Al's Ramblings



Sunday, November 30, 2003

(11/30/2003 08:48:00 PM) - Al

Let's look at the 3 players we are hearing will be heading to Milwaukee as early as tomorow.

Lyle Overbay--I am fond of Lyle, and have been for a while. He is a nice example of a player who has nothing left to prove at the AAA level, much like Erubiel Durazo was at this time in 2002. I'll be the first to say AAA stats do not guarantee major league success, but from everything I've seen the past few years, the most consistent indicator is a successful minor league progression, and good plate discipline.

Overbay is a Mark Grace/Doug M type of 1B, good OBP, good doubles power, not much HR power. In 525 AAA AB's his statline was .343/.396/.528, with 42 walks. That's a bit under the accepted standard of one BB per 10 AB's, but I can somewhat understand a guy not taking a lot of walks when you're hitting .343...at every other level, Lyle has walked at least once every 10 AB's, including his 2003 ARI season (35 BB's in 266 AB's). I would project him as a .355/.455 everyday player, which isn't great for a 1B, but it won't hurt you that much either. I can easily see him post a .375 OBP, which would make him pretty close to mediocre.

Overbay projection--.350/.445, 795 OPS, 156 OXS
Mark Grace career---.383/.442, 825 OPS, 169 OXS
Mientkiewicz career-.371/.415, 786 OPS, 154 OXS
Average 1B, 2003---.358/.462, 820 OPS, 165 OXS

Grace got a lot of mileage out of being an average 1B, and lots of folks respect Doug M despite the fact he doesn't hit like one. Still, I may be a tad high in my Overbay estimate. I feel Miller Park may well turn a few of his doubles into HR's, and finally playing every day will help him be the player he can be. I could easily imagine Lyle having a .375/.475 season, but feel it's too optimistic. Still, he will turn 27 next January, so he's as likely to break loose as he's ever going to be.

He will not be Richie Sexson, and he may well not even be "average". However, he won't be an embarassment either.

Jorge De La Rosa--Jorge was rumored to be the best prospect in the weak Boston system, after being ranked 9th by BA before 2003. He will be 22 in 2004, and has put together some very good numbers in the minor leagues, despite being young for his level. Here's a long blurb about him:

AFL Scouting Report
2002 season

De la Rosa knows he's still a "work in progress"
December 30, 2002

Jorge de la Rosa knows he's got a powerful left arm capable of throwing a baseball nearly 100 miles per hour.

But the 21-year-old Boston Red Sox farmhand acknowledged that he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to pitch at the major league level.

"I need to be more under control on the mound," said de la Rosa, through an interpreter. "If I make a bad pitch, it gets to me. That's part of being young. With experience, I'll overcome it."

Dereck Bryant, de la Rosa's winter league manager with the Hermosillo Naranjeros of the Mexican Pacific League, put it even more bluntly.

"He's still a young baby," stated Bryant, emphatically. "He just needs to grow up. He's got a great talent ... a great, great gifted arm. A couple of years and he'll get there."

There's nothing immature about de la Rosa's fastball, easily his best pitch. He was recently clocked throwing 99 miles per hour in a game against rival Culiacan (he generally keeps his fastball around the mid-90s). But he'll need more than just the heater to succeed in professional baseball.

"He's learning to throw a two-seamer ball where it sinks a little bit more," said Bryant, "where it runs a little bit more ... it's not as straight." The Hermosillo manager continued, "He has a sharp breaking slider and a great changeup."

De la Rosa credits the Red Sox organization with helping him become a pitcher rather than just a thrower. They've brought him along slowly in the two years that the Monterrey, Mexico native has been a part of their farm system.

Signed originally by Arizona in 1998, de la Rosa pitched two years in the Diamondbacks organization before his contract was transferred to Monterrey of the Mexican League, with whom Arizona had a working agreement at the time. The young southpaw pitcher became a free agent when the Diamondbacks chose not to renew the contact with Monterrey. By then his fastball had jumped into its current mid-90s range, and Boston was quick to purchase de la Rosa's rights from the Mexican League club, signing the then 19-year-old southpaw to a new contract.

The 6'1", 192 pound de la Rosa started both of the last two regular years with Sarasota of the high Class A Florida State League. He pitched well at that level, in 2001 as a reliever and this year as a starter, before earning a promotion in both seasons to Class AA Trenton.


De la Rosa acknowledged that he has struggled against the more advanced hitters of the Mexican Pacific League. But he knows its all part of his education as a pitcher. He's also learned a lot by being around the veteran pitchers on the Hermosillo team.

"They've helped me a lot," said de la Rosa about past and present Naranjero teammates like Angel Moreno, Gil Heredia and Fernando Valenzuela. "... just using all of my pitches in different counts and not just sticking to one (pitch)." De la Rosa added that his teammates, as well as pitching coach Maximino Léon, have worked with him on his mechanics and the fundamental parts of pitching.

"That's a big plus about being in these leagues," agreed Bryant. "You've got kids that are in A ball playing against legends ... all of these people can only help you, and it's great being around them."

After spending his entire professional career as a reliever, de la Rosa was moved into the rotation for the 2002 season in order to give him more innings. He responded by finishing with a 7-7 record and a 3.65 ERA in 23 starts with Sarasota. He made four more starts for Trenton, pitching better than his 5.50 ERA would indicate. AA hitters batted only .239 off him, and he struck out 15 batters in 18 innings.

If he had his choice, de la Rosa would stay in the starting rotation. But his winter league manager sees a different future for the talented young pitcher.

"I like him as a reliever," commented Bryant. "He can come in and exploit his ability a little more ... he can come in and in one big moment of the ball game, in the eighth or ninth inning, just close the door on somebody ... If he comes in and just throws the hell out of the ball like he can, then he's more effective."

But in the end, de la Rosa doesn't really have a strong preference as to whether he starts or relieves.

"It doesn't matter," de la Rosa clearly stated. "I just want to get up there and play in the big leagues."


Jorge has 317 K's in 361 career innings, 7.9 K/9 IP. He also has allowed only 23 homers in 361 innings, an amazing 0.57 HR/9 IP. Some of his stats aren't as pretty, as he has allowed a rather high 1.47 WHIP, though it's not as bad as you would think because of his youth (for the level), and his ability to avoid the longball.

I would rank him as a definite top 10 prospect in the very good Brewers' system, possibly as high as #5 on a good day.

Craig Counsell--Well, he is a much better player than I ever was. Other than that, and the fact he's likely a very nice man, I have little good to say about Craig. He's the epitome of the "scrappy, gritty middle infielder", as he's Caucasian and he can't hit a lick. However, Craig does have the ability to do something many players do not...he "does not get out" at a pretty good rate for a 2B/SS, as he has a career .348 OBP, to go along with a slap happy .351 SLG. Not that it really matters, but he is a LH hitter, which does make him a nice fit, possibly in a platoon situation with Bill Hall at SS. He walks once every 8 AB's, so it does look like Doug is interested in adding plate discipline.

Counsell is a WI native, and also is due $3.15 million in 2004 (no, I don't have any idea how or why a human being would feel a 700 OPS role player is worth that, but thanks for asking). The reason that is appealing, so to speak, is that ARI likely has to dump salary to pick up Richie's $8.6 mil salary in 2004.

So, if this does end up being "the trade", it does seem a bit underwhelming. Counsell is strictly a throw-in, while Overbay is a nice choice to keep 1B warm for Prince Fielder, as he's cheap and should be close to mediocre, he isn't proven either. DLR is far from the D'Backs top minor league arm, and while he has some excellent minor league results, he has some that are worrisome. As I've said before, we need a short-term solution at catcher, and ARI has little need for Chad Moeller...hey, I see a match. Some folks have sensed we plan on leaving the 40 man roster at 39, so we can make a selection in the upcoming Rule 5, which would preclude us receieving a 4th player that needed to be protected. Of course, Luis Vizcaino is still on the 40, and is not likely to be offered arbitration, so he is a wasted spot at the moment.

I still hope there's a bit more coming our way, somehow.


11/30/2003 08:48:00 PM



(11/30/2003 07:16:00 PM) - Al

ESPN.com is still reporting the exact same "rumor" as they were last night, not sure if this lends any credibility to it or not.

A TV station in Arizona is saying it could be a 3 team, 10 player swap by the time it's all over. Time will tell, I guess.

I will be back later this evening to give a paragraph on each of the proposed future Brewers. I'm a big fan of Lyle Overbay, actually, and don't feel that bad about things actually. I was hoping for Overbay, another player, and 2 younger pitching prospects, but that's not what I'm expecting anymore. The most obvious thing about this trade is, the young pitcher (DeLaRosa, if things hold true) is the only player we're getting with much of an upside.

And, to be blunt, I would expect something extra in terms of value just for having to take Counsell, who is as pedestrian as they come, and he's making $3 mil in '04. He is from the Milwaukee area, and may be able to play a Clayton-like SS for half a season to allow JJ Hardy to develop and to delay his arby/FA status, but, Billy Hall can too, and at least he has the potential to not be crappy.


11/30/2003 07:16:00 PM


Saturday, November 29, 2003

(11/29/2003 11:51:00 PM) - Al

ESPNews is reporting a deal that has Sexson going to ARI has Counsell, Overbay, and former Red Sox farmhand DeLaRosa coming to MIL. Supposedly, this will be announced after Schilling passes his physical.


11/29/2003 11:51:00 PM



(11/29/2003 10:51:00 PM) - Al

A Chicago radio report Saturday had the Diamondbacks sending first baseman Lyle Overbay, second baseman Junior Spivey, utility player Craig Counsell and left-hander Chris Capuano in exchange for the right-handed-hitting Sexson, who had 45 home runs and 124 RBIs in 2003.

Sources close to both teams said those names are inaccurate.



How's that for a weak denial that a trade is about to go down? Counsell makes $3+ million...

{Note to self: Try and think of one single reason anyone would pay Craig Counsell over $500K a year to do anything. The horror.}

...and I certainly hope the Brewers have no interest in him, unless ARI needs to send some salary along. The other names make some sense as part of a package, but not together as a package.

Look for there to be one "name", a top of the line, legit fella. That headliner may well be the sticking point. Many folks are guessing the Brewers are holding out for Oscar Villarreal, and ARI is offering others.




11/29/2003 10:51:00 PM


Friday, November 28, 2003

(11/28/2003 09:40:00 PM) - Al

Curt Schilling has decided to go to BOS, and according to everything I've seen and heard, Richie Sexson will be a member of the Diamondbacks within a few days.

There's no such thing as a "sure thing" in the trading game, as I suppose someone could overwhelm Doug with an offer in the meantime. But, don't expect that to occur.

Richie...it's a dry heat.


11/28/2003 09:40:00 PM


Thursday, November 27, 2003

(11/27/2003 04:43:00 PM) - Al

I like to see things like this.

Reports say Luis Castillo will sign a contract to stay with the Marlins. Luis put together a nice season for a 2B last year, as his OPS was 778, good for 10th in MLB among 2B that qualify.

Keith Ginter's OPS was 779, FYI. Granted, Luis had a .381 OBP, which puts his OXS higher, and makes him more valuable. And, some casuals would say Luis runs much better than Keith...he stole 21 bases, while being caught 19 times.

