Al's Ramblings

Friday, October 31, 2003

(10/31/2003 09:49:00 PM) - Al

How nuts are Americans about Halloween? Seven billion dollars' worth of nuts. Nine billion pieces of candy. Fifty million greeting cards. Millions of costumes sold; millions of parties attended. We are so nuts, the government recently issued a stern warning against buying Halloween contact lenses without a prescription because they can blind people.

Maria Puente,on popularity of Halloween, USA Today October 29th, 2003

Whenever people tell me how broke they are, I often ask them how come they never run out of money to buy cigarettes. That said, the fact that Americans spend $7 billion on Halloween tells me this nation has more cash than it knows what to do with...literally.

If I spend every minute the rest of my life thinking about it, I will not understand, for one second, the appeal of Halloween. What a frickin' monumental waste of time.

10/31/2003 09:49:00 PM

(10/31/2003 06:09:00 PM) - Al

CNBC has hired Dennis Miller to host a nightly political talk show 4 nights per week.

I still wonder what the heck HBO was thinking, as Dennis Miller Live is the only reason I ever subscribed to HBO in the first place. It was a very enjoyable half hour that went by so quickly you wished it lasted longer.

I'm sure I won't watch it nightly, but considering CNBC's ratings are often listed as * (that's under a 0.1), I'm sure it will be a success. In fact my first thought was, hmmm, which channel is CNBC?

10/31/2003 06:09:00 PM

Thursday, October 30, 2003

(10/30/2003 09:39:00 PM) - Al

The Mariners hired Paul Molitor as hitting coach Thursday. He agreed to a one-year contract for the 2004 season.

It looks like both MIL & MIN had full coaching staffs, and Paul took the M's offer rather than hope Rich Dauer wins the Orioles' managerial sweepstakes. As I've said previously, I'm surprised Paul doesn't take a front office job. No doubt in my mind, however, if he wishes, he'll be a manager by 2006.

10/30/2003 09:39:00 PM

(10/30/2003 08:56:00 PM) - Al

Completely lost in the mix of the Red Sox begging and pleading for anyone...anyone, to take Manny Ramirez off their hands...for nothing, mind you:

Long-term contracts, especially those over 3 years in length, are for bold gamblers and/or fools. Manny is a wonderfully good player, and still, not only does BOS not want him, it would appear no one does, not for $20 mil per, at least.

A couple folks have pointed out a team like Tampa Bay may improve themselves immensely by picking up Manny. At the moment, they have little or no chance of signing a marquee player. Gary Sheffield is from the Tampa area, and that even is unlikely to be a drawing card strong enough to seal the deal. Honestly, they'd be absolute fools to claim Manny, regardless.

That said, chalk up another "out of the box" success to Theo Epstein. Theo not only is hoping against hope he'll free up $100 million the previous regime saddled him with, he has accomplished his secondary goal of announcing "MANNY RAMIREZ IS AVAILABLE" loud and clear. Sure, he'll have to pay some of Manny's salary, but Manny is probably worth $10 mil per in today's market. $50 million saved is a lot of money for an intelligent GM like Theo, not to mention he'd get a nice return for a $10 mil/yr Ramirez. Or, he could choose to give Manny away, pay $25 mil, and keep the $75 mil of "found money" to look for Meuller/Ortizian bargains on the non-tender market come late December.

10/30/2003 08:56:00 PM

(10/30/2003 08:39:00 PM) - Al

Ben Jacobs writes that defending Grady Little is, well, stupid. Extremely good piece.

10/30/2003 08:39:00 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

(10/29/2003 10:11:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer breaks down the inning that Grady Little failed to make the easy, sensical move. As I said here, I wouldn't have let him go out for the 8th, never mind give up shot after shot. How do you defend leaving a guy out to fail like that?

10/29/2003 10:11:00 PM

(10/29/2003 11:27:00 AM) - Al

Chris Gomez's option was not picked up by the Twins, and while I don't think he's as good a choice as the obvious, younger Billy Hall, Gomez doesn't have horrible numbers for a middle infielder either, and unlike Clayton, he can also play other positions if needed.

Gomez has a career .320ish OBP, and has shown some decent pop the past few years as well. Odds are, he'll be happy to sign for $500-700K if promised playing time.

10/29/2003 11:27:00 AM

(10/29/2003 11:17:00 AM) - Al

I'm usually a big fan of Peter Gammons, but his piece on the Boston Red Sox reads like a Drew Olson, Journalism 101 effort. He takes the team that set dozens of offensive records and attributes much of the success to how well Grady Little's wife kept the player's wives together (seriously). This team was a powerhouse because Theo Epstein put together an incredible lineup of guys that other teams didn't want, because, despite the fact we discuss it repeatedly here, some folks still don't understand that OBP equals runs.

Clint Hurdle isn't sure if Larry Walker should continue playing, Eric Young is still seen as a desirable 2B because he steals 20 bases, etc. Those same guys are the same ones who usually discuss team chemistry and the like. Gammons is a mainstream writer who actually "gets" OPS, but he retreats to his den of safety and cliche. Do you suppose David Ortiz walked up to the plate once all season thinking to himself, "Gee, even though my future financial and professional success hinges on my performance, I believe I will give a bit of extra effort today, as my wife is happy and I like my teammates"?

Please. I'm sure he didn't, and common sense dictates that. However, common sense has no place in traditional baseball circles. All the Red Sox needed to get to the Series was to have a forward thinking manager that set up his pitching staff to succeed. Instead, they got a good guy who believed a spent starter was better than a fresh reliever. And it didn't make a damn bit of difference whether Pedro was happy...and certainly not if his wife was happy.

Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees.

10/29/2003 11:17:00 AM

(10/29/2003 10:56:00 AM) - Al

According to the Denver Post, the Rockies are interested in bringing back Eric Young.

Young, who will be a free agent, played for the team from 1993-97. Manager Clint Hurdle confirms that the team has discussed his name, while Young's agent says he "loved it there."

This could be the second time a team has replaced Ronnie Belliard with the older, not as talented EY. Remember, Clint Hurdle suggested that Larry Walker retire because of his subpar 2003 season, in which Walker compiled a .422 OBP, so we know Clint has no respect at all for OBP. I also think Dave Collins is a coach for the Rockies (have you ever noticed bad coaches never go away, they just change teams?), and he was the idiot who suggested we overpay for EY in MIL, despite the fact we had a younger, better 2B.

Honestly, Ronnie had an OK year in '03, but as Rob Neyer pointed out late in the season, he wasn't hitting as well as a 2B should in Coors. COL has, by far, the most prolific offensive ballpark in baseball, and they need to realize it. If they can put an offensive juggernaut that looks like a slo-pitch team, they should do it. Right now, they have Jay Payton in LF, which is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. Sure, Jay will put up good numbers in Coors, but think what a truly talented player would do. Paying for speed and defense in Coors is like defending your home against the California wildfires with a 5 gallon bucket.

10/29/2003 10:56:00 AM

(10/29/2003 09:06:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with two days worth of proof that Derek Jeter is no more a "clutch" player than I am. The funny thing is, many fans don't believe it, even when shown the evidence.

And by the way, what's this bunk about the world being round?

10/29/2003 09:06:00 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

(10/28/2003 07:51:00 PM) - Al

Remember a few months ago, when Kevin Appier of the Angels didn't want to play in Toronto because of SARS? I commented on that here, back in April.

Now SARS is mentioned as often as Barbi Benton, Toronto is everyone's pick to be a surprise team in 2004, and Appier was so bad he was released and picked up by the Royals, where he hurt his arm even more.

All that said, Appier was as short-sighted as they come. Being afraid of something that was much less deadly than the flu? Geez, read a book and get informed.

10/28/2003 07:51:00 PM

(10/28/2003 02:54:00 PM) - Al

The NBA season starts tonight, and I thought I'd make a stunning prediction...the Bucks will be a lot better than almost everyone thinks. I will pick 35 wins because it's a nice round number. Also, I think they will be fun to watch, which is a great bonus for a team that's rebuilding.

Alas, just when I felt I was the only person who felt this way, Sam Smith wrote that the Bucks will be his top surprise team this season as well.

10/28/2003 02:54:00 PM

(10/28/2003 02:34:00 PM) - Al

From BP's Gary Huckaby, the best thing I've seen written at BP in a long time.

Honorable mention: Mark Loretta. Loretta wouldn't be in the top 15 of my selections, but if there's even a fringe protest movement for Shannon Stewart in the AL, Loretta deserves more attention in the NL. Why?

Stewart 625 .307 .364 .459 .283 19.9
Loretta 650 .316 .374 .445 .291 53.0

If you hear anyone say Shannon Stewart was the key to the Twins 2nd half success, chuckle and laugh, and say hello to the epitome of a casual fan. Stewart should hit, as he's a LF (and one with a terrible arm at that). Meanwhile, Lo plays 2B, and was every bit as good offensively as Shannon. Funny how an occasional stolen base taints the memory of those who watch SportsCenter and listens to the "thinking minds" of Rob Dibble and Harold Reynolds.

10/28/2003 02:34:00 PM

(10/28/2003 01:10:00 PM) - Al

Most fans would agree that in addition to adding to the pitching corps for 2004, the RF spot needed to be upgraded. There are a few folks who would argue Brady Clark played well enough to deserve that spot, and they would be wrong. Brady's best use would be to spell Pods against tough LH pitchers and to serve as the Crew's 4th OF. But, if the first few days of the official offseason is any indication, there will be plenty of guys that can play RF that are available. To list a few choices that won't be overly expensive, and at least be in the vicinity of an average RF (.350/.459, 809 OPS in 2003).

Gabe Kapler is mentioned often. He was purued heavily when he was foolishly released by the Rockies this year. Supposedly, he was quoted as saying he chose Boston because of the opportunity to play in a playoff atmosphere. He is a favorite of Doug Melvin, as he is atletic, can play defense, and fits Doug's "younger player with a ceiling" definition of what he's looking for. Gabe is 28, and his career numbers are .335/.430, a notch below "average", but he is skilled defensively, as he's played CF much of his time in the bigs. And, with his release last year, the odds seem pretty good he'll get a 1 or 2 year deal worth less than a couple mil per year.

Anyone who reads Ramblings knows I'm a big fan of Jeremy Giambi. His .377/.430 line is good, and he's had a 900+ OPS as recently as '02. He simply finds a way to get on base a lot. He would likely require Geoff moving to RF and Jeremy playing LF. As an aside, Jeremy, despite his rumored bad hands, plays a decent 1B, and would be good insurance in the case of a Sexson trade. Jeremy, after an injury plagued, ineffective year in BOS, will look for a promise of playing time rather than a lot of cash in 2004. If we could add an option for 2005 as well, even better.

Jose Cruz Jr. is a favorite of many, and he isn't bad. He'll turn 30 next April, so he's as good as he's going to be. He is solid in the field, and has compiled a .332/.458 norm. Jose's a decent choice for $1-1.5 mil per, and I might be tempted to give him a 2y/$3.5 mil deal.

Other possibilities that would probably come cheap that are FA's:

Michael Tucker, 33--.338/.432, 770 OPS

Todd Hollandsworth, 31--.333/442, 775 OPS

Reggie Sanders, 36--.347/.488, 835 OPS

Both Tucker and Hollandsworth hit LH and would likely platoon with Clark. Sanders is unlikely, as he's a stopgap only, but his expected offensive production would probably rank only behind Giambi's.

Looking at this early list, I feel fine about RF in 2004, as mediocrity seems to be in plentiful supply, which means, based on ECON 101, it should be fairly inexpensive. I feel there's a good chance talks have taken place with Gabe Kapler's agent already, as it seems odd his name leaked out during the Fan Forum for no reason. While he isn't my first choice, I'm fine with him as long as he signs for less than $2 mil per (actually, I'd prefer about $1 mil, but I won't be unhappy unless it's over $2M).

