Al's Ramblings



Saturday, May 31, 2003

(5/31/2003 04:49:00 PM) - Al

Al:

I noticed that you are not a subscriber to Baseball Prospectus, so I thought I’d forward this tidbit from Will Carroll’s Under the Knife along to you. Will’s stuff is THE reason I subscribe, that’s for sure.

Here’s the clip:

Why isn't Curtis Leskanic pitching? The likely answer--he's hurt--isn't true in this case. The Brewers feel they're close to dealing the reliever and don't know if they can keep him healthy if he's pitching. (This is the point where I hang the caveat emptor sign.) The Brewers are at least self-aware and hopeful that they can offload Leskanic's contract. Inside the Brewers organization, however, this line of thinking isn't taking. Despite legions of injuries up and down the roster, few inside the team have much confidence in their ability to develop pitchers of any sort. One player told me recently: "If we draft a pitcher, we'll just screw him up. I don't know why they bother.


Anthony

Thanks for writing again, Anthony, and for the BP "unfree" content. I'm all for being cautious with Curtis if he's close to being dealt, but not pitching him at all seems to be an overreaction/very short-term thinking. I'd happily pay half his contract, as right now, Curtis is a mediocre middle reliever, who has looked good at times. Those guys are worth no more than a million dollars, and I believe Curtis is making $4 mil. Considering the season's a third over, the team who would take him would still have to pay him $1.33 mil, far more than he's worth. But, on our end, that's $1.33 mil that would end up in our pocket, and I can't believe Mike Buddie would be much of a falloff, certainly not worth more than a win either way.

69 wins...70 wins, honestly, I'd rather have the money for the minor league system, for scouting and development purposes.


5/31/2003 04:49:00 PM



(5/31/2003 12:16:00 PM) - Al

Eric Rudolph was arrested this morning. He is suspected as being the Olympic Park bomber, bombing an abortion clinic in Alabama, and being an all-around nut. I recall distinctly watching a CNN report on this guy, a military survivalist said the FBI/CIA "would never catch him", as anyone willing to live in the rugged terrain of the Smokey Mountains could avoid detection for decades...if he chose to. The government agents were quite offended and scoffed at that remark, saying it would take time and manpower, but they would catch him.

Now, let's move ahead 5 years, and he's caught by a rookie cop as he scrounged for food outside a store in a dumpster. Supposedly, Rudolph is telling officials he has spent the past years entirely in and near this small North Carolina town, despite many sightings all over the Smokies.

Ah, the sweet smell of irony.


5/31/2003 12:16:00 PM


Friday, May 30, 2003

(5/30/2003 11:33:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers just won 5-3, in a game that took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Quick, tidy, and I'm in bed before 11:30. Can't beat that.

And Ned, way to pull Ben after 7, and use Leo Estrella to set up Dejean. It's like you've been reading.:)


5/30/2003 11:33:00 PM



(5/30/2003 10:59:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I see you read the Moneyball book, I was wondering what you felt about the player behind the "jeans" remark, Jeremy Brown. Do you think saving money by taking a very signable player in the 1st round that you like that others don't is a good idea, or do you subscribe to the "best player available" theory?

Matthew


TOR did this a couple years back as well. I feel that the best way of finding talent cheaply is the Rule 5 draft, followed by signing minor league free agents. However, in order to stock your lower levels with prospects, you do need to utilize the amateur draft. Do you have to spend big money to get good players? No...but it helps. You can sign lots of college seniors who have little negotiating clout. You can draft "signable" players earlier than they are expected to go, and pay them way less than "slot" money (far less than the player picked just ahead of your guy). In the case of OAK & TOR, both these teams made a concious decision to not spend heavily on the June draft, which, admittedly, is a crapshoot of monumental proportions. I would estimate the Crew has about $8 million budgeted to sign their 2003 draft picks, $5 million or so for the first 5 rounds alone. Out of that, if you're lucky and good, you should get a couple solid players, and a couple reserves/solid AAA types.

Personally, if I were given the reins of a team (well, that's never gonna happen), I would certainly try not to skimp on my minor league system in any way. I'd be very aggressive in signing minor league FA's for my AA and AAA teams, especially those who are 24 and 25, those more likely to amount to more than "fringe" big leaguers. I'd draft a couple Rule 5 guys every year, and keep at least one, as that's an incredibly cheap way to snatch up talent. I'd try to add another minor league team, at the short A level, such as the New York-Penn League, and I'd sign a lot of undrafted college players to play there. These are good players that were considered not to have the "tools" to be worth drafting, but can hit and pitch. If I was a 90-95 win team,that needed every penny to contend, I would consider making a few "Jeremy Brown" type picks, but rarely in the Top 5-10 rounds. Personally, I find it shocking guys taken in the 15th-20th rounds are getting $50-100K, plus tuition money, and often times only get a season and a half to show what they can do before being cut due to lack of roster spots.

Also, I'd bring in every independent leaguer under 27 that was a top player in their respective league...what harm is there in that? These guys have little chance to bid up their price, so they come cheap, and you're getting a guy who has had success at a level ABOVE the college game. No downside in that at all.

Finally, I haven't read Moneyball, just the excerpts. Thanks for reading Ramblings and for writing, Matthew.


5/30/2003 10:59:00 PM



(5/30/2003 10:56:00 PM) - Al

Lee Sinnis on the Hillenbrand trade:

Despite fooling people into thinking he's a good hitter due to his .293 AVG in 2002 and .303 in 2003, Hillenbrand is bad at getting on base. His OBA ranks among the top 10 worst figures in the AL since he's come into the majors in 2001 (min: 1000 PA)--

OBA
1 Tony Batista .298
2 Damion Easley .304
3 Cristian Guzman .307
4 Luis Rivas .311
5 Michael Young .313
6 Vernon Wells .316
7 Shea Hillenbrand .317
8 Terrence Long .317
9 Chris Singleton .317
10 Jay Gibbons .317


As Lee points out, he simply makes too damn many outs. If Shea isn't the most overrated player in the game, I'm not sure who is.



5/30/2003 10:56:00 PM



(5/30/2003 10:25:00 PM) - Al

A little surprised to hear BOS is bringing up Freddy Sanchez to replace Hillenbrand's position player spot. Freddy is 25, but for that role of utility IF, you'd think they'd go with a lower ceiling, more veteran player like Lou Collier, also having a great year. Also, it seems kinda odd a player capable of playing 2B, SS, and 3B has been playing almost entirely 3B in the minors.


5/30/2003 10:25:00 PM



(5/30/2003 10:21:00 PM) - Al

From Bill Schroeder, commenting on Wes Helms:

He's been pretty good defensively....sure, he'll throw some balls away, he has limited range, but he's done OK.

I'd hate to hear what Bill would say about a poor defender.


5/30/2003 10:21:00 PM



(5/30/2003 09:56:00 PM) - Al

TOR intends on using a 4 man rotation, at least in June. I've been a big believer in the 4 man for a long time, you obviously can't let your guys go 120 pitches and 8 innings every night, but it just seems too simple to me...get your best pitchers on the mound more often, and hide your weakest rotation member in low leverage situations, and use him when he'll only have to face each batter once.

Glad to see someone thinking "out of the box" and trying something different.


5/30/2003 09:56:00 PM



(5/30/2003 09:21:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer says this may be the most lopsided trade since the Astros stole Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox. My favorite line:

Shea Hillenbrand is 27, and he has a good chance of being 28.

Funny how casual fans always overestimate the value of a guy with a high BA.


5/30/2003 09:21:00 PM



(5/30/2003 09:15:00 PM) - Al

From Drew Olson's weblog:

Confidence is a huge part of baseball. Franklin has it. Rusch and Franklin do not.

Drew write good.


5/30/2003 09:15:00 PM



(5/30/2003 02:08:00 AM) - Al

Baseball Crank agrees BOS simply stole Kim from ARI. Click here for his view. I have to believe this will be a concensus tomorrow in the baseball world.


5/30/2003 02:08:00 AM


Thursday, May 29, 2003

(5/29/2003 07:47:00 PM) - Al

BOS acquired Byung-Hyun Kim from ARI today for Shea Hillenbrand. I have spoken a lot about how overrated Hillenbrand is, he is nothing but an average 3B. I just looked at the career stats, and that statement has possibly never been more true than it is today:

Shea's career-.284/.317/.432, 749 OPS, 137 OXS
Ave 3B, '03----.255/.332/.419, 751 OPS, 139 OXS

Actually, Shea hasn't been nearly as good as BOS's other 3B, Bill Mueller, so Shea has been playing 1B quite a bit, probably to keep his bat in the lineup in order to trade him. BOS has David Ortiz, Jeremy Giambi, and Kevin Millar to DH and play 1B, so they'll barely miss Shea...in fact, I'd say they improved themselves by letting the others play.

Kim had some horrible luck in the postseason a couple years ago, most of it because Brenly treated him like a machine. He has a career 3.50 ERA, and has pitched well as a starter this season. He's an upgrade over John Burkett in the 5th spot, and for the time being, should step into Pedro's spot in the rotation.

Also, for whatever goofy reason, Shea has been a dominant April hitter, and rather pitiful the rest of the year. Take out his 920 April OPS, his overall numbers drop down to .268/.302/.406...meaning that ARI dealt a good pitcher for a 3B who likely will not match Wes Helms' numbers the rest of the season. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's happened 3 years running, and his 190 awesome April AB's are not a tiny sample, by any means.

BOS helped their pitching staff immensely today, and didn't hurt their offense a bit. They slightly weakened their defense. All in all, a great day for the Red Sox.


5/29/2003 07:47:00 PM



(5/29/2003 07:25:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I agreed with your blog yesterday about the trade of Alex Sanchez. He is a 4th (maybe only a 5th) outfielder type who doesn't figure to be a part of the next good Brewer team and maybe not even this Brewer team if Yost continued to keep him on the bench. He has value now and the Brewers got two prospects in return for him who might be good players in a couple of years. It is not bad to take a player the Devil Rays cut and get a good season and a couple of prospects for him. I prefer Podsednik over Sanchez because Podsednik will hit the occasional homer but neither of them is Carlos Beltran or Vernon Wells. The most infamous "doghouse" trade that came to my mind was Gary Sheffield but I don't see any batting titles or MVP talk in Sanchez's future. The trade might have been made because Hammonds could come off the DL. Do you think there is any hope the Brewers will just cut Hammonds instead of letting him be their 5th (6th) outfielder? I'd rather see Clark, Vanderwaal, Kieschnick, etc. get at-bats then Hammonds.

Brandon


Nice to hear from you again, Brandon. I have heard a couple times that the Crew is trying to unload Hammonds (I assume that means they are willing to pay almost all his salary) as he comes off the DL. Jeff will garner some interest, as he's an excellent platoon/bench guy, and he is a nice 4th OF. If the Brewers pick up all except a nominal part of his large salary (all except $500K-1M), they'll have a ton of teams looking to upgrade their bench. I also like Clark, VW, etc. on the bench, but I feel VanderWal will be dealt sooner, rather than later. He's a veteran LH PH, who makes little money and will come cheap. Jim Rushford is on hand in AAA, though I'm unaware of how he's doing, he's a younger version of VW, with less power, and unproven at the big league level.

