Al's Ramblings

Friday, October 29, 2004

(10/29/2004 01:43:00 PM) - Al

A readable '05 schedule is up at the JS site. First impressions:

The Crew plays at MIN in May, I don't recall that happening before. Actually, if this is an MLB plan, moving "rivalry" series to May, a month that is normally slow, it is a good one.

As I said before, June is a horrible month. Only 10 home games, with only one weekend series. Granted, it'll be a popular month, with the Yankees, Cubs, and Twins visiting. Still, considering many folks don't dream of heading to the ballpark until after school is out, it's too bad there are so few June games.

No days off in July except the all-star break. DC is scheduled to visit the Thursday after the break...for a 1:05 start. Can't believe the Grays will appreciate that...not that I care either.:)

SF will visit for 4 games in late July. Little chance of seeing a historic HR at that point in the season.

Seems like a lot of 2 and 4 game series. Last year, it seemed as though every series was 3 games, as they had so many Mondays off.

Number of times with both Monday and Thursday off...none.

10/29/2004 01:43:00 PM

(10/29/2004 01:29:00 PM) - Al

So, if you throw a chair at a group of heckling fans, your punishment is...a slap on the wrist.

That DA ought to resign on the spot. His only job is to prosecute based on the law, and he obviously couldn't care less about the safety of the public.

10/29/2004 01:29:00 PM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

(10/28/2004 06:21:00 PM) - Al

The 2005 schedule is online. You can download it or get a poor view of it here.

The one thing that jumps out at me is how few home games there are in June.

10/28/2004 06:21:00 PM

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

(10/27/2004 11:12:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to the Red Sox, and especially to Theo Epstein.

I'll be the first to say Theo had a ton of money to spend, but that doesn't stop the fact he found good players no one wanted by any means possible:

David Ortiz--non-tendered FA
Mark Bellhorn--free agent
Bill Mueller--free agent
Gabe Kapler--FA after being released
Kevin Millar--waiver claim after signing with team in Japan

Any team in baseball could have had any one or all five of these guys, and all looked the other way. Epstein spent his money wisely, and also found some nuggets in the rough. He is the best GM in the game, and is still barely 3 decades only.

10/27/2004 11:12:00 PM

(10/27/2004 10:37:00 PM) - Al

As a public service, allow me to once again post this article, which shows that the chance of a military draft is nil. Given that there is no superpower remaining in the world that could possibly invade our fine nation, the only chance is a World War 2 scenario, which while possible in theory, bears no resemblance to today's world.

Money quotes:

It's interesting to note, however, that even with an active duty strength of three million in the 80s, our services were still able to fill the ranks entirely with volunteers.

Folks, right now, we are turning away volunteers for active duty in droves. With the current active duty enlistment and re-enlistment rates, Congress could triple the size of our active duty military, and a draft would still not be necessary. Things that wouldn't cause an "eye-blink" in the past, today require waivers to qualify, and -- as long as recruiting is going well, waiver approval is getting harder and harder to get.

On the very first day of the new recruiting fiscal year (1 October 2004), the Army already had 18 percent of the next year's recruiting goal signed up and waiting in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP). The Navy already had 60 percent waiting, and the Air Force an astounding 85 percent.

I'm stunned anyone would even consider the draft as anything but fiction.

10/27/2004 10:37:00 PM

(10/27/2004 10:21:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers reached agreement on a minor-league contract with infielder Matt Erickson, who was invited to the major-league spring training camp. Erickson, 29, a native of Appleton, spent most of the 2004 season at Class AAA Indianapolis, where he batted .271 with two homers and 34 RBI in 122 games.--JS

Always good to see the WI natives get ample opportunity with the Crew. Erickson is probably a much better utility choice than Trent Durrington, as he bats LH and plays 2B/SS/3B (as opposed to Trent, who apparently is unable to play SS, as the Crew had Junior Spivey play SS and Trent come in at 2B once last season).

