Al's Ramblings

Thursday, September 30, 2004

(9/30/2004 08:25:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention on our trip to Green Bay the other day, that the political landscape in this part of WI is as mixed as possible. I do not recall seeing a single Kerry bumper sticker or sign, but Bush sightings were literally nonstop. That really isn't surprising, considering that the latest polls show Bush up 10 points, and the major population centers are heavily Democratic, that would leave rural (non Madison/Milwaukee) WI as probably 3-2 (maybe even 2-1) Bush.

But, I also do not recall seeing one Michels supporter, in one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the nation. Feingold's ads have been all over on TV here, and I don't think I've seen a Michels ad since the primary. Feingold's ads are funny and most are as reminiscent of a beer commercial than a political one, lighthearted, comical, and fun.

Feingold signs were not nearly as frequent as Bush ones, but there sure were a lot of them. I suppose the Michels campaign may have spent every penny they had to win the primary, but considering most consider it a 5-7% spread, you'd think the national party would be filtering money in.

9/30/2004 08:25:00 PM

(9/30/2004 01:32:00 AM) - Al

I've wondered all year if Dan Kolb was healthy, mainly because of his anemic K totals. He has barely thrown any of his patented 91 mph sliders all season, which it seems to me, if your arm is healthy, you'd throw as often as you possibly could.

In his last two outings, Kolb has not been able to throw strikes, or seemingly had any idea where the ball is going. If not for the new owner, I would be seriously wondering if the Crew would risk offering arby to Kolb, who will likely earn $4+ million in '05.

I was all for trading Dan at the end of July, as I had no faith at all in his continuing health. I still don't, but I sure hope it turns out to be nothing more than dead arm at the end of the year.

Keith Ginter's incredibly hot spell (I don't think he's hit the ball anything but hard in 7-10 days) makes it even less likely Spivey will be asked back. Junior may be 3-5% better (I disagree, but), but would cost $2.5 mil or so. Ginter is locked in for about $500K next year. The money can certainly be spent more wisely, and the injury-prone Spivey is a very poor option to hope he stays healthy enough to deal. I mean, we tried that in '04, and he got hurt twice.

And if you would have told me a month ago that Gary Glover would be considered for a 40 man spot, I would have proclaimed you blissfully ignorant. Much like Wes O, he simply looks like he knows what he's doing, even though his results at the big league level would indicate he does not, not counting his small sample nice ERA thus far in '04. At the very least, Glover will be in someone's major league camp next March, and if not for some injuries, he would probably just have been looking for a team to hook up with for some AAA innings.

9/30/2004 01:32:00 AM

(9/30/2004 01:18:00 AM) - Al

Just to clear up what I wrote the other day. It sounds as if Attanasio will be paying the ownership group just the equity they have in the team. What that means is this. Rumor has it the price of the team was about $200 million, and that the team's debt has been reduced to about $100 million. So, Attanasio will be paying the old group $100M for the team, and assuming the debt. It would be up to him if he wants to keep the debt for tax purposes (I would assume he would keep at least the long-term debt), or pay it off and be debt free.

While many of us love the tax advantages our mortgage brings us each April, I'd trade that in a heartbeat for having no debt.

Also, the JS has reported in their latest edition that the price being paid is $220 million. If that is the case, Attanasio may well be paying the Crew for their eventual share of the Expos sale, which was rumored to be going to the current group.

9/30/2004 01:18:00 AM

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

(9/29/2004 11:58:00 PM) - Al

I really enjoy watching poker on TV. I play online. I played in Iggy's last tourney, and suffered such a horrible bad beat, I still have been unable to tell anyone about it. I enjoy reading Aaron Gleeman write about poker as much as I like his baseball stuff. And I'm jealous as heck of Taylor.

That all said, I never thought I'd see the day. Who would have ever bobbleheads?

9/29/2004 11:58:00 PM

(9/29/2004 11:29:00 PM) - Al

The only name I've even heard discussed for the new DC team is the Grays. That seems like the only possibility, and you would think it would be anounced soon. After all, I have to believe more Grays merch will be sold between now and Xmas than the Expos have sold this century.

9/29/2004 11:29:00 PM

(9/29/2004 10:51:00 PM) - Al

Jim Caple being Jim Caple. Hat tip to Rod, who correctly forecast the Brewers' new debt a day before the JS, by the way, for e-mailing me the link.

Econ professor Caple's money quote:

When you consider that, plus all the money major league teams paid out running the Expos the past couple years, wouldn't it have been much easier to have simply used that money to build the Expos a stadium in Montreal and keep them in one of North America's largest markets?

That's right, Caple thinks it would have been a fine idea to spend about $300 million (minimum) to build a stadium so the city of Montreal could not attend games at a spankin' new ballpark. This would have been cheaper than, ahem, selling the team for a profit.

Remind me never to call Caple for investment advice.

28 of the 29 other teams doubled the Expos attendance in '04. They've been last in attendance annually since 1998. In the much talked about 1994 campaign, when the team was 74-40 when the players went on strike, Montreal was still in the bottom half of the NL in crowd size. They were last in the upper half in attendance in...1983.

Can someone tell me how in the world Jim Caple is still taken seriously? I'd call him a senseless buffoon, but I wouldn't want to offend buffoons without sense.

9/29/2004 10:51:00 PM

(9/29/2004 10:33:00 PM) - Al

Correction, Gary Varsho's brother has been named to manage the Eau Claire Express. Ramblings regrets the error. Thanks to Craig for pointing it out to me.

9/29/2004 10:33:00 PM

(9/29/2004 09:28:00 AM) - Al

Apparently, the Washington Grays is rumored to be the nickname of the DC team that is currently the Expos. The Grays was the nickname of the DC Negro League team that played decades ago.

I am not a fan of the Grays nickname, but do like the idea of a connection between MLB and the Negro Leagues. Considering the DC area is as African-American as any that I'm aware of, and MLB has done more than any other sport to encourage minority participation in management positions, it wouldn't be a surprise.

I found this when I searched for the Grays:

Therefore, we call on the Washington Baseball Club and Major League Baseball to support the following actions:

1. Bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Washington, D.C. under the name of the “Washington Grays” as a living memorial to the Negro Leagues and baseball’s integration history.

2. Build a museum at the Washington Grays’ stadium that honors the Negro Leagues and its players and addresses the historical impact of segregation on baseball and Washington D.C.

3. Create an education program that reaches out to the local community by teaching the history of segregation and the battle for integration in Washington, and providing the tools for civil discourse on civil rights issues.

The one thing that jumped out at me was that the Negro Leagues do have a museum in Kansas City, though I can see why it would be much better served in DC. However, as politically correct a choice as Grays would be, it's hard to see another choice being made.

9/29/2004 09:28:00 AM

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

(9/28/2004 09:24:00 PM) - Al

It's official, according to the Associated Press at least, DC will be announced as the Expos' new home tomorrow.

Not sure why MLB isn't waiting until after the last Expos game, though I guess the amount of trouble a crowd of a couple thousand isn't that threatening.

9/28/2004 09:24:00 PM

(9/28/2004 08:59:00 PM) - Al

What's amazing is, even though both Sutton and Scvhroeder have played the game, they are still completely ignorant of the most obvious events. Listening to their description of Dave Krynzel over-running a pop-up down the RF line, it is simply embarassing. It wasn't the most difficult of plays, but it wasn't easy either. It was right by the line, and Dave had to use his speed to get to the ball. High pops like that tend to not come straight down, either curve toward the stands or back toward the field. Many times, the 1B or 3B will race toward the ball with thier back to the IF, and the ball will end up 20 feet from them. Neither Bill nor Daron act like they've ever seen a ball move. And, Krynzel has never played RF in his life, and needless to say, you don't see a lot of balls with that kind of spin end up in CF.

I honestly cannot imagine a more incompetent pair.

9/28/2004 08:59:00 PM

(9/28/2004 08:00:00 PM) - Al


Just to correct everyone who is stating that the Brewers have $130 million in debt to payoff, thats not true. The Brewers had $130 million in debt at the beginning of the season, however they have had a strong season attendance wise, they have slashed the costs of payroll, and they have also had increases in concessions and revenue sharing monies. Plus I also believe that the sale will dictate that the old owner's will get the proceeds from the sale of the Expo's. My guess is that the Brewer's will have paid off between $30-40 million in debt by the time the sale goes through and all of a sudden they look like they have a nice profit on the sale.


