Al's Ramblings

Saturday, July 31, 2004

(7/31/2004 09:15:00 PM) - Al

Finally, give the Cubs credit, they picked up Nomar and gave up nothing that hurts them this year.

Also, Theo Epstein picked up two players having down offensive seasons under the illusion of improving his defense...but both are decent offensive players, even Doug M, who is likely the best defensive 1B of his era, but is also a good OBP guy. Cabrera is a nice SS who is coming off an outstanding '03, but has been crappy in '04. In both cases, they bought low. Nomar was not going to be resigned, apparently, and you can't lose a player like Garciaparra for nothing.

7/31/2004 09:15:00 PM

(7/31/2004 07:57:00 PM) - Al

Then, we have the big LoDuca, Encarnacion, and Mota for Penny, Choi, and a very good AA pitching prospect. I thought this one might fool some casual fans, yet everyone on the message boards I visited thought the Dodgers made a great deal, as did I.

Then, I watched Baseball Tonight. Jeff Brantley acted as if he had less than no clue. Brantley, a former decent reliever, always acts as if relief pitchers are the most important piece of a winning team (much like Harold Reynolds, a former no hit middle IF with speed, will tell you that the keys to winning baseball is speed and defense). Of course, most relief pitchers only pitch about 70 innings a year, so comparing them to a starter that gives you about 200 innings is buffoonery. Sure, some try and justify it with terms like "important innings" and "vital late-inning go to man".

Brantley was like listening to a man who was stuck in 1950. He tossed out gems such as "the heart and soul of the team", "a character guy", and the ever famous "clubhouse leader" (LoDuca); followed by superlatives heaped upon Encarnacion like no other subpar OF in the history of the game, such as "a real run producer", "good middle-of-the-order hitter", and "a great athlete". Finally, we heard that Mota "may have been more important to the Dodgers than Gagne".

Oh, the pain. Look, DePod got younger, cheaper, and better in the trade, and then used the prospect to go out and get Steve Finley. Every one of the players he got might get hurt tomorrow, and he still did what he could to improve his team, which is all you look for a GM to do. The idea he should hang onto a player because he's a nice person is as goofy as it gets. Can you imagine a guy like Milton Bradley coming to the park today and thinking, "Yeah, I know I should give 100% because it is in my selfish interests to do so, but I really enjoyed Paul's company. Therefore, I think I will give less than my best effort, even though it will devastate my financial future."

First of all, Encarnacion is a rather crappy corner OF. Let's compare him to others:

Encarnacion, career--.313/.445, 758 OPS, 139 OXS
VanderWal, '03-------.350/.468, 818 OPS, 164 OXS
Brady Clark, '04-----.372/.385, 757 OPS, 143 OXS
Ave RF, '03----------.350/.459, 809 OPS, 161 OXS
Ave LF, '03----------.356/.466, 822 OPS, 166 OXS

Even pretending this guy is anything but a crappy offensive player (for his position) is absurd. Whenever Brady Clark compares favorably to a starting OF, you can pretty much bet that guy shouldn't be starting. And astoundingly, Juan has managed to underperform his career norms in 2004, a paltry .289/.417 thus far. Yes, that noted "middle of the order guy" has got out 71% of the time.

Now, Mota is having a fine year, a 2.14 ERA, with nice secondary numbers. But, he's 31 and has a career ERA of 3.29...sounds to me like this guy is a decent bullpen guy who is having a career season.

Finally, LoDuca, or shall I refer to him as Jesus Christ? I like LoDuca, as he's a fine everyday catcher.

LoDuca-----.342/.428, 770 OPS, 146 OXS, 66 runs created (used 450 AB's rather than standard 600, as catchers play less
Ave C, '03-.322/.403, 725 OPS, 130 OXS, 58 runs created

That said, Paul is a magnificent 8 runs above completely mediocre.

For some nice role players, LA got Finley, who is in the midst of a career year; a fine rotation member in Penny, and a young, cheap 1B with a near 900 OPS, now that he's finally out from under the young player human blanket that is Dusty Baker.

LA probably clinched a playoff spot with their moves, and at the very least, did nothing to hurt themselves. Worrying about clubhouse leadership or magic dust, no thanks. Either produce runs or prevent them. Take all the rest and worry about that some other time.

UPDATE: Harold Reynolds pipes in that LA "handed the division to the Marlins". Somehow, he claims, this will improve FLA immensely, as it will let them move Cabrera to LF, and Conine to 1B. So, in Reynolds world of make-believe, Florida is a better team today because the 700 OPS Juan Encarnacion is now in the lineup rather than the 900 OPS of Choi.

That LoDuca fella better bring a boatload of leadership with him, 'cause I don't see them somehow improving by losing a SP like Penny by improving their C and RP a bit.

7/31/2004 07:57:00 PM

(7/31/2004 07:53:00 PM) - Al

Meanwhile, just when you thought it couldn't get much worse than that, trading FOR Jose Contreras? Seriously?

7/31/2004 07:53:00 PM

(7/31/2004 07:37:00 PM) - Al

Still trying to figure out what exactly was in the Mets' pipe to make them decide to get older and more expensive at the deadline. I'm not even a big Ty Wigginton fan, but a young IF is a pretty good return for 12 mediocre starts from Kris Benson. And I cannot even begin to figure out why you'd want a soon to be arby eligible 4ish ERA guy for one of the best pitching prospects in the game? That deal makes no sense if you're a couple games out, never mind 7 out behind 3 teams.

That's about as bad as it gets. That's only a good trade in the bizarro world.

7/31/2004 07:37:00 PM

(7/31/2004 07:19:00 PM) - Al

Paul Molitor was the first player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum who played a majority of his games as a designated hitter...Molitor played 1,174 of his 2,683 games as a designated hitter - far more than any other Hall of Fame member.--Drew Olson, 8/1, JS

majority--a number greater than half of a total, Webster

And yet, Olson, who can't stumble through a sentence without saying something to contradict what he said in the sentence previous to it, is the best a major metro news daily can muster. His ineptness is outpaced only by his lack of desire to not really, really suck.

While Olson has made it clear he has no desire to even bother going to Miller Park when he can watch the game on TV from his office, you'd think he could maybe petty cash a calculator, so as not be forced to try and cipher a number that big.

Oh, if only the Milwaukee area had 2 daily papers, maybe the competition factor alone would increase the quality. As is, it's pretty obvious why Communism failed. When there is no reason to do better, good enough is good enough.

7/31/2004 07:19:00 PM

Friday, July 30, 2004

(7/30/2004 09:36:00 PM) - Al

The Mets and Dodgers appear to be the ones making headlines at the deadline.

7/30/2004 09:36:00 PM

Thursday, July 29, 2004

(7/29/2004 10:07:00 PM) - Al

I have little to say about anything, so allow me to link you to others:

A site recently reviewed both Wausau's little "batter stares into the sun" ballpark and the historic Carson Park in Eau Claire. I got into trouble for saying it a while back, but Carson seems to have fallen a notch or two...temp fences, seats removed, yuck. What's funny is, they just added the Aaron statue a few years back, and the downhill slope into disrepair has come since then. Hopefully, the Northwoods League expansion club will pump some money into the old relic...I doubt if they have much choice.

The Crank links to a liquid Krispy Kreme (the donut even poker playing exotic dancers enjoy). Despite the review, I think it sounds delicious.

Finally, I admit not a whole lot throws me, but the idea of the Crew picking up a AAA power hitter and inserting him in the clean-up spot for 3 straight games has me shaking my head. Russ has 1000+ major league at-bats, so I'm certainly not concerned with his samll sample, but I just don't get it. Branyan is unlikely to produce much more than his career numbers, and while .320/.470 isn't bad, it isn't that good either, at least for a 3B/corner OF.

7/29/2004 10:07:00 PM

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

(7/28/2004 10:21:00 PM) - Al

From the Contra Costa Times:

A Milwaukee scout was on hand to track the Giants. The Brewers are seeking a position player, and there are reports that closer Dan Kolb might be available. Kolb has nailed down 29 of 30 save opportunities, with a 1.49 ERA.

Hat tip to AJAY.

From The Sporting News:

The Phillies, Marlins, and Cardinals have shown interest in Vizcaino, but Milwaukee is reluctant to move him unless they get an offensive contributor in return.

Good to see the Brewers' relievers being talked about. Mediocre teams have no use for good relievers, especially ones who will be pricey in 2005. Hopefully, someone will overpay for one or both of these guys.

7/28/2004 10:21:00 PM

(7/28/2004 11:40:00 AM) - Al

Looks like we won't be getting that max trade value for Mr. Spivey anytime soon.

Too bad, since we had a replacement or two in house.

7/28/2004 11:40:00 AM

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

(7/27/2004 06:29:00 PM) - Al

Doug Davis signed a 2 year extension today, as he is now signed through '06. Doug will be a FA after the 2008 season, so the signing is meaningless as it pertains to the roster makeup. Hopefully, Doug's success will continue and he'll be a bargain.

UPDATE: 2.05 mil in '05, 2.7 mil in '06, according to Rotoworld.

7/27/2004 06:29:00 PM

(7/27/2004 10:21:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers haven't scored a lot of runs of late, so let's take a look at the SP's they've faced since the break, and their ERA after the start.

Mark Prior-------4.06
Matt Clememt-----2.98
Greg Maddux------4.18
Kerry Wood-------2.59
Aaron Harang-----4.15
Brandon Claussen-2.57
Woody Williams---4.08
Jason Marquis----3.76
Roger Clemens----2.85
Tim Redding------5.66
Pete Munro-------3.74
Matt Clement-----3.05

Not exactly a weak bunch. The one pitcher with a poor ERA, Redding, has always been a top prospect, but has never managed to put it together in the bigs. They've scored 28 runs in those 12 games, which is below average, but honestly, not a whole lot less than you'd expect. For me, it's hard to imagine a team that knocked Clemens out early in a monumental struggle to score. Take some bad luck, add in some good pitching, and sprinkle in the fact that this is a below average offensive team, you're going to have some dozen game stretches that lacks offensive punch.

7/27/2004 10:21:00 AM

(7/27/2004 09:57:00 AM) - Al

So I'm currently watching Miracle, the film about the 1980 hockey team winning the gold medal, overcoming incredible odds. It may be a tale of just how terrible a time 1979 and 1980 were, horrible Carter years. Seeing Carter speak at the convention last night...the negative tones, blaming all that hasn't worked out perfectly on others...makes you know just why his presidency turned out the way it did.

I know time has healed many of the 20+ year-old wounds, but history hasn't been kind to the Carter years. I'm surprised he's still being trotted out.

7/27/2004 09:57:00 AM

Monday, July 26, 2004

(7/26/2004 07:10:00 PM) - Al

Sad to see Chris Magruder DFA'd to make room for Branyan. Chris has always produced at AAA, and has many qualities you look for in a reserve OF (can play any of the 3 OF spots, runs pretty well, switch-hitter, some pop). I like his potential as a bench guy, as well as the fact his ceiling is much higher than most 4th/5th OF'ers.

