Al's Ramblings



Tuesday, December 30, 2003

(12/30/2003 02:24:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman discusses the downfall of Ben Grieve today, on the best baseball weblog available. He wonders aloud what led to Ben's decline, and I will tell you what I think.

If you look at Ben's numbers, all of his stats have fallen...except one, OBP. He is still pretty much "not getting out" at the same rate as always. However, his BA and his SLG have gone off a cliff. All of this points to one thing: Health. Ben finally missed a lot of time last year, but I would guess he has been at less than full strength for quite a while. If you are in pain, swinging the bat is a lot less appealing.

Also, I recall that Mr. Pinella was unhappy at Grieve last year for failing to swing at a called strike three to end a game (As that shows a "lack of grit", while getting out in countless other ways doesn't. Lou is living proof anyone can manage a team loaded with talent). When the Crew signed him, I read 60+% of Ben's K's were of the "looking" variety. Before he missed the remainder of the season, there were grumblings that TB felt Ben was "lazy", and never took extra batting practice.

All those things would tell me it is very possible Grieve has been playing through pain for some time. While I'd be the first to say he is a good choice to have a "back to the ol' days" campaign, it is also strange for a guy to suffer from poor health (and/or bad luck) when he's 25-27, then be fine at age 28 and beyond.

While it is rare for a player to decline so much after such a fine start, it is another reason to avoid giving long-term contracts when it isn't necessary. While projections get more accurate every year, you just never know.


12/30/2003 02:24:00 PM



(12/30/2003 01:23:00 PM) - Al

DET signed Jason Johnson to a 2 year, $7 million contract.

Overpaying for mediocrity has never been so painfully obvious. Jason's career shows his ERA to be a half run or so higher than the league average, which makes him a 4th starter at best. He's 30 years old, so he's a very unlikely to improve.

Meanwhile, the Brewers have Matt Kinney, who is 27 and also has a career ERA about half a run higher than league average. He'll make about 1/10th what Johnson takes home this year. Money helps, but when you sign below average players to deals involving real money, it keeps you from bringing in players that will help you.

So far this offseason, DET has spent $9.5 million on Fernando Vina, Rondell White, and now Jason Johnson. All these guys were once fine players, but now they are all many years past their prime, yet still being compensated for their achievements a half decade or more ago (actually, Jason Johnson has had one season that can be considered "good").

Will the Tigers be better than they were in '03? Of course they will, they could accomplish that by signing a bunch of free agents under 30, and for under a million dollars. If you're going to spend almost $10 million, you shouldn't have to accept has beens and never weres. Heck, for $10 mil, you could just about take on Manny Ramirez's hellish $20 mil per, if BOS would take Bobby Higginson off your hands. Manny will probably outproduce both Vina and White in '04. Ramirez is too old to help DET when they are likely to contend again, but at least he's a fine player.

Picking up guys in their 30's that haven't been very good for a while...and pretending they still are worth $3 mil a year sounds like something the Brewers used to do.


12/30/2003 01:23:00 PM


Monday, December 29, 2003

(12/29/2003 10:13:00 PM) - Al

Cory Lidle signed a 1 year, $2.75 million deal today with the Reds.

I was hoping we'd find a way to bring him to MIL, but I had figured he would not get over $2 mil tops. Apparently, Cincy feels his poor '03 was an aberration as I do.

The only name on the FA list that really "jumps out" at me now is Kenny Rogers. Given his success last season with the Twins (13-8, 4.57), I have trouble believeing he'll sign for a penny less than Lidle.

Kenny is not as perfect for Miller Park as Cory was, as there are several reasons to be wary.

5.08 K/9 last 3 years.
1.13 GB/FB ratio in '03.
1.47 GB/FB ratio in career.
39 years old.

There are some decent starters other than Rogers, but to be blunt, it's hard to believe they'd be much of a step up from whoever wins the 5th spot. Danys Baez, who was non-tendered by CLE was used as a closer in '03, but has been successful in the rotation in past seasons, is the most pursued. Two names I might have an interest in if they came cheap are Shawn Estes and Rick Reed, but they couldn't be expected to be much more than #4/5 guys, though both have secondary numbers that would make them a bit better than you'd first think.



12/29/2003 10:13:00 PM



(12/29/2003 01:01:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Overall I think your projections are pretty reasonable and I agree that the Brewers have a shot to be in the average range for offense pending health and the Brewers not decimating the offense at the trade deadline.

Still, a couple of nitpicks.

The main one being that when you make a comparison to the average player at the position, the average player also includes bench players. The Brewers are looking at over 1,000 ABs with bench players. Right now the bench probably looks like Ginter, Clark, Hall, Bennett, Kieschnick, and Magruder. Obviously the Brewers won't lose anything when Ginter starts at second. Hall can probably meet or exceed the minimal standards of average SS or Counsell. However, Bennett is a black hole, even by catcher standards. Clark and Magruder are below average offensively, especially at the corner outfield positions, albeit probably not by more than a game's worth. Kieschnick is a wild card and probably most comparable to a backup first baseman since the Brewers likely won't be carrying one. Overall, the bench probably brings them back to the dead average range, which is probably what you would expect from a bench. There is a reason these players aren't starters.

Also, related to the bench, the AB multiplier for starters seems to be a bit high to me. Granted, I could see Ginter getting 600 ABs, but I have a hard time believing anyone beyond the top 3 would even have the potential of reaching that threshhold. It doesn't change things significantly, but the "20 runs over the league average" is likely to be exagerrated some.

Injuries, the bench, and playing time for bench players are obviously big wild cards. Even the Cubs offense looks pretty good with a reasonable projection having the Cubs at average or better at RF, CF, LF, 1B, 2B, and 3B. They'll be low in OBP but above average in power. But, the bench construction will likely drag down their offense just like it did last year. And the Cardinals and Astros don't need much discussion. The Reds could have a league average offense centered around their outfield if they stay healthy, although obviously that's not a good bet. But, just looking at starters, the only team that the Brewers are obviously superior to on offense in the NL Central is the Pirates, who look like they're going to have a dreadful year.

BTW, I'm in full agreement with you on Haudricourt phoning in that Kapler review. Kapler may turn it around, but he's been a big disappointment on the field and only looks like a promising player in the weight room.

Robert



Frequent correspondence from Robert is always a welcome sight in the inbox, as his criticism is usually enough to at least make me double check or rethink my position. Thanks for reading and writing, Robert.

Robert is saying in that I am depending on good health from the starters, and little input from the "bench" players. That is true. I feel that Clark and Ginter would be excellent members of a major league bench, though I hope Keith is in the lineup and Spivey is elsewhere by April 1st. Bennett is a backup catcher, and simply put, none of them hit a lick. I feel Hall should be getting the majority of AB's at SS, with Counsell spelling him once or twice a week versus tough RH's, so I am confident of Hall being at least OK in a bench role, maybe better. I would say the 5th OF spot, as well as the "last" bench spot (unless the Crew carries 12 pitchers, in which case, Brooks would be that) is not that important, as they are often speed/defense guys not expected to hit.

We've discussed before why I use 600 AB's in my calculations, it's just a round number. It could be 500 or 550 just as easily.

I do feel the NL Central is a nice offensive division, though I would put SL in a league of their own, unless Eric Young does end up in LF, which would bring them back down to the pack. The Reds do look good at the plate as well, if healthy.


The thing that really bothers me about Tom's Kapler paragraph is it was so...wrong. If he would have said something to the effect of "once promising, solid defensive OF Gabe Kapler would have been a good fit", fine, but he chose to make Gabe sound like Geoff Jenkins.

It was also pointed out to me by a reader that Tom said Tampa Bay didn't even want Grieve, but failed to say that Kapler had been released by the Rockies last summer. Again, full of half-truths and far from truthful. Bias is fine coming from me, but it has no place in a paper reporting the "facts", unless it's in an article labeled as commentary.


12/29/2003 01:01:00 PM


Sunday, December 28, 2003

(12/28/2003 11:05:00 PM) - Al

(Gabe) Kapler, a young, right-handed hitter with pop, would have been a perfect fit for the Brewers. Now, if the defensively challenged (Ben) Grieve starts in right, all three Brewer outfielders will be left-handed hitters, not to mention shortstop Craig Counsell and first baseman Lyle Overbay.--Tom Haudricourt, JS, 12/28/03

Tom was the man who allowed his obvious bias to influence his JS article of the Sexson trade, and got all defensive in his BA chat, in which he basically said he's a minor league guru of mammoth proportion, and how dare you question that fact.

Tom left Milwaukee a few years back and went off to write for a paper in New Jersey...and quietly returned to the exceptionally low standards of the Journal Sentinel. He and Drew Olson have been in a battle to see who can outsuck the other, a battle Drew has rarely lost in his career.

But, to say Tom called this one in is to greatly offend those who call it in.

Let's go over Tom's paragraph here, and I will type slowly, in case Tom himself peeks in (as if he takes time off from the plethora of folks kissing his feet to check out Ramblings).

>(Gabe) Kapler, a young, right-handed hitter with pop, would have been a perfect fit for the Brewers. Now, if the defensively challenged (Ben) Grieve starts in right

I'll take Unproven and Senseless Buffoonery for $600, Alex.

1. Gabe Kapler is not young...he'll be 29 for the 2004 season, which on average, means he peaked a couple years ago. In fact, he's a bit more than eight months older than Ben Grieve, who was not given the "young" description.

2. To say Gabe Kapler has "pop" is, in itself, either a fib or ignorance. Gabe has a career .430 SLG percentage...less than Scott Podsednik, about the same as Keith Ginter. Geoff Jenkins has "pop", Richie Sexson has "pop". Kapler does not. Ben has much better numbers, if you wish to compare.

3. Even worse, while Gabe's career SLG is .430, his SLG since 2001 is a paltry .408, meaning his "pop" is comparable to Lyle Overbay...who will be referred to as "a singles hitter" before May 1st, I promise you. Even worse, as I pointed out earlier this month, Kapler's 3 year numbers are almost identical to the 2003 campaign of...Brady Clark.

4. And allow me to say, if Gabe Kapler (a higher ceiling version of Brady Clark) would have been a "perfect fit", we need new measurements. Gabe wouldn't have been a horrible stopgap to play RF in '04, but to pretend he's an above average RF is just Tom stretching the truth.

