Al's Ramblings

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

(3/31/2004 10:44:00 PM) - Al

The Crank has a taxing poll result, which is exactly the result you'd think of.

The idea we need to pay more taxes is difficult to fathom.

3/31/2004 10:44:00 PM

(3/31/2004 10:32:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin had a nice chat today with fans. He seems friendly and easy to talk to, and usually answers questions just like you'd hopem, very straightforward. Check it out when you have the chance.

3/31/2004 10:32:00 PM

(3/31/2004 09:29:00 PM) - Al

Nice to hear the Madison missing person saga had a happy ending. The police seem to be trying to do all they can not to come out and say it, but it isn't difficult to read between the lines and wonder if any foul play occured, or if this was a pitiful stunt. Time will tell.

3/31/2004 09:29:00 PM

(3/31/2004 10:08:00 AM) - Al

Most of the nine non-roster players cut Tuesday are expected to see regular or semi-regular action at Class AAA Indianapolis. Matt Erickson will start at second base, Jeff Liefer at first and Mark Johnson behind the plate. Jon Nunnally and Chris Magruder probably will share time in left field.

Chris Michalak will be the primary left-handed reliever in the bullpen, and Matt Wise and Victor Santos will pitch on the same day, or "piggyback," with hopes of keeping both ready for starting duty or long relief, should the Brewers need help.

Somehow, Magruder really ends up being the one hurt the most. He goes from just missing making the Crew to...being a part-time player in AAA Indianapolis. Ouch. But, with {ahem} prospects Dave Krynzel in CF and Corey Hart in RF playing 6 days a week, that only leaves LF and DHing in AL parks for Chris and Jon. As of this second, the IF probably has uber-prospect JJ Hardy at SS, with Erickson playing 2B, and Jeff Liefer at 1B. Chris Coste and Johnson will split time at catcher, and Coste may play a bit of 1B and 3B as well. I honestly don't know who will be the regular 3B, utility man Scott Sheldon comes to mind as an option.

Starting staff will include Ben Hendrickson, Jorge de la Rosa, Pedro Liriano (all actual prospects!), along with Travis Phelps and Wise, with Santos, Michalak, Brian Bowles, Matt Childers, and Mike Adams in the bullpen.

3/31/2004 10:08:00 AM

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

(3/30/2004 08:20:00 PM) - Al

A late March trade to spice things up.

Wayne Franklin and Leo Estrella to SF for two young pitchers...both destined to begin the season in the low minors. This relieves the logjam of arms, opens up a couple of 40 man spots (after Durrington, Hernandez, and Burba are added, it will be at 39, unless Nuegie goes on the 60 day DL, then it will be 38).

It leaves us at least one 40 man spot to pick up a LH reliever, should one become available.

And, anyone else think it is a sign of strength that the Brewers are now deep enough that a team hoping to contend, like the Giants, want our 13th and 14th best pitchers? Me too. Lots of folks laughed when the Crew discussed how much depth they added in the Sexson trade, but it does appear to be the case, as the 40 man and the farm system look to be more loaded with talent than I can recall, at least in the last decade.

As of this second, it would seem Ben Ford is the final pitcher (or, it could be Kieschnick) to make the team, so he would seem most likely to be sent to Indy if and when another pitcher is signed.

Anytime you can pick up kids for a pair of pitchers unlikely to make the team, it's a great day. Kudos to Melvin.

3/30/2004 08:20:00 PM

(3/30/2004 07:00:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers are reviving a special ticket offer for families of military personnel.

Families interested in attending games against the Houston Astros on April 10 or 11 need to show their valid military identification cards at Miller Park ticket windows in order to receive a free Loge or Terrace Level ticket for that afternoon's game. Tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Very nice of the Brewers to do that, as I assume they'll only have a paid attendance of about 20,000 tops for each game. It wouldn't seem to hurt anything, so what's the harm?

3/30/2004 07:00:00 PM

(3/30/2004 01:25:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers are down to 28 men on their 25 man roster. The only one I'm "surprised" about is apparently, Trent Durrington will be kept over Chris Magruder. Trent isn't a bad utility IF mind you, but he'd be behind Ginter and Hall in that department (and, I'd have much rather seen Appleton native Matt Erickson go north). I would make a guess that the fact Trent is speedy, can catch in an emergency, and is percieved as "scrappy" and "gritty" probably led to his winning the spot. While it isn't who I would have chose, as I often say, it's not as if the 25th man wins or loses you games.

In announcing the cuts, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the club plans to keep 12 pitchers. It appears that the race for the final two spots to be decided will be relief jobs. That battle for them will be waged among right-handers Leo Estrella, Brooks Kieschnick and Ben Ford and lefty Wayne Franklin.

Not mentioned is Dave Burba, who pitched in a AAA game yesterday and was hit hard (though, he may have just "been getting work in"), who the JS assumes has won a spot.

I can't believe Kieschnick hasn't been handed a spot, especially with Durrington, a RH hitter with little power, apparently edging out Magruder, a switch-hitter with gap power. Brooks gives you if not an extra roster spot, at least half of one, and that's a nice thing to have. Not really mentioned is the fact that a LH reliever could easily be picked up in the coming week, as almost every team in baseball will have to send one or two down, many of which will have to clear waivers to do so. That, of course, would leave only one spot for those four mentioned.

To me, Franklin should go down and pitch every 5th day, as insurance. Ford should either start or be used in middle relief, his probable role in the bigs. Would it bother me not to have a LHP in the bullpen? Hardly. Lefty relievers are the epitome of a spare part, and one can usually be picked up cheaply and easily. For a team whose ceiling would appear to be 75-77 wins, it is not a priority, and certainly not in the first week of the season.

3/30/2004 01:25:00 PM

(3/30/2004 11:33:00 AM) - Al

It's often said -- by idiots, mostly -- that MLB doesn't "market its players" like the NBA does. Like that's a bad thing. MLB can't market its players like the NBA does, because it's a different sort of game. When you pay your money to watch a baseball game, you're usually there to watch the game and not a particular player or two.--Rob Neyer, 3/30

Oh, to have a dollar for every Jim Caple or, as Rob put it, some other idiot, say that Bud Selig has done a poor job marketing the game. Rob puts this to rest brilliantly, though it will still be said by idiots because they, well, are idiots.

Actually, the better comparison these days is NASCAR, which has taken a bunch of fools of low intellect and made them into heroes, at least in the part of the country that commonly uses the word "y'all".

3/30/2004 11:33:00 AM

(3/30/2004 11:09:00 AM) - Al

HOU sent both Jeriome Robertson and Kirk Saarloos to minor league camp.

The Astros are absolutely loaded. Either one of them (and maybe both) could step right into the Brewers' rotation, and right now, they are no higher than HOU's 6th and 7th selections.

3/30/2004 11:09:00 AM

(3/30/2004 11:05:00 AM) - Al


How good of a team could you put together if you signed only players out of options that have to clear waivers this week? I would think it would be a decent, young team with potential.


Thanks again Matt. This is an interesting question, as I've always been a proponent of this practice, as a way of adding some talent to the system cheaply.

{You can tell the Brewers have had poor farm systems until recently, can't you?}

I assume you are pretty accurate in your assumption, Matt...if you think "decent" is about 50 wins or so. A team made up of solely good AAA veterans, who are good players mind you, but maybe a step slow or have a long swing (commonly known as "replacement level") would win about 40, in theory of course. I would think a team made up of late waiver claims would be a bit better, and probably have 2-3 players break out and be better than you'd expect. But, if they are to be found on the waiver wire, it is unlikely any stars will emerge, and certainly not that first season.

3/30/2004 11:05:00 AM

(3/30/2004 10:46:00 AM) - Al


SL--Acquired Brian L. Hunter from SD in exchange for Kerry Robinson

Have you ever seen two players worth less traded for each other?


Matt, thanks for reading and writing. I just commented over at that Kerry Robinson makes Brady Clark look like the best reserve OF in the game, and to be blunt, the idea Hunter sat on the Astros' bench while Jason Lane toiled at AAA last year still offends me.

Kerry---.301/.339, 640 OPS
Brian---.313/.346, 659 OPS
Ave CF-.340/.427, 767 OPS

Bluntly, the mere fact SL and/or SD see an iota of value in either one of these players shows how they simple don't respect OBP. The idea that these guys are exempt because they can get from 2B to home plate a third of a second faster is hilarity.

3/30/2004 10:46:00 AM

(3/30/2004 09:43:00 AM) - Al

This article on ESPN says the Brewers' average ticket price is $10.88, which seems far too long. I think only some bleachers seats are lower than that, actually.

3/30/2004 09:43:00 AM

Monday, March 29, 2004

(3/29/2004 09:53:00 PM) - Al

Story on a tale of two teams, ARI & MIL at the Brewers' site.

3/29/2004 09:53:00 PM

(3/29/2004 08:19:00 PM) - Al

I drove down to Madison today to have my yearly eval (by the way, what does "abhorrent" mean?). I tuned in to WTMJ while using the scan mode, and I believe they quoted Bud Selig as saying that the race for the Expos is down to 4 areas: DC, Nothern VA, Vegas, or Monterrey. While Portland has long been my top choice, I am glad to see MLB moving ahead toward the finish line of a decision.

I have to believe in 5-10 years, through relocation or expansion, all but one or two of them will have teams. Maybe I'm a bit ahead of myself, but I feel MLB will have 32 clubs by 2015.

3/29/2004 08:19:00 PM

(3/29/2004 07:31:00 PM) - Al

Despite strict laws prohibiting smoking, New York City tax revenues indicate bar and restaurant sales are up about 9%.

I recall the new law being hailed as the death blow to Manhattan eating and drinking establishments.

Or, maybe not.

3/29/2004 07:31:00 PM

Sunday, March 28, 2004

(3/28/2004 09:31:00 PM) - Al

One note from Doug's conversation with Jim:

I've been saying the exact same thing about the Rockies forever. They play in a offensive haven, they need to maximize their offense, and for the most part, ignore defense. If I were them, I'd focus on tough, sinkerballer pitchers, able to get hit hard at home and shrug it off. Also, you need a manager that's able to comprehend the simple fact pitchers will allow more runs at home, and let them stay in the game longer. I still recall Don Baylor saying something to the effect of how difficult it was to manage there, as at home, you needed 13 pitchers, and on the road, you only needed 11. Actually, all you ever need is 11, you just need to realize your pitchers are going to get hit at home even if they have decent stuff.