10/28/2003 01:10:00 PM

(10/28/2003 10:46:00 AM) - Al

Grady Little was relieved of his duties, and some wonder who will take his place. Does it matter? I certainly don't see a lot of everyday baseball men who couldn't have led this record setting offensive team to a playoff spot in 2003. Little wasted a good pickup in Jeff Suppan, never even using him in the playoffs.

As ignorant as Little's move was, leaving Pedro in, may well have worked 30-40% of the time. But, going to the bullpen and hoping a relief pitcher or two could hold a three run lead in the final two innings is a no brainer, and would have worked at least 90% of the time, and that's probably conservative. As one of my e-mails said, you can take a replacement level reliever, one with a career 4.50 ERA (which is high for a middle/long reliever, as they rarely face the same batter twice in a game), and simple math tells you that, on average, that Mike Buddie type pitcher will only allow one run. Grady simply failed to make the best decision to set up his team for success.

I feel this job will be handed on a silver platter to Glenn Hoffman, former utility player for the Sox. I would tell Theo to do exactly what JP has done in TOR, bring in a guy who is willing to do what the GM wants. Tosca never bunts, because JP doesn't want him to. Tosca knows he's fortunate to have a major league job, and will gladly listen to his boss to keep it. Pick a lesser known minor league manager who shares philosophy, and one who knows a tired starter in the 8th inning is simply stupid compared to a fresh reliever.

That said, BOS is a different beast compared to TOR. The Red Sox fans and media convinced Grady Little, as well as the national media, that Kim did a poor job, despite the fact he blew only 3 saves in over half a season. It takes a strong man to deal with the negative culture in Boston, and Theo needs to find a man much like himself to do the job in the dugout. Theo saw value in Ortiz, Walker, Mueller, and Millar, when no one else did. He needs to find a similiar strong thinker to manage.

10/28/2003 10:46:00 AM

Saturday, October 25, 2003

(10/25/2003 10:15:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to the Marlins.

Oh, and where were the ghosts that spend eternity at Yankee Stadium? What's hilarious is, grown men like Derek Jeter say such ignorant things, and clods like Tim McCarver respect them for it. That time should have been spent wondering why the veteran-laden Yanks didn't bother working the count enough to at least get into the Marlins' bullpen. 107 pitches, in 33 plate appearances, a 3.2 p/PA average? Unacceptable, and I didn't hear one mention of it on the horrible FOX coverage. Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Ghost talk, yes. Talking to a static filled connection to John McEnroe (John McEnroe?) in the 1st inning on a cellphone, yes? Understanding that a bunch of experienced, smart baseball players swung at everything...nope. Torre and Zimmer, sitting dumbly on the bench while all this occured, yes.

Down 2-0, two outs in the bottom off the 9th, I could have swore I saw Jorge Posada swing at a first pitch high fastball for strike one. I'm tellin' ya, I know I heard Lenny Dykstra scream.

"When you're down, you don't swing on the first [bleeping] pitch, bro! ... You don't take that 30-percent chance of getting a hit or whatever it is and go with it. I can't take watching these guys [bleep] it up. I can't take it.

Guy taking swings when the count's 2-0 and they're down by two runs with nobody on, that kills me...I can't believe people don't say anything about it."--Lenny Dykstra, on Alfonso Soriano and in general

No time, Lenny, they're too busy discussing how great Derek Jeter is on defense and talking about, I'm not kidding, ghosts. The horror.

The over/under on the 2004 New York Yankees payroll has been set at $215 million...please, please no wagering.

Oh, how much I would have enjoyed a Marlins/Red Sox Series.

10/25/2003 10:15:00 PM

(10/25/2003 07:37:00 PM) - Al

"Controversy" about McKeon starting his two hottest pitchers in the last two games of the Series? Please. We're not talking about having a guy pitch on a day or two of rest, it's Beckett on 3 or Redman on 4...I'd take Josh on 3, but I wouldn't expect him to go more than 5, maybe 6 innings at most.

As for the poor numbers posted by pitchers on "short rest", something like 6-20, 5.90 ERA...I have to believe that most often, teams that are in the World Series are pretty darn good offensively, and hence, would score quite a few runs on average. Secondly, it also seems to me the majority of the pitchers going on short rest were probably behind in the Series...hence, in many cases, were just simply outclassed.

If you're going to lose, you want to go down out of ammo, having spent every last round trying to outscore your opponent. That's why you don't bunt in the early innings, as it gives you one less out to fight with. In a tie game, bottom of the 9th, a SAC bunt by a weak hitter isn't a bad play, because you know one run will win the game. In the 1st, you have no idea whether it will take 1 or 11 runs to claim why play for one run?

As long as you don't expect Beckett to go 130 pitches tonight, I think it's a good idea going with your best guys. I'd rather have 5 good innings than 7 mediocre ones.

10/25/2003 07:37:00 PM

Friday, October 24, 2003

(10/24/2003 10:37:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al-

This just in: McCarver is a fool.

Contreras throws a 3-2 pitch over Lee's head for a walk. As clear as a bell, you hear the words "Look Out" as the ball sizzles toward the backstop. Nobody is positive who actually said "look out". Except Tim. Paraphrasing:

It was Contreras. He's the only one who had the angle.

Right, Tim. The catcher, who called the pitch, has no idea that it is that far off line from a strike. Most of the time, catchers are just lucky to have the ball hit them in the mitt. While I'm screaming at Tim through the TV and before
the next pitch is thrown, Stottlemyre comes out to the mound and it is noted by the esteemed broadcast crew that he NEEDS A TRANSLATOR to talk to Jose. So, naturally, in that split second when nobody but Jose could have possibly
known the pitch was bad, Jose reacted and in a split second sent out a crystal-clear verbal warning to the poor hitter in his SECOND LANGUAGE!

Please, somebody, make Fox go away.


As always, thanks for reading and writing, Jason. I did hear Tim say that Jose "must have said it", but missed the translator comment. Honestly, I thought it sounded like a fan who said "Look out", but who knows. To say Tim says a lot of foolish things is like saying I love my son, or that I enjoy pie. He's as bad as it gets, and Joe Buck ain't much better. No one even questioned Torre's dartboard like use of his bullpen last night, or even in Game 4, in which he left his best reliever in the bullpen in a close game. Torre seems to be "above question", which is absurd.

I was flipping through channels this morning, and Harold Reynolds said something to the effect of "That's why they have Wilson hitting 2nd, so he can bunt or whatever", paraphrasing, of course. What? Who the hell can't bunt? Anyone can bunt, pitchers who hit .050 are often good bunters. Having Enrique Wilson, a career .300 OBP man start a World Series game is as dumb as it gets, but having him hit that high in the order is absolutely insane.

Cable sports is ripe and literally begging for an alternative, in which geeks like Rob Neyer and the like make good observations that make sense, not cliche after cliche after cliche...most involving the words "gritty" and "scrappy".

10/24/2003 10:37:00 PM

Thursday, October 23, 2003

(10/23/2003 09:13:00 PM) - Al

That sound you hear is Joe Torre's credibility and "legendary status" leaking away. Last night, Jeff Weaver, who hadn't pitched in a month, comes in, set up to fail, and failed. Tonight, obviously with no plan whatsoever, he brought in starter-turned-reliever Jose Contreras when David Wells came down with a bad back (funny how that could happen to an athlete {chuckle, snicker, guffaw} that is built a lot like me:) after only an inning. Now, Chris Hammond is in...who also has not pitched for a month. Gee, maybe that 5 run lead in Game 3 would have been a good opportunity to get a reliever or two some work, huh? Was Torre trying to convince Don "The Ignorant Old Fool" Zimmer to run onto the field and take a Marlins' starter down?

I don't think the Yankees spent over 5 minutes figuring out their 25 man roster for the Series. I'm all but positive Torre and Zimmer haven't spent 5 seconds planning out their bullpen usage.

Now, let's move onto benching Giambi and Soriano. I really don't have a problem with Jason, as he's much worse defensively and while a better hitter (and supposedly, is not 100%), Nick Johnson is a very good player. Meanwhile, Enrique Wilson is a joke. He's a utility player, and nothing but. Soriano is a poor fielder, but hits like a corner OF. The mere thought of inserting Enrique into a playoff game shows nothing but respect for the small sample.

Not only has Torre not pushed the "right buttons", he's smacked in a lot of buttons he shouldn't think of touching. He hasn't done a thing to help his team win, and that's the only thing he gets paid to do.

10/23/2003 09:13:00 PM

(10/23/2003 05:54:00 PM) - Al

Tentative 2004 Brewers' schedule is up at the Brewers home page. At first glance, it looks excellent, Cubs' matchups are on weekdays, looks to be a good number of summer weekend dates as well.

10/23/2003 05:54:00 PM

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

(10/22/2003 09:35:00 PM) - Al

There is little I enjoy more than reading Ted Kennedy's trivial rantings cut down to size. The man is literally a contradiction in every sentence he utters.

10/22/2003 09:35:00 PM

(10/22/2003 08:08:00 PM) - Al

The team added nine special mid-week 6:35 p.m. CT starts during April and September.

So, what can we do to get ALL the night games to start at 6:35PM? Can anyone seriously not get to a game by then? Most folks are done with work by 5 or 5:30, right? I suppose that's less time for tailgating, but it also gets you out of Miller, hopefully enjoying a Brewers' win, by 9:30, and for most folks, home watching the news by 10PM.

10/22/2003 08:08:00 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

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

For news about what was talked about at the Fan Forum, I invite you to check out the message boards, and I will link you to the specific link here. There are at least three good recaps already up tonight.

10/21/2003 10:00:00 PM

(10/21/2003 10:21:00 AM) - Al

If you're in the Milwaukee area and don't plan on attending the Brewers' Fan Forum tonight, shame on you. At worst, you get a free hot dog and soda and the opportunity to visit beautiful Miller Park. I would assume Ulice, Doug, and Ned have some interesting things to say as well. Heck, I wish they'd telelvise it on Fox Sports Net, if not live, then later on tape.

10/21/2003 10:21:00 AM

(10/21/2003 09:50:00 AM) - Al

Nice to see former Badger Kirk Penney still fighting to make the T-Wolves roster. He scored 7 of his 8 points last night in OT. But, MIN played 14 players last night, so he still has to face those horrible final cuts. Kirk has the ability to defend decently at both the 2 & 3 spots, and I have to believe would be a good role player, capable of making his own shot. As is often the case, the T-Wolves probably aren't a great opportunity compared to some other clubs, but both Saunders and McHale are pretty good talent judges. They'll keep him if he deserves to be, as the NBA injured list is ripe for abuse.

10/21/2003 09:50:00 AM

Sunday, October 19, 2003

(10/19/2003 09:37:00 PM) - Al

The Crank tells that Marlins' owner Jeff Loria wrote a book 35 years ago discussing Peanuts and life. Who would have ever guessed that?

10/19/2003 09:37:00 PM

(10/19/2003 09:30:00 PM) - Al

I just got an e-mail from a big Packers fan wondering if I know of a serious site that discusses the Pack much how I do the Crew...seriously, with an eye for the long-term.

I wrote back and wished him luck. On the whole, the NFL is not a league made for deep thinking. Neither is NASCAR, for that matter. Each week, you never know, "Things might turn around". There's no minor league system to talk about, the most popular player on every team is the 2nd string QB, etc.

Heck, after Week 1, in which the Vikings dominated the Packers, most Packers' fans acted like it was some sort of weird fluke. MIN, still undefeated and the Pack, now 3-4...hmmm, maybe there was something to the debacle.

If you find a site that doesn't mention "the refs suck", let me know.

10/19/2003 09:30:00 PM

(10/19/2003 09:18:00 PM) - Al

I'm torn between thinking David Blaine is a talentless fool, or a genius who has harnessed his very limited ability into a fortune making machine.