Thanks for reading and writing, Rod, a regular contributor. Rod makes a good point, but to be honest, I'm going to keep using the $130M number until I hear another one. I guess that in my experience as a manager, debt load is usually only reported yearly, in the annual statement of the company that I'm currently dragging down with my employment. I suppose with interest and all, the number changes daily.

I'm sure you're correct however, that the debt load has gone down in this very successful season, financially that is. I have also heard that the Expos money will go to the current ownership group, which seems fair to me.

9/28/2004 08:00:00 PM

(9/28/2004 07:16:00 PM) - Al

ESPN is reporting some unique deals to pacify Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles. Details can be found here. What's funny to me is, while the naysayers wonder what has taken so long, they have no idea the in-depth, multi-million negotiations that have been going on. It's also strange that many people have insisted that DC does not add any revenue to the O's, which is as ignorant a statement as you can make. Corporate tickets, suites, and DC TV revenue obviously is not tiny.

9/28/2004 07:16:00 PM

(9/28/2004 09:54:00 AM) - Al

I just noticed that, as of today, OAK/BOS would not have to face each other in the first round, as it'd be NY/OAK and MIN/BOS. Being a fan of both the A's and Red Sox, I'd love to see them meet in the ALCS, winner to the Series.

Of course, the A's are only up a game with 6 to play, so they have to get there first.

9/28/2004 09:54:00 AM

(9/28/2004 08:48:00 AM) - Al

I am far from an economic expert, but I guess I have just assumed the new owner of the Brewers would be paying what now sounds like about $190 million for the team, and then taking over the debt of about $133 mil.

According to the JS, that isn't how it works.

Money quote:

Selig owns 27.8% of the outstanding common stock of the Brewers. If, for example, the club sold for around $180 million, and $47 million was left after debt was paid, Selig would probably just about break even on his investment in the team, according to David L. Donihue, managing director of the Milwaukee office of the accounting firm RSM McGladrey Inc.

Major League Baseball said last November that Bud Selig had committed about $13.2 million of his own money to the Brewers over the years. His 27.8% share of the estimated $47 million profit would be about $13.1 million.

I would certainly assume Mr. Donihue knows what he's talking about, unless the question asked him was based on incorrect data. If this is the case, suddenly the price (which is said now to be about $190 million) seems like a bit of a bargain. A debt-free MLB team, with an existing stadium just 4 years old (that the new owner would own 30% of), with the top farm system in the game...sounds pretty reasonable. Not to mention, I believe the expected price for the Expos, as well as the last expansion teams, was about $250-300 million.

UPDATE: According to reader David V, the last two teams paid $130M to enter MLB. I have seen the larger figure estimated for the Expos. I was probably thinking of the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA, who paid $300M. Sorry for the incorrect info.

Add that to the tax benefits that new owners take (Again, I'm no expert, but it is my understanding that a new owner can write off half the purchase price of the team over the first five years of owning a team, as depreciation. Hence, you could "write off" $19 million a year, for tax purposes.) and suddenly, you can easily see the Brewers being run completely differently almost right away. Absolutely no revenue would be used to "pay down debt". None. While it's quite legal and not at all out of the realm to imagine Attanasio simply profit-taking with his huge write-off, it's difficult to imagine.

Suddenly, a payroll of $60-80 million is not just a pipe dream, but a realistic possibility. Just last year, the team had about $116M in revenue, and about $104M in expenses. Without any debt, that's quite a tidy profit, to say the least, and if memory serves, the payroll was in the $45-50 million range. Without figuring in any increased attendance, add up the numbers:

2003 payroll----$45M
Profit w/o debt--12M
Tax deduction----19M

Total available--$76M

And remember, the Brewers were Top 10 in MLB last year in spending on scouting and devlopment.

If the JS is correct that the new owner suddenly is free of debt, a major change could well be on the horizon.

9/28/2004 08:48:00 AM

Monday, September 27, 2004

(9/27/2004 10:23:00 PM) - Al

Looks like my Thursday prediction is going to be accurate.

And may I add this team had better not be called the Senators. Not only is it a boring nickname, it's twice failed. Being it will be in our nation's capital, I'd be all for something like "Freedom", with a generous portion of red, white, and blue in the color scheme.

9/27/2004 10:23:00 PM

(9/27/2004 08:16:00 PM) - Al

A little over eight months ago, the Seligs announced the club was for sale. I was not all that excited, although the thought of a wealthy owner did have its appeal, as you can read here.

I don't know a thing about the owner, but I do know that, yet again, I'm not nearly as excited as most. I do know that I'm hoping for the best. However, I am going to be worried if one prospect is dealt.

9/27/2004 08:16:00 PM

(9/27/2004 06:18:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers have officially been sold. Details over at the JS.

9/27/2004 06:18:00 PM

Saturday, September 25, 2004

(9/25/2004 11:46:00 PM) - Al

A very unintentionally funny article awaits you over at as follows:

Hundreds of Montreal Expos fans held a rally near Olympic Stadium on Saturday in the faint hope of dissuading baseball from moving their hometown team.

Wow, hundreds!

Several speakers...addressed a crowd of approximately 500 people in a parking lot adjacent to the Pierre Charbonneau Centre.

500! That might have been the entire game crowd.

"I think the fans could be the spark for the renewal or the rebirth of the Expos,"Filteau said.

Renewal, rebirth, death, it's all the same.

The Expos have four home games remaining this season, and Wednesday night's game against Florida could be the last big league game at Olympic Stadium.

Yep, look for an anouncement Thursday.

...there are a lot of people who feel that this team still deserves to be in Montreal, that they still love the Expos and that this city can support a baseball team," Hart said.

There are a lot of people who think man never walked on the moon. There is no limit to being a buffoon who does not learn from history.

Allow me to beat the rush and wish good riddance to Montreal right now.

9/25/2004 11:46:00 PM

(9/25/2004 10:53:00 PM) - Al


That "nice, normal facility" in Melbourne is actually the most extreme pitchers' park in all of minor league baseball, based on the 2003 season. Thanks to rainouts and hurricanes, the Manatees only managed to play 125 games this season while the Mavericks completed the entire 140 games schedule. Brevard County also only managed 54 home dates (lowest in High-A ball), while the fewest in the California League was 66.

Hey, I'm mostly happy about all of the changes the Brewers made in their minor league organization, but those are some mighty thick rose-colored glasses you're looking through.

Also Al, it's about time that you comprehend that, to the AAA owner with a $10 million investment, that the minors are not about developing prospects. 95% of minor league fans don't give a damn about it either. The owner cares about making money, the fans want to have a good time and winning is a significant component for both of them. While Milwaukee doesn't HAVE to care about that, if they want to their prospects play in the best ballparks in the best locations they'd better try to keep the minor league owners and fans happy.

Yukon, OK

Thanks for reading and writing, David, and I'm happy to announce that David's e-mail is the 2500th post here at Ramblings. David brings up a decent point, as I'd rather see the kids play 136 games rather than 125. That said, I'd rather play anywhere other than the Cal League (ye of the 1160 park factor, 1000 being normal), or if forced to play there, anywhere other than High Desert.

And I'm certainly not worried about playing in a pitcher's park, what's the worst that can happen...our youngsters learn to pound the strike zone, and to challenge hitters? Count me in.

As for the minors, I just saw a story earlier this year that examined if winning was related to good gate, and for the most part, the answer is no. It helps, but good weather, good promotions (especially fireworks!), and a family friendly atmosphere are more important. I believe the Indy Indians had excellent attendance this past season, which was far from successful on the field. I do not have a link, and I can't even recall where I saw it, but I'm all but positive I am remembering the facts correctly. I also have seen many minor league fans insist that fans don't want to see wining teams made up of no name AAA vets, but want to see prospects, and then see them make the big leagues and talk about seeing them play "way back when". To me, the minors are there for one reason...developing talent. I'd rather see 3 prospects and 65 wins than 1 prospect and 80 wins.

I know when I go to Appleton to see the Timber Rattlers play, or go see the Woodchucks play in the Northwoods League, I rarely am even aware of if the home team is good, bad, or indifferent. I'm not sure if I'm a "normal" minor league fan or not, as how serious is the "normal" fan? I'm a very casual minor league fan (or summer wood bat college league fan, as the case may be), to say the least.

I'm giddy about the minor league realignment myself, as once again, it shows the Crew looking at the big picture, and that they have a plan, from the bottom up.

9/25/2004 10:53:00 PM

(9/25/2004 10:47:00 PM) - Al

I got home from work tonight and happily went over the the VCR, pushed in my Brewers game, and...saw my local station had carried the Cubs game. Of course, this would have been the best game to watch in at least a month.