Therefore, I can't believe the Crew will need to cut Jeff. That said, I'm sure they won't hesitate to if they can't deal him, as they can simply blame the previous regime and move on.


5/29/2003 07:25:00 PM



(5/29/2003 06:55:00 PM) - Al

Let's cut back to last night's contest. Bringing on Luis Vizcaino to try and hold the Padres scoreless in the bottom of the 9th? What?

The options Yost had were: Dejean, Leskanic, Estrella, Ford, Quevedo, and Luis. Considering Luis' ERA is damn close to twice as high as anyone else's, one could easily make the argument he made the 6th best choice. In fairness, however, Q hasn't pitched in a day less than forever (never mind that is Ned's fault); Ford is not pitching in close games, with rare exception; and if you are going to use Mike as your closer, you might as well wait and see if you'll have a save situation soon.

That leaves 3 choices, and if you feel Ned made anything but the 3rd best decision, I'd love to know what criteria you're using. I still think Luis is pitching at far less than full strength, but if I have three realistic choices, Luis is probably my 4th choice.


5/29/2003 06:55:00 PM



(5/29/2003 06:43:00 PM) - Al

Two nights after leaving 21 year-old Jake Peavey out to waste, throwing 120 pitches, letting him lose the 9th inning lead, Bruce Bochy did the exact same thing today, having his exhausted starter try and get through the 9th. Why is a tired arm better than a fresh one. Does he think he's in bizarro world? What a frickin' clod.

Now, there's no guarantee a fresh reliever would have saved the game either. But, is a better option your spent starter, or your rested best reliever? If you don't set up your players to succeed, odds are, they won't.


5/29/2003 06:43:00 PM



(5/29/2003 06:27:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al-

Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I'm linking your latest blog entry, the one about EY not leaving third on that double play, in my blog. I was certainly thinking the exact same thing at the time you were, and if Alex had done that, he wouldn't hear the end of it.

Later-

Jason


...and...

Heya Al...just wanted to say that I completely agree with you about Gitner. It's actually somewhat similar to what happened with Loretta. Mark was good enough defensively and was decent enough offensively that Garner/Lopes usually tried to find a spot for Loretta, be that playing first or third or wherever. I think they should do that with Gitner too...why not? He could very easily spell Young, Helms or Clayton or heck...give him the SS job and let's see what he can do.

As for Young's mistake tonight, I often listen to the opposing team's announcers on mlb.com. Jerry Coleman and Ted Leitner of the Padres Radio Network both said that Young is way too experienced to be making mistakes like that. They talked about it for the rest of the half inning. So someone did call Young on it.

One more thing. Do you know if there is any talk of giving Kieshnick a start in the OF at some point to see what he can do? I say that because they are carrying just 4 OFs right now and this might be a good time to try it. His future is as a pitcher/pinch hitter, but I think they should probably give him a look in the OF at some point here, because with 4 OFs, the margin for error isn't real high in case of a couple of injuries during a game. I know they did it at least once during the spring, but that usually doesn't say much.

Thanks as always,

Mike


What's funny is, Schroeder mentioned it almost in passing, as if he didn't want to, but felt he should casually work in the fact EY made a 4th grade blunder. Can you imagine the outrage if that had been Sanchez? And I'm sure the Padres' announcers were fair, but the Crew's? The TV fellas were horrible.

Also, Mike, I'm all for Gintner getting time at SS. I just love the guy.

Brooks should be PHing, as the roster is so unbalanced (with 13 pitchers), they don't need him to pitch. With VanderWal hurt, he's the only reserve OF they have, other than EY and Gintner who *could* play out there, if they had to.

Thanks for reading and writing, guys.


_________________________________________________________________


5/29/2003 06:27:00 PM



(5/29/2003 05:46:00 PM) - Al

Why do I even bother checking BP anymore? Today, the only article available to me, a non-premium subscriber, focused on where the Expos should go, and in it, had this paragraph, quite possibly the most ignorant statement of all time:

I've said this before, but baseball should seriously consider doing penance for their mistreatment of Montreal by building them a beautiful new stadium and setting them up with a quality ownership group, even if it doesn't come with the Selig Seal of Sycophancy. Revitalizing baseball in Montreal would be a huge victory for baseball's international aspirations, and would buy the league so much goodwill it'd be difficult to shake a stick at it.--Derek Zumsteg

The "mistreatment of Montreal"? You mean the way MON has traded away players because they had no money coming in, because of the lack of fan support and media package? That's not mistreatment, that's business.

"...setting them up with a quality ownership group..."? As I've said before, what kind of fool with money would piss it away by owning a team that has seen no support in damn near two decades. Is it a mathematically possible for MON to be successful? Yes. Is there enough profit potential to take that risk? No.

"...would buy the league so much goodwill..." From who? The baseball fans in the Montreal area that have not supported their team in a score? A market which has been unable to have a TV/English radio package many of the past few years?

"...it'd be difficult to shake a stick at". Hey, it's tough to do much of anything with your head stuck up your ass, Derek.





5/29/2003 05:46:00 PM


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

(5/28/2003 09:51:00 PM) - Al

Sexson grounds into a DP, EY stands at 3B. Obviously, the proper play for the runner at 3B is to go home to draw the throw and avoid the DP, and if possible, get in a rundown to allow the runners to move up to 2B & 3B.

Funny thing is, if Alex Sanchez would have blundered like that, everyone would be having a fit, but since it's EY, old as dirt and should know better front and back, no one hardly questions it. Hypocrisy is a dangerous thing.


5/28/2003 09:51:00 PM



(5/28/2003 09:45:00 PM) - Al

With Royce Clayton out, Keith Ginter gets the start at SS. I was unaware Ginter could play SS, as he's only been listed as a 2B/3B, and that's the only positions he ever played in the HOU system in the years I can look up. While I'm sure Keith isn't a stellar defensive SS, if he can be as good as say Mark Loretta (limited range, sure hands), I'm set to hand him the spot.

I remember Davey Johnson's Mets clubs, the one when he played Howard Johnson at SS, built on pitching and offense. If Davey had a one run game, he might make a defensive substitution or two, but for the most part, he believed that you should go with your best offensive club, "because everyone will get 3 AB's, but they may never get a ball hit to them".

Ginter would thrive under Davey. I'd sure love to see him find a spot in the lineup, at least 2/3rd's of the time.


5/28/2003 09:45:00 PM



(5/28/2003 11:29:00 AM) - Al

21 year-old Jake Peavey was allowed to throw 120 pitches last night against the Crew. Seems the outcry over AJ Burnett being abused has faded silently into the night, and the idea a 21 year-old should be limited to 100-105 pitches a night is silly.

I'm sorry, but does anyone really care if SD wins 60 games rather than 61? How short-sighted can the Padres be?


5/28/2003 11:29:00 AM



(5/28/2003 10:50:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with a very wordy, but very good piece on those amazin' Jays. A bunch of it is dedicated to Tom Wilson, a minor league journeyman catcher who just kept hitting for a decade to finally get his chance in the bigs. He's the best example of freely available talent I've ever come across, he hit in AAA for years, but was never given a chance in the majors due to a perception that he was terrible defensively, and that he didn't have a "good body". To quote the great Billy Beane, "We're not selling jeans here", it is as obvious as the day is long Wilson should have at least been a reserve C for the past 5+ years.

Nothing worse than seeing a guy built like Kirby Puckett be an outstanding player for years, then have scouts tell you so and so doesn't have the "proper build" to succeed. Scouts need to concentrate on who can hit and play the game, not who looks especially pretty in their uniform (not that there's anything wrong with that).


5/28/2003 10:50:00 AM


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

(5/27/2003 10:07:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder bragging about how shallow Scott Podsednik is playing, Loretta doubles to the warning track in left-center. Hilarious. Odds are, that ball is caught by Sanchez, who always played pretty deep. This after Scott bunted with men on 1B & 2B...with one out in the top of the inning, as bad a baseball play as one can make. With a man in scoring position, risking an out on a bunt that will not score the runner is a terrible play, unless you are a pitcher, or hit like one.



5/27/2003 10:07:00 PM



(5/27/2003 09:25:00 PM) - Al

Not exactly sure who the JS reporters will pick on now that Sanchez has been dealt. Lots of innuendo, very little factual stuff. This is par for the course from Drew Olson, and seeing Tom Haudricourt (ahem) choosing to return to a small market from New Jersey tells me we have a AAA pair covering our major league team.

I'm not upset by the trade, although we weakened our team today. I hope we weaken it a lot more in the upcoming months, as we need to add youth and prospects to our system. Alex is actually a perfect case of the type of player we should be looking for, a guy that's 28 or under, has shown flashes of being at least a mediocre player, but for some reason (blocked by another player, problems unrelated to baseball, lack of opportunity) has not reached his potential. I'm not sure if Alex will ever hit league average as a CF, but right now, he's a pretty good 4th OF, or a nice platoon or stopgap. I'd say he has a ceiling, but it's not that much higher than what he's done the past year plus.

Podsednik isn't going to cost you more than a win compared to Sanchez. He's a solid AAA player, and could easily have a nice career as a 5th OF type...as almost every AAA OF could, given the opportunity. As I have said a few times since I started writing this blog, I do fear a bit the "big picture" that moves like this say about the Brewers organization. Giving up on talent is a bad thing. So is choosing "gritty and scrappy" over a higher ceiling.

It also bothers me a bit that almost every player that ever ends up in the "doghouse" in Milwaukee is African-American, or a Latino. Some, like Ronnie Belliard, have gone on to success elsewhere, after being set up to fail. Losing guys for nothing keeps you from improving, as you are giving away talent that other teams utilize, but you receive nothing to build your own team. In this case, we appear to have got a good AA OF, who is lacking tools, but not the ability to hit; and a LH pitcher, who was ranked as the 10th best player in the DET system; and both are young, 22 & 21.

I also find it funny many called for Sanchez's outright release, I believe one uninformed fan on a message board said we'd be lucky to get a "box of rocks for him, if we pay the shipping". Funny, but untrue. 4th OF types, cheap and with the potential to improve, have value. Role players have plenty of value, so almost every player on our 25 man roster would garner something...the problem is, we often have a 4th OF playing every day in CF. Tough for guys to be an everyday player and not have their weaknesses found quickly by advance scouts, and not even getting their uniform dirty can save them from that fate.

But, anytime we can add talent to the system, I can't be too upset about it. As I said, let's hope the exodus doesn't stop now.


5/27/2003 09:25:00 PM



(5/27/2003 11:59:00 AM) - Al

Alex Sanchez was dealt to DET today, for two young minor leaguers, one of whom was ranked 10th in the Tigers' system. The story can be found here.

I'm of the opinion Alex will outperform Scott Podsednik, now and in the future. However, I can't see Alex ever being more than a decent CF, so his ceiling isn't that high. I expect him to have a nice career, but mostly as a reserve or maybe a platoon type.

I can't see Scott being anything but below average. He has hit the wall since he's been playing every day, and if Clark or Hammonds get/stay healthy, they'll be taking his playing time shortly.