{Pardon me while I shudder in horror at that abysmal fact.}

Ginter will cost us about $350-375K next season. Castillo is expected to sign for at least $5 mil per season. It's not about the payroll, it's about getting value for what you have to spend. Money makes it easier, without a doubt, but just as spending money has not guaranteed winning, having a low payroll doesn't mean you can't win either. Despite the success of OAK & MIN, some would like to overlook that nugget of truth.


11/27/2003 04:43:00 PM



(11/27/2003 03:27:00 PM) - Al

Many people "in the know" seem to think if we get Junior Spivey from ARI, he will be sent to another tea, with CLE being the most frequently mentioned. The question is, who would be coming back to the Crew?

The most obvious guess to me is Travis Hafner, a 1B who was with TEX's minor league system when Doug Melvin was the GM there.

In AAA, he has been outstanding, with almost a 1000 OPS, and walking about once every five AB's.

In just under 300 big league AB's, he had a pretty decent 800ish OPS as well. He's a LH bat, and 2004 will be his season of 27.

Other possibilities?

Ben Broussard --To say Ben is a twin of Travis isn't that far from the truth. Also a 27 year-old LH 1B, he has also played some LF. Slightly less stellar numbers at AAA, but could be because of the parks he played in. I prefer Hafner, as he has a better OBP at most every level.

Alex Escobar--Alex's star has faded a lot since he was one of the top prospects in baseball a few years back. He has fine tools, and has almost everything you'd want...except the quiet, almost unnoticed ability to get on base via the walk.

Alex has posted a OBP of just over .300 in a ton of AAA AB's, and just under .300 in a brief trial in the bigs. He's probably a guy who'll have to hit .290 to enjoy success in the majors. That said, his numbers aren't that much different than Wes Helms' were last year. Would the teaching of Butch Wynegar push Escobar to league average heights?

Looking at the Indians' 2003 roster, one of the most attractive guys is one we already signed as a minor league FA, Chris Mcgruder. His AAA numbers were stellar compared to Escobar's, though he is a couple years older.


11/27/2003 03:27:00 PM



(11/27/2003 03:19:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers signed C Mark Johnson to a minor league deal. Johnson's career statistics can be found here.

As you can see, Mark has great BB ability, however, his overall offense is, well, like you'd expect from a reserve catcher. However, 400 BB's in less than 2000 minor league AB's is spectacular, and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's as good a .311/.375 hitter as you're likely to find. As a lefty hitter, he would make a fine backup for a RH, above average hitting catcher...too bad we don't have one of those, huh?


11/27/2003 03:19:00 PM



(11/27/2003 04:54:00 AM) - Al

On this day of Thanksgiving, be extremely thankful we have young people like Chad Jenkins on our side.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, with a special wish of good luck and good health to those serving in the military.



11/27/2003 04:54:00 AM


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

(11/26/2003 11:33:00 PM) - Al

This is so offensive, it's hard to believe it's true.


11/26/2003 11:33:00 PM



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

I have heard from a couple e-mails that they "feel" a deal with the Diamondbacks is inevitable if Curt Schilling agrees to go to Boston. I am just passing on what I am hearing, but one of these sources have been extremely dependable and correct in the past.

Also, damn near every e-mail I've received in the past couple days tells me if Junior Spivey is acquired, he is on his way somewhere else. The most often mentioned destination is CLE.

Most of the mass media is reporting that the Crew would receive a combination of players, some with ARI now (most likely Gonzalez, Villarreal, and Spivey) and one player that is currently with BOS. Personally, I would guess Brandon Lyon, as I feel ARI would prefer to send the most expensive player to the Crew.

It was reported on Brewerfan.net that the Brewers have removed a key picture or two from their website...those of Sexson and Jenkins, in the background. Hmmm. One would be rather foolish to buy a Sexson Brewers' jersey, unless they want one for the sake of memory.

Word is, Schilling will decide this weekend if he wants to join BOS, maybe as early as Friday.


11/26/2003 11:26:00 PM



(11/26/2003 10:29:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers are still said to be very interested in a trade with ARI, the names that will not go away are Oscar Villarreal, Edgar Gonzalez, and Junior Spivey.

Gonzalez

Spivey

Villarreal

All three of these guys are solid, especially the outstanding for their youth young pitchers, Oscar and Edgar. Spivey has been a solid producer in ARI, but has simply awful home/road splits.

Also, if Junior is looked at as a stopgap at SS until Hardy is ready, that's fine. However, anything that leaves us with the possibility of Helms moving across the diamond to be the worst offensive 1B in the game is a bad thing.

I'd really like us to pick up Lyle Overbay from the D'Backs. He's certainly a step down from Richie, but he'd very likely manage to put up Doug M type numbers for a year or two. If you give Overbay 500 AB's, with half of them in Miller Park, I see him hitting 40-50 doubles.


11/26/2003 10:29:00 AM



(11/26/2003 10:15:00 AM) - Al

Been a bit "under the weather", and a lack of news to analyze also played a major part in the decision not to publish yesterday. Hopefully, I'll be back either tonight or tomorrow.


11/26/2003 10:15:00 AM


Monday, November 24, 2003

(11/24/2003 08:52:00 PM) - Al

Boston would give up left-hander Casey Fossum, several baseball officials said on the condition of anonymity. Reliever Brandon Lyon, minor league pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and outfielder Michael Goss also would be moving to Arizona, according to several reports.

And a couple hours later, the mass media reports the trade, or at least the possible trade, as it is dependent on Schilling accepting it, which is his right. Sorry about the window, as Blogger was down for a while.

The players mentioned are linked below:

Casey Fossum

Jorge De La Rosa

Brandon Lyon

Michael Goss

Thanks to the good folks at Sportswired.com for the fine job they do. My impressions?

Fossum, Lyon, and DeLaRosa are all young, talented, and would be very good pickups.

I am having a tough time believing Lyon is only 24, as he looks much older, and was referred to as a journeyman many times last year. Two good seasons for his age, to go along with a 2002 that was awful. Good 2-1 K/BB ratio, though his K/9 is not high, at 5.7 per. DLR is a lefty who has superb AA/AAA numbers, though as an import, you have to question his age. Fossum is a fine prospect with nice secondary numbers (7.5 K's per 9 IP...in the majors, and a 2-1 K/BB ratio), who is in desperate need of simply pitching every 5th day and being left alone. Heck, I'd throw Lyon in the rotation as well, as he has had success in that role.

Goss is an enigma to me, great short season right after being drafted, then a rather crappy year in low A ball, at the not so young age of 23. I would guess either the Crew or D'Backs liked him as an amatuer, and his name stood out. At this point, it's offensive to the other three to mention him in the same breath.




11/24/2003 08:52:00 PM



(11/24/2003 05:07:00 PM) - Al

The players supposedly involved in a trade that would be headed to MIL are:

Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Greg Goss, and a pitcher whose last name is DeLarosa.


11/24/2003 05:07:00 PM



(11/24/2003 04:44:00 PM) - Al

Word on the street is the D'Backs acquired LHP Casey Fossum from the Red Sox today in hopes of sending him to the Brewers as part of a deal for Richie Sexson. Stay tuned.


11/24/2003 04:44:00 PM


Sunday, November 23, 2003

(11/23/2003 09:31:00 PM) - Al

An interesting debate has sprung up over at Brewerfan.net, and since it's a question that has a siolid amount of general interest, I thought I'd bring it over here.

Who would you rather have as a free agent signing, Vlad Guerrero or Mike Cameron?

Personally, I feel Vlad is both very talented, and very overrated. His reputation as a superior RF is not proven by his defensive stats, as they are not only not good, they are awful. Mike is superb defensively, and very good offensively, though his overall production has been affected greatly playing in Safeco Field, a true pitcher's park. Let's compare their numbers over the past 3 seasons:

Vlad, 2001-'03------.405/.581, 986 OPS, 235 OXS
Mike, road '01-'03--.364/.510, 874 OPS, 186 OXS

These are the only numbers that make much difference, as Safeco destroys Cameron's overall numbers. So, basically, you have this:

Vlad in 600 AB's "creates" 141 runs.

Mike in 600 AB's "creates" 111 runs.

The funny thing is, the comparison here is heavily weighted toward Vlad, as corner OF's are simply supposed to hit better than CF's.

Ave CF--.340/.427, 767 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 runs "created"
Ave RF--.350/.459, 809 OPS, 161 OXS, 96 runs "created"

So, being realistic, Vlad should be at least 10 runs better than Mike, and using the general rule of thumb that 10 runs is worth 1 win, a victory better. Another way of looking at it is runs over "average":

Mike--24 runs over the mediocre CF.
Vlad--45 runs over the mediocre RF.

Vlad, though he has vast talent, is a horrible defensive player, ranking in the bottom half RF's zone rating at least the last 2 seasons. He has a very strong arm, but his accuracy is as bad as Shannon Doherty's taste in men. Mike is a superb defensive OF, ranking 3rd, 3rd, and 4th among CF's the past 3 campaigns. I feel it is safe to say Mike's defense is worth at least 10 runs compared to the error prone Vlad. Some might argue Cameron's defense is 10 runs better than average, never mind Vlad, but being conservative, we'll make it an even 10 runs.

So, depending how you look at it, Vlad is probably worth somewhere around 10 runs more than Mike, overall. Watching Vlad play defense 162 times would probably be more painful than that one win is worth, in my opinion, but for the most part, I'll agree Vlad is slightly more productive.

But, from what the rumors say, Vlad is probably going to sign for a huge amount of green, in the $12-15 mil a year range. I've heard Mike discussed anywhere from $4-9 mil, but I will estimate him at $7-8 mil annually.

I'd much rather have Cameron and $4+ million to improve other parts of my team than Vlad.


11/23/2003 09:31:00 PM



(11/23/2003 07:22:00 PM) - Al

Phil Rogers, one of the worst writers whose name doesn't rhyme with Lou Jolson, writes about possible non-tenders, players that won't be offered arbitration. I am a big fan of these guys, as they tend to be younger than true free agents, and often are more willing to sign 1-2 year contracts. Last winter, Dave Ortiz was available, and Boston signed him to a financially friendly deal.


11/23/2003 07:22:00 PM



(11/23/2003 06:49:00 PM) - Al

This morning I wrote:

The Brewers had to pay MLB $4.1 million to support the Montreal Expos in 2002. That means the Expos operated at a loss of about {ahem} $116 million??? That seems incredibly high, but if you can explain another reason for the payment, let me know.

So, I just got this e-mail.


Howdy Al!

A very simple answer, ask Jeffrey Loria how much MLB paid him FOR the Expos.

Play ball!!

Chris




So, in reality, the Crew paid that $4.1 mil for thier 1/29th share of the Expos. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Chris.



11/23/2003 06:49:00 PM



(11/23/2003 10:46:00 AM) - Al

Notes compiled while looking for the worst 40 man player:

What's in the water in Missouri? SL has only 25 men on their 40, while KC has only 28. Almost every other club is between 34 & 39.

I believe DET is the only team that is topped out at 40. Looking at their compilation of low ceiling, older players; lotsa luck with all that.

