track, a .300 hitter would be the same as a .275 hitter, because the difference would be one hit every couple weeks, and the difference would be barely noticeable". I have to agree, because if we went by what we see, I'd swear that Ginter has a higher OBP than Pods...but he doesn't, no matter how many times it seems like Keith walks and takes HBP's compared to Scott.

I'll be the first to say ZR is not perfect. But, you can hit the ball hard every time up, and still go 0-4. A great hitter can have a .400 OBP several years in a row, then fall to .350, based on line drives at fielders, some bad calls by the home plate umpire, exceptional plays by the defense, etc. In 600 PA's, a 50 point difference is only 30 successful trips to the plate, just over one a week. Yet, no one questions OBP's worth.

On defense, it's all about turning a ball in a play into an out. In my opinion, zone rating measures that better than anything else.

9/06/2003 03:44:00 PM

(9/06/2003 02:32:00 PM) - Al

Why exactly has no one noticed that Aaron Boone's OPS for New York is about 600? Boone isn't even a mediocre 3B, his value (or most of it) is the ability to play SS & 2B and hit a bit better than a normal middle infielder.

9/06/2003 02:32:00 PM

Friday, September 05, 2003

(9/05/2003 10:01:00 PM) - Al

I find it very difficult to believe that anyone listens to a word President Jimmy Carter says. He insists on staying in the limelight, as if he can somehow erase the legacy of his 4 years in office. Making statements about North Korea, however, seriously makes me question his sanity. Talk about speaking about an area in which you do not have all the information. 22 years ago, you did, and you couldn't have solved a riddle that involved a talking animal. Now, a score plus later, Carter feels he can solve the world's problems as if by magic.

Good luck, and as far as I'm concerned, you're just like the tree in the forest that fell when I wasn't around. I haven't heard a word you said since '81, and I like it that way. If you want to make a difference, get a job or run for office. If not, shut the hell up.

9/05/2003 10:01:00 PM

(9/05/2003 09:23:00 PM) - Al

Ichiro Suzuki is a member of my overrated team, and has been since he arrived. Suzuki is a fine defensive OF, and does steal bases at a good clip, but his offense is hardly worthy of a whole lot of attention. This year, for example:

.316/.357/.434, 791 OPS

That's pretty good if you're a SS or a C, but it's just about the same production as Brady Clark and Keith Ginter, and no one mentions them as great players, nor should they. It's frightening what the casual fans will buy if idiots like Jim Caple sell it to them.

9/05/2003 09:23:00 PM

(9/05/2003 09:17:00 PM) - Al

Mike Maroth lost his 20th game tonight. Certainly not near as bad as this has been made out to be, as plenty of good pitchers have lost 20 over the years. In my mind, it's only a shame because it happened to a youngster on a horrendous team. He probably should be in AAA, as Bonderman also should have been, at least part of the season.

Hopefully, this will end the "hiding" of guys with 18 and 19 losses in September.

9/05/2003 09:17:00 PM

(9/05/2003 08:50:00 PM) - Al

Cars still coming into Miller Park at 8PM tonight, an hour after game time. Looks like Cubs' fans need to look into Mapquest.

9/05/2003 08:50:00 PM

(9/05/2003 08:49:00 PM) - Al

Cubs' SS Alex Gonzales with a very questionable takeout of Bill Hall tonight. It looked to be a "rolling slide", considered to be a dirty play by some in the game. Of course, nothing was called, but Hall made the throw for the out, so no interference could have been called.

I'm not really into the whole "brushback" thing, nor the crap like this. It seems to me emotion like this takes away from the game. The Cubs are in the middle of a playoff race, so the best thing you can do to hurt their felings is to defeat them on the field. All the other crap is a waste of time.

I still wish MLB could make some real progress in this area, especially with hitters charging the mound and keeping guys on the bench, but the union's strength, and some would say, mixed-up priorities, have stopped any hint of change.