First of all, he went about 50 days on water, unless you believe the "trickery" mindset of a few. He couldn't eat for several days before (think "cleansing" before the 44 days spent in a box), and then how could he have eaten in the pexiglass? Now, medical folks are warning about the danger he is in as they reintroduce food/nutrients.

That said, this guy needs a job. Spending 6 weeks resting doesn't sound that bad, does it?

I guess I'm really most unsympathetic to those who are way too upset about the "stunt". Saying it makes the worldwide hunger problem less important, or that it somehow diminishes previous hunger strikes for political/social causes...c'mon. Ain't nothing ever been accomplished by a fool starving himself. Instead of not eating, these folks should be out working on their cause, not wasting their time calling the easily fooled media with the alarming news that {gasp} Jim has decided to skip lunch!!

Actually, the mere fact I have thought about Blaine makes his "stunt" a success, in an odd way.

10/19/2003 09:18:00 PM

(10/19/2003 06:03:00 PM) - Al

Since the season ended, I've had a few folks ask how my fantasy teams did. Well, my three leagues I took seriously were my leagues, which I consider to be serious, competitive, knowledgeable fans. All were 10 or 12 team leagues, and I finished 1st, 10th, and 4th in those three. My other 5 teams were more for fun and for draft practice. Many of these leagues had 14-20 teams, as I wanted to choose drafts that would go deep, as I would learn if many "unknown" players would be chosen at all. For example, I learned David Ortiz or Jeremy Giambi were rarely picked, as most folks thought they'd be reserves for the Red Sox (of course, Giambi ended up being injured and then "beat out" by Ortiz). Kevin Millar was chosen way down the list, well beyond where a "normal" draft would have stopped. Chris Woodward, a decent everyday SS, was never picked. Aaron Boone, who was eligible as a SS in Yahoo leagues, was never chosen nearly as high as he should have been. Ditto for Frank Catalanto, who was eligible as a 2B. Also, many folks in these free leagues use it for practice and quit soon after the draft, or quit soon after the season begins. In those 5 leagues, I finished 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th, as I said, out of 14-20 teams.

For whatever reason, I always look at a Top 4 finish as a successful year, so I guess I did OK in 5 out of 8 leagues. By far the most difficult league was my 7th (out of 14) place finish. Since the league had no inning limit, I loaded up on pitchers, and did very well in wins, strikeouts, saves, etc...but did poorly in walks, losses, earned runs (not ERA, earned runs). That was a unique league, and I never did get comfortable with the categories.

Hence, in the future, I think I'll avoid that type of league in the future.:) For those of you who still haven't tried fantasy baseball, check out Yahoo next March, as it's free and easy to use. You can have four teams per username, so you can practice on a couple, then take a couple seriously as the season nears, and you feel more comfortable.

10/19/2003 06:03:00 PM

(10/19/2003 05:37:00 PM) - Al

My remote has stopped on the Discovery Channel, as they have a show on Area 51. A hick from a small town around the base says:

I know a lot of people who have worked there, and they all say they used to work with aliens, at least two different types.

Gee, you'd think the government would have some sort of security in place to prevent this type of leakage, wouldn't you?:):)

10/19/2003 05:37:00 PM

(10/19/2003 05:30:00 PM) - Al

The headline in the online edition of the JS today says Marlins Steal Game 1.

What's ironic about this is, not only did the Yankees steal as many bases last night as the Marlins, but neither Florida SB led even indirectly to a run. As with last year, when simpletons insisted the Angels' success was due to them not striking out, the Marlins' victories have already been's because of their team speed.

Heaven forbid we let the facts get in the way.

10/19/2003 05:30:00 PM

Saturday, October 18, 2003

(10/18/2003 10:27:00 PM) - Al

Nightline's topic last night was the current R&R program the military has started. Currently, the choice is between Germany and Baltimore, MD. Most soldiers choose to return to the States, and then continue on to see family and friends somewhere else in the USA. They profiled a single man who looked to be 19 or 20, and a married man, probably 25ish, whose only child was born while he was serving in Iraq. It was touching seeing both fellas return, both had family get togethers, signs of support from the community, etc.

Things that came to mind during the half-hour:

1. The cost of this program is $300 million a year, which admittedly, seemed profanely high. What jumped into my mind was that the $87 billion funding package recently passed was actually voted against by a few Senators and Congressmen, in a partisan dissent. {Note within a note: My first thought upon hearing that was how the late Paul Wellstone would have been hoping against hope that he'd lose 99-1, as he was quite fond of doing. He felt that by being totally out of touch, he was "sticking up for the little guy". Um, yeah.} I truly wish a couple of these guys would have to explain their vote to the families of service folks who got to see their family member because of this wonderful program. Oh, I'm sure the doublespeak and contradictions would make General Clark's opinions of Bush's presidency look "concrete", but a vote against the bill was a vote against the program, end of story.

2. When you hear on the news that "the 101st Airborne suffered 2 wounded today", you never really think that these are not grizzled vets, but 19 year-olds who may well have never shot a gun until a year or so ago.

3. One odd thing about the program is there is no "rules" written for it. Some commanders have done a lottery, some have given preference to soldiers with family emergencies or new babies, some by length of service, etc. At first, I thought to myself, if I was single, I'd really just have a new dad go home. Most everyone is in Iraq for a 12 month span, what's the big deal? But then, I changed my mind completely. If I was single, would that make me any less worthy of a 2 week leave as someone who happened to be wed? Of course not. To be completely honest, I'd probably spend the entire 2 weeks in air conditioning turned all the way up.:)

4. As the dad of a 16 month-old, I've found one of the greatest things is the day-to-day additions. A week or so ago, Andrew climbed up on a table for the first time. Since then, my wife and I have probably yanked him off the kitchen table 25 times, and starting today, the kitchen counter and bathroom sink 3-4 times as well. That's a week, it's hard to imagine missing months of that.

5. Once again, I'm left with the same conclusion I always am when I see any type of show about our military personnel...we gotta find a way to pay these men and women more. I'm not talking a COLA increase, I am in favor of a 50% raise for everyone (though I'm not sure if the highest ranked would need it, as they are well compensated compared to the frontliners) over the next five years, maybe implemented at 10% per year (plus the slight bump I assume they get now for inflation). Would that cost a lot of money? You bet it would, though it be somewhat offset by lower training costs, as you'd have less turnover; as well as a slightly "higher level" of soldier, as the branches would be able to "pick and choose" more than they can now.

Where would the money come from, you ask the fiscal conservative? I really don't know, but I do know this...I seriously don't feel this nation can afford NOT to do it. All the weapons and technical wizardry are only as good as the men and women who operate them. I feel it is imperative we make the military a more attractive choice to both recent high school grads as well as our current defenders (and, those who have recently decided against reenlisting).

Let's hope a few lawmakers feel the same way, and soon.

10/18/2003 10:27:00 PM

(10/18/2003 09:46:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention during Thursday's NY/BOS game the mini controversy that has arisen about the delay that takes place during the 7th inning stretch, during the beautiful rendition of God Bless America that is sung. I brought this up 2 years ago, before Ramblings was born, back on a message board somewhere. Ron Gardenhire, manager of the Twins basically said the same thing as myself, that it's a great song, but it is a disadvantage to the opponent, and an advantage to the Yankees. The announcers then mentioned the Yankees had scored more runs in the 7th than any other inning in the playoffs.

Actually, the main "disadvantage" two years ago was everybody acted like they didn't know what was going to happen. The opponent would take the field, then stand there uncomfortably, often in the cold autumn air, as the song was sung. Now, to the best of my knowledge, teams have learned to stay in the dugout until AFTER the song. Also, the emotion isn't quite as high as it was in 2001 either, a month after the World Trade Center/airline attacks on our country. As lovely a song as it is, and hearing it sung by the entire crowd every night, I'm fine with it now, as the advantage the Yankees now enjoy is minimal.

On a related note, it makes Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and especially, Roll Out The Barrel, currently sung at Miller Park, seem almost offensive. I'm not positive, but I think the Brewers play God Bless America on Sundays only. In MIN, they started playing Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA during the 7th inning stretch, which I always thought was an unique touch, but I'm not sure if they still do or not.

10/18/2003 09:46:00 PM

(10/18/2003 06:39:00 PM) - Al

The Mets are reportedly interested in A's pitching coach Rick Peterson, with the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that if they want him, they might have to compensate the A's by making a trade to take Terrence Long off their hands.

I just included that little tidbit to show how Long has "negative value" right now, that at his current salary, OAK would actually get less by including him in the trade. I've had a couple e-mails in the past year asking me to explain what exactly I meant by "negative value", so I thought I'd show the latest example.

Jason Kendall, despite being a fine catcher, will make $33 million over the last 3 years of his deal, is another perfect example. PIT would happily pay 25-50% of the money and STILL give him away, according to what I've read. He's worth nothing at that price.

10/18/2003 06:39:00 PM

Friday, October 17, 2003

(10/17/2003 10:25:00 PM) - Al

I just saw, for the first time, the shot of the fan supposedly interfering with Moises Alou. Not only was that far from an easy catch, it appeared to me another fan hit Alou's glove which would have kept him from catching the ball regardless.

Talk about much ado about nothing.

10/17/2003 10:25:00 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2003

(10/16/2003 10:24:00 PM) - Al

Inning over, tied up at 5. While extra innings would be a classic ending for a classic LCS, it seems to me it'd be a 5-2 or 5-3 win if only Little hadn't altered his effective and forward thinking use of his relievers.

10/16/2003 10:24:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:20:00 PM) - Al

Not only do I hate having a pitcher have to disrupt his rhythm by walking a guy, Timlin's been up in the bullpen for about an hour. I have to believe he threw about 100 warmup pitches.

10/16/2003 10:20:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:17:00 PM) - Al

If it were possible, Tim McCarver would propose to and marry his own voice. Never has a man who said so much said so little.

10/16/2003 10:17:00 PM

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

I have to say, I would rather have a Embree/Wilson matchup than Timlin/Sierra, even if Mike has been awesome. Walking Sierra to face Garcia? Is that really enough of a difference to justify an added runner?

10/16/2003 10:16:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:13:00 PM) - Al

Sounds like Mueller should have been covering 2B on that play, as surely, there was no play at 3B whatsoever. I guess we'll see if it hurts them.

10/16/2003 10:13:00 PM

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

Bloop single ties it up.

Grady stupid can one man be? And after the damage is done, he finally appears to make the belated move. I'm tellin' ya, it's just like watching Lopester manage a game. No feeling for fatigue, no common sense.

If you leave your starter in there until he fails, invariably, he will fail. It's simply astounding that a human being feels a guy with 120+ pitches is somehow a better choice than a fresh arm out of the 'pen.

Short-sighted as they come.

10/16/2003 10:08:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:06:00 PM) - Al

Pedro is pitching on fumes. He is just another guy out there now.

10/16/2003 10:06:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:05:00 PM) - Al

Double by Matsui...and are you kidding me, Pedro is still in there? Seriously?

10/16/2003 10:05:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Single by Bernie Williams. Little will {ahem} finally make the move now...or actually will leave Pedro in. Talk about playing not to lose.

Again, fresh reliever, or a tired starter on his 116th pitch? To me, it's a no brainer, but Little seems extremely hesitant to go with the guys who have been pitching so well.

10/16/2003 10:03:00 PM

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

Even after a one out double, Pedro remains in. Seems odd to me, as he's over 110 pitches and has allowed 4 of the last 6 men to reach. One more baserunner, and a reliever will come in to face the tying run. That barely seems like "setting up a pitcher to succeed".

10/16/2003 10:00:00 PM

(10/16/2003 09:53:00 PM) - Al

I actually thought Pedro would be pulled, with Timlin & Williamson pitching the 8th and 9th. Pedro's low pitch count must be keeping him in the game.