5. Tom implies Gabe is a better defender than Grieve. I would have agreed with that statement yesterday, and honestly, still would today. Gabe is a better athlete than Ben, and used to play CF, so he'll probably do a better job than Grieve, who has DH'd a lot the past few years. But, their career defensive numbers (for Gabe, just LF & RF were used, except for his assist and error totals) are as follows:

Gabe---.980 fielding %, 2.21 range factor, .861 zone rating, 35 assists, 27 errors
Ben-----.988 fielding %, 2.02 range factor, .856 zone rating, 32 assists, 16 errors

The only one I usually use is zone rating, as it takes into account how many balls were put into play in their "zone", and how many of these batted balls were turned into outs. While I would say Kapler has more range and speed, he hasn't used those talents to make a lot of outs, has he?

6. All 3 OF's will be LH hitters...so? Aren't about 75-80% of starting pitchers right-handed? While it is true 5 of the 8 members of the "starting" lineup swing from the left side, it is also true that Brady Clark will probably be in a near platoon with either Grieve, and Hall is likely to be in a near platoon with Counsell. I would assume Overbay would also sit versus many lefties as well, though as of this moment, I'm not sure who the RH bat would be. A RH hitting 1B/OF, able to be a key bat off the bench, and play against LHP's who are especially tough against LH bats, would be a wonderful "minor" addition to the bench. Ironically, a RH version of VanderWal. But making this seem like a problem that has to be corrected is, at best, misguided; and most likely, just Tom being as negative as he can be.

Overall, it's just a blurb, but it's a painfully written, pretty close to fiction blurb. Full of half-truths and opinion sold as fact, it simply has no place in anything but a commentary column.


12/28/2003 11:05:00 PM



(12/28/2003 10:10:00 PM) - Al

One of the best things to occur when the Brewers dealt Richie Sexson is the reaction soon thereafter. Many folks took this as a step backward, though the idea of letting Richie walk for 2 supplemental draft picks, in 2005 (estimated date of arrival, if they stay healthy, 2009) is a bit silly if you ask me.

The funny thing is, folks who allow emotion to get in the way of judgement are incredibly poor evaluators, especially soon after the trade happens. But, one thought keeps coming to the forefront, even this long after the swap: While it may have been a decent deal for the long-term, the Brewers still hurt themselves short-term.

What's funny is, I see the mirror image. The Brewers may well have 4 starting position players in '04 from this trade, as well as a member of the rotation, while the player with the highest ceiling will begin the season in the minor leagues. Personally, I would have preferred a pair of good prospects, yet I realize the D'Backs needed to send back some payroll.

So, I thought I would put together an estimate of how the 2004 Brewers will perform offensively, as compared to league average. I was especially interested in their OBP, as I have guessed a couple times the 2004 Crew may have all eight non-pitcher members of the batting order with better than average OBP's. What follows is a rundown of how their career and three year numbers stack up to the 2003 MLB average production:

Moeller, career--.325/.390, 715 OPS, 127 OXS, 57 runs created
Moeller, '01-'03-.344/.428, 772 OPS, 147 OXS, 66 runs created
Ave C, '03-------.322/.403, 725 OPS, 130 OXS, 58 runs created

Chad has been projected higher than I would have guessed, one even has him in the 800 OPS range. If his 3 year holds true, which is right about where I would put him, he looks to be worth almost 10 runs, which would equal about a win using the Rule of 10.



Overbay, career--.357/.391, 748 OPS, 140 OXS, 84 runs created
Ave 1B, '03--------.358/.462, 820 OPS, 165 OXS, 99 runs created

Lyle's career and 3y stats are one and the same, of course. Most folks figure Overbay's power will surge from playing daily and in HR friendly Miller Park, and I feel he has the potential to be a .375 OBP man. If he improves at all, it seems pretty likely to me he will end up being a bit less than average, about 10 runs worth.



Spivey, career--.363/.433, 796 OPS, 157 OXS, 94 runs created
Ginter, career---.354/.422, 776 OPS, 149 OXS, 90 runs created
Ave. 2B, '03-----.334/.403, 737 OPS, 135 OXS, 81 runs created

I have avoided writing a FREE KEITH GINTER piece, as I am glad Doug Melvin insisted Spivey be a part of this trade, as he is a good player who is also not incredibly overpaid. As Doug said then, he needed talent, and Junior is a player who has value. I have doubts if Junior will hit at this level away from the BOB, yet he isn't a bad hitter for a 2B even away from ARI, just about league average.

Meanwhile, I love Keith Ginter, as he takes pitches and has all the traits of a guy who takes pitches; walks a lot, good OBP, and more power than you'd expect. Regardless of who ends up starting at 2B, I think they'll be a game or thereabouts above average.

Personally, if Spivey was dealt tomorrow for a middle of the rotation starting pitcher, I could actually imagine the '04 team surprising a lot of people. I still hope that happens.



Counsell, career--.349/.351, 700 OPS, 122 OXS, 73 runs created
Counsell, '01-'03-.347/.343, 690 OPS, 119 OXS, 71 runs created
Ave. SS, '03-------.325/.399, 724 OPS, 130 OXS, 78 runs created

Craig has shown the ability to "not get out" at a pretty decent clip, which makes his numbers almost mediocre. I don't expect him to improve in 2004 at the tender age of 33, but his 30-32 stats are all but identical to his career, meaning he hasn't fallen yet, at least. With Bill Hall likely to be his platoon partner, he won't have to face LHP's much. He is most likely to lose power as he gets older, and Craig doesn't really have much to lose.

I'm going to go with Craig being about even, as I do like his OBP and I do think Hall will be a bit better than expected as well.



Helms, career--.310/.437, 747 OPS, 135 OXS, 81 runs created
Ave. 3B, '03----.329/.421, 750 OPS, 139 OXS, 83 runs created

Helms had a solid 2003, albeit with horrendous road splits. Was it a year of 27 fluke, or will he continue as an above average 3B? I could see him being anywhere from a win below average to a win above average, but will leave him at mediocre.



Jenkins, career--.349/.516, 865 OPS, 180 OXS, 108 runs created
Jenkins, '01-'03-.349/.495, 844 OPS, 173 OXS, 104 runs created
Ave. LF, '03------.356/.466, 822 OPS, 166 OXS, 96 runs created

Geoff is solid when healthy, and painfully mediocre when not at full strength. The numbers say he is probably worth about a game over league average, but admittedly, I doubt if he'll get the 600 AB's that the calculation is based on. Still, his spotty health record would indicate he is as unlucky as he is injury prone. I'm saying he's worth a game to the good.


Podsednik, career---.375/.440, 815 OPS, 165 OXS, 99 runs created
Ave. CF, '03-----------.340/.427, 767 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 runs created

It's amazing to me Pods was only a game better than mediocre in '03, as I feel he's unlikely to approach those stellar stats ever again, as '03 was his year of 27, and much better than you'd have ever projected, based on his lengthy AAA career. While it indicated my bias, I'm saying Pods is likely to be about average in '04.


Grieve, career--.368/.444, 812 OPS, 163 OXS, 98 runs created
Grieve, '01-'03-.364/.399, 763 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 runs created
Ave. RF, '03-----.350/.459, 809 OPS, 161 OXS, 96 runs created

Ben is just as strange a case as Scott, but I'm impressed with him for one reason, OBP. He still manages "not to get out" 36+% of the time, though his power seems to have deserted him. Considering I took a game away from Pods, I'm giving it back here, based on nothing but a hunch.


By my decidedly low-tech ciphering, I would estimate the Brewers at about 20 runs over the league average. Considering the Crew finished 11th out of 16 clubs in '03, I would say they have a shot to move up to 7th or 8th in 2004. Give this group a league average pitching staff and good health...I'd say they have a distinct possibility of not being crappy.

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



12/28/2003 10:10:00 PM


Friday, December 26, 2003

(12/26/2003 11:23:00 AM) - Al

Good for Dave.


12/26/2003 11:23:00 AM


Thursday, December 25, 2003

(12/25/2003 09:30:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I am sending this to you because I know you will happily run it.

I flew home this past Sunday to enjoy a couple weeks off for Xmas. I was waiting for my flight to load and a young soldier walked up to the counter and talked to the boarding people. He was put on the plane right away, and then soon thereafter, the rest of us boarded. By fate, I was seated in the same row as the soldier, and I soon learned his name was Francis, and that he was on his way home to the Missouri area. As luck would have it, the seat between us never filled, so we were able to talk much of the flight. A gentleman in the row in front of ours soon joined us, as I moved into the empty seat and he sat where I had been. The two of us sat there like a couple kids meeting a famous athlete, as we discussed combat, especially during the actual "conflict". Francis had served in Southern Iraq, patrolling and guarding a section of the country that was won without a fight. It was a real treat, as both of us were in our late 20's or early 30's, and we were silent, listening to the tales of a 21 year-old kid. Francis had joined as part of the college program, and has a bit over a year to go, as he plans to major in pre-vet medicine.

A member of the crew shook his hand, and said he was a former Air Force pilot as well, and that they would "make sure he made his flight". As we were pulling up to the gate, a crew member came on the PA system and asked that everyone please remain seated when the plane came to a stop. There were nervous whispers and a few groans as we all assumed the worst. The voice then said they wanted to make sure my seat neighbor Francis caught his connection, as he had a family that would be mighty happy to see him. He then proudly added the flight had arrived over 10 minutes early, and that an airline rep would be waiting to take him to his gate, and that his luggage would be transferred right away as well. The voice concluded by saying, "Just taking care of our troops".

The plane stopped and the seat belt light went out. Not one person moved an inch. Francis shook my hand as well as my neighbor, and was helped with his bag by an attendant, as many folks shouted out encouragement. The cabin burst into applause. He half-turned as he got to the front and gave a slight wave, then disappeared. As if paying respect, the folks on the aisle all looked at each other, as no one wanted to get up first. The crew actually had to tell people up front it was fine to get moving.

In addition to sharing this, I also wanted to share a link with you. Francis had flown for free, or at a huge discount because of a program called Operation Hero Miles. It is a way for frequent travellers to donate their often unused miles to let these returning soldiers fly home cheaply.

Thanks, and I enjoy the number crunching viewpoints, as well as the coverage. I am a Royals fan, but find many of your Brewers thoughts to be what I'm thinking. I think we made one of the best signings of the winter when we nabbed former Brewer Matt Stairs to an inexpensive contract.

Feel free to edit as necessary, I wanted to get this to you to let folks know of the program.

Roger



No edits necessary or desired, Roger, I'll let the bulk of your message stand with no comment, as my drivel would only get in the way. I will be adding a link to Operation Hero Miles to the sidebar as well. I briefly heard about this program a while back, on Nightline I believe, about how the military only flew the soldiers to Baltimore.

As for Stairs, I forgot about him when I said Burnitz was the only FA signing I would have liked to see the Crew make at the same money. Matt will be a wonderful LH DH for you if he can keep himself healthy.

Merry Christmas everyone.