Also, Matt got his first and only major league hit off Greg Maddux, and I believe he named his son Maddox as well. Gotta like any guy who names his kid after his hit.:)

10/27/2004 10:21:00 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

(10/26/2004 09:56:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers have 10 games at Miller Park against the Cubs in 2005, according to the Cubs' schedule they released today. Obviously, this is a plan by the Crew to request this from MLB, as that allows them to sell out weeknight games that would normally draw about 15-25K, based on the time of year, as well as leave more attractive weekend dates open for games with the Pirates, Rockies, and Marlins.

So, with the Yankees visiting, the Twins visiting, and 10 weekday Cubs' tilts, I would set the over/under at 2.15M, at this second, not knowing what the new ownership intends to do.

10/26/2004 09:56:00 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2004

(10/23/2004 11:07:00 PM) - Al

I'm in only to say I'm out. Off on business for a couple days, be back Tuesday evening. In the meantime, check out some of the links on the right.

As I've said before, if only Tim McCarver could marry his own voice. Other than the fact 95% of what he says is decades old cliches...every blooper or ground ball through the hole is "a good at bat". Manny Ramirez is soundly derided for a sliding effort, while Edgar Renteria boots a routine grounder to silence.

Let's not forget, neither the Rockies nor the Cubs thought Mark Bellhorn was good enough for the 25 man roster...those who do not respect OBP shall be doomed to suffer because of it.

10/23/2004 11:07:00 PM

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

(10/20/2004 10:41:00 PM) - Al

I'm going to start writing about the Red Sox victory, so if the Yankees mount an 8 run comeback in the 9th, blame me.

---The joke has been, can you imagine Steinbrenner? If George Costanza still had a job, he wouldn't now.:) I still wonder how with a $180 million payroll, they've had Sierra, Olerud, and most of all, Miguel Cairo playing most every day. Not to mention, an older pitching staff, with a bullpen only 2 (maybe 3) deep. Anytime Tanyon Sturtz comes in, close game in the 6th, and the announcers would say what a nice year he's had, I think of the DevilRays letting him go and figure, how good can he be? It's a fine team overall, but if you don't mind spending $10 mil on many players, why not spend $2 mil on a decent 1B instead of going with Tony Clark, or a guy SEA released.

---The Visa commercial with George being unable to sign is especially funny now.

---What's amazing is, Boston has a payroll of $120 million, or thereabouts, and are perceived as a small market team. I believe NESN pays the Red Sox more than any team except the Yankees, as the Boston market is made up of loyal fans all over the coastal region, several states large.

---The Greatest Bar in Boston was just shown on TV. How egotistical is that name?

---I've been a huge Theo Epstein fan ever since he was hired in Boston, and he's done nothing to make me think any less of him. Whenever he's added a noted defensive specialist, like Cabrera or Doug M, he's made sure that they are good career OBP men, though they may be in the middle of a poor season. He got Bellhorn for nothing. Traded for Schilling and had T-giving dinner with him and his family to convince him to agree to waive his no-trade clause. Broke a "gentleman's agreement" and claimed Kevin Millar on waivers when he was ready to sign in Japan, and got that deal done as well. Sure, he's spent a fortune, but he's done it in every single manner possible, not just signed expensive free agents.

Congrats to the ALCS victors, the Red Sox. The OBP laden team that could.

10/20/2004 10:41:00 PM

(10/20/2004 10:01:00 PM) - Al

I assume putting Pedro in the game will work out fine (despite a lead-off double), but it's a puzzling decision. I can't believe Lowe had that many pitches, and in all honesty, at his age, he can go 130-140 pitches once before I'm even concerned.

10/20/2004 10:01:00 PM

(10/20/2004 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Derek Lowe might well have made himself several million dollars tonight with a fine performance in Game 7. I would have said he might sign for $5 mil per, but he'll get more than that now.

I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying.