He isn't far from being as overlooked as an OF as Marcos Scutaro was an an IF. Much like Scooter, he would seem to be a cheap, decent reserve, with the potential of being more than that. Not sure if he will choose to accept his free agency or go back to Indy...I can't imagine anyone handing him a 25 man spot at this second, barring injury.

7/26/2004 07:10:00 PM

(7/26/2004 09:09:00 AM) - Al

Looks like the Brewers are adding Russ Branyan to their bench. Not sure if this is to replace someone else on the roster who will be dealt soon or what, but I've always liked Russ, a power hitter who can play 1B/3B/LF/RF.

LINK to JS article

Branyan's career stats

I'm surprised to see his OBP is as low as it is, as he has always walked a lot. But, I certainly feel he is a decent bench player, on power and versatility alone.

7/26/2004 09:09:00 AM

(7/26/2004 08:45:00 AM) - Al


...Doug M has been told he will be traded soon, according to a paper in the Cities, probably in a package for Kris Benson of the Pirates. (Hat tip to Aaron Gleeman.)

Two funny things here, one, why would PIT have any interest in a 1B hitting .238, albeit a bad year for Doug, whose contract is up after '04? Two, if the article is correct and the Angels are offering 1B super-prospect Casey Kotchman (just a notch below Prince Fielder), why hasn't the Pirates said "done" and completed this trade already?

...Let's see, Mark Bellhorn had an outstanding '02 with the Cubs, then was relegated to the CHI and COL bench last year, as he worked under two managers (Baker and Hurdle) who have no respect for OBP. This year in BOS, he is having another fine campaign...and making $500K. It's not all about the money, it's about finding talent. It's hard for me not to look at Bellhorn and not see Keith Ginter, maybe even a slightly better version. Meanwhile, the Cubs had Rey Ordonez starting at SS a couple weeks ago. Shiver me timbers.

...We are off to Appleton to see the Brewers' low A team, the Beloit Snappers play the Timber Rattlers. No uber prospects (Prince, Weeks, and Gwynn all played for Beloit in '03) on this year's version, but Beloit does have a few poor man's future possibilities to check out.

7/26/2004 08:45:00 AM

Sunday, July 25, 2004

(7/25/2004 12:31:00 PM) - Al


I know it's tough to gauge a kid like Hendrickson after 3 starts, but he's very frustrating to me. I know you have kind of low expectations for him, what do you think?


I think those that were clamoring for him months ago are looking mighty foolish.:)

I see Ben as a #3/4 starter someday. Now, when you figure that the mythical "peak" is 27, it's difficult to expect Ben to be that good right now. I projected him at about a 4.50 ERA, and I would change that to 5ish right now. He has a couple flaws, his lack of velocity and more importantly, his lack of being able to "spot" his fastball. There's nothing wrong with a 88-90 mph fastball, you just can't toss it up there and challenge major league hitters with it. He needs to move it in and out, hit the corners, throw it at the letters and hope the hitter chases it, etc. The difference between him and Matt Wise was huge last night.

Wise is pretty much a 2 pitch pitcher as well, and also throws a high 80's fastball. But Wise always knows exactly what he wants to do. Every pitch had a purpose. Granted, Wise wasn't the second coming of Cy Young either, but he works a plan. Ben falls behind too many batters, and misses by far too much. Major league hitters will not swing at pitches 6 inches off the plate, but they will swing if they're a couple inches off.

Ben also needs to be more consistent with that big curve. He has to be able to throw it for strikes at almost any time. He looks confused out there, but did fine versus the bottom part of the order. The difference between the bigs and AAA is the 1-5 hitters. He even got out of a jam after a Helms error, retiring the #7 and #8 hitters. But in order to consistently not suffer damage from the top of the order, he has to pitch to his strength, which is curveballs for strikes and well located fastballs.

It's also funny to me that folks wonder why AAA is proving a struggle for Jorge DLR, the lefty fireballer acquired in the Sexson trade. To be honest, 22 year-old LH's are still usually struggling to not have the ball hit a member of the crowd. Even RH's often struggle, Joe Nathan is a prime example. Joe had several terrible years in AAA before finally "catching on" as a reliever, and now is one of the best closers in the AL.

Jon, thanks for reading and writing.

7/25/2004 12:31:00 PM

(7/25/2004 12:16:00 PM) - Al

This is why you must consider character when drafting youngsters. What a frickin' idiot.

I always think of Dennis Miller's classic line about "thinning the herd" in situations like this. Allison would probably be cleaning a loaded gun or out playing in traffic if he wasn't a drug addict. At some point, you have to be responsible for your own actions, and needless to say, this kid has many physical gifts that most of us can only dream of. Looks like he never realized that how easily you can throw gifts like that away.

7/25/2004 12:16:00 PM

Saturday, July 24, 2004

(7/24/2004 08:41:00 AM) - Al

Making the best of a bad situation, take a look at the basketball court that they've set up at Radio City Music Hall. It's a bit odd to say the least, but I guess it'll work.

7/24/2004 08:41:00 AM

(7/24/2004 12:01:00 AM) - Al

Lyle Overbay has the highest OPS on the team, 931. The Brewers have no players in the 800's (except Brooks Kieschnick, who has few AB's). The 2nd highest OPS on the team is...

Ben Grieve, at 793. Never before has the 2nd best been maligned as a problem and a weakness as often as Grieve. I'll be the first to admit I hope we can deal him for a decent prospect before July (or August) 31st, but pretending as if replacing Ben would improve the offense is as silly as is gets.

7/24/2004 12:01:00 AM

Friday, July 23, 2004

(7/23/2004 11:50:00 PM) - Al

Tom Green is still the unfunniest man in the world, but those "Toyota truck competes in Olympic events" commercials are as bad as it gets. Look, the pickup goes faster than humans...stop, my sides are aching. Can you imagine the ads they didn't think were as good?

7/23/2004 11:50:00 PM

(7/23/2004 11:29:00 PM) - Al

So, can you imagine the national media if Miller Park had chunks of concrete tumbling to the earth on a regular basis? But, since it is Wrigley Field, it's back page news, oh, by the way, as if it matters, the ballpark is falling down...and here's Bill Murray to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

I have heard from many that Wrigley is a dump, and that's the polite adjective. I have no interest in visiting, as old and historic does nothing for me, as a dump by any other name still is a dump. I used to have an old and historic car...but since the transmission went out, I don't still use it and call it pretty names that gives the illusion that it barely made it from Point A to Point B. The Cubs seem to be pulling the ultimate political spin...if you repeat something enough, it begins to be taken as fact by many. I still find the most humorous part is the fact that sane people actually pay to watch the game from the roof across the street...sure, you can't see hardly any of the outfield, and you're like 200 yards away from home plate...but what a unique and dare I say, a historic way to see (or, for the most part, not see) a game.

7/23/2004 11:29:00 PM

(7/23/2004 08:53:00 PM) - Al

So, do Daron and Bill realize they contradict themselves every time they open their mouths? I'm all but positive if it were possible, Bill would have an extramarital affair with his own voice.

The really bothersome thing to me is Bill seems to have no understanding that chance does play a role in the game. Every single bloop hit is because of "a good approach". Any ground ball that rolls into the OF is a result of "hitting it where it was pitched". A 150 mph one-hopper to the SS that results in a 6-4-3 DP is "he tried to pull an outside pitch".

I honestly think saying he's the worst in the business is more offensive to the business. As bad as it gets.

7/23/2004 08:53:00 PM

(7/23/2004 08:47:00 PM) - Al

(Suzy Favor) Hamilton as of today is the lone U.S. athlete eligible to run in the 1,500 meters in the Olympics, even though she did not run in the 1,500 finals at the Olympic trials last Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Hamilton has met the Olympic "A" standard, required of athletes participating in the games.

She is the lone entrant because none of the three runners who finished 1-2-3 on Sunday at the trials have met either the Olympic "A" or "B" standards. The top three finishers were Carrie Tollefson, Jen Toomey and Amy Rudolph.

According to a U.S. track and field official, here are the scenarios: If none of the three women reach the "B" standard by Aug. 9, Hamilton will be the lone entrant in Athens. If up to two of the women reach the "A" standard, they along with Hamilton can compete in Athens. If all three reach the "A" standard, they would compete in Athens and Hamilton would not.

If one or more of the women achieves the "B" standard, but none of them achieves the "A" standard, then the highest-placing finisher who got the "B" standard would be the sole U.S. entrant, and Hamilton would stay home.

First of all, allow me to sat that the only reason I'm bothering to comment on track and field is that Suzy is a Wisconsinite, and is far from unattractive. That said, can you imagine coming up with such a load of crap and saying, "Yeah, I think that's a great idea Stan"?

7/23/2004 08:47:00 PM

Thursday, July 22, 2004

(7/22/2004 09:06:00 PM) - Al

It is single seats only for the entire Cubs/Crew series next week, all four games. Looks like 4 more standing room only crowds in Miller Park, and maybe, just maybe, there will finally be some talk of 2 million fans at that point.

Also, how obvious is the importance of selling those tickets in advance? Right now, both teams are struggling a bit, so walk ups wouldn't be that large, especially on weekdays. Doesn't matter, as most of the folks that do show up without tiks will be buying standing room.

I still chuckle at the post at about the older couple who went to a Cubs game sans tickets earlier this year. They tried sitting in some wheelchair/disabled seats, and were promptly kicked out. The poster, I believe their son, said they were kind of upset and watched the game on TV in the concourse. I guess we need to come up with a more descriptive term than "standing room", huh?

7/22/2004 09:06:00 PM

(7/22/2004 07:38:00 PM) - Al

Jayson Stark reports the Expos' players were told this week that they will probably be playing in the Washington DC area, at their temporary home of RFK, while a permanent residence in the DC or Northern Virginia area is designed and built. The players were told there is a small chance they will end up in Las Vegas.

Call me a championion of the underdog, but I'm rooting for Vegas. I've been a proponet of Portland, but it would appear they are out of the running. I see many a whisperings of expansion forthcoming as well. The cities that do not win, which will probably be Vegas, Portland, and Monterrey; will be told by MLB exactly waht they need to do to lure an existing team or get an expansion team in the next round, which I would estimate to be late this decade or early in the next. You would think at least one aggressive mayor or governor will push a stadium through, much like Norm Coleman did in St. Paul to get an NHL team back. I have to believe a MLB team would be in Las Vegas or the Rose City if they passed a stadium bill tomorrow, as it would be 2007 or 2008 before it opened. Nobody even mentions San Antonio, and I believe they are a top ten population US city.

I have to believe there will be 32 teams soon. The areas that show they want a team will have one within a decade.