9/05/2003 08:49:00 PM

(9/05/2003 08:45:00 PM) - Al

Word is, Billy Hall will be the everyday SS the rest of the way. Royce Clayton was spoken with and explained to that the Crew needs to take a look at the younger Hall. This should have been done a couple months ago, but better late than never. I was dismayed when we signed Royce, and I wish I wouldn't have been so accurate.

The 2003 Brewers should have employed a lineup made up of youngsters that may improve, and cheap stopgaps, to go with the proven players, of course.

With Sexson, we now have a lineup of Ginter, Hall, Helms, and Pods as the younger guys, and VW/Smith, Clark, and Perez/Osik as the veteran stopgaps. It took 5 months, but we fuinally are where we should be. For that, the braintrust deserves credit.

9/05/2003 08:45:00 PM

(9/05/2003 06:55:00 PM) - Al

I just got an e-mail from a Brewers' fan that lives in Illinois, who was planning on attending the Brewers/Cubs game this Sunday. In answer to your question, you are somewhat likely to encounter a person or three selling tickets outside the stadium, probably at above face value Being that the game is a sell out, I'd expect to pay $25 for a $16 ticket, for example. I will take a look at some ticket sites and see if any are selling tiks at a reasonable rate.

FYI, the weekend series is completely off the board at the Brewers' home site. Sounds like 3 huge crowds, wonderful news.

9/05/2003 06:55:00 PM

(9/05/2003 02:55:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with a fact filled post that basically says Roberto Alomar is the most overrated defensive player on the planet. I'm surprised his offense hasn't bounced back a bit more, but his D has been average for many a year now, if you take a gander at his numbers. Luckily for Alomar, most people don't let the facts get in the way of their opinion.:)

9/05/2003 02:55:00 PM

(9/05/2003 02:14:00 PM) - Al

These are my notes from last night's Beloit Snappers playoff game in Appleton. Beloit won to earn its way into the championship series.

Kennard Bibbs--Good speed, but not as fast as Weeks or Gwynn. Knows strike zone well. Looks like Willie McGee. Took 1st pitch every time, except when producing a nice SAC bunt. Took a ton of pitches, fouled off a lot also. Walked to start big 9th inning.

Calix Crabbe--Also had nice SAC bunt, almost beat it out when P took his time. Body of a 2B, looks to be his only position. Hit a 1-2 hanger for a stand up triple to RC wall. Runs very nicely, as it would have been a double for most guys. Baserunning a ?, failed to take 3B on a single when was at 1B. He never looked at his coach (Snappers' mgr. Don Money). Then, failed to take 3B even though the OF threw to home, too high to be cut off. He and Money had a 2-3 minute conversation, as opponent changed pitchers then. Calix kept defending himself, pointing toward Of and then to home. Don kept pointing to himself, as if to say, "Look at me". Hit ball hard every time up.

Tony Gwynn Jr.--Wow. This kid will move up quickly. Very natural and fluid. Rail thin, odd because Tony Sr. was rotund, and you'd think Tony Jr. would have spent a lot of time in the weight room, as a prospect son of a former big leaguer. Fastest player on field for either team. Slapped first pitch he saw to LF effortlessly for a single, like Brett Butler made a career of. Very good knowledge of strike zone. Stands way up in box, front foot appeared 12 inches in front of plate. Unsure on breaking balls, often takes check swing to "get a piece of them" and foul off to stay alive. Right on every fastball, basehit or fouling it back to the screen. Base hit on breaking ball with a very soft swing, later lined a single to CF on another off speed pitch.

Major league ready on D. Outstanding arm. Plays deep, fielded soft single with runner on 1B. Runner was a third of the way between 2B and 3B, Gwynn in medium CF, no chance right? Tony fired a laser to the 3B, safe, but the "oohs and aahs" were heard from the crowd. Next batter drilled a gapper to RCF. To me, the only question was whether they had a chance on the play at the plate. Tony ran over, made a sliding, diving stab of the ball, jumped to his feet. I looked at the runner, and he was being held up at 3B. My eye then looked to 2B, where I saw the hitter scampering back to 1B, as the throw had come to 2B. The best play I've ever seen in person.