Actually, after today, there's no way Wes O won't keep his 40 man spot. A month ago, I would have said Wes O was unlikely, and Russ Branyan had no chance. Today, those are two locks.

9/25/2004 10:47:00 PM

Friday, September 24, 2004

(9/24/2004 10:12:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers announced a two-year player development contract with the Brevard County Manatees of the Advanced Single-A Florida State League, finalizing their lineup of affiliates for the 2005 season.

In the past two weeks, the Brewers inked a Triple-A deal with Nashville and a Single-A deal with Charleston (W.V.). Along with Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville, it gives Milwaukee four affiliates in the southeast U.S. Previously, the top four affiliates were located in Beloit, Wis., Adelanto, Calif., Huntsville and Indianapolis.

"This new affiliation with Brevard County gives us a geographic alignment that we have not had in the past, as each of our top four farm clubs are located East of the Mississippi," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said "The facilities and support in Brevard County will also be a great asset to our players and development staff."

The Manatees, formerly an Expos affiliate, play their home games at Space Coast Stadium (capacity 7,500, built in 1994) in Melbourne, Fla. The club has ranked near the top of the 12-team Florida State League in attendance over the past two seasons including third in 2003 and fourth in 2004.

The Brewers go from having a high maintenance, extremely needy AAA owner (who doesn't seem to comprehend the minors are for developing prospects, not winning), to a nice AAA city in Nashville, who may be getting a new stadium. The, in high A, we go from Coors Lite, where I could hit .320 with 20 home runs (well, I couldn't, but a man could) to a nice, normal facility, albeit with a funny name. In low A, the team that can't keep holes from appearing in the outfield is replaced by Charleston, WV, with a new stadium on the way there as well.

I don't believe it's been mentioned, but if memory serves, all four of the Crew's main affiliates are now more pitcher's oriented parks. So, much like Huntsville, if a hitter is able to put together a .350/.400 season, that's got to be considered a solid campaign, even if it isn't eye popping.

9/24/2004 10:12:00 PM

(9/24/2004 11:53:00 AM) - Al

The JS does not seem to be reporting anything about a possible upcoming sale, which I guess only means the wire services aren't reporting it as of yet. Everything I've read would indicate a sale is less than 2 weeks away, and that it may be announced before the Expos move is made official.

9/24/2004 11:53:00 AM

Thursday, September 23, 2004

(9/23/2004 10:35:00 PM) - Al

WTMJ in Milwaukee is reporting that the Brewers will be sold in "10-30 days", according to a member of the Brewers' board, who met today. The source would not disclose whose offer the team was about to accept.

However, as was reported here on Tuesday, supposedly, the offer being discussed today was from Mark Attanasio.

9/23/2004 10:35:00 PM

(9/23/2004 04:52:00 PM) - Al

I think I'm probably not doing much more than declaring that the Earth is round, but all indications around the internet is that MLB will announce an Expos move to Washington DC or Northern Virginia in the next 10 days or so, with DC considered a heavy favorite.

I have read predictions that Peter Angelos, the Orioles' owner, will recieve an upfront cash payment of $25-50 million for giving up the DC area as part of his BAL market area.

9/23/2004 04:52:00 PM

(9/23/2004 03:57:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

Just wondering if you have any thoughts on the new cities for A and triple A teams. They are farther away, but Iowa is in Nahville's league, so it looks like a trip to Des Moines, Iowa might be a family vacation next year, unless I can talk the wife into going to Nashville, probably a better vacation city anyway. Just looking for your thoughts, keep up the good work, I check on your site often.

Wauwatosa, WI

Steve, I think your wife must be more understanding than mine. I've said the past couple years that I wanted to make it down to Indy to see the AAA team, but never came close. I'm not even sure Des Moines is any closer than Indy for me, as I think it's about a 6 hour drive. Sadly, a Milwaukee/Des Moines combo platter isn't that convienient either. I usually made it to Appleton a couple games a year to see Beloit play, so I'm sure I won't make it to West Virginia that often.

FYI, if you missed it, Nashville and Milwaukee are now AAA partners. I still find it unique that the Milwaukee Admirals are Nashville's top affiliate, and now the Nashville Sounds are the Brewers' top farm team. That's what we call "irony".

UPDATE: Brewers farm director Reid Nichols visited Nashville on Sept. 9, then traveled to New Orleans on Monday to meet with officials there. Nashville won out because it is just over 100 miles from Huntsville, Ala., home of the Brewers' Double-A affiliate, and because Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, the Brewers' official carrier, runs daily nonstop flights to and from Nashville.

"There are some times that you need a player quick, and you don't know it until noon," (Doug) Melvin said. "That had a lot to do with it."

A minor detail, but as always, a plan is in place. Good to see.

9/23/2004 03:57:00 PM

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

(9/22/2004 10:28:00 PM) - Al

No one has mentioned it at the JS yet, but the Crew is probably going to finish with closer to 2.1 million fans than 2.0 mil. I assume the weekend series with HOU will draw pretty well, but not well enough to reach the 2.1 mark.

It sure is nice watching Brady Clark put together such a nice season. Remember, this guy is a better CF than Podsednik. Few 31 year-olds are still improving, but Brady has done nicely with regular playing time.

And it's a small sample, but Pedro Liriano has gone from crappy AAA starter to decent major league reliever in just a short month. He's a skinny fella, so he may never be able to pitch 175 innings anyway.

9/22/2004 10:28:00 PM

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

(9/21/2004 07:38:00 PM) - Al

Craig Counsell turned a 6-3 DP, but threw the ball before he touched 2B. Bill and Daron noticed it after the commercial break. I saw it in live action. Of course, the ump was watching everyone's feet, so he was clueless.

9/21/2004 07:38:00 PM

(9/21/2004 07:13:00 PM) - Al

Wow, Dave Krynzel's defense has been advertised as outstanding, and he just made a HR robbing, Torri Hunteresque catch in deep left-center. Let's hope his offense eventually catches up with his D.

9/21/2004 07:13:00 PM

(9/21/2004 06:50:00 PM) - Al


I know you have discussed the possibility of a Mark Cuban type buying the team, you know, incredibly rich fellow who just uses the team as a hobby (my choice would be OPRAH!!). Looking at the 2005 free agent list, names that jump out at me are Derek Lowe, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Varitek. Now, signing all these guys would be financially silly, as they would cost as much as the 2004 team. But, let's pretend for a moment. How much would those 3 guys have improved this year's team? I'm going to bet not nearly as much as most folks would think. I'll guess they'd still be far under .500. Love the blog, thanks.


A fun e-mail, thanks for reading and writing, Ronald. There is, of course, no way of knowing how many W's the Crew would have with these three players. The best we can do is estimate. But, I have no qualms running the numbers:

Actual 2004 team: 5033 AB's x .321 OBP x .385 SLG = 622 projected runs, while the "real" team has scored 579 times, 93.1% accurate.

The difference between Beltran versus Grieve/Clark is: -27 AB, -3 BB, -6 H, +3 2B, +5 3B, and +24 HR.

The difference between Varitek and Moeller and 50% of Gary Bennett is: +29 AB, +27 BB, +41 H, +8 2B, +10 HR.

By the way, for those of you at home thinking this might be fun, it's not.

Those two make the numbers 5035 AB's x .328 OBP x .416 SLG = 687 projected runs, 65 more than you'd project currently.

Lowe is even more confusing, as he's started 30 times, pitching 173.1 innings. If you remove Hernandez, DLR, Hendrickson, and Obermueller's numbers, you have 30 starts and 169.1 innings. Hey, it's all in good fun. That's 128 earned runs given up by our guys, and 100 by Derek, a savings of 28 runs.

That would lower the Crew's runs allowed from the actual 701 down to 673. So, 687 scored versus 673 allowed would make them a +.500 team, which surprises me. Of course, you're talking about one of the best catchers in the game, an outstanding OF, and a solid pitcher, so that is quite a gain. With the Crew at 62-87, doing the Pythageorum theorum would put them at a .510 winning percenatge, or 76-73 right now. That's a 14 game improvement, but still not in wildcard contention.

Whew. At the end of the day, it reminds me of the old joke, "The good news is we're only two players away from contention. The bad news is, those two players are Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth."

9/21/2004 06:50:00 PM

(9/21/2004 08:56:00 AM) - Al

It is my understanding that the Board of Directors will be voting this Thursday on an offer from Mark Attanasio. He has offered to purchase 70% of the team, with three current board members to remain on as part owners, Canning & Turer being two of them.--"Rickey"

I posted this rumor from a message board, so it may be as true as a conspiracy theory. As always, time will tell.