7/22/2004 07:38:00 PM

(7/22/2004 07:19:00 PM) - Al

I know you have defended Bud Selig a lot and I thought you might find this
interesting. CNNSI had a recent Question and Answer mailbag with Tom
Verducci. There was an interesting question about Bud Selig and an
interesting response. I just wanted to make sure you saw it. I thought you
might like it.

Here is the link:

Keep up the good work with Ramblings.



Isn't it about time baseball writers started to credit Bud Selig, given baseball's healthy state in 2004? He's a good and decent man, who has acted primarily in the best interest of baseball and in the best interest of the Brewers. I don't believe he has a hidden agenda. He has suffered for his looks, which are less than slick, and for his position as commissioner during dicey times. It's easy to take a stance against Selig -- everybody loves piling on the nerd, who was stuck with the easy-to-second-guess decisions. But he actually made decisions. And when he has misstepped, he has either admitted his mistakes or corrected them. Say what you want about the All-Star Game tie, but he would have been criticized no matter what he decided to do. He took the heat for a situation where the managers erred by depleting their bullpens. If neither decision is right, isn't it better to go with the less wrong choice? Bottom line is Selig's critics should admit he has been good for the sport. -- Dan Meyer, Portland, Ore.

I won't question Selig's passion for the game. And yes, the managers were more at fault for the degeneration of the All-Star Game. And if you're going to give David Stern credit for the NBA's growth, then you have to give Selig credit for getting baseball to this point. The fact alone that he presided over a new labor agreement without a work stoppage is amazing. But I caution giving one man too much credit (ditto for Stern). A lot of what has happened in the game is organic, such as the Red Sox and Cubs fielding strong teams at the same time. And Selig must also take responsibility for the embarrassment of the Expos, the poor health of the Milwaukee franchise and the importance he places on public relations and being liked when it comes to tough decisions (i.e., Pete Rose). On balance, he comes out on the positive side. What I abhor is when people think everything he does is awful (and, most rarely, golden). That's an immature, close-minded way of thinking.

Hadn't seen it, Ajay, thanks for pointing it out. I'll agree that the Expos are embarassing, but I'm not sure how Bud could have avoided, or even sped up the process...DC and Nortern Virginia are finally now starting to compete, it looks like, if one of them had done this a couple years ago, it would have been easy for MLB to make the decision. The sport is experiencing a renaissance, and astoundingly, it has gone unreported thus far. I believe MLB will set an all-time attendance record this season, and with the Expos 81 home dates going to a non-exceedingly crappy baseball town, I would bet on another one in 2005. I'm not sure how many we'll have to see before Bud gets some credit, but it's obvious to me.

7/22/2004 07:19:00 PM

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

(7/20/2004 09:40:00 PM) - Al

Arizona is one of three teams with scouts watching Columbus, the Yankees' Triple-A club. Milwaukee, which has Ben Sheets but isn't trading him, and Pittsburgh, which would love to deal Kris Benson, also have scouts following the Clippers.--NY Post

Hat tip to AJAY at for the blurb.

There are many players at AAA Columbus the Crew might have an interst in, but three pitchers leap out at me:

Alex Graman

Brad Halsey

Colter Bean (heck, just for the name:)

Halsey has the highest ceiling in this group, as he is 23, LH, and doing well in AAA. His numbers are very similiar to Ben H's, as they are the same age.

7-3, 2.82 ERA, 92 IP, 86 H, 23 BB, 57 K, 1.18 WHIP, 2.48-1 K/BB, 5.6 K/9

The only number on that line that isn't impressive is the K ratio, far too low.

Graman is a guy who reeks of "stuff", but has never put it together. Another lefty, in 266 AAA innings, he has a 4.45 ERA, and at 26, he isn't far from being as good as he gets. But, he has had a very nice campaign.

8-3, 3.16 ERA, 91 IP, 84 H, 33 BB, 85 K, 1.29 WHIP, 2.58-1 K/BB, 8.41 K/9

That's not far from a picture perfect line. Soon, Alex will become either a Wayne Franklin, 10th/11th man type, or a Doug Davis, quality lefty type. Your guess is as good as mine, though as a LH that throws strikes, he should spend some time in a bullpen at some point, at least.

Bean is a reliever with a lower ceiling, but he has struck out 76 in 57 innings, a stunning rate of 12 K's per 9. The mere fact he survived childhood with that name makes him "gritty" as well.

And, it goes without saying that the Yankees' prize prospect is Dioner Navarro, a young catcher, who was just recently promoted to AAA Columbus. Navarro is only 20, and may well be a couple seasons away, but is one of the top 2-3 C prospects in the game.

Catcher is a bit of a hole except for the bottom reaches of the Brewers' system, and at this second, AAA pitching is a bit of a bare spot as well. Any of these players could help address the issue, and is more than likely to be who the Crew is looking at.

7/20/2004 09:40:00 PM

(7/20/2004 10:10:00 AM) - Al


Could you do a post sometime explaining how the post waiver deadline trades work? I sort of get it, but not really.


Jon, thanks for continuing to read and write. Many writers don't "get" the way it works either. A quick and dirty rundown.

1. No player can be traded after July 31st without first being exposed to waivers.

2. If a player is claimed, he may be pulled back by his team, or he may be allowed to leave. Or, the teams can try and work out a trade. If one is not agreed upon, the player's original team can then pull him back.

3. But, what happens 95% of the time is this: Teams flood the waiver wire with players, I believe up to 7 a day. Almost every player passes through waivers unclaimed, as teams have to take any player that is allowed to leave. Hence, any player that is making a large salary will go unclaimed. Don't forget, Manny Ramirez was waived last winter and no one picked him up.

There are several misconceptions about this August time frame. One is that players have to be passed through waivers just before a trade is made. For example, say the A's lose a pitcher to injury on 8/15, and Kris Benson of the Pirates is available. Benson probably cleared waivers in early August, so a trade is made. Writers that cover the Angels will say, "Why didn't the Angels claim Benson?" Because, ANA had no idea OAK would need a pitcher two weeks later when Benson's name passed through on the wire, along with 200 others, on 8/2.

By the time the first week of August has passed, every player in baseball, with a few exceptions, has passed through waivers. A few have been claimed, and were pulled back. A few have been claimed, expensive veterans for the most part, and are allowed to change teams; simply because the team is glad to be rid of their salary.

Also, only players on the 40 man roster have to clear waivers. Yet another reason why it is usually an age for youth deal that goes down.

7/20/2004 10:10:00 AM

(7/20/2004 10:03:00 AM) - Al

Most hits yesterday that we've had in over a month. Oh, if only we could do a roundtable every day.:)

Thanks for visiting.

7/20/2004 10:03:00 AM

(7/20/2004 09:52:00 AM) - Al

Redbird Nation sums up the scene at Wrigley pretty well.  I giggle when I think that to the Cubs, winning seems to have slipped down the priority scale, somewhere behind "looking cool". 

Let's see, Zambrano will get an automatic suspension, Baker left his 23 year-old on the mound without regard for his health (and by the way, why are people surprised Prior and Wood have fought injuries all year?), etc. Just another day at the ballpark.

7/20/2004 09:52:00 AM

(7/20/2004 08:07:00 AM) - Al

Two Ben H starts, two missing curveballs.  I'm a bit happy to see no walks, but 7 hits in 3 innings borders on "why walk?". 
More pressing to me is the fact Junior Spivey is with the team, but still unable to swing a bat.  Any trade involving him would appear to have to be an August, after waivers are asked variety. 

7/20/2004 08:07:00 AM

(7/20/2004 07:27:00 AM) - Al

Hey Al,
Since 1958 (46 full seasons) a player has had a single-season OBP over .488 only three times:
Barry Bonds  .582 2002
Barry Bonds .529 2003
Barry Bonds .515 2001
This year, Bonds' OBP is .628 so far. 
Since 1933 (61 full seasons) a player has had a single-season slugging percentage over .738 only five times:
Barry Bonds   .863 2001
Barry Bonds   .799 2002
Mark McGwire  .752 1998
Jeff Bagwell  .750 1994
Barry Bonds   .749 2003
This year, Bonds' SLG is .792 so farCan there be any doubt that Bonds' 2001-2004 run is the greatest feat in baseball history?
PS:  Looks like I was right back on 3/3/04 when I e-mailed you about Doug Davis:
"He's only in his 5th or so season, 28 years old.   This guy could be one of the top 2nd or 3rd starters we've had in years.  Cheap too.  He's going to have at least a few months of great numbers in 2004.  Who wouldn't pay a third of their top starter's salary for the 8 games he gave us last season?"

Bonds is as good as it gets.  Once again, there's a lot being written about how Bonds being walked all the time is "ruining the game"...even though there has never been a simulation that doesn't agree that, with rare exceptions, intentional walks lead to more runs, not fewer.  Mr. Bonds will get out 50-60% of the time if you go right after him, and by putting him on base, you simply are giving the Giants free baserunners. 
I can't recall if I printed your Davis note or not, but I didn't expect this from Doug even in my most optimistic moments.  A 4ish ERA would have been great in my eye, and he's not too far from a run below that.  That said, the idea both TEX and TOR simply released him last year is about as mind-boggling as it gets. 

7/20/2004 07:27:00 AM

Sunday, July 18, 2004

(7/18/2004 10:11:00 PM) - Al

Those who feel Ben Grieve is a poor OF...did you see Sammy Sosa today?  Actually, what's so sad about Sammy is that he could be good, as he used to be, but has been crappy for several years running.  Much like Shaq and his free throws, there is little as sad as talent just accepting a part of the game as less than mediocre. 
Pods with some good AB's, ditto for Overbay, the same for Ginter and Hall.  Capuano may never be much better than he is now, but he sure is a nice little pick up.  By the way, where are those folks who thought the Crew got swindled?  I haven't seen or heard from them since...well, the season started.  As my old roomie used to say, it's tough to do a 5 for 1 and come out have to assume 4 of the 5 will fail. 
I sure hope the braintrust feels Adams is capable of replacing Vizcaino, as Luis' value will never be much higher than it is at this moment...and as we saw in '03, can be a lot lower. 

7/18/2004 10:11:00 PM

(7/18/2004 09:04:00 PM) - Al

Once again, we return for a roundtable, this time the mythical midseason edition.  I am joined by Roster Crunch author, Jason; Daily Brew scribe Bill; and the usual suspects of Robert, Mike, Ben, and Greg.  Let's await no more.
AL: How happy are you with the first half record of 45-41?

MIKE: I am very happy with their record so far. I was expecting them to have maybe 35 or 36 wins at the break. So 45 is quite a surprise. That's about a 10 game improvement over 2003 at this time and frankly, I didn't think that they had the talent for it.
ROBERT: Me too. The only way I could conceive of it happening before the season was for the pitching staff to surprise, and it has.

BILL: I'm amazed at how well the Brewers have played this year. My
pre-season predictions were admittedly optimistic, but even I did not
see this coming.

BEN: Pleasantly surprised....I guess there's no need to argue about the Sexson trade anymore.