As I've said many a time before, I prefer pulling a pitcher a batter early than a batter late. I also prefer a fresh reliever to a tired starter.

10/16/2003 09:53:00 PM

(10/16/2003 09:51:00 PM) - Al

A few weeks ago, David Wells was called "out of shape" by his pitching coach, now he's brought in to pitch relief on a day's rest after a start. Hanging curve, HR.

Joe Torre is doing his best to shed any label of "brilliant", I will say that.

10/16/2003 09:51:00 PM

(10/16/2003 09:27:00 PM) - Al

Pedro with 79 pitches through 6 innings. That's 3.6 pitches/PA. If they'd be taking a half pitch more per PA, that would put him at 90, which would at least have the Yankees an inning or so away from the bullpen.

As for now, it looks like the Yankees will have to beat Pedro to win.

10/16/2003 09:27:00 PM

(10/16/2003 08:27:00 PM) - Al

Roger Clemens, having a poor outing, leaves to a standing ovation (see, that's the kind of thing I expected to see at Wrigley last night, but instead, saw a bunch of folks sitting on their hands), and doesn't even tip his cap.

I've seen a lot of things written and said about Roger, mostly that he's a total idiot, with a few jerk references mixed in. After that, I think it's safe to say those things are 100% accurate.

10/16/2003 08:27:00 PM

(10/16/2003 08:15:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Boone sitting, Enrique Cruz playing.

Not only is this absurd for a number of reasons, isn't Boone universally hailed as soon to sign a long-term contract with NY? Aaron's a good role player, but as a 3B, he isn't that good. He'd fit in pretty well at SS or 2B, and improve the Yankees defense at the same time. I just don't see NY signing a guy that they'd sit in favor of a journeyman utility guy, especially not as a 3B.

10/16/2003 08:15:00 PM

(10/16/2003 06:39:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

Yeah I agree with Jason. What scares me is that I watched most of the game and then the postgame stuff and then went over to Baseball Tonight. Bobby Valentine, who I can't stand, was the FIRST person I saw who even mentioned in passing the lack of Cubs plate discipline. He implied that Beckett was able to go that 4th inning because the Cubs refused to take pitches. That 9th inning was pretty disgraceful, but absolutely nothing from the Fox guys on it. Did Randall Simon have a plane to catch?:) One guy on, 3 runs down, none out and he tried to swing at all 4 pitches, each of which was further out of the strike zone than the last one. Not a smart ballplayer. Not a smart team.

Another point I'd like to make is...why are people still so enamoured of the intentional walk? Red Sox had 2 on (2nd and 3rd), 2 in and 2 out. Yankees walked Varitek to get to Johnny Damon, who of course also walked to make it 7 to 6. When will teams ever learn? There is never a reason to intentionally walk a guy with 2 outs except in the 9th and even then it's iffy. And besides, Johnny Damon is a fairly patient hitter (68 walks this year). It just goes to show that Torre isn't as wonderful a manager as he is usually given credit for. Baserunners=runs. We should trademark that. :)

Thanks, Mike

The mere idea Randall Simon was on the Cubs' postseason roster and Choi wasn't pretty much sums up their team and Dusty Baker's style. He has no respect for OBP, and watching his team proves it. Granted, that pitching staff was still almost good enough to make it to the final two, but it simply pains me to see Tom Goodwin and Randall Simon used as late-inning pinch-hitters in a must win game. To be blunt, Goodwin sucked when he was at his peak.

I was skimming through my archives recently and I came across this post from February, in which Lenny Dyskstra ranted about guys "swinging at the 2-0 pitch when you're down 2". I mean, could you describe Simon any better? What's funny to me is, a guy like Nomar, the rare player who swings at nearly everything and still has success, would still be tons better if he took more pitches, yet the broadcast teams just love the way he hits, without fail.

As for intentional walks, all you have to know is that Lopes and Royster LOVED this move. If you need anymore proof of its stupidity, you haven't been paying attention. I shake my head whenever I see a team load the bases intentionally, as if they forget that a walk or HBP scores the run. In the example you mention, Mike, the odds of Varitek getting a base hit are surely not as good as Damon getting on base in some fashion. Simple math tells you to pitch to Jason, but it's almost like managers "want to do something" to show they're doing something.

That move was so incredibly ignorant, I have no doubt Don "Rocky" Zimmer must have recommended it.:)

Be sure to check out Cat's House, Mike's weblog, whose link is on the right side.

10/16/2003 06:39:00 PM

(10/16/2003 10:44:00 AM) - Al

I wonder how much free money the Cubs will make from folks who keep World Series tickets as remembrances of their season. I remember reading in '84 ('85?) that the Cubs were amazed how few tickets they got back in the first couple months, less than half, if memory serves. Now, many may have used that cash to pay for their season tickets with the next year, but still, even if 10% hang onto them as a souvenir, you're talking substantial funds.

10/16/2003 10:44:00 AM

(10/16/2003 10:24:00 AM) - Al

Hey there Al-

Could the Cubs hitters be a little less in tune to the task at hand? Josh Beckett, ON TWO DAYS REST, goes 4 innings of nearly perfect ball and throws a mere 45 pitches. Good plate discipline there--well coached. Take a toothpick out of petty cash.

And thanks to you for the bit about leaving the guy in the stands alone. If it wasn't him, then it could have been any of the ten other hands reaching for the ball around him (none of whom appeared to be backing off). Somebody here at work said it was the turning point of the game, and I say it was no more a turning point than a clock striking 9:30. The insanity of leaving pitchers in too long finally caught up with Dusty. And if you want an on-field goat, let's look at the botched double play by Gonzalez that would have ended the inning.

But of course, the curse (cough-built in excuse-cough) was on so there was no chance for the Cubs to win anyway.


You'd think by the uproar that most folks are like me, and would go out of their way NOT to interfere, when exactly the opposite is true. And you're right, there were other hands in the mix. Also, it is a hidden part of the game, that taking pitches. When I post how a smart hitter like Keith Ginter takes an average of 4.2 pitches/PA, I get a couple e-mails that say, "So what? I'd take a guy who hits .300 and always swings at the first pitch." The problem is, not only do you have no chance of taking a walk if you put one of the first four pitches in play, you aren't making the pitcher work, nor do you have as good a chance of seeing a hanging curve, or a fastball right down the middle. Florida is in the Series because they made Prior and Wood work. It could well be the Cubs are not because they are "aggressive" and "jumped on the first pitch" a lot.

Also, Aaron Gleeman mentioned today that the cliches Steve "Yes, I'm Awful, But Not As Bad As McCarver" Lyons keeps putting forth on the Marlins being good because they have a couple guys that run fast at the top of the order is incredibly false. When in doubt, the media tends to go with any "old school" reason they see. In 2002, the Angels rarely struck out, hence, a falsehood was born. The key to both teams was their OBP. Florida hit a ton of HR's, yet, that goes right over the head of those writing on a deadline.

Baserunners = runs. Thanks for reading and writing, Jason.

10/16/2003 10:24:00 AM

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

(10/15/2003 10:37:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to the Marlins. Somehow, I bet a lot of the Jeff Loria detractors will be embarassingly quiet the next few days. Loria, if you'll recall, bought the Expos and then realized what a horrible baseball city it was. Some blame him for Montreal's downfall...while in truth, the lack of fans do that themselves.

And yes, Wrigley got even quieter in the 9th. That's a shame, really.

10/15/2003 10:37:00 PM

(10/15/2003 10:02:00 PM) - Al

Please, enough about the buffoon who reached for the ball last night. He did what almost all fans do. I would have stood there with my arms outstretched to the sides, holding people back, but 99% of fans would have done the same thing. Hey, he didn't even reach into the field of play.

Tonight, Dusty Baker let Wood give up 7 runs in 5+ innings. Last night, he let Prior pitch far into the 8th inning. If you're looking for a goat, look no further than the dugout.

10/15/2003 10:02:00 PM

(10/15/2003 09:55:00 PM) - Al

Seriously, is it possible to have two better LCS's? Both go the entire seven games, both include poor games by pitchers known as "unbeatable", and most of all, "old-time" baseball guys who tell you it's all about pitching and defense don't have a leg to stand on. No doubt at all to me that offense is 50% of the game, it's just simple mathematics.

No offense to the Cubs or to their fans, but I just got home from work, and Wrigley Field looks pretty close to being a ghost town. A solo HR, and the reaction can't be described as "loud" by any means. You got all offseason to rest, make some noise. I'll be the first to say it's not going to make much of a difference, but I'll also admit it doesn't hurt a thing.

10/15/2003 09:55:00 PM

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

(10/14/2003 11:18:00 PM) - Al

Step 1: Click on link and gaze at picture.

Step 2: Seriously wonder about our future.

10/14/2003 11:18:00 PM

(10/14/2003 09:06:00 AM) - Al

MLB beat the NFL by a 14.1-8.7 margin in the overnight ratings last evening. In Boston, 62% of all sets that were on were watching the Red Sox.

The LCS's seem to have captured the imagination of the kinda/sorta fan, and that can't be anything but good for the game.

10/14/2003 09:06:00 AM

Monday, October 13, 2003

(10/13/2003 09:00:00 PM) - Al

I got a book at the library today called The Bedford Boys, about a town's young men that went off to fight in WW2, especially at D-day in Normandy. I had to chuckle at one sentence thus far:

France had fallen to the German onslaught in less than six weeks.

Wow, the French were military stalwarts 60+ years ago...just like today. What an embarrassing, annoying little nation.

Pardon me, but shouldn't you folks be surrendering to someone?

10/13/2003 09:00:00 PM

(10/13/2003 08:03:00 PM) - Al

Somehow, I doubt if Bud Selig gets any credit for the ratings increase (the LCS's are up 50% over last year), even though he shouldered much of the blame last year. Honestly, we all know the ratings growth is mostly because of the Cubs in the NL, and the big market, lotsa fans all over Red Sox/Yankees fierce rivalry.

10/13/2003 08:03:00 PM

(10/13/2003 04:31:00 PM) - Al

Video clip of an enranged Zimmer (I'm sorry, an enranged, ignorant Zimmer) running toward Pedro and throwing a punch. Thanks to Aaron Gleeman and the fan who had his camcorder going.

10/13/2003 04:31:00 PM

(10/13/2003 03:24:00 PM) - Al


I was figuring you would like to see this article.

The Brewers are actually marketing to Chicago and Cubs fans. I wrote about it in my blog. I couldn't believe it when I read it. At first I was thinking that this was the most embarrassing thing to do. Have we really sunk this low? But then I thought about it and it actually sounds like an interesting idea. Why not take advantage of the Cubs' hot streak and their fanbase. Why not embrace the title "Wrigley North" in order to borrow a few fans, or at least their wallets. Maybe we'll even convert a few of them to Brewer fans. It's truly bizzare, but hey, it's a way to prop up revenue. Just wondering
what you think.


I suggested it a week ago or so, actually. I think it was just on a message board, but we need to make sure of two things for 2004 and beyond:

1. Join the 21st century and go to a tiered pricing program, aka different prices for different games, exactly like hotels and airlines do. And you can bet the house that every single Cubs games will be in the highest price range.

2. That we welcome, with open arms, Cubs' fans to Miller Park. I'd even market some sort of "season ticket" of all 8-9 Cubs' games. The idea of complaining that Miller Park is filled with a majority of Cubs' rooters has to be as silly a complaint as I've ever heard. I'd load up on Cubbie memoribillia, add some extra security, and even put one of the sausages on the interstate at the Illinois/Wisconsin border holding a sign that said: Welcome Cubs' fans...hope you're ready to lose; or something like that.

Jack, I've found people who don't want to maximize revenue are the same ones who want to sign 30+ mediocre vets to long-term bloated contracts. Am I embarassed to see Miller Park full of 45,000 fans? Absolutely not, even if 25,000 of them are cheering for the opponent. If Joe Casualfan can't find a ticket for a Cubs game, maybe he'll settle for being fan #20,001 on a summer weeknight versus San Diego.