12/25/2003 09:30:00 PM



(12/25/2003 08:39:00 PM) - Al

If you've ever wondered how my second favorite movie got made (none better than Xmas Vacation), click here to see the tale of A Christmas Story.


12/25/2003 08:39:00 PM


Tuesday, December 23, 2003

(12/23/2003 07:57:00 PM) - Al

Looks like I'm out for a couple days. Happy holidays, and to anyone who is serving in the military this Xmas, thank you.


12/23/2003 07:57:00 PM



(12/23/2003 05:25:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I'm not going to disagree much with Boston and Oakland on the list, but wouldn't it be fair to add Anaheim who have added Colon and Escobar. And, although Guillen is a gamble, he's not old. Plus they've got a nice bunch of prospects that will be at AAA next year.

And, I really think KC has done a decent job of filling holes cheaply. Honestly, I think Matt Stairs might be the best value signing of the off-season to date. Toronto has addressed needs, although it probably won't do them much good in that division. Baltimore is a better team, but for the price and likely 4th place finish, not good enough.

And I believe from context that you were only talking about AL teams. Certainly Philadelphia is improved, albeit at a very expensive price. Houston, the Cubs, and the Cardinals all look improved as well. The Mets are much improved defensively up the middle with Matsui and Cameron. It probably won't do them much good, but I suspect that they'll have one of the larger win increases in the NL next year.

Robert



Robert, thanks for checking in. I do feel ANA is an improved club, but let's be honest, the Angels won 77 games last year, far from what the '02 club managed, as they were good because they struck out less than everyone else.

{Insert sarcastic "I told you so" link here.}

Oakland is just fun to talk about, as they have a great team built on a small budget, and may have the best 5 man rotation I've ever seen. The only one that springs to mind is the '86 Mets, as Rick Aguilera was the 5th starter before moving to the closer spot. And Boston has the potential to add the best offensive player in the AL, who also happens to play SS, after adding a top starting pitcher as well, as well as a solid relief arm.



12/23/2003 05:25:00 PM



(12/23/2003 01:04:00 PM) - Al

This holiday season, say a special few words of praise for Pat Tillman.

Hmmm, multi-million dollar NFL deal, or 3 years as an Army Ranger? We all know what we would do, and it's great Mr. Tillman chose Door #2.


12/23/2003 01:04:00 PM



(12/23/2003 12:53:00 PM) - Al

It's getting very difficult for me to believe the economy isn't improving, folks. Harder every day.


12/23/2003 12:53:00 PM


Monday, December 22, 2003

(12/22/2003 10:35:00 PM) - Al

Finally, a Gleeman length interview with...Aaron Gleeman (that's what we call irony) over at Rich's. You can read it here, and they even mention an ugly little Ramblings' site.


12/22/2003 10:35:00 PM



(12/22/2003 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Wal Mart, which sells almost 10% of all merch in the country says sales are up "in the low end" of its 3-5% forecast.

The funny thing about this is the incredibly strange way almost all retailers do not count gift card sales as "sales" until the card is redeemed, which, to be blunt, reeks of accounting idiocy. I've read and heard that up to 20% (estimates I've heard range from 5-20%) of gift cards are never redeemed, which means, although the money is in the retailer's grubby hands (sorry, thought I'd be a liberal for a moment:), they don't report it unless it is used. Those cards that are wasted are, of course, pure profit for the issuer.

I've also heard that gift card sales are higher than ever before in history, as they are easy to give and buy, and are often what folks prefer anyway. Looks to be a good chance that the money is being spent, but the sales won't spike until early in '04.


12/22/2003 10:31:00 PM



(12/22/2003 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Message to Michael Jackson: With friends like this...

Good to see Jacko keeping a low profile, isn't it?


12/22/2003 10:14:00 PM



(12/22/2003 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Soon, I will discuss some recent minor league free agent signings, including Appleton native Matt Erickson, Adrian Hernandez, Jeff Leifer, and Mike Kusiewicz. All three are longshots to open the season with the Brewers, but all were superior AAA players in 2003, and cheaply help our our depth. For the first time in my memory, the Brewers have some solid prospects at AAA Indy, but look to be surrounding them with extremely good veterans.

I am a big believer that opportunity is the bigggest difference between most good AAA players and MLB reserves, and I haven't seen anything to change my mind. Brady Clark has bounced between AAA and the bigs for years, and hasn't changed a bit. He's still a good athlete, has a good eye, and lacks power...welcome to the world of being on the mythical borderline of the minors and majors. Most AAA vets lack one thing, whether it be speed, defense, power, etc. Of course, many guys in the bigs also lack one skill, but make up for it by being very good at something else...or, by being high draft picks who get a ton of chances.


12/22/2003 10:03:00 PM



(12/22/2003 07:13:00 PM) - Al

Also signing on the dotted line today was catcher Gary Bennett, most recently of the Padres.

Bennett, career--.313/.337, 650 OPS, 105 OXS, 47 runs created (use 450 AB's for catchers)
Bennett, '01-'03-.305/.333, 638 OPS, 102 OXS, 46 runs created
Ave. C, '03--------.322/.405, 727 OPS, 130 OXS, 59 runs created

To be as kind as I can, Gary Bennett should thank his lucky stars he's a backup catcher, or else he would have had to give up his major league dream ages ago. He hits exactly like...well, you'd expect your reserve catcher to hit (though, as with most catchers, "hit" is more a figure of speech than an actual description). I haven't seen a financial figure for Bennett, but if it's over $500K, I have to wonder why.

One thing to keep in mind is how nice Gary's cERA was in '03. SD's '03 ERA was 4.87, but Bennett's was 3.84. Now, there are several possibilities, including that the Padres may well have used a set-up like the Brewers did, in which catchers catch certain pitchers. Or, it could be just a one year fluke, as Bennett's cERA was over 5 in COL in '02. Some folks feel cERA is a silly statistic all together, as it is, of course, the pitcher that throws the pitch. However, if he is a good "handler" of pitchers, more power to him.

Honestly, I would have just let Mark Johnson and Chris Coste battle it out for the spot this spring, then gave it to Coste as Johnson has never hit either. But, this contract to Bennett is hardly worth discussing, and the odds of it being worth the time I've spent on it is mund-numbingly low.


12/22/2003 07:13:00 PM



(12/22/2003 06:56:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin must be wanting his Xmas vacation to begin, and soon!!

The Brewers signed a couple major league vets and a minor league FA today. By far the biggest signing was Ben Grieve, who was a young star a few years ago in OAK, who has faded into mediocrity the past few years in Tampa. After an outstanding beginning of his career in OAK, in which he posted superb stats, his star has fallen:

Grieve, career--.368/.440, 808 OPS, 162 OXS, 97 runs created
Grieve, '01-'03-.364/.399, 763 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 runs created
Ave. RF, '03-----.350/.459, 809 OPS, 161 OXS, 96 runs created

Factor in the fact that Ben signed a one year contract worth $700K, this is a wonderfully good signing by the Crew. Even if he continues with his numbers since 2001, he is only one win below what a mediocre RF would produce. He signed for less than 1/4th what a lot of lesser RF's were getting in the last fortnight, and not many of those guys have a chance of returning to past glory. FYI, Ben will turn 29 early in the 2004 season.

I would have preferred Jeremy Giambi, but am not at all upset about Grieve, though his reputation for defense is less than stellar. However, I checked ESPN's ranking of zone rating for RF's in 2002 (Ben didn't qualify in '03), and Ben ranked 7th of 18 players that played enough to qualify, and he had 6 assists to 3 errors (in his career, Ben has 32 assists and 16 errors, certainly not numbers that would you lead you to believe he was terrible).

Grieve is a cost effective pickup, has a chance to break out with a fine '04 campaign, and is obviously just looking for a place to play regularly in hopes of signing a long-term deal next offseason.


12/22/2003 06:56:00 PM


Sunday, December 21, 2003

(12/21/2003 08:31:00 PM) - Al

Luis Vizcaino signed a 1 year/$550K contract. Small, but a risk Melvin felt was worth taking. He did have a 3 ERA over the last couple months...we can hope.


12/21/2003 08:31:00 PM



(12/21/2003 08:18:00 PM) - Al

I was wondering why Billy Beane had traded for Mark Redman, then failed to make him an offer Saturday night, thus making him a free agent. Fear not.

Redman signed a 2 year deal with a mutual option for a third year today. Beane picks up a solid, mediocre SP for a middle reliever. Simply put, it isn't just coincidence BOS & OAK look to have improved themselves the most this offseason, they have excellent GM's running the show.


12/21/2003 08:18:00 PM



(12/21/2003 04:37:00 PM) - Al

Nice to see Mike Price get another shot. I'd never seen anyone fired for spending a night at a "gentleman's club" before, and it will likely be some time before we see it again.





12/21/2003 04:37:00 PM



(12/21/2003 04:33:00 PM) - Al

Also, Gabe Kapler resigned with the Red Sox, they had to wait to reduce his salary enough. Kapler signed for $750K. I recall when Gabe signed with BOS, it was widely reported he had turned offers from the Brewers and 1-2 other teams because "he wanted to play in a playoff atmosphere".

After being a part of the Red Sox/Yankees ALCS, I guess I can't blame him for that.


12/21/2003 04:33:00 PM



(12/21/2003 04:30:00 PM) - Al

Jeromy Burnitz signed for $1.5 mil in 2004. He's the first player that's signed that I really wish we would have got at the same money. Nicely played by the Rockies


12/21/2003 04:30:00 PM



(12/21/2003 04:29:00 PM) - Al

TIME magazine has awarded it's Man of the Year award, and you won't get any argument from me.


12/21/2003 04:29:00 PM


Saturday, December 20, 2003

(12/20/2003 07:58:00 PM) - Al

I've always loved Dennis Miller, even when he was far left of center. This TIME Q & A is a brief rundown of his conversion. The quote which made me recall my own political identity:

I was saying to liberal America, "Well, what are you offering?" And they said, "Well, we're not going to protect you, and we want some more money." That didn't interest me.





12/20/2003 07:58:00 PM



(12/20/2003 07:44:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers announced they have signed Luis Vizcaino to a 2004 contract, and have declined to offer a contract to Jayson Durocher.

I honestly thought Viz would be dropped from the 40 man roster and offered a minor league deal, so his signing, for what I assume will be an inexpensive deal, is a bit of a surprise. Viz probably underachieved as much as humanly possible in 2003, though Mike Dejean said what many of us believed, that Luis had been "pitching through an injury" early in the season. His motion appeared off the entire season, as he looked to be throwing three-quarters. The main reason pitchers alter their motion is to avoid pain.