GREG: Stunned. The offense, by and large, has performed about as well as I expected -- maybe a little worse. I expected Ben Sheets to improve and the rotation not to suck. What no one predicted was that Sheets would turn into Tom Seaver, Doug Davis would turn into a legit 2/3, Victor Santos would turn into a rotation mainstay, and the bullpen would be lights out. The pitching has just been unbelievable, and it's why this team isn't 35-51.

JASON: Happy would be an understatement, in my view. The Brewers are on pace to pick up 15-20 wins over last year, which is tons better than anyone expected. Most people figured .500 this year, while being a worthy goal, was probably shooting too high. Now, it will be disappointing if the Brewers don't finish the year .500 or better.

AL: Tell me what you think of the job Doug Melvin has done?

MIKE: I think he's done an excellent job overall. You can't argue with the Arizona deal. Spivey and Capuano have been injured on and off, but Counsell and Overbay have been better than expected and Moeller has been a servicable catcher. As for his other moves, he's never completely said so, but he seems to make OBP a very important part of his evaluation process and I think that's a step in the right direction. He's signed a few players who take a lot of pitches and make the pitchers work the count and I think the fruits of that have already come to a degree. And he seems to have a good working relationship with Yost, which I think is key. Overall, he hasn't made a really glaring bad move so far in my view. I think the fate of Leskanic, Sexson and others that he dealt last year is probably partially luck but also partially good foresight. You can't say enough about the Arizona deal. He dealt Sexson at the exact right time. If he had waited until now, they would've gotten a couple of minor leaguers or a major leaguer having an off year. They essentially got 5 major league players and a promising pitching prospect for a major league filler (Nance) and a ticking time bomb (Sexson). I thought with his height and his playing 162 games last year were going to get to him eventually and I think you have to give Melvin credit for seeing that coming. As for the minor leagues, I think he's done a pretty good job of not bringing guys up just to get fans to come to the park. Many organizations would've raided the AAA roster for players after the last couple of years, but he's resisted that temptation.

ROBERT---Considering the budget constraints, Melvin has done about as well as possible. He's done very well trading and bargain hunting and seems to have a concept of how to build a team for a full season. He's an immense improvement over the Taylor regime for handling a big league roster. The one truly questionable move he made at first sight was signing Wes Helms to two years, but even that shouldn't hurt the Brewers too badly. I do wish he had flipped Spivey for help in other areas before the season, the Brewers need more than pitching, but he may still salvage something at the deadline.

BILL: The fact that the team's highest-paid player,Geoff Jenkins, has also been one of their biggest weaknesses, I can't imagine giving Melvin anything but an "A" grade. He has made his share of mistakes - Gary Bennett comes to mind immediately - but on the whole, he has been superb.

BEN: He's done a tremendous job, particularly when it comes to minor league free agents. After bringing in Kolb, Podsednik, Davis, Kieschnick and Clark last season, he's followed them up with the likes of Matt Wise, Victor Santos, and a number of position players who haven't had much of an opportunity just yet. Then there was that one big trade that gave the team its starting infield....I'd say he's doing pretty well.

GREG: Ben’s right, Doug Melvin, as of right now, is the best exploiter of freely available talent in all of baseball. He also deserves credit for the Sexson trade; it wasn't the only way to play the hand he had, but it was exactly what this team needed at this time.

JASON: One of the top three GM's in all of baseball. Outside of the Bennett signing, every move Melvin has made for the Brewers in terms of this year's club has worked out. The Sexson trade is going down as one of the all-time fleeces in recent memory. Castoffs like Doug Davis, Victor Santos, and Dan Kolb are turning into key components of a winning club. Jeff Bennett is one of the most successful (if not THE most successful) Rule V picks this year.

AL: I agree, and I’d like to add that he has not touched the core of prospects that we deem so vital, that many have suggested dealing for overpaid mediocrity and a bag of magic beans. Sticking with management, what’s the feeling on Yost?

ROBERT: I've heard this observation and agree with it, Ned Yost is a younger Bobby Cox. Yost has some minor roster construction issues and he'll make some questionable tactical decisions, but he manages people well, he's surrounded himself with an excellent staff, he has his team well prepared, he has a seemingly endless positive attitude which works with the fans and the team, he doesn't bury young talent, he doesn't overmanage, and he does correct problems. His only real flaw may be that he's too patient with his favorites, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, so far. Considering Bunting Bob Melvin was supposedly the runner up for the job, I'm very happy the Brewers ended up with Yost.

MIKE: I think he's done a very good job overall. Attitude is overrated, but I do think that his upbeat, positive attitude has definitely helped them. Even if you or I don't believe that it doesn't matter when you score runs, I think the players think it matters and so it's somewhat important for them to feel like they can always win and I'm not sure the Brewers have always had that. And I do wonder about the wisdom of carrying so many pitchers. But on the other hand, unlike the previous 2 regimes, I've rarely felt like pitchers have been kept out there far, far beyond the time that they should've been taken out. In other words, he knows what he's doing.

BILL: While I am not one to overvalue a team's manager, Ned Yost definitely
deserves a great deal of credit for helping his club exceed expectations. He hasn't been perfect, but in the most important 90% of his job -Keeping players motivated and confident - Yost deserves an "A+".

BEN: He does the little things well. In Doug Davis' last start before the break, Ned took him out of the game after eight shutout innings, focusing on the long-term and not individual accomplishments. He has a plan for how the team should perform on the field, and has shown a willingness to stick to it. So far, so good.

GREG: Great question, because it's important in evaluating a manager to take a step back. Yost has his faults, primarily his loyalty to the extent it reaches bad players and his occasional in-game brain-locks. But so what? Loyalty, even in Ned's position, is more virtue than vice, and every manager makes in-game mistakes. Ned's positives are huge: he keeps his players on an even keel, he uses his pitchers wisely and with regard for their health, and he appears to be a thoughtful person who is always learning from his experiences. I'll criticize him plenty, but I'm glad we have him.

JASON: I don't give Yost as much credit as others would. While Ned is obviously a master motivator, the two most important people on that coaching staff are Mike Maddux, for what he has done with the pitching this year, and Rich Dauer, as his defensive positioning has saved the Brewers a ton of hits and runs this year. Still, it was Yost who helped put this staff together. And since Yost would be getting the lion's share of the blame if the Brewers were playing poorly, he must get the lion's share of the kudos for the Brewers strong first half.

AL: Dauer deserves a mention as well, more for his gutsy playing of the odds. Every team has access to the same hit charts, yet very few use them. Dauer accepts the fact that by moving the 2B behind the pitcher, you’ll get beat by a broken bat grounder once in while. Yost gets my highest kudos for choosing a staff built on knowledge and the ability to coach, and not drinking buddies and old teammates. And he’s only let a tired pitcher stay in the game too long 2-3 times in a season and a half (that was a four game series under Lopester)…and notice injuries are down. Personally, I just find it thrilling we have a manager who delegates well, plans out his pitching and hitting patterns, and isn’t a frickin’ idiot.
OK, biggest surprises thus far in ’04?
ROBERT: Pitching-wise, who the heck is Victor Santos? His emergence allowed the Brewers to work around Kinney and Obermueller in the rotation Offensively, it has to be Lyle Overbay. Certainly there was the possibility that he could step in and be productive, but he's been a borderline All Star and makes the Sexson trade a good one all by himself. With honorable mention to Craig Counsell's defense. Negative Surprises: It pretty much has to start with Geoff Jenkins. It's a good thing he's good defensively. Wes Helms has certainly made last year's average year look like a fluke. The fact that there's really been nobody significant who's been a negative surprise on the pitching staff says a lot.

AL: I’d just like to throw in that I was very much against Adrian Hernandez, Ben Ford, and Trent Durrington making the 25 man out of spring training, because not a one of them deserved it, based on 2003 and prior production. All three made it, proved once again that small samples are meaningless, and are now in AAA. However, Santos is a perfect example of how it should work. He had a nice March, and was sent down anyway. He continued pitching nicely in Indy, and was given the opportunity, as was Matt Wise. This deciding a player’s future on a score of AB’s or a dozen innings, mostly against inferior competition, is as foolish as it gets. Back to surprises.

BILL: Pitching, obviously. To pick a more specific surprise, the ascension of Ben Sheets to the upper echelon of big league pitchers. Big Ben was the best starting pitcher in baseball over the first half, and it certainly doesn't seem like a fluke. Ben is now the kind of pitcher every franchise dreams about, and for the first time in a long time, our franchise has seen its dream become a reality. Keeping him in a Brewers' uniform for the next several seasons should
be a primary focus.  There have been a number of negatives, too, with the underwhelming
production of Scott Podsednik and Geoff Jenkins topping the list. The former's return to mediocrity was not entirely unexpected, but the *manner* in which Scotty has fallen from grace has been disappointing. Rather than take advantage of his speed and solid bat control by
slapping grounders to left and laying down bunts, Podsednik has adopted a power hitter's approach, one that has clearly been to his detriment. In fact, Scotty's struggles have been eerily similar to Jenkins' in that both have adopted counterproductive approaches at the plate, and
both are plagued by a lack of discipline and an inconsistent uppercut.

MIKE: I think that they have gotten more out of the Arizona trade than even I realized. It goes to show again that basing your analysis of a hot prospect after half a season (which is what Arizona essentially did with Overbay) is just stupid stupid stupid. I was expecting to him to be in the .850 range for OBP, not .950, especially for a guy who is not considered a HR hitter. Other surprises on the team would be Santos and the emergence of Doug Davis as reliable starters. Kolb has been able to be an excellent closer without striking a lot of guys out, which is quite a feat and also a surprise. I've also been pleasantly surprised at how much Sheets has advanced as a pitcher in the last year, especially when you consider that he still essentially a 2 pitch pitcher. Any surprises the other way? Yes, probably Geoff Jenkins #1, though his first half could've been worse...and they didn't need him as much as they have in the past...but still a disappointment. Hopefully he'll hit one of his hot streaks. Podsednik has fallen off a bit from last year, basically because he seems to be swinging for the fences more, which I hope he gets out of.

BEN: Positive: I'm can't decide on which of the team's top three starters I should give as my answer, so I'll just say the pitching staff in general. Since they all credit Mike Maddux for their improvements (as do many of the Houston Astros pitchers he worked with in their minor leagues), it's safe to say his brother didn't get all the brains in that family. Negative: Even though the Brewers are winning, a number of Brewers hitters have seemingly taken big steps backward this year. Jenkins, Helms, Podsednik, and Ginter have all had their OPS drop from last season.

AL: I’ll throw in Vizcaino as a positive. He wasn’t much more effective than my cocker spaniel would have been out of the bullpen in ‘03 {Note to self: Send Disney a can’t miss movie treatment}. Ben Grieve has produced more than I expected. I’m not shocked by Capuano, but the folks who ignored his fine ERA and secondary numbers in a hitter’s AAA park are. I read many say he was nothing more than a reliever, so he qualifies as a surprise as well. And I certainly expected more out of Moeller offensively.
All right, step into the GM’s shoes. What would you do for the second half if you were the GM...buyers, sellers, wait until July 25th, etc.