5/27/2003 11:59:00 AM


Monday, May 26, 2003

(5/26/2003 08:14:00 PM) - Al

Roger Clemens, 133 pitches, 8 ER in 5 2/3 innings. Looks like Joe Torre doesn't believe in taking out his pitchers "a batter too early rather than a batter too late" either. Jeepers.


5/26/2003 08:14:00 PM



(5/26/2003 07:16:00 PM) - Al

7 of my 8 fantasy teams are in the upper half of the leagues, and 3 are in the top 2. But, in the past few days, Pedro Martinez and Eric Hinske have went on the DL. Pretend baseball doesn't allow for me signing a solid veteran minor leaguer to be at AAA, just in case, so I'm left to pick through the waiver wire pickings. Bill Mueller is often available, but BOS has 12 guys splitting time at 9 spots, so other than Nomar, Manny, Damon, and Walker, the rest are good, but don't play everyday.

The trials and tribulations, sigh.:)


5/26/2003 07:16:00 PM


Sunday, May 25, 2003

(5/25/2003 09:27:00 PM) - Al

That loud sound you heard was Scott Podsednik crashing down to earth. I'm not a person that feels Alex Sanchez is anything but a below average CF, or a platoon guy, or maybe a 4th OF...but he has the potential to prove me wrong. Scott is a 5th OF, or good AAA depth.

Oh, I am well aware that on the scrappy meter, Scott's place on the dial is somewhere between "his uniform is always dirty" and "he's a gamer". You give me a team full of Scott Podsedniks...I'll lose about 110-115 games, but my team will lead the league in hustling to 1B. That may make me feel better, but at the end of the day, I still have a crappy team with excruciatingly little room for improvement.


5/25/2003 09:27:00 PM



(5/25/2003 09:20:00 PM) - Al

John Foster was sent down to AAA after the game today, and VDS will likely be activated before Tuesday's game versus SD. Foster didn't pitch brilliantly, but he'll be back, as he's a LH reliever, and really just had one bad game. Take out his appearance in that blowout loss to SL, in which he gave up 5 runs in an inning of work, we'd be talking about a fella with a 2.12 ERA, rather than a 4.50 ERA. Now granted, that game counted, and you can't just ignore the fact he had a poor performance. But, when you look at the circumstances surrounding that game, it's too bad it affected his statline so much. He came into a game already lost, just to pitch until the pitcher's spot was due up, and was left out there to rot by the coaching staff.

Some folks will point to his poor percentage of "inherited runners" he allowed to score, but I tend to ignore those as a small sample and an unfair one at that, in that it treats all baserunners equally, regardless of base position and outs. In other words, if Joe BadLuck inherits three runners on 3B with no one out, and Jim GoodLuck comes in with three runners on 1B with two outs, in 3 different games, of course, Joe is considered a failure, as he's likely 0-3, while Jim is hailed as a savior, as he has not allowed a single runner to score that was on base when he was brought on. Also, it doesn't even consider whether the runs were unearned. I consider it to be as unimportant as BA, while it shouldn't be ignored, it doesn't have much merit either. A .250 BA could mean a backup catcher, or a .250/.360/.475 excellent middle IF type.

I am a bit surprised they chose to send down Foster, who had an option, rather than Kieschnick or Estrella, who do not have options. Would they have cleared waivers? I don't know, but with Brooks' ERA under 5, and the publicity he's gotten for being a "two-way" player, it seems likely one team out of 29 would find that attractive. Leo is "just" a middle reliever, but again, guys with a sub 2 ERA tend to be claimed, as every team has a guy struggling in the bullpen. Neither Brooks or Leo would be a big loss, but this tells me that:

1. The Crew is thinking smarter, with the "long-term" in mind. No use losing a replacement player for nothing when you can burn an option on another fella.

2. The Brewers may well have hung onto both Brooks and Leo because they are close to moving/want to move Mike Dejean or Curtis Leskanic, and see the former as being able to "step up" to later innings relief, in the short-term at least.

We may soon see, as Jayson Durocher is due back in the next week or so as well.


5/25/2003 09:20:00 PM



(5/25/2003 08:44:00 PM) - Al

Quick, the leader in runs scored in the AL is?

Nope, try again.

Close, but incorrect.

Believe it or not, TOR is leading the AL, which I doubt any of you guessed unless you are as geeky as me and/or read it a few days ago in Ramblings.

TOR has played 50 games and has scored 305 runs, 6.1 per; while BOS has 297 in 48 contests, a 6.19 average, so I guess you still have to give the nod to the Sox, though either could be considered the proper answer, I guess.

And while it won't be a surprise to anyone who checks this blog out often, the top five AL OBP teams are also the top five offensive teams. In the NL, Cincy is an exception, 4th in runs scored, but 10th in OBP, whiole 4th in SLG, and 5th in OPS. Still, 9 out of 10 seems to once again prove that there is nothing more important than "not getting out". anyone looking for a correlation between other things; BA, K's, SB's...write me if you come up with something.

Huge kudos should go to the Blue Jays' front office, as they are only a couple games behind the struggling Yankees. This is not likely to be the case in a couple months, but JP Ricciardi deserves credit for putting together a solid club with a fraction of the payroll NY has to work with, and quite a bit less than BOS. I'm sure TOR will be a "sleeper" pick of many in 2004 to win the wildcard, and rightly so.

You know what by far the most interesting stat is regarding TOR? Know how many sacrifice bunts they have thus far in 2003? Not a damn one. Proponents of "little ball" and the like have to wonder how it's possible, but in reality, it makes perfect sense. They have scored the most runs (or 2nd most) because they haven't pissed away a single out. They use 3 outs an inning, 27 outs a game, etc. That's the way the game was meant to be played. I'll be the first to say the SAC has its uses, but giving up more than an out every 3-4 games seems like poor knowledge of simple math to me. Unless that runner wins the game, it's only a good play if the batter is a pitcher, or hits like one.


5/25/2003 08:44:00 PM



(5/25/2003 06:39:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Have you noticed Drew's (Olson) blog has a total of 9 entries for the entire month of May? Why even bother?

James


Regular contributor James seems to be suggesting Drew has been suffering from a lack of effort this month. Who woulda thunk it?

I lost my bookmark of Drew when we made the computer switch a while back, and I don't think I've checked him more than once a week since. I will say this about Drew, his Sunday weekly recaps are darn near mediocre. Sure, lots of stuff is old news and I'm sure right off the wires, but it's a decent read. That said, 6 days a week, Drew is as lightweight as they come.

EDIT: I guess Drew is only doing the weekly Sunday gig every other week now (wouldn't it be just a frickin' disaster if the JS ran 2 columns, one by each baseball writer, on Sunday? I believe the planet would cease to rotate around that giant star. Of course, that may cut into the coverage of the Packer wives' charity cookbook drive, featured on Page 1, sidebar on Page 3.


5/25/2003 06:39:00 PM


Saturday, May 24, 2003

(5/24/2003 09:25:00 PM) - Al

Royce Clayton, Mario Mendoza...Mario, Royce.

Tell ya what, a .200 hitter that doesn't even pretend to attempt to block a sharp one hopper hit right at him, I'm not sure I want him around if he wasn't making way too much money. What's funny is, a month ago, Royce was hitting about .330 (beware of the small sample), and to hear folks talk, they thought he had suddenly "learned how to hit" at his advanced age. I assume Royce will eventually work his average up to about the .240 range, but I tell you what, signing a good field/no hit SS to a contract involving real money shows me while good prospects are in the pipeline, on the way to Milwaukee, the front office needs to stop putting value on intangibles, and pretending SS's that can't hit are worth anything more than a waiver wire pickup.



5/24/2003 09:25:00 PM



(5/24/2003 09:15:00 PM) - Al

Brooks Kieschnick may have won himself a major league job tonight, if not in MIL, somewhere. I don't know many teams who couldn't use a 11th pitcher who can hit a little. Tonight, he pitched 3 scoreless frames, and allowed a walk and a swinging bunt. If the Crew does ask waivers on him to get Durocher or VDS back on the roster this coming week, that performance alone may entice a team to take a flyer on him.


5/24/2003 09:15:00 PM



(5/24/2003 12:38:00 AM) - Al

Mark Prior gave up 6 in the 1st inning, and was still allowed to go 6+ innings, and 112 pitches, in not a lost cause, but a game the Cubs had little shot at winning. The way he is being handled is all but a perfect formula for an injury.


5/24/2003 12:38:00 AM


Friday, May 23, 2003

(5/23/2003 11:40:00 PM) - Al

I noticed this before the season, but forgot about it until now...the Brewers are off Memorial Day, a holiday that literally screams baseball. I would imagine the teams that play Monday will do so in front of crowds very close to Sunday's numbers, as nearly everyone is off.

I know it must be a tough job putting together a schedule for each MLB team, but every year, they seem to simply forget/ignore the traditional kickoff of Summer, the final Monday of May, Memorial Day. Inexcuseable.

In this case, the Crew flies two zones to play SD Tuesday, so they must be off the day before. Of course, they wouldn't have to play SD then. Pretending this is the only way, or the best option, does nothing to help solve the problem.


5/23/2003 11:40:00 PM



(5/23/2003 11:30:00 PM) - Al

I've harped on this before, but Ned needs to start managing his starters to win. Tonight, he got six effective innings out of Glendon Rusch, who entered tonight's fray with a 1-7, 7+ ERA. He not only let Rusch start the 7th, he did so after letting him hit in the bottom of the 6th. Blasphemy. So, Glendon is now 1-8, and Yost hasn't learned a damn thing about setting up his players for success, removing a starter a batter too early rather than a batter too late, or if you wait until your starter fails...eventually, he will.


5/23/2003 11:30:00 PM



(5/23/2003 11:16:00 PM) - Al

I missed most of the game tonight, as I was working. But, I was lucky enough to get home just in time to hear this factoid from the mouth of Bill Schroeder:

Ben Sheets has pitched much better lately, since being paired with Osik.

Ben's ERA with Eddie Perez: 4.39
Ben's ERA with Keith Osik: 4.81

I certainly don't think this means anything, as one bad game could play havoc with an ERA in only 5 starts. However, the truth is, Bill doesn't bother looking stuff up, he just blurts out ignorant crap to avoid dead air (ah, what I wouldn't give for dead air). One has to wonder how much of what he says is just utterly made up buffoonery.


5/23/2003 11:16:00 PM



(5/23/2003 11:57:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman reports that Baseball Tonight has become unwatchable, and I just got an e-mail from a friend that said almost the same thing. Just watching it now during lunch, and I must admit, it is horrible. As Aaron reports, Karl Ravech is a total fool, and the others are so cliche ridden as to render them useless. They just discussed the Montreal Expos situation, and it's astounding that not a one of them hit on the real point. They all said things like:

Montreeal needs to find an owner.

They need to keep this team together.

They need to spend some money on this team.


Of course, all ignored the simple fact that baseball is a business, and Montreal has no fan support in Canada, and not a whole lot in Puerto Rico. They have no TV/radio deals, and hence, their only revenue is the national TV deal, and revenue sharing. MLB owns the Expos, because they have no future in Montreal. No one intelligent enough to have $100 million would spend a penny on a team that would remain in that city. The team needs to remain cheap as to have an iota of a chance to turn a profit. It has little to do with 2003 wins. Hence, the Expos will look to trim payroll, not add it.