And tell you what, Clint Hurdle is the worst guy for Coors. He's talking about batting Royce Clayton 2nd, and last year, said Larry Walker ought to consider he compiled a .400+ OBP. He can't be the right man for the job, as he understands neither OBP, nor the importance of it.

3/28/2004 09:31:00 PM

(3/28/2004 09:20:00 PM) - Al

Our good friend Bill from The Daily Brew over at transcribed some of Talkin' Baseball from this past Saturday, 3/27; and was nice enough to e-mail them to Ramblings. Thanks, Bill.

Bill will be joining us for the long-awaited, much anticipated Opening Day Ramblings' roundtable, which should be appearing on or about Opening Day.

FYI, the transcript is so long, Blogger made me break it up into three pieces. Ignore the multiple posts and enjoy.

3/28/2004 09:20:00 PM

(3/28/2004 09:17:00 PM) - Al

Jim Powell: There were not that many decisions to make in terms of the position players coming into camp. Things were pretty reasonably set barring injuries or unforeseen events. Has anything changed since then? Are you still basically looking at that last spot on the bench?

Doug Melvin: Yeah, probably from the positional standpoint. What makes it tough is that every one of the players that have come into camp have something to offer, some maybe a little more than others. But they've all performed well, they've all played hard. It's always tough to tell players that they gave it their best effort but we just don't have the
room. That's always tough, even with Ned and the coaches. They anguish over that, too, because they're down there and they know the effort that those young players give. But in the end we have to make decisions that are best for the club over the long haul.

And you know whenever you make decisions in spring training, those decisions are only for the moment because you never go through a season that's only 25 players. Texas the one year we had 5 starting pitchers that started every game - that was in 1996 when we won. We didn't have to make a change with our starting pitching at all. We had to take a guy out of the bullpen to have two starts because somebody was a little tender, but never had to make a move for starting pitching the whole year. But nowadays you go through injuries or the performance is not there. We'll end up using 35 or 40 players by the time the end of the season is over.

JP: Can you handicap that last spot at all - the guys who are still battling for it? Obviously Durrington, Magruder, those guys have had a great camp.

DM: Yeah, I like to leave that to Ned and the coaches; it comes down to the kind of player you need. [Jon] Nunnally is a guy that's got power, can play all three outfield positions, and runs well. Jeff Liefer has come on real strong here at the end. He can play the outfield, first base, and provide left-handed power. [Trent] Durrington is a good baserunner, can steal a base, and plays third base, second, outfield, and can catch. Matt Erickson can play all through the infield and bats
left-handed - you want a left-handed bat off the bench. And then Chris Magruder, who got hot real early in the spring - same thing. He gives you a switch hitter that nobody else does, he plays all three OF positions, he is a good baserunner, and he puts the ball in play.

Do you want a pinch hitter with power or a pinch hitter who puts the ball in play? All of them have pretty good eyes at the plate - they're pretty well disciplined. All of them have something... we'll just have to make the call at the end and go with it and see how we use that individual. We do feel we'll be much stronger than we were last year. Except last spring when we left spring training our bench was [Scott] Podsednik, [Keith] Ginter, and John Vander Wal, so our bench was okay. And then Enrique Cruz, who we knew wasn't going to get much playing time. So we'll still have a strong bench leaving spring training this year and I think we'll have more versatility than we did last year.

JP: I'll talk with Keith Ginter later in the show about his dabbling in the outfield here lately. How much of a factor is that - his adjustment to being able to play the outfield? Obviously Brady Clark is your main #4 outfielder, but that fifth outfield spot could be the last bench spot that we're talking about or it could be Keith Ginter getting more outfield time if you feel comfortable with him. How's he look?

DM: Keith has done a good job - he made a nice sliding catch yesterday in right field. When you play out there, there will always be balls that are the first time you've seen that particular ball whether it's a ball that slices into the corner or you play it in the corner wrong--it's somewhat of a learning process for him at the big league level. But he's done a good job out there.

Brady is a guy that can go in defensively late in the game for us anywhere, at all three outfield positions. Nunnally can do that, Magruder can do that. But it's so important with Keith that we try to get his bat in our lineup because he's got a chance to be a good offensive player.

Cory in Fond du Lac: If you guys are rebuilding so much toward the next year or two, why are you going with Craig Counsell at shortstop instead of Bill Hall? And at third base, is Wes Helms our future third baseman? Ginter has proven he can be a pretty solid player over there.

DM: Wes hit 23 homers last year and he plays solid defense. We just feel that we have to have depth on our ballclub. If you played Ginter, Wes Helms would still be on the ballclub. Keith can play third if Wes goes in some form of a slump or whatever, you've got that ability. You've gotta be deep. That's one thing when you look at your ballclub and say "put this guy here or put that guy there": the clubs that win and the clubs that compete have depth. The New York Yankees have Bernie Williams and Kenny Lofton - they're not worried about what Bernie will say or do. Ginter, Wes Helms, Billy Hall, and Counsell all give us depth to make us a better overall ballclub.

It's a matter of who's going to play as a regular and right now we think Craig Counsell gives us some stability, some steadiness, and some veteran leadership at the shortstop role. Billy Hall has had a good spring - he had a good spring last year - and Billy might still get his time. But Billy's almost like a starting pitcher who pitches in long relief before he becomes a starter. But Billy's got good versatility, he can play second, and he's been hitting the fastball down here.

We've just got to have depth. I read a story about the Memphis Grizzlies the other day where there's not a big gap between their starting players and their extra players and I look at our club that way. We're not a club of a lot of All Stars - Geoff Jenkins and after that there's not a big gap between the rest of our players. It will be a tough assignment for Ned to go out and play all these players and keep them fresh, keep them sharp, but we should be a better club
because of that depth.

JP: With the projected starters, it looks like a heavy left-handed hitting lineup. Do you anticipate any of those positions becoming sort of a straight platoon where when you face a lefty, this guy automatically gets the start?

3/28/2004 09:17:00 PM

(3/28/2004 09:16:00 PM) - Al

DM: Well the one good thing in our division is that there's only one left-handed starter and that's Andy Pettite. We think we might gain a small advantage by having the number of left-handed hitters we do. We're probably a little vulnerable to left-handed relief pitchers, though. Ben Grieve and Keith Ginter will play itself out as the season goes on. Again, having the ability to play both or platoon them - I'll leave that up to Ned how he does that, depending on how guys are feeling and how guys are swinging the bat. That could be a platoon situation in that regard but I don't think anywhere else will be. I think against some tough left-handers Craig might sit down and that's when Billy will get the chance to play. Billy might play against right-handers - there's certain pitchers that he might play against. Craig hasn't played a 162 game schedule and Billy's a young player keeps himself in shape so those things take care of themselves. There's no plan.

JP: Overbay?

DM: I don't think so because Overbay hits left-handers and because there's so few left-handers in our division. But there's other divisions, whether you face the Kirk Reuters or a Randy Johnson, and that might be the day you put Wes Helms at first and Ginter at third. I know we all can become managers but there is only one manager and that will be Ned - we'll leave it up to him.

Brian in Manitowac: What's your assessment of the pitching staff at this time? Hearing the Juan Cruz trade to Atlanta, I would have thought he'd be a perfect person to plug into our lineup especially considering how hard he throws and the trouble we've had with our pitching.

DM: Yeah, Juan Cruz would have been a good addition although he hasn't pitched as well recently as he did his first year when he came up and had 10 or 11 starts. I like the kid [Andy] Pratt that the Cubs got--he led the International League in strikeouts, he's got a great changeup, throws 91-92 mph, and he really knows how to pitch. It's a good deal for both clubs - the Cubs needed a left-hander and the Braves needed a right-hander.

We were also talking about Chris Reitsma a little bit but that didn't work out and the Braves gave up two young starting pitchers. In order to get those kind of guys, you're going to have to give up some of your top young guys, too. We hadn't talked to the Cubs and we didn't have the left-hander. De La Rosa is a young kid that clubs have called and
asked about but we're just not prepared to give him up at this time.

JP: Is your phone ringing much this time of spring?

DM: Oh yeah, you get calls, but there's not a lot of major stuff going on. If teams think they can upgrade a little bit, they'll try - but otherwise they'll stay in-house.

JP: Give us just a little glimpse into the life of a GM this time of year. Does the phone ring 10 times a day from other GMs? Twice a day?

DM: Two or three times a day. You pretty much know what other clubs have and you don't want to waste a call. You figure it out - we have conference calls with our scouts and there's enough publications now--you read on the internet what teams are looking for and you're not going to waste time calling somebody with no match. For us to call the Yankees doesn't make sense. [GM Brian] Cashman is pretty good about calling around but they're looking for our regular players and they're willing to give up a prospect or two that's in A ball and that doesn't work for us at this point.

JP: Without naming names, are there certain GMs that are always calling and trying to rip you off? Or others that rarely call and then come to you with a great proposal?

DM: There are certain GMs that you have a better rapport with than others. I've been in it long enough that you'll touch base with as many as you can. There's others that are straight forward - they'll tell you they have interest or not. Others will say "let me look at it and I'll get back to you" and you never hear back. So everybody's styles are different. I've always been one myself, personally, to do my homework ahead of time so if somebody drops a name I can tell them
yes or no right there. Occasionally there's a player who I'll say "gotta look into it," though. Deals take a long time, too. The Sexson deal took a long time, two or three months, continually talking about it. Not many deals happen where you make a call and the deal is done the next day.

JP: How many teams were on the hook as finalists for Sexson?

DM: The Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. The ironic thing is that if the Dodgers would have given up Greg Miller, we might have done the deal. Everybody wants young pitching, but Greg Miller has since had shoulder surgery. When you talk about getting young pitching, it's very risky. There's usually something wrong sometimes when clubs trade good young pitching, there's something there that we don't know about, and you're a little bit reluctant because everybody needs pitching.

JP: What about Jorge De La Rosa and Chris Capuano? After getting a chance to watch them this spring, are you more pleased with the deal than you were before? Or did you get exactly what you expected?

DM: I think we got a good read on it. We've had a lot of teams ask about De La Rosa. Would I move him in a deal? I don't see myself doing that at this time. He's young, he's inexpensive, and his future is all ahead of him. That's the kind of player we need. We need to build up our pitching in our minor leagues - I think we're stronger in position players than we are with pitchers. He's close to the big leagues - if he goes out and has 10 or 12 starts, he might be a guy we're not afraid to go to. He has great stuff but just needs to learn a little bit more about pitching.