JASON: Doug Melvin's decision will be easy, because the 11-game road trip right out of the box after the all-star break, which includes games vs. the Cubs, Astros, and Cards, will determine whether the Brewers are buyers or sellers. If Milwaukee has a winning record for that road trip and is at least within a handful (4 or less) of games of the wild card, I think they need to take a serious look at adding another bat to the club.

GREG: I don't think the Brewers will win anything this season, and I think the notion of "appearing to care about winning" insults the intelligence of so-called casual fans and betrays what has gotten this team where it is. So I wouldn't go acquire Jacque Jones, is what I'm saying. I would focus on next year and beyond. What the team needs seems pretty clear: a third baseman, a part-time (at least) catcher with pop, and an outfielder who can push the useful but overexposed Brady Clark down the depth chart. Then of course there's pitching depth; this team has no desperate need for pitching, but I still want to be the team that gets the next Davis and the next Capuano. Interestingly, the Brewers have largely the same needs at the major league level and in the minors, so the same shopping list applies across the board: I'd take a 20 year-old A+ 3B with upside as well as a 27 year-old big league 3B with a pulse.  In order to get these commodities, I would dangle Spivey if the timing works and/or Counsell, as well as Vizcaino and/or Kolb in the right deal. I wouldn't be afraid to trade midlevel prospects at positions of strength. Also, I would keep watching the waiver wire, also known as Doug Melvin's personal room service line.

BILL: The Brewers don't have any obvious holes... their three biggest weaknesses are also three of their "franchise players." If Podsednik, Jenkins, and Wes Helms can return to their 2003 forms, it will be as if Melvin had made three key deadline acquisitions. For that reason, I
would be very hesitant to make any trades that net us veterans or "rentals," instead concentrating on building the club for 2005 and beyond. If Luis Vizcaino or Junior Spivey can be traded for pieces that fit into our long-term plan, then I wouldn't hesitate to pull the
proverbial trigger. Young pitching, a young catcher, and a young third-baseman should all be targeted. If opportunities to upgrade the 2004 club as well as improve our future ballclubs present themselves, then go ahead. If not, I would adopt a "let things be" approach... if this team is going to make a run at the Wild Card, it will need to do so with the current roster of players.
AL: Bill makes a good point, there is talk of “improving the offense”, but seriously, the weakest spots have been guys you’d think have no chance of being replaced, at least short-term.

ROBERT: There's really no need for the Brewers to do anything before the deadline given their present state. However, unless the offense and Jenkins get going in the next few weeks, they should be realistic about their chances and sell. Spivey, Counsell, Grieve, Vizcaino, and Burba should all be on the block. Yeah, it may create something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they're not in the playoffs now and I find it hard to imagine them making it without the offense picking up. Third basemen, catchers, and pitchers have to be their main targets. If they do pick things up, I really can't imagine them being buyers. There simply aren't players out there that fill their biggest holes, third base and catcher.

MIKE: I mean, yes, he could trade a top prospect for short term help, but I don't think this team is ready to contend yet. And even if they are, they don't want to fall into the trap that many teams fall into, which leads to dealing a bunch of prospects, but come to find out, the successful year is just a fluke so then you lose out on a bunch of future talent. I think that they should stay put, but if they don't, I'm hoping that they would be a seller. But frankly, I'll be surprised if Doug stays put since the Brewers have several relievers that could easily be trade bait (especially Vizcaino) and he's shown in the past that he's willing to trade relievers for prospects.

AL: I look to sell. I’ll be disappointed if we can’t at least turn Vizcaino, Grieve, and Spivey (if healthy) into some younger players with upside. Guys pitching well that may not be part of the 2005 team (Burba, Wise, maybe Kinney) should be moved if someone overpays. And personally, I’d be on the phone July 30th and offering up the best pitcher available…Victor Santos. His stats scream fluke, and he’s not a young man either. The idea of flipping a minor league FA for a top ten prospect is too appealing to not pursue.

OK, the Crew wins 10 in a row, and you’re forced to be a buyer… using Toby's Power 50 at, tell me who the highest ranked prospect is that you'd trade, or discuss in a deal.

JASON: I would shop Dave Krynzel (#11) hard. The Brewers have Podsednik locked up for two more years, and Jenkins for three more. If Brad Nelson and Corey Hart are as good as advertised, there will just not be any room for Krynzel in the Brewers big league outfield.

MIKE: #6 Mike Jones. And I say that because the system has depth in the pitching area and I just don't think it's a good sign that he is having so many problems with arm soreness already.

Note: The roundtable was conducted before it was announced Jones is out for the season.
GREG: I’d deal Jones as well, because I don't think he'll ever pitch a game in the major leagues. Beyond him, nobody above Pedro Liriano at #20 seems to have established greater value on the trade market than his potential as a player gives the Brewers.

ROBERT: I’ll make it 2-2 and take Krynzel as well. He has some nice components to his game, defense, will take a walk, some power, but he doesn't really hit for average, he strikes out a lot, and he's an inefficient base stealer. Between the K’s and BA, I just don't see him making the leap to MLB without some significant struggles and he may never be more than a 4th outfielder. Meanwhile, Podsednik is fine for the forseeable future. Obviously the deal has to be right, you don't deal Krynzel for a rent-a-player, but the Brewers have some depth at CF in their system, holes elsewhere, and he's not a sure thing.
BILL: I would be very hesitant to make any deals that include any of the organization's top 10 or so prospects that did not return us another young player. By selling from an area of
strength (for example, second-tier starting pitchers or center-fielders), we might be able to patch important holes in the system (catcher and third-base being the most glaring two). I would *not*, however, deal any of the top 25 if the return was a veteran rental.

AL: I like the top 30 more than I like a long shot chance in ’04. I have preached about our minor league depth for a long time, and with several of our top guys, pitchers especially, out with injuries that will forever plague young, developing bodies, I see no need to change. A couple weeks ago, you could have realistically discussed dealing a SP prospect, now with Jones and Chris Saenz out for ’04, I’d say we look a bit thin in the SP department. And let me add this…if you remove Scott’s incredible ’03 from his statline, Krynzel’s numbers at 22 is a lot more impressive than Pods’ at 28. I like him more than Nelson, and just barely under Hart long-term. Dave takes walks, which is a trait that rarely goes away as one develops. He plays very good defense. He runs well. He has shown good pop for a CF. On many teams, he’d be expected to take over CF in 2005. I think we under value him because he’s always been young for his level, and because CF is full right now. If he’s still in AAA next year, I see him as a .400/.500 man.

OK, final record for the ‘04 Crew?

MIKE: 83-79.

ROBERT: Given that I think the Brewers will be sellers at the deadline, I think 79 and 83 will be a reasonable record for the Brewers to finish at and far better than I expected. Hopefully, they'll use the post-deadline period to get Corey Hart and Ben Hendrickson through their MLB growing pains and figure out what they have in Billy Hall.

BILL: I’ll second Mike’s guess, and go with 83-79.

BEN: 87-75. No playoff appearence, but an extremely positive season nonetheless.

GREG: I like the sounds of 79-83.

JASON: 86-76. I honestly feel this team has the pitching to continue to play above .500 baseball.

AL: I also felt I was optimistic when I predicted 75 wins back in April. I think this is a fortunate .500 team right now. I’ll say 77 wins at the end of the year, and hope all of you come closer to the truth than me.

All right, Any "off the beaten path" ideas you'd like to see implemented? [An example before the season may have been to forget about having a token LH reliever in the bullpen.]

ROBERT: It's probably not a popular idea in the Brewers clubhouse and front office, but they really should consider giving Jenkins a platoon mate. It's a tough pill to swallow given Jenkins' contract, but he's never hit lefties well and the Brewers are starting to get to the point where they have enough depth to try it. The Brewers may also want to consider using tandem starters to break Ben Hendrickson into the majors for his first couple of starts. As long as they insist on carrying 13 pitchers, they may want to consider having Hendrickson go 3 to 4 innings, followed by Wise, and then pick up the rest of the game with the normal bullpen.

BILL: Its not an "off the beaten path" idea anywhere but in Milwaukee, but I
would definitely cut the pitching staff down to 12 or even 11. It would be hard to determine which of our relievers would need to go, but the lack of consistent work that comes from maintaining a 13-man staff has really hurt a few of our arms. A trade that included Luis
Vizcaino, Dave Burba, and/or Matt Kinney would make the decision much easier.
MIKE: How about starting Brooks Kieschnick when they need an emergency starter next time?

AL: All for that. Brooks maximizes his value by eating up innings and pinch-hitting. I don’t think he can be even a 5th starter, but I’d sure like to find out.

GREG: Move Pods down in the lineup. He isn't a true .380 OBP guy, and when you have people who are, that means he shouldn't be leading off. Try Counsell and Grieve 1-2. I've been bashing Craig since we got him, but he's better than I ever gave him credit for, and the leadoff spot minimizes his biggest weakness, lack of power. Then come with Overbay (another OBP machine), Jenkins, Pods, Ginter, Moeller, and Hall. The thing about Pods is that he has some pop, and he also puts a huge amount of pressure on himself. So if he isn't an OBP machine, why bat him leadoff? (The first person to answer "speed" wins my backup copy of "Weaver on Strategy," as soon as I find one.) The #5 guy leads off more than anyone but #1, and we don't have a prototypical #5 masher, so this would seem to be a sensible experiment.

JASON: Yeah, Grieve is slow, but I would rather have a slow guy on the bases than a fast guy who can't seem to get on base much anymore. I’d try it.

BEN: I wish they’d start showing more than one or two replays a game at Miller Park. It won’t help the team win, but it would make the fans happy.

AL: You know, they showed 8-10 replays a game when I visited MP last weekend, Ben. You just need to go to better games.:)

Any other thoughts?

MIKE: I really hope that the Brewers just stay on the path they are on and resist the temptation to rush things. I think it's a good sign that they are taking it slow with so many of their prospects, but hopefully temptation will not overcome that.

ROBERT: One thing that probably hasn't been mentioned enough is how fortunate the Brewers have been with injuries. It crossed my mind that the Brewers might start out decently since they were healthy at the beginning of the season, but I think this is a good reminder that most major league teams can compete every day with good health. The Brewers have missed Capuano for some short stints and Spivey and Helms at different times, which were covered by Ginter which probably was an improvement in the case of Helms. The Brewers changed trainers a few years back, and maybe they're doing something right.

BEN: Even before this year, I wanted to see Ben Sheets signed to a contract extension, in lieu of being traded. Safe to say, my opinion on that hasn't changed much. Also, Brady Clark and Bill Hall should not be given the green light to steal bases, as they're a combined 7-for-19 this year, accounting for nearly half of the team's CS total (25).