9/21/2004 08:56:00 AM

Sunday, September 19, 2004

(9/19/2004 10:29:00 PM) - Al

I'm a little disappointed in Tony Gwynn, as he sounded as dumb as Bill Schroeder tonight on ESPN2. Saying the Crew "gets plenty of baserunners", something he said many times actually, simply isn't true. Waste all the time you want worrying about strikeouts, contact, and "clutch hitting", baseruners equals runs, period.

Let's look at the NL; team, runs scored ranking, and OBP ranking.

SF---1st in R, 1st in OBP
SL---2nd, 4th
COL--3rd, 2nd
PHIL-4th, 6th
HOU--5th, 5th
ATL--6th, 3rd

{Note: Top 6 offensive teams also the top 6 OBP teams.}
{Note 2: ATL is just a fraction ahead of 2 teams, very close to 5th.}

CUBS-7th, 11th
SD---8th, 7th
LA---9th, 8th
CIN--10th, 10th
FLA--11th, 9th

{Note: Top 11 offensive teams also the top 11 OBP teams.}

METS-12th, 14th
PIT--13th, 12th
MON--14th, 15th
MIL--15th, 13th
ARI--16th, 16th

{Note: Bottom 5 offensive teams also the bottom 5 OBP teams.)

If you have a fine SLG team, or a speed laden team, for example, you can move up a few notches, but in the end, you are going to score runs based almost exactly on how many men you have reach base...end of story. By far, the most important thing a hitter can do is not get out, as that's exactly what OBP measures.

All the other numbers are for the lawyers.

9/19/2004 10:29:00 PM

(9/19/2004 09:14:00 PM) - Al

This will not make it into the JS, but the Crew has 4 of the top 15 prospects in the Arizona League, the low rookie affiliate.

The link can be found here.

9/19/2004 09:14:00 PM

(9/19/2004 06:05:00 PM) - Al

If you were still wondering about those CBS memos, take a look at the Washington Post's side-by-side comparison.

It would appear that if they are real, they were in a time machine at some point, as the spacing certainly looks to be computer generated.

9/19/2004 06:05:00 PM

(9/19/2004 01:49:00 PM) - Al

Tom H comes through with one of his patented "mail it in" efforts, as he puts forth his opinion that the Brewers' #1 ranked minor league system had a terrible year...then doesn't back that up at all in the rest of the article. Classic Tom, thinking if he says it enough, it will be taken as fact.

He barely mentions any prospects by name, as I doubt if he knows many. He does say that the team suffered injuries to many of their top guys, which is pretty much true.

The thing is, the only "prospect" that has been promoted and contributed was Mike Adams. The others, and I'd say the Crew has up to 25-30 prospects that can be considered "major league quality", are still there, and with rare exception, still considered prospects. Some improved their standard, some faltered a bit, as is always the case.

Tom would appear to have extremely little understanding of player development, as he focuses on meaningless things such as won/loss record in the minors. He doesn't mention that the Crew has been aggressive in promoting their top young players. Both Rickie Weeks and Tony Gwynn Jr. were drafted in 2003, and spent the entire '04 campaign in AA Huntsville, for example. Both did OK when you consider their ages and inexperience, but neither put forth the statline you'd hope for from your top picks. Tom would, being a negative nellie, tell you half the story, but not the fact they were pushed.

Ramblings will be going over the top prospects in the system at some point, so if you are truly wondering how the kids did, you'll get an unbiased look at their progress, or lack thereof.

9/19/2004 01:49:00 PM

Saturday, September 18, 2004

(9/18/2004 03:47:00 PM) - Al

Derek Lowe is a free agent after this season. Lowe is an extreme ground ball pitcher, and if you believe the folks who don't bother with facts, Lowe has lost quite a bit since his superb 2002 campaign, and a lot since his solid 2003 season.

That's half-true. He was outstanding in 2002. But, he is all but the exact same pitcher he was last year, just hasn't been as fortunate.

2003---17-7, 4.47 ERA, .337 OBPA, .397 SLGA, 4.87 K/9, 1.53 K/BB
2004--14-11, 4.91 ERA, .349 OBPA, .410 SLGA, 5.12 K/9, 1.53 K/BB

I'll be the first to say Derek may well sign a contract for far more than he's worth this offseason. He'll be 32 in '05, and is probably on a slope downward. But, while I wouldn't expect vast improvement, I would expect some. Lowe is a Michigan born fella who is said to abhor the game under a microscope atmosphere that gives Boston its charm.

It is unlikely the Brewers will even talk to Lowe's people, unless a team sale occurs quickly, but there would be no negatives about it. A move back to the Midwest, to a park which would only help, to an atmosphere where a poor outing is greeted with a shrug, where a tough question from a reporter is just as likely to be about Springsteen as Sosa. His ERA rise in '04 is likely attributed to bad luck and poor defense, as his secondary numbers remain all but the same.

Given the NL would lower his ERA about a half-run, you'd likely be looking at a veteran SP who would be projected at a 4ish ERA, with 200 IP. It isn't difficult to imagine, with the other positives, to see Lowe again in the 3.50 ERA range, out of the AL and a major media market.

9/18/2004 03:47:00 PM

(9/18/2004 09:53:00 AM) - Al

Thought I'd take a few minutes and recap what men "in the know" said about our top prospects. Last night, AAA manager Cecil Cooper was on the pre-game show, and talked about the Crew's top 3 position player prospects at that level:

JJ Hardy--Cecil simply couldn't throw in enough superlatives about JJ. Perfect temperment, will be a steady major league SS, .280 hitter, good strike zone knowledge, may need a half season more at AAA, but will be up soon.

Corey Hart--Needs a half year more, in Cecil's opinion. Holes in swing and strike zone. work on D. Very athletic and raw, will get better. Future 30/30 guy.

Dave Krynzel--Excellent defense in CF. Needs another year in AAA, to learn zone, keep from overswinging.

Reid Nichols, who is charge of player development for the Brewers, had a 5 part interview with Jim Powell earlier this month. His thoughts:

Ben Hendrickson--Solid #3 starter in the bigs. Will have a long career.

Jorge de la Rosa--Projects very well, very good fastball, two other decent pitches. Hinted at DLR being a bit of an underachiever, saying "it was up to him" how far he could go.

John Novinsky--Above average fastabll and slider. Projects well in short relief.

Mike Jones--Elbow and shoulder trouble. Oof.

Manny Parra--Will pitch in bigs, needs to focus on his best 3 pitches.

Dana Eveland--Pitched very well in Beloit, bumped up to AA. "Heavier", but a fine young arm.

Chris Saenz--Flaw in delivery, causing trouble. Good velocity, but will continue to have pain until his delivery is "fixed".

Matt Ford--Inconsistent year, a lost season for him. Potential and talent still there.

Glenn Woolard--Has a knuckle curve that's awesome.

Dennis Sarafate--Like Ford, lost season. Disappointing.

Jeff Housman--Solid, pitched well.

Nick Nuegebauer/Ben Diggins--Both injured, accomplished little.

Nick Slack--"Unhittable" when on, violent but effective delivery.

Mitch Stetter--Seen as a lefty reliever, used as starter to give him innings, help develop.

Ty Taubeheim--"Dominated" Beloit. Good fastball and curve. Velocity improved.

Khalid Ballouli--Hard to judge in High Desert.

Lou Palmisano--Solid, .300 hitter, leader, will be a major leaguer

Angel Solome--IRod arm strength, good swing, good power.

Prince Fielder--Improving defense, AAA in 2005, ready for bigs in '06.

Rickie Weeks--Stats not great, but tools incredible. Only a pro for a year, big jump from low level college.

Hernan Iribarren--Very powerful, consistent.

Calix Crabbe--Solid 2B.

JJ Hardy--Great before injury.

Alcides Escobar--"Probably behind JJ", which is a statement to ponder. Handled Helena at 18, plus arm.

Josh Murray--"Minor off field issues", minor ionjuries as well. May end up at 3B.

Adam Heether--Good power, hit a lot of HR's, improved D.

Enrique Cruz--Arm, speed, power all there, needs time.

Corey Hart--Good, solid year. "Should see in 2005".

Dave Krynzel--D is wonderful. Needs to be more consistent.

Tony Gwynn Jr.--Sure hands, smart, in AA holding his own after one year as a pro.