A reliable poster at Brewerfan.net, who has been correct several times in the past, predicted Jayson's emminent release a couple weeks back. No offense to him, as he's infinitely more times more talented than myself, but "OK" RH middle relievers are a dime a dozen. The timing of the move is odd, as Jayson was protected for the Rule 5 draft, then let go less than a week later. Was a spot necessary to announce a signing? Even so, he could have been removed only if the spot was needed, if that's the case. Maybe Doug wanted to hold onto Durocher as a pawn in a trade of some sort, and has now changed his mind.

Regardless, at the end of the day, Viz is still Crew's property, Durocher is not.


12/20/2003 07:44:00 PM



(12/20/2003 07:25:00 PM) - Al

According to Baseball America, there are only 5 players remaining unsigned that will require compensation picks. By my math, that means if VW signs somewhere, that means the Brewers will have 5 choices of the first 82 picks, and heck, might as well mention 6 of the first 112. Those two supplemental picks will probably require an extra $1 million or so to sign, but there's no way we can not afford to find room in the budget to add quality youth like that.


12/20/2003 07:25:00 PM



(12/20/2003 07:15:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers sent out an e-mail to season ticket holders last week which, in part, answered many oft-asked questions. What follows is the body of the e-mail, as posted on the Brewerfan.net message board:


Over the past several weeks, we have heard from many of you and listened to your questions. Since many of our season seatholders have raised the same issues, we want to take this opportunity to provide some answers. We encourage you to continue to ask tough questions about the Brewers. We cannot promise that you will agree with all of our answers, but we hope that you will feel more informed about the Club through this process. The following are our responses to some of your most frequently asked questions:

Q. Who is running the Brewers operations at this point in time?

A. Right now, the Board of Directors of the Club is conducting a search for a President. In the interim, Rick Schlesinger, Bob Quinn and Doug Melvin are overseeing the Club's day-to-day operations. Rick is in charge of business operations, Bob is the Chief Financial Officer and Doug is the General Manager and thus in charge of baseball matters. These three individuals were new to the Brewers in 2003 and oversaw many of the changes that you experienced this past season. All three came from organizations that experienced recent success and all are committed to the baseball plan and making the Brewers a success on and off the
field.

Q. Will the Brewers open up their financial records for
outside review?

A. Yes. We currently are working with a task force created by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce to review our financial records for the past ten years. Furthermore, we are currently in discussions with the Legislative Audit Bureau regarding a review of our financial records.

Q. We hear a lot about the baseball plan and the focus on minor league development. Can you explain why you believe this plan will work for the Brewers?

A. There are several reasons why we believe our baseball plan will succeed in making the Brewers a consistently competitive club. First, we have a solid group of top prospects. Don't just take our word for it---Topps just awarded the Brewers its 2003 Organization of the Year Award and Baseball America ranked our recent minor league drafts among the best in baseball. We had three minor league MVPs in 2003 (Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Louis Palmisano). Second, we have successful baseball executives such as Doug Melvin and Gord Ash and a leader in Ned Yost to oversee the plan. Third, we have a better environment in which to succeed due to the benefits of the new labor agreement. Fourth, once we see concrete results on the field, Miller Park offers benefits for
increased revenue that can help us retain our top young players.

Q. Can the Brewers improve on the gains of 2003 even with a lower payroll?

A. Yes, we believe we can improve and we believe the 2004 Brewers have better balance and depth than the 2003 club. Increasing the payroll in 2004 (or even keeping the payroll flat) will not ensure a better team on the field in 2004 but could jeopardize our baseball plan going forward. We have some holes in our lineup, but we are working to improve ourselves in those areas. Spending on middle-tier free agents in 2004 might sound good (and it probably would be a nice marketing
ploy) but to expect that the Club would be vastly improved is a leap of faith that we can't ask you to take. Doug Melvin is still putting the 2004 Brewers together. And don't forget: we played our best baseball in 2003 after some of our more expensive players were either traded,
released or injured.

Q. How are the Brewers spending the money they receive from the other clubs via revenue sharing?

A. In anticipation of moving into Miller Park, we used revenue sharing money to help increase our major league payroll through free agent signings and through contract extensions to some of our veteran players. Clearly, that strategy turned out to be unsuccessful.
However, while our major league payroll is lower, we have increased our spending on player development (scouting, drafting, signing and developing our minor league prospects). Our investment in player development has increased from roughly $10 million in 1998 to nearly $20 million budgeted for 2004. Furthermore, comparing 2001 with what we project for 2004, our spending on all baseball operations (major leagues, minor leagues, scouting, player development, etc.) is
increasing in comparison to the revenue we are taking in.

Q. Would new ownership put more money into the payroll in 2004?

A. The Club is seeking new investors, and there certainly are examples of owners that have added millions to player payroll to try to improve under performing clubs. However, teams such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Texas, Tampa Bay and Colorado have tried this approach and been severely disappointed with the results. We have our own recent experience with signing free agents and increasing payroll in 2001 but we did not see the results we had hoped for. We believe that the right plan for the Brewers at this time is to develop from within and at the correct time, raise the payroll to supplement our core young home-grown talent with free agents.

Q. Can the Brewers compete with other clubs in larger markets?

A. Yes. We acknowledge that even with Miller Park and all of its benefits, the Brewers have less margin for error than teams like the Yankees or Red Sox or the Cubs. We have to make fewer mistakes than those clubs in terms of drafting minor league players and in signing veteran players. However, the Oakland A's and the Minnesota Twins have many of the same disadvantages that the Brewers have. Nonetheless, they have fared quite nicely on the field by establishing and sticking to a baseball plan that we have adopted. Last year, the Kansas City Royals made some dramatic gains on the field even with a low payroll and small market. We have to follow the lead set by these types of clubs and use our minor league system as the equalizer to the expensive (and risky) free agent market. And if we do, we have the advantage of a state-of-the-art ballpark to help us keep the players we develop.

Q. What is the reaction of those in the Club's front office to the recent stories in the newspaper and on radio and television about the Club's business and finances?

A. We are listening and reading to what others are saying about the Club. As we try to get the facts out about our business and respond to questions raised by reporters, we remain focused on our jobs. The baseball plan that we are implementing was developed and formulated months ago. Doug Melvin and his baseball operations staff remain focused on improving the Club on the field. The front office is equally focused on selling tickets, establishing partnerships with sponsors and
improving our relationships with our fans and the community.

Q. We are hearing a lot about the six new players we received in the Arizona trade. What do the baseball experts say about the trade?

A. Candidly, we like the players we received in the trade because they are talented and hungry for the opportunity to play regularly in the majors. Tim Kurkjian in ESPN The Magazine said, "The Richie Sexson deal could help both teams" and "the Brewers scored with LHP Jorge de la Rosa (102K's in 100 IPs at Double-A). Says one AL GM: 'I can't believe Arizona gave him up.'" Peter Gammons wrote in a recent column, "The consensus is that Doug Melvin made a terrific deal for Richie Sexson, who would be gone at the end of the 2004 season."

Q. It sounds like 2005 might be the year we see some real results in terms of the arrival of our young prospects. What can I expect from my investment in the 2004 Brewers?

A. For you and the others that bought season seats for 2003 after a tough 2002 season, it is fair to say you were not assuming the Brewers to win the Central Division. Instead, you believed that the changes in the baseball operations department put the Brewers on the right track.
Fans can debate the merits of our recent trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but there is no doubt that the trade has given us more depth and balance than we had in 2003. Furthermore, the hustle, work ethic and focus that Ned Yost instilled in the team last year will be back in 2004.

In conclusion, we know we need to win you back and restore our credibility. We know this task is not going to be easily or quickly accomplished. However, we are dedicated to this mission. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a number of new initiatives and programs that we hope will begin the process of regaining your support and confidence. In the meantime, keep your e-mails, phone calls and letters coming.

Very truly yours,

Doug Melvin
General Manager

Rick Schlesinger
Executive Vice President - Business Operations

Bob Quinn
Chief Financial Officer



Not a whole lot of actual "news", which is just what you'd expect from a corporate entity. But, while there's little to comment on, I feel it was a very nice effort overall. To a lot of folks who do not know a lot about the business side of the game, there's plenty of information there to digest and learn. Sadly, many current season ticket holders probably have no idea that the current state of the minor leagues is as good as it's ever been.

For years, the team failed to realize that small market teams have to develop their own talent in order to take advantage of the fact that the most cost effective years of a player are the pre-arby (0-3 years of MLB experience) years, and "went cheap" on draft day, often going with good prospects who were thought to be easy signings, rather than the current (since about 1999) philosophy of taking the best player available and spending the money necessary to have a pipeline of young talent flowing toward Milwaukee.

Hopefully, these e-mails will be a monthly or every other month feature, as much of the Brewers' gains have gone under the radar of the casual fan...and certainly under the radar of the Journal Sentinel's beat writers.



12/20/2003 07:15:00 PM



(12/20/2003 06:47:00 PM) - Al

Jeromy Burnitz signed a 1 year deal with a mutual option for 2005 with the Rockies today. I thought Burnie might end up back with the Crew as a stopgap, no idea if we made an offer to him or not. If he signed for less than $2 mil, I think COL did some nice bargain shopping just before Xmas. The best thing he could have done was to sign on as a platoon DH in the AL, but this ranks as a close 2nd. He could artificially improve his numbers at altitude and have his choice of offers in 2005, if he wants to sign one last long-term agreement.


12/20/2003 06:47:00 PM



(12/20/2003 06:18:00 PM) - Al

Wes Helms signed a 2 year/$4.5 mil contract yesterday. Wes had a nice 2003, his first as an everyday player:

Wes, 2003----.330/.450, 780 OPS, 149 OXS, 89 "runs created"
Abve 3B, '03--.329/.421, 750 OPS, 139 OXS, 83 "runs created"

Miller Park did play a bit to the offense in 2003, so if you say Wes was average, it's a pretty accurate statement in my mind. His '04 salary is $1.8M, with $2.7M in '05.

My feeling is that both sides signed a fair deal for next year. However, while it may be rather minor, I'm just not sure about the 2005 number. To me, it seems very close to the amount Wes would receive via arbitration should he have a similiar 2004 to what he did 2003. If he has a breakout campaign, say .350/.475, we'll be thanking our lucky stars Wes signed this deal. But, if he reverts back closer to his career norms, say .315/.415, we'll be muttering why we overpaid.

To me, if you are going to sign a player to anything but a one year deal, that you own the rights to anyway, you should receive a healthy discount, as you are giving the player lifetime security, and in return, you should save money. To me, Wes was likely to receive about $1.5 mil in arby, this year, and about $2.5 mil next year, maybe a little more. Hence, I fail to see what we really gained, except a bit of insurance should Helms have a fine '04.