I mentioned it before, but it's nice to see Marcos Scutaro with the A's. He'll likely be battling with another Ramblings favorite, Frank Menechino for a reserve spot. Neither are stars or anything close to it, but both catch the ball and both manage "not to get out" at a very good level for middle infielders. Good luck to both of them.


11/23/2003 10:46:00 AM



(11/23/2003 10:34:00 AM) - Al

Worst player on a 40 man roster, now that the unable to play Albert Belle has been removed from the Orioles' list?

Well, to be honest, it'd be difficult to top (lower?) the Mets' feeling that the immortal Joe McEwing is worthy of inclusion. Even if he were a great defensive catcher, it'd be difficult to tolerate his .308/.368 production. To say that middle infielders that can't hit are a dime a dozen is to offend ten cent pieces everywhere. Even if you give him an iota of credit for being able to play 7 positions, that means his total value is...one iota.

The ida the Mets feel the need to "lock him up" may explain their incredibly bad record, especially in light of their payroll.


11/23/2003 10:34:00 AM



(11/23/2003 10:27:00 AM) - Al

If you take a look at the current 40 man roster, a couple things jump out at you. The thing I noticed right away was how few 30+ players are on it, only 3 of 37 to be exact. Nothing could be worse than using a 40 man spot to protect older players, and the Crew isn't doing it. Good for them.

And with only 37 names, there's still room to add a free agent or two, a Rule 5 pick, some fellas traded for, etc. Admittedly, it still bothers me we have to use a spot for Rickie Weeks, as it simply is foolish for a number of reasons, but it's not going to be an issue for more than 2 winters.


11/23/2003 10:27:00 AM



(11/23/2003 10:14:00 AM) - Al

Bob Wolfley also with a note disparaging Ulice Payne's tenure. Those who put Ulice on a pedestal as a "rebellious hero" missed the boat. His going public with private info helped nothing, and may well have hurt.


11/23/2003 10:14:00 AM



(11/23/2003 10:02:00 AM) - Al

Don Walker at the JS comes through with a fact filled article today, that discusses the "real" finances of the Brewers. Many things are revealed for the first time, to me at least.

1. For one, the Brewers debt was listed as $171 million a few years ago, and now stands at about $110 mil.

2. Much of the reduction in debt comes from $41 million being "forgiven" by the stadium board, which also ended an annual maintenance payment the board paid the Crew.

3. The Brewers had to pay MLB $4.1 million to support the Montreal Expos in 2002. That means the Expos operated at a loss of about {ahem} $116 million??? That seems incredibly high, but if you can explain another reason for the payment, let me know.

Overall, one of the best columns I've ever seen from the negative boys at the JS. Check it out soon.


11/23/2003 10:02:00 AM



(11/23/2003 09:41:00 AM) - Al

Word is, the DevilRays will be signing reliever Tom Gordon to a contract soon.

For those that have wondered what I mean when I refer to "chasing that 75th win", TB is doing it as well as is possible. Why else would you chase has beens like Tino Martinez instead of going after a youngster whose has been blocked, or might possibly have a ceiling.

I'm sure Lou does not want to suffer through another season like '03. The problem is, he should, as taking playing time away from the kids is the last thing he needs to be doing. Adding a few old fellas whose best years are a decade past is the way they rebuild in the bizarro world.


11/23/2003 09:41:00 AM


Saturday, November 22, 2003

(11/22/2003 09:20:00 PM) - Al

Police were accused Friday of overreacting and using excessive force in clashes with demonstrators at this week's trade talks.

Police defended their actions, saying Miami averted the kind of widespread violence that rocked the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. Seattle was hit with five days of rioting that caused millions in damage.



Can someone explain to me why anyone would protest free trade?



11/22/2003 09:20:00 PM


Friday, November 21, 2003

(11/21/2003 10:25:00 PM) - Al

A BAL newspaper is reporting the Orioles have offers put together for both Derek Lee of the Marlins and Richie.

Ulice officially out.

I had a meeting in the Cities today, which led to a 14 hour day. Not complaining, as I'm lucky to have a job, but it obviously limits my time. Back tomorrow.


11/21/2003 10:25:00 PM


Thursday, November 20, 2003

(11/20/2003 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Thanks for the article regarding the Brewers finances, unfortunately I can't agree with your contention that the Brewers aren't a money making machine. I'm not saying that they are a money making machine, there just isn't enough evidence out there to determine one way or another without having access to the Brewers books. I'm an accountant and I could come up with many ways that would reduce the "Brewers" profit. One of the things that needs to be looked at is how they are depreciating their portion of the stadium, if they wanted to reduce the current profit, they could be using a shorter time period and using accelerated depreciation to increase their book expenses. Another thing that they could be doing is setting up seperate businesses for different portions of their business. There could be the Milwaukee Brewers parking lot business, the Milwaukee Brewers concession business, the Milwaukee Brewers broadcasting business, the Milwaukee Brewers luxury box leasing business, and the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club business. In this case the Brewers baseball club could be be losing money, but the other businesses could all be making money. Finally, you would have to look at the related party transactions to determine if they are reasonable. For all we know Wendy could be getting a $20 million salary every year. Again, this is not to say that the Brewers are making money, but just because they are saying they aren't doesn't make that true.

As, to the payroll issue, I know that they are in a rebuilding cycle but I was looking forward to some awful contracts coming off the books and hoping that they could add a couple of league average starting pitchers to their lineup this year. The Brewers aren't going to win anythng this year but they still need to provide an entertaining product to keep any sort of fan interest.

Rod


Thanks for the followup, Rod. I can't disagree with anything you say, but feel it is very unlikely, other than the depreciation issue. I have never seen a detailed account of the Brewers' expenses, and I likely never will, as they are not a publicly traded company.


11/20/2003 09:41:00 PM



(11/20/2003 09:29:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al,

Ive enjoyed your site whenever i've had a Brewer itch over the last year. I work for a fantasy baseball website and am projecting the team next year for our magazine. Their rotation is one of the hardest things to guess in baseball right now. Im wondering if you had an educated guess, or one certainly more educated than mine.

Here's mine:

After Sheets, these are my guesses going from most likely to least likely:

Davis, Franklin, LMartinez, Kinney, Neugebauer

I'm also guessing only two of those make the rotation in the end anyway. What do you think?

Gregg



Thanks for reading and writing, Gregg. My 2004 list would be as follows:

Sheets (long gap)

Davis
Kinney (long gap)

Obermueller
Franklin

and the rest

I also assume a 2nd tier FA SP will be signed, they can be added at the Davis/Kinney level.


11/20/2003 09:29:00 PM



(11/20/2003 09:25:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I know you're probably tired of discussing the Brewers economics, but I'd thought I'd pass along a link to MLB (unaudited) statements regarding team financial statements from 2001.

What strikes me as most interesting is what became of the $9 million profit. Did it go to debt relief? Was it paid out to the Board of Directors? A combination thereof?

I think that the major unspoken concern in the latest blowup is that revenues generated aren't going back into the organization but into the pockets of ownership. You don't have to be an economics major to know that ticket revenue is down from 2001. However, revenue sharing is up substantially and payroll was down, especially with in season salary dump trades. A public/private partnership usually involves some accountability and openness and it doesn't help matters that the Brewers credibility is near an all time low.

Getting on to other matters, I fully agree that Ibanez is a waste of money. Especially for essentially a platoon player. However, I don't expect to see his numbers, other than HRs, take a big hit as he's essentially a high average singles hitter. The dimensions of Safeco should have little effect on Ibanez's ability to hit for average.

Robert


Thanks for reading and writing, Robert.

The link Robert gave comes up as unreadable on my monitor. I always figured most, if not all of the profit went back into the business, probably a combo of debt payments and player development.

I think Ibanez will be affected at least as much as I suggested, which is about 5-10%. He's as mediocre as they come.


11/20/2003 09:25:00 PM


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

(11/19/2003 11:24:00 PM) - Al

Raul Ibanez signed with SEA today for 3 years, $13 million. Seriously.

This is such a bad signing, I'm honestly surprised the Brewers aren't a part of it. Other than David Bell signing a hefty deal last offseason, this may be the worst deal since the inception of Ramblings.

Ave LF, 2003---.356/.466, 822 OPS
Raul career-----.334/.464, 800
Raul, 2003------.345/.454, 799

Don't forget, Raul played in KC last year, the most offensive park in the majors last year, other than Coors. His numbers should suffer a huge drop in Safeco, and likely make him a .330/.420 man in '04. As if that isn't bad enough, he is 31 and basically a platoon player:

2001-03 vs. LH pitchers: .294/.399, 693 OPS in 348 AB's

Raul is a nothing more than a decent stopgap, or a platoon OF. He isn't a bad signing at all if you would have given him $2-2.5 mil for a year or two. But, last time I checked, $4+ million is enough to sign a quality player, not a below average player slip-sliding toward retirement.

And to think, SEA isn't sure whether they want Mike Cameron, who would be a star if he didn't play half his games in SEA.



11/19/2003 11:24:00 PM



(11/19/2003 11:01:00 AM) - Al

Duty calls, as I work until late this evening. Be back later.


11/19/2003 11:01:00 AM


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

(11/18/2003 09:32:00 PM) - Al

Last night I dug through the archives of the JS and found this article that used estimated numbers to guess how large the 2001 profit would be. They were very close on estimated revenue, but missed the profit by $20 million.

Between ticket revenue and concessions, the article put the Brewers stadium revenue at between $61 and $63 million. Using the numbers this article sets forth, it comes out to about $22 a head, which is close to the standard $20 a head used in the industry. So, in '03, the Brewers made about $34M...which is a rather huge decline since 2001.

Suite revenue should have remained constant since '01, I'll peg it at $6 million.

National TV revenue has gone up since '01, I believe. I will estimate it at $25 million.

Local TV/radio revenue was about $6 million.

Parking, merch sales, advertising, and spring training revenue were guessed to be $14 million in '01, and I would think it has gone done since...I'll guess $10 mil.

Adding those up, it equals $81M, while the '01 Brewers officially brought in $115 mil. Revenue sharing has not yet been announced, but obviously, the Brewers will see a substantial share. I will guess $15 million, but that isn't much more than an educated stab in the dark, based on estimates Jayson Stark made based on 2001 attendance.

That all adds up to $96 million, and the official numbers the Brewers turned into MLB after 2001 showed them to have operating revenues of $99 mil, which would mean a $3 mil defecit for 2003. Considering that the Crew has spent a lot on scouting and development (as well as signing bonuses), I would say it is very likely the Brewers lost more than $3 million in 2003.

Also, Rod wondered how Montreal could be spending so much more than the Crew, Stark's research would give MON $31 million...$16 million more than I figure the Brewers will receive. Their estimated payroll is also $16 mil more, $46M-30M. This is probably not much more than a shiny coincidence, as even I don't believe my numbers are accurate...though they are probably "in the ballpark"...no pun intended.