Capuano is still going to pitch here - he's a great competitor. He competes when he swings the bat, he has a good slider and offspeed pitch, and he's another guy who needs to pitch and get a feel for pitching. He's not going to overpower somebody, but I think he's the kind of guy that can get better as time goes on because he's bright and intelligent. We're very pleased to get two young left-handers.

Ken on the East Side of Milwaukee: Three questions - who does it look like in the three spot in the starting rotation? Who's the number one setup pitcher? And will Dave Burba have a chance to make the roster?

DM: Those are all good questions. Right now, Sheets and Davis and Matt Kinney are probably the top three guys at this point. That's somewhat how we see them.

Dave Burba pitched very well last night over at Texas. He's the one guy that gives us experience so there's a pretty good chance of him making the club. We've still got decisions to make, but he does bring us some experience and versatility in his role and where he's at in this stage of his career - he could be a welcome addition to our club. He pitched well enough when we had him last year

3/28/2004 09:16:00 PM

(3/28/2004 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Luis Vizcaino is throwing better than he did last year. His velocity is back up and he's pitched better but he still has a ways to go. This is one area we're looking at to see if there's a guy that can do it on a regular basis. We've even considered Adrian Hernandez because he gets some strikeouts. We like him in a long relief role at this time but it's probably an area we'd like to upgrade. But Vizcaino has bounced back - he had a real quality year and then last year an off season, so we're hoping he can bounce back.

JP: Who's still in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation?

DM: You've still got Capuano and Franklin and Obermueller. Between them, it looks like we've got the possibility of six guys that can start and we haven't made those decisions yet. We only need a fifth starter for seven starts in the first two months in the season. There's not a dropoff on any of those guys so it comes down to who's the hot hand, who's throwing well. That's how we'll probably make the call.

Ken in Watertown: When you're looking at a Major League player just on paper, what statistic or two statistics have to jump out for a player to fit in with your style in Milwaukee? And what statistics jump out for a minor league player that you're scouting? What kind of statistics do you really look for that say "you've got to have these things"?

DM: On the Minor League side, we look at the ballpark effect, the age of the player, and the league averages. I have a friend of mine who lives in the Dallas area, a statistical analyst named Eddie Epstein, and he called me at the end of last year and told me that Prince Fielder was the best hitter in minor league baseball if you took into account the ballpark effect, his age level, and his overall performance. On-base percentage, I do like to look at that for certain hitters. For pitchers, I look at the walk-to-strikeout ratio and the other one that comes into play a lot is the groundball-to-flyball
ratio. That's similar at the Major League level, too - OBP, GB:FB, etc. The other thing is that sometimes a player at Triple-A has been there for two or three years and they're not really a prospect anymore. You've got to be careful with that with players like Podsednik and Clark. Sometimes with a young player that's performed two or three years at the same level, you look at trend lines. You look at Ricky Ledee and Shane Spencer, they got to the point with the Yankees where
they were good prospects but when you don't play, you lose your skills somewhat. The other thing is whether it's a hitters' park or pitchers' park. There's a reason the Dodgers, Braves, and Mariners have good pitchers. Their pitchers are good, but they play in pitchers' parks. There's a reason that at Coors Field and the Ballpark at Arlington the hitting is always good, because they're hitters' ballparks. I don't know if I'll ever get to GM the Rangers again, but I told the people at Colorado and Texas that I don't think they'll ever win with pitching. You have to win 60% of your games at home and if you're in a hitters' ballpark, you've got to do it by offense. The last time the Rockies had a good MLB club, they had Vinny Castilla, Andres Gallaraga, Ellis Burks, Dante Bichette, and they were the Blakestreet Bombers. And they
just intimidated other teams' pitchers. They had to alter their pitching staff when they got to Colorado and alter it again when they left Colorado. We used to win 60% of our games at home and I think when you're in a hitter's park that's what you've gotta do.

JP: What about Miller Park?

DM: Miller Park gives up a lot of home runs but it's not necessarily a hitters' park, it's more of a neutral park. We're looking for guys that can strikeout guys and groundball pitchers. And then flyball hitters. We got Wes Helms, who's a flyball hitter, and we thought he could hit 20 homers in our ballpark. He hit 23. Would he have hit 23 in Atlanta? He might not have because of the big centerfield. So those are the things you look at and analyze. You can sometimes
overanalyze statistically, but you do have to figure those things out and see if there is an effect or a trend line that may help. Danny Kolb was a strikeout/groundball pitcher and that's the kind of pitcher we're looking for. We have to try to stay away from the flyball pitchers. If you're a flyball pitcher in Miller Park, you do give up a lot of home runs. That's something Matt Kinney and Wayne Franklin both have to improve on.

JP: Do you have staff members that crunch numbers all day and bring you report after report? And do you also have staff members that get on the internet and find you anything that could be useful?

DM: We have a statistical analyst that's full time with us. He helps us on both the Major League and Minor League sides. And we have our scouting reports from a visual standpoint, what a scout sees, we have to analyze the makeup of a player, and then we have the statistical analysis. So we put all those into play when we're identifying players and what they can do. The statistical guy also gives us a number called "Room for Improvement" - somebody looks good but isn't going to improve whereas somebody else might still have a high ceiling. That helps us in making decisions.

JP: Are you a web surfer or do you have people that do that for you?

DM: I go on it a little bit but I've lost some confidence in the internet. The other day they said the Giants have a lot of interest in Craig Counsell. Well, the Giants have never called. I saw something else that said a club had an interest in Junior Spivey and they're pursuing him, but they've never called. I've lost some confidence on some of the rumors that take place, but I do have some websites I go to. It's a lot of time and I've just found that there's certain websites that are more legit than others. I do enjoy it when I have spare time and I do look at the box scores... there's nothing better
than looking at the old original box scores. I always look for the bad pitching line. Usually you get a call and somebody has two or three bad pitching lines and suddenly he's available.

Reid Nichols

"As far as pitchers, we've got some guys that you might see in ilwaukee by the end of the season. Ben Hendrickson is a guy that just came on great at the end of last year and had a good fall league. This spring he's healthy and throwing well. I think he's a guy that you might see sometime this year if he's pitching like we think he will. Pedro Liriano is a guy who's got a great sinker and changeup. If he learns how to pitch, he's a guy who could figure sometime soon."

"Mike Jones is healthy and throwing well. Right now we're projecting him more to start at Huntsville. I don't want the added pressure on him having to jump to the next level and perform. Now that he's healthy, he can start in Huntsville and if he starts good and pitches well, he'll have an opportunity to move to the next level."

"Prince Fielder's defense has improved tremendously. I was excited to see him pick the ball and the way he was handling himself at first base. He's done a great job on his defense so I think he's catching up with his offense defensively."

3/28/2004 09:14:00 PM

(3/28/2004 07:55:00 PM) - Al

Somewhat newsworthy, as spring stats are so hard to find, is that Adrian Hernandez has 14 K's this spring...without a single walk. Barring injury, he seems to be a complete lock, as much as the fact he's 28 and never lived up to his potential allows him to be a "lock".

Also with nice numbers, Dave Burba, 8 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 8 K; and Brooks Kieschnick, 8 IP, 0 BB, 8 K. I'm not sure if either one of them even have the team made, even though we're just a week away from Opening Day.

3/28/2004 07:55:00 PM

(3/28/2004 07:53:00 PM) - Al

Matt Kinney had a nice outing today, pitching 4 scoreless, before tiring in the 5th, giving up 4 runs. I'll gladly settle for 5 good innings from all of our starters, as Ned and Doug have said they plan to take 12 pitchers north. Most observers feel Sheets, Davis, Kinney, and Capuano have spots in the rotation sewn up, while the 5th spot certainly would appear to be Obermueller's.

3/28/2004 07:53:00 PM

Saturday, March 27, 2004

(3/27/2004 08:49:00 PM) - Al

If you are visiting the site and if the top post is from a day or two ago, it is in your best interests to click on the 3/1-3/31 archives on the right sidebar. Most of the time, there will be newer material there. Again, this is a Blogger problem, which will likely be remedied in the next few days. I was able to play with the template tonight, and make minor adjustments, but not add to it. Hopefully, all will return to normal as Opening Day draws near.

3/27/2004 08:49:00 PM

(3/27/2004 07:44:00 PM) - Al

I am updating my 25 man roster choices I made about a week ago. I will indicate the changes after each player.

Locks for the 25 man roster (18)

Ben Sheets
Doug Davis
Matt Kinney
Dan Kolb
Chris Capuano
Jeff Bennett (upgraded from "likely")

Chad Moeller
Gary Bennett

Lyle Overbay
Junior Spivey
Craig Counsell
Wes Helms
Keith Ginter
Bill Hall

Geoff Jenkins
Scott Podsednik
Ben Grieve
Brady Clark

Very likely to make the 25 man roster (5):

Brooks Kieschnick
Adrian Hernandez
Chris Magruder
Wes Obermueller
Luis Vizcaino (up from "bubble")

On the bubble (2):

Chris Michalak
Dave Burba (up from "just missed")

Just missed:

Matt Erickson
Wayne Franklin (down from "bubble")
Leo Estrella
Trent Durrington
Victor Santos
Matt Wise
Ben Ford

As I've said every time, the Crew is likely to pick up a LH RP or two on waivers or in a late trade, so it is unlikely all the guys listed as making the 25 man actually make it.

I found out Franklin has an option left, so I have to believe the Crew will use him as minor league rotation depth, along with Ben Ford. They'll combine with De la Rosa, Hendrickson, and one other prospect to form the Indy rotation, some vets, mixed with youth.

Victor Santos has pitched outstanding this spring, but I think the final spot is between him and Burba, and the Crew will take the veteran north. I would say Santos may close for Indy.

I'd be very surprised if any of the 5 "likely" picks do not make the team. At this point, I think the roster battle is for the final two spots. That said, not as surprised as I was to see Crudale released.

3/27/2004 07:44:00 PM

(3/27/2004 06:43:00 PM) - Al

Today, on the Talkin' Baseball radio program, Doug Melvin was asked what stats he looked at first. Doug said he looks at K/BB ratio and GB/FB ratio for pitchers, and OBP for hitters. {Hat tip to Colby at}

As I have said on more than one occasion, it is impossible to put together a team as potentially OBP laden as the Brewers (especially on a budget) without putting an emphasis on OBP. He has mentioned it in the past, but always as part of a more in depth thought. Wonderful to hear him put it on a higher plane, as it should be. It's all about baserunners.

3/27/2004 06:43:00 PM

(3/27/2004 05:48:00 PM) - Al

Jayson Stark doesn't think Tampa Bay and the Yankees should play regular season games in Japan.