Is this a "bad" contract for us? As with most 1-2 year deals, it's not long enough to really devastate an organization. However, it does seem a bit "friendly". I'll be the first to say this amount of money ($300-500K) probably isn't worth the time I've spent discussing it, but we've likely lost several draft picks over the years that we could have signed had we offered just $50-100K more.

Hopefully, Helms will outperform my projections (for '04, I'd put him at .335/.455) and make this a moot point.


12/20/2003 06:18:00 PM



(12/20/2003 06:14:00 PM) - Al

Vander Wal declined his arbitration offer, saying "sometimes these are prearranged things." By offering him arbitration, the Brewers extended their window of negotiating with him until Jan. 9, though Melvin has said he would rather find a young, everyday player.

A candid-as-usual Vander Wal, coming off a season in which he hit .257 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 327 at-bats, said he felt mistreated by the club. Vander Wal and Brady Clark formed a relatively productive right-field platoon in 2003 until September, when Vander Wal injured his groin and Clark moved to left field for injured Geoff Jenkins.

"You have a person who wants to stay in Milwaukee and is happy here, and you turn your shoulder on him," said Vander Wal, who lives across Lake Michigan in Grand Rapids, Mich. "I thought we did an outstanding job in right field, and now they want better. And at the same time, they want to trim the payroll. I don't understand it."

Melvin is looking for youth and flexibility. The record-size free agent pool was set to grow significantly this weekend thanks to a flood of non-tenders. Vander Wal turns 38 on April 29.

"Sometimes if a young player comes along and is available, you don't want to be locked in on your roster," Melvin said. "I think John's fine off the bench, but maybe there's someone out there."



The funny thing is, I'm sure VW does understand...he wants to play in MIL, but Doug Melvin is hoping to find a younger, higher ceiling player, either on waivers or in a trade. I like John, and would love to see him back for 2004, as a cheap bench guy, just like I'd like to see Brady Clark return as a reserve. However, while a "fallback" of repeating the VW/Clark platoon isn't exactly enough to make me cringe, teams that are rebuilding should at least attempt to not field a platoon that includes 38 & 32 year-olds. I voiced my platonic love for Jeremy Giambi a few days ago, and there are several others still available, as well as almost an infinite number of corner OF's that would be available in trade.

Not to mention the fact that, to be blunt, I'd rather have the supplemental pick after the 2nd round in next June's draft than a 38 year-old PH, especially since the Crew has Jon Nunnally signed to a minor league deal. The falloff between the two is slight, and adding another Top 100 amateur to the loaded Brewers' farm system would more than make up for the slight preference I have for VW.


12/20/2003 06:14:00 PM


Thursday, December 18, 2003

(12/18/2003 08:34:00 PM) - Al

I stumbled upon this article tonight, and I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Frankly, it reminds me far too much of the UConn women's basketball player (Nykesha Sayles, I think) who scored after severely injuring her knee. The other team allowed her to score to break a scoring record. After UConn returned the favor, the actual contest began.

No one seems to even consider any ethical dilemna in this case, which seems odd since the winning wrestler is said to "not understand" that he did not win the match fairly.

I remember seeing a feature story on the Twin Cities news a couple winters ago, about a young man with autism. His coach had kept him as the last man on the team because he had been teammates with a teammate who had a mild form of cerebral palsy. He said he had learned a lot from the experience, and gave the kid, Adam Brown, a chance, even though he wasn't the better player. Adam's goal was very simple...to score a basket. He rarely left the bench, but finally hit a three-point shot near the end of the season. While it was garbage time, the opponent didn't "let" him score, which is what made the shot such a special event.

The funny thing is, while we debate this, the winning wrestler doesn't even understand what happened. I'm happy for him, but it just doesn't seem right.



12/18/2003 08:34:00 PM


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

(12/17/2003 08:33:00 PM) - Al

The player's union has declined to allow ARod to "restructure" his contract in order to allow the BOS/TEX swap to occur. Talks will continue.


12/17/2003 08:33:00 PM



(12/17/2003 03:39:00 PM) - Al

This has to be the most short-sighted idea not to come out of Cosmo Kramer's corporation.

Back when I was a boy son, things were different. For instance, we took trying to kill the President seriously.


12/17/2003 03:39:00 PM



(12/17/2003 02:57:00 PM) - Al

Eddie Perez has signed a 2 year contract with the Braves. Bring on that supplemental draft pick after the 2nd round, boys.

The article points out Eddie hit .342 versus LHP, so I assume he'll platoon with Johnny Estrada.


12/17/2003 02:57:00 PM



(12/17/2003 02:46:00 PM) - Al

I happened across this line on a weblog today:

I don't understand Catholics who want to be Catholic, but disregard the Pope and make their own decisions about everything. You're a Protestant already. Deal with it.

I've been thinking that for about 20 years, yet was never was able to say it so succinctly.

If you disregard your church's teachings about important issues (birth control, for example), and still label yourself as being a member, you are a hypocrite, plain and simple. But, because many folks are afraid of (heaven forbid) deciding to speak out or changing faith because of their family's traditions, there would seem to be a lot of "in name only" Catholics out there.






12/17/2003 02:46:00 PM



(12/17/2003 01:53:00 PM) - Al

Al,

First time writer, longtime reader. A couple things. What did you think of Rob Neyer saying Tejada was a good value at $12 million per year? Also, can you explain how you get the runs created value? I understand the accepted standard that 10 runs scored or prevented is equal to a win, but I don't know how you are getting the actual number.

A Brewers fan in Germany,

Zach


Zach is a member of the US Army, I learned in an unpublished part of his letter, and volunteered there are 3-4 other regular readers of Ramblings at his base. To Zach and any other members of the military, thanks for your service, and I hope the holidays are especially festive this year.

Zach, "runs created" is a Ramblings' trademarked creation. Actually, it's just a way to give OXS a number rather than a percentage. So, to go slowly:

OXS= OBP (on base percentage) x SLG (slugging percentage)

This is the best way, according to Bill James and others, to measure offense. Why is it so important? Because it "works". If you take a team's final statistics at the end of the year, OXS predicts how many runs that team scored.

Team AB's x OBP x SLG = total runs scored

For MLB, this simple calculation was about 97.5% accurate in 2003, and was in the 98% range in 2001 & 2002 as well. Notice that nowhere in the equation does stolen bases, sacrifice bunts, team chemistry, or strikeouts appear. That does not mean those things are meaningless...but they sure don't make much difference, to say the least. For example, Cincinnati led the majors in K's last year:

5509 x .318 x .395 = 692 predicted runs

On the field, the Reds scored 694 runs, 99.7% accurate. The Brewers actually were one of the less predictable clubs, as they scored only 93.3% of the runs they "should" have. Some would say this was because of their numbers with men in scoring position, others would point to bad luck, and in truth, it's probably a combination of both.

Basically, runs created is just an offshoot of OXS, as the formula is:

600 x OXS = runs created

600 is just a full season of AB's for most players, and OXS is a reliable indicator of offense. For instance, let's compare Tejada to a SS like Craig Counsell.

Tejada----.331/.460, 791 OPS, 152 OXS, 91 "runs created"
Counsell--.348/.351, 699 OPS, 122 OXS, 73 "runs created"

Obviously, Miguel is a much better player than Craig. And, Craig's much older, so his expected performance can be expected to decline, while Miguel is supposedly 28, in his prime. But, using their career numbers as a guideline, Tejada is probably worth about 18 runs over the course of the season, which would most likely result in a couple extra wins. The funny thing is, if we'd replace Craig with Miguel, most folks would raise our expected wins total by about 10...or maybe more. That doesn't make any mathematical sense...and neither does paying him $12 mil per.

As for your other question Zach, Neyer comapared Miguel to Nomar and Jeter's contracts. Compared to paying a league average SS $3 mil, the Orioles overpaid for Tejada. He's probably a game or so better than mediocre, but I can sure improve BAL by more than a game if you give me $9 million to spend.




12/17/2003 01:53:00 PM



(12/17/2003 01:17:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman checks in and says, to him it appears Mike Cameron is an outstanding hitter.

Where have I heard that before????


12/17/2003 01:17:00 PM



(12/17/2003 12:52:00 PM) - Al

Nomar for Magglio Ordonez. BY Kim is also rumored to be leaving in that deal.

C'mon Doug, let's find a way to get Kim. I haven't seen a rumor yet that involves BOS getting a 2B...Junior Spivey anyone?


12/17/2003 12:52:00 PM



(12/17/2003 12:48:00 PM) - Al

Simply put, no one flies under the radar better than OAK GM Billy Beane. Yesterday, he acquired LHP Mark Redman from FLA for RH reliever Mike Neu. This deal reeks of the Marlins having to shed payroll, and it also appears Beane had some cash available after being turned down by a couple free agents. Want to take a look at OAK's rotation?

Tim Hudson
Mark Mulder
Barry Zito
Rich Harden
Mark Redman

With SEA looking as if they think games are won with good guys cashing big checks rather than talent on the field, the A's would appear to be the heavy favorite in the AL West. I'd say the Angels may be better than the Mariners right now.


12/17/2003 12:48:00 PM


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

(12/16/2003 09:42:00 PM) - Al

Many of the possible FA OF's that were available have signed in recent days, and almost to a man, they have signed for 2 years/$3 mil per season. And, every single one is mediocre, or at least you could make mediocre with a bit of numbers work, but not a single one of them was a really good signing for the money, especially considering the teams that signed them, almost without exception, will not contend in 2004.

Luckily, Jeremy Giambi is still out there for the taking, and I'm still hoping against hope Doug will look past his supposed awful defense and muddied reputation and take a flyer on him. The best two RF possibilities available other than Giambi, in my opinion, were Jose Cruz Jr. and Reggie Sanders. I feel either would have been a nice $1.5-2 mil signing. Both signed for a couple years, and about $3 mil per, which is not a franchise busting move, but is more than they're worth.

Sanders, career--.347/.488, 835 OPS, 169 OXS, 36
Cruz career-------.336/.458, 794 OPS, 154 OXS, 30

FYI, these guys have similiar numbers over the past 3 years. I'd expect a slight dropoff from both, but still pretty close to what they've done thus far.

Giambi, career---.377/.430, 803 OPS, 162 OXS, 29
Giambi, '01-'03--.393/.456, 849 OPS, 179 OXS

His 3 year run includes his horrific 2003, in which he struggled with both ineffectiveness and injury. He is not known as a great LF, but with the discussion shifting toward utilizing Keith Ginter in LF and the stronger armed Geoff Jenkins to RF, it's difficult for me not to believe Jeremy wouldn't be able to catch a couple routine fly balls and toss in base hits to the cut off man. I believe Brady Clark would be happy to play defense after Jeremy's last PA in the 8th and 9th innings.