Prince--Not nearly as big as I'd imagined. Looked like a linebacker, not a lineman. 1st AB, reached out and "swatted" a HR over the LC wall, as if it was the easiest thing he'd ever done. Looked awkward versus LHP's, like he hadn't seen many (and probably hasn't), though he did line a single off one, then drilled a hard single up the middle off one in the 9th.

Defensively, he made every play. Ranged to his right nicely in the 1st inning, stabbed a high hopper and threw nicely to the P covering. Later, the hardest hit ball of the game was drilled right at his feet. He dropped the glove down, caught it, and stepped on the bag for an easy DP. Twice on close plays, seemed to come off the bag early, and twice got the out call. Considering he's a year out of HS, his defense is superb.

Rickie Weeks--By far the most disciplined hitter at the game. Watches ball into glove, then looks at umpire for the call. Took all 6 pitches for a walk his first time up, after behind 0-2. Looks bored at the plate, as if these guys can't possibly fool him. Very fast, outruns bad judgements. Quick hands, smooth swing, seemed to start swing after the ball was by him. Dropped a bat on the pitch, it jumped off his bat into LCF, easy double. Hit a squibber up middle, and raced down the line. Might have beat it out, but SS made wide throw, ruled an E6. Weeks was by 1B as he caught the ball. Hit a hard grounder to 2B last time up, FC, no chance for DP with him running. Scored from 1B on double, ran bases superbly, scored before hitter reached 2B.

When on 1B, the batter singled to LCF. The LF was picking up the ball as Rickie hit 2B. He looked like an easy out, but simply outran the ball, much like a RB outruns the angle of a defender. Amazing to see. Was picked off 2B by P, but made it to 3B when the 2B/SS dropped the throw from P. Thrown out stealing 3B late, he looked safe, as the 3B tagged his knee/hip on a headfirst slide, but was called out. Kept increasing his lead, and took a huge secondary lead.

Only one grounder, did not look comfy. Hung back, then fired to Prince at 1B. Very good arm, plenty good enough to play on the left side of the diamond.

Travis Hinton--Ran well for a bigger man, two hits.

Jeff Eure--Big, long, ugly swing. No chance of majors unless that's changed completely. Did hit a foul ball that was long gone, so he has power...if he hits it.

Pedro Esparragoza--Looked good behind plate, throws well. Nice swings also, lacks power.

Chas Terni--A-ball filler, to be blunt. Unathletic for a SS, weak arm. Decent approach at the plate, but night and day when compared to the "prospects" on the team. Threw accurately despite being off balance on every throw.

Khalid Ballouli--Almost unhittable curveball, at least for A ball hitters. Most took all they saw until 2 strikes, then swung meekly. Fastball 89-93, most often at 90. Curve at 76 almost every single time. Seemed like a 2 pitch guy, for the most part. Nice build, long and lean.

Forrest Martin--It was like a "mini-me". Also threw fastball and curve. Usually 89 & 74. Curve moves less, but no one hit it to speak of.

Tim Bausher--Delivery looks fine, but arm sort of "jerks" forward, like a car with a bad clutch. Fastball from 86-93, most often 88. Don't think he ever threw a strike with an off-speed pitch. Actually was unlucky for most part, though DH hit one about 400 feet off him.

Jon Huizinga--Struggled with control, but got an out to end it.

Finally, my encounter with Doug Melvin. He came out of a stall in the restroom while I was in line. He was doing the TV interview when I came out. He talked to a male fan for a couple minutes, then spoke with a younger man with a child, signing a baseball for the youngster "Steven". Steven was wearing a Sexson T-shirt, and his guardian said something, and Melvin replied, "Yes, we have another good one here (motioning to the field). That's gonna be a tough call." I assume this was Fielder/Sexson, but cannot say for sure. He said "Nice to meet you, Steven" as they left, a very nice touch.