No word if he's against laptops or global satellite positioning. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Stark.

Poor TB, only played 18 spring training games. That's far more than needed. Jet lag? Please. Set your watch to the proper time and get on with your life. I wonder if Jayson has any idea how incredibly inconsequential playing a couple games in the Orient is. By April 15th, we'll all have forgotten who opened there this year.

3/27/2004 05:48:00 PM

Friday, March 26, 2004

(3/26/2004 11:00:00 PM) - Al

Chavez has now been anointed as the franchise's flagship, and manager Ken Macha probably doesn't have the freedom to do what he probably should do, which is give some of Chavez's at-bats to Marco Scutaro.

Marco who?

Marco Scutaro. If you're not a Mets fan you've probably never heard of him, but now he's an A, and he can play. Scutaro's 28 and he's no Gold Glove third baseman, but over the last three seasons in Triple-A he's combined for a .450 slugging percentage and a .379 on-base percentage. Yes, that was only Triple-A ... but what would Scutaro's numbers look like if he played only against left-handed pitchers?

I don't know either, but I'm pretty sure they'd be good enough to justify a spot on your Strat team. Will they be enough to justify a spot in Macha's lineup? Not often. Unless you're Earl Weaver, you don't platoon the flagship with a Triple-A lifer, and you certainly don't pinch-hit for him.--Rob Neyer, 3/26

Nice to see the Scooter bandwagon filling up, as I've been riding it faithfully since 2001 or thereabouts. I'm not saying Scooter will ever be even a mediocre 2B in the bigs, but isn't it about time, after 2000 AAA AB's with results of .379/.450 that someone give him 250 AB's and see what exactly he can do? It's difficult for me to believe there's really any logical reason that Neifi Perez has a long-term contract and Scooter has been in AAA since 1999.

3/26/2004 11:00:00 PM

(3/26/2004 10:34:00 PM) - Al


Just to let you know, your entire group of links is still on your archives pages. Maybe you can just transfer 'em over.


Thanks for writing, Jason. One other person wrote to say the same thing, while yet a third said they could see the right sidebar fine, obviously not noticing half the links are gone. My problem is with my template, a page of a program that makes the page look like it does. At the moment, I can't even get into see what the problem is. Blogger has many detractors, partially because they have maintenance issues like this often, and the fix is often extremely slow in occuring, as is a response from "customer service". Yet, it's free, so you take some good with the bad. Sorry for any problems caused, again, if you need a link, e-mail me or as pointed out, most are available on the February archives page.

3/26/2004 10:34:00 PM

(3/26/2004 10:22:00 PM) - Al

Tied to a tree with yards of plastic wrap, Shawn Pierce, a brother at Phi Delta Theta, was partying with his brothers in the backyard. But, when police arrived, they didn't see a party, they saw a student being hazed.

Pierce, covered in chocolate sauce, whip cream and cooking oil, was partying with his friends after presenting his longtime girlfriend, Lisa, with a charm with his fraternity letters on it,
a sign of commitment in the Greek fraternity system.

First of all, allow me to say that the saddest thing I see here is the immaturity of college students that they feel the need to buy their friends by joining a frat, which is basically a cult without any religion getting in the way. The only thing Greek about anything in 21st century America is exactly why anyone would join such an elitist organization.

I do know many fellas grow into fine young men despite spending years in a fraternity, as do young women in their sororities. I also know they are universally despised by almost all other students. In my half-decade of pizza delivery (pause to allow that to set in and to weep softly to myself), I often was given runs to Greek houses by my fellow, mostly male co-workers, even to sororities, despite the fact there isn't likely to many places on the planet where you are more likely to see beautiful young women. And, for the most part, they tipped well, especially well for college students. But, they were hated, and somehow, I'm positive they still are.

Because they do incredibly ignorant things like is listed above, and just don't get it.

3/26/2004 10:22:00 PM

(3/26/2004 11:13:00 AM) - Al

As far as I can tell, the right sidebar is gone. However, I am unable to edit anything without an error message popping up, so I guess it is what it is for a while.

3/26/2004 11:13:00 AM

Thursday, March 25, 2004

(3/25/2004 10:34:00 PM) - Al

If you are in the Madison area, this Saturday will be the funeral for Captain John Kurtz, the soldier from Columbus, WI who was killed in Iraq recently. It will be held at 10:30AM at Columbus High School. Kurtz was a West Point graduate and from what I can tell, the epitome of an Army officer.

UPDATE: If anyone attends, and wishes to share info, I'd be grateful.

3/25/2004 10:34:00 PM

(3/25/2004 10:22:00 PM) - Al

If you are used to clicking on info on the right sidebar, it seems to have technical problems, hopefully, just a glitch with Blogger. Will continue to monitor the situation.

E-mail me if you have questions or need a link.

3/25/2004 10:22:00 PM

(3/25/2004 09:56:00 PM) - Al

Nice recap of the day's events at the Brewers' site.

3/25/2004 09:56:00 PM

(3/25/2004 09:32:00 PM) - Al

According to this, the Monterrey stadium holds 27K, and could easily be expanded, it is the best in all of Mexico. The city is also hailed as safe and wealthy.

Another article, repeats many of the previous statements.

3/25/2004 09:32:00 PM

(3/25/2004 09:27:00 PM) - Al

Small-market teams are irate with the Brewers for several of their recent contracts, including their decision to give second-year outfielder Scott Podsednik $400,000 and sign infielder Keith Ginter to a three-year, $1.925 million deal despite his not having been arbitration-eligible for two more years.---USAT, 3/25

This blurb was in the same column as the Monterrey news. I find it a bit funny that teams even care about the Brewers, first of all. If you told Doug Melvin that the DevilRays were trying something new, I'd be tempted to say Doug would probably respond, "Good for Tampa". Secondly, the money being discussed here is tiny, at least in MLB terms. Pods would have got about $325-350K from most teams, $50-75K is a lot of money if you're discussing how much it could help an inner city library, but pennies in baseball. Ginter traded his first arby year (and potential first huge contract, as Sheets is making $2.4 million in 2004, his first arby eligible campaign) for a lifetime of security. 3y/$1.9M...this isn't enough to make a ripple, in my opinion.

Could it be teams are noticing the Crew's outstanding minor league system, sensing them moving up the ladder, and are getting mad at little things like this?

We can only hope.

3/25/2004 09:27:00 PM

(3/25/2004 08:55:00 PM) - Al

According to USA Today, MLB is leaning toward moving the Expos to Monterrey, Mexico.

This is not confirmed, though Nightengale is a pretty respected writer. I am surprised by it for a couple reasons. One, obviously, the media money for a Mexican team would seem to be quite limited. Two, the currency issue comes up, as it now does with the teams in Canada. Three, although I have recently learned that Monterrey is a bustling industrial city, the deep pockets of corporate Mexico would seem to be an oxymoron.

Founded in 1596, Monterrey lies in a valley at 538 m above sea level and is surrounded by majestic mountains (1,800-2,500 m) that are a magnificent scenario for outdoor activities. About 250 km south of the border with Texas and 1,000 km north of Mexico City, Monterrey is home to about 3.5 million regiomontanos, as its inhabitants are called. Monterrey is Mexico's third-largest city and one of the nation's most important industrial, financial, and business centers. It accounts for 12 percent of Mexico's industrial production.

It is also home to a thriving artistic community, various museums, theaters, concert halls, a symphony orchestra, a ballet company, and prominent sports teams. The barrio antiguo, the old quarters, with its many restaurants, pubs, bars, discotheques, and vibrant nightlife, is a favorite student hangout on the weekends. Due to the semi-desert climate, temperatures range from around (and often above!) 40ºC in the summer to close to (and very rarely below) freezing in the winter. Abrupt temperature changes are frequent.

I guess we'll learn soon enough. The one thought that crosses my mind is that would leave the most oft-mentioned cities (DC, Vegas, and Portland) still plenty available for teams unable to get a stadium deal passed. I find it hilarious Charlotte is getting an expansion NBA club after losing the Hornets to New Orleans, as if the whole Minnesota NHL fiasco wasn't a lesson learned.

3/25/2004 08:55:00 PM

(3/25/2004 03:55:00 PM) - Al

This isn't nearly as bold as Guliani building two new stadiums, one each for the Mets and the Yankees, but it's big.

I'm not sure of the details, but that's about 3.5 times what Miller Park cost, even with the accident and subsequent rebuilding. That will be one big, beautiful place.

3/25/2004 03:55:00 PM

(3/25/2004 03:46:00 PM) - Al

The other part of it is that having extra money interferes with the decisions you have to make. We need to find out about these guys. If you went out and signed Brett Tomko, you'd never know whether Capuano and (Wes) Obermueller can pitch. We're going to find out.

Sometimes, you have guys on your roster that perform better than guys you go sign like Kenny Lofton or (Raul) Mondesi, guys who are at the end (of their careers). If we would have spent $10 million more last year, we probably wouldn't have given Scott Podsednik a chance to play. We would have had somebody else.--Doug Melvin, JS 3/25

I know I've said almost the same thing about Pods, and it's an excellent comparison using the young pitching staff as well. Where the Brewers are in the "success cycle", it'd be foolish to spend $10-15 million on players to add a few wins, as a few wins mean nothing right now. But, if the Crew's projected win total was in the 88 range, I'd be the first to call for spending more on depth, especially in the reserve catcher and outfielder department.

3/25/2004 03:46:00 PM

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

(3/24/2004 10:15:00 PM) - Al

Bud Smith, who is still just 24 years of age, was designated for assignment by the Phillies today. If Smith is remotely healthy, I sure hope the Crew makes a claim for him. Bud has had some arm problems in the past couple years, but it's tough turning down talent that throws LH. And this one wasn't even charged with a crime in the Dominican Republic!

At the very least, the Crew should add him to their 40 man roster now, then attempt to remove him just before Opening Day, when teams have to add non-roster invitees to their 40 mans. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

3/24/2004 10:15:00 PM

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

(3/23/2004 03:55:00 PM) - Al

On the Twins cable network starting off poorly:


The same thing happened last year when the Royals started their own network. When the season started less than half of the metro area could watch the games. A hot start by the team helped get deals done with all the major players during the season. They now reach nearly two million subscribers and the Royals Sports Television Network is considered a big success.


Thanks for reading and writing, David. It would appear the Royals' channel is somewhat successful, but mostly due in to the fact they are able to get on a lot more cable systems, due to being limited by the folks at FOX. As I suggested in the
original post, I expect the Twins to settle with the cable systems soon, as these things tend to go until money starts being lost.