10/20/2004 09:54:00 PM

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

(10/19/2004 10:23:00 PM) - Al

The umps get it right again. This is as fine a job as I can ever remember. The initial call has been incorrect twice, but in the end, 100% is pretty darn good.

No way you can blame the 1B ump, as he was blocked AND he had to be looking for 1B interference as well, as Doug M was in the baseline.

I did see a play close to that in a softball game I was playing in, as a runner actually caught the ball as he ran, by leaving his hand out, rather than pumping his arms as he ran.

The ironic thing to me is, you can run into a catcher at full speed, or try and kick the ball out, but you cannot swipe at it with your hand. Odd rule.

10/19/2004 10:23:00 PM

(10/19/2004 09:28:00 PM) - Al


I was fired up to hear that the Crew would be visiting Tampa Bay!! This is the closest the Brewers will ever come to Jacksonville ever, so this is great news.

I'm keeping my eyes on the Brewers web-site to see the first move Mr
Attanasio( I apologize if it's mispelled) will make. You can't argue with Moeller's #'s. Every time I got the chance to watch the Brewers on TV I would cringe every at bat.I think a catcher with some pop would rock!

I've e-mailed you a couple times before and mentioned that I'm full-time Air National Gaurd. During the last month when the 4 hurricanes came so close to the 125th Fighter Wing up here in Jacksonville we take all the necessary steps to protect our 30 million dollar a piece aircraft (F-15's) from hurricane damage. The Hurricane Evacuation plan we have is to send all our flyable jets to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, about 20 minutes from St. Louis. We left on Sept. the 25th and ended up staying a week. The activities center on Scott AFB said we could get into a Cardinals game for free with our Military I.D. You'll never believe who I got to see!! OK, of course it was the Brewers!!! I went nuts.

The stadium was packed and I was the only Brewers fan in a sea of red. Though I will say the Cards fans are very knowledgable about the up-and coming Brewers. So they didn't clown on me too bad.It was the first game of the 4 game series and the Crew won 7 to 6. They almost lost it but they pulled through. I will say I cussed at Dan Kolb when he gave up a cheap infield hit but it was the same kind of cussing you'd use to motivate somebody. I know he didn't hear me but I felt bad anyway.

With all the nasty weather we ended up leaving Friday the 31st. So I didn't get to see any other games, but I'm the only Florida resident that was happy about the hurricane. I got to see my baseball team that I love so much (for free,thanks to the Cards) and it was the only highlight of the Hurrivac(hurricane evacuation).

Another thing is Busch Stadium was a little old but the place was in great shape and not to mention the history that has gone on inside that place and they want to tear it down. I saw plans of what the new stadium was going to look like and it reminds me of a Turner/Jacobs field kind of place.I say leave it and do a Lambeau field kind of restoration to it.That would be cool. St. Louis was a great town and they were all about their team which is what I think Milwaukee will be like WHEN the Crew starts putting some wins together.

Take care Al and keep up the good work. Keep us informed on any juicy
rumors when you hear anything.



Chris, as always, thanks for reading, writing, and serving. Glad you got to see a good game and a close win. Very nice of the Cards to do that as well. I know the Brewers had an April weekend in which they offered free tickets to military folks as well.

Busch is a fine old park, from everything I've heard, but SL is a baseball town, and they know a new park will generate more revenue for the team and for the city. I'm sure it will be loaded with suites and tons of prime seats. I do not believe I've heard it will be a retractable roof, but it should be. No way you can justify building a $500M structure and have it not be able to be used some days, especially when you consider the humidity of SL, and the distance from which the Cards draw. You don't want to wait until there's concrete falling off the beams to decide maybe an upgrade would be a good thing.

And yes, Cards' fans are as good as they get, they are all around Miller Park when they visit, and know the game. I have heard many say how nice Miller is, and how they hope their new one is a lot like it.