5/23/2003 11:57:00 AM



(5/23/2003 12:35:00 AM) - Al

Wendall Kim, Cubs' 3B coach, waved home pitcher Matt Clement tonight, and after a "I can't believe he's going home" soft, one-hop throw to the plate by Reggie Sanders, was out by 40-50 feet.

I find it stunning 3B coaches are never held accountable for ignorant decisions like this. I guess it's the "ol' boys" network at its best. I'm the first to say the coach should err on the side of sending the runner home, with two outs at least. But, c'mon, we're talking about 10 steps here. Sanders could have tossed the ball in left-handed, and the catcher could have caught the ball in his cap and Clement would have still been out by 20 feet.

Blindly saying it was a "judgement call" means no coach can ever make a bad decision...hey, I want that job.


5/23/2003 12:35:00 AM



(5/23/2003 12:09:00 AM) - Al

Two readers ask if I noticed Jim Caple used April/1st half of May attendance numbers in his fiction based article on the attendance woes of teams with newish stadiums.

I did not, as I don't read Caple. However, I did see the same thing mentioned at Brewerfan.net, and found it hilarious. A real sportswriter (term used loosely as to not offend Rob Neyer, Peter Gammons, and other real sportswriters) actually pretending that a good estimate of attendance is to take the small crowds in three northern cities (Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee) in April/May and almost obscenely assume these are the same size crowds that those teams will see in the Summer.

I can't believe this putz is taken seriously by any human being. This borders on New York Times style "news", and we know what happened to Jayson Blair. Making up crap and printing it as truth is wrong, and horrible journalism. Caple should be ashamed, and unemployed.


5/23/2003 12:09:00 AM


Thursday, May 22, 2003

(5/22/2003 11:59:00 PM) - Al

A quick note tonight for loyal readers.

Keith Osik is a reserve catcher for the Crew, and many would have you think he is the worst hitter in baseball. Most of these folks are pretty casual fans, granted, talk radio types and such. What's funny is, Osik is a bad hitter, one could say he hits like most backup catchers...as much an insult as one could thrust on a hitter.

But, so far in '03, Osik has walked 13 times in 58 AB's, once every 4.5 AB's. This leads to the little fact he has a .361 OBP in 2003. This is a small sample, and is yet more proof why small samples should be ignored. Osik is far from a .361 OBP man. Yet, it is difficult to understand how Osik gets so much abuse, only getting out 64% of the time. I guess, sometimes, the facts don't mean anything, huh? Seriously, why worry about Osik playing a couple times a week when Royce Clayton sucks every damn day, and makes 5 times more money?

Heck, even with his poor .241 SLG, Osik's OPS of 602 still beats Brad Ausmus and Mike Barrett, two overpaid reserve catchers...who start. See, it could be worse.:)


5/22/2003 11:59:00 PM


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

(5/21/2003 12:15:00 AM) - Al

A couple of my favorite underrated players had nice games for BOS tonight. Bruce Chen kept BOS in the game as he started in place of Pedro, and Jeremy Giambi, playing in his 3rd or 4th game in a week, raised his OPS to 811, despite a hellish start. Do you s'pose Theo is showcasing Jeremy, or just going with the hot hand?


5/21/2003 12:15:00 AM



(5/21/2003 12:02:00 AM) - Al

There will be some interesting moves coming soon, as it looks like Jason Durocher and Valerio de los Santos will be coming back within a week. The obvious choices to go down are Brooks Kieschnick, who has pitched and hit as expected; Leo Estrella, who has pitched well, but is a minor league vet without much of a ceiling, and John Foster, who has pitched OK, but who has options remaining. Depending on how close Todd Ritchie is to regaining his spot in the rotation, Ruben Quevedo could be sent down as well. Franklin and Vizcaino would be considered longshots, as both have been up and down, and are out of options.

Or, a trade????


5/21/2003 12:02:00 AM


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

(5/20/2003 11:50:00 PM) - Al

Yet another Twin Cities meeting, so with work tomorrow and that Thursday, looks like I'll see you Friday.


5/20/2003 11:50:00 PM



(5/20/2003 11:23:00 PM) - Al

Nice win for the Crew this evening, always good to get a win when your best starter fails to pitch well. Funny how much better this team seems to be versus less than mediocre clubs. It's almost like it's easier to defeat these subpar teams, huh?

VanderWal has always been a quality role player, and it's easy to see that he could have been more than that a decade ago, but never got the opportunity until late in his career. If there's a better reserve corner OF, you'll be hard pressed to convince me of that. Concerns about his defense have silently melted away, and despite a low BA, his OBP has been above average all year. I'd love nothing more than to trade him to a contender in July or August, then bring him back for another go round in 2004. Usually, I'm all for bringing in youth, but for a PH/reserve role, you hate to see most fellas with a ceiling sitting on the bench, rather than honing their game in AAA.

And despite the rantings of a raving loon

*cough*
Bill Schroeder
*cough*

that was a nice play by Jenkins in the 9th. Hey, you play to win; you don't play not to lose. Geoff went after that ball full speed, and missed it by an inch or so. You'll never know if you can make that play unless you give it a full effort.

Does anyone else find it interesting Alex Sanchez was removed for ineffective play, but Royce Clayton is on a 1 for May run (slight exaggeration), and he's in there every day. At the very least, Royce should sit down for a couple days and take a breather. Much like a pitcher needs a break after allowing a few consecutive hits, a hitter in a slump needs time to analyze things and start anew. That doesn't happen playing every day, and Enrique Cruz should be playing once a week, as long as he's not going to embarass himself, something he has shown no signs of doing.


5/20/2003 11:23:00 PM



(5/20/2003 10:10:00 PM) - Al

I just saw a play I always wonder why no one ever plays "correctly". High pop-up, fast runner on 1B, slow runner batting. Why not let the pop-up drop and get the force at 2B? The odds of you not getting an out are very slim. In this case, Royce Clayton was literally a step away from 2B as he caught the routine pop-up.


5/20/2003 10:10:00 PM



(5/20/2003 10:01:00 PM) - Al

Al,

My name is Mike...from Fond du lac, WI. I read your column daily. I saw an article on ESPN.com about how bad teams are creating low attendances at these new parks. The author, Jim Caple, says "Meanwhile, barely three seasons in their new stadium, his Brewers (or, I'm sorry, his "family's'' Brewers) are now drawing fewer fans than they did in all but three of their final 14 years at old "inadequate'' County Stadium. Attendance is so low even Bob Uecker could get in the front row.". Are you sick, as I am, of the implication that Bud still runs the team. It's made most of the time the Brewers are mentioned and I'm sick of it. The family no longer has a management position with the team. I'm just tired of the snide comment involved. I don't really like Bud Selig either, but I have never believed that he has run the Brewers since he was made commissioner.

Thanks, Mike


First of all, thanks for reading and writing Mike, glad to have you aboard. Secondly, unless you are suicidal, there's no reason to read any of Caple's stuff. He's the national version of Drew Olson, unnewsy and bland like dry toast. I share your disgust with most of the national media, but especially prevalent in idiots like Caple and the BP crew. Over at Baseball Musings, David Pinto's blog, he rips on Bud at every opportunity, especially the contraction issue, then puts forth an idea to get rid of six teams into a "Super Minors" idea...like those six cities would be giddy to have 4A baseball. The funny thing is, if you like frustration and banging your head into walls, you should keep track of issues they disagree with Bud on, and you'll see a trend...they disagree with each other with painful consistency.

Rob Neyer, one of my favorite writers, said he felt the All-Star game should be one of three things used to determine home-field advantage; Pinto said you should pay the winners $100K each, and the losers nothing...but left out the little tidbit of where the $3.2 mil would come from (my guess, thin air); and many folks said it was a fine idea. Personally, my view is it's a lot of hot air over an exhibition, but, Selig made a decision, and it wasn't a bad one.

Honestly, when you look at the previous commishes, Vincent, Giamatti, Ueberroth; Selig comes out smelling like a rose. Bud kept the two sides talking and averted a strike last August, which has never been done before. He has introduced more revenue sharing than ever before. He has presided over baseball during a glorious time in the sport, whether by luck or by skill. While he hasn't been perfect, no one in his position ever will be.

My suggestion is this, Mike. If you insist on reading these types of articles (especially Caple), look for three things:

1. A reason why Selig has made a poor choice.

2. Why another decision would have been better.

3. What the better choice would be.

In my experience, articles that contain all three are as rare as a studious, sober frat boy. I hate the idea of contraction, though it seems to have worked splendidly in the MLS. Was it a good plan? I don't feel it was, but do I have any good alternatives? There are several "weak" franchises in MLB, and I don't think moving several of them is the answer either.

Again, Selig made a decision (he can only make one), he had all the owners in agreement, and in hindsight, would it have really have been a disaster? Heck, one could argue Minnesota may well have passed a stadium package by now, to be next in line for a failed team, and if you don't think Montreal is a lost cause, you are probably still hoping for a Beatles reunion tour.

Mike, at the end of the day, Bud is doing the best job he can. There is no better representative of baseball than Mr. Selig. And if it makes you feel better, whoever succeeds Bud will be second guessed, with little consensus, every bit as much. And on that day, all that ills baseball will not go away, and the naysayers will look pretty foolish, as they bicker over what should be fixed and how.




5/20/2003 10:01:00 PM



(5/20/2003 09:22:00 PM) - Al

Surprised to see Matt Ford come into a tie game in the 7th, but honestly, he may be the best bet. I would have went with Leo Estrella, who has pitched well in his small sample thus far, but only because I'd hate to see Ford pick up an L here by allowing a bloop, SAC, and seeing eye grounder. But, there is always a chance, albeit small, that this kid's 1.50 ERA isn't a result of good luck and guys missing mistakes. So far, he's faced a righty and 3 lefties, so maybe this is a case of Yost "setting up a reliever to succeed".


5/20/2003 09:22:00 PM



(5/20/2003 06:16:00 PM) - Al

Baseball Crank actually mentions Matt Kinney today. Hard to believe a non Brewers blog would do that, as the Crew is often ignored by ESPN and USA Today. Nice couple paragraphs on Matt, saying what a nice pickup he was.

Exactly the type of guy we need to find more of, young player, limited opportunity, works cheap.


5/20/2003 06:16:00 PM



(5/20/2003 06:10:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman has a wonderful review of Moneyball in his blog today. Makes me wish I were an A's fan, as there is no doubt they value OBP and high pitch counts (for hitters), just like I do. Check it out.


5/20/2003 06:10:00 PM


Monday, May 19, 2003

(5/19/2003 07:16:00 PM) - Al

Talk about telling half the story. The "open" of the Brewers' telecast tonight was Bill and Daron saying that SD has struggled because they have a poor pitching staff, 15th in the NL in ERA.

If you delve just a tad deeper, you'll note that SD also has scored the 15th most runs in the NL. What kind of pathetic reporting is that?


5/19/2003 07:16:00 PM



(5/19/2003 06:32:00 PM) - Al

Poor roster planning from MIN.