And, in a thought to be pondered, I'm just giddy to see the word "marketing" being used in the same sentence as "the Brewers". The Crew has rarely spent much on any type of ads, especially compared to other MLB franchises. Watching Fox Sports on DIRECT, you'd have it on the Washington State FSN, and you'd see Mariners ads all winter long, ditto for the Cardinals and Red Sox. Heck, even the Bucks have an ad in the paper every home game day, promoting that night's specials. I'm not saying to spend a couple million, but I get the feeling if they doubled the amount they spent in 1999, you still get a 5 digit number.

Inventive season ticket deals, premium pricing, and marketing in other markets were unheard of a couple years ago, and I'm glad to see 'em in use today. Thanks for reading, writing, and sharing this with us, Jack.

UPDATE: I just read the article, and it's simply astounding how much Ulice Payne looks to the future compared to the previous regime. I'm a huge fan of the Selig family, as without them, Miller Park would have never been built. That said, Payne is a godsend. He even mentioned a 10 game ticket plan, I assume all the Cubs' games, plus a couple others. Bless him.

10/13/2003 03:24:00 PM

(10/13/2003 02:36:00 PM) - Al

Zimmer spoke briefly, through tears, expressing regret. "I'm embarrassed of what happened (Saturday)," Zimmer said. "I'm embarrassed for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the fans, the umpires and my family. That's all I have to say. I'm sorry."

Ironically, Zimmer seems to be the only NY biased person to know that he was the bad guy in this. Take the first swing, you suffer the consequences.

10/13/2003 02:36:00 PM

Sunday, October 12, 2003

(10/12/2003 10:42:00 PM) - Al

Doesn't anyone else think the Red Sox feel the Red Sox will now just go with a 3 man rotation? Wakefield will pitch tomorrow, then Lowe on Tuesday, Pedro on Wednesday, and then the knuckleballing Wakefield again. While Tim would be pitching on just two days rest, he's a knuckleball pitcher, he could probably pitch everyu other day. It's a risk, but I have to believe it's better than throwing John Burkett out there.

10/12/2003 10:42:00 PM

(10/12/2003 07:38:00 PM) - Al

I watched the first Joe Millionaire, and while I enjoyed it, the promos were priceless. Now, for the second Joe, FOX had to use European women, as they are still unaware of the "joke". On this set of promos, the truly priceless sound bite is the very dumb looking blonde saying in a heavy accent:

He's vilthy rich.

10/12/2003 07:38:00 PM

(10/12/2003 07:32:00 PM) - Al

heya Al,

Well you have a supporter here and I don't always agree with you. :-D I'm not sure if Zimmer shouldn't be allowed in the dugout again, but treating this as all Pedro's fault is wrong. What? Just allow Zimmer to do whatever he wants because he's 72 and has a plate in his head? Makes sense to me! The whole Fox broadcast is
embarrisingly bad anyway. I mean, they went on and on about how well that Clemens did in calming down and pitching well. Um what about Pedro? Did I miss something or were the Yankees held to 0 runs after that incident? The Yankees did basically nothing after the 4th, but only Clemens settled down? And they called Pedro a well known headhunter. He is? :) Did I miss that memo? :) The whole pro-Yankee bias of the broadcast was just a bit sickening. McCarver used to call Yankee games and Brett Boone's brother is the Yankees 3rd baseman. The Yankees got all of one single after the 4th and nothing against Martinez.

And was it just me who thought that the broadcasters COMPLETELY misinterpreted Martinez's gesture? I was amused when Buck said that it was Pedro saying that hey he hit Garcia in the head and he'll do it again. Really?? When did the shoulder become the head?? I think I missed that lesson in biology class. :) I think Pedro was just saying "why the
hell would I throw at you with 2 guys on, 2 in and none out". Good to see that I am not alone. :)


I know I'm not alone, as Aaron Gleeman wrote the same thing as me, except much lengthier.:) The only point where we disagree is he felt Pedro should have avoided throwing Zimmer down like a stupid old man. I feel Pedro had every right to toss Zimmer down, as the old guy all but slugged him.

I must admit, from beginning to end, McCarver may have been as bad as any color man in history last night. Boone has some good things to say, but whispers compared to the others. Buck is a cliche wrapped inside a cliche. I tell you, when McCarver started talking about how bad the DH is (a rule that's 30 years old, and has barely affected the game at all, except AL teams score about 80 runs more per year on average), I honestly expected the announcing police to 'cuff him and be hauled off and sentenced to life away from the microphone. The only thing McCarver knows about hitting is that he sucked at it (actually, he was an above average offensive catcher, but it hurts me to admit it). To hear him question guys that actually can hit is rather ironic, to say the least.

10/12/2003 07:32:00 PM

(10/12/2003 07:08:00 PM) - Al

I just read on Adam Wade's weblog that the gent who got into a fight with Nelson and Garcia is a elementary school special ed teacher, who moonlights on the grounds crew.

I didn't see who started it, but I've known a few special ed teachers, and I know quite a few athletes...but suddenly, Jeff Nelson appears to be an evil, very ignorant man.

10/12/2003 07:08:00 PM

Saturday, October 11, 2003

(10/11/2003 08:06:00 PM) - Al

Pedro beat up an old man.--David Pinto, Baseball Musings

What am I missing here? Don Zimmer, who is 72, races across the diamond, directly at Pedro Martinez, and swings a wild left hook at him. Pedro blocks the punch (thrown by Zimmer, who raced onto the field from the dugout, where he belongs, with the sole purpose of smacking a player), and then pushes Zimmer away like...well, a 72 year-old man. Zimmer took it like you'd expect from an elderly man, falling down like he should be on an in-home assistance commercial (I've fallen, and I can't get up!).

So, Pedro should have taken the punch, and then hugged the ignorant old geezer? Playfully punched Zims on the shoulder while telling his trainer to get an ice pack for his noggin'?

Let's reverse the situation, shall we? Pedro races across the diamond and tries to punch Zimmer. Um, would Zimmer be criticized for defending himself?

Don Zimmer has no place on the baseball field. None. He probably doesn't even belong in a dugout, but that's a question for another day. Don Zimmer should never be allowed to spend one second in a major league dugout. He is a danger to himself and to active players. What if Pedro would have injured his shoulder or elbow as he protected himself?

Don Zimmer is an embarassment to intelligent life everywhere. He attempted to cause bodily harm to the other team's ace pitcher. Yes, he has that "he's so ugly he's cute" quality, much like a bulldog. And if a bulldog comes after me, I have every right to do what it takes to prevent the dog from hurting me.

The idea that so many folks have totally missed the fact that Zimmer is the bully, the idiot, and is the one who should be punished simply floors me. He's old enough to know better, and his violent actions aren't excused by his oldness.

10/11/2003 08:06:00 PM

(10/11/2003 05:49:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

ESPN Classic is doing a SportsCentury bio on Derek Jeter, who is actually refered to as "one of the best shortstops in history" and "the perfect Yankee". Not overrated at all! :)


What's astounding to me is that Derek is a fine offensive SS, yet is still vastly overrated. He's by far the worst defensive SS in the game, as the past three years he's finished last, 2nd to last, and last in zone rating...yet is often lauded for being a fine defender (Roberto Alomar anyone?:).

He may well end up being a Hall of Famer, as he got off to a very early start. But, to even compare him to either the best or 2nd best player in the game, ARod, is as misguided as it is hilarious.

10/11/2003 05:49:00 PM

(10/11/2003 05:43:00 PM) - Al

Jose Contreras, $32 million middle reliever. Sounds like a failed UPN sitcom (like there's any other kind of UPN sitcom) title, doesn't it?

10/11/2003 05:43:00 PM

(10/11/2003 05:35:00 PM) - Al

Checking around on some message boards, it would appear McCarver and Steve Lyons are universally hated.

I have nothing to say, other than they should be. What's funny is, Bret Boone has shown Tim to be a buffoon so many times, you'd think he'd shut up...but Tim seems to be talking more than ever.


10/11/2003 05:35:00 PM

(10/11/2003 05:26:00 PM) - Al

Chris Myers, from above the Yankees dugout:

Many of the Yankees are still upset about what happened to Don Zimmer.

Are they mad about him taking a punch, or not being thrown out? Talk about being upset over nothing.

10/11/2003 05:26:00 PM

(10/11/2003 05:25:00 PM) - Al

It's amazing what a good career Nomar has had for someone without an ounce of plate discipline. If Nomar would do nothing except take a couple pitches a couple of PA's each game, that alone may well lead to more walks, a better grasp of the pitches he's seeing, etc.

10/11/2003 05:25:00 PM

(10/11/2003 04:52:00 PM) - Al

First of all, Tim McCarver is the worst commentator in the history of the game.

Second of all, Don Zimmer should never be allowed in a major league dugout again.

72 year-old Zimmer goes after the other team's starting pitcher (sounds like a pro wrestling plot, doesn't it?), and McCarver blames...the pitcher?

By the way, am I the only human being that can see the "hit-by-pitch" didn't even hit the batter? I'm almost sure it went off the bat of the Karim Garcia ($160 million payroll, and the Yankees RF is Karim Garcia? Hee-hee).

From what I can tell, it looks like Zim got a free shot, as the ol' geezer is still sitting on the bench. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. I never thought I'd see the day a coach could run across the field and take a swing at the opposing starter. But, I guess I just did.

10/11/2003 04:52:00 PM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

(10/08/2003 11:01:00 AM) - Al

I work tonight and have a meeting tomorrow, so I'll be out until at least tomorrow evening.

10/08/2003 11:01:00 AM

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

(10/07/2003 10:37:00 PM) - Al

Looks like the Cubs/Marlins are busy trying to obliterate the myth of the "closer mentality".

Hey, a good closer is important, but so is all other things. They throw 70 innings a year, and often with a 2-3 run lead. Heck, Mike Williams was ineffective and had a 6 ERA much of the year, but still saved the vast majority of games he had the opportunity to do so in. Those outs in the 9th aren't a bit harder to get than the ones in the 1st inning, and the runs all count the same.

10/07/2003 10:37:00 PM

(10/07/2003 10:01:00 PM) - Al


From the "I found this out while looking up other things department":

Carla Gugino, who stars in the new ABC series Karen Sisco, was on The Wonder Years (she played Wayne's girlfriend), and Son-in-Law, in which she played Pauly Shore's love interest (possibly, the worst film ever, by the way). Nice to see people come out of hellish roles like that on their feet.

10/07/2003 10:01:00 PM

(10/07/2003 09:34:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer once again utters the truth, this time about the A's. Casual fans have to get their complaints straight about OAK, as the "old school" says the playoffs are all about pitching and defense...both of which the A's do extremely well. Billy Beane once again built a very good team on a very limited payroll, and this time, did it a bit differently, as he found defense to be cheaper than OBP (in my opinion). I feel Beane himself pushed the price of OBP too high, as well as disciples Theo and JP.

As Rob said:

If not for an inch here or there, we wouldn't be having this discussion, because the A's would have won.

So, I have a does Neyer so often see the obvious, yet so few others do?

10/07/2003 09:34:00 PM

(10/07/2003 09:30:00 PM) - Al

Drudge has Arnold winning in a landslide...with a majority no less. I'd be very surprised to see him end up with 50+%, but I guess it's safe to say it became a 3 man race, and many Republicans had convinced themselves Arnold was the only candidate with a chance to win.

10/07/2003 09:30:00 PM

(10/07/2003 01:59:00 PM) - Al

This is a cause well worth making the effort to donate to:

Okay! We are finally ready for this to start!

First, some ground rules. These toys are for Iraqi children, so let's keep that in mind when shopping.