Brad Nelson--Good D, good power.

Vinny Rottino--Utility guy type, productive.

9/18/2004 09:53:00 AM

Friday, September 17, 2004

(9/17/2004 09:41:00 PM) - Al

I'm just surprised it took this long.

I'll take Steady Downward Slope for $800, Alex.

9/17/2004 09:41:00 PM

(9/17/2004 07:37:00 PM) - Al

The Dodgers are a very well run franchise, thanks to DePod taking over the reigns, but they are a PR disaster. A guy buys tickets, the Dodgers happily sell them...and apparently, this is a problem.


9/17/2004 07:37:00 PM

Thursday, September 16, 2004

(9/16/2004 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Watched my tape of the Brewers' game today, and while there's little good about a loss, seeing Brady Clark handle a rundown better than most infielders was a joy, as was seeing Wes Helms run all out down the line on an infiled dribbler to end the game. The Brewers have little difficulty always having guys that try hard and hustle, sadly, they just aren't as talented.

9/16/2004 10:03:00 PM

(9/16/2004 06:45:00 PM) - Al

In Philadelphia, the nation's #4 market, Rather pulled a 2.6 rating/5 share on Tuesday night against ABC's 13.3 rating/23 share and NBC's 4.0/7.

In Chicago, Rather hit a 2.3/5 to ABC's 9.2/20.

CBS trailed ABC by more than 2 to 1 in Los Angeles.

And in the nation's top market, New York, Rather finished not only behind NBC NIGHTLY NEWS and ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT -- but also pulled less audience than reruns of the SIMPSONS, WILL & GRACE and KING OF QUEENS.

Rather finished dead last in New York during the 6:30 pm timeslot among all broadcast channels tracked by NIELSEN on Tuesday.

Emphasis added, because it's so darn funny.

9/16/2004 06:45:00 PM

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

(9/15/2004 10:43:00 PM) - Al

High Desert and the Royals have partnered together, eliminating the possibility that the Crew would get stuck back in the extreme offensive ballpark that exists there. As far as I know, all the teams that remain play in much more nuetral parks, meaning the Brewers will once again use their high A affiliate.

9/15/2004 10:43:00 PM

(9/15/2004 11:31:00 AM) - Al

The Crank lends a national perspective at what will be one of the most interesting Senate races in the nation, the incumbent Russ Feingold vs. the challenger Tim Michels.

I'm surprised Feingold is considered so vulnerable, given his incumbency and long service.

9/15/2004 11:31:00 AM

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

(9/14/2004 06:51:00 PM) - Al

A reader just informed me that ESPN reported that the Brewers may sell 40,000 tickets tonight, though they are only expecting a crowd of 25-30K. Many folks want to be able to sell the extra tickets, if a HR is hit.

Also, for those who have not been to a game of late, they do not tear the tickets anymore, they just scan 'em. Therefore, the market for "unused" tickets is all but nonexistant, as no one can tell.

EDIT: The line for brats and beer looks to be about 10 deep. I would have been there an inning ago, ordering my brats in peace, with Bonds at the plate.:)

9/14/2004 06:51:00 PM

(9/14/2004 06:44:00 PM) - Al

Doug Davis went after Bonds, got ahead of him 0-2...went to a full count, then got him on a pop-up to short CF, caught by the SS, who was playing short CF.:)

Don't give Bonds too much credit, he's just a mere mortal.

9/14/2004 06:44:00 PM

(9/14/2004 06:27:00 PM) - Al

Joe Morgan has a nice article up at ESPN. I haven't heard one person defend the pitcher except Showalter, who looks more ignorant every minute.

9/14/2004 06:27:00 PM

(9/14/2004 10:47:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers have signed with Charleston, WV to field their low A team, replacing the Beloit Snappers.

You can see the details here.

Money quote:

It was a difficult decision leaving Wisconsin, but we are very excited about the city of Charleston and the Charleston franchise, our criteria for moving was very specific: quality people in leadership positions, a nice facility, a league that fit our development process, a location and league with better weather, and a city that supports its team.

We feel that we have found this in Charleston, WV. You will see the Alley Cat players in your community, as we encourage our players to get involved. We look forward to being part of your community for years to come.--Doug Melvin

It's a very minor thing (no pun intended), but it's still a step forward for the organization. Warmer weather and better facilities are a plus, end of story. Add this to the fact that they will have a high A team that they'll actually use, rather than Coors Lite, it's all good.

9/14/2004 10:47:00 AM

(9/14/2004 10:16:00 AM) - Al

Milwaukee Busines Journal has two recent stories about the Crew. Hat tip to Ajay.

Payroll, attendance

Sale news

9/14/2004 10:16:00 AM

(9/14/2004 09:16:00 AM) - Al

Ugly incident in Oakland last night, as the Rangers' relief corps got into it with fans near the bullpen. A chair was thrown into the crowd by Frank Francisco, who shouldn't be allowed to play another game this year. Reading the story about the game, it would appear this is a breakdown of the entire organization.

OAKLAND-- Texas reliever Frank Francisco threw a chair into the right-field box seats Monday night, hitting two spectators in the head, as Oakland Athletics fans taunted the visitors after a two-out, top-of-the-ninth home run tied the game.

Tonight, it went over the line. It was a real break from the normal trash you hear from fans. We've had problems about every time we've come here.—-Rangers manager Buck Showalter

One of the fans, an unidentified woman, left with facial lacerations and a broken nose. According to vice president of stadium operations David Rinetti, the woman was considering pressing charges.

Emphasis added. Say what you will about Ned Yost, who I respect and think has done a decent job, not being an expert at the "strategery" side of the game. But, not only do the players seem to enjoy him, and the atmosphere he has created, the idea of Yost defending a player for committing an assault of a paying fan is all but impossible to believe. I have not heard, nor read of a version of this incident that mentions anything but verbal abuse being hurled at the Rangers. Grow the hell up. I'd be honored to get yelled at and called names all day...oh wait, that isn't that far from reality.

The truth is, there is no rule that says TEX has to have their relievers in the bullpen. They are able to sit in the dugout, and trot down when called upon to warm up. And unless your "abuse" consists of more than insults at your heritage or family, cry me a river.

9/14/2004 09:16:00 AM

(9/14/2004 09:06:00 AM) - Al

Speaking of false optimism, I'm brushing my teeth without my glasses on, and past the hall I can hear the TV on, as my wife is watching the end of the Packers' game. The announcers are talking as if the outcome is in doubt, so I figure there must have been quite a comeback. Turns out it was 24-14...with 17 seconds left. Even worse, Carolina had the ball somewhere around midfield.

They had as much of a chance as Ralph Nader does in November.

9/14/2004 09:06:00 AM

(9/14/2004 08:55:00 AM) - Al

I was flipping channels last night, and on ESPN, they were discussing the Phillies' chances of a wildcard. I wasn't really paying attention, but it sounded as if optimism was being floated about. This surprised me, as the Phillies chance at a wildcard is all but nonexistant. Not only are they 5 games out, they are behind so many teams, that hoping for a losing streak of the front runner is a waste of time. Now, I guess if they would win 15 of their remaining games, that'd give 'em 89 victories, so you'd have to say they are not eliminated...but the odds of a 74-70 team finishing up 15-3 is, as I said, barely there.

I'd put the odds of Larry Bowa returning in 2005 at an identical percenatge, by the way. I can't imagine his antics lasting half as long as they have.

9/14/2004 08:55:00 AM

(9/14/2004 08:47:00 AM) - Al

Maybe I'm just strange, but I fail to understand the excitement over Barry Bonds' pursuit of his 700th HR. It's just a random number, and it doesn't really excite me at all just 'cause it ends with 2 zeros.

I think it will be great when he gets close to #714, and barring injury, #755. I just don't see the excitement over #700.

9/14/2004 08:47:00 AM

Monday, September 13, 2004

(9/13/2004 04:33:00 PM) - Al


I'd be very interested to read your reaction to the Rob Neyer
controversy. I included two links which pretty much sum up the story. There aren't
many baseball debates where I will take Tracy Ringolsby's view over Neyer's,
but this is one of them. Neyer's self-importance on this issue is sickening. If he didn't like the book (which is fairly obvious), he simply should have said so in writing. I realize that may have hurt the author's feelings, but at least it is ethical and honest.

Ringolsby's column

Neyer's column


Craig, thanks for reading and writing. I had heard nothing of this, and wish I hadn't. I have no idea what Neyer was/is thinking, but he should have never written it under a false name, and should not be defending it now. I have nothing against it myself, but it can only lead to problems. Personally, I can't imagine that this book could be that bad, and am even more curious about it now.