Manager Ron Gardenhire initially said he expected to place Mientkiewicz on the 15-day disabled list, but Mientkiewicz's arguments and the advice of his coaches apparently made him reconsider.

"My coaches think he'll just be out for five or six days, and I guess we can live with that."


So, the Twins feel it is best to play a man short for a week, then play with a guy at half strength...rather than allowing him to heal and rehab properly? And, anytime the player's argument makes a bit of difference, you're making decisions based on your heart, not your head.


5/19/2003 06:32:00 PM



(5/19/2003 05:44:00 PM) - Al

Al,

The most obvious good player who isn't really good at drawing walks is last year's AL MVP. In 2002 Tejada almost hit more homers (34) than number of walks drawn (38). And Melvin should know what it is like to have good players on his teams that aren't too good at drawing walks since he had Ivan Rodriguez (career average .304, career OBP .342) and Juan Gonzalez (career average .296, career OBP .344). But Melvin is missing the point that OBP is an indicator of a team doing what is necessary to get on base and score runs. Maybe he is more interested in drafting guys that look good on Sportscenter instead of guys likely to cross home plate. He has a point that you shouldn't ignore a player who doesn't have a history of drawing walks because there are always exceptions and players like Sammy Sosa can learn plate discipline. But teams that draw walks and get on base sure seem to score more runs. As of today, the top 5 teams in OBP are the Yankees, Rockies, Mariners, Blue Jays and Red Sox, and the top 4 teams in runs scored are the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Rockies. As is expected with a team OBP ranked 27th in MLB, the Brewers rank 23rd in runs scored. I think Melvin is a good GM who is going to improve the Brewers, but that statement about OBP is a sign he is never going to turn the Brewers into a model franchise or an elite team.

Brandon


And as I say often, the final goal of a GM should be to build a contender, hopefully lasting several years. If you are not in the "contention" phase, your only goal should be to get there, ASAP. That said, the idea of spending a couple million dollars on a good field/no hit 35 year-old SS is ridiculous. We should be looking for a SS under 27, that could at least settle in and be mediocre. Instead, adding guys that drag down your team OBP AND have no chance of contributing to the next winning Brewers' club is simply a lack of planning.

In my simple world, the best way to have an above average OBP is to have an average or better OBP at each position. Adding guys like Clayton, Perez/Osik, and Helms guarantees you subpar production from 3 of your 8 lineup spots. This, in turn, all but guarantees you will have a poor team OBP, which all but guarantees you a poor offense.

I agree with your statement, that Melvin has a good idea on what will improve his team, but will never build the team into an A's type dynasty without respecting OBP. He simply seems to be all over the place in regards on what to like in a player, traded for Helms because Yost thinks he's a "good guy", for example, didn't allow Valentin a chance to catch because he may have been a below average defender (yet, adds below average hitters like they're going out of style).

Are there good players who have below average OBP? Yes. Do you want to look for them, to add to your team? No.

Thanks for writing and reading, Brandon.



5/19/2003 05:44:00 PM



(5/19/2003 03:01:00 PM) - Al

Al:

This is something that I wrote to Dale Hoffman in response to his question of “what can be done to bring fans in to [filling in my thoughts—that monstrosity that is New Comiskey with a moving roof] Miller Park”…and which, of course, he appeared to promptly ignore.

Here’s the letter copied and pasted…I might add that the idea of not having top prospects in the farm system is not altogether true. It’s just that the AAA roster looks like the castoffs of every major league team’s non-roster invites for the past 3 or 4 years….Anyway, here’s the letter:

Dale:

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in Milwaukee, reading your column in the Sentinel every morning (seriously—every morning before school), then spent much of the 90s in school, and now live in Atlanta. I lived, breathed, ate and slept the Brewers from 1978 through about 1988, when more pressing things (like girls) made me start to lose some interest in the Brewers. Now, living in Atlanta, I find my interest rekindled from afar, and often find myself watching them on DirecTV (what a great invention!).

The one suggestion that I would be so bold as to make to the Brewers is to find themselves a guy behind the scenes to be their statistic analyst. Yes, I know that is sacrilegious to many a fan and, in fact, to many a front office. However, ever since Earl Weaver and his little note card system he used to determine his lineups for the Orioles in the late 70s and early 80s (quite successfully, I might add), many good baseball men have realized the impact that recognizing and using all available information can be to a team. Obviously, the Brewers don’t have to make this hiring in the showy way that Boston did and hire Bill James (the recognized commissar and godfather of the exponential increase in statistical baseball analysis), but it wouldn’t hurt to get someone to whom people in power with the team will listen. I honestly don’t know how much, if any, the men and women of the Brewers front office read such websites and information as that coming on Baseball Prospectus or other similar sites…but those are the kinds of people about which I am speaking: educated, intelligent, baseball loving people who happen to also look at things such as the question, to what past baseball players is this current player or prospect most similar in terms of position, skills, and even height and weight—and then they use those similarities to project the potential for improvement or decline in a player. That kind of information could be invaluable to a baseball team…I’d hope that they’d use it.

Okay—one other suggestion. Since we all know it is pretty clear that the Brewers are not going to win the pennant this year and probably will finish under .500 again, I think it would be a good idea to start trading veterans with value off NOW. Eric Young, Mike DeJean, Royce Clayton (while he’s still hitting some), Geoff Jenkins (while he’s still healthy), even Richie Sexson. With the farm system in some trouble and lacking in real top-notch prospects (probably in no small part to all the combustible high school pitchers they draft who almost inevitably get hurt), let’s turn some of these guys into the next good Brewers team—2005 or 2006, perhaps? Considering the size of the market and the personnel involved, the Brewers would do worse than to model themselves after the Oakland A’s, rather than the Detroit Tigers.

That was longer than I had intended, but I get frustrated watching the current team. They have some decent guys out there, but so many of the players on this team are just placeholders—guys wearing the jerseys while we wait more and more impatiently for the first winning team since 1992(!) and the “Go-Go” Brewers. If you’ve made it this far in my e-mail, all I can say to you is “thank you for your patience” in reading this.

Tony

Atlanta, GA via Slinger, Wisconsin


A very well written note to Dale, Tony. You will be interested to hear the Crew does have a "stat guy", but I'm not really sure how in depth a job he does, or if he is all but ignored. I just saw the other day they have one, but am not sure where I saw it.

The team appears ready to trade away veterans, as I've read in several places that "anyone is up for grabs". The ones I doubt will be dealt are Sheets and Sexson, though I feel Richie should probably be traded, as I doubt if his value will increase. This team needs a 1B like we need a hole in the head.

Why we are looking to trade older, more spendy players now is beyond me. The reconstruction process should have begun last July, and continued on in the offseason. Knowing your place in the success cycle is vital, and it appears we lost track of it; signing Clayton, rather than dumping Young, Dejean, etc.

Thanks for reading and writing, Tony.


5/19/2003 03:01:00 PM



(5/19/2003 02:54:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer takes on an e-mail that wonders if we shouldn't multiply OBP by 3, then add it to SLG, to find the real value of a player. As someone who feels OBP is the most important factor to a successful offense, I'm not sure how you can overstate OBP's value.


5/19/2003 02:54:00 PM



(5/19/2003 02:48:00 PM) - Al

From Peter Gammons:

Milwaukee will move anyone, starting with Curtis Leskanic, Glendon Rusch and Eric Young.

Best news I've heard in a while. It's about 7 months too late, in my view, but better late than never.


5/19/2003 02:48:00 PM



(5/19/2003 11:13:00 AM) - Al

The Baseball Crank has this great quote about going-ons in the Iraq war.

Before I end this I want to point out one other quality of the American soldier: his sense of justice. After a grueling fight, a company of infantrymen was resting and opening their first mail delivery of the war. One of the young soldiers had received a care package and was sharing the home-baked cookies with his friends. A photographer with a heavy French accent asked if he could have one. The soldier looked him over and said there would be no cookies for Frenchmen. The photographer then protested that he was half Italian. Without missing a beat, the soldier broke a cookie in half and gave it to him. It was a perfect moment and a perfect reflection of the American soldier.






5/19/2003 11:13:00 AM


Sunday, May 18, 2003

(5/18/2003 11:00:00 PM) - Al

I see Marcos Scutaro has earned a promotion to the bigs with the Mets. Let's hope it is of the permanent variety, as I believe he's, ahem, more than proven himself in AAA. With trade rumors flying around New York concerning Roberto Alomar, that'd sure be a wonderful opening for Scooter. As of now, he's PHing and a utility IF, so let's hope he does enough in his limited time to continue his trip around the majors.

EDIT: Just checked, Scooter was called up as Rey Sanchez was DL'd. Wondering who had been playing SS the past few days, I checked. Joe McEwing. McEwing is a somewhat useful 25th man, I guess, as he, like RUTT memeber Lou Collier, can play 7 positions decently, all except P & C. However, unlike Lou, Joe has never really hit at any level. In the bigs, his career numbers are .254/.307/.381, for a 688 OPS. He is completely overmatched as an eevryday player, and the idea Scooter isn't at least splitting time with him at SS is bewildering.


5/18/2003 11:00:00 PM



(5/18/2003 09:36:00 PM) - Al

2 out of 3 from the Reds, one of the best offensive teams in the NL? Nothing wrong with that.

I'm pretty disappointed Yost allowed Ruben to go so long again today. 6 good innings from your #5 starter? With the long game on Thursday, I guess I could see waiting until Q gave up a runner, as that was only the tying run. But, to allow the tying run to reach 2B was inexcusable. Yet again, as is becoming the habit, the starter remains in the game until he has begun to suck. Somehow, that is not the best way to run a staff.

However, it does sound like Yost has finally lost any confidence in Luis "No, My Arm Doesn't Hurt" Vizcaino, announcing Curtis Leskanic is the new 8th inning guy, and Dejean is still the man for inning 9. Only took a month and a half of complete ineffectiveness.

Cal Eldred is the SL closer. No, really. Yesterday on the Cubs/Cards game, they showed a graphic that was supposed to show how the Cards' 'pen has struggled without Jason Isringhausen. Last year, through mid-May, SL had compiled a 4.08 ERA. This year, they have a 4.25 ERA...0.17 runs more per 9 innings. Let's just figure for fun the starters have averaged 5 innings, that means the relievers give up an "extra" 0.076 runs per game in their 4 innings of work. So, on average, every 13 games, the SL bullpen gives up one more run than last year. So, in reality, the SL relief corps has pitched almost identically to the 2002 version. Need to look elsewhere to find the real problem, folks.


5/18/2003 09:36:00 PM


Thursday, May 15, 2003

(5/15/2003 11:15:00 PM) - Al

I'll be back Monday with more Brewers and baseball news. Until then, let's get some wins, and seriously consider gutting this team. I'm so sick of seeing Eddie Perez and Royce Clayton, older guys that can't hit and have no future with the Crew, in the lineup every day. My thoughts this offseason was to go with a $25-30 mil payroll, lose a lot of games, and go with kids. Instead, our payroll is $40 mil, we're losing a lot of games, and doing it with journeymen who have no place on a rebuilding club.