AL: I would avoid signing Ben to a long-term deal for now, as he has a bad back and has thrown a ton of innings. He’s locked up through 2006 regardless. As with most pitchers, year-to-year is the way I prefer to proceed.

GREG: (a)Lyle Overbay freaking rocks. Wouldn't we have been happy if he hit .290 with a decent number of walks, 40 doubles, and 15 home runs? Now he could phone in the second half and do that. He's the best defensible All-Star snub out there, and as such he deserves our loudest ovation. (b) Dan Kolb has been phenomenal, but I don't think he can keep this up. (c) No major league team should ever draft a high school pitcher with a high first-round pick. With no disrespect toward Mark Rogers, who appears to be incredibly talented and a good kid, simple actuarial principles convince me that the Brewers blew an opportunity this year. (d) I still think Wes Helms for Ray King was a good return, but Wes is not the answer now, and he isn't young. Use his ABs to see whether Bill Hall can get his OBP to .320; Hall has been walking more, and his talent warrants an opportunity to improve his game with regular playing time.

JASON: It’s just great that Brewers baseball means something at the all-star break. I’m happy that The Keg is now filling on a regular basis, and its because the Brewers are playing well. I’m also giddy that so many "no names" are having such great years with Milwaukee. It goes to show that payroll is not the end-all, be-all of success. The Brewers have shown this year that scouting and sharp coaching go a long way in determining success or failure.
BILL: A real "off the beaten path" idea? Trade Scott Podsednik. His speed
and base stealing numbers as well as his reputation as a great leadoff man might very well cause other organizations to overvalue him. If that is indeed the case and we were able to acquire a talented young catcher and/or third-baseman and a young pitcher, I wouldn't think twice about dealing Scotty. He is certainly a fan favorite, and favorite of mine as well, but his 2003 season was almost certainly a "fluke" and the Scotty of 2004 is likely going to be the Scotty of old.

AL: If Krynzel puts together numbers like I predicted above, I’d trade Pods in a second. Honorary membership in the Ramblings Hall of Fame for even suggesting it.  He would have more value to others than in Milwaukee. 
Thanks for joining me once again, fellas.  See ya for the end of the season recap.

7/18/2004 09:04:00 PM

Saturday, July 17, 2004

(7/17/2004 11:40:00 PM) - Al

Not only did the Crew get shutout, they only made Greg Maddux throw 103 pitches, or 3.43 p/PA.  I believe the ML average is 3.7, so they simply swung too early in the count too often today.  I realize Madduz rarely walks people, but that's only part of the reason to take.  You're more likely to see a mistake pitch, and you wear out the starter, hopefully early enough to see the middle relief, usually the weakest pitchers on the staff.

7/17/2004 11:40:00 PM

(7/17/2004 11:15:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching the Brewers/Cubs game on tape tonight, and just saw Matt Erickson get his first major league hit.  Considering his advanced age and shaky status on the roster, it is not that implausible it could be his only one. 
That said, it's more than most everyone has.  Congrats.

7/17/2004 11:15:00 PM

Thursday, July 15, 2004

(7/15/2004 09:02:00 PM) - Al

Sorry for my lack of updates of late, not only is there little of note going on, I have been occupied by internet poker (oh, the horrible players online) and some short story fiction I have decided to finish up (or at least, get a good start on:).

Look for the latest installment of the roundtable to be posted tomorrow night, or over the weekend at the latest.

7/15/2004 09:02:00 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

(7/14/2004 10:02:00 PM) - Al

Phil Garner is indeed the new manager of the Astros. If they can win 60% of their 2nd half games, that would put them at about 88 W's, which is unlikely to make the playoffs, but possible. But, if there's a team capable of running off 17 of 20, it's HOU, with that rotation and offense.

7/14/2004 10:02:00 PM

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

(7/13/2004 09:23:00 PM) - Al

Word out of Houston is that Jimy Williams will be fired tomorrow and the replacement may well be Phil Garner. As I flip between poker and the all-star game, I heard Tim McCarver say he doubted Carlos Beltran is an Astro on July 31st. I thought I just read HOU say they had no intention of dealing him. I realize a team's word isn't worth a whole lot, but HOU is just a few games out of the wildcard spot, and I think they have the best team in the NL, talentwise.

That's a job every former manager is just begging for, and whoever gets it is likely to look like a genius.

7/13/2004 09:23:00 PM

(7/13/2004 06:37:00 PM) - Al

"It's a good thing (the Brewers) let me go," said Belliard, who is hitting .304 with five homers and 37 RBI for the Indians. "Now I'm here and I'm proud to be an all-star.

"In 2002, me and Loretta were sitting on the bench in Milwaukee. I'm not going to say anything, but something was going on there."

I know exactly what was going on...a ship sailing blindly in the night will often run into something. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Whenever an organization signs a FA to play 2B...solely because he runs fast, you can pretty much bank that team has no clue. Paying good money to get older, when you have no fewer than three options (the all-stars and Marcos Scutaro) already in house...bizarro world management.

Dean Taylor built a heckuva farm system...though he can probably be credited only with hiring good people, but he was certainly no Doug Melvin.

7/13/2004 06:37:00 PM

Monday, July 12, 2004

(7/12/2004 03:19:00 PM) - Al


The one thing I wish you would mention on your site occasionally is that not all liberals think the same just like all conservatives don't think the same. Just because some liberals lie down in the street and degrade veterans doesn't mean we are all for that, just like I know that not all conservatives agree with bombing abortion clinics. You know?


Cat will be taking part in the roundtable soon, FYI. Cat, of course you are correct. But, the mere idea of the anti-war crowd claiming to be "pro-soldier" with behavior such as this taking place is hilarious. I feel it's easy to blame the military when you disagree with the fight, after all, who is fighting the battle you dislike?

It is the lunatic fringes doing the things you mention, as well as what I mention. It is unacceptable for a veteran to have to deal with this. Without them, our many freedoms would not exist.

As I've said many times, criticize our President all you want. He's a big boy, he can take it. But never be critical of those whose only "problem" is serving their country.

7/12/2004 03:19:00 PM

(7/12/2004 03:04:00 PM) - Al

Two types of drivers I hate.

1. Those that choose to go 50-55 mph on the interstate. Even in the right hand lane, this is as dangerous as someone going 110, especially when there are only two lanes in each direction. They create slow traffic and clutter, and are completely oblivious to it (much like how the French fail to grasp they are no longer a country that anyone gives a damn about). Also, I notice that a disproportional number of them have no air conditioning, as they are always driving with the window open and their left arm hanging out. Not sure why, or the correlation.

2. Those that go 64-68 mph in the left lane. You gotta be kidding. I struggle to understand why this isn't ticketed, and how these people haven't been killed yet. Talk about causing a pile up. Often, if you are able to "break free" from this ne'er-do-well, you'll find open road for several miles, as one vehicle can slow down the regualr flow for 10+ minutes.

7/12/2004 03:04:00 PM

(7/12/2004 02:49:00 PM) - Al

I'll be sending off the questions for the official Ramblings' Roundtable...all-star break edition today. Look for it soon.

7/12/2004 02:49:00 PM

(7/12/2004 02:21:00 PM) - Al

Thoughts from our two beautiful games at Miller Park.

1. Both the JS and WTMJ have begun to tentatively say that the Brewers have a chance to draw 2 million fans. First of all, I said that weeks ago. Secondly, it's amazing how gutless they are, and how little they even care to do the math. It would be a huge upset at this point if they didn't draw 2 mil, but no one bothers to figure it out, except the age-old multiply average attendance by 81, a misuse of commen sense if I've ever seen one.

2. Ben Sheets is pitching as well as I've ever seen anyone pitch. The only one you can really compare him to is Teddy Higuera's glory years.

3. Miller Park was in all its glory both days, packed Saturday evening, 75% of capacity Sunday. I can't imagine a better place to watch a baseball game.

4. Youth seems to have found Miller Park. At least half the crowd both games appeared to be 23 or younger. I'm used to seeing that at Twins' games, but not in Milwaukee.

5. Many more people were wearing Brewers' clothing than I've ever seen before. The casual fans have arrived, a year or two earlier than expected.

6. Preferred parking is the best use of $6 in the history of civilization. If you have to pay $6 to park, spending $12 to park close and get out incredibly fast is well worth it.

As for the outcomes, I saw both Mike Adams and Dan Kolb allow long HR's, so I guess I'm not a good luck charm. Overbay is as good as it gets, at least through one-half of one season. Helms looks to be playing at only partial strength. Chris Magruder simply looks like he knows what he's doing at the plate. He's very worthy of a reserve spot in the bigs...he's fast, plays all 3 OF spots, and has some pop. What more does one want?

7/12/2004 02:21:00 PM

(7/12/2004 02:18:00 PM) - Al

Remember those anti-war crusaders who lay down in front of traffic, burn flags, and the like? Meet more that proudly degrade veterans.

Yep, they are pro-soldier...not. Hat tip to Chief Wiggles.

7/12/2004 02:18:00 PM

Saturday, July 10, 2004

(7/10/2004 08:18:00 AM) - Al

We'll be off soon, be back tomorrow evening, I hope.

7/10/2004 08:18:00 AM

(7/10/2004 07:58:00 AM) - Al

Conspiracy theorists unite...9/11 never happened. A plane never hit the Pentagon, a missile did.

You can chuckle for yourself at this "proven" allegation (warning, it's as long as it is facetious) here, hat tip to Vox Day. The ironic thing is the little nugget of fact that lots of civilians died on the plane that hit the Pentagon, but nothing is said about that. These idiots would probably have you believe they are living in Casper, Wyoming.

Regardless of the truthfulness of this, of which I really didn't see any, it does astound me how these theories don't just die a slow death. There are still people who seriously don't believe the Holocaust ever happened. Man never walked on the moon. I've seen a few "experts" on conspiracy theories on cable news over the years, and without exception, they say that those who make up these things and believe them are not ignorant fools (debatable, to say the least), but "simple-minded" people who cannot accept the fact that luck and coincidence play a large part in everyday life.

The vastness of these clods, however, may just take the cake. A Guard unit from North Dakota shooting down the jet in Pennsylvania? Wondering why there is no film of the plane hitting the Pentagon, in a heavily filmed government area? Of course, if there is one, I'm sure it was seized by our military, but never mind common sense. And, the "proof" given is as comical as the entire premise. To paraphrase:

Host--So, this is what really happened?
Fool--Yes, I talked to the pilot.

I give the guy credit for being versed in creating inventive alternative fiction. But, attempting to pass it off as reality...good one.

7/10/2004 07:58:00 AM

Friday, July 09, 2004

(7/09/2004 09:37:00 PM) - Al

Matt Erickson, 6-3 first PA in the bigs.

Good for him. Always good to get that first one out of the way...I hear.