Of course, Rob is pretty much an unread journalist now, as he is only read on ESPN Insider, which has very few members compared to how many hits ESPN gets every day. I wonder if that's bothering him.

I have to agree, Craig, Ringolsby's writing is much more sensical than Neyer's, which seems like politician changing his stance to fit the latest public opinion poll.

As a sidenote, the first part of Tracy's column said almost exactly what I've been thinking, that those who think the Expos new home has to be announced in a few days is full of it. It is all but for sure that DC will get the team, whether it be on a trial basis or permanently given them the club. There is no worse place than Montreal for the Expos. One thing that is for sure is just how much detail there is to getting a MLB team in your city, and just how late all the areas interested got serious about their effort. If just one of them had pulled a Norm Coleman (the current US senator and former St. Paul mayor who all but single-handedly brought the NHL back to the Twin Cities), the team would be in that area.

You don't get a MLB team by going at it halfheartedly (though you can sure keep a team that way). The cities need to step it up a notch in their pursuit of the promised land.

9/13/2004 04:33:00 PM

Sunday, September 12, 2004

(9/12/2004 07:34:00 PM) - Al

The JS says there are 3 names involved in rumors as far as purchasing the team...and name them.

9/12/2004 07:34:00 PM

(9/12/2004 07:30:00 PM) - Al

Brewers officially say they will get 2 million, and that payroll will go up accordingly next year.

9/12/2004 07:30:00 PM

Saturday, September 11, 2004

(9/11/2004 08:54:00 PM) - Al

I got nothing except to redirect you to this Crank post, 2 days after 9/11, if memory serves. As I've stated more than a few times in my life, while many say "they will never forget", most not only have, but have forgotten all we learned. Delays at the airport are not a big deal, and neither is worrying about a few billion (or trillion, for that matter) dollars spent on intelligence and defense.

There's no doubt the world changed that day, and our most dangerous enemy is faceless and anonymous. Some are from Montana, some are Muslim. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Needless to say, I hope the lesson of 9/11 is lesson enough. If the 19 would have been chubby Caucasians with graying hair, I'd be happy to step out of line because I "fit the profile". After all, I have nothing to hide. I do not worry about feelings, I'm concerned with defending freedom.

9/11/2004 08:54:00 PM

Thursday, September 09, 2004

(9/09/2004 09:39:00 PM) - Al

Just a few brief thoughts...

...If Brooks Kieschnick played in New York or Boston, I'd be so sick of hearing about him. But, the fact he is both a solid hitter and a passable middle reliever, literally doing something that no one has done since Babe Ruth, makes the small amount of media he has got pitiful. It's just amazing that outside of Wrigley Field, baseball fails to exist in the Midwest.

...Let's play Jeopardy. Answer: Brad Wilkerson. Question at the bottom of the post.

...It's just a joy to watch Brady Clark play. Sure, we're talking about a RF who has a 770 OPS even in this, a fine campaign for him. Of course, he also plays a fine CF, so it's not his fault he doesn't play there. I for one hope the Crew doesn't bring in another Grieve type for '05. If Corey Hart isn't ready, or isn't healthy, just throw Clark out there until someone is. I'm not even afraid to let Magruder be the 4th OF, though I doubt they'll be room for him on the 40 man this offseason.

...So, tell me again, why did the Mets trade their top prospect to contend this year? I didn't understand it then, and I still don't.

...Has anyone else noticed that the Red Sox have both scored more and allowed fewer runs than the Yankees? In 2 fewer games, BOS has scored 24 more runs, and allowed 54 less. And yet, it's just a shock the Sox have made this a race. If it wasn't for pure dumb luck, Boston would be several games ahead, setting up their playoff rotation.

...Question: Name a player that many people cannot identify both his team and position...that has a higher career OPS than Ichiro.

Hey, Suzuki is a nice little player, and much like Clark, it isn't his fault he's a slap hitting CF playing RF. But, while above average (especially this season), you'd think the guy could walk on water. He can't.

9/09/2004 09:39:00 PM

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

(9/08/2004 10:08:00 PM) - Al

Those curious where the Brewers' minor league teams will be next year:

AA will remain in Hunstville, AL.

High rookie ball remains in Helena, MT.

Low rookie ball remains in Maryvale, AZ.

The Brewers are apparently "shopping" for both low A and high A teams. The high A feeling seems to be "anywhere but High Desert", a very offensive park in an offensive league. Coors Light does not appeal to the Crew.

It has surprised many that the Crew did not renew with Beloit, where they have been for decades. Rumors of poor field conditions, as well as cramped training facilities, has them at least checking out what else is out there.

As for the AAA level, there are 5 teams and 5 open cities:

Round Rock, TX (moved from Edmonton)
New Orleans

Kansas City

Houston and Round Rock is a done deal, and many wonder why it hasn't been there some legal issue about the move? KC and Omaha have been partnered forever, and it is difficult to imagine them not being together. That leaves the Brewers' options as NO, Nashville, and Indy...hardly a disaster regardless. It is somewhat ironic that Nashville could be the Brewers' top affiliate, while the Milwaukee Admirals are the top farm team of the Nashville Predators.

And, whoever gets the '05 AAA Brewers will see one of the most prospect laden teams in recent memory...Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Nelson, Krynzel, Hart, and many others. You would expect several of them to be in AAA next year, some will do well, some will struggle.

Time will tell, and I realize that while this is as boring as it gets for many of you.:)

9/08/2004 10:08:00 PM

(9/08/2004 08:54:00 PM) - Al

Lots of public sympathy for the Devil Rays' plight...poor, poor Tampa Bay.


As I said previously, it's their own fault they chose to sit through a hurricane, rather than getting to New York City. The funny thing is, Tampa's own defense is as silly as it gets, paraphrasing here, "We wanted to stay at home with our families". Um, yeah. I'm all but positive most all the D'Rays spent late last week at Home Depot, purchasing plywood, protecting their modest first home purchase, right?

I don't think it's reading too much into it to guess most of the players are either single or living away from their families during the season. The fact of the matter is, the D'Rays main objective should have been to get to their next city, and take care of their families the way most Floridians did, by getting the hell out of Dodge.

The ironic thing is, those that chose to "ride out the storm" are dismissed as idiots...except the D'Rays, who are some sort of heroes for doing the same thing.

9/08/2004 08:54:00 PM

(9/08/2004 08:25:00 PM) - Al

Nick Neugebauer released.

TINSTAAPP, pretty much the dictionary definition.

Nick N has shown himself to be a really good guy over the years, supposedly even making an appearance on the ESPN Brewers forum long ago. Best of luck to him. I'm sure someone will continue working with him as he rehabs, but the odds are getting shorter every day.

And once again, allow me to say, Dave Stewart may well be the stupidest person on the planet. Years later, we're still suffering from Grumpy's pure ineptness.

9/08/2004 08:25:00 PM

Monday, September 06, 2004

(9/06/2004 04:42:00 PM) - Al

Not sure if today is a fluke or what, but Gary Glover can pitch. 91-94 mph fastball, and credible breaking stuff. I expected him to have much less velocity, as he has never had a K rate of more than 5 per 9 IP. With some good outings in September, he could work his way onto the 40 man.

9/06/2004 04:42:00 PM

(9/06/2004 04:19:00 PM) - Al

Called up to the Crew now that Indy's season is complete:

P Travis Phelps
C Mark Johnson
IF Trent Durrington

Disappointed not to see Matt Erickson and/or Chris Coste. Still, I believe the Crew is going with 31-32 players on the roster, so you can't say they're going cheap.

9/06/2004 04:19:00 PM

(9/06/2004 04:05:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure what the maximum fine Bud Selig can give is, but Tampa Bay should be receiving it. I have never heard of anything so absolutely foolish and short-sighted as the DevilRays choosing to sit in Florida during a hurricane instead of flying onto New York. I know the NBA insists teams always fly the night before a game for this very reason, though I'm not sure if MLB has such a provision or not.

Regardless, TB did not even make an effort to make the doubleheader on time, which was scheduled to begin at 3PM today (after being rescheduled for them yesterday, as it was originally set to start at 1). Instead, they chose to ignore common sense and make no effort whatsoever, reminiscent of the French during wartime.

Hey, I realize the airport was closed. Get on a bus Saturday morning (or Friday night), drive to Atlanta or Charlotte, and arrive in NYC in plenty of time to enjoy a couple evenings of Manahttan nightlife.