With 25% of the season gone, this hasn't looked to be a season for the ages, to say the least. Ned already seems to be playing his gritty bunch that lacks talent, and getting exactly the results we knew he would get. The move that still best represents the 2003 Brewers is keeping two seasoned 30+ reserve catchers who can't hit a lick, while giving up on Javier Valentin based on a few March exhibition results. No thought of the future, ceilings, potential, offense; the only thought was "who played best in the meaningless Arizona sun"? Short-sighted, and to be blunt, it's everything that's wrong. It doesn't matter if Valentin goes 0-400 in '03, he at least had a chance to not suck, and to contribute to the next winning MIL team. The others did not. Hence, the decision was obvious...and they still missed it.

From AA and below, our organization is solid. At AAA and above, it is beyond poor. It's time to punt '03 and make every decision based solely on making 2004 a much better season than 2003. If you're 29 or older, start packing. Guys like EY, Dejean, Rusch, etc. should be offered up for youth and a prayer.

Let's hope this isn't just me thinking this. Thoughts of keeping scrappy around should be reserved for Scooby Doo. We needs us some talent, OBP guys like Ginter, who may have fallen out of favor for silly reasons, you know, like the ones we use to determine our roster.

In the meantime, I hope for a winning streak and the addition of "respecting OBP" to the top of the Brewers mission statement. See ya next week.



5/15/2003 11:15:00 PM



(5/15/2003 10:51:00 PM) - Al

The king is dead. Bless the Spurs, and shame on the Lakers, I haven't seen an effort that weak for quite some time.

The Mavs/Kings series is going down as a beauty. It's amazing what losing Webber did to even up this affair.


5/15/2003 10:51:00 PM



(5/15/2003 01:42:00 PM) - Al

From ESPN's story on Moneyball, the book on Billy Beane.

The Brewers' Doug Melvin suggests one of the major splits between the ways small-market teams do business is in whether they privilege defense at the expense of offense, or vice versa. If you're the Yankees, maybe you get both. If you're the A's or the Brewers, you most likely have to compromise.

As for OBP and other run-productive indicators, Melvin said, "while on-base percentage works" in evaluating some players, "it doesn't work for all players." In the end, it's just a statistical column for him -- one of many things they look at.


Oh man. What could be more important than "not getting out"? Seriously. If you do not have a top OBP team, you will not have a top offensive team...why is that difficult to understand?

Could someone please tell me what good players do not have good OBP? Anyone, anyone?



5/15/2003 01:42:00 PM



(5/15/2003 01:36:00 PM) - Al

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy watching Keith Ginter hit? 9 of that kid would push most starters out in the 5th or 6th inning.


5/15/2003 01:36:00 PM



(5/15/2003 01:32:00 PM) - Al

Brian at Brewerfan.net reports the Brewers are interested in signing Ruben Mateo. Since this fits in perfectly with the Crew not respecting OBP, I'm not a bit surprised. While Ruben is 5 years younger than Brady Clark, at least Clark has good AAA numbers...Mateo hasn't really produced since AA ball in '98.


5/15/2003 01:32:00 PM



(5/15/2003 01:10:00 PM) - Al

Despite the fact they have only one hit and 6 K's through 3 innings versus Kerry Wood, they have made him work hard, as Wood has tossed 63 pitches just to get 9 outs. Billy Beane always calls the K "the pound of flesh", meaning it takes a lot out of the pitcher, though he's beating you. The Crew's 12 batters have made Wood throw an average of 5.25 pitches per PA, an excellent number. While they still need to score, they might well get to a middle reliever in the 6th or 7th.


5/15/2003 01:10:00 PM



(5/15/2003 10:58:00 AM) - Al

Julio Lugo is close to signing with Tampa Bay. Lugo was released by the Astros because he was charged with assaulting his wife, and moreso, wasn't good enough for the team to bother keeping in light of a PR disaster. Lugo was offered a deal by the Padres as well, but they were unwilling to give him a 2 year contract. Say what you will, but releasing a player that teams have interest in is always a decision based on emotion, not intelligence. Giving players away for off-field offenses is bad business.

Jose Guillen, proof why spring training should be taken with a grain of salt, now may demand a trade, with Griffey returning from injury. Guillen has performed admirably in Griffey's absence, but will be fortunate to post a .300 OBP for the season, as he's struggled to do so in hundreds of AB's during his career. Jose is still under the illusion that he's a good player, while in truth, he's a far below average corner OF. I'd say he's a platoon guy/defensive replacement, probably worthy of a 25 man spot just for the pleasure of watching him throw. That said, if he expects to play every day, he needs to get out less.


5/15/2003 10:58:00 AM



(5/15/2003 10:46:00 AM) - Al

At ESPN Insider, they report on Dusty's high pitch counts, as I mentioned earlier this week.

Eyebrows were raised on Saturday when Cubs manager Dusty Baker allowed Kerry Wood to stick around for 141 pitches. It was the highest pitch count of Wood's injury-interrupted career and the kind of pitching permissiveness for which Baker's predecessor Don Baylor was well-known. Baker followed that up by allowing Mark Prior to start the sixth inning on Monday night in spite of a six-run lead and having already thrown 107 pitches.

Do pitchers like this sort of treatment? Absolutely. In most cases, you will find that they have nothing but praise for being allowed to go deep into games (that is, until an injury occurs and they are casting about for something to pin it on). Prior had this to say about Monday's outing to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune: "I was getting a little tired at the end, because the 124 came after six innings. But it's nice to be left out there knowing it's your game to win or lose. Hey, it's my job."

Baker's thinking is that if ain't broke, don't fix it (while opponents of high pitch counts follow the credo that if you don't fix it often enough it will, someday, break). Of his decision to keep Prior in the game he told Sullivan: "He was throwing well. You look up there and his strikes-to-balls ratio is about 2-1, which is what you like to see. There were a lot of deep counts, and your pitch count gets up rather quickly. He threw the ball well. It's just that his pitch count got up kind of high."

Sullivan cites a host of statistics from Baker's days with the Giants to illustrate that he is not a man bound to pitch counts and keeping a short leash on his starters. Last season -- his last at the helm of the Giants, his starters were second in the league in most innings pitched (although the year before they were just seventh).

So far this season, Baker is picking up where he left off with his old team:

Innings per start
Cardinals: 6.47
Dodgers: 6.35
Cubs: 6.29

As Sullivan points out, Cardinals starters stay in the game because manager Tony La Russa fears his bullpen. On the other hand, the Cubs pen is a much-improved unit over last year when it undid the efforts of the team's starters time and time again. Of course, the decision to stay with a starter is made a lot easier by the quality said starter is bringing to the mound. Philosophy or no, if Baker had the starting staff of the Texas Rangers, he'd be out there with the shepherd's hook in the fifth inning every night just like Buck Showalter has to be. The Cubs' starters lead the league in strikeouts and have the second-best ERA to the Dodgers and are getting most of the credit for the team being in first place in the National League Central. Before we get too carried away with their accomplishments, it must be remembered that the team's offense has been much more than adequate this year as well:

Runs per game:
Rockies: 5.77
Cardinals: 5.72
Cubs: 5.42


What I find amusing is that even Dusty knows the pitch counts are high, yet he doesn't seem to be moved to do anything about it. I certainly can't see Wood getting through the season with the number of pitches he's throwing in the first 45 days. Either Baker is ignorant to this fact, or he doesn't believe that high counts and injuries are related, which seems rather simple, doesn't it?


5/15/2003 10:46:00 AM



(5/15/2003 12:06:00 AM) - Al

A good example of how to take a pitcher out too early rather than too late would be the BOS/TEX game tonight. Casey Fossum was removed after 5 innings, he only gave up one run. The much maligned Red Sox bullpen threw 4 scoreless frames and BOS had an easy win.

If you wait for the starter to fail, he will. It's as simple as that.


5/15/2003 12:06:00 AM


Wednesday, May 14, 2003

(5/14/2003 11:34:00 PM) - Al

Every once in a while, a real member of the media (other than Drew Olson, who nearly always spews forth crap) puts a column out that is so full of holes that it is nearly impossible not to see right through it. On ESPN today, Sean McAdam triumphed in completing a column full of cliches, half-truths, and untruths. Let's take a gander, shall we?

As for the offense, many of the Red Sox's big bats have been slow to thaw. Manny Ramirez has just five homers and recently went 52 at-bats without one. Eight players in the AL have reached double-figures in home runs, but none play for the Red Sox -- Nomar Garciaparra leads the team in homers with just six.

Well, truth be known, as the little table in Sean's little ditty shows, BOS is tied for 3rd place in HR's in the AL. Does it matter if the Sox have a Sexson, or if they are balanced? Nope, none.

...how have the Red Sox positioned themselves to nip at the Yankees' heels? Simple. A lot of runs. Not via the long ball necessarily, but by stringing together hits, collecting clutch two-out singles and doubles.

"Clutch" hitting is going the same way as "veteran leadership", spoken of often, but no one ever really sees it. Let's go to the simple formula that allows you to figure how many runs a team should score, AB x OBP x SLG = estimated runs scored. Boston has scored 233 runs this season, and if you run the numbers (available to everyone, even McAdam, has access to on a variety of sites) of 1394 x .352 x .467 = 229 runs.

Hey, if you wish to argue that the Red sox "clutch" hitting has led them to score 0.1 runs a game more than expected, more power to you. The Sox score a lot of runs because they get on base and they hit for power, the same reason that all teams score the amount of runs they score. Sure, luck and speed and baserunning ability play minute roles as well, but they are hardly worth mentioning.

And unlike a year ago, when the Red Sox were horribly inconsistent with their offense -- capable of scoring double figures on a night, then one or two runs the next -- this edition of the Red Sox has proved to be more reliable. "We've been pretty level,'' agreed Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein of his team's run-scoring capability. "Last year, we were up and down a lot. This year, so far, it seems most nights we're scoring five, six or seven runs.'' That isn't just Epstein's imagination. In 30 of their 38 games, the Red Sox have scored five or more runs. In one particular stretch, they scored either five, six or seven runs in 15 of their 17 games. When they score five or more runs, the Red Sox are 23-7.

Well, they are averaging 5.97 runs a game, and they have scored 5 or more runs 78.9% of the time. Most teams would consider 4 or more runs scored to be a decent offensive outing, and the Red Sox have scored 4 runs twice, meaning they have scored admirably in 32 of 38 games, an 84% success rate. Last year, BOS averaged 5.30 runs a game, and scored 4 runs or more 66% of the time. Consistency seems to be pretty closely related to simply scoring more runs. It looks incredibly likely that Boston is simply reaping the rewards of a higher OBP and a higher SLG in 2003.

The Red Sox are tied for 11th place in the AL in walks.

This is in the chart off to the right of the article. Actually, BOS is tied for 4th in bases on balls.

This year, individual performances are off, but team achievement is up. The 2003 Red Sox are a historical anomaly, with the sum being greater than the parts.