3/23/2004 03:55:00 PM

(3/23/2004 03:52:00 PM) - Al

Seth Speaks discusses his online draft last night. If you're interested in fantasy baseball, yet are hesitant to jump in, go over the draft. It isn't rocket science, as despite the fact this particular league is full of baseball bloggers, I still saw tons of reaches and lots of up-and-coming players taken in the 16th and 19th rounds. Now, while I'd like to say I usually win the leagues I am in, I don't. I won one league last year, but was in eight. If memory serves, I finished in the top half of 7 of 8, and the top 25-33% in about 5 of those 8 leagues, but like in real life, injuries and such play a large part in the results. I'm still looking for a true "keeper" league, in which you keep the same roster year after year.

Take a look, and see if you see the same names that I did that fell far too far.

3/23/2004 03:52:00 PM

(3/23/2004 02:03:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings' favorite Marcos Scutaro is having a nice spring in A's camp (.455/.741, 3 HR's, 5 BB's in 27 AB's), and since he is on their 40 man roster, I have to believe he's the favorite to be their utility infielder. If Mark Ellis continues to put up '03-like numbers, either he or Esteban German may get a chance at 2B in Oakland.

3/23/2004 02:03:00 PM

(3/23/2004 01:50:00 PM) - Al

Gabe Kapler has been playing some 3B, and made a nice play there today, as the Red Sox are on ESPN. New manager Terry Francona says Gabe is as hard a worker as he's ever seen.

Why exactly did the Rockies release him again?

3/23/2004 01:50:00 PM

(3/23/2004 01:48:00 PM) - Al

Brian Bowles and Chris Coste were both sent to minor league camp yesterday. Ned did mention that we may see both of them later in the year, and I have little doubt we'll see at least one of them. Both are career minor leaguers, but both deserve a chance, without a doubt.

3/23/2004 01:48:00 PM

(3/23/2004 11:43:00 AM) - Al

One member of the 2002 negotiation team says the most animated and profane responses from Gene Orza and Don Fehr were over drug testing. "Bud (Selig) was way out front in this," says the negotiator. "He saw where this could go. But Don and Gene would have struck over this, and the game couldn't handle a work stoppage." Which raises the issue of whether of not the best interests of the ACLU or MLBPA are being represented.

Gammons saying that it would appear once again Bud was a couple years ahead of everyone else. I know I said at the time that I couldn't figure out why the players would be against it, and still don't, really. It's a health and fairness issue. Who's against good health and everyone playing on a level field?

3/23/2004 11:43:00 AM

(3/23/2004 11:20:00 AM) - Al

Norman Chad complains about fouls at the end of NCAA games. This is a common beef among the ignorant this time of year, as there really isn't much to not like about the college tourney. The funny thing is, he misses the point completely, saying the final couple minutes take too long to play. They do, but it's because of time outs, not free throws. Besides, you're never going to do anything about free throws, as the team that is behind really only has a couple choices:

1. Lose game.

2. Foul.

The only thing I see that may speed things up is not giving each team so many time outs. There is an automatic time out at the first dead ball after the 16, 12, 8, and 4 minute marks of each half. Each team gets a 30 second time out or two each half. I think each team gets 4 time outs per game. That's at least 18 time outs per game, and often, with a couple minutes left, each team has 3+ left, and it's usually silly to take into the locker room with you.

3/23/2004 11:20:00 AM

Monday, March 22, 2004

(3/22/2004 03:25:00 PM) - Al

Doug Davis pitched 5 scoreless frames today. He seems Opening Day ready, huh?

3/22/2004 03:25:00 PM

(3/22/2004 11:32:00 AM) - Al

Some people were wondering why the Brewers didn't follow suit with the Twins and start their own cable channel. Well, as of today, modeling anything on the Twins' plan is plenty foolish.

I assume this will be resolved just before the season starts, as the cable companies and Twins both will do whatever it takes to avoid the PR fiasco that is soon to come.

3/22/2004 11:32:00 AM

Sunday, March 21, 2004

(3/21/2004 10:32:00 PM) - Al

In the real world, this is called theft. However, in sports, the folks at Skybox are somehow held up as heroes, using someone else's product without paying for it. I liked it when the Cubs simply blocked all the views, as the Cubs own the rights to their games and can do whatever they want with them.

3/21/2004 10:32:00 PM

(3/21/2004 06:56:00 PM) - Al

Outstanding NCAA tourney thus far, and a great Badgers game as well, just not the desired outcome. Too many turnovers and too many Pitt offensive boards. You just can't give a team that many extra possessions. Congrats on a fine season to Bo and the boys, and we'll see ya next Fall.

3/21/2004 06:56:00 PM

(3/21/2004 06:46:00 PM) - Al

Brewers television analyst Bill Schroeder and Fox Sports Net producer John Walsh had the practice fields behind the home clubhouse all to themselves Sunday morning. The duo shot cuts for "Bill's Basics," instructional clips that will air during Brewers telecasts in 2004.

Maybe if I put my tie over the rafter, death will come quicker. Just what I want to see, the guy that insists chasing pitches outside the strike zone is "smart baseball" teaching youngsters how to play.

3/21/2004 06:46:00 PM

Saturday, March 20, 2004

(3/20/2004 07:05:00 PM) - Al


I've seen you defend Craig Counsell a few times over at, and while I agree he isn't awful, I'm not sure why you'd rather have him playing instead of Billy Hall. Love the blog.


Matt, thanks for reading and writing. I think you've misunderstood my "defense" of Craig. If it were my team, I would do my best to "set Hall up for success". The way to best accomplish this, in my opinion, is to play Hall 2 out of 3 games. Before each series, I would pick out the pitcher that Hall is most likely to struggle against (or that Counsell is most likely to have success with), and rest Hall that game, while starting the other two.

Hall is almost the epitome of a player that I feel is severely underrated by fans. He was stupidly rushed by the previous regime, and his development suffered because of it. However, many folks seem to forget this fact, so they judge him solely by his stats, and forget he was usually very young for his league. His production finally "clicked" in his last couple months at AAA last year, and he was promoted shortly thereafter.

After producing nicely in High Desert at age 21 (.348/.529), the foolish attempts at job savior began. He did poorly in AA at age 21, so was bumped up to AAA at age 22 (yep, nothing but the player's best interest in mind). Again, at a level ahead of where he should have been, he had poor numbers (.272/.301). But, in 2003, where he should have been had he progressed one level a season, he was solid again (.335/.407). Then, in 140 AB's in the majors, he did admirably (.298/.458). So, as far as I can tell, Hall's only "poor" campaigns were when he was being used as fodder in the "Extend Dean Taylor's contract" brigade. But, if you don't consider any of that, his AA & AAA in '01-02 were horrible. In context, Hall was set up for failure, and he followed dutifully.

Hall's "weakness" is his inability to draw walks. He simply makes too many outs. Luckily, as a SS/2B, his superb power (for a middle infielder) conceals his low OBP, or at least most of it. Even last year, his 756 OPS was quite a bit higher than the average SS in MLB (728) and 2B (737), though 140 AB's should be considered a small sample.

Billy may not ever be a great defensive player either, but his natural ability makes it pretty likely he'll someday be at least average in the field. I always question minor league error totals, as it's tough to find a SS with less than 25 E's in a full season, meaning the field conditions are almost always pitiful, and the scoring tends to be much more "challenging" than the majors (the scorers at the minor league parks I've visited seem to call any bobble or drop an error, while the majors tend to give every benefit of the doubt to the fielder). Granted, Hall has either reached or come close to 40 errors in every full season, until 2003. Also, error totals are hardly the most important fielding stat, as it ignores (actually, penalizes) how many balls a player can get to. Hall's range and arm is good enough to turn some cheap hits into outs, which helps nuetralize his tendency to miss some routine plays.

As for Counsell, his .348 career OBP is plenty good to make me look past a few of his warts, like his range and power (or, his lack thereof). The most important aspect of scoring runs is to get as many men to the plate as possible before making your 27th out. Baserunners equals runs. I don't think Craig will make anyone forget that JJ Hardy is the SS of the future, but he won't remind anyone of Royce Clayton either. My "defense" of Craig is that guys that get on base at a higher than average clip simply aren't bad players. In Counsell's case, he's not good either, but he's a lot better than some options MLB clubs trot out (Rey Ordonez, Clayton, Christian Guzman, etc.), usually spouting cliches (gotta be strong defensively up the middle!) to defend their decision.

3/20/2004 07:05:00 PM

(3/20/2004 12:28:00 PM) - Al

Talkin' Baseball recap:

---Ned says Crudale is such a good guy and hard worker, they let him go early as a courtesy. No word on how exactly a guy with a career 2.08 ERA was "behind a lot of other guys".

---Losing a game or two doesn't matter a bit, as lots of players are being used in ways they wouldn't be during the season.

---Adam M from the Brewers' site and Tom H from the JS in a discussion with Jim Powell. I got the first call in, and asked about Mike Crudale's release. Adam McAlvey does a good job on the Brewers' own web site, said he was shocked, as he had Mike written onto the roster in ink. Tom H says it seems to be a bad year to pitch poorly in camp, and called it "puzzling". A small money savings may have been factored in, though the money is tiny, in MLB terms. Tom H seems to feel there will be an available pitcher or two picked up late in March, especially a LH RP. Adam disagrees, said so many arms have been effective, he doubts anyone will be picked up off the waiver wire.

They seem as surprised as me, so I still just don't get it. Why protect a guy on the 40 man if you're willing to release him after 3 ineffective, meaningless innings of work?

---No one expects the team to deal any prospects, even though we seem to have excellent depth in the minors. Look for the veterans to be dealt to "make room" for the kids.


---A caller asks about the Crew dropping their Dominican academy. The team dropped it to save some money, and to hopefully sign fewer kids, but more blue-chip types.

The old academy didn't work. I hope the new way does better.

---A caller wondered about when they'd see the hyped rookies, Weeks and Fielder. The feeling is, barring injury, in September.

Prince won't need to be protected until after the 2005 season, so I would assume he won't be given a Sptember call-up in '04. Weeks may well be up for good the next time he appears in Miller Park.

---Talked to Ben Grieve, said he's not sure what went wrong in Tampa, he hopes he can get back to his previous level. Likes the organization thus far, coaching staff is positive and willing to help. Lots of guys about his age (27) in the clubhouse. Makes it an easier transition.