It pretty much sums up the idea from top to bottom.

9/06/2004 04:05:00 PM

(9/06/2004 04:01:00 PM) - Al

Ben Ford also brought up to eat a few innings, as Victor Santos is unable to start today due to a split nail. Gary Glover picks up the spot start, and Ford takes his long man status. Ford actually pitched decently early in '04, except for one horrible 5 runs allowed outing. However, a 4.85 ERA in AAA relief is far from impressive, as is his 52 hits and 21 walks given up in 46 innings. Needless to say, he won't be called on when the Crew has the lead very often.

9/06/2004 04:01:00 PM

Sunday, September 05, 2004

(9/05/2004 10:25:00 PM) - Al

The crowd of 33,446 on Sunday pushed the Brewers' season attendance to 1,842,624. With 10 home dates left, the club still has a chance to surpass the 2 million mark, a feat accomplished only twice in franchise history (in 1983 and 2001). The Brewers will need to average 15,738 per game to do so.--JS, 9/27

Emphasis added. The incredibly negative beat writers at the JS will not give in to the obvious fact the Crew will draw 2 million fans until it is announced they have sold their 2 millionth ticket. Good news is simply ignored by the JS, or in this case, is attempted to be turned into bad news, although Olson doesn't have the literary skill to accomplish the feat. Simple mathematics be damned, common sense be damned.

I predicted 2 mil almost 3 months ago, and I had nothing to go on except attendance numbers and schedule knowledge. Months later, the boys at the JS are still "on the fence".

Hard to believe they never scoop anything, isn't it?:)

9/05/2004 10:25:00 PM

Saturday, September 04, 2004

(9/04/2004 04:02:00 PM) - Al

Drew Olson chat...corrections appear to be necessary.

Q: Lurch of Kenosha - Let's face it, we have a bunch of utility/bench players (Helms, Counsel, Clark, both catchers, Ginter, Hall, Grieve)as starters coupled with all year non-performers in Genkins & Pods and are we suprised by the collapse? What's the chance Yost is going to try and convince all of us that Helms IS the guy at 3rd and will rebound next year? Please, Ned, don't do that to us. Also, who else can't stand watching our catchers? Both are so anemic that we should bring Schroeder down from the booth.

A: Drew Olson - Lurch - You hit the nail on the head there. Ask yourself which Brewers starters would play for other teams in the division or the majors? It's a short list. That's where the payroll comes in.

Actually, "Lurch" makes a decent point, except he adds Ginter's name to the mix, and Mr. Olson does nothing to correct this.

Average 2B-----.334/.403, 737 OPS
Ginter, 2004---.318/.432, 750
Ginter, career-.341/.428, 769

Above average does not equal "utility/bench player". Even in this subpar OBP season, Keith is still more than mediocre. If Keith is on your bench (as he was for much of the first half of the year), you got a pretty solid team (as the Crew did).

Q: Slim of Milwaukee - Any chance the Brewers call up Matt Erickson next week, so we won't have to put up with Bill Hall trying to pull everything down the leftfield line anymore? Counsell has been terrible with the bat lately too!

A: Drew Olson - Slim - I think he was taken off the 40-man roster earlier this year, which makes his chances, um, slim.

Matt is indeed still on the 40 man roster. One forum poster, a banker, compared this to himself not knowing the loan rates. Even if Drew did not know, all he had to do was look at his media notes, or the team webpage, to confirm.

I'd love to see Matt brought up, as he's a lefty hitter who can play 2B/SS/3B.

Q: Tim of Madison - How long does a player have to play in the majors before he is eligible for free agency or arbitration. I ask because it seems obvious that the Brewers should just bring up their farm system guys and let 'em play (can't be any worse than they are now), but I know they won't because they don't want to lose the prospects any earlier than they need to.

A: Drew Olson - 3 years to arbitration. 6 years for free agency.

Nitpicking, but many players qualify for arby with less than 3 years experience. A list is amde with those between 2.0 and 2.99 years of experience, and those in the top 1/6th are labeled "Super 2" players and also qualify.

Q: Brad Truckenbrod of Germantown - Do you think Scott Podsednik has Tiger Woods Disease? Womanitis. You know what I mean. I will leave it at that.

A: Drew Olson - Brad - I'm not touching that one. Unless it hits the papers (like Kobe Bryant), guys personal lives aren't really our business.

I missed this until now, but I find it very funny Drew took the time to say he was not going to answer this question. Also, since he controls what goes in the paper, the "until it hits the papers" line is priceless Drew Olson.

FYI, for those who do not know, Scott has apparently been dating an attractive model, whose name escapes me now, but I will update this after I look it up.

UPDATE: The model/reporter is Lisa Dergan, who has apparently works for FOX Sports and has done modeling for various magazines and such. Her website can be found HERE, and while I do not believe it contains any of luck finding it.:)

Q: Eugene Mannarino of Bronx Ny - Hi Drew. Well the brewers season has come crashing down and now it time to ask about a few Players and their Chances to be here again in 2005. Danny Kolb,Luis Vizcano,Wes Obermuller,Junior Spivey, Russ Brynan. I was wondering if the Brewers reach 2 Mil will that allow them as well new owners to spend some Money in Free Agency.

A: Drew Olson - Don't hold your breath, Eugene. Even with new owners, it's unlikely the payroll will shoot past $40 million or $45 million next year and
part of that will be eaten up by the raises coming to Jenkins, Davis, Sheets, Kolb, etc. The Brewers face a free agent double-whammy - they don't have a lot of money and not a lot of marquee guys would even consider coming here until the team gets better. They have to keep scouring the dumpsters for diamonds in the rough and hope that their kids come through soon.

Emphasis added. FYI, Geoff is earning $8.55 million in '04, and will make $7 million next year, with a $1 million signing bonus that will be paid in '05. So, Jenkins will actually be making less.

To be honest, this was one of Drew's better chats, kinda newsy (the Hart's shoulder is bothering him and will not be up, I mentioned it a day or two ago), and not full of music and pop culture references.

9/04/2004 04:02:00 PM

(9/04/2004 03:34:00 PM) - Al

I visit a few message boards on a regular basis, to see what fans are thinking, and to come up with ideas. One of the more commonly stated items from 2004 is one of the more popular complaints of fairweather/bandwagon/casual fans always have:

The reserve catcher (or utility infielder) is HORRIBLE!!!! Why don't we release them and get a real player?

Of course, catchers and middle infield are the most difficult defensive positions to play. Obviously, a limited number of baseball players have the ability to play these positions defensively. Of those who can defend, those who can hit are in high demand. To be blunt, a lot of starting catchers and middle infielders can't hit a lick, so the idea of being able to have guys sitting on the bench, able to catch or play 2B/SS, AND be able to be above average offensive players, is very unlikely. To me, it's a way of separating the intelligent from the "I can tell by watching, don't bother me with no stats" fans.

So, today I was just meandering down the Brewers' numbers, seeing who is a bit higher than I thought, who's a bit lower, etc; when this little tidbit jumped out at me:

Gary Bennett---.279/.323, 602 OPS
Chad Moeller---.267/.322, 589 OPS

A popular message board rant could be summed up like this:

Why does Yost play Bennett so much? Moeller should play more!

I refer to this as the April effect. If two players both finish the year with the same numbers, yet one is heralded as much better than the other, you can almost always trace this back to their numbers in the first few weeks of the season, which are a small sample by defintion, and therefore meaningless.

Let's look back to these players' April numbers, shall we?

Moeller--.351/.449, 800 OPS, hit for cycle
Bennett--.278/.333, 611 OPS, no cycle

After April, I felt pretty good about my Moeller projection, and now, it's going to be as far off as any player I predicted. So, Chad had a good April, hence, Chad is a fine hitter "in a slump". Gary couldn't hit at all, and still can't hit. That's the simple minded way of looking at these two players' output. It isn't correct, but it's the way casual fans look at the game. Anything can happen over the course of a few AB's, and that's exactly what April is, a random sampling. Things even out over 162 games. Over a month, odd numbers occur. Too bad some simply can't separate the two.

9/04/2004 03:34:00 PM

(9/04/2004 09:14:00 AM) - Al

Andy Pratt has been named as the PTBNL from the Cubs for Grieve. Andy is best known as being the main cog in the Juan Cruz trade. He was pretty good in the minors in '02 and '03, and horrible before and after. A LH hard thrower with a high K rate, Pratt is the perfect example of "you can't teach velocity". As far as a nugget picked up for a month of a reserve OF, you can't do much better. In 196 AAA innings, he has a 3.34 ERA and 197 K's. The potential is there.