At the very least, I hope this explains that the Brewers are not a money making machine. Much of what has been written is from people (like Dale Hoffman and other casual fans) that have no understanding of the game. You can't spend money you don't have, and you certainly don't spend a few extra million to win 75 games instead of 72. I feel that over the years, "a few million" has been thrown around so often, Joe Q Public forgets we're talking about a giant sum of cash. Spending money the team didn't have is what led to the massive debtload the team is carrying, of about $110 million plus the share of Miller Park left to be paid off. The idea of spending money to spend money is absurd, as is the idea a 68 win team should be spending money to "make a statement" of some kind.

It is time to reign it in, and build the right way, which is exactly the course we are on. The minor league system is superb, and we currently have ,b>no one signed past 2004. One sure way of eliminating long-term disasters like Jeff Hammonds is to avoid long-term signings. While I'm all for picking up a Kelvim Escobar type, 30+ fellas treading down the slippery slope to retirement are not my idea of a solid long-term risk (and yes, that includes Raul Ibanez).

I've had it with short-term "fixes" and anything but setting the bar high and working to achieve it. When this franchise reaches 90 wins, I want it to be for a run of several seasons, not a one shot deal. The final goal supercedes all silly middling ideas along the way. I'm tired of "reaching for .500", as 81 wins gets you into contention as often as 80 wins...never.

This will be the last post of financial data. As of this moment, Ramblings is back to finding value, ranting on the importance of OBP, and enjoying the game.


11/18/2003 09:32:00 PM



(11/18/2003 09:11:00 PM) - Al

OAK picked up Ramblings favorite Bobby Kielty for quality LH Ted Lilly. I'm a bit surprised to see JP give up Bobby, but realize you have to give up quality to get a solid, if never realized his potential pitcher like Lilly. TOR has a lot of good young bats, and needed pitching.

And as mentioned here, Kielty is finally with a team that will appreciate his ability to "not get out". I know TOR did as well, but for an OBP machine like Kielty, playing for Oakland must be like arriving in Oz.


11/18/2003 09:11:00 PM



(11/18/2003 06:00:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

Well I've officially decided to find another sports news source. Not doing jsonline anymore. Today their editorial department came out in favor of opening the Brewers books. They have made a huge mountain out of NOTHING. They were going to cut their payroll no matter what. It's just astonishing to see since they pay minimal attention to the Brewers during the season, except for inept reporting and Dale Hoffman's quarterly article bashing the Brewers. So enough's enough. Any other good statewide sports site out there? Maybe I'll just stick to brewerfan.net, since they actually report on the team during the season.

What a joke.

Mike



I have yet to find even a mediocre sports section other than the JS, which is decent, if you don't care about the Brewers. Mark Stewart's Badgers basketball coverage is among the best I've seen. And, how exactly the JS manages such horrible coverage of the Crew, despite two writers dedicated to the team, is beyond me.

I share your pain, my friend.


11/18/2003 06:00:00 PM



(11/18/2003 05:22:00 PM) - Al

Barry Bonds blew away all competition in the NL MVP voting. Richie Sexson came in 12th, which is probably about right, though Juan Pierre coming in 10th is rather funny.

I still feel making it the Barry Bonds award and giving it to the 2nd best player each year would be a fitting tribute.


11/18/2003 05:22:00 PM



(11/18/2003 10:17:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman shows that even when the AL voters finally get it right, they were sickeningly incorrect.

Shannon Stewart was below average in LF, and got votes? Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada both received 1st place votes? Heavens.


11/18/2003 10:17:00 AM


Monday, November 17, 2003

(11/17/2003 10:40:00 PM) - Al

I will be going over some of the estimates and "facts" tomorrow from this article.


11/17/2003 10:40:00 PM



(11/17/2003 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Al,

One of the points of contention with the Brewers is that they need 2 million fans with a payroll of $30 million to break even. Then there is this article from Jayson Stark. In the article it states that the Expo's are looking at a payroll of $45-46 million and can possibly resign Vlad. I don't think that MLB is running the Expos at a loss. This strikes me as more evidence that the Brewers are just plain lying about their financial situation considering that the Brewers have a new stadium, better broadcast contracts, better sponsorships, better attendance, less travel costs, and don't have to deal with the Canadian dollar. I know that the Brewers have debt service and are spending more on player development, but this difference just seems absurd to me.

Also, when the Brewers got their stadium deal approved do you know what the average MLB payroll was?

Rod



Rod, thanks for reading and writing. I was a bit surprised at that mention as well, as they also went on to say that was not paying off a huge portion of debt either, or at least implied it. Hey, the interest alone on that beast must be $3.5-10 million (I would guess about $4.5 mil, myself), and that does not include what they owe on the Miller Park financing, if I'm understanding what I've read correctly. If I cared enough about this subject, I'd go back and study the late 2001 story that detailed their profits of the inagural season. Heck, maybe I will anyway, as Rod's was one of four e-mails I received in the past few days asking me about the financial aspects of the team.

My feeling is this: The Brewers may well be stretching the truth about how bad the situation is. In fact, I hope they are. That said, the number that no one has disputed, or really even questioned, is $110 million of debt. Let's not forget, this is a franchise that no one thinks is worth over $175 million...that's a LOT of debt. As I said, it does not include what they owe for Miller Park, which is much like a mortgage...the tax benefits and low interest rates make it almost foolish to pay it off early, even if the Crew had cash in the bank.

And, unless I'm mistaken, I know teams are required to have a large amount of cash (or liquid) reserve at all times. I read that when one team was rumored to have had trouble meeting payroll in the past couple seasons, as they were saisd to have asked permission to "borrow" from themselves, in a matter of speaking, and supposedly were granted permission to do so.

Rod makes some good points about the Crew versus the Expos. I know MLB has prevented MON from adding payroll, so I certainly don't think they're making anything. Considering they paid $130 mil for the Expos, and MLB will likely sell them for $250-300 mil, I don't think it's a stretch whatsoever to think MLB may well be losing up to $10, maybe even $15 mil a season on them. Again, I would guess a lower number, $5-7 million, but that's not a small amount at all.

Finally, don't forget that by 2005, the Brewers have to meet the 60/40 rule, as they have been exempt, being a team with a new stadium. As I mentioned once before, the specifics of this not only bore me, they have slipped my mind. I do know it limits debt to a percentage of something (I believe value, which if I recall, is something like 3x annual revenue). No one has even brought this up since the Payne payroll disclosure, that I have seen at least. I sincerely hope the Brewers are serious about reducing their debt load, and have a plan on how to do it. It is necessary for the long-term success of the team, no doubt about that.


11/17/2003 09:48:00 PM



(11/17/2003 09:43:00 PM) - Al

The Crew signed Scott Wiggins to a minor league deal late last week. Scott was dealt for Raul Mondesi in 2002, but to be blunt, he is not a true prospect by any means. He will be 28 on Opening Day, 2004. He had his first extended trial at AAA this past season, and compiled a 6.62 ERA, and just under a 2 WHIP.

All that said, he still isn't a bad signing by any means. In his AA career, all as a reliever, he had a 1.58 ERA, a near 3-1 K/BB ratio, and allowed only 1 HR in 51 innings. In the writeups I saw, he possesses a huge breaking ball, which in theory, would make him very hard for LH batters to hit. Also, he is the rare LH pitcher that throws strikes, allowing less than 3 walks per 9 innings, until his wasted '03 campaign.

I see him as AAA depth, while many of the others could easily be seen as guys that have a chance to go north with the Brewers. Still, there will be many worse lefty relievers in AAA this year, and he has a small chance of "breaking through", while many do not.

Not nearly as worthy of praise as the others, but not Jesse Orosco either.


11/17/2003 09:43:00 PM


Sunday, November 16, 2003

(11/16/2003 10:06:00 PM) - Al

Incredibly, not any news on the Brewers trade front, after many thought a deal was nearly completed with the D'Backs last week. The only real JS activity has been to be extremely negative as to the future of the team. Makes me long for the days when they couldn't be bothered to send Drew to the park, rather write his "notes" from the cozy offices of the paper. I worked all weekend, so I didn't have much time to dig for mentions.

Should be back with some e-mails and at least one minor league FA signing tomorrow night.


11/16/2003 10:06:00 PM


Friday, November 14, 2003

(11/14/2003 10:06:00 PM) - Al

An e-mail sent to Andrew Sullivan's weblog. I guess there's no way to prove this actually happened...but I sure like to believe it did.

In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time. By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren't getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you." At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heart-felt applause.The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears. And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight. That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war.


11/14/2003 10:06:00 PM



(11/14/2003 09:16:00 PM) - Al

Maybe OJ Simpson wasn't guilty...oh wait, he was so incredibly guilty, it still frightens me there are 12 human beings who can fathom the fact that he *could* be innocent.

Just when you think nothing will ever happen stranger than the OJ verdict, this story is mind-boggling.


11/14/2003 09:16:00 PM



(11/14/2003 06:25:00 PM) - Al

I just finished reading several articles over at the JS, all regarding the Brewers' finances and debt and the like, with only a blurb about the winter meetings actually qualifying as baseball related.

All I can say is, I just wish Drew and the boys put a fraction the amount of effort into covering an April game in Montreal as they did into this, trying to make a payroll deduction of a team at the "rebuilding" level of the success cycle into some sort of Hard Copy scandal.

Sadly, many folks seem upset by this, even though it is at least a couple years behind, which is exactly what Mike Hunt said in the JS yesterday. Folks that want to add on a few mil in player salary in a futile quest to win that 75th game are, at the least short-sighted, and at the worst, responsible for the situation the Crew finds themselves in; in debt and always striving to reach .500, not to contend.

I'm not the least bit afraid to build cheaply, and spend available funds on the farm system and player development. The minor leagues started turning around in 1999, which directly was when the team stopped skimping on draft picks due to signability. In a perfect world, the team should have started to pare down major league payroll at that time. But, it didn't occur, and when we hit rock bottom in 2002, winning 56 games (I could win 56 games with a $12 mil payroll, and so could almost anyone), we were still going through the check out line spending $50 million, more than twice as much as is necessary to suck at that level.

So, the payroll purge is actually a couple years late, and probably about five years past its perfect date. What's funny is, so many people are still begging and pleading for the team to spend more, ignoring the past and clouding the future with a financial nightmare of even worse proportion.



11/14/2003 06:25:00 PM


Thursday, November 13, 2003

(11/13/2003 09:05:00 PM) - Al

The other day the Crew signed 3 fine examples of free talent, and they made another fine pickup yesterday.

Brian Bowles was signed out of the TOR organization, as he became a FA when he was removed from the 40 man roster. Bowles is a 27 year-old relief pitcher who has such good minor and major league numbers, it's hard to believe he wasn't allowed to be a cheap long man in Toronto.

In a long AAA career of 183 2/3 innings, Brian has the following statline:


2.98 ERA, 166 K (8.1 K/9), 149 H, 97 BB (1.34 WHIP), 34 SV, and 8 HR's allowed.

Needless to say, the only "bad" number on that list is the amount of walks. Other than that, Bowles would appear to be an AAA ace reliever, who is still plenty young to have a nice career. I despise bases on balls as much as anyone I know, but when you see how low his WHIP is, I can let it slide. Not to mention, his HR rate is so astoundingly low, he'd be worth an above average signing bonus just for that.