How bad is Giambi's LF defense, you ask? I don't think I've ever seen him play, but I know I can trust zone rating to be unbiased. In 2001 & 2003, he played less than 100 innings in LF, so those numbers are meaningless. But, in 2002, he started 42 games in LF, playing 336 innings in LF...his ZR was .824, which would have put him 3rd from last had he played enough to qualify, ahead of only Brian Giles and Daryle Ward, two known below average defenders. My opinion would be Jeremy would be a plodding defender, allowing doubles to be doubles, letting some pop-ups drop in, and the like. His error totals are minimal, indicating he catches the ball when he gets to it. I'd take the chance myself, but everything Doug has said would indicate he prefers a more athletic, better defensive OF...and that is exactly what much rumored future signing Gabe Kapler is:

Gabe career----.335/.430, 765 OPS, 144 OXS, 28
Gabe, '01-'03--.335/.408, 743 OPS, 137 OXS

Kapler's power has suffered, but his OBP has stayed astoundingly consistent. And, if you wonder what kind of player Gabe projects out to:

Brady Clark, 2003---.330/.403, 733 OPS, 133 OXS

Brady is a pretty realistic comparison, honestly. Gabe has the potential to bounce back with a solid year in 2004, but most would project him pretty close to his career numbers, I'd guess .335/.440 myself.

To be blunt, even though I drool at Jeremy's OBP, and his ability to "not get out". In 600 PA's, Jeremy would reach base an amazing 226 times, while Gabe would reach 201. That's a lot more opportunities to score, and to make the pitcher throw extra pitches.

I would think Melvin may well sign Kapler to patrol RF (or LF), if a trade is not made to fill that spot, but I have no hesitation in saying my choice would be Giambi.


12/16/2003 09:42:00 PM



(12/16/2003 05:29:00 PM) - Al

Hey there-

Just read Caple's ESPN column today--something that could/should have been filed when McKeon was hired or at the very latest at the end of the World Series. Anyway, he's mailing in this admittedly light-hearted column, for certain. Though he jokingly refers to Billy Martin as a manager to bring back even though he's been dead for 14 years, he also notes that Lou Boudreau should come back to take over the Indians at age 86 since he was there in 1948 for the last Indians title. Uh, Boudreau BARELY made 84 when he passed away in August of 2001. Good fact checking, both to JC and whoever is editing.

Have a good one!

Jason


Alas, ESPN has done a minor edit and erased the gaffe Caple The Ignorant made, but thanks for pointing it out, Jason. Allow me to point out the incredibly humorous, inside jokes Ace Reporter Jimmy shares with us.

As teams gravitate toward ever younger general managers (the job requirements now include having your umbilical cord still attached)

He's 80, three years older than Orosco. But wouldn't you love to have someone named Red in the game again.

Watching what he could do to a QuesTec machine is reason enough to yank him out of retirement.


Pardon me, my sides, they are a achin'.



12/16/2003 05:29:00 PM



(12/16/2003 04:36:00 PM) - Al

Boston Dirt Dogs is reporting that the ARod/Many deal is done.

And if you can't believe a dirt dog...


12/16/2003 04:36:00 PM



(12/16/2003 12:35:00 AM) - Al

Mick Jagger's dad would look a lot better standing next to Keith Richards.


12/16/2003 12:35:00 AM


Monday, December 15, 2003

(12/15/2003 11:59:00 PM) - Al

ESPN is reporting a Manny for ARod swap may well occur in the next few days. At the very least, it'd be a blockbuster based on nothing except payroll.

I'm not sure what else will be involved, but ARod for $180 mil is a lot better than Manny for $100 mil, because ARod is a SS (and if Tejada is worth $12 mil per, Alex is vastly underpaid).


12/15/2003 11:59:00 PM



(12/15/2003 11:55:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers won the Topps organization of the year award for 2003, which measures minor league success, mostly awards won by those players.

Not as glamourous as Baseball America saying we have the best overall minor league system (most predict the Crew will be ranked in the Top 5), but good to hear the minors, previously a black hole of neglect, are improving.

As I said, we'll be thanking Dean Taylor many times for his reign. Dean wasn't a PR genius like Doug Melvin seems to be, but he took over an all but empty minor league system, and slowly added 5-10 fellas a year. Doug has continued that consistent rate, and the "first wave" of prospects will start the 2004 campaign in AAA Indianapolis.

Not only does the team have mega prospects like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, they are one of the deepest in the game. I would say the Top 25 in the minors would have all been members of the Top 7 a few years ago (when the immortal Mike Buddie, a serviceable, if low ceiling, middle reliever was ranked in the Top 10). That depth helps immensely as the inevitable flameouts and injuries occur.


12/15/2003 11:55:00 PM



(12/15/2003 11:42:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I read your post (11/23) about Cameron being a better deal than Guerrero. I thought you made a pretty compelling argument, but still I think it was flawed. While Cameron is a much better hitter on the road compared to Safeco Field, Its not like he's that great 278/.364/.510). Solid for a CF, but still not dominant. With Cameron being 31 I think it is safe to say that he won't improve dramatically over the next few years. Also, his OBP had gone down the last three seasons until 2003 (when it rose slightly from .340 in 2002 to .344 in 2003). Not to mention that Cameron strikes out 140 times a year (I know K's are over-rated, but still...) Guerrero's OBP has been no lower than .371 (his first full season) in his six full seasons as an everyday starter. His OBP has been over .400 each of the past four seasons, with exception to 2001 when he struggled for him, but still hit .307 with an OBP of .377. Plus
Guerrero has far more power than Cameron and has a much higher ceiling. Guerrero will be 28 this year, and most likely (based on statstical information) will continue to get better.

"And the truth was that you still couldn't make perfectly definitive statements about fielding.
"There was still no exact number," Paul [DePodesta] said, "because the system doesn't measure where a defensive player started from. It doesn't tell you how far a guy had to go to catch a ball." What looked like superior defense might have been brilliant defensive positioning by the bench coach."(from Moneyball by Michael Lewis, pg 136)

I consider myself an old-school baseball guy (despite being only 20). I love pitching and defense and I know that in order to be successful you have to be solid at both. I'm not doubting Cameron's defensive ability or your claim that Guerrero's defensive ability might be
over-rated. I'll give you a hypothetical situation in a game...Runner on first and there is a basehit to right field...Who in their right mind is going to run on Guerrero? Yes, his arm might not be that accurate, but still nobody is going to run on him. That one base could be the difference in a run scoring and the difference between a win and a loss...But where does
that show up in defensive statistics? The point is that, while Cameron may have a better range factor or whatever flawed defensive statistics you use, the difference between Cameron and Guerrero defensively might not be as great as you think. Ultimately signing Guerrero would depend on how much money you have, and if you're a team like New York (in
a hypothetical situation where you just need the better player), despite the difference in salary I think that its pretty obvious that Guerrero is a much better signing than Cameron.

Thank you for your time,

Bryan


No quicker way to get your letter on Ramblings than to quote Moneyball.:) Bryan, thanks for reading and writing. Your opinion is obvious, and I've made mine clear as well. Just a couple comments:

1. Guerrero will be 28 this year, and most likely (based on statstical information) will continue to get better.

The mythical peak of a MLB player is 27. Not to say Vlad won't bust out in '04 or even '06, but his production is most likely to stay the same or slightly decrease.

2. I'll give you a hypothetical situation in a game...Runner on first and there is a basehit to right field...Who in their right mind is going to run on Guerrero? Yes, his arm might not be that accurate, but still nobody is going to run on him?

The thing is, Vlad's defense is weak because of his extraordinary error totals. He's as likely to fumble the ball or let it get past him as any OF in the game, which negates much of that which his good throwing arm gives him.

3. The point is that, while Cameron may have a better range factor or whatever flawed defensive statistics you use, the difference between Cameron and Guerrero defensively might not be as great as you think.

I only use zone rating, as it simply measures how many outs you made versus how many you "should" have made. Now, I know that "should" is not an easy word to define, and that there may be some flaws in the system. But, compare that to the fact most folks will argue all day that so-and-so is a better defender "because I can see he is", I'll take zone rating until something better comes along. Zone rating tells me that Torri Hunter and Mike Cameron are outstanding defensive OF's, and that Andruw Jones is mediocre, while Vlad is awful. All of those are about what I'd expect, though the TBS brainwashing machine is disappointed it didn't convert me. Remember, Andruw drops a couple easy flies every season, in a quest to "be cool", so he needs to make at least two nice plays just to break even. If Mike was 3rd and Vlad was 5th, I wouldn't say there was much of a difference, but there is a huge gap for both '02 & '03, which strikes me as a bit too coincidental.

Remember, I'll freely admit that Vlad is a fine player, and worth a win more than Cameron. I just wouldn't pay him that much more for that extra win.


12/15/2003 11:42:00 PM



(12/15/2003 11:19:00 PM) - Al

Even the richest smart teams use the Rule 5 draft. BOS took 2 solid AAA middle relievers, and I would assume one of them will make the bullpen as a cheap 10th/11th man. Theo, always a step ahead.

The Brewers lost 4 players in the minor league portion of the Rule 5, which is usually for career journeyman, but can't be said in this case. LHP John Foster and OF Pete Zoccolillo were both left unprotected, and RHP Francisco Campos was also lost. Foster and Zocco both are solid AAA players, and both had success last year. I doubt if either will ever be more than a role player in the bigs, but you rarely find fellas like that in the minor league Rule 5, which is usually for scrounging up a kid to play SS at AA. Campos is a Mexican legend who has never been given a shot in the majors, but does OK in AAA and the Mexican League. The 4th player lost, SS Todd West, hits like most minor league shortstops, and though I've heard good things about his D, won't be missed.

Before anyone asks, no I'm not sure why Foster and Zocco were left unprotected, as I've been 99% sure they'd be chosen since that day. It may have just been Doug's way of releasing them, though it seems odd he saw no value in either. It is always possible the Crew just ran out of spots and chose to let the two fellas with low ceilings move on, I guess.


12/15/2003 11:19:00 PM



(12/15/2003 11:21:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers took Jeff Bennett in the Rule 5 draft today, taking another PIT player (The Pirates lost 5 of the first 6 players chosen in the draft). Bennett's career stats can be found here. He appears to have found his niche as a reliever, striking out a man an inning and throwing in the mid 90's after years of being a non-prospect as a mediocre starter. He followed up a good season in AA with an impressive Arizona Fall League stint (2.70 ERA).