My favorite. Simply a no proof required, take it as fact cliche of a statement. Let's delve into the facts, shall we? Of the 6 players on both the '02 & '03 squads garnering significant playing time, here's the comparison, with the 2003 numbers being listed first:

Nomar---815 vs. 880
Damon--724 vs. 799
Manny--926 vs. 1097
Shea----800 vs. 789
Nixon---907 vs. 808
Varitek-849 vs. 724

So, that's 3 worse, one all but the same, and two better than in '02. Somehow, this means the "team achievement is up"? Hardly. It means that the team OBP and the team SLG is up, mostly due to Theo Epstein's additions to the team. Hence, the team is more productive offensively. It's not done with mirrors, it's all about OBP and SLG.

Very poor attempt at a factual article by McAdam.


5/14/2003 11:34:00 PM



(5/14/2003 09:56:00 PM) - Al

Talk about history repeating itself.

Tonight, Matt Kinney had pitched 7 beautiful innings, allowing only 2 runs. But, he was left out there to pitch until he failed, and he did in the 8th. Sooner or later, Ned Yost is going to learn that if you let a pitcher go until he gets hit, odds are, you will lose, and allow a lot of runs to score.

Now, I'm certainly not one that can read a crystal ball, or can see the future. Did I know Matt would fail in the 8th? No. But, as i have pointed out too many times to mention, you need to set up your team to succeed, and get in the habit of removing your starter a hitter too early, not waiting until the damage is done. Simply put, in a game deciding moment, I will take my chances with my fresh reliever I have chosen to face this hitter (or these hitters), rather than a tired starter who is just facing the next guy up in the order by chance.

Without looking at Kinney's previous pitch and inning totals, I'm not sure how long I would have let Matt go...but if I get 6 or 7 great innings from my starter, I certainly am giddy. And, the idea of allowing said starter to give up 4 runs in the 8th is unfathomable.

Fail to plan, plan to fail...if you fail to learn the lessons of history, you are doomed to repeat it...etc. Pitiful staff management the last couple nights.

And, if Scott Podsednik continues to play, he'll be DFA'd right quick. Scott's best chance at cult hero status was to play rarely, get his uniform dirty by being Caucasian and perceived as "scrappy", and sit on the bench, while his less than mediocre numbers stayed the same. At the end of the day, he's still just a AAA OF whose career OBP was .330. As a 5th OF, he's not horrible, but as anything but, he's overmatched. I'm still struggling to grasp why this guy was kept on the 40 man all winter, when his exact double can be signed as a minor league FA or on the waiver wire in late March. There may be a place for Scott in the bigs, but the idea he's anything but a role player is as funny as the thought that the Perez/Osik catching combo would be anything better than far below average.


5/14/2003 09:56:00 PM



(5/14/2003 08:27:00 PM) - Al

YAWNFEST

Tonight's Brewers' game was billed as "open mic" night, as Fox put a lot of microphones all over Miller Park, including on 1B coach Dave Nelson.

So far, a gigantic parade of nothingness.

Sutton and Schroeder have talked MORE than usual, and have managed to say less (which I wouldn't have believed was even possible). Nelson talked to EY in the first inning, telling him he may want to wait to steal 2B, as the pitcher was throwing a lot of fastballs (I'd argue he should wait because his SB/CS ratio is no better than break even. Young's basestealing hasn't been an asset for years.). And we spent a minute of our lives listening to a peanut vendor tell us Cubs' fans were better tippers.

Pardon me, I needs me a caffienated beverage.


5/14/2003 08:27:00 PM


Tuesday, May 13, 2003

(5/13/2003 10:36:00 PM) - Al

Check out the link mentioned, folks.

To whom it may concern:

I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not, but on February 22nd, 2003, Carl Riccio, my cousin, a 17 year old junior at Watchung Hills High School in NJ, broke his neck during a high school wrestling match. Carl was an undefeated wrestler and a star baseball player. This tragedy made headline news across the country. These accidents occur only twice a year in the sporting world.

Carl is currently listed a a quadraplegic and the doctor's have given him a 1% chance of recovering. Luckily, he is at one of the best spinal care facilities in the country now, The Kessler Institute in West Orange, NJ.

It would mean a great deal to him if you could post a get well message to him on his website, as a fellow member of the baseball community.

This is the website address where you can read all about Carl and his story: It should have all his contact information there. But if it doesn't here is is contact info: Carl Riccio, c/o Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, 1199 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052 (973)731-3600.
The Riccio's home address is 17 Casale Drive, Warren, NJ 07059 (908)-647-2404.

Even if all you can do is post a message on his website's message's board, it would mean a heck of alot to him.

Each night, his parents read all the websites' messages from around the country to him and his face lights up.

Thanks again in advance,

Daniel J. McCarey


Just got this in my inbox, check out the site and leave a message, and be thankful every day you have your health...and that you're not as ignorant as teen girls from upper-class suburbs of Chicago.


5/13/2003 10:36:00 PM



(5/13/2003 10:30:00 PM) - Al

Despite all the great marketing minds in the world, a major movie studio has decided to call a film "The Italian Job".

Good one.


5/13/2003 10:30:00 PM



(5/13/2003 10:21:00 PM) - Al

I'm very surprised how little mention I can find on the Web about Dusty Baker having Kerry Wood, he who has already had one major arm injury and subsequent surgery, throw 141 pitches Saturday. Then, last night, Dusty sent Mark Prior out in a meaningless 7th inning to make his final pitch count 124. Prior is 22 years-old, and while 124 pitches is disturbing, 124 pitches in early May is horrendous judgement.

Prior has started 8 games, and his pitch counts are as follows:105, 113, 94, 112, 116, 97, 104, 124

If I was lucky enough to have Mark Prior on my team, I'd limit him to 110 pitches, tops. No hitter after 8? Well, you need to cut down on your pitches son, maybe next time. If Prior was in the minors, he'd likely have a 90 or 100 pitch limit until June, when they'd "stretch him out" to 105-110. So far, Mark has gone:

over 110 pitches--4 of 8 times, 50%

over 115 pitches--2 of 8 times, 25%

over 120 pitches--1 of 8 times, 12.5%

Not quite AJ Burnett, but far, far too high. So, are you going to be able to feign surprise if the abuse continues, and Mark "suddenly" develops arm trouble?

I'm not.

By the way, here's Kerry Wood's numbers...Kerry is actually one year younger than AJ Burnett.

88, 111, 122, 104, 124, 115, 116, 141

Good God.

over 110 pitches--6 of 8 times, 75%
over 115 pitches--5 of 8 times, 62.5%
over 120 pitches--3 of 8 times, 37.5%

There ought to be a law against this kind of treatment. Frightening.


5/13/2003 10:21:00 PM



(5/13/2003 09:50:00 PM) - Al

Great story on the best idea I've seen in decades, adding seats to Fenway's Green Monster. And to think some fools thought this was a bad move. I can only imagine Jim Caple spouting babble about tradition and greed. Sometimes you need to improve the good things. Even if ain't broke, you CAN still improve it.


5/13/2003 09:50:00 PM



(5/13/2003 09:43:00 PM) - Al

Apparently, Alex Sanchez is not in the lineup tonight as some sort of punishment. According to the TV broadcast team, he's going to sit a few days in hopes that it "gets him to do the things he needs to do to be successful".

First of all, allow me to interject that I'm feeling punished having to watch Scott Podsednik bat versus a junkballing lefty. A strikeout and three Lenny Harrisesque slow ground balls (thank God he's making contact, 4-6-3 DP's aside) are what we have out of the leadoff spot tonight.

Secondly, I find it hilarious Ned proudly told Dave Nelson to be Sanchez's tutor this year, and if Alex had a .400 OBP, Dave would be getting all the credit. But, Alex is slumping, and Dave gets no blame. None. Coaches are never held responsible for blatant errors and horrible judgement. Gary Allenson may have singlehandedly costy the Crew 25 runs in '02 by doing things like sending home a runner on an attempted inside the park HR...with no one out. Was Gary ever "benched"? Please, he was likely praised for his aggressiveness.

The funny thing is, a parallel was drawn to Andruw Jones, who was once pulled from a game after dropping an easy fly ball in his "I'm a total idiot" basket style. The funny thing is, Jones still does this, as he drops an easy out once or twice yearly. Now, however, Jones hits a lot better, so his "oops, I dropped it again" routine is looked at as style more than errors. A better comparison may well be Gary Sheffield. The Crew never left Gary alone to develop into a superstar, they nitpicked over the little things and ignored the big things. They traded him to SD for two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree; and a decade later, Sheff is still a wonderful player. Now, Alex is never going to bring Gary's power to his game, but he has shown flashes of making himself into a solid on-base guy. But, the Crew still likes to point out what he doesn't do. Still shaky in the OF. Doesn't bunt enough to satisfy some. Baserunning causes outs.

Alex needs someone to help him take the next step, but the idea that sitting him down to watch Podsednik play scrappily...and crapily (all due apologies to the English language) is going to assist him in that development is lost on me. I would compare it to Royster sitting him down against LH pitchers last year. 2002 was a fine opportunity for Alex to learn how to hit lefties, but we did not have the time, patience, or want to make the effort to give him that chance...we were chasing that 57th win, damnit.

It's mid-May, and any teaching seems to have been tossed overboard. Somehow, this seems like a disturbing development for a team solidly entrenched in a rebuilding mode. You also gotta wonder how much help Enrique Cruz and Matt Ford are getting in their Rule 5 seasons.


5/13/2003 09:43:00 PM



(5/13/2003 09:12:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder on Q's HR he allowed to Choi:

...just above the knees, and Choi hit it....just like last night, the Brewers are hurt by balls up in the strike zone.

Um, since when is just above the knees up in the strike zone? Bill's one of the few guys who can debate himself and still lose.


5/13/2003 09:12:00 PM



(5/13/2003 09:08:00 PM) - Al

One of Yost's worst cases of not thinking ahead thus far. Ruben Q had given the club 6 solid innings, but leaving him in to face the top of the order simply isn't intelligent. The best use of the pitching staff is to set up your pitchers to succeed, and Ned failed to do that. He just left Q out there until he failed, a sign of a manager not being in the game. Down 3-2, you're right in the game, but you need to hold the Cubs to a run or less in the last 3 innings. If you leave a starter in there until he gets hit, you have little chance of a successful outing. Gotta get in the habit of removing your pitchers a batter too early, rather than a guy too late.

Likely the worst strategy since Royster sat in the dugout.


5/13/2003 09:08:00 PM


Monday, May 12, 2003

(5/12/2003 07:39:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder, on the firing of Jeff Torborg in FLA:

It's not his fault those guys are hurt.

So, who is responsible for those reprehensible pitch counts?

I'm sorry, but the Lord of the Idiots title has just been won.


5/12/2003 07:39:00 PM



(5/12/2003 06:09:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to Aaron Gleeman, papa of Aaron's Baseball Blog, for mentions in both Jayson Stark's column and the New York Sun. Aaron puts in a ton of effort into each column, and correctly predicted with astonishing accuracy AJ Burnett's impending arm trouble. Now that he's off school for the summer, he'll probably be writing even more, if that's possible.


5/12/2003 06:09:00 PM



(5/12/2003 06:02:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I know you preach patience and small samples mean nothing, but I have a question. What if I feel I have a chance to improve my roster, in April? Should I do it, or wait until mid May or June to tinker with my team? Also, any sleepers you would like to talk about? How are your teams doing?