A quick look at his major league production does not disappoint either:

3.22 ERA, 30 2/3 IP, 25 K (7.3 K/9), 25 H, 17 BB (1.37 WHIP), and 1 HR allowed.

Even with his walks, Brian would appear to be a guy who you will most likely need 3 walks/hits/errors off of to score a single run. Given that Miller Park is homer friendly, this is as good a pickup as you're likely to find.

I know it's "off-topic", considering most folks are losing sleep over how much money the Brewers are spending on '04 payroll, but I can't believe all four of the signings in the last few days aren't among the top 20 minor league free agents.

Is this a cheap way of finding talent? You bet it is, but it's also a good way of finding the top o' the line AAA players, almost every one of which is very capable of being a reserve in the majors. Some guys stuck at AAA can even be mediocre stopgaps, and some, like Podsednik and Ginter, even turn out to be to be more than that.

Every one of the players the Brewers picked up have some form of imagined wart, Bowles has control issues for example. How many five tool, no weakness prospects do you know of? Even Rickie Weeks is a poor defensive 2B at this point, and does anyone doubt he'll have an outstanding career, barring injury or illness? I'll take a guy with skills and success anyday, even if they don't do everything well. The staff should be commended for spending the money and doing the research necessary to find and sign these guys.


11/13/2003 09:05:00 PM



(11/13/2003 06:14:00 PM) - Al

Between 5 and 7% of MLB players tested positive in 2003 for steroids, meaning all players will be tested in 2004, with suspensions beginning with the 2nd positive test.

I'm thankful of two things:

1. The percentage wasn't much higher. This means on average, 2-3 players on each team were users, for one reason or another.

2. That from now on we will pretty much know that MLB is a "clean" game. Some guys will still attempt to get away with it, and some will, but for the most part, steroid use will be detected and the guilty will be punished.

I'll never understand why the union fought this at all, as it is for the benefit of those follwing the rules, and eliminates the stigma that widespread abuse may be taking place.


11/13/2003 06:14:00 PM



(11/13/2003 05:50:00 PM) - Al

Michael Hunt with a well written article today that, amazingly, pretty much agrees that a $30 million payroll isn't a bad idea at all, given the Brewers record and the like (what some of us would call their place in the success cycle). He asserts, in fact, that it is likely a few years late, another opinion I've been stating for, well, a few years.

Hunt seems to have managed to remove the emotion and silly "let's spend money we don't have" mentality. I can certainly agree with the fact the timing of the anouncement was a bad idea...but that would now appear to be a personal decision made by Ulice Payne, as he disagreed with it, and wanted to put some pressure on the board to reconsider. I have been a big fan of Payne, but I can't agree with this move at all. I'm not sure if it was a power struggle or a power ploy, but it didn't work out, to say the least.


11/13/2003 05:50:00 PM


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

(11/12/2003 11:00:00 PM) - Al

Between work and internet problems, not much time to post today. Briefly, it sounds like Ulice's departure will be official as soon as terms of the buyout are finalized.

Little word on the proposed 3 way deal, which Gammons reported as "dead" tonight. To be blunt, I have to believe someone in ARI wondered why they'd pay $8 million extra for a 1B who is just a tad better than Johnson.

Check back tomorrow evening, hopefully for more eventful Ramblings.


11/12/2003 11:00:00 PM


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

(11/11/2003 04:49:00 PM) - Al

Ulice Payne is either resigning or being fired, as early as tonight, per Mark Belling on 1150AM in Milwaukee.

The fact the JS has not updated their online sports section to indicate this breaking news is inexcusable, by the way.


11/11/2003 04:49:00 PM



(11/11/2003 03:08:00 PM) - Al

How good is Nick Johnson? First of all, remember he's just 23. Secondly, let's compare his '03 numbers to Sexson's:

Nick---.422/.472, 894 OPS, 199 OXS
Richie-.379/.548, 927 OPS, 208 OXS

Nick will be arby eligible next offseason, so he will cost about $500K next year, while Richie checks in at $8.6M.

Nick has been injury prone thus far in his major league career, while Sexson, despite knee and leg pain, has been durable.

Nick is more of a gap power guy, though Miller Park is likely to boost his HR totals a bit, as will his experience. He is currently a very good hitter, and won't reach the peak age until 2007.


11/11/2003 03:08:00 PM



(11/11/2003 02:23:00 PM) - Al

CNN/SI.com is reporting that a 3 way ARI/MIL/NYY trade is close, as the Crew would receive Nick Johnson and John Patterson for Richie.

I'd prefer Villarreal rather than Patterson, but as I said, John is a nice arm. It seems odd to me that Chad Moeller isn't included, as we need a catcher and ARI needs to dump him.


11/11/2003 02:23:00 PM



(11/11/2003 02:14:00 PM) - Al

From the Arizona Republic:

The seven voters who left Webb off their ballots (which award five points for first place, three for second and one for third) were Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune, Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, Bill Shannon of the Sports Press Service in New York, Frank Clines of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Paul Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


First of all, while one could make an argument, however incorrect, that webb wasn't as good as Pods and Willis, how in the world did these seven clods leave Webb out of the top three?

Secondly, maybe the explanation is as obvious as this...how does Frank Clines, who covers the Brewers about a dozen games per season, have a vote for postseason awards? I guess the BBWA gets exactly what they deserve, silly choices made by guys who get their info from SportsCenter, after getting home from covering the motocross tour that was in town.

Egads.



11/11/2003 02:14:00 PM



(11/11/2003 01:40:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers signed 3 minor league free agents yeterday. These are players that, by definition, are not on a 40 man roster. Most of these players have at least 7 years of pro experience, as the original contract players sign has 6 renewable years. By the looks of it, the Brewers are looking for "diamonds in the rough", guys that could contribute to the '04 Crew. A quick recap of each:

Chris Coste: Chris was a member of a Baseball Prospectus squad last offseason, as he was labeled as the best "free talent" catcher available. And, if there's a better C out there on the free talent market now, I'd like to see him. Coste has Tom Wilson like offensive numbers, outstanding for a catcher at AAA. In 845 AB's, he has put together a .356./.440 line. I would prefer a more patient hitter, as he doesn't walk 10% of the time (6.2%), but that said, backstops often don't hit, hit for power, or walk; so 2 out of 3 ain't bad. He's 31, but he's an excellent pickup for a club with no catchers on the 40 man. And, he's on the internet, and an author. Good for him.

Chris will be 31 for the 2004 season, bats and throws right.

Jacob Cruz is one of those guys that you wonder why he isn't at least sitting on someone's bench, especially when Doug Glanville and Tom Goodwin still are. In the bigs, he has mediocre stats of .336/.380, with 53 walks in 455 AB's. Not many teams have a 5th OF who can run, play all 3 spots, and will get out less than 2/3rd's of the time. In AAA, he has accomplished .389/.498, also with good plate discipline. He will also be 31 in '04, and bats and throws left. Excellent AAA filler, and if Brady Clark is the 4th OF, Cruz would be a nice 5th, as they would complement each other nicely.

Last, but not least, Chris McGruder is an outstanding minor league FA signing. He is entering his prime year of 27, and has produced very nicely in AAA, .386/.489, with 80 BB's in 669 AB's. He is a switch-hitting corner outfielder. I have not studied the list, but if there's a better LF/RF prospect who has a higher ceiling, I'd like to see him. You know this guy was coveted, and honestly, I'm surprised we didn't have to put him on the 40 man roster to get him. If we don't pickup a RF when (if?) we trade Sexson, McGruder may get a look.


11/11/2003 01:40:00 PM



(11/11/2003 09:27:00 AM) - Al

Today is Veteran's Day, a day in which we honor all the men and women who have served and defended our country in times of conflict. One thing the latest Gulf War has brought us is the publicizing of how our citizens felt about World War 2.

One of the most interesting articles to me was one that said the highest "approval" rating WW2 ever received was 79%...which means at least 21% of the public could have been labeled "dissenters". The article gave many reasons, and they all make perfect sense, including the fact many folks were just a few years removed from being Germans (and many had family there), the rationing that occured was very strict and painful to many, and simply put, we did not have a global news set-up like we have today, so many people did not really "get it", as the Japanese and German empires were literally, on the other side of the world. Funny, I don't remember reading that in my history book.

Today, show your respect in one way or another. The only reason we enjoy the freedom and rights we have is because of those who have served and fought.

If you are a veteran, thank you. If you are currently serving, thank you, and be safe.



11/11/2003 09:27:00 AM



(11/11/2003 09:10:00 AM) - Al

Take a look at this link, the ESPN's expert picks for the postseason awards. Is it any wonder that Rob Neyer is the only writer many people have any respect for? Everyone else would appear to have made their picks based on a late night, drunken Ouija game. Gammons not only picked Willis for ROY, he chose David Ortiz for AL MVP...um, I'd put him no higher than 5th for Red Sox MVP. Caple picked Willis and then Jorge Posada for AL MVP, as if ARod doesn't exist.

I think Neyer got everyone of the picks "correct", except he chose Pods over Webb, but at least that is a defensible pick, unlike Willis.


11/11/2003 09:10:00 AM



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

Al,

I know I've seen and heard a few people say that the Brewers will have to rid themselves of both Sexson and Jenkins to get down to the $30 million payroll mark. With all the young players, do you feel this is the case?

Jack


No.

{Note to self: Maybe I should go into more detail.}


Jack, thanks for reading and writing. Allow me to do a very quick rundown of the '04 roster.

Sheets--$2.5M in arby
Kinney--$350K
Davis--$350K
Obermueller--$350K
Franklin--$350K
Kolb--$1.2 mil in arby
Nance--$325K
Crudale--$350K
Kieschnick--$350K
Phelps--$350K
FA starter--$2M

Sexson--$8.6M
Ginter--$350K
FA SS--$1.5M
Helms--$1.6M in arby

Hall--$325K

Jenkins--$8.25M
Pods--$350K
FA RF--$2M
Clark--$500K

Total--$31.95M

Those 20 players are set to make $31.95 million. The 5th OF and another utility IF would certainly not make much more than $500K each. You need two catchers, and I would guess they'll make about $1.5 mil combined. I hope we take another Rule 5 player to fill out the 25 man for $300K.

So, the 25 man roster I just listed above would have a $34.75M payroll. Replacing Sexson with a young player, such as Overbay, would save about $8.2 million, putting the number at $26.55M.

It would be pretty apparent to me that it is not necessary to rid the team of both Richie and Geoff, and one could even put together a club that had both, though it would mean paying a low salary to your SS, RF, and an SP. One could argue that was exactly the team we ended 2003 with, and they'd be correct. Changing that $5.5 million to $1.5 mil would put the payroll at $30.75 mil.

What's funny is, once the emotion is gone, it's easy to see the 2003 team as being about a $30 mil team, as much of the payroll went to Rusch, Hammonds, Dejean, etc; decent players who had poor seasons for them, who contributed little to the team's 68 victories.

As I said before, having a low payroll doesn't guarantee failure, just as a high payroll does not promise success. It's good to be able to sign a $4 mil stopgap, but John VanderWal produced well and only cost $700K. To see many folks are upset about the 2004 proposed payroll makes me smile and wonder if they passed Algebra I?

To see Dale Hoffman leading the charge against it makes me even more sure it's a good idea.:) Dale suggested spending money with abandon in 2002 as well...and if we had, not only would the debt be higher, but we may have won that elusive 59th game!!