Doug Melvin said he wanted an "older player ready to contribute", so not sure this is a player the Crew wants to keep or not, as Jeff is only 23. Guess we'll find out if we're keeping him as time goes on.


12/15/2003 11:21:00 AM



(12/15/2003 11:04:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman checks in, and compares Cameron to Todd Helton. Those that doubt Cameron's breakout ability don't understand park factor.


12/15/2003 11:04:00 AM


Sunday, December 14, 2003

(12/14/2003 10:30:00 PM) - Al

Miguel Tejada---.331/.460, 791 OPS, 152 OXS, 91 runs "created"
Player B----------.324/.450, 774 OPS, 146 OXS, 87 runs "created"
Ave SS, 2003----.325/.399, 724 OPS, 130 OXS, 78 runs "created"

Congrats BAL, you just paid $12 million for a SS that will magically lead you to one more win than average. Considering there are still lingering rumors that Miguel is 2-3 years older than his listed 28 (in 2004), and that much of his "value" is in stats such as RBI's (stats that depend on teammates), I believe the O's just blundered their way into my heart once again. All the money in the world doesn't mean a thing if you spend it on players that, while good, are certainly not difference makers.

Though I find it funny that tonight, Billy Beane called his assistant GM, Mark DePodesta, and said, through chuckles:

The Orioles just signed Mr. F***ing Swing At Everything for $12 MIL A YEAR!!!

I must admit, the idea that, if career stats hold, Craig Counsell (.348 career OBP) will make fewer outs in 2004 than Miguel Tejada made me double check the numbers.

By the way, the mystery SS that compares all but identically to Tejada? Jose Valentin...that noise you hear is the Orioles digging through to check the balance of their checkbook.



12/14/2003 10:30:00 PM



(12/14/2003 09:49:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I have to say you have some very interesting entries, Al, but nothing came close to today's about the Mets getting "the best FA OF out there, all things considered" in Cameron.

Are you NUTS???

Part of your blog intro reads "If you are a believer in respecting OBP..."--if you really mean what you say, how in the world can you even be slightly serious making a statement like you did about Cameron?

Cameron's lifetime OBP is .344. Vlad's is .401. You don't even have to respect OBP to realize that there's NO comparison between the two guys! Vlad is a better run producer (lifetime 7.98 RC/27 Outs versus Cameron's 4.93), a better hitter, has a better arm, runs better, and is feared by his competition. Cameron is a better (ie: "flashier") defensive OF who strikes out almost 280% MORE than Vlad does (based on a five-year average)!

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? I'll tell you this: Mets fans will have his head the first time he goes 0-4 with the golden sombrero and leaves multiple runners in scoring position...that is, if the Mets can put runners in scoring postion for him to strand! The second and third times he does this, the booing will be worse and worse, and about the sixth or seventh time it happens, he'll be hung in effigy by some rabid Mets fan. However, look at his batting logs from Seattle--it WILL happen an average of SEVEN times per year, if history is any indication.

Vlad, Sheffield, and *gasp*, even Reggie Sanders are 2003 free agents who have better all-around talents than Cameron. The Mets blew it big time here, Al, and your post did, too.

THANKS for letting me vent a bit! :)

~Rick

(a guy who hates the Mariners, and enjoyed watching Cameron fail time after time...now what am I to do??) :)



Rick, thanks for reading and writing. I expected a bit of "what?" when I posted it, but I do believe it. As I said before here, I think Vlad is probably worth an extra win over the course of the season. But, Mike signed for $6.5 mil, and I'd estimate Vlad will sign for about $15 mil per, maybe more since the bumbling (but wealthy) Orioles appear to have won his rights. Give me $8.5 mil, I'll find you a lot more value than one win. Plus, Vlad's D is among the worst in the game, and Mike's is among the best, which while already figured into the equation, but on an everyday basis of watching them, is enough to tear your hair out.

Not only will folks be amazed at how well Cameron hits out of SEA, just wait until people notice that Vlad's defense has "suddenly declined"...because playing in Montreal is like playing in the backyard.


12/14/2003 09:49:00 PM



(12/14/2003 09:35:00 PM) - Al

The rumor has it that our friends in BAL are going to announce the signings of Tejada, Vlad, and IRod.

And you know what, they'll still suck.


12/14/2003 09:35:00 PM



(12/14/2003 11:05:00 AM) - Al

Nice article by Mike Bauman at the Brewers' web site.

What's really sad is, almost every time the JS even puts an article up, I get e-mails galore from folks who tell me what a piece of junk it is. Today, they mailed in a juvenille effort about how Rickie Weeks needs to make it to the big leagues ASAP. No mention of the rumors, or the going ons of the team at the winter meetings. Disgraceful.


12/14/2003 11:05:00 AM



(12/14/2003 10:49:00 AM) - Al

I'd like to state the obvious and simply thank the US military for being the best in all the world.



12/14/2003 10:49:00 AM


Saturday, December 13, 2003

(12/13/2003 10:40:00 PM) - Al

The Mets signed the best FA OF out there, all things considered, as they inked Mike Cameron to a 3y/$19.5M deal. To be honest, I think Cameron is by far better than Vlad, it's barely worth mentioning. I'd even say Gary Sheffield is a better signing than Vlad, though Sheff may well age badly.

Cameron's offense will simply improve by a ton just by getting out of Safeco, even though Shea is far from an offensive haven.

Let's all wait for the first sports "expert" to talk about Mike Cameron's "improvement" about May 15th.


12/13/2003 10:40:00 PM


Friday, December 12, 2003

(12/12/2003 04:27:00 PM) - Al

ESPN just showed a graphic showing that Vasquez/Brown's ERA is less over a certain span than the now departed Petitte/Clemens by about a run. Proof that the Yankees are a much better team now than last year?

Please. The funny thing to me is, none of the experts caught the obvious: On average, the average NL ERA is about half a run less than the average AL ERA. Adjust the Brown/Javier combo up half a run...no big deal, especially considering many of us don't think Kevin Brown has a iota of a chance to stay healthy over a full season.


12/12/2003 04:27:00 PM



(12/12/2003 03:50:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al-

Your last entry talks about a possible Rule V pick. One guy I would take without hesitation, and I know you liked him at least at a point in the past, is Bruce Chen. When the Jays signed him, it was only a minor league deal, so he is unprotected and available. His 2001 numbers with the Mets, the last time he was a full-time starter, would easily have been the
third-best starter on the Brewers last year, if not #2. There is no reason a team in the Brewers position shouldnt take a $50k flyer on Chen, throw him in the rotation all season and leave him alone, and see what he can do.

As far as getting a lefty in the Rule V draft, many of the guys available would probably be easily available for a middling prospect in a trade. Likewise, there is probably a guy or two in the minor league portion of the draft (something that can be forgotten) that might be good enough to fill that LH bullpen role.

Jason


Jason, thanks for taking the time, and for the great work you're doing on the Daily Brew.

I have spoken kindly (or at least typed kindly) about Chen in the past, and he does deserve a shot. Chen still has a career 4.50ish ERA, and still keeps getting shots, albeit, small ones. Chen is a guy who seems to have a black cloud following him around, and it smells a lot like "old baseball". The book on Chen is that he is not a "fighter", which means for the most part he is not able to give you 5 innings if he doesn't have his good stuff. This is code for a simple fact: Chen does not have much velocity. If his location is off, he will get hit, and probably hit hard. Still, even if he ends up being nothing more than a 6 inning, 3 earned type of guy, he's still got value.

Is he the fella Doug is looking for? Very unlikely. Melvin is probably looking at a specific player (or two), and feels he may well be gone when the Brewers pick 7th in the Rule 5. He has already stated what he's looking for, "a player who is older, that can step into a bullpen slot". I assume Doug feels there is a team picking ahead of him that will take the player, leaving him with only an opportunity to add a player or cash by trading the pick.



12/12/2003 03:50:00 PM



(12/12/2003 03:21:00 PM) - Al

Hello there Al,

Just a comment on the deal today that sent Jeff Weaver to LA for Kevin Brown. I saw a nice article which of course now I can't find about how Steinbrenner has taken over as the virtual GM of the Yankees again and how he's doing deals alot like the ones he did in the late 80s, i.e. get alot of has been, over the hill, old players. Well the Weaver deal reeks of that. Weaver has really only had one bad season...this past season...he's only 27...he has alot of potential as a starter. He was dealt along with 2 prospects for a 38 year old pitcher with a rash of injury troubles. has a list of the Yankees gains and losses this off season. Look at the age in their gains ...good grief. So we're heading back to mediocre, over the hill Yankee teams I guess. It doesn't make me sad...just shows that Steinbrenner really hasn't learned a whole lot over the years.

Thanks,

Mike


Thanks to the Cat's House author for reading and writing. I still can't believe that Rob Neyer, a respected and usually straight laced, smart man; not bothered by things such as "team chemistry" and "veteran influence" actually said that he feels the Mussina/Vasquez/Brown trio is better than Pedro/Schilling/Lowe. Hey, I'll freely admit that I have a strong dislike for the Yankees, and that I think Theo Epstein is a very good GM. If you offered me the choice, I'd take the Red Sox three without a second thought or a shred of regret. Brown is almost 40 and not aging all that well. The other five are all better and healthier, so I feel Brown is the weak link.

Maybe we'll find out Phil Rogers or Jim Caple took over the Neyer byline for a day.:)



12/12/2003 03:21:00 PM



(12/12/2003 02:35:00 PM) - Al

Miguel Bautista signed a 3y/$13M contract with TOR, which means my idea of signing either Bautista or Kelvim Escobar was way under budget. I thought one or both may have been available for something in the vicinity of 3y/$9M.

As usual, I really like what JP Ricciardi has done with that club, adding Lilly and Bautista to assist one of the league's top offenses. I certainly feel he overpaid for a solid, if unspectacular middle reliever like Lightenberg, but as is often the case, his moves are improving TOR much more than the Yankees/Red Sox additions are. They aren't ready to challenge for a playoff spot just yet...but I bet they will be by the end of March.


12/12/2003 02:35:00 PM


Thursday, December 11, 2003

(12/11/2003 11:46:00 PM) - Al

As much as this looks like something from the Onion, this is being sent out as a true news story. If it is the truth...hoo boy.


12/11/2003 11:46:00 PM



(12/11/2003 12:27:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin recently said he was looking to take a "older player, maybe a relief pitcher" in this year's Rule 5 draft. Considering the Brewers really don't have a LH reliever on the 40 man (in fact, John Foster is eligible for the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Monday), you would think a LH fireballer would be a likely choice.

One of the most obvious choices would be Ray Aguilar, a southpaw who is in the prospect rich ATL system.