I then said:

Hi Mr. Melvin, just wanted to say hi and wish you good luck.

He shook my extended hand and said, "Well, thank you". He then spoke with a couple of younger (21ish) fans for the next half inning, so I guess I shouldn't have been worried about bothering him.

Both Ulice and Doug seem very cordial and polite with fans. I wonder if Billy Beane works out during the games to avoid encounters like this.

9/05/2003 02:14:00 PM

(9/05/2003 12:03:00 PM) - Al

I will be going through my near illegible notes and posting a rundown of each player I saw last night. For those who do not know, the Snappers won thier series last night and will play in the championship series next week.

In the meantime, it sounds like the Brewers/Cubs series is a near sellout, as only Uecker seats, single seats, and a few pairs were left as of 11AM today. As beautiful as Miller Park is, it really looks dandy when it's full.

9/05/2003 12:03:00 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

(9/04/2003 02:20:00 PM) - Al

The wife has convinced to me to partake at Red Lobster before the Snappers game, so my hot dog intake will be dramatically lowered. Be back with a report later this evening.

9/04/2003 02:20:00 PM

(9/04/2003 01:41:00 PM) - Al

Mathematical fact of the week:

The Brewers started the season 13-28...since then, they are 49-49. While a 100 game stretch is far from a small sample, you can't just ignore the first 41 games either, as they involved pretty much the same players.

Still, it's a factoid that can't help but build optimism for the future. Next year, for the first season in 20 years or so, the Crew will field a AAA team made up of as many prospects as AAA veterans. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, though it's not as close as we'd like.

Every bit as good of a sign is that we've finally found 2 starters to fill out the rotation that don't suck. While most teams don't win the majority of their games when their less successful pitchers start, they don't punt those games like the Crew did most of the season. Adding some depth to the starting rotation has to be the #1 priority, as injuries and ineffectiveness will always occur, but the makeup of our 5 rotation members is a lot better than it was a month ago.

9/04/2003 01:41:00 PM

(9/04/2003 01:32:00 PM) - Al

My wife and I will be off soon to Appleton, where the Beloit Snappers, the Brewers' low A club play the TimberRattlers. Beloit features three top prospects, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Tony Gwynn Jr. All are Top 10 prospects, and arguably, Weeks and Fielder are #1 and #2. The stadium, I believe it's called Fox Valley Stadium, is one of the finest A ball parks in the country, many have said. Due to the fact the game has only been scheduled for a week, and is on a weeknight during school, a smaller crowd is expected than usual. To help draw folks, they have $1 hot dogs and soda. Excellent.

And the best part, it's on an off-day for the Crew.

9/04/2003 01:32:00 PM

(9/04/2003 10:56:00 AM) - Al

ESPN with a waste of time segment on Chicago baseball. The stupidest thing said:

You can't be a fan of both the Cubs and White Sox. You have to choose.

While I'm sure most have a "favorite", I'm sure there's a huge amount of casual fans who will gladly root for either team, if they win or if they'd get tickets to a game.

9/04/2003 10:56:00 AM

(9/04/2003 12:31:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with a good recap of what happened in the Twins/Angels game today, possibly the worst play by a catcher I've ever seen. Molina ended up breaking his wrist, and will likely never not protect the ball with his bare hand again. Heck, he should have hit the runner harder than the runner hit him, simply to protect himself.

9/04/2003 12:31:00 AM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

(9/03/2003 10:30:00 PM) - Al

I've said a couple times this year that Brady Clark is a perfect 5th OF, in my mind. Outstanding defensively, good arm, plays all three OF spots, runs well, good plate discipline, and is a decent OBP man. Let's look at Brady's numbers before 2003 began:

majors--.239/.332/.358, 680 OPS, 219 AB's, 29 BB's
AAA------.295/.377/.457, 834 OPS, 763 AB's, 93 BB's

I would have predicted a slight rise in Brady's numbers as an everyday player, as he has exhibited outstanding plate discipline in both AAA and the bigs. 219 AB's isn't a really small sample, but when it comes over the course of three seasons, I tend to devalue it a bit. Looking solely at his AAA numbers, I'd have projected .270/.335/.375. I like him as that's a mediocre OBP, which is very good for your 5th OF, and any power he gives you is a bonus.