The future of the Brewers lies in the team's strong, possibly top 5 minor league system. There are many players on the major league roster that may be part of the next Brewers' playoff team...but it is very unlikely Richie Sexson is one of them.

To be blunt, the team needs to work the plan, and not give a damn what folks say. The final goal has to be to have a team capable of winning 90 games and being a playoff contender, hopefully, for a several year run, much like the A's, Braves, and other teams have put together. Worrying if the 2004 team is mediocre or simply below average is exactly the short-term thinking that has led to several consecutive losing seasons.



11/11/2003 12:00:00 AM


Monday, November 10, 2003

(11/10/2003 10:36:00 PM) - Al

From Cat's House:

Podsednik has a rookie year comparable to Ichiro's rookie year.

He did?

Ichiro--.381/.457, 838 OPS, 174 OXS
Scott--.379/.443, 822 OPS, 168 OXS

Well yes, he certainly did. When you figure in the fact Suzuki played RF, you could even argue Scott had a better season, though I'll be the first to admit Ichiro could play CF.

What's amazing to me is, Ichiro won the AL MVP with those numbers. Add that to Willis defeating Webb (and Pods) for NL ROY, one has to wonder if the guys voting for the award even understand what a good player is. They seem to be developing a pattern of style over substance previously unseen outside of teen pop music and E!'s definition of celebrity.

If it wasn't so embarassing, it'd be funny.


11/10/2003 10:36:00 PM



(11/10/2003 10:09:00 PM) - Al

Also from the JS:

"When people think we're not going to be involved, I don't agree with that," said Melvin, who will likely focus on a large group of "midlevel" players such as Raul Ibanez, Jeff Suppan, Miguel Batista and Cory Lidle.

I discussed Lidle and Batista here, and I feel either would be excellent choices to add to the '04 roster. Let's take a look at the other two mentioned.

Ibanez is a late bloomer, having never got a chance to play everyday until he was in his late 20's. He would appear good for a 800 OPS, or just a tad higher. He doesn't walk enough for my tastes, and he can't be called an above average fielder. Plus, he is barely an everyday player, as he struggles mightily versus southpaws, not even managing a .300 OBP in '03. He wouldn't be a poor choice for a 1-2 year deal, but anything over $2 mil per would be spending more than needed.

Suppan had a career season in '03, and it reeks of luck and "never to be matched" to me. Let's compare his '03 and career numbers:

2003---4.19 ERA, 1.30 GB/FB, 2.16 K/BB, 4.85 K/9, .316/.448 OBP/SLG, 1.01 HR/9
career-4.90 ERA, 1.33 GB/FB, 1.74 K/BB, 5.01 K/9, .335/.456 OBP/SLG, 1.23 HR/9

The only thing I see that looks to be a substantial difference is his ERA. Give Jeff credit, he put together a decent 13-11, 4.19 ERA campaign, but he was far from dominant...I'd argue he may well have just been more fortunate. Don't get me wrong, Jeff isn't a bad guy to have near the bottom of your rotation, especially for his 2003 salary of $500K, or even three times that. He's likely to give you 200 innings, and in the NL would probably compile a 4.50ish ERA. He's still not 30, but I feel he is very limited. He doesn't have much ceiling at all, especially compared to other "midlevel" free agents, like Lidle, John Thomson, and especially Batista and Kelvim Escobar.






11/10/2003 10:09:00 PM



(11/10/2003 07:58:00 PM) - Al

I'm not at all surprised Scott Podsednik didn't win Rookie of the Year.

He didn't deserve it, as there was a better choice. Ironically, the writers didn't make it. Brandon Webb was by far the best rookie in the NL in 2003. Heck, he's a Top 5 Cy Young pick. Instead, the writers chose Dontrelle Willis, who wasn't even remotely close to as effective in '03 as Webb was.

It's difficult for me to even imagine what reasoning was used to justify such an absurd selection. Of course, considering the last two AL MVP's were Tejada (over ARod) and Suzuki (over ARod), I suppose it's not a bit worse than those.

No wonder Drew Olson is their VP. Talk about the blind leading the blind.



11/10/2003 07:58:00 PM



(11/10/2003 07:15:00 PM) - Al

From the Journal Sentinel:

The Diamondbacks have coveted Sexson for weeks and are trying to entice Melvin with a three- or multiplayer package that might include some combination of the following names: infielder Junior Spivey, first baseman Lyle Overbay, outfielder Danny Bautista, pitchers John Patterson and Oscar Villarreal and catcher Chad Moeller.

A package like that could potentially cost $7 million, only about a $1.5 million savings over keeping Sexson, but it would allow Melvin to shore up three or four spots on the roster.



Junior Spivey is a player I've really liked, but one whose success seems to be dependent on playing in the thinner air of Arizona. His career stats on the road are .325 OBP and a .378 SLG. That's not bad for a middle infielder, but his career numbers of .363/.453 is over 100 points higher. With JJ Hardy, Billy Hall, and Rickie Weeks seemingly less than a couple years away, Junior doesn't interest me much.

Bautista is a nice role player, but will be 32 next year and will make about $4 million. The only interest I have in Danny is if ARI would insist we take back salary in order for us to get a top prospect. He isn't a horrible stopgap RF for 2004, as his numbers on the road the past 4 years are about .335/.435, which would put him in the Gabe Kapler vicinity. He doesn't walk much though.

I'm a big fan of Overbay, as he simply gets on base a lot at every level. While being treated as if he had some sort of "rookie disease", he still has put up a decent statline of .357/.391, and that would be very likely to go up playing regularly. I see him as a Doug M type of 1B, high OBP, line drives, and gappers; though I feel he'd be a perfect Miller Park hitter, as some of his doubles may well turn into cheap HR's. He is entering his year of 27 and is patient at the plate.

Patterson is a 26 year-old power pitcher, who is still more potential than anything else. He appears to have been healthy since 2000, when he missed most of the season. He would look to be no more than a #3/4 starter, but he had outstanding numbers in AAA Tucson, a hitter's paradise, last year.

Villarreal is by far the best name mentioned, a fireballing 22 year-old who had a very nice season in the D'Backs bullpen in '03. I would love to see him in the rotation next year, with strict pitch counts, of course. At worst, he is a reliever that will be cheap and effective for the next couple years.

Moeller is a steady performer, not someone you build a team around, but not bad. 29 and .325/.378 doesn't equal "hooray!", but he would also seem to be doing better the more he plays. Also, he takes walks, darn it. The fact he is a catcher makes him an attractive player.

To me, Overbay, Villarreal, and a good SP prospect would be a fair exchange. If it was necessary for us to take Bautista to get one of ARI's top arms, I'd do that too.



11/10/2003 07:15:00 PM


Sunday, November 09, 2003

(11/09/2003 07:51:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers announced their board of directors have suggested that the '04 payroll come in at about $30 million. They did leave some wiggle room, saying it was just a number to work with, but unlike some, who will scoff at fielding a team with a low payroll, I feel it would be a refreshing breath of fresh air. The article also estimates the Brewers' debtload at $110 million, and honestly, I doubt that includes their share of Miller Park, since that is structured to be paid back slowly, like a mortgage. Because of their new stadium, they have been exempt from the 60/40 rule, which is a debt ratio teams must abide by. I can't recall offhand how it works, except to say they have to be in compliance by 2005.

I'll be the first to admit the lower your payroll is, the less likely it is that you will be in contention. However, in the case of the Crew, it was unlikely at best 2004 would be a year of contention. Some of the messages lately on the Brewerfan.net forums have discussed how good an '04 team could be, with good health, luck, and some inexpensive free agent signings. Most seem to come to the same conclusion as I do...a .500 year could be in reach. However, to be blunt, who cares? There's no hope of a playoff spot with 81 wins, and hardly any with 85 W's. Hence, I simply don't feel it's worth spending anything more than you have to if your "ceiling" is about 81 wins.

Last season, the Brewers were lucky and skilled enough to find solid players like Podsednik, Ginter, Kolb, Davis, etc. All these fellas would appear to be mediocre or better, and have simply never been given much of a chance to play in the past. To succeed, opportunity is necessary. When you are on pace for 65-80 victories, it's a great chance to provide the opportunity. A win here or there isn't a big deal; the difference between 72 and 75 wins is not nearly as important as the difference between 90 and 93.

Call me a rebel if you will, but I welcome 2004 regardless of the payroll, and with or without Richie Sexson. The farm system is as strong as it's been in at least 20 years, and the future is bright. Every effort should be made to build for 2005. The last thing this organization needs is short-term fixes. If building a better tomorrow means a couple less wins in 2004, so be it.


11/09/2003 07:51:00 PM


Saturday, November 08, 2003

(11/08/2003 06:57:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure, but it would appear Mike Price was fired for having too much to drink. Heavens, he didn't even drink and drive.

Have we ever seen such incredibly poor reporting as we have in the past few months? Drew Olson watches games from the office, Jason Blair just copies from others, this SI reporter sounds like he just put together a story full of quarter truths and heresay.





11/08/2003 06:57:00 PM


Friday, November 07, 2003

(11/07/2003 10:47:00 AM) - Al

Al,

Still working on p/PA, but in the mean time, I've posted 2003 Attrition Rates at the raindrops. Looks like the BrewCrew enjoy wearing down the opposition's pitchers:

109.48 Podsednik
113.76 Ginter
103.73 Jenkins
109.39 Sexson
112.46 Vander Wal
98.90 Helms
99.90 Osik
91.68 Clayton
----------------
102.93 Clark
96.40 Young (Mil portion)
84.28 Perez (yikes)

That lineup would only have one player below the 2003 MLB median of 98.50 AtR (for players with at least 350 PA). Half the guys are also above the 75th percentile, 105.71, giving the Brewers 4 of the top 21 rates in the National League.

-Avkash


Avkash looks to be challenging Aaron Gleeman as who has the most free time. Good reading though.






11/07/2003 10:47:00 AM


Thursday, November 06, 2003

(11/06/2003 10:09:00 PM) - Al

Just when you think you've seen and heard it all...this guy ran the marathon twice.

I'm winded from reading the article once.:)


11/06/2003 10:09:00 PM



(11/06/2003 09:16:00 PM) - Al

Jason Parry of the Brewers' media department got back to me today, and indeed, Ben's research was correct. 7 wins in '03, 3 in '02. Does it prove anything? I don't think so, but it is interesting. It also explains the fact the Crew won 3 more games than they "should have", based solely on runs scored and allowed.

It seems to me the '03 Brewers, if you played the season 100 times, would probably win an average of 65 games. They finished in the 5th or 10th percentile with 68, no doubt.


11/06/2003 09:16:00 PM


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

(11/05/2003 09:54:00 PM) - Al

And you know what? Pepsi paid the ad agency about a zillion dollars to come up with such a pathetic slogan. I honestly feel a high school class would have managed a catchier jingle in a week.


11/05/2003 09:54:00 PM



(11/05/2003 12:03:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman has kind words for all of the starting pitchers I discussed a few days ago. He also agrees with my feeling that long-term deals for the two top pitchers, Colon and Millwood, would be far from a good idea.