Some no no toys:

Any guns of any kind
No violent action hereos
No violent toys
No barbie dolls or dolls skantily dressed
No toys that shoot something, no projectiles
No water guns
Lets just keep it simple, simple toys, just the basics, these kids have

Some other items that are nice are pencils, pens, paper to draw and color on.

Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, brushes, combs, etc.

Nice stuffed animals, other items.

Just use your good judgement, and if you are unsure, contact a local muslim group for help.

Here is the mailing address to send items to:

Chief Wiggles
CPA-C2, Debriefer
APO AE 09335

As the Chief has said, ALL toys will be distributed to the children, unless they are inappropriate

Chief Wiggles is an intelligence person who has been in Iraq for some time. His weblog can be located here. My wife and I have made a special trip to give to Toys for Tots each year we've been together. Hopefully, a few of you will decide to do the same for this. Given the cost of shipping, an even better idea would be to get a group together (work, church, etc) and band together to send large boxes of goodwill.

10/07/2003 01:59:00 PM

(10/07/2003 10:30:00 AM) - Al

One of the best playoff series ever ended last evening, with the Red Sox edging the A's. Too bad it wasn't the ALCS, or even the Series, as it was just the type of series that warrants a large audience. Outstanding games, and to say luck played a part in the outcome is much like saying Jennifer Love Hewitt is "kinda cute". Coulda went either way, and is why short series, especially after a 162 game regular season, is a bit disappointing to me.

Obscene announcing last night, with a vast amount of attention being paid to Manny Ramirez's supposed showboat. Hey, it may not be how I'd act if I hit a homer, but the answer seems pretty simple to me: Get him out.

Also, I saw this article this AM. Seems like the media is going out of its way to focus on the negative. And I had to giggle at Beane walking Tejada away. Beane, who referred to Tejada as "Mr. Swing At Everything" in Moneyball. Miguel is a fine player, but is also one of the most overrated in the game. The A's appear happy to let Miguel walk, take 2 draft picks, and bring up Bobby Crosby, an excellent SS prospect in AAA. It just seems to me that Beane, in effect, was walking Tejada out of the A's clubhouse forever.

10/07/2003 10:30:00 AM

Monday, October 06, 2003

(10/06/2003 06:27:00 PM) - Al


I'm a big reader of your site, and for some odd reason I'm fascinated by the Brewers. I definitely don't think they should send Sexson to the D-Backs, but rather the Braves. They could probably land one of the Braves better pitching prospects (Wainwright), along with their Major League ready 1B prospect Adam LaRoche.

The real point of my e-mail was to send you over to my blog, Wait 'Til Next Year. I have started to do organizational reports, and I have the Brewers ranked first overall. My newest article writes on the team, just detailing the team's top 12 prospects and more.


Thanks for reading and writing, Bryan, whose site used to be called "Brylball", or something very close to that. Now he pretty much sticks to writing about what will happen soon, rather than going over the past. I've heard many folks say that the Brewers may be Top 10, and maybe even Top 5, but 1st overall is a treat. That's some kind of renaissance the minor league system has enjoyed.

Check out Bryan's write-up, which reads very accurate to this Brewers fan, when you have the time.

10/06/2003 06:27:00 PM

(10/06/2003 06:21:00 PM) - Al

Written on a poster at an "Ahnold" rally:

Gray Davis groped me, when he was reaching for my wallet.

I'm going to miss the election. It's just the way it should be, quick and just when it gets tiresome, over.

10/06/2003 06:21:00 PM

Sunday, October 05, 2003

(10/05/2003 03:41:00 PM) - Al

The latest poll shows the margin to recall Gov. Davis is 54-41, in favor of the recall. One gent, when asked to comment, may have used the most creative mathematics since numbers were invented. He said:

If you take away the margin of error (which is +/-4%), the number to recall Davis is only 50%...very much undecided at this point.

Um, yeah.

10/05/2003 03:41:00 PM

(10/05/2003 02:25:00 PM) - Al

Much is written about teams striking out too much, and the seemingly magical quality that enables teams that "make contact" to score more runs. I have yet to see this proven in any way, but, much like other cliches, this "fact" lives on by word of mouth. I wrote a couple times last year how the media, trying to describe things it simply did not understand, gave Anaheim a lot of credit for not striking out, and used it to explain the offensive success of the '02 Angels. I said, at the time, that the K's meant nothing, that the reason for success of the Angels' offense was the OBP.

Let's take a gander at the teams in the AL with the fewest and most K's in 2003, and where their offense ranked:

Detroit-----14th in runs scored

Is it possible that it hurt the bottom 2 teams, yet not Toronto? That seems extremely strange.

So, the teams that struck out the least:


So, tell me, how exactly did the proverbial "making contact" help any of these teams? All three finished in the bottom half of runs scored, the only offensive measure that makes any sense to me.

Just for the fun of it, let's see how the teams that were good or bad at getting on base finish offensively. Remember, this should not really matter, because, according to many, "moving runners along", and "timely hitting" are the two things that are vital to scoring runs. Heck, Bill Schroeder will tell you that often times, the best thing you can do to shut down the opponent is to give them extra baseruners, via the intentional walk.

High OBP
Boston---1st in runs scored
NY Yanks-3rd

Tampa Bay-12th

This kind of research actually makes Schroeder look like a complete pinhead, doesn't it? You realize, of course, that the mere idea of looking up results and drawing conclusions from that is blasphemous to the vast majority of the media, not to mention ex-athletes.



Therefore, as I learned in a calculus class at some point, OBP=runs.

Failure to understand this principle will result in the continued failure to build a good team offensively.

Anaheim, by the way, had a .330 OBP, 838 K's and 730 runs in 2003.

In 2002, they had 805 K's, a .341 OBP, and scored 851 runs.

I guess those extra 33 strikeouts (that's one every five games) really hurt them, huh? All the Drew Olson types should be apologizing frantically for not understanding anything beyond the mere basics of the game. As long as those ignorant statements, based on Little League, are made and not challenged, we'll continue to see stupid, cliched statements on Baseball Tonight. In order to make progress, the truth has to fight its way to the forefront.

10/05/2003 02:25:00 PM

(10/05/2003 11:37:00 AM) - Al

According to the Boston Globe, the Diamondbacks might nontender 3B-1B Shea Hillenbrand, or could include him, and
possibly Junior Spivey and prospect(s) for Richie Sexson.

May I say, yuck. First of all, I find it odd that the choice would appear to be either tell Shea he's no longer wanted, or ship him to the Brewers.

I really like Spivey, but Hillenbrand is, with no doubt, one of the top five overrated players in the major leagues. There's a good chance he is THE most overrated, as he is a creation of big market media with no respect for OBP. Hillenbrand makes far too may outs to be considered anything but an "OK" 3B, and considering he played 1B for most of '03, he certainly was one of the worst offensive contributors for his position in the game.

Let's hope this conversation was one-sided and brought a chuckle to the offices of Doug Melvin. If this is the type of deal we can expect for Sexson, the optimism many of us have for the future is going to be short-lived.

10/05/2003 11:37:00 AM

Saturday, October 04, 2003

(10/04/2003 02:02:00 PM) - Al

Why does ESPN and ESPN2 have MLB on today, while my FOX station is showing Just Shoot Me and an infomercial?

Just curious.

10/04/2003 02:02:00 PM

(10/04/2003 01:54:00 PM) - Al

So as I did last year, it's time to see how accurate simple OXS is at predicting actual runs scored.

Most years, it is about 98% accurate.

166,732 AB's
44,052 hits
26,312 XB
17,734 walks


166732 x .339 x .422 = 23,571 estimated runs scored

22,978 actual runs scored

22978/23571 = 97.5%

As I said last year, it never fails to amaze me how accurate this simple formula is. It also boggles my mind folks still use such outdated measures of success as BA, RBI's, SB's, etc. If it isn't OBP or SLG, yawn, roll your eyes, and move on to the next data available, as you're just wasting your time.

NOTE: I did not include SF's or HBP's in my calculation. If you do so, it may change slightly, but the extra effort proves nothing. It's not "perfect", but it's as good or better than any lengthy stat you'll find.

I read recently that if if a drug or medical procedure is 97-98% effective, it is pretty much accepted as "sound" and/or "reliable", as nothing works for some patients, etc. Will some still doubt the simplicity of OXS and use outdated reasoning to sign players this winter? Yep. But, some still use leeches to "bleed the bad" out of ill patients. For any estimates that we do, 97% is plenty close to form the knowledge to base our conclusions on.

The true problem is that we can only use projections to get the numbers necessary until the season is complete. So, our estimates are only as good as our projections until it's too late. The real battle is to continue improving our means to compile accurate projections...which should keep us busy until the end of time. I'm looking forward to it, folks.:)

10/04/2003 01:54:00 PM

Friday, October 03, 2003

(10/03/2003 11:15:00 PM) - Al

Geez, the addition of other voices to Ramblings really peps it up. That can't bode well for the future, can it?:)

10/03/2003 11:15:00 PM

(10/03/2003 10:26:00 PM) - Al


Our participants are myself; Ben, a law student at Madison; Greg, an associate professor at Villanova; and Mike, who writes Cat's House. Mike is a frequent writer, and Ben and Greg are two of the most intelligent fans at the Fan Forum, one of the most intelligent message boards you'll find. Let's get on with it:

Al: 68 wins, a 12 game improvement from 2002. Are you satisfied with the total and more importantly, the direction of the Brewers?

Ben: It's hard to be satisfied with a losing record. Comparing how I felt about the club at this time last year, however, it looks like they're going in the right direction. They dropped a number of winnable games--especially in the first month or two--but the streak has to counterbalance some of that.

Greg: I'm disappointed that they didn't lose a few more games so that they could have the #3 pick in 2004. Aside from that, I think the 12-game improvement was surprisingly good, and even though they finished last, they inspired hope for the future. They could have become the Tigers this year, but they managed to move the other direction. That's a big deal.

Mike: Yes, I certainly am. No doubt about that. It's a tired cliché, but I never felt like the game was over until the game was actually over this year. That wasn't the case in 2002, which felt like a funeral from opening day on. To be honest, it's kind of amazing that they won 56 games in 2002. But yes, I am satisfied with the total. A 12 game improvement is pretty significant. The thing that I find most significant, though, is the upgrading of the minor leagues after years or neglect. Now, Dean Taylor should get some of that credit since he did draft Prince Fielder, JJ Hardy and others, but still, it's an impressive achievement to go from the worst system in the majors to one of the best in this short of a time frame. And the future couldn't be brighter with the success of the rookie, low A and double A teams and how loaded with prospects those 3 teams were. They aren't going to win 100 games next year or anything, but it's nice to finally have a future to look forward's been a long time

Al: I thought they’d win 65-70, so it was exactly what I expected. You always hope for better, but they finished almost exactly what you’d expect with the talent. With a healthy Jenks, and career norms from Rusch and Ritchie, this club might have met my best case scenario of 75. Don’t forget, last year’s team “should have” won 60, based on run differential. They were unlucky and Royster wasn’t exactly an Earl Weaver at setting his guys up to succeed. So, the improvement may not be as big as you’d think.

All right then, biggest surprise you saw this year, other than Scott Podsednik emerging from AAA injury prone mediocrity to being a solid CF.

Ben: I have two. Keith Ginter -- I knew that he would hit for a decent average, and a solid OBP, but I didn't think he would put up the power numbers that he did; he only had 2 HR’s in the majors before this year! Glendon Rusch -- Not that I expected Cy Young, but he just fell apart in the first half. He did seem to be turning things around (in limited work) in the second half, but I doubt he'll be back next year.

Greg: There weren't a lot of major pleasant surprises after Pods. Three minor ones: Danny Kolb, Doug Davis, and Bill Hall. I'm not confident that any of them will be a frontline contributor long-term, but I didn't expect as much as each of them delivered.