So, after his near cycle tonight, his 2003 numbers are at .310/.356/.448, 804 OPS. What's funny is that Brady has managed these stats with 16 walks in 239 AB's, far below his career rate. Is this a case much like Keith Ginter, few walks when he was PHing, and now consistently taking BB's with regular playing time? No it's not, as his walk rate has been low the entire season.

I like Brady, way more than I should. He is one of those guys who has fought his way to the bigs despite being told a thousand times he had no chance. He's a good guy, plays hard all the time, blah, blah. His birthday is the same day as mine. But, Brady is 30, and will be 31 next April. I still hope he makes the club as a reserve OF next year, as his skills and age make him a perfect reserve/platoon guy. Is his 800 OPS a fluke? Probably, though his .350 OBP may be more of an indicator of skills than good luck. I have trouble imagining him with those kind of power numbers for long, however.

If you combine his 2003 numbers with the rest of his career, he tallies in at .272/.340/.389, in about 460 AB's. To expect an improvement from that seems like a lot to ask, as 30 year-olds with almost 500 AB's have a pretty low improvement rate, to be kind. I do hope to see him return, however.

9/03/2003 10:30:00 PM

(9/03/2003 10:17:00 PM) - Al

Strange game tonight in Milwaukee, offense abounds, and Luis Martinez makes his debut.

To say Luis has a funky motion is to say I like pie. As awkward as I've ever seen, he seems to pause several times as he comes to the plate, any one of these being off could cause wildness and ineffectiveness. I was pretty unimpressed by Eddie Perez behind the plate tonight, as he seemed to go with about 60-70% off-speed stuff. I saw a lot of 81's and 79's on the radar gun, certainly not his fastball. Luis' fastball was a consistent 89 most of the night, so he probably was far from fluid this evening. I never saw him hit over 91, and I'm pretty sure he throws harder than that. It seems as if I've heard 94-95 mph in the past, but I'd have to research that. Luis walked 6 in 4+ inings, and if there's one thing you can't do, is allow a pitcher to be ineffective with his 2nd and 3rd best pitches. I'd rather see Luis walk one and give up three homers than walk six. You're giving a rookie permission to allow free baaserunners, a horrible message to send. He looks as raw as any pitcher who has taken the mound for the Crew in years...but if he stays healthy and continues to develop, he could be every bit as good as Dontrelle Willis someday.

By the way, Clark/Podsednik/Conti may be the best defensive outfield I've ever seen. I honestly have never seen Randy Winn play, so I'm not sure if he is the real deal in LF or not, as I've heard many folks say the SEA OF is the best in the game. I feel Pods is the weakest of the three, probably by far, and he's above average. Both Clark and Conti are superb, a notch below Torri Hunter and Mike Cameron, but not anymore than that. Combined, they have range and arm strength that matches anyone I can recall. I'll be the first to say that they wouldn't be good enough offensively, but it's a joy watching them play the game. I would compare it to Mike Kelley, former Badgers point guard, who could shut down his man whether his opponent was a point guard, off guard, or small forward.

9/03/2003 10:17:00 PM

(9/03/2003 04:32:00 PM) - Al

In order to have a top flight offense, you need to have a top OBP. Period, end of story, no argument. The top 5 MLB OBP's belong to the top 5 run scoring teams. The Mariners have the 6th best OBP, and the 9th best offense, etc, and so on. If there is just one stat that predicts offensive success, it is OBP. There is no sense arguing about it, in my view.