You could hear Ben screaming between the lines how much he hated Lou Pinella and his attempts at motivation. On a sidenote, Lou saying he's "sure" the DevilRays won't finish last in their division this year all but proves he is completely and utterly clueless. Don't let that slip past you either...Ben is at his mythical peak age, and almost everyone on the team is close to that age. Credit Doug Melvin for that.

---Bob Uecker says he's feeling good, his knees have healed up nicely from the surgery.

Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be catchers.

---Bob says he hated being away from the team when they were on the road after the surgery. Says it's one of his biggest enjoyments of life. Loves talking to people and entertaining, and this is as good as it gets, other than playing. As long as he can enjoy the game, and call the games up to a certain level, he will keep doing it. Loved working for Bud, and now Wendy. Would like to do some TV work, but only if it doesn't interefere with baseball. Lives in Arizona in the winter, can't wait to get back to Milwaukee.

I've always assumed Bob would stop calling the road games soon, but it sounds like he wants to do all 162 until he retires. Sounded as if he was tearing up a couple times as he spoke. Just wants to work.

---Hates to called "the voice of the Brewers", as it isn't true. Just like he hated to be called "the franchise" when he was a player.:) Said the Hall of Fame was nervous when they found out he was going to be funny during his speech, as no one ever has been. The Hall means a lot to your legacy, and to your family, but isn't THAT big of a deal.

---Bob thinks the class of the division is certainly HOU and CHI. Wonders about Tony LaRussa's future in SL. The Brewers will be competitive, and Yost will get the most out of his team.

Bob's optimism and pro-Selig feelings are welcome.

---Callers have trouble not gushing all over Ueck.

For good reason, of course. Bob's been around for as long as I can remember, and no one does it better. You hear people talk up Vin Scully, and listening to him is unbearable, as his dullness is beyond belief.

EDIT: I missed it, but they said Junior Spivey rumors have started again. Hat tip to AJAY.

3/20/2004 12:28:00 PM

(3/20/2004 11:41:00 AM) - Al

My post last night seems to have been "Bloggered", so allow me to say that I have added my long awaited glossary to the sidebar. A thank you to Brian at for the info to get started.

3/20/2004 11:41:00 AM

(3/20/2004 09:23:00 AM) - Al

My first round upset picks went 1-8, though many lost by 3 points or less. I just heard on SportsCenter that "if you picked a lot of upsets in the first round, you might want to get out your eraser".


3/20/2004 09:23:00 AM

(3/20/2004 08:14:00 AM) - Al

More positive news about the Brewers...single game tickets and group sales are up compared to last year. About 750,000 individual tickets have been sold, and the team will probably sell less than 7,000 season ticket equivalents (in '03, they sold 7,000). Still, that was expected, after the turbulent off-season. If I'm reading that right, if the team didn't sell a ticket after today, they would finish with about 1.25 million folks in attendance. The team says they hope to improve on last year's final total of 1.7 million.

By the way, I read many people say the team would be lucky to draw in 1.0-1.2 mil range after the Sexson trade. I recall one fool on a message board saying they'd draw about 500K...almost the exact attendance if the team would not have sold a single seat other than the season ticket variety. None of these folks are very bright, obviously, and their understanding of the game can best be described as "casual".

Another funny thing is that when the schedule was released, I said how fortunate we were that we had 10 weekday games versus the Cubs. This gave us 10 huge crowds, and kept the more desirable weekend dates open for other teams. This was obviously a request made by the Brewers, as they knew the Cubs series would draw regardless, as Cubs' fans have a tough time finding seats at Wrigley, and many have a much easier drive to Miller Park. And the funny thing is, one person "in the know" disagreed with me.

UPDATE: I find it odd that they didn't mention the 7/5 game against the Cubs, for which the only seats remaining are single seats. It's possible the Brewers aren't mentioning it to keep inquiries about the game forthcoming (and then try to convince folks into buying tickets for other games). Personally, I think that by simply mentioning the word "sellout", you might increase the sense of urgency of a lot of fans.

3/20/2004 08:14:00 AM

Friday, March 19, 2004

(3/19/2004 08:00:00 PM) - Al

Some "if it wasn't true, you'd never believe it" news over at Chief Wiggles. I am also adding the Chief to the sidebar, as his site is well worth checking out once in a while.

3/19/2004 08:00:00 PM

(3/19/2004 05:53:00 PM) - Al

I am updating my 25 man roster choices I made about a week ago. I will indicate the changes after each player.

Locks for the 25 man roster (17)

Ben Sheets
Doug Davis
Matt Kinney
Dan Kolb
Chris Capuano (upgraded from "likely")

Chad Moeller
Gary Bennett

Lyle Overbay
Junior Spivey
Craig Counsell
Wes Helms
Keith Ginter
Bill Hall

Geoff Jenkins
Scott Podsednik
Ben Grieve
Brady Clark

Very likely to make the 25 man roster (5):

Brooks Kieschnick
Jeff Bennett (up from "bubble")
Adrian Hernandez (up from "bubble")
Chris Magruder (up from "bubble")
Wes Obermueller (up from "just missed")

On the bubble (3):

Chris Michalak (up from "just missed")
Luis Vizcaino (downgraded from "likely")
Wayne Franklin (down from "lock")

Just missed:

Brian Bowles
Chris Coste
Matt Erickson
Dave Burba
Leo Estrella

Trent Durrington
Victor Santos (added, not included)
Matt Wise (added, not included)

As I've said every time, the Crew is likely to pick up a LH RP or two on waivers or in a late trade, so it is unlikely all the guys listed as making the 25 man actually make it.

Franklin has pitched poorly, but I assumed his 2003 guaranteed him at least a spot in the bullpen, however, maybe not, as Wayne has never been that effective in relief, and simply put, the braintrust hasn't spoken highly of him. I'm afraid the Crew is putting far too much stock in spring performance, as the release of Crudale shows they seem to overvalue a few meaningless innings against AAA talent.

And at this point, almost everyone still in the big league camp has a chance at going north, even guys like Ben Ford, who keeps being mentioned, yet shouldn't be.

3/19/2004 05:53:00 PM

(3/19/2004 03:40:00 PM) - Al

The funny thing is, as time goes on, all you hear is how good the Brewers made out in "the trade". Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountian News is the latest convert.

Granted, living in the past is not such a bad thing when there's a World Series title there. But the bill for all that free spending has come due, which means Sexson may have trouble telling his new teammates from his old ones in Milwaukee.

In fact, to get him, the Diamondbacks gave up some of the few 20-somethings they had - infielder Junior Spivey, first baseman Lyle Overbay and catcher Chad Moeller, leaving shortstop Alex Cintron looking like an orderly in an old folks' home.

3/19/2004 03:40:00 PM

(3/19/2004 10:10:00 AM) - Al

Watching the state tourney this morning (how they can start games at 9AM is beyond me, how 'bout starting the tournament a day earlier?), I am able to watch Badgers' recruit Greg Stiemsma play for Randolph. Most all 6-11 high school players fit one of two categories:

1. Extremely thin, knocked down by a slight breeze.

2. Plodding, clumsy, jumping ability not much better than mine.

I am happy to report that Greg does not fit either stereotype. He has a bonafide college body (unlike Brian Butch, who pretty much falls into #1), blocks shots without committing fouls, and most surprisingly, has the ability to pass beautifully, a trait many big men


never are able to do at even a mediocre level. He is pretty raw offensively, but his rebounding and defense look ready to contribute, at least as a reserve, right away in the Big 10.

3/19/2004 10:10:00 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2004

(3/18/2004 09:18:00 PM) - Al

Ben Hendrickson, Jorge de la Rosa, and Mike Adams all sent to minor league camp, on their way to AAA Indianapolis.

It sure is nice to have prospects like that at AAA, as opposed to past years, when we were fortunate to have one pitcher available at that level that didn't suck. Many times, when we needed a starter, due to an injury or doubleheader, the gent brought up was 4-7, with a 5.32 ERA. Without fail, the manager and/or GM would say, "He's looked good in his last couple starts", as if the 14 starts before that was a mix of voodoo, bad hops, and a possible game ending fly ball hitting a bird and dropping in for a 3 run triple.

Allow me to say that not only will Indy be loaded with actual prospects, Doug Melvin and his team have signed some of the best minor league free agents out there, and young ones (25-28) at that. Barring injury, I see a successful AAA campaign in Indy.

3/18/2004 09:18:00 PM

(3/18/2004 09:06:00 PM) - Al

Mark Cuban has a weblog. I've always liked Mark because he has often said he does things "because he can". I don't agree with everything he does, but he seems like a genuinely good guy who used skill and luck to become a jillionaire.

Note to self: Why don't I have skill or luck?

3/18/2004 09:06:00 PM

(3/18/2004 08:40:00 PM) - Al

For most of the offseason, I begged the Brewers to bring Shawn Estes into camp, with a minor league contract. Some disagreed, but I continued to say Estes would be a good value , a low risk/high reward type. As names continued going off the market, my quest never stopped.

So, as of mid-March, Estes looks like he will start the opener for the Rockies. I will not pretend that Shawn's fine 10 innings in March makes what I wrote correct, but I will say this: When you see a player coming off a poor season that has a career ERA of 4.53, and a groundball/flyball ratio of nearly 2-1; close to signing a minor league deal for $600K, it is time to enter the bidding.

Especially if that pitcher had that season under a manager who has no idea how to handle a pitching staff.

3/18/2004 08:40:00 PM

(3/18/2004 06:05:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to post my NCAA upsets, but since I'm 1-2 thus far, I doubt anyone will doubt me. Like most people, I picked Manhattan to win (and they did), as well as Southern Illinois (lost by 1) and UTEP (lost by 3). The rest of my upsets in the 1st round are:

Air Force
Northern Iowa

I can't believe I only picked 9 lower seeds out of 32, as many years, I choose almost all the #9's and 10's to win.

3/18/2004 06:05:00 PM

(3/18/2004 04:53:00 PM) - Al

OAK signed Eric Chavez to a 6 year/$66 million deal. Billy Beane and the A's have let older, not as talented players walk; but spent the money and locked up Chavez, signing him through the age of 32...a near perfect signing. Eric is an OBP machine, is a very good defensive player, and will probably have an outstanding next few years.

The A's drew some criticism for letting Giambi and Tejada sign elsewhere, but Jason is knee surgery waiting to happen, while Miguel is not just a member of the all-overrated team, he's the founder. Chavez is the first player that was worth gambling the big money on, and he was signed, just like that.

Beane just "gets it".