10/19/2004 09:28:00 PM

(10/19/2004 09:20:00 PM) - Al

Hey there Al-

Just wanted to know what your thoughts were on Bill Koch, who was released today. Worth a flyer? I would say "yes", especially if Kolb is drawing some interest. Not more than a one year/one million deal maybe plus some big incentives--and that only if we toss out Kolb. Koch is 30, but not far off from a big save season.


Not much interest in Koch from here, as with most vets, a minor league deal with a spring training invite would be fine. I'd almost hesitate using a 40 man spot on him more than the money. He has always been known as a flake, and once you're on the wrong side of 30, it usually takes some dedication to get back to form. As always, thanks for reading and writing, Jason.

10/19/2004 09:20:00 PM

(10/19/2004 08:34:00 PM) - Al

A couple thoughts as Bellhorn hits a 3 run HR, that the LF ump completely missed:

1. How did he miss that call? I saw it plain as day in live action, it hit off a fan who was not reaching over the wall. Matsui stopped, then decided to play along, and it took the umpires to talk it over for a couple minutes to decide it was indeed a HR.

2. Bellhorn was available for free last winter, no compensation required. He didn't play much in 2003, as he played for two managers, Clint Hurdle and Dusty Baker, who have no respect for OBP. Remember, Hurdle suggested Larry Walker retire after his '03 in which he posted a .400+ OBP. Baker keeps Tom Goodwin on the bench because he can run fast, but had no place for Bellhorn, who gets on at a .350 clip. And if this sounds familiar, it should.

10/19/2004 08:34:00 PM

(10/19/2004 08:30:00 PM) - Al

Huge satellite radio deal brokered with XM, worth about $470 million or so over 8 years. While that sounds like a lot, it's only about $1.9M per team per year, likely a bit less than that, after MLB takes out 5% or so.

It's just too darn bad Mr. Selig doesn't understand how to add new revenue sources to the game.

And I'm not sold on this wildcard thing either. {wink}

10/19/2004 08:30:00 PM

(10/19/2004 08:13:00 PM) - Al

No way I'll get the pitchers done tonight. It occured to me that while I had 2 catchers to discuss, and a couple guys at AAA, I have about 15 hurlers, with about that many prospects as well. That might be a doozy.

Besides, poker is on ESPN, and BOS/NY on Fox.

A message board is posting that the word is Kolb and Podsednik are being shopped. I have no qualms with trading Kolb, as he is an injury waiting to happen. However, Pods' value must be at a low point, or close to it. While many will say a Podsednik trade would open a spot for Krynzel, I would say Brady Clark would be handed the CF job until Dave shows he can hit AAA pitching.

10/19/2004 08:13:00 PM

(10/19/2004 02:48:00 PM) - Al

Too bad those playoff games aren't any fun to watch, huh? And, allow me to say once again, the wildcard was a huge, huge mistake.

How good is Carlos Beltran? The only way he could be any better is if he was a 2B or SS.

How silly is it that all you heard about after the blowout loss was how "embarassing" it was. A loss is a loss, 3-1, 19-8, whatever. The Red Sox are on the brink of pulling off history, though a win tonight is necessary before one gets too excited. I've always said that overcoming a 3-0 defecit wasn't that big of a deal, as baseball teams win 4 in a row all the time. For whatever reason, it's just never happened.

FYI, hopefully, I'll get the Brewers' pitchers recap up tonight.

10/19/2004 02:48:00 PM

Sunday, October 17, 2004

(10/17/2004 02:07:00 PM) - Al

CATCHER--Chad Moeller was expected to provide mediocre C numbers in '04. Gary Bennett was a good field/no hit guy who was expected to be a decent reserve. Well, one out of two ain't bad.

Moeller, 2004---.265/.303, 568 OPS
Moeller, career-.303/.357, 660
Ave C, '04------.326/.400, 726
Bennett, 2004---.297/.327, 624
Bennett, career-.310/.335, 645

Note that Bennett did not just have a better season than Moeller, if it would have been a fight, they would have stopped it. Mark Johnson came up in the last month and took lots of pitches, and seemed to steady the young starters a bit. Meanwhile, Chris Coste performed well at AAA, but played more 3B than C.