7/09/2004 09:37:00 PM

(7/09/2004 07:38:00 PM) - Al

The wife and I are heading down to Milwaukee for the next couple games. I bought tickets online last night, and tomorrow night's game looks like it may be close to a full house, as many options are down to single seats. Plenty of seats remain for Sunday's affair.

7/09/2004 07:38:00 PM

(7/09/2004 07:34:00 PM) - Al

On the pre-game show, Ned Yost said Wes O would probably be in Indy for 3,4, or 5 starts. I'm not sure, but I believe he said Matt Erickson would be up for 3 games before and 3 games after the break. As expected, it would appear Ben H will be brought up to enter the rotation.

Also, Ned Yost said Wes Helms will be given today off, while Jim Powell indicated later that Wes may be "out for the next few days". Sounds like Wes is suffering from a minor injury as well, another reason for the Erickson recall.

7/09/2004 07:34:00 PM

(7/09/2004 05:38:00 PM) - Al

Decided against a 3rd update to the previous post.

Denny Hocking was designated for assignment about a week ago by the Rockies. I saw Denny play all over the diamond for the Twins, and while his offensive skills are minimal, he is a fine defender, and can literally play 7 positions at an average level or above. He made a throw from the OF once that had the crowd murmuring with surprise. On a team that wants to carry an extra pitcher, or go with only one reserve IF, he's an option that makes it possible. It sure seems to me there are a few contenders who would love to have him.

I'm very happy that Erickson was given a chance to spend some time in the show, but I would at least give COL a call. Having a guy like Hocking is a privilege for a small market, low payroll team, as they are often far overpaid (I've often said it takes great skill to suck at so many positions). That said, he isn't going to push you over the top, but he's a nice piece of the puzzle to add, and much like Kieschnick, is almost like having an extra guy sitting on the bench.

Do you think other teams would let us play with "27" men"?:)

7/09/2004 05:38:00 PM

(7/09/2004 04:26:00 PM) - Al

Wes Obermueller has been sent down to AAA Indy, and infielder Matt Erickson, an Appleton native, has been brought up to replace him.

First of all, I'm giddy about the Erickson promotion. Trent Durrington made the club out of spring training with a dozen good plate appearances, despite a mediocre AAA career. Matt was coming off a fine '03, and simply seemed to be a better choice. In fact, almost every single player that made the '04 Crew after a hot March (Durrington, Hernandez, and Ford) is now back in their rightful home in AAA, as if to prove how meaningless a small sample is. Congrats to the Erickson family.

UPDATE: I didn't want to say it without checking, but this is Matt's first appearance on a major league 25-man roster. Hopefully, he will get into a game in the next few days, or at least before going down, as they can never take that away from you.

UPDATE 2: Just noticed Matt is a LH hitter, and seems to fit the bill as a typical "scrappy" middle infielder; walks a lot, a little bit of pop, etc. Turns 29 later this month, so a long career would seem to be unlikely. These may be the best few days of his life, let's hope a bloop hit falls in and he gets a chance to get his uniform dirty this weekend.

I do feel bad for Wes. He has been used as the 5th starter for most of the year, his turn skipped when able to, and it is difficult to succeed under that kind of use. But, at some point, you do have to put up some quality numbers. Despite the fact he always "seems" to pitch well, at the end of the game, he usually allows a few more baserunners than innings pitched, and most often gives up 3-4 runs. While he hasn't been blown out very often, and has kept his club in the game, he has a high ERA. Eventually however, Wes has not shown himself to be worthy of running out there every 5th day. I've often said both he and Matt Kinney would be better served as middle relievers, and Kinney has shown that to be the case. And, Wes is plenty good AAA depth, so that's always nice to have.

Finally, the final note, as of today, the 5th starter spot is empty. Most are expecting Ben Hendrickson to be brought up after the break to move into the rotation. I am surely in the minority, but I would wait. I'd give Matt Wise or Kinney a start or two, as the staff is currently at 12, and that's where it should remain, in my opinion. Little Ben has pitched very nicely in AAA, but to me, I doubt if he's much of an upgrade over either Wise or Kinney; well, in 2004 at least.

I have little doubt Ben H won't be handed the job, and I feel he'll likely perform better than Wes, I'd predict a 4.50 ERA, which is quite solid for a rookie. I just would give one of the vets a shot first.

7/09/2004 04:26:00 PM

(7/09/2004 11:47:00 AM) - Al

Hey Al,

I've been thinking as of late how the recent success of the team will reflect sales on the luxury suites next year when they expire. I think this winning experience that is taking place this year will have a HUGE effect on those sales. If the team was still playing like the way they had for the past decade, I feel as if management would have really struggled to sell the suites. But with the overall good play by the team THIS year, management may not have to give reduced rates on the packages they offer their current holders to renew suites. This could potentially be a huge boost to revenue for the club next year. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the subject.

Keep up the great work.


Thanks for reading and writing a good, rarely mentioned thought, Todd. I forget what percent of the boxes are up for lease after this season...but I believe it is somewhere between one-third and two-thirds. And I agree, I feel most suite holders will be renewing. If a few choose not to, the better play and the best farm system in the sport should be enough for a few companies (or individuals) to take the opportunity to get in when thye have the chance.

A quick note, and maybe I'm missing something, but unless the Brewers' raise the cost of the suites, they will not "boost revenue", but it will stay constant, which is likely not what they have budgeted.

7/09/2004 11:47:00 AM

(7/09/2004 11:30:00 AM) - Al

While looking up the TOR facts, I noticed this:

MIL has scored 364 runs, allowed 366.

Their "expected" record is 41-42, while they are actually 44-39, +3. What's funny about that is, I've been saying they could easily have 3 less wins, as they won three games that you could easily say should have been lost. Now +/-3 really isn't that unusual, as bloopers and ground balls through the hole don't necessarily even out. But, keep in mind, even if the Brewers play as well in the second half, they may well win fewer games.

7/09/2004 11:30:00 AM

(7/09/2004 11:12:00 AM) - Al

A couple notes about the 4 "saber" teams:

Almost beyond mathematical beliefs, 3 of the 4 (LA, OAK, and BOS) all have the same record, 46-37.

TOR has struggled a bit this year. However, a quick study of their runs scored and runs allowed would seem to explain a lot of it.

The Blue Jays have scored 392 runs, and given up 403. With a -11 run differential, you'd expect them to have 41 wins, but they only have 39. Meanwhile, TB has 42 W's and are .500 despite having a worse differential than the Jays. Bad luck? Probably.

While looking at the Jays' numbers, I glanced at their salary page. While they are 20th in MLB at just over $50 mil, Carlos Delgado makes just under $20 mil of it, leaving the Jays with a 24 man roster at $30 million. Considering that and the fact they should be just a couple games under break-even, I'm not going to get down on them. Long-term, they look to be making good choices.

7/09/2004 11:12:00 AM

(7/09/2004 10:45:00 AM) - Al

A couple days ago, it was mentioned that Barry Zito may be available, as the A's have a fine pitcher in AAA, Joe Blanton. I believe Gammons said the A's wanted an offensive 2B and a hard throwing relief pitcher. Someone at brought up Junior Spivey and Luis Vizcaino. Well, we can only hope, huh? The idea we could get a career 3.31 AL ERA for a 2B we have little use for and a middle man whose ERA last year was almost double Barry's career mark is almost enough to convince me to make a run at contention.

Zito has some warts; he seems to be losing effectiveness as he gets older, he's thrown a boatload of innings in his young career, his secondary numbers (K/9, K/BB) are going the wrong way, and many say he lost his mentor, as noted pitching guru Rick Peterson took the Mets' pitching coach slot last winter. That said, he's still pretty good, and may well revert back to his dominant self. He's only signed through 2005, for $4.7 mil, then has an option of $7M for '06. For a Ginter clone and a reliever that aged 4 years one day last spring, I'd say yes before Billy Beane got to the T sound in Zito.

Unless Billy has lost some of his intelligence in the past couple years, I think that's a safe, "not gonna happen".

7/09/2004 10:45:00 AM

(7/09/2004 10:38:00 AM) - Al

Last year, Corey Hart won the Southern League MVP, at the age of 21 years old. This year, Prince Fielder is "struggling", according to many.

Hart, '03----.340/.467, 807 OPS, 159 OXS
Prince, '04--.348/.452, 800 OPS, 157 OXS

Ah, the illusion of BA. Since Fielder is "only" hitting .258, he must be having trouble. Never mind that walking rarely slumps, and the traits that lead to bases on balls (taking pitches, plate discipline) are closely associated with long-term success.

If you can find me a more meaningless stat than BA, let me know.

7/09/2004 10:38:00 AM

Thursday, July 08, 2004

(7/08/2004 07:02:00 PM) - Al

Interesting attendance numbers:

1st 41 dates average, 2003---18088
last 40 dates average, 2004--23963

total 81 dates, 1.7 million

1st 41 dates average, 2004---22631

...if the Crew's attendance increases by 5875, like in '03:

28506 x 40 = 1,140,240, projected '04 attendance = 2.067 million

...if the Crew's attendance increases by 32.5% after the first 40 games, like in '03:

29986 x 40 = 1,199,440, projected '04 attendance = 2.127 million

My 2 mil prediction I made a week or two ago is looking better every day.

7/08/2004 07:02:00 PM

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

(7/07/2004 10:44:00 PM) - Al

I just read that the Brewers, the team whose best years appear to be a couple seasons away, is only a game out of the wildcard spot. I really never look at the standings, preferring instead to figure out what win pace the Crew is on.

With a good weekend, this could be an interesting all-star break.

7/07/2004 10:44:00 PM

(7/07/2004 10:26:00 PM) - Al

130K folks saw the Crew sweep the Cubs, according to Jim Powell, the first 3-4 game series sweep the Cubs have suffered since September of '02.

7/07/2004 10:26:00 PM

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

(7/06/2004 10:11:00 PM) - Al

Good to see Miller Park full, and thanks to the Cubs' fans for the donation. How I love to watch Ginter hit. Take, take, take, big swing.

7/06/2004 10:11:00 PM

Monday, July 05, 2004

(7/05/2004 10:55:00 AM) - Al

Ben Hendrickson's numbers are getting harder and harder to ignore. 7-2, 2.39 ERA, 3.5-1 K/BB ratio, 1.16 WHIP. It is hard to imagine him doing nearly as well being skipped in the rotation and pitching once every 12 days, however.

However, if Wes O doesn't pitch better in his next 2-4 starts, it is difficult to believe he won't be replaced, either by Wise or Ben H.

I'm out until tomorrow night, meeting tomorrow.

7/05/2004 10:55:00 AM

(7/05/2004 12:52:00 AM) - Al

Roster Crunch says it's all about baserunners, getting them, and preventing them.

Why does that sound so familiar?:)

7/05/2004 12:52:00 AM

Sunday, July 04, 2004

(7/04/2004 09:43:00 PM) - Al


In addition to Ortiz and Belliard, you also hit on Lew Ford, who I had never heard of, being a Texan. He may be voted onto the team as well.