Years ago, there was a player named Rich Becker. Rich was a CF who managed to separate the casual fan from the more serious fan. Rich was an OBP machine, at least in the pre-Beane days. His career ended in 2000, and he finished with a statline of .256/.358/.372, a 730 OPS, a 133 OXS and walked 350 times in 2227 AB's. He walked once every 6.4 AB's, far better than the now accepted "standard" pioneered by Sandy Alderson, but made famous by the Billy Beane A's.

The funny thing is, Becker was often made fun of as some sort of stathead freak. His low BA bothered casual folks, as did his low SB totals for a CF, just less than an average of 10 a year. His defense could be considered mediocre in my mind, as he did play a while with the Brewers. Certainly not a top guy, but a good arm, decent range, etc.

Now, is (was) Becker an excellent CF? Nope, not at all. Was he a very good CF? No. Could he be considered a "mediocre" CF? I look at those numbers and think he'd probably be just a bit below average. However, his best role would have been that of a platoon CF, as he was a LH hitter who never hit LH pitching, or as a 4th OF.

According to Baseball Reference, his closest comparison as a player is Darren Bragg, who is still active with the Braves. Darren has career numbers of .259/.349/.389, 738 OPS, 136 OXS. Looking at Rich and Darren together, they are virtual twins statistically. So, why is Bragg still playing and Becker has been out of the game since he was 28? I don't know. It is one of many mysteries in baseball, as much an "old boy's club" as likely still exists, outside Augusta, GA at least. Was Becker a bad guy? Is Bragg a good guy? Maybe, maybe not. From our vantage point, it's difficult to tell.

Let's compare Becker to a few players playing today:

Becker--------.256/.358/.372, 730 OPS, 133 OXS
Bragg---------.259/.349/.389, 738 OPS, 136 OXS
Juan Pierre--.306/.356/.368, 724 OPS, 131 OXS
R. Cedeno---.276/.344/.374, 720 OPS, 129 OXS
M. Grissom--.272/.318/.413, 731 OPS, 131 OXS
M. Kotsay---.281/.337/.417, 754 OPS, 141 OXS
R. Winn-----.281/.342/.402, 744 OPS, 137 OXS
E. Chavez--.259/.295/.368, 663 OPS, 109 OXS
Eric Owens-.263/.317/.347, 664 OPS, 110 OXS (yes, I am aware of how much "heart" Eric has)

Rich would appear to be in the same league with this group, and the idea Chavez plays almost every day tells me all I need to know about Frank Robinson as a manager. If you don't respect OBP, how good can you really be? Kotsay and Winn are often spoke of in glowing terms, and are both fine defenders. Yet, they aren't hardly a bit better than Becker was.

What is there to learn from this? Well, first of all, the amount of press a player gets is worth nothing. If I would have just posted that list of players and asked you to pick the players that are the most valuable per dollar paid them, Winn and Kotsay would have been landslide winners. Yet, Darren Bragg would probably be my choice. A big name doesn't mean he's better than a lesser known player.

And, three years after he last played in the bigs, Rich Becker still matches up pretty well to CF's that are average or just below. Does that make him a star? Nope. Would he be an inexpensive role player? Probably so.

At the end of the day, you need to look past the names and look at the production, and the amount of money it takes to bring them in. Last year, at $5 million, Mark Loretta was overpaid. This year, at $1 million, Lo is a bargain. Yet, he's the same player, with the same production.

9/03/2003 04:32:00 PM

(9/03/2003 02:58:00 PM) - Al

Thanks to Bill at the Daily Brew for alerting me to the BP Triple Play, which may well have published the worst few paragraphs since...well, since BP said Bob Apodoca was still the Brewers' pitching coach, 700 days after the fact. As I just said in a post over at the forums, BP has gone downhill more in the past two years than a junk bond issued by a small, high-tech start-up venture.

Baseball Prospectus used to as revered as any baseball website. They still do good work with stats, though I've seen nothing as important or as accurate for offense as OXS (OBP x SLG), as that predicts runs scored at a 98% accuracy level...hence, I digress. Back to the horror that is the lack of accuracy that is this article.