11/05/2003 12:03:00 PM


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

(11/04/2003 08:45:00 PM) - Al

My mind just keeps reverting back to Ramiro Mendoza. He isn't an ace by any means, but he's a ground ball pitcher who I think would thrive in a small market, and would cost next to nothing to acquire.

Problem is, he is signed to a $3.6 million deal for 2004, meaning either Theo would have to agree to pay him at least half of that deal, or we'd have to send BOS salary...which would mean either Richie or Geoff, unless I'm missing something.

Let's take a gander at some of Mendoza's stats, to see if this makes any sense:

Career is 57-39, 4.32 ERA, and is 32 years old. Excellent side stats, a career 2.01 GB/FB ratio, only 2BB/9 IP, a 2.58 K/BB ratio, and one HR allowed per 9 innings. His only substandard number would be a rather low 5.28 K/9, though that doesn't mean he won't have success.

I wanted to know how poorly he had pitched in his starts, but he only had 7 from 2000-02, which is a tiny sample. He was completely ineffective in 2003, though he was also injured and thus, likely never at 100%. Mendoza would seem to be a perfect match if he was a free agent, as he'd likely sign a "make good" contract, for about $1M for '04. But, as I said, unless Theo would be willing to pay a lot of Ramiro's salary, this doesn't look like a match that'd be very likely to occur. It would seem pretty likely to me that BOS will just put him in the bullpen in 2004, and get some use out of him that way. The Sox can afford to have a couple mistakes like this, while teams like the Brewers can't.

Unless it's a part of a yet unseen, larger trade, Mendoza looks to be a minor piece of the puzzle that will not be used.


11/04/2003 08:45:00 PM



(11/04/2003 06:03:00 PM) - Al

While I try to limit most of the political content, I will make a short post here: One, I wanted to send some people over to this piece at the Crank, which said exactly what I'd been thinking. Every single military death, in war or in training, is tragic, and should never be spoken of in any other way. With that said, the Hibernian sums it up pretty well, as it is an impossibility for the death toll to ever go down. Also, at this point, abandoning Iraq would be shortsighted, to say the least.

Because my son has been suffering from the croup, he has not been sleeping well, so I was up early this AM, and saw the beginning of Today, which my wife usually watches. I found it stunning to see the obvious bias and tone of the broadcast. I'll be the first to say the Fox News Channel tends to lean right, but it seems more so to many folks because of the way CNN and the networks plant themselves so firmly on the left. The first few minutes of the Today show were:

1. A 3-5 minute piece on "yet another casualty" in the war in Iraq. Later, they interviewed the man's family who was piloting the chopper that was shot down, and allowed one of his brothers to lengthily voice his opposition to the connflict.

2. This was followed by a brief story about health care in America, in which the quote, "the horrible state health care is in" was used. While I am not positive of the exact wordage used, I'm sure I caught the meaning. While I will agree health care is far from perfect, if there is a better system anywhere in the world, I certainly don't read much about it. From what I've seen, the US has the best medical facilities and best health care in the universe.

3. The next piece was an interview with a host of a cable NBC financial show, and this is a paraphrase of what Katie Couric (as obviously liberal as she is, it's difficult not to like Katie) asked: "The Dow is way up, manufacturing jobs are on the rise, the economy seems to be improving...does President Bush deserve any credit?"

So, after two "bad news" items, the good news is prefaced with that question. Simply amazing.

What's funny is, the reporter said all the info he's seen says the upswing is due to disposable income being up, which would seem to be directly related to the Bush tax cut. Hard to believe folks keeping more of the money they earn would be a good thing, isn't it? To quote the great Chris Rock, "My dad always had two jobs, who can't find one"?





11/04/2003 06:03:00 PM



(11/04/2003 04:56:00 PM) - Al

Today I posted a poll on Brewerfan.net, asking what they thought was better for 2004 and the future:

1. Having Richie at 1B and the rotation we have now?

2. Having a Travis Lee type at 1B (below average, but above replacement level), adding a quality SP to the rotation for $2M (Cory Lidle would be an example of the type of pitcher willing to do that), and a young SP who is a good prospect in the rotation, who would be received as part of the Sexson trade.

To me, I'd estimate Richie to be about 12-15 runs above an "average" 1B, and is probably 3-4 wins better than Lee. But, Lidle and the young SP seem likely to be worth more than that...not to mention, cost about $4 mil less, maybe saving some dollars for a RF, even.

Last I checked, it was 26-4 in favor of #2. While there will be some upset folks if Sexson is dealt, they will tend to be folks who know the least about the game. Signing Richie to a 3-4 year extension, worth $35-40 mil, simply makes no sense for several reasons. Once you take the emotion out of the equation, the picture becomes much clearer.

The way I tend to see it is like this: You need to pretend your club is an expansion team. You are to be given a budget, and it will always be $X. Those players you have signed to long-term deals have to fit into the budget just like new additions. If you were building an expansion team, you'd have no "dead weight" at all, except those players you signed that got injured. With every long-term contract, your odds of having "dead salary" increases.

What's funny is, the Brewers will probably have a payroll budget of about $35 million in 2004, and I know if I was given that, I could build a pretty good club. But, right now the Brewers have about $19 million committed to Sexson, Jenkins, and Sheets. That leaves $16 mil for the other 22 spots. Now, 4-6 of those spots should be filled by those making the $300K minimum, or very close to it, as they simply aren't that important. The 10th and 11th spots on the pitching staff, for instance, are easy to fill and should be cheap. 5th OF's, guys that play defense, run a bit, and not embarass themselves at the plate, are a dime a dozen, and should be inexpensive. Ditto for backup catchers and utility middle IF's. So, to be realistic, it means the other 16 "more important" spots need to be filled for about $14 million.

Would I rather have $22 million and 17 spots to fill? You bet I would. Don't forget, any highly paid "star" is every bit as likely (often more so) to blow out a knee and miss the entire season as anyone else.


11/04/2003 04:56:00 PM



(11/04/2003 04:32:00 PM) - Al

Al,

From last night's Ramblings:

"On 7/4/02, I posted that the Brewers had, for the 3rd time in a month, won a game after trailing at the 8 complete inning mark. Does anyone want to bet me that the 2003 Crew came from behind 4 or more times in the 9th? They may have, and I seem to recall it happening at least twice, so I would think I have forgotten a time or two or maybe even three."

I've got at least 7 from last season:

April 19th @ Houston
May 17th v. Cincinnati
May 27th @ San Diego
May 29th @ San Diego
June 26th @ Chicago(N)
August 16th @ Pittsburgh
September 17th @ St. Louis

All I did was look for games where one of the relievers got the win, or where the other team's closer took the loss.

And, I'll point out (looking at the games described above), the Brewers also had quite a number of games in which they pulled ahead in the 9th (tied after 8), or pulled ahead in the 8th inning.

I won't say that this vindicates Yost as a good manager, although I do think he did a good job with what he was given.


Ben


Thanks to Ben for doing the leg work. Again, I "kind of" expected a result like this, as I sort of, in the back of my mind, seem to recall many come from behind wins. But, looking at the list (which I was unable to confirm or deny, as ESPN.com seems to be down), my memory seems especially hazy:

The two games I refered to as "remembering" were both blown saves by Billy Wagner. Either one occured in the 8th, or the Astros came back to win, as Ben only found one such HOU instance. I do remember Bruce Bochy leaving starters in far too long twice in a series, so I kinda recall the SD pair. I think the only home win was when Eddie Perez hit the walk off HR versus Cincy. The Cubs comeback is one I sorta would have guessed, but have no recollection of the specifics.

I think this is probably an excellent reason why the Crew won three more games than their "expected" win total, based solely on runs scored and allowed. When you score in the 9th inning, or take the lead in the top of the 9th, the other club only has 3 outs to even it up. Runs in the 9th don't count a bit more than runs scored in any other inning, but they do make "playing for a run or two" in the 1st and 4th and 7th look especially foolish, as you really have no idea how many runs it will take to win the game until after you get 27 outs. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out you'll score more runs using all 27 outs than by giving 2-3 away trading "an out for a base".

Does it mean Ned Yost is a good manager? I'd argue no, but winning more games than you "should" is a good start. Do that a few years in a row, you're either lucky or good, and honestly, I don't care which.


11/04/2003 04:32:00 PM


Monday, November 03, 2003

(11/03/2003 06:47:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

Was I the only one whose first reaction to Ozzie Guillen's hiring as the White Sox manager was "Oh Jesus God No"? :-) This is the man who had a career OBP 13 points UNDER .300. He and Thomas will be an interesting fit if Frank sticks around.

Mike


On the bright side Mike, his OBP has to be higher than Ned Yost's.

I'm sure Ozzie will have a batting coach, so I hope his players don't listen to a word he says about "being aggressive" at the plate. Honestly, the fact the decision came down to Cito Gaston, legendary for not knowing or caring a bit about pitching; and Guillen makes me wonder about the selection process. Both Cito and Ozzie are known for being friendly, outgoing fellows, one has to wonder if dealing with the press was more important than anything else.


11/03/2003 06:47:00 PM



(11/03/2003 04:01:00 PM) - Al

How did I miss the fact that the A's picked up Marcos Scutaro (who will be referred to as Scooter from now on) almost a month ago? Billy Beane just picked up a perfect Billy Beane "type" player...for absolutely nothing.

The link is from our friend Avkash's blog, The Raindrops, by the way. This letter writer does fine work.


11/03/2003 04:01:00 PM



(11/03/2003 03:54:00 PM) - Al

I finally took a minute to look up the fact that the 2002 Brewers may actually have been a better "comeback" team than the 2003 version...which, if you'll notice, gets a lot of credit for being a team that "never quit" that supposedly was a dynamic team at overcoming late defecits.

On 7/4/02, I posted that the Brewers had, for the 3rd time in a month, won a game after trailing at the 8 complete inning mark. Does anyone want to bet me that the 2003 Crew came from behind 4 or more times in the 9th? They may have, and I seem to recall it happening at least twice, so I would think I have forgotten a time or two or maybe even three.

I will continue to try and find a concrete answer, but I'm just exhausted of listening to people give Ned Yost credit for something that Jerry Royster managed to stumble into at least 3 times. This would, on the surface at least, appear to be a self fulfilling prophecy, as seen below:

1. Yost says team will "battle".
2. Team plays games.
3. Media repeats "battle" mantra.
4. Team continues playing games.
5. At some point, team wins after trailing.
6. Hence, "proof" now exists that team "battles".
7. Media continues on with "battle" propoganda, now "proven" by results on the field.

As I often asked in 2002, while many complained that Royster's troops did not give 100%, no one ever gave specific examples of guys loafing on the field (like America saw Jim Edmonds do in a late season game this year). It is one of those things that has no real measurement, so people use it haphazardly, as it cannot be proven. Personally, I think Richie Sexson played just as hard in '02 as he did '03.

I will give the results of the late inning comebacks if I am able to track them down. However, I get the feeling this will be shown to be as accurate as Derek Jeter being called Mr. Clutch...he of the 600 OPS in close and late postseason situations.