Brooks Kieschinick is back with the Brewers, recalled from rehab.

Also, a poster on the forum is saying Gary Glover was brought up by MIL. Glover is a poor man's Matt Kinney, 5ish ERA in 300 major league innings, mostly with the White Sox. He has struck out about 4.5 men per 9 IP, so he would appear vulnerable. If he was brought up solely as a long man, for depth and insurance, no problem, as with de la Rosa and Hendrickson now in the rotation, the Crew will probably need someone to eat up a few innings in a lost cause once a week.

9/04/2004 09:14:00 AM

Friday, September 03, 2004

(9/03/2004 10:03:00 PM) - Al

I have 9 of the Amoco voucher things for free tickets, if anyone has any interest in them, please e-mail me by clicking the "e-mail me" button on the right.

FYI, the 2 games left with tickets are 9/14 and 9/21.

9/03/2004 10:03:00 PM

(9/03/2004 11:01:00 AM) - Al

Dave Burba to SF for a minor league lefty.

Odd timing to say the least, as SF cannot use Burba in the playoffs, if they make it, of course. Dave did a credible job, and can always be signed as a FA for '05, if the Crew desires. He has that type of arm (old) that you don't really mind abusing in middle relief.

Kubel had good secondary numbers this year at AA (less than a hit per inning, 2.5-1 K/BB ratio) and supposedly has a very good change-up. He struggled to keep his ERA down, as it sits at about 4.50 right now. For 30 days of Dave Burba, I'll take it.

9/03/2004 11:01:00 AM

Thursday, September 02, 2004

(9/02/2004 08:14:00 PM) - Al

Misc. notes...

...Yost says Pods and Clark and even Jenkins may only play 5-6 games a week the rest of the way, to give some playing time to Krynzel and Magruder. Surprised to see Chris' name mentioned right in the mix with Dave's, as Magruder is half a decade older and while I like his potential, as a platoon/reserve OF with tools, Dave is a top 10 prospect, and could easily be a top 2-3 guy on a team less blessed with minor league talent.

...If you read Drew Olson's chat today, he hints a couple times Corey Hart's shoulder is injured and he cannot throw at all, though it doesn't sound serious, as I think he even said the Brewers wanted to "shut him down and get him ready for winter ball", which is only 60 days away, or thereabouts.

...It should also be mentioned that while I pretty much have believed Hart would be handed the RF job next March and start between 67-80% of the time, with Clark subbing occasionally, hopefully setting Corey up for success; Olson guesses the 2005 starting RF is not with the organization right now.

...Minor quibble with Yost last night. I know he seems to enjoy using Adams/Vizcaino/Kolb in the 7th/8th/9th innings. I'm certainly not going to cry about Danny allowing a HR, it happens to the best of them, and if the Pirates ever get a manager with a clue, Craig Wilson will get more chances to hit them. But Ned didn't seem to even consider the fact that a 2-1 lead wouldn't hold up, and that the chance of extra innings was nearly nil. Ned can't control that Davis had to leave after only an inning the night before. But having no one except Bennett to pitch the 10th seems like it wasn't planned out well.

...Ben was just lights out today. Only 103 pitches needed for the complete game, and Yost said it was the first time as a coach or manager a reliever never warmed up. That seems impossible to believe, as ATL surely won several games going away, and Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Millwood/etc. were always known for low pitch counts. Maybe his memory has failed him.

...Ginter may have had one of the best series of the year for any hitter, he got at least 6 hits in the 3 games he started, and hit 4-5 more rockets that turned into outs. Looked good at 2B as well. Funny, his defense was questioned on a forum the other day, and I put forth that the league leader in zone rating (Aaron Miles, COL) had an .850, while Ginter, who hasn't played enough to qualify, has an .851 ZR. Where I come from, best in the league is plenty good enough for me.

9/02/2004 08:14:00 PM

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

(9/01/2004 07:51:00 PM) - Al

I can't believe how young Dave Krynzel looks. I mean, you see kids play college basketball all the time, and Dave's 22, but he appears like a high school senior. His dad and several other members of his family have arrived in MIL to see Dave make his debut. Sounds like he'll play once a week or so in CF, and once or twice a week in RF.

Let's hope this is the start of a parade of prospects into Miller Park the next 2-3 seasons.

9/01/2004 07:51:00 PM

(9/01/2004 06:31:00 PM) - Al

Hi there,

An interesting insight on the choice of AAA affiliates made by MLB franchises. Living in Edmonton, AB, it would seem that teams generally do consider proximity to the parent team. Generally the Edmonton Trapper franchise has had a tough time keeping their parent club due to the fact that we are a remote Canadian outpost. It is no coincidence that of the last four affiliations we have had in the last decade, 3 are considered low revenue clubs (OAK, MIN, MTL), with one mid-revenue club in between (ANA). It would seem that this has always been a last choice, bottom of the barrel affiliate.

The reasons cited for EDM's disadvantage are numerous...

1- As you mentioned, customs is a major issue. As the only Canadian franchise in the PCL, every visiting player goes through the arduous process coming into EDM, as does every Trapper player and coach when on road trips.

2- Weather. You mentioned this in your Ottawa example, although I disagree with your example as Ottawa summers are fairly warm (I have lived there). But Edmonton is a different story. This past season, the Trappers had their April home games shifted to Yuma, AZ, as in the past couple of Aprils, if the games weren't snowed out, it was so cold that the crowds were tiny. The summers are not very warm here either.

3- Travel. With the Calgary and Vancouver clubs having departed, the shortest road trips are to Tacoma and Salt Lake, neither of which are just down the road. Add to that, the lack of direct flights out of EDM (Calgary is much better positioned for this). The result is increased travel costs for both the Trappers, and visiting teams, as they have to make a trip out to the hinterland for one series.

The PCL and it's members has supposedly been wanting EDM out of the league for a while now, mainly for the preceding reasons and it's not hard to understand. Sadly, Thursday will be our last chance to see AAA baseball in this town, as they have been sold to Round Rock, TX interests (following in the parent club's footsteps). None of the exiting parent clubs have ever said anything bad about working with the Trappers since I have lived here, it's simply a matter of inconvenience, as described above.

Many thanks for an always interesting viewpoint,

Edmonton, AB, Canada

Jeff, many thanks for reading and writing. I'm not sure if you are aware, but Edmonton will have a Northern League team next year, so there will still be good baseball in Alberta in '05.

Also, Round Rock is owned by Nolan Ryan and his son(s?), and they have built an empire of sorts in the minor league world. They have had preliminary talks about moving the entire Florida State League to Texas, but have made little headway, as the FSL uses mostly major league spring training sites, and is all but strictly used for development. It's also been anounced that the Cardinals have purchased the AA El Paso team and is moving it to Springfield, MO. This is somewhat newsworthy because El Paso has been considered a well run franchise for decades.

Not only is major league baseball as healthy as ever, with record attendance this year, and in all likelihood, next as well, with the Montreal monkey off MLB's back; but the minors are exploding as well, moving from old parks and into new and better digs on an annual basis. And don't forget the ever expanding list of independent leagues and college wood bat leagues as well. If the sport has ever been healthier, you'll have to tell me when and where.

9/01/2004 06:31:00 PM

(9/01/2004 02:06:00 PM) - Al

Can you imagine the conspiracy nuts when news of this hits?

Child: Dad, why can't I go on the internet?
Dad: Be quiet, you know they're spying on us. Ma, order us another gross of bottled water and a pallet of mixed canned goods. I saw a guy out changing the codes on the road signs, the military takeover is gonna go down soon.

9/01/2004 02:06:00 PM

(9/01/2004 01:08:00 PM) - Al

The JS reports the Brewers giving a very weak denial to reports the team is about to be sold.

Club officials said there was no truth to a report by ESPN's Peter Gammons that the team would be sold before the end of the week.

"He's not getting that information from the Milwaukee Brewers," executive vice president Rick Schlesinger said. "All I can tell you is that it's wrong. Other than that, I don't want to discuss the process."

Sources familiar with the process say multiple parties are showing interest in the club, and that a sale could be completed before the year is out. Daniel Gilbert of Detroit, the founder of Quicken Loans, is considered a strong candidate to purchase the team.

Note no comment such as "There are no current talks", or "No sale is upcoming". That's all but Mr. Schlesinger saying that most of the info is correct.

A bio of Gilbert can be found here.

9/01/2004 01:08:00 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.

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