3/18/2004 04:53:00 PM

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

(3/17/2004 09:47:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers released Mike Crudale yesterday. Mike was brought over in the Mike Dejean trade last year, and pitched well, compiling a 2.89 ERA late in the season. But, he had been ineffective this March, as he had a 24.00 ERA in Arizona.

This is a move that will likely not hurt the Brewers much, as Crudale does not have a ceiling that reaches very high. He is and probably always will be a middle reliever. While not just anyone can be a middle relief guy, they are much easier to find than starting pitchers, as they never have to go through the lineup more than once.

However, it is tough to like this move at all. Crudale pitched nicely in '03, and was inexpensive. Making a roster judgement based on 4 appearances is tough, to say the least. Doug Melvin said they felt it was unlikely Mike would make the roster, as several pitchers had moved past him, and this gives him a chance to catch on with someone. That may be true, but you have to wonder if "other factors" came into play. Did Crudale work out as hard as others? Did he show up in shape? I would guess the answer to at least one of those questions is a negative. While those aren't horrible reasons to make a move, they aren't nearly as vital as being able to pitch, and pitch well.

3/17/2004 09:47:00 AM

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

(3/16/2004 05:22:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin was a guest on MLB Radio today, and said a few interesting tidbits:

---Bill Hall is probably the best athlete on the team. Has really improved the past couple seasons, very nice fastball hitter.

---Adrian Hernandez has been impressive all spring.

---Wayne Franklin hasn't looked good, nor did he have a good last month of 2003.

---This team won't hit as many homers as last year, but they feel good about the offense. Will have a lot more small innings, and fewer big ones.

---The end of March is a great time to pick up players that missed the last cut, he's picked up Mark McLemore, Mickey Tettleton, and Lee Stevens that way, gotta take a chance when you see talent. Pods given as an example of a guy with ability who never got a chance until he got to play in '03.

---Brady Clark is a nice OF, blue collar type. Great guy.

---Likes to bring up minor leaguers when they are "ready to stay", not be on the shuttle.

---Wes O is a young pitcher for his age, never pitched until his senior year in college, still learning, has upside.

---Only one lefty starter in division, Andy Petitte. Overloaded from the left side, that's fine with us. Especially the high K RH SP's, like Kerry Wood, are really tough on RH batters.

---Matt Kinney had fewer walks and more K's in 2003 than Barry Zito did. The difference between being a 9-13 guy and a 13-9 guy is pretty slight. The big innings are what the Crew must avoid.

3/16/2004 05:22:00 PM

(3/16/2004 10:14:00 AM) - Al

In Gammons' latest column, he discloses some nuggets of info.

---Barry Larkin says Pokey Reese is the best defensive SS or 2B in the game.

I've heard this before, and I have one question. If he's so good at SS, why does he always end up playing 2B? His offensive shortcomings wouldn't be as bad at SS, as it isn't nearly as difficult to find someone who can hit and play 2B. To use an example many Brewers' fans probably know, Mark Loretta is a decent defensive 2B, but doesn't have nearly enough range to be anything but a passable SS.

---Adam Dunn says he'll be fine this year, as last year "they" had him trying to pull everything and didn't want him to take so many pitches.

Whoever "they" is should never be allowed to coach again.

---The David McCarty experiment is already over. McCarty was trying to pull a Kieschnick and be a bench guy and reliever. He was clocked at 81-83 mph in his first outing.

Amazingly, I don't think most folks truly realize what a historical thing it is Brooks is doing. Maybe a few more failed attempts like this will make it more obvious.

3/16/2004 10:14:00 AM

(3/16/2004 08:49:00 AM) - Al

So, after weeks of waiting, I tuned in last night to see the debut episode of the World Series of Blackjack. I don't think I've been so disappointed in my life.

OK, so that's a bit of an exaggeration. I had never seen tournament blackjack before, so I wasn't sure how it worked. Allow me to sum it up briefly.

1. 5 players at a table.

2. The winner is the one with the most chips after 30 hands.

3. They take turns betting first, 2nd, etc.

4. They allow "surrender", which hasn't been allowed in a casino in decades. It'd be like playing football, but with a leather helmet.

So, if you're reading this and thinking, well, it almost seems like the first 29 hands are meaningless...that's exactly how it works. Depending on what the dealer drew, any of the 4 players that remained could have won or come in 2nd, which puts them in the wildcard round for a spot in the finals. What a disappointing night.

The thing that really bothers me is how, without exception, the first player that bets only risks the minimum, $100. The next couple folks would then bet $100 or 200. The 4th player usually would as well. Finally, the last player to bet would usually take a risk and bet about $500. Obviously, this is a basic strategy of tournament blackjack, but the mathematics of it are difficult to comprehend for me. After all, you are actually a bit more likely to lose than win (I believe if you play perfectly, you'll lose about 51% of the time, maybe a tad less with the surrender option), so betting more doesn't seem like a smart bet.

Of course, Matt Vasgersian was one of the hosts, and while he was tolerable, he slipped in many remarks that can only be explained as "stupid", which is his forte. His "expert commentator" kept saying the players were making bad decisions, especially on amount bet, which, see above, is hard to understand. Also, I always question these guys "expertness", as unlike real sports, where getting old makes it tough to play as you get older, you can pretty much play blackjack until the doctor yells, "Clear". If he's an "expert", why isn't he playing? Finally, Melana, from the original "Average Joe" was there to look pretty...I'm sorry, provide interviews and little bits of information, and seemed as out of place as I would be at a salad bar.

3/16/2004 08:49:00 AM

Monday, March 15, 2004

(3/15/2004 10:24:00 PM) - Al

Thanks to some posters at, I was able to find the spring BB totals. All numbers should be considered small samples, as no one even has 35 AB's, but it's easy to spot a couple trends.

Grieve has walked 4 times in 27 AB's, well above the 10% threshold.

Magruder's power surge hasn't been imagined, he has 5 extra-base hits out of 11, in 25 AB's. If indeed there is a 5th ODF spot up for grabs, gotta believe he has won it.

Coste only has 5 AB's, while Moeller has 19, Bennett 14. They don't seem to be considering Chris for the 25th man spot.

Even though he has had a very good spring, Bill Hall with only one walk in 26 AB's. That can't bode well for those of us who hope he has matured as a hitter. Sure, I'd like to believe he can hit .300, but he'll have to just to have a .330 OBP, at that pace.

3/15/2004 10:24:00 PM

(3/15/2004 06:34:00 PM) - Al

Wes Obermueller pitched 4 hitless frames today. Options left or not, he has to be very much in the running for a roster spot.

A quick note on spring stats. I attempted to look up how many walks Ben Grieve had this spring. I checked both CNN and the Brewers' site, both had HBP's, but neither had BB's. Who keeps track of HBP's?

3/15/2004 06:34:00 PM

(3/15/2004 06:26:00 PM) - Al

Juan Cruz is being rumored to be headed to Florida. If indeed Cruz is available, he is a guy the Brewers should be all over. We could put him in the rotation and run him out there every 5th day, which is exactly what the Cubs refuse to do with him, using him as a spot starter, reliever, etc. Juan has great stuff, but has been inconsistent in the bigs. Look at his AAA numbers:

50 innings, 37 hits, 11 walks, 47 strikeouts.

And, he has a solid 4.43 ERA in the majors. Sure he's a tad wild. He's still only 25.

3/15/2004 06:26:00 PM

Sunday, March 14, 2004

(3/14/2004 10:54:00 PM) - Al

Capuano pitched extremely well today, 3+ innings, 7 K's, only 2 hits.

Franklin with a poor outing, 6 runs in 3+.

Bill Hall and Ben Grieve with nice offensive games today. Both with good springs thus far.

JJ Hardy among those sent down today. JJ nursing an ailing non-throwing shoulder, bothers him when batting. Other other somewhat notable name sent down was Matt Ford, the Rule 5 pick last season. He is slated to be a starter in AA Hunstville this season.

Nick Nuegebauer shut down, which was hinted at by Doug Melvin on Talkin' Baseball yesterday. Nick is unlikely to pitch in the bigs at all this year regardless, so the important thing is to get him healthy.

3/14/2004 10:54:00 PM

Saturday, March 13, 2004

(3/13/2004 08:41:00 PM) - Al

Just finished watching the Badgers/Spartans game that I taped this afternoon while I was at work. UW/Illini tomorrow for the conference title.

3/13/2004 08:41:00 PM

(3/13/2004 06:16:00 PM) - Al

Brewers raise their record to 10-1 this spring, and Chris Magruder looks to be winning the 5th OF spot he was likely the odds on favorite for when camp began. Magruder is now 9-15, and it seems like a lot of his hits have been for extra bases. If memory serves, he's a switch-hitter as well. He's a former high level prospect who has always put together fine AAA numbers, and is a good athlete. He should be hitting his peak as he reaches 27. That's almost the epitome of exactly what the Crew should be looking for. If the Crew would have missed out on Grieve and not signed my personal favorite of Jeremy Giambi, I'd have started the season with Magruder as my RF, with Brady Clark as his backup.

3/13/2004 06:16:00 PM

(3/13/2004 12:30:00 AM) - Al

I watched the Badgers basketball game on my lunch at work tonight (thank you local CBS station for relegating Joan of Arcadia to a 1:07AM time slot, by the way), and while I thought to myself how I hope Devin Harris returns, but know that I would be declaring for the NBA draft milliseconds after the final buzzer sounds after his last game, a thought hit me:

Why can't Mike Wilkinson have a NBA career?

He'll never be Keith Van Horn, but c'mon, he's as athletic as Mark Madsen, and has range out to 20 feet, which I would estimate, is a full 18 feet more than Madsen. Mike outplayed Kris Humphries most of the game tonight, and if prayers are answered, he'll leave college after this year (probably as a Top 10 pick), as I never want to have to see my team play him again. There is no way a single NBA team can't find a spot for a 6-10 player in their rotation that does everything well.

3/13/2004 12:30:00 AM

(3/13/2004 12:16:00 AM) - Al

I've enjoyed Ben Stein's work before, and he's at his best here. Although I question his surprise that the Academy that gladly presented a convicted child molester who fled justice and now lives in France (though, that can't be much better than jail) its highest honor just last year; wouldn't happily honor a Nazi.