Been Down So Long: While it will come as no shock to longtime BP readers, the Brewers recent ten game win streak means next to nothing outside of the fact that a bad team has added ten wins to its "W" column. As Joe Sheehan points out in his recent PT (link), streaks such as this often come against weak competition. While these happened to come in a row is interesting and easily quoted on telecasts and highlight shows, there is almost no predictive value in streaks. Streaks--or worse, numbers like "12 out of 13" or more dubious combinations with random endpoints--are statistical anomalies. While many are comparing the recent Brewers streak to the 20 game run by the 2002 Athletics, there's little comparison between the teams.
I did say next to nothing, because the streak does tell us some things. Ned Yost hasn't lost the team, something many predicted would happen when his rah-rah personality began to wear on a team being worn down. We've learned that amongst the spare parts that currently inhabit the Brewers lineup, there are things that have the makings of a major league contender. Bill Hall has played well during the streak, raising his batting average by sixty points, playing a passable middle infield, and proving he's good enough to be a backup infielder. His complete inability to draw a walk leaves the door wide open for Rickey Weeks and J.J. Hardy to come in and claim jobs in spring training.

I'm Coming Up: The Brewers front office said for weeks (but not Rickey Weeks) that few, if any, of their top prospects would be shown Miller Park in 2003. Give them points to sticking to plan--the Brewers called up only three players for September: Luis Martinez, Shayne Nance, and Mike Crudale. While Nance and Crudale will bolster a weak bullpen, Martinez will be given a couple starts to see if the breakthrough season he's had will stick. Martinez has battled elbow problems over his last few starts, so the Brewers will be cautious with him, backing him with Glendon Rusch out of the bullpen. For many of the Brewers top prospects and performers, the lack of reward for a good season is frustrating. Players like Pete Zocolillo, the Triple-A MVP, J.J. Hardy, and Prince Fielder were all left waiting for a callup or even just a pat on the back from the braintrust of Reid Nichols and Gord Ash. (I use the term 'braintrust' loosely.)

We Got Next: A 10-game win streak brings hope...and a bit of ridicule. While we try to pluck the image of Mike Maddux in short-shorts out of our mental eye, let's focus on the hope. The Brewers had two minor league MVPs in Prince Fielder (Midwest) and Lou Palmisano (Pioneer), plus several more players that earned consideration for other awards. J.J. Hardy was by acclimation one of the better prospects in the Southern League. Jim Rushford was in the top 10 in batting average and OBP for the second year in the International League. Brothers Matt Childers and Jason Childers showed promise as future bullpen filler, with Jason's Zito-esque curveball proving to be nearly unhittable. Corey Hart, Dave Krynzel, Anthony Gwynn, and Kennard Bibbs are also names to remember for the next spring training in Arizona.

The Big...Two?: With the youngsters coming and Doug Melvin's proven record of rebuilding the Texas system through player development, focus moves to the "Big Three" of established Brewers players: Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson, and Ben Sheets. With Jenkins out for the season for a second year in a row (this time much less serious), the questions come about the Brewers pathetic payroll and if Melvin will flip one of his stars for more prospects. There were discussions of a Sexson for Paul Lo Duca deal which fizzled when Sexson failed to clear waivers, but the likeliest to move could be Sheets. An established mid-level starter closing in on arbitration would be attractive bait to bring in some of the needed parts that the Brewers have been looking for. Expect a team that thinks they're close--Cleveland, Texas, or Toronto--to come calling this offseason.

Let's start with the good, as that is minimal. Winning streaks are pretty unimportant, however, they are interesting and fun. They shouldn't be brushed aside, as it matters not if you win 10, then lose 10; or if you win every other game for a 3 week span. However, when a team that is winning about 40% of their games wins 10 straight, that increases their win percentage to a 45% rate. That IS important. Next.

Bill Hall has played well during the streak, raising his batting average by sixty points, playing a passable middle infield, and proving he's good enough to be a backup infielder. His complete inability to draw a walk leaves the door wide open for Rickey Weeks and J.J. Hardy to come in and claim jobs in spring training.