Mike: The complete collapse of Luis Vizcaino, no doubt about it. That plus the fact that Yost kept sending him out there in important game situations right through to the end of the season. I mean, when's the last time you saw a reliever with an ERA way over 6 (and it was usually over 7 for most of the year) pitch an entire year with a big league club, often in the setup role? I'm not really sure why Maddux and Yost thought that Vizcaino would just suddenly remember how to get guys out. He really should've been gotten rid of in July at the latest. So yeah, that was the biggest surprise. Typically, a guy doesn't go from your best reliever to your worst overnight.

Al: I’m going to go with Kieschnick and Osik. I thought Brooks had value as a 25th man because he can pitch like an 11th man, and hit a bit. He pitched AND hit better than I would have guessed. I’ll have to look it up, but his 1st inning ERA must have been under 4.00, I’d guess 3.25ish. After that, he was hit pretty hard, telling me his delivery is unique and/or he never built up much stamina. He has the incredibly rare ability to pitch and hit at the major league level. Few guys truly play a part in the history of the game, and Brooks will likely have a lot of imitators the next couple years.

Osik is more of a “fun choice”. Keith had a poor first 50 AB’s, and was teased about it by casual fans, He ended up with a .345 OBP, higher than many good hitters. While the casuals ignorantly said that this was because he was “pitched around” to face Clayton and the pitcher, Eddie Perez finished with a .304 OBP, hitting in the #7 spot. Also, Osik blasted LH pitching. Teamed with a LH 1st stringer, Keith would be a fine reserve, as he defends well and calls a nice game. Also, it’s a pet peeve of mine that folks always get on guys who have a poor start. Perez started off hot, then tailed off. Osik was the opposite. But to the simple mind, Perez had a much better season. In reality, they were pretty close.

OK, kind of related, any free agents that you can see playing for MIL next year? Maybe a catcher?

Ben: Rich Aurilia, SS, S.F. -- I expect the Giants to make a serious run at Miguel Tejada, making him available. (Even if they miss on Tejada, they have Neifi Perez under contract for next season.) He's not Royce Clayton with the glove, and he appears to be losing range at shortstop, but he could hit second if Jenkins or Sexson is traded (Ginter would bat third), and he would be a one-year bridge to J.J. Hardy, hopefully for under $ 2 million.

Kelvim Escobar, RHP, Tor. -- Probably a pipe dream, since he'll find a better contract than Milwaukee will likely offer. Arguably the top of the second tier of Free Agent pitchers, he finally seems to have broken out of the bullpen and into a starting rotation. Not as well known (in the general public) as Ponson, Millwood, and the like because he played in Canada, but former Blue Jays GM Gord Ash knows him.

Kirk Rueter, LHP, S.F. -- Another Giant? Like I said, I expect them to go after Tejada, so they're going to have to cut salary somewhere. Furthermore, since I can't believe that they'll let Ponson walk after giving up Moss and Ainsworth to get him, and given the number of younger options in the Giants farm system, the 32 year old Rueter (who'll be 33 on opening day), could be the odd man out. If he's available, he's a legitimate # 2 starter who also isn't likely to get top dollar on the free agent market.

Greg: I don't know the FA market well enough. I would assume a mid-rotation starter with baggage, a slight catching upgrade, and a mid-tier RF would all be possibilities. A lot depends on how hot the market is. If it's cold, we might fill two of those needs with halfway decent FA’s.

Mike: With a smaller budget, I don't think we're going to see any major free agents. Given their recent history, they will probably bring in a couple of veteran catchers if Osik and Perez are not kept and we will probably see the typical 5th/platooned OF signings, but no, I don't see anyone major coming in. I just hope that they don't do what they usually do and buy a very overrated, over the hill free agent late in the free agent signing period just to say that they signed someone. That's how we basically got Sean Berry, Eric Young and Royce Clayton. So I hope that the Brewers just try to get some guys in to fill in until the prospects are ready, especially in the OF and possibly a 1st baseman if Sexson is dealt and the Brewers don't get a 1st baseman for Richie. But please, no more guys 5 years past their prime.

Al: Our "big" FA signing this winter will be either John Thomson, Escobar, or Cory Lidle. All are innings eaters types and none will be extremely expensive, all are likely to be had for $3.5 mil or less per (Escobar may cost more, but I think his reliever past will make him less attractive to many clubs). Melvin is said to love Gabe Kapler, though I'm not positive BOS will let him leave. As with last year, I expect there to be some younger, less costly players available as non-tendered FA's later on, like David Ortiz this year. With fewer starting spots open, these guys are often more receptive to short-term contracts as well. I'm the only person who has even mentioned this, and it doesn't fit Melvin's plan of a "young player with upside, like Pods" to play RF, but if Jeromy Burnitz would be willing, wouldn't he be a nice stopgap RF for 2004?

Moving on then; Geoff, Ben, Richie...of those three, who will be on the roster Opening Day, 2004? My guess, Geoff and Ben will be around, Richie will be gone. I simply see no market for Geoff, other than a couple so-so prospects at the deadline. He makes too much for his production, and health. Ben is our only pitcher who has a ceiling of more than a #3 starter. Richie is worth a lot, he is rumored to want to play in SEA (or Portland), and a decent 1B is easy to find.

Ben: I think that it's much more likely that the Brewers will sign Sheets to a 3-4 year contract (locking him up through his arbitration years), than to see him traded.

Likewise, I think Jenkins will be back, probably with a new contract yielding a moderate base salary & significant bonuses tied to plate appearances. I agree with you on Jenkins, with his history of unpredictable injuries, I can't believe the trade market will be there for Geoff in the off-season. Furthermore, there's no way Sexson would consider re-signing if they dealt away his best friend on the team, not to mention the Brewers second best hitter.

I honestly don't know whether Sexson will be re-signed or traded in the off season. If the Brewers could get two major-league ready, top of the rotation pitching prospects for Richie, he's probably gone. I don't think that Richie should be willing to settle for a 2-3 year extension, as he's going into the prime of his career, and his next contract will be his chance to truly cash in. This might end up being the decision that makes or breaks the Doug Melvin regime....and looking at it from that perspective, I have to think that the Brewers will do whatever's reasonable to sign him.

Greg: Ben for sure. Geoff very likely, because he's worth more to the Brewers as a player (factoring in performance, cost, and positional need) than he is as trade bait (injury-deflated numbers). Right now I'll put Richie's odds of being traded at 2-1. Now is certainly a good time to see whether we can get value for him.

Mike: As much as I love Richie and Geoff, I hope that Ben is the only one on the roster. But I suspect that all 3 will still be there. Jim Powell made an excellent point about Richie in one of the last broadcasts. The Brewers would probably like to enter 2004 with Richie just to give them more time to see how close Prince Fielder is to being in the major leagues plus you never know. The Royals and Twins both came from nowhere in the last few seasons, so you never know. But on the other hand, if you wait until the trading deadline, they will get just a couple of minor leaguers for Sexson and he's worth more than that, probably a #1 or #2 starter. I hope that they just deal him now. As I said, Sexson is a wonderful player and I like him personally, but you know, Prince isn't really that far off and I do think that he's the real deal. I remember Jim Powell quoting a scout after spring training saying that Prince was the best player he saw in spring training, plus he put up eye popping #s in what's essentially a pitcher's league, the Midwest League. So trade Richie now so you can get full value for him. As for Ben and Geoff, I still think that Ben is their future ace and I'd give him another year to prove that. As for Geoff, again, I like him a lot, but he gets injured every year and because of that, he's a huge strain on the salary situation. So hopefully they can find a taker for him as well. I have a feeling that all 3 will be on the roster though simply because Richie and Geoff are both underrated players and I have a feeling that Melvin is going to have a difficult time getting the value he wants for them. Plus, they do not really have a 1st baseman right now who can step in if Richie is dealt. Wes Helms has played first, but his future is at 3rd base, I think. So they would have to get a 1st baseman in the deal for Richie or sign a first baseman. So, in summary, I think they might be stuck, though I think that they will deal Geoff and Richie if they can. They could sign Richie to an extension, but you know, Prince might be ready by 2005.

Al: Last off-season, Keith Ginter was my "sleeper" pick to succeed in '03. What current player, not projected to be a key cog in '04, do you feel may step up like Keith did?

Ben: I don't think I've got a wealth of options, since most of the players that aren't projected to be key guys in '04 probably won't still be on the major league club next year. (The one guy who best fits the criteria--Bill Hall--is someone that should be on the bench.) Rather than cop out and say that the player isn't on the roster yet, I'll say Mike Crudale. He has good stuff, and could end up the 8th inning set-up man for Kolb next year. For that to happen, though, he'd have to cut down on the walks a bit.

Greg: I'm not sure if he fits your criteria, but I think Matt Kinney will be the Brewers' representative in the 2004 All-Star Game. Right now there's nobody on the major league team who isn't expected to be a "key cog," is there? Even Hall has to be a good bet to start.

Mike: Of the guys currently on the roster, I have to go with Hall as well. I was very impressed by him this time around. He still needs to work on making routine plays and it sounds like he needs to gain Doug Melvin's confidence, but he has a lot of speed and I still think he can be a good 2nd baseman. But he's a weak pick. No one really stands out.

Al: Nance and Crudale. Both are inexpensive and will be given every chance to be contributors. Opportunity is at least half of success, and they both are 50% of the way there. Shane was spectacular in AAA, while Mike did well in his small sample in MIL.

Moving on, what do you feel was Melvin's best deal thus far? Worst?

Ben: Factoring in the timing of the deal, I'll have to say Obermueller for Leskanic. Given Curtis' arm troubles, it was smart to deal him away well in advance of the deadline, and even though Obermueller doesn't have the highest of ceilings as a prospect, the Brewers needed someone to step in to stabilize the back of the rotation, and Wes did just that.

Al: Don’t forget, most folks felt Machado was the main guy and Wes a throw in at the time.

Ben: Yep. In the long term, however, the DeJean trade might be a better deal. I think that Crudale may end up being a better pitcher than DeJean, and he's already cheaper and younger; that's the ideal trifecta. If Novinsky (the other pitcher we got in the trade) manages to make the majors (he ended the season in AA with decent, if unspectacular numbers), this trade will look even better.

Kinney and Valentin for Oakes and Yeatman is probably the worst move, and it wasn't even that bad. Valentin didn't even make the Brewers roster, and ended up hitting for a .609 OPS with Tampa Bay, and Kinney is a back of the rotation starter. Of course, we didn't have Osik or Perez when we made the trade, and neither of the young pitchers we gave up had seasons to write home about. The bottom line, I guess I just don't like giving up young pitching; Oates and / or Yeatman could bounce back next year, but Kinney's still going to be (at best) a # 4 starter.

Greg: If by "deal" you mean just trades and not signings, I'd have to give Melvin props for the Ray King swap. I don't love Helms, and unless he takes a great leap forward I hope he won't be our best option in two years, but legit starting 3Bs don't just fall from the sky. LH relief specialists are among the most overrated role-players in baseball, and while King is good of his type, Melvin turned him into a starting 3B plus a guy who still has a chance to be the next Ray King. Runner-up: pitching suspects for Matt Kinney and Javier Valentin. I don't see any Melvin trades as Bando bad yet, but I thought Valentin for Jason Conti was fairly awful. A potential starting C flops in spring training, so you flip him for a low-budget remake of Charlie Moore: The Right Field Years.

Mike: It really wasn't a deal per se, but it's hard to argue with picking up Danny Kolb, who the Rangers foolishly gave up on, which seems to be their thing. Who the heck gives up a guy who has a 91 mph SLIDER? I want to know. And as you have said, their coaching staff at AAA obviously did one hell of a job with him when he was there as he was good from the time he was brought up. He seems to be the only reliever they have that goes right after hitters. if you are just looking at trades, it's hard to argue with the Sanchez deal. It gave Podsednik a full time job and they got rid of their least disciplined player. Worst deal? You know what, I've yet to really see a terrible deal yet. I mean Mike Crudale and Wes Obermueller both did just fine after they were traded for. Maybe the deal that got them Javier Valentin when they dumped him for Conti? I don’t know.