3/13/2004 12:16:00 AM

Friday, March 12, 2004

(3/12/2004 11:40:00 PM) - Al


I greatly enjoy your site and am an avid reader. I found a link to an interesting article from the Doug's Business of Baseball Weblog (my new favorite blog as am in the baseball business) about Bud and the Brewers ownership. The thing is it's an article from the Milwaukee Magazine from Dec. 1996, but it gives alot of detailed information on the Brewers ownership and how it's setup. It might be old news, but it is well worth the read. The article explains how Bud turned a tiny investment into total control of the Brewers and eventually all of baseball. To be honest, I don't blame him. I would have done the same thing. I think you can blame Bud taking over the team on the other owners who fell asleep at the wheel. I would guess this is because Bud truly loved baseball and got involved as much as he could while the other owners were hands off becasuse they had their "real" businesses to worry about. It always bugs me when Bud takes all the heat for the Brewers and baseball problems. It was the other Brewers owners who gave him the power of the Brewers and the other baseball owner who made him commissioner. I'm not the best judge of Bud because if he hadn't help bring baseball back to Milwaukee I wouldn't be where I am today.

There was a paragraph that really caught my eye and made me chuckle. It was the fourth to last paragraph. Here it is:

Yet even with these tremendous earnings, the team has so much debt to retire that it won't be able to pay truly competitive salaries to ballplayers. The latest pennant winners, the Yankees and Braves, have, respectively, a $67 million and $54 million player payroll. By the year 2004, even if salaries grow much slower than they have and even if some
form of revenue sharing is finally agreed upon, the Yankees could easily be paying as much as $80 million to ballplayers. The Brewers' projections show that they plan to pay just $39.8 million to ballplayers in 2000 and will gradually increase that to $47.7 million by 2004.

Keep up the great work on the blog. I check it daily. Take care and go Brewers!


Thanks for reading and writing, John. I urge folks to check out the entire article, but be forewarned, bring a snack and a beverage, as it is a long read. One of the things learned from the mag is that way back in '96, the Crew was guessing 2.8 million people would come to Miller Park in its inagural campaign, which was 100% accurate half a decade before it occured.

Also, there is much talk of debt, which tells us how long this business has been in the red, consistently. There is simply no way you can run a business like that for long, as the Brewers have proven. $110 million in debt...which doesn't include the stadium, of course, is a backbreaker, no matter how you spin it. Yes, I know the interest rate on such long-term loans is very low, as low as 1.5% in some cases. I have no idea how much principle they pay, or even a guess on the interest payment. I do know that it is in their best interest to eliminate that debt, or at the very least, lower it substantially. Hopefully, the organization will continue to implement that business first philosophy, which goes hand-in-hand with the current belief of building with youth and through the farm system.

3/12/2004 11:40:00 PM

Thursday, March 11, 2004

(3/11/2004 10:14:00 PM) - Al

How can anyone paying attention not hope that somehow, Chris Coste gets a chance? Nice profile on Coste and his book soon to be released at the Brewers' site.

3/11/2004 10:14:00 PM

(3/11/2004 04:30:00 PM) - Al

I have said a few times Dusty Baker simply has no respect for OBP, as he often plays guys who have decent BA's, but crappy OBP's. The fact is, for much of 2003, he let Mark Bellhorn rot on the bench while he played Lenny Harris. Bellhorn still managed to "not get out" at a 35% clip last year, in what could be described as an off-year for him. To be blunt, this article in the Chicago Sun-Times seems to prove that any success Dusty has had is purely coincidental.

Let's check out some money quotes.

It's called hitting; it's not called walking. Have you ever seen like a Top 10 walking? The name of the game is to hit.

The Cubs accepted the third-fewest walks in the National League last season. Baker isn't concerned about that.

"Walks help, but you aren't going to walk across the plate,'' Baker said. ''You've got to hit across the plate. Who has been champions quite a bit the last seven, eight years?''

Told the New York Yankees, Baker used them to prove his point.

''Now, have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks?'' he said.

He may well be the most ignorant person in the game. Simply amazing. The Yankees, of course, have been an excellent OBP team for years, as are all good offensive clubs.

2001 Yankees--5th R, 8th OBP, 7th BB
2002 Yankees--1st R, 1st OBP, 1st BB (who woulda thunk it?)
2003 Yankees--3rd R, 2nd OBP, 1st BB

OBP equals baserunners. Baserunners equal runs. Therefore, OBP = runs. The funny thing is, Baker has spent a majority of his life in baseball, and has ignored this obvious correlation, even argues the opposite is indeed the truth. Let's look at the results of the teams Baker has watched 162 games a year.

2001 Giants--5th R, 3rd OBP, 2nd BB
2002 Giants--3rd R, 2nd OBP, 3rd BB
2003 Cubs---9th R, 13th OBP, 14th BB

It would take a fool not to figure out that the key to pushing runs across the plate is to get guys on base. The Cubs actually were fortunate to rank as highly as they did, but really, were only 13 runs from finishing 12th in runs scored.

Put together the fact Baker is extremely likely to have an injury occur to one (or more) of his young, fragile arms (I'm amazed it hasn't happened yet), and the talk of a dynasty is as premature as you can imagine.

UPDATE: David Pinto at Musings linked to the same article.

3/11/2004 04:30:00 PM

(3/11/2004 12:28:00 AM) - Al

ESPN had a chat with Bo Ryan the other day. I was unaware the Badgers were on The Season this year; it's a shame I missed some episodes.

3/11/2004 12:28:00 AM

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

(3/10/2004 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Don Fehr looked more uncomfortable testifying before Congress than anyone since President Clinton uttered the classic phrase, "What"

Of course, when you're not being truthful, I s'pose it does get a bit warm in that situation.

3/10/2004 09:41:00 PM

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

(3/09/2004 09:19:00 AM) - Al

Even the most casual of observers seem to think Adrian Hernandez is a lock to make the pitching staff, and not much of a longshot to make the rotation. I felt he was a nice guy to root for, but would probably start the year in AAA. I can't say I feel that way any longer.

Let's hope we have the first Cuban pitcher that can actually pitch, though his AAA career has one good, one mediocre, and two pretty poor seasons. Admittedly, his K rate has been excellent, close to a man an inning. Of course, if he were a "normal" pitcher, we could say he's been learning and improving, but since he turns 29 before the season starts, that doesn't hold water in this case.

{And of course, as we all know, the fact he is from Cuba makes it unlikely he is actually the age he says he is.}

Another name you hear about is Trent Durrington, a journeyman infielder with decent AAA numbers (.365/.438 in 797 AB's), who has reached base an astounding 9 times in 10 PA's thus far. I have nothing against Trent, but if an extra position player does make the team, I hope it's Matt Erickson (.376/.405 in 1000+ AAA AB's, who is from Appleton, WI, and would be a LH bat off the bench) or Chris Coste (he of the independent baseball past and Ramblings interview).

I have a difficult time believing 10 plate appearances is anymore of an indicator of ability than a BP session, to be honest.

3/09/2004 09:19:00 AM

(3/09/2004 09:05:00 AM) - Al

Baseball Primer with, dare I say, a Brewers' article that is optimistic in nature.

It's a very slow ride, but eventually, even the simpletons will realize the light at the end of the tunnel is just coming into view around the corner.

Edit: Read the intelligent comments at the bottom, as they fix the one mistake made by the author, as he shorted the Crew one bench body.

3/09/2004 09:05:00 AM

(3/09/2004 09:00:00 AM) - Al

I refrained from posting this yesterday, but I must admit, it's a nice story. Thanks to AJAY for the link.

3/09/2004 09:00:00 AM

(3/09/2004 08:31:00 AM) - Al

Seth Speaks puts together an all-time Twins' playoff team. I wonder...did Kirby Puckett make it?

3/09/2004 08:31:00 AM

Monday, March 08, 2004

(3/08/2004 09:44:00 PM) - Al


While I haven't seen "The Passion of the Christ" yet, I'm waiting for the commotion to die down some and want to see it with an open mind, I do think the box office response is interesting especially when contrasted with the expectations.

To begin with, I'm not at all certain that a high profile film about Jesus was that big a financial risk. Big budget Biblical films have certainly had success before. According to ( ) if you adjust for inflation you find "The Ten Commandments" ($790 M adjusted, #5 all time), "Ben-Hur" ($591 M adjusted, #13 all time), and "The Robe" ($395 M adjusted, #42 all time) as some of the biggest all time successes. And if you were especially liberal you could include films like "The Sound of Music", "The Exorcist" (probably the true R-rated box-office champ), and "The Bells of St. Mary's" as appealing to parts of the "religious" audience. Really, "The Last Temptation of Christ" is the only major release that I don't think did especially well, although I still don't really understand the protests that hurt that film's boxoffice. At least with Gibson's film the protests weren't coming from the target audience.

OTOH, it does surprise me that a film reportedly as violent as "The Passion of the Christ" is, and not in an "isn't this fun" way, is doing as well as it is. (I do find it an interesting debate developing regarding the appropriateness of the R-rating, but I'll wait until I see the film to comment on that.) And the only thing that the American audience seems to hate more than subtitled films is black and white films.

Beyond that, I agree that any thought that Mel Gibson will find a tough time making more movies or getting an acting job is simply ludicrous. Even if the movie had bombed, not likely considering the budget, Gibson could have easily found work. He could always do another Mad Max film for a big paycheck. And he is an Academy Award-winning director. There's a lot of short-term memory involved in Hollywood and you are always only one hit movie away reviving your career. Just look at Kevin Costner who seems to have regained a lot of respect with "Open Range".


Thanks for the note, Robert, and a informational one at that. I had never really considered the R rating, and if what I heard is accurate, I don't think the MPAA will ever be able to give a film an NC-17 for violence if they let this pass with a R.

I wish I could see a graph with how many people are seeing Passion as their first movie in more than a couple years. I have to believe it is an extremely high ratio, as its appeal seems to be mainly "mature" Christians, hardly regular moviegoers.

I find it very amusing that, for the most part, Christians find it follows the Bible very closely, and non-Christians find it anti-Semitic. A better example of seeing what you want to see you will never find.

3/08/2004 09:44:00 PM

Sunday, March 07, 2004

(3/07/2004 07:42:00 PM) - Al

The Passion is now the 48th highest grossing film ever...after 12 days of release. Jeepers.

It will certainly be the highest grossing R rated film of all-time, and at worst, will be Top 10 when it's all said and done.

I was reading my Entertainment Weekly last night, and one studio exec said, "I think more people will be reluctant to work with Mel". Please. Roman Polanski was convicted of child molestation, fled the US, and now resides in Europe (is there a single redeeming quality about France, because, despite years of searching, I haven't found one), but still directs movies....yet, Mel Gibson won't be able to get a part?

That may be the stupidest thing ever said.

3/07/2004 07:42:00 PM

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