Billy did have a nice run, but has hardly "proved" anything, as anyone who knows what a small sample is will tell you. His numbers, in 78 AB's, are .282/.300/ 800 OPS for a middle IF will get him a job with almost any team in baseball. We hail Keith Ginter daily, and that's where he resides. But, BP picks on Hall for only drawing one walk, but dismisses his SLG as a fluke. Make up your mind, it's either meaningful, or it isn't. In my book, Hall has outplayed Royce Clayton, so should be given every chance to play, as Hall is cheap and may improve. Needless to say, Royce is not, nor will he.

JJ Hardy should not be rushed, as the most productive years per dollar are a player's pre-arby years. Unless it is a significant improvement at the major league level, a youngster should be left in the minors as long as possible. After a solid year at AA, it is unlikely a youngster like Hardy would do much better than Hall's production thus far, thus, should not be getting service time for his on-the-job training.

Sigh. First of all, Rickie Weeks is spending his limited time in the minors in low A ball. The mere mention of him breaking camp as a member of the major league Brewers is both funny and reeks of no research whatsoever. Rickie is a fine offensive player, with excellent plate discipline. Is he big league ready? Please. Throwing it forth and misspelling his name to boot seems to indicate how incredibly poor BP's fact gathering is. Those folks who actually pay for pathetic content like this must be the same folks who buy the extended warranty at Best Buy {Why, I can warranty my $59 DVD player for four years for just $69? Woo-hoo!! Sign me up!}.

For many of the Brewers top prospects and performers, the lack of reward for a good season is frustrating. Players like Pete Zocolillo, the Triple-A MVP, J.J. Hardy, and Prince Fielder were all left waiting for a callup or even just a pat on the back from the braintrust of Reid Nichols and Gord Ash. (I use the term 'braintrust' loosely.)

The funny thing here is the total lack of rules and how to maximize your 40 man roster. At the moment, Prince Fielder is in just his 2nd year of pro ball, and thus, will not have to be protected on the Brewers' 40 man roster this postseason. So, you could dumbly bring Prince up, maybe play him once a week at 1B, but in 2004, you'd have one less spot available to protect one of your top young prospects. Also, Prince and JJ are both in the playoffs in their respective leagues. Now, if the Crew was in contention, minor league playoffs be damned. But, they aren't, so calling up your best kids to sit on Milwaukee's bench would not be a good way to build relations with your affiliates, nor let your kids develop at the proper level.

By the way, it's Zoccolillo, according to Baseball America.

And, do you really think the Brewers don't thank and congratulate their best players? What a senseless display of pathetic ignorance.

Corey Hart, Dave Krynzel, Anthony Gwynn, and Kennard Bibbs are also names to remember for the next spring training in Arizona.

Almost got through the whole paragraph without showing how out of touch they were. To throw Bibbs in with 3 Top 10 prospects? Please. Bibbs runs well, as he stole 50+ bases in low A ball, but a 700 OPS at that level just shows you are a long way away from contributing in the bigs. The notion that we will need to recall his name for "the next spring training" is foolhardy, bordering on lunacy.

...but the likeliest to move could be Sheets.

Um, "could be"? Does that imply that it also "could not" be? No facts, not even a rumor, just a baseless thought thrown out for the masses. Personally, my feeling is Sheets will not be moved, as young starters who are durable, successful, and still improving should be held onto. However, I'd trade him tomorrow for Johan Santana, who I s'pose "could be moved", right? Could/might be/thinking of are terms used by bad writers to give a thought that has no merit a tiny bit of merit. Often, a rumor is started this way, as reporters may then say, "The GM has denied the Brewers are going to trade Sheets". A denial to some means talks have taken place.

All in all, one of the most worthless pieces of reporting I've ever seen. BP's idea to become a pay site may be short-lived if this is any representation of its content.

9/03/2003 02:58:00 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.

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