11/03/2003 03:54:00 PM



(11/03/2003 12:23:00 PM) - Al

Billy Wagner to the Phillies today, for one very good prospect, and two decent ones. At $9 mil in '04, he would seemingly be worth about the same thing as Richie Sexson, as both are free agents after the upcoming season.

Considering HOU dumped $9 mil in payroll for 2004, and has a closer in house (Octavio Dotel) ready to step in and replace Billy, it's hard for me to see a downside for the Astros.


11/03/2003 12:23:00 PM



(11/03/2003 11:21:00 AM) - Al

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Devil Rays are interested in free agents 2B Todd Walker and INF Rey Sanchez. According to the Tampa Tribune, they are interested in free agent P Tom Gordon.


Does this remind anyone of when Bill Musselman ran the expansion T'Wolves? The late Mr. M was renowned as being a heckuva coach, who got players that no one wanted and were willing to run his system. But, Bill was also famous for giving draft picks away for replacement level players that he was fond of; for instance, a 2nd round pick for Scottie Brooks, at best a backup point guard, or probably more accurately, either a 12th man or CBA caliber player.

Lou Pinella is not a patient man, and the DevilRays are obviously several years away from competing. Todd Walker is a nice 2B, though I have to believe his defense would become more of a liability playing 81 games on the fast turf of the St. Pete dome. That said, the idea Rey Sanchez was mentioned in the same sentence is enough to offend me to tears.

And, the idea an aging, oft-injured closer is of any use to TB is nothing but funny. If Lou insists on the Rays throwing real money at guys like this, he'll keep TB in the lower half of the AL East for the next decade. With NY, BOS, and TOR in your division, there's no way you can "get lucky" and get a cheap division title with 85 wins. TB needs to build a strong foundation and then add the role players. Right now, they're a lot of mediocre to good players away...and they are worried about filling that utility IF spot. How silly.


11/03/2003 11:21:00 AM


Saturday, November 01, 2003

(11/01/2003 09:55:00 PM) - Al

The Bucks are up by 30 with 3 minutes left tonight, and if the first 3 games are any indication, will make my prediction of a surprising season seem incredibly sound. I'm sure they'll struggle on those long road trips, but they aren't near as far away as many would have believed this past summer.


11/01/2003 09:55:00 PM



(11/01/2003 08:49:00 PM) - Al

Back when we did our Ramblings’ roundtable recap, I put forth that the Crew would sign one of three SP’s this offseason. The names I mentioned were Cory Lidle, Kelvim Escobar, and John Thomson. All of these guys “fit the mold” that the Brewers (and other clubs) are looking for; such as being veteran arms, proven, solid, yet unspectacular, and none will break the bank. In fact, with the exception of Escobar, the others will likely sign a 1-2 year contract. While none look to be “ace” types, Escobar would appear to be an above average starter, while Lidle and Thomson are both solid starters, innings-eaters, who could put together a good year or two. Let’s take a look at these three and a recent addition, Miguel Batista, whose option was not taken by the D’Backs.


Batista is 33, and is the ground ball type pitcher the Brewers would love to have. He was 8th in the majors last year, with a 2.04 GB/FB ratio, meaning he had twice as many outs recorded on grounders as he did flies. Pitching in the thinner air of ARI, you would expect him to come pretty close to his road numbers if he signed with MIL.

2001 ERA--3.36
2002 ERA--4.29
2003 ERA--3.54

2000-02 road numbers--3.46 ERA, 283 IP, 255 hits, 98 BB‘s, 187 K’s
2003 road numbers--3.26 ERA, 105 IP, 101 H, 31 BB‘s, 87 K’s

Miguel (and as you're soon to see Escobar) would seem to be exactly what Doug Melvin is looking for. A ground ball pitcher, solid past, and putting him in Miller Park for half his starts would seemingly set him up to succeed. I'd hesitate to give him more than a two year deal because of his age, but a 2y/$7 mil contract would be fine in my view.

Kelvim Escobar put forth a superb 2003 after being removed from his bullpen jail cell and inserted into the rotation. Kelvim's stats of note the past few seasons:

2003 total--13-9, 4.29 ERA, 180 IP, 189 H, 78 BB, 159 K
2003 starts-12-8, 3.92 ERA, 163 IP, 162 H, 70 BB, 136 K
2003 grass-8-2, 2.84 ERA, 82 IP, 68 H, 34 BB, 65 K

2000-2 starts--16-12, 3.70 ERA, 231 IP, 215 H, 95 BB, 196 K
2000-2 grass--10-6, 3.40 ERA, 145 IP, 122 H, 63 BB, 125 K

Escobar will be 28 in 2004, and is a perfect case of being a mediocre starter because of his environment. If he wasn't on one of the two teams that play on turf in the AL, he'd be a true #2 starter, and maybe even a weak #1. Take away a half run per 9 innings, a sub 3 ERA isn't difficult to fathom. Instead, he's known as being an "OK" pitcher. Outside of TOR, this guy may well break out and win 15-18 games the next few years. A 3 year deal would be signing him for his years of 28, 29, and 30. Even in his years in TOR in which he had a high ERA, he gave the team innings.

How confident am I in Escobar? I would be willing to sign him BEFORE the arby deadline, guaranteeing the Jays our 2nd round pick. I assume TOR will offer him arby anyway, but they have a tight payroll to meet, complicated by the fact the Canadian dollar is worth a bit more than a bottle cap. Some teams might hesitate, some will chase bigger names like Colon and Millwood.

However, as I've often said, I don't overpay for "potential", regardless of my platonic love for a player's ceiling. I feel Kelvim will settle in and sign a 3-4 year deal worth about $3.5-5 mil per, depending on the market and the amount of bidders. $4 mil per for 3 years is more than fair, in my mind. I'm not saying to break the bank on Escobar, but I'd love for him to back up to our vault. If someone is willing to bet more on him, so be it.

I really like Cory Lidle. I was writing off his awful '03 to pitching with an injury, and that may still be a part of it. But, I ran across something last night that got me thinking he may have been the victim of a trifecta of bad luck, pitching on turf, and pitching at 90%. Glancing at his 2003 line, with the exception of his ERA, his numbers weren't that bad. Then, I ran across a post at Crank that said his first half ERA was over a run and a half higher than his DIPS ERA, which is basically his "expected" ERA. There's quite a difference between putting up a 6 ERA in a down year...and a 4.50 ERA.

Cory has pitched between 188 & 192 in each of the past 3 seasons. He is a good bet to take the ball and keep you in the game eevry 5th day. And on grass, in 2000-2:

25-19, 3.95 ERA, 423 IP, 412 H, 101 BB, 240 K

He has a career 1.82 GB/FB ratio, and was 17th in the bigs last year...even though he pitched poorly.

I'm not going to suggest signing Lidle to a long-term deal, or a Batista/Escobar size one. But, get Lidle off the turf and at worst he'll be a bit worse than league average, and at best, his 3.95 grass ERA turns into a 3.50 one given the move to the no DH league. 1-2 years, $2-2.5 mil per would be my offer. If not for his injury late in '03, I could be tempted to inch that up.

Thomson is a career bottom of the rotation starter. He has pitched in Coors, and has pitched in TEX, both offensive parks. He's a ground ball guy, but is less so now than earlier in his career. He gives up a fair amount of HR's, a bad thing if you pitch in Miller Park a lot. He's a perfect guy for a team like SEA to chase, as a lot of those HR's would be warning track outs in Safeco.

Overall, John has a career 4.93 ERA, but his splits away from home are better, about a 4.65 ERA. On grass, a 4.70 ERA is about his norm. He'll be a 30 year-old pitcher in 2004. Despite those numbers which would seem to tell me he's nothing more than a #4 guy, his periphals are outstanding:

2000-03 away: 357 IP, 363 H, 87 BB, 213 K

That's just more than a hit an inning, and a 2.5-1 K/BB ratio. A 1.26 WHIP. Even as a guy who gives up some homers, you'd expect a lower ERA with those stats, about a 4-4.25 at most.

2000-03 grass: 662 IP, 699 H, 160 BB, 418 K

Once again, just more than a hit per frame, and a 2.5-1 K/BB ratio, and a 1.30 WHIP. Those are not what you should see with a near 5 ERA.

So, we are left to draw one of two conclusions. One, maybe John is a mental case who pitches poorly from the stretch, and/or in pressure spots. Two, is it possible John has, for the most part, been less than fortunate and/or played for crappy defensive teams? Yes, it is, however it's unlikely that all three of his clubs have been Jeter-like between the lines. My guess would be it's a combo of allowing a lot of 3 run HR's, having a somewhat low K/9 ratio (about 5.5/9), and pitching in some unlucky situations (teams with poor defense, poor bullpens, and the like).

John is coming off his finest campaign, but still is under the radar, to say the obvious, of most MLB teams. If he is able to simply compile an ERA that is more in tune with his WHIP, suddenly, we have a guy who we could expect to give you 200 innings with a 4.25 ERA...and in the NL, maybe a ERA under 4...that's not only "ok", that's pretty darn appealing.

John is younger than Cory and Miguel, yet older than Kelvim. Even with my reasonimg, one cannot help but notice that, at the end of the day, John Thomson has a career 4.93 ERA. All the math and number shifting in the world would tell you it is unlikely a 30 year-old will cut a run off his career ERA, and even less so a HR pitcher in a park somewhat friendly to the long ball.

However, in my mind at least, the potential of improvement is not far-fetched. He has pitched the majority of his innings in Coors and the AL, so a half run decrease ridding himself of the DH is sound. His numbers on grass would tell you Miller may be beneficial. To me, he is a 4.50 ERA with the potential to do even better. He's a safe bet to be worth a year or two at Lidle money, $2-2.5 mil per, in my opinion.

There are some other names on the market that I looked at, and I will sum up my two "sleeper" picks briefly here:

Scott Erickson missed all of 2003 with injury, but it's hard to overlook that career 2.45 GB/FB ratio. I would have no problem taking a Todd Ritchie size gamble on Scott, if he is said to be sound to compete in '04.

I'm surprised as anyone, but Shawn Estes also appeals to me. He's 31, and has a 1.81 GB/FB ratio. His career ERA is 4.53, which would seem to put him on equal footing with Thomson. He isn't likely to be above mediocre, but as a #5 guy/spot starter/long reliever, the kind of role we used Dave Burba for in 2003, I like him a lot. Considering he's coming off a down season, I'd see if he'd take a deal worth $700K. Shawn may see us as an opportunity to put together 30-35 decent starts and sign one last 3y/$10 mil deal next offseason.

In closing, the Crew has hinted a lot that they would like to sign a legit #1 starter. No way we'll see Bartolo Colon in a Brewers' uni in 2004, but it is possible Cory Lidle outperforms Colon next year, especially if he pitched through pain more than he let on in 2003. Any of the first four guys I mentioned above, at reasonable salary, would be realistic upgrades with the potential to be an Estaban Loaiza "out of nowhere" 18 game winner.

Or at least, we can hope.




11/01/2003 08:49:00 PM


Whatever strikes me as interesting, and serious Milwaukee Brewers thoughts. If you are a believer in respecting OBP, throwing strikes, and keeping the ball in the park, you may have found the place you've been searching for. I believe in low taxes, small government, and am not afraid to be labeled patriotic.

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