Bradley


Another frequent writer, thanks Bradley.

1. Never hesitate to improve your roster. I picked up Larry Walker off waivers in late April one year, as some owner had waived him because he was off to a .245 start. I picked Jeremy Giambi on 5 or 6 of my 8 teams, and I think I just have him on one or two now. I haven't changed my outlook on Jeremy, but he's in a situation he seems to find. BOS has 12 good offensive players, and only 9 spots to play each day. Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, and Jeremy have found themselves with spotty playing time this year. That doesn't mean those three aren't above average offensive players, it just means BOS has decided to play other good players. Real life GM's should turn over rocks and look in the brush for players just like this; good, but behind others on the depth chart. Us fantasy GM's should avoid them like the plague. Fantasy stats such as runs and RBI's are a direct result of AB's, and you don't get those from the bench. Just don't overemphasize small samples from April.

2. Well, in my drafts, I went after the following players a lot: Bagwell, Sweeney, Todd Walker, Frank Catalanto (2B eligible), Aaron Boone (SS eligible), Eric Hinske, Mark Kotsay, Johnny Damon, Carlos Lee, Giambi, Trot Nixon, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez, Derek Lowe, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Casey Fossum, Cory Lidle, Jose Jimenez, Mike Dejean, and Keith Foulke. Why? All are solid, consistent, and for whatever reason, ranked lower than I feel they should be. Since the season started, I've picked up Ronnie Belliard, Kevin Millar, Cliff Politte, and Damaso Marte quite often. Franklyn German is a closer candidate I don't have room for on most clubs. Bobby Kielty is finally getting the time he's deserved since last May. I know MIN pitchers like Radke, Mays, Reed, and Rogers are available in some of my leagues. Thye won't win 18, but they might win 12-15, with a decent ERA.

3. Better than last year. My average team is in 4th place, and 6 of 8 were in the upper half as of yesterday. My 3 leagues set up with folks from Brewerfan.net, generally smarter fans than most, are in 1st, 4th, and 7th. If healthy, all 8 should complete the year in the upper division, with several in the top two. Other than Giambi, all my core guys are healthy and only Carlos Lee is struggling thus far, and that won't last.


5/12/2003 06:02:00 PM



(5/12/2003 05:33:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Loved your Milleresque rant on those teens from Illinois. I did look over at my wife when I saw it for the umpteeth time and said that my feeling was they were just bad kids. Hopefully, they'll spend some quality time in prison before starting college.

Jon


No one's ever compared me to Dennis Miller before, though he's almost a hero of mine, so thank you Jon, a regular reader and season ticket holder from the burbs of Milwaukee. My favorite thing is even though the faces of the violent femmes are obscured, they were just intelligent enough to put their nicknames on the back of their shirts, so it will be easy to identify the punkettes.

Actually, prison may delay their entry onto the welfare roles for a year or two, so this may save the public some money. Thanks for the continued e-mails Jon.


5/12/2003 05:33:00 PM


Sunday, May 11, 2003

(5/11/2003 12:40:00 AM) - Al

Many would have said it was impossible a month ago, but if Curtis Leskanic can pitch like he has thus far for another 30 days or so, he will be in demand as a late innings reliever for a contender. Many nights, he appears unhittable, and his velocity looks to be as good as it ever was. Also, Curtis has added a curve to his fastball/slider assortment. I've hardly ever seen a batter swing at one, as they are shocked to see the pitch from him. He is able to throw the newfound curve for strikes, which makes his fastball seem faster, and his slider even more devastating.

If he can stay healthy...gee, why does that sound familiar?


5/11/2003 12:40:00 AM



(5/11/2003 12:18:00 AM) - Al

We feel the real killer is still out there...---Mark Geragos, Scott Peterson's lawyer

Hmmm, maybe OJ Simpson could search for him.

And please, the day I feel sorry for some stuck up rich girls from an upper class suburb of the Windy City, is the same day any of the people shown on that tape ever amount to anything. We're talking cheerleaders and slackers. None of them had jobs, extra curricular activities, etc. to keep them busy? Nope. We're not talking about quality kids, we're talking about rich punks who are very good at spending daddy's money, and blaming others for their incompetence.

These are nothing except tomorrow's frat and sorority members. If ignorance is bliss, they are among the most satisfied folks on the planet. Maybe they can spend the next few years committing economic terrorism, blocking traffic and pissing away our police officers' time arresting them; because they disagree with the government's actions. Rather than being active in the political process, they take the lazy way out...just like they did that day in the park. Losers, one and all.


5/11/2003 12:18:00 AM



(5/11/2003 12:04:00 AM) - Al

Forgot to mention how Keith Osik had a big night, 3 walks and a double. Osik has been a whipping boy for some casual fans, but the truth is, Osik is a nice reserve C, no better or worse than 25 other MLB guys, and 25 AAA guys, for all practical purposes. Much like last year's benchwarmers Mark Loretta and Ronnie Belliard, he gets the blame, when in truth, the 25th man isn't worth .1 wins over the course of a season.

This year, Lo and Belly are starting 2B, and both are doing fine. The difference between the Brewers and the Yankees isn't the 21st-25th men, it's #1-15. It makes little difference if Scott Podsednik is your 5th OF, or if he's in AAA. However, if Scott is starting quite a bit for you, your team isn't very good. Small sample in '03 aside, Scott is a career .330 OBP man...in AAA.

It isn't the role players that keeps the Brewers from competing, heck, I'll argue all day Keith Ginter should be starting. It's the starting eight and the rotation that separates us from a 90 win club. Give us the top half of the Yankees' roster, I have no problem adding our bottom half to the team and saying I'm a playoff contender.

Worrying that Keith Osik, a reserve catcher, hits like a...reserve catcher (shocker!!!), keeps you from focusing on the real problems, and does nothing except ignore the real problem.


5/11/2003 12:04:00 AM


Saturday, May 10, 2003

(5/10/2003 10:14:00 PM) - Al

I'll have to put off the fantasy question until Monday. I'll be off tomorrow, as I have work and then intend to watch Survivor and Six Feet Under. See ya Monday.


5/10/2003 10:14:00 PM



(5/10/2003 08:38:00 PM) - Al

Ned removed Sheets after only 97 pitches tonight. I'd prefer that after a 110 pitch outing, but at least he didn't push him to 115-120 after allowing him to go 127 last time. Even if the Brewers end up losing tonight, this is still a positive move for the Crew's future. Sheets might still suffer an arm injury, at some point, but there's no excuse not to be cautious with him, on a team destined to lose 90+ games.


5/10/2003 08:38:00 PM



(5/10/2003 07:50:00 PM) - Al

Jose Guillen threw a ball from just short of the RF warning track to 3B on one hop, and almost got a tagging Wes Helms. Wow. Clemente may have had a better arm, but no one today is close. The best two I can think of offhand are Ichiro and Vlad, and compared to Guillen, they throw like girls.


5/10/2003 07:50:00 PM



(5/10/2003 07:46:00 PM) - Al

Al:

Hi, my name is Tony. I grew up in Slinger (1/2 hour outside downtown) as a Brewers fan, and remained a Brewers fan until Bud became commissioner/owner and let the team and its already lacking farm system run straight into the ground…and let Molitor become a Blue Jay and then a Twin. I still follow the Brewers and care about them, but I live in Atlanta now. So, the desire to follow the team is often outweighed by how absolutely horrible the team and its management really are.

At any rate, what I was gong to mention (and it really isn’t that much!) is Bill Schroeder and his bunting rant. I’m guessing you are probably around my age (31), so you may recall the game…May 16, 1987 (thanks to Retrosheet.org for the date information)…in which Charlie Liebrandt of the Royals had a perfect game through 5 1/3 before good ole Bill Schroeder, he of the 5-day 40 yd. time, and bunted for a base hit to break up the no hitter (Liebrandt later walked Deer in the 7th). That was the only hit Liebrandt gave up that day, but thanks to the beauty of the well-placed bunt with the score KC 6, Milwaukee 0 (Bill Wegman got hit hard that day), the Brewers were not kept hitless.

Keep up the good work. It’s always fun to read other people’s thoughts on the game.

Take care,

Tony


Tony, thanks for reading and for the e-mail. I am just a couple years older than you, and I do remember that game. As far as I'm concerned, the batter's only responsibility is to "not get out", but I do know there was some grumbling by KC about the bunt "so late in the game". Bill, as intelligent then as now, said something along the lines of "Who would have ever thought that would be the only hit of the game"? Since the game was more than half over, that seemed like a poorly (or not) thought out statement. If he would have said, "hey, i'm just trying to get on and get something going", I would have had some respect for him, at least.

Tony, glad you find the blog worthy of checking out. The minor league system is now ranked somewhere between 12th and 18th, depending on the survey, so hope is on the way. Some excellent minor league data and info is available over at Brewerfan.net, one of the best fan sites on the web. If you haven't, surf on over.


5/10/2003 07:46:00 PM



(5/10/2003 07:36:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder may have just hit the all-time low. Wes Helms took a check swing, and hit a soft line drive into CF for a base hit. You know what brilliant insight we got from our color man?

It'll look like a line drive in the boxscore tomorrow.

Yeah, I guess it will.


5/10/2003 07:36:00 PM


Friday, May 09, 2003

(5/09/2003 10:50:00 PM) - Al

We'll talk a bit of fantasy baseball tomorrow, as I have a couple of questions I've been asked many times that seem to be enough of a general interest to discuss.


5/09/2003 10:50:00 PM



(5/09/2003 10:47:00 PM) - Al

Nice to see Jack Nicholson upset at the officials in the Lakers/Spurs game. Always more than funny whenever players and/or teams (or in this case, older men who spend time with young babes) who get an incredible amount of "reputation calls" start whining. Shaq commits about 15 fouls a game...on offense alone. But, as many have stated, when you play extremely physical all the time, they let you get away with more.

Until the Lakers lose at home, they're right in this series. With Chris Webber supposedly out for the year, the West is wide open, maybe as much as the East. It's a fun playoff year for casual NBA fans like myself.


5/09/2003 10:47:00 PM



(5/09/2003 10:42:00 PM) - Al

I had to work tonight, but the Crew lost 7-6 in 10 innings. Looks like Mike Dejean blew the save in the 9th and Vizcaino lost it in the 10th. Mike has been pitching pretty well, and I believe a 2 run lead entering the 9th is saved about 85% of the time...which means it's blown 15%. I'll give Mike the benefit of the doubt, but Vizcaino has been awful. I've said over and over Luis is injured, and the repeated denials only make me feel I'm correct. Maybe this will be the outing that makes him say, "you know, my arm just started feeling a bit tight.

I'm always amused when the media makes a comeback win seem somehow better than a "lead the game all the way" win. Phrases such as "they never give up" and "they have a lot of heart" are invariably used, and always bring a chuckle to me. So, if a team scores in the 1st inning, but not the 9th, they are going up to bat and what...trying to get out, despite the fact that players are paid and judged all but solely by statistics? Sorry, but you need to improve your sales technique, 'cause I'm not buying it. Good offensive teams score in the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 9th. Teams that comeback a lot, like the Reds this year, are just high scoring teams.


5/09/2003 10:42:00 PM


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