Al: Kolb, Davis, and we can't forget Pods. In trades, Helms, which I thought was a terrible trade at the time. Valentin for an OF we didn’t need was the worst, though Javier’s OBP was horrible. Still, giving up on a guy after a few spring AB’s was very short-term thinking. In a wasted year, going with aged mediocrity was a move with no upside. And speaking of which, I hated the Clayton move then, in between, and now. Simply a bad move for a rebuilding team.

All right then, prioritize the Brewers' needs for 2004, from 1-5.


Ben: SP, RF, SS, C, RP

Greg: SP, SP, C, RF, and, substantially trailing the pack, RP and SS. The rotation, obviously, will make or break the '04 Brewers. Right now we have one trustworthy starter, one with enough talent to pencil in to the rotation (Kinney), two who have shown enough to be serious candidates (Davis and Obermueller), two extremely suspect veteran possibilities (Franklin and Rusch if he resigns for peanuts), and two young guys rendered doubtful by injury and inexperience, respectively (Neugebauer and Martinez). That's better than nothing, but it's dangerous. I could see a solid rotation coming together with five of those guys, but more likely we'll need to seek two starters from outside the organization. The tough job is to evaluate the talent on hand and figure out what we really have. C and RF are both needs that we have to fill from outside the system, with no serious incumbents and no prospects at those positions. Osik and Clark are decent backups, and they worked well in platoons this year, but I'd love to see legit starters at those positions. The bullpen probably needs upgrades, but that can never be a priority for a bad team. Shop for scraps and patch it together. I have to believe we have SS covered. Bill Hall, with all the holes in his game, would make an adequate stopgap, and J.J. Hardy will be there within the year. We do need an infielder, but I'm not sweating that.

Al: Greg, you’re disqualified for saying SP twice.:)

Mike: I. SP - I'd still like to see them get a veteran starter in there for teaching purposes...and Dave Burba ain't it. II. RP - They need to find another reliable right hander if possible. Good luck, I know III. C - You know, I'd consider keeping Osik and Perez for now. It's difficult since both probably had career years for them, but who else is there really? IV. RF - They seem to have some luck finding capable guys to platoon in RF, so that might not be a problem. V. SS - With all of their middle infielder prospects, whoever they get here is temporary anyway.

Al: SP and RF are probably the only two I’d concentrate on. SP was the big weakness, and most teams have a good RF, so it is important to at least get mediocre production out of that spot. C is next, as we have no possibilities in the minors, to speak of. The difference between a Jesse Levis replacement level and decent production is probably a 700 OPS and a 650 OPS…minimal. With Hall as a stopgap, and Hardy no more than a year away, SS isn’t a priority. RP? This team has found good (Kolb) and OK (Estrella) bullpen help cheaply and easily for years. A great middle man will have a 2.50 ERA, Joe Mediocre may put together a 4ish ERA. Over 70 innings, that’s a difference of about 11 runs, one win using the Rule of 10. Adding a couple relievers isn’t worth much, in my view at least.

Different thought process now: Yost's successes and shortcomings, please.

Ben: He keeps the players enthusiastic and seems to get max effort out of his players. He also seems very genuine and loyal to his players....on the other hand, this also leads to leaving his pitchers in games for longer than I'd like. (Admittedly, though, it never seems to bother me when he leaves a pitcher in and he gets out of a jam. I don't know whether to blame this on Yost, on the Pitchers themselves, or on my own selective memory.)

Greg: The enthusiasm-motivation thing is an obvious pro, and I'll take the word of people who think his in-game decisions were a con. I see a lot to like. He set realistic expectations, he related well to his players but wasn't afraid to chuck Alex Sanchez, and he used platoons very well at C and RF. As for cons, I thought his use of Sheets and Martinez at the end of the season was borderline psychotic, and his attachment to Royce Clayton may portend bad “veteran-itis”, although some managers get more comfortable gambling on young players over time. On balance, I think Yost has significant strengths and can learn his way out of most of his weaknesses. It's too early to judge him, but I'm glad to have him right now.

Mike: In terms of style, his main strength seems to be his positiveness, which has been lacking for quite some time and which was desperately needed for a 56-106 team. As for shortcomings, I think a lot of it was due to just being a new manager. He seemed to improve at setting up his bullpen to win in the 2nd half, though the continued presence of Luis Vizcaino will forever baffle me.

Al: I think Ned gets far too much credit for the players playing hard…that’s what they are paid to do. Heck, the Tigers finished strong. I think he got a lot out of his team. He played his vets like EY and Royce too much. His bullpen management improved as the year went on, but it was inconsistent far too long. Setting up Burba to succeed by not using him for 3+ weeks? C’mon. He rarely used the double switch, as he seemed as baffled by it as Lopester was. He never did figure out how to use Kieschnick, as he often used a PH and THEN brought Brooks in…what? Cruz should have played a lot more. But, he got a lot out of guys like VW, Clark, the catcher combo, etc; as well as keeping the pitch counts low, except for a couple late season outings by Sheets. Plus, give him some credit for the emphasis on taking pitches. The Brewers had few guys dominate them on <100 pitches like they did in ‘02.

Next topic: The top three prospects in our system (and likely top 25 overall) are Fielder, Weeks, and Hardy. Arrival dates for each when they stay up for good...and who will be the most success?

Ben: J.J. Hardy probably gets called up sometime next year; if he gets called up, it would take an abysmal performance at the plate in order for him to be sent back down (as he's reputed to be major league ready defensively).

Rickie Weeks is probably next among the big 3 to stay in the bigs. He'll get a call-up again next September, but I'll guess that he starts the 2005 season in Triple-A. That puts him in the majors for good by September 2005 at the latest.

I have to preface any comments about Prince Fielder to point out that a number of other Brewers will have an effect on how quickly Fielder moves through the minors. If Sexson gets traded, they may be more apt to promote Prince; if Brad Nelson struggles in the outfield, that might slow the progression. Now that I got that out of the way, Prince either starts in Huntsville, or gets promote ed there by the end of next season. In 2005, he splits time between Double-A and Triple-A, and gets a September call-up. Starts 2006 in Triple-A, and gets called up to stay by mid-season.

(I just hope nobody holds me to any of that, unless I'm right!)

Greg: Hardy: June 2004. Weeks: August 2004. Fielder: August 2005. Right now Weeks looks like a potential superstar, a non-a**hole version of Gary Sheffield. Corey Hart has a chance to play at an All-Star level for a long time. Fielder looks like a clone of Frank Thomas. If I only get one, I'll take Weeks, but all three are very exciting, with franchise-player ceilings.

Al: Greg loses a point for bringing Hart into this.:)

Mike: I'd say 2005 for Fielder and Weeks and possibly 2004 for Hardy. For Fielder and Weeks, I think the key is AA. If they both still hit at the AA level, I think they might be brought up in late 2004/early 2005. Why not? You don't want to rush guys, but I do like the Twins model of bringing guys up and letting them learn on the job. Who will have the most success? I'd say Prince Fielder. He's just been so impressive thus far and offensively, he seems to know how to be patient. If he keeps up these A ball #s, he might end up being the best power hitter in the team's history.

Al: Hardy in July of 2004. Weeks in June of 2005. Prince in August of 2005. I have a very difficult time deciding between the latter two…but will go with Rickie, since he plays a more important defensive position…for now. I think he may well be a 3B or LF/RF in a few years, but for now, he’s my guy.

Finally, in 1000 words or less, tell me the course the '04 team should take. Looking for overall strategy and plan, not "I'd trade this guy for that guy".

Ben: I'd like to see the Brewers go after a big-time set up man (like LaTroy Hawkins of the Twins, or Scott Sullivan of the White Sox). The goal would be to cut down the expectations on the starting pitching, make it a six-to-seven-inning game. Starter goes 6 or 7, Crudale / Estrella finishes the 7th, FA Set-up man in the 8th, and then Kolb to close the game. Not only does this take some of the pressure off of the rotation (and off of Yost, as he wouldn't feel like he needs the starting pitcher to go 7 complete), but it also gives the team an insurance policy if Kolb struggles (or, more likely, gets hurt). Regardless, they should still acquire a #2 / 3 starter.

Changes in the starting lineup will depend heavily on what happens with Sexson. If they extend Richie's contract, they can get away with a high OBP, low SLG option in RF (a Brady Clark-type, if not Clark himself), as well as SS and C; I wouldn't be surprised to see the Brewers getting a decent CF, moving Podsednik over to RF.... and opening the door to an early David Krynzel call-up if he puts up numbers in the minors. If Richie is traded, then they'll have to spread the production around to fill "Sexson's Hole." (Did you really expect me to get through the discussion without a single Moneyball reference?)

The overarching goal should be the all-important 82nd win, but at the same time assimilating the...well...'stars' of the 2002 Huntsville Stars, one-by-one. The real key is that the big name prospects should have to earn their promotions, so it's important to go into spring training with pitching depth, and solid, major-league tested options to fill the gaps in the lineup. (I do think that Yost will be able to maintain the style of play that fans enjoyed so much this season, even when the rookies get brought up.)

Greg: The 2004 Brewers should play for 2005. They should do what the 2003 Brewers generally did: avoid long-term entanglements with low-upside players, evaluate and integrate younger players, fill holes cheaply, stock the farm system at every opportunity. Melvin's 2003-style scrap-heap strategy has cumulative effect: he found Podsednik, and now we don't need a CF-leadoff man any more. He found Kolb, and now (for the moment) we don't need a closer. Two more moves like that -- a C and RF (I have no illusions about finding the next Loaiza for the rotation) -- and suddenly you have a decent setting for the jewels coming through the system. The pivotal area, of course, will be the rotation. The Brewers need to enter 2005 with at least three, and preferably four, healthy starters they can trust. As I said before, that will require some very intelligent evaluation of talent.

Mike: I think that they should continue to develop their talent at the minor league level as they have been. It would be nice if they got competent fillers this time out instead of Clayton and Young. To me, 2005 will be the telling year, the first year that you might see them have a majority of their prospects playing every day. Until then, it would be nice if they won 90 games next year, but I don't see that happening. Keep going after patient hitters and pitchers who attack. I'm very pleased that the coaching staff will probably return as they have made great strides in those areas this year, especially in teaching patience.

Al: The goal has to be building a team that can win 90 games, as that is a number that puts you into playoff contention most years. I certainly don’t see that in ’04, so I agree the goal has to be to improve the team in 2004, but with an eye on 2005. At least one SP must be added, and the offense has to be built with two things; young guys with OBP ability and the potential to improve. I like VanderWal, but he’s a bench guy, and will not be the least bit helpful in a couple years. Therefore, using him as a stopgap is foolish (as a reserve/PH, he’d be nice to have back). I also think we need to limit our search to “all-around” types. Hey, I love Jeremy Giambi, and I’d love to give him a shot, say if we trade Sexson.

But, if I’m looking for a RF or a SS, I don’t go after a guy who just hits or fields above average, I look for a guy who runs at least average, fields at least average, and hits at least average (and is 29 or under, still in his mythical prime). I will probably only find 1-2 of them, and maybe they’ll be too expensive, or are uninterested. If so, I look for guys that can hit and do one or the other, and so on. We all knew Clayton would suck, as he hasn’t done anything well except defend for half a decade. I can find you dozens of those guys in the minors. You can have crap if you find a waiver wire guy in late March. In the off-season, you need to look for a higher ceiling than “serviceable”.

One last thing, avoid long-term deals. With a plethora of youngsters on the way, the last thing we need is to cripple ourselves with lengthy contracts. Might that cost us a win or three in 2004? That’s a price I’m willing to pay for flexibility in 2005 and beyond.

10/03/2003 10:26:00 PM

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

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