Ray Aguilar - LHP Braves - Age 24, 2.71 ERA, 91 Ks in 93 IP for Double-A Greenville. Unlike many Rule 5 picks, Aguilar could actually be pretty useful next year.--Rotoworld

Ray has averaged over a K per inning in his minor league career, and has walked only 2.27 hitters per 9 innings, outstanding control, especially for a young lefty. Young pitchers with a 4-1 K/BB ratio are always worth taking a flyer on.


12/11/2003 12:27:00 PM



(12/11/2003 11:44:00 AM) - Al

The fact the Twins have money to spend and are in desperate need of a 2B...and are overloaded with OF prospects, would seem to make them a perfect trading partner. Junior Spivey and maybe a reliever would seem to be a nice match for Mike Cuddyer, wouldn't you think?


12/11/2003 11:44:00 AM



(12/11/2003 11:08:00 AM) - Al

Two moves that may have went under the radar this week, but should be mentioned.

Enrique Cruz was removed from the 40 man roster and outrighted to Indianapolis. I am very surprised that Doug took this risk, after keeping Cruz on the 25 man roster all of 2003, and am even more surprised that Cruz cleared waivers. Granted, many teams 40 man does not have room, but supposedly, there were 8-10 teams interested in taking Enrique in the Rule 5 and/or trading for him after the Brewers selected him. I find it difficult to believe that all 29 other clubs passed on him, as he has all three options remaining. But, Enrique is now off the 40 man and set to begin the 2004 campaign at Huntsville, as the starting SS or 3B.

Also, the Crew removed Alejandro Machado from the 40 man, to make room for the acquisitions from the Sexson trade. There's no doubt several clubs could have used a 40 man spot with a nice middle infielder prospect, but no one claimed him, as teams like DET were busy overpaying for past their prime, mediocre at best 2B. With the smart money on Rickie Weeks starting the '04 season as Huntsville's 2B, I assume Machado will share the 2B/utility IF duties at AAA Indy with Steve Scarborough.

It should be noted that neither Cruz or Machado has even hit 23 as of yet. I'm shocked not one club felt they could clear a spot to land either one of these two solid prospects...even though neither ranks in the Crew's Top 20.


12/11/2003 11:08:00 AM



(12/11/2003 09:33:00 AM) - Al

Since I haven't been doing a lot of searching for news, I thought I'd post this from the Brewerfan.net Fan Forum. This gent was invited to a full season ticket holders Q & A forum at Friday's. Doug Melvin was the featured speaker.

The Brewers were pretty low key about the event, they invited 20 season ticket holders (you couldn't bring a guest), for a luncheon with Melvin this past Tuesday, held at Friday's. It was nice, he addressed the group about the trade and then answered questions for about an hour.

Apparently, the Brewers are going to be doing about six of them over the next month and a half, each one with a different person I assume, I don't think Melvin is going to do all of them.

He addressed a lot of the situations that they were faced with, he talked about the Dodgers and the deal that was on the table which was LoDuca and two minor league players, but the Dodgers would not put either of their top two players on the table. He mentioned that the trade with Arizona was helped by the fact that the Dodgers were involved in the discussions, as well as the fact that Derek Lee was traded to the Cubs, which meant Richie was all that was out there.

He said he'd like to bring Eddie Perez back, but his agent said that they had an offer on the table for two years from one club.

He is looking for ground ball pitchers, for obvious reasons, and thought that if they didn't move Spivey, that he'd start at 2b, with Ginter moving to LF, and Jenkins to RF. He also mentioned that he spoke to Junior and that the quote about him being devastated wasn't how he truly felt about coming to Milwaukee, and that he was looking forward to the challenge, but understood that he might be in trade discussions.

Melvin did say that he had received calls from several teams regarding Spivey. The ones he mentioned were, NYY, Boston, Cubs (before they signed Gruds), Cleveland and a couple more that I can't think of right now. He did feel that Spivey would do well in Miller Park, that he could hit 18-20 homers here. They weren't necessarily looking to move him, but if the right offer came by they would. He mentioned that the D-backs wanted the Brewers to take Bautista instead of Spivey at one point. With regard to the players they got, he was pretty high on the fact that the depth the team has now compared to before the trade was a big plus for the Brewers.

(Both Ludwick and Escobar) are on the table right now according to Melvin. He said that Gerut was the guy he wanted, but that Escobar and Ludwick were what was being offered

He thought that Billy Hall would be given a shot at SS, but that his best position might be a Tony Phillips spot where he plays all over the infield.

They also employ a stats guy, not Bill James II, but a guy who has done stats on comparing a fly-ball pitcher vs. a fly-ball hitter, and a ground ball pitcher vs. a ground ball hitter, that those match-ups are better for the pitcher than a RH or LH pitcher vs. RH or LH hitter. The one guy he points to as an example is Jose Vizcaino vs. Sammy Sosa. Kind of interesting, I hadn't heard that theory before.

They were looking to target pitchers that were ground ball types, and fly ball hitters, which was one of the reasons that they went after Wes Helms.

With regard to Jenkins, there isn't a lot of interest right now in him from other teams. He said he thought that his salary 8 million this year, is about 2 million above where the market is right now (Sh. Stewart as an example). They were in discussions with Jenkins agent, but it seemed clear to me, that Melvin wasn't going to sign him, just for the sake of signing him. He liked the fact that they didn't have one dime committed to next year in terms of a contract.

Also, they are looking to sign Helms to a two-year deal and are in discussions along those lines.

He did mention that he still loves Rick Helling, but thankfully he realized bringing him in to Miller Park would be about the worst thing he could do.

They are looking at an OF, he did mention Jose Cruz, but then talked about the fact that they were looking to move Ginter to LF and Jenkins to RF for next season, so they may not need one.

He also mentioned that more players are calling up with an interest in playing for Yost (which is more than likely a reason for the contract extension).

On a personal note, the meeting that I attended was in general very positive, I thought that it would be very negative talking about the reduction in payroll, but it wasn't. Melvin is a very sharp guy, and frankly, after hearing him for an hour, I feel a lot better knowing that someone who knows what they are doing, and has done this before (he was in Baltimore in 88, 89 when they had to rebuild). He does have a good eye for talent, and knows what he is doing.



A couple brief thoughts: I feel there is a good chance that the "we plan to hang onto Spivey" talk is false, as they try to increase his value. However, it is good to see the braintrust feels Ginter is an everyday player, and even thinks he can play LF. Also, the talk in CLE is that the Brewers want Ludwick or Escobar, and the Indians aren't willing to give them up, which would seem a direct contradiction to what Doug himself said.


12/11/2003 09:33:00 AM



(12/11/2003 08:59:00 AM) - Al

Andy Pettite has signed with the Astros, per the ESPN crawler.

If they got him for about the same money that Billy Wagner was making, HOU is a much better team than they were last year.


12/11/2003 08:59:00 AM


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

(12/10/2003 07:52:00 PM) - Al

Been fighting a physical ailment since last night, and on and off since Monday. Will be back as soon as work and my health allow.


12/10/2003 07:52:00 PM


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

(12/09/2003 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Nice article on the Brewers' site previewing the winter meetings.

And yes, this is the kind of stuff you'd expect from a major metropolitan newspaper...too bad we just have the JS, who have two baseball reporters that don't care enough to do this kind of work.


12/09/2003 09:14:00 PM



(12/09/2003 05:50:00 PM) - Al

Eddie Guardado signed a 3y/$13M deal with SEA. Why yes, that is the sound of money being flushed down the toilet you hear.

Matt Stairs signed a respectable 1y/$1M contract with KC, and if anything, Stairs should have got a bit more. KC also signed Scott Sullivan to a 2 year contract.

John Thomson signed a 2y/$7M deal with ATL. I thought Thomson may fit into the Brewers' plans, but didn't think he'd pry that kind of money from anyone. Cory Lidle is still available, and I hope MIL makes him their #1 target.


12/09/2003 05:50:00 PM


Monday, December 08, 2003

(12/08/2003 11:02:00 PM) - Al

The Raindrops points out that Diamond Zone projects Little Matsui at .353/.462, and will make $6.7 mil a year, while Marcos Scutaro (who used to be Mets' property, for gosh sakes) is projected at .363/.423, and will make about $350K in '04.

I'll even give you that Kaz is a better defender than Scooter, although the idea of moving a phenom like Jose Reyes to 2B to "make room" for Kaz offends me a great deal.

I will say, however, I wish the Mets luck with all that. Anyone that says it's all about money hasn't seen the Mets play for several years. Yuck.


12/08/2003 11:02:00 PM



(12/08/2003 10:32:00 PM) - Al

As suggested yesterday, an absolute ton of players are available today, as they were not tendered an arbitration offer, including players all but certain to sign elsewhere, like Gary Sheffield and Vlad Guerrero.

It seems like among his other qualities, only Billy Beane of the A's really understands the arby process. Despite the fact his interest in Miguel Tejada is minimal (they haven't made him a contract offer since spring training, at least), Beane offered Tejada arby, and will either sign Miguel to an arbitrator decided salary for one year, or get 2 high draft picks in next June's draft. Tejada is on record as saying he wants a long-term deal, as he wants his kids to stay in the same school. So, Beane feels it is unlikely he'll accept arby.

Still, supposedly Sheffield has already agreed on a 3 year contract with the Yankees, so why did ATL not offer arby? Apparently, the minimal risk of having to keep Gary another year at about $15 mil was too great for the Braves.


12/08/2003 10:32:00 PM



(12/08/2003 10:11:00 PM) - Al

The only stranger thing than SF seeing the need to spend good money on Michael Tucker (and happily throw away a 1st round pick, as Rob Neyer pointed out today), TOR signs Kerry Lightenberg to a 2y/$4.5 mil deal.

SF looks to be using the bizarro way of building a team, and more power to 'em, as they have had a good amount of success in the past few years. Of course, I get the feeling a lot of total idiots could build a pretty good club with Barry Bonds providing the runs he does. But, going out of their way to throw away their 1st round picks in the June draft seems rather shortsighted at best, and painfully absurd at worst. This makes the Eric Young trade for a decent, if low ceiling pitching prospect make a lot more sense, as my guess is SF simply doesn't care about the kids right now.

TOR is a smartly run team, as JP Ricciardi believes in many of the same principles the sabermetric crowd does. While I feel Kerry is a nice enough middle reliever, paying him $2+ mil per simply seems like too much. I'm sure JP has a good reason to do so, and I'm also sure JP has some splits or something that make this a smarter signing than it appears now. Considering the absolute plethora of talent that became available today, as most free agents were not offered arbitration, makes the timing of the agreement downright odd.


12/08/2003 10:11:00 PM


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