I was referring to the '03 RUTT, but I did have Ford on the '04 version, though I think he was unanimous as far as my readers that sent in their picks. Thanks for pointing it out though, Francis, and for reading and writing.

7/04/2004 09:43:00 PM

(7/04/2004 07:55:00 PM) - Al

While looking through the archives, I found one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite entertainers, Dennis Miller:

I'd call the French a bunch of scumbags, but I wouldn't want to offend bags of scum.

7/04/2004 07:55:00 PM

(7/04/2004 07:20:00 PM) - Al

Is Overbay already pencilled in to be an all-star because Sean Casey is on the DL as of today? I can't argue with Lyle not making the 31 man team, but not being one of the 5 for the fan vote seems insane.

I'll have to link back to the day we signed Dan Kolb, and see what I said, other than calling him a "hard thrower". The idea he's an all-star is as goofy as it gets.

UPDATE: I guess I never commented on Kolb's signing. Trust me, I wouldn't have said he is a future all-star.:)

7/04/2004 07:20:00 PM

(7/04/2004 06:39:00 PM) - Al

I'm happiest for Ronnie Belliard making the all-star team, even more so than Sheets and Kolb (and maybe Overbay). I've been an unabashed Belly fan forever, and proves how much having an idiot of a manager like Lopes and Royster effects your development and your future. The idea that Eric Young in his mid-30's was a better option than a pre-arby Belliard will hang over this franchise forever. Teams like the Brewers can't afford to give up a player that is even an average or just above 2B. I'll be the first to admit that Ronnie's hot start got him in, and that I honestly wouldn't even pick him, preferring to go with a 2B that has had more than a good 250 AB stretch.

That said, Ronnie has always got on base at a good clip for a middle infielder, except for the first year of his career he played sporadically (I believe it was our good friend Robert who first said Belly was a perfect example of a player being set up to fail). He was decent in COL in '03, and has been excellent in '04.

Taking pitches, working the count, and getting on base never goes out of style; and Ronnie has done those things forever.

Actually, it pretty much sums up the Taylor/Lopester era perfectly, today's selections. They had three possible 2B options, and 2 of them were named all-stars today, Belly and Mark Loretta, while the third, Marcos Scutaro, has also broken out to be a decent and inexpensive option in '04. But, because the Crew supposedly needed a leadoff hitter (the pure ignorance of that statement pretty much says it all), they went out and signed the aging and overpaid Eric Young, and the folly that was the '02 season occured.

That's when I have to shake my head at those still wanting to sign free agents, or deal our farm system strength for older players. They simply don't get it. A player's most productive years for the money they earn is the first 3 seasons , before arbitration. Next is years 3-6, arby seasons, but before free agency kicks in. Finally, you have players with 6 or more years experience, who are almost always past the supposed 27 years of age peak as well. You build with youth, then go out and get the final pieces. You don't go sign/trade for a bunch of older, more expensive players (especially in a small market) and hope to build a winning team. Thankfully, we now have a GM who "gets it".

I have to link to my first ever RUTT, back in 2003. My right side of the IF for that club was two unwanted players, David Ortiz and Ronnie Belliard. A couple of the more "challenged" posters on said many times what an awful team it was, and how awful that starting lineup would be. Today, two of those players that anyone could have signed, for $1-2 million a year are all-stars.

UPDATE: Ronnie was actually my reserve 2B, as he had injured his hand playing winter ball. However, a post that described my love for Ortiz and Belly can be found here.

It ain't about paying guys $10 mil per, it's about finding value for your money.

7/04/2004 06:39:00 PM

(7/04/2004 08:08:00 AM) - Al

A long awaited article in the JS discussing attendance, saying the Brewers have sold 1.55 million tickets as of today, and expect to draw more than last season (1.7 mil). Sounds like the Cubs series that begins Monday is expected to have about 125K in house, while the Reds' 4 gamer has sold 82K thus far. Late ticket sales will make the difference.

7/04/2004 08:08:00 AM

(7/04/2004 08:06:00 AM) - Al

Spivey goes on the DL, Chris Magruder, a switch-hitting OF brought up. It seems strange to me that Liefer was brought up and sent down before, performed OK, but was not recalled.

7/04/2004 08:06:00 AM

Saturday, July 03, 2004

(7/03/2004 09:51:00 PM) - Al


...this is why Bud's job is so tough, and why people that pick on him have no idea. There is no easy answer to many questions that surround the game. In Foulke's case, I guess I have to agree with the commish. If you allow the flag of the greatest nation to ever exist, you probably have to allow KKK symbols and other things that I would refer to as "not wanted".

...Those people that insisted the Crew start dealing from the "depth" of their #1 farm system may be looking very foolish in a few days. As is, the team is 4 games over .500, and if not for the three very lucky, fortunate, and dare I say undeserving wins earlier this season, you're looking at trading the kids to get older, trying to improve a 2 games under .500 team.

...If there was any doubt the NL Central was the toughest division in the game, PIT winning 8 in a row seals it. Looks like they'll be tearing down that team, but if they are able to make a couple more Brian Giles for Perez and Bay deals, watch out.

...I'll be celebrating the birthday of the USA by working all day, then watching the Brewers and Six Feet Under.

...Finally, an article that first appeared last July 4th, written by the patriotic and intelligent Ben Stein. What he said then has never been more true than today.

...While the media does all it can to focus on everything but, Iraq is, for the most part, a stable area. Exceptions are sections of Baghdad, Fallujah, and Tikrit. In a country the size of California, it sure seems to me those parts of three cities sure get the majority of the attention, don't they? Clean water, waste disposal systems, hospitals, and infrastructure are all much better now than they ever were under previous rule. Nearly every child in Iraq has been inoculated, schools are up and running, and almost every town, village, and city in Iraq is safe.

Much like on the beaches of Normandy, June 6th, 1944; in which we lost thousands of the generation that, quite literally, saved the world, the United States did what was needed, suffered loss of life, and asked for nothing in return except a place to bury those that made the ultimate sacrifice. We do not know if Iraq will be a bastion of democracy for the Middle East to emulate, a dictatorship, or a civil war torn country in a decade. Despite our help, it will come down to the people of Iraq. Regardless, I'm very proud of what my country has done to assist them. I hope for the best on a daily basis.

...Finally, if you are a member of the United States military, past or present, thank you for your service. Reenlistment and recruiting is at very high levels, due in great part to the fact that, with rare exception, our soldiers prove over and over they are the standard as to others are judged. July 4th is a day to celebrate our independence, and to remember that liberty rarely comes without a price. Sadly, freedom is not free.

7/03/2004 09:51:00 PM

Friday, July 02, 2004

(7/02/2004 11:43:00 PM) - Al

Two blowouts tonight, and the Crew was on the losing end of both. I think this is how it is on those teams that don't have top pitching, huh?

Looking over the box scores, it's hard to find good numbers. Geoff had a nice 2nd game, Lyle got on half the time, and Brooks only allowed 1 earned in 3 innings.

PIT is hot, 7 in a row. Hopefully, they're due for a bad performance.

7/02/2004 11:43:00 PM

Thursday, July 01, 2004

(7/01/2004 10:33:00 PM) - Al

Unofficial word is that ticket sales are as strong as they've been in years. Considering the Crew sold most of their 2.8 million seats early in 2001, this is the first "rush" they've had in July or later in a decade. My gutsy 2 million prediction is looking a lot safer just a couple weeks later.

Let's hope the trip to Pittsburgh, where the Brewers have struggled for years; as well as the "Coors hangover", an oft-mentioned baseball betting strategy, as many teams go into a bit of a tailspin after leaving the thin air of the Rocky Mountains, goes decently. Heck, 2 of 4 in the Steel City would make for an awesome road trip, especially considering we'll be using our 4th, 5th, and 6th best SP's in 3 of the games.

7/01/2004 10:33:00 PM

(7/01/2004 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Pitching numbers, you ask?


Golly, that's good to see.

Also, the Brewers have only hit 19 batters this year while on the mound, and taken their base 32 times while hitting. Notice how the batters are digging in and "swinging from their heels" against the Crew? Yet another fallacy. You can have all that he-man stuff, I'll take changing speeds and getting ahead in the count.

Both Mike Maddux and Butch Wynegar should be hailed and paid extremely handsomely. Both preach exactly what should be done, and seem to have the ability to get the majority of their proteges to buy into it. Unless they are offered a promotion, they need to be locked up long-term.

Now, one of the things Ramblings was founded on is the simple understanding that, regardless of the budget size, whether it be $40 million or $140 million, that budget needs to be followed. So, if the "standard rate" for Butch and Mike is $200K (I honestly have no idea, I do recall that a share of the player's licensing agreement is about $250K, and that often doubles a coach's salary, as thus far, the union have given the coaches a share), I'd sign each to a deal that would give them $400-500K. That would be $400-600K that would have to come from somewhere, be it development, bonuses, or major league payroll. You're looking at the difference between having Trent Durrington as a utility infielder, or maybe a more proven option, such as Denny Hocking or Jeff Reboulet.

For me, no contest. I go with Trent and guys that can communicate, teach, and have a clue. And I made it through this entire thought without once mentioning the bizarro Maddux, Dave Stewart.


7/01/2004 10:14:00 PM

(7/01/2004 10:03:00 PM) - Al

A quick look at the NL team offensive numbers:

7th in runs scored
8th in OBP
14th in SLG

It's all about baserunners. It is proven over and over again, but the simple fact remains...not getting out is the most important thing you can do to score runs.

You can take your "productive outs" (and try and keep a straight face) and your "clutch hitting" out back. A ball that is hit like a bullet right at the SS is often a 6-4-3 DP, and criticized; while that blooper that falls in is lauded as "coming through under pressure".

The difference? Luck. I'll take all of it I can get, but I'll take plate discipline and line drives over "making contact" any day of the week.

7/01/2004 10:03:00 PM

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

Whatever strikes me as interesting, and serious Milwaukee Brewers thoughts. If you are a believer in respecting OBP, throwing strikes, and keeping the ball in the park, you may have found the place you've been searching for. I believe in low taxes, small government, and am not afraid to be labeled patriotic. If you are interested in sausage race results, walk up music, or professional wrestling, you may wish to click elsewhere.

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.

I'm happy to pay taxes to help the helpless. I don't like paying taxes to help the clueless. Look at the Occupy movement...I'm forced to pay taxes to help those whose plight I delight in.--Dennis Miller

If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, and your life will be brief.--President Trump

Never have lives less lived been more chronicled.--Dennis Miller

I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.--Mad Dog Mattis

I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.--Thomas Sowell

Ramblings makes me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.--Marxist sympathizer (one of Ramblings' proudest moments)

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Al is @suitedconnect on Twitter

Al's WTMJ appearance from July, 2015 with Justin

Al's postseason WTMJ appearance with Justin


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Tribute to Robert Warns II
Never forget the sacrifice of our military, and why we enjoy the freedoms we have.

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