Folks that have seen Coste say he is a good athlete with a fine arm, but it is unlikely the Crew sees him as a prospect. No true prospects played above low A ball in '04.

ANALYSIS--Yuck. Moeller was almost immeasurably bad, and Bennett has already been released, though he certainly is a credible reserve. Johnson and Coste will both be minor league FA's. While Coste is not a young man, I feel he was the best option and should have got at least a look in September. Allow me to list the catchers who may be available this offseason:

Damian Miller
some other guys

While I would enjoy seeing Jason Varitek in a Brewers' uni for the next several years, listing him as a possibility offends all but the most optimistic and far from reality of fans. Let me also mention Jason Kendall as a viable option. PIT has been trying to dump Kendall for a couple years, and have been willing to pay half of his inflated salary to do so. Jason at $5-6 mil isn't a terrible situation, if the new owner is willing to spend the money, and the Pirates don't ask for too much in return.

However, Miller is a WI guy, who has expressed an interest in playing for the Brewers in the past. He is a FA, and despite being...not young, has not seen his production decline as of yet.

2001--.337/.424, 761 OPS
2002--.340/.434, 774
2003--.310/.369, 679
2004--.339/.403, 742

He has caught at least 100 games each of those seasons as well. Normally, a catcher who has hit at an above average level 3 of 4 years would be out of the Brewers' range, but hopefully, Miller will see playing at home as a good option. I would give him a front loaded deal, paying him market value for a starting catcher for a couple years, then as a reserve in 2007, which should pretty much sum up his career. A 3y/$10M deal, with the cash split 4/4/2, or something like that, is likely to be quite competitive with his other offers. Moeller is likely as good of an option as a reserve as you'll find, based on his career numbers, though he may price himself out of the role if he qualifies for arbitration.

10/17/2004 02:07:00 PM

(10/17/2004 01:46:00 PM) - Al

Jim, minor league link guru over at, writes to tell me that the Twins and Crew will have a home and home series in 2005, as you can see here.

So, it's home versus the Twins and Yankees, and on the road versus the Blu Jays, DevilRays, and Twins. Either it's excellent fortune, or the Crew does have a friend in the schedule office. The attendance difference between NY and TOR/TB for 3 weeknight games in June is likely 45K minimum.

10/17/2004 01:46:00 PM

(10/17/2004 11:29:00 AM) - Al

OUTFIELD---Much of the reason for the Crew's shoddy offense can be directly traced to the lack of production from the OF. Many days, Brady Clark was the best player on the grass.

Jenkins, 2004----.325/.473, 798 OPS
Jenkins, career--.344/.507, 851
Ave LF, 2004-----.358/.465, 823

The amazing thing is, Geoff wasn't much below mediocre. Granted, you want a lot more from your highest paid player, but a completely average club with Geoff in LF would probably win 80 games. His OBP was far too low, and can be traced to his lack of walks, 46 in 617 AB's. If he would have walked 16 more times to get up to the 10% mark many feel is necessary, it would have bumped up his OBP to just under .350, and suddenly, Geoff was exactly mediocre in 2004.

This is what I said about Scotty Po back in January:

...because it wouldn't surprise me at all to be sitting here in October discussing Pods' .320/.385 "what happened" 2004.

Sadly, Scott did not reach my projected "what if his numbers decline?" stats in '04, though he did steal bases at a clip rarely seen since the days of Vince Coleman. Meanwhile, Brady Clark, while rarely playing CF, is quite capable of doing so, and had a very good campaign.

Pods, 2004----.313/.364, 679
Pods, career--.343/.400, 743
Ave CF, '04---.340/.435, 775
Clark, 2004---.385/.397, 782
Clark, career-.353/.389, 742

I do not consider stolen bases to be a very important stat, but it's difficult not to give Pods credit for stealing at an 80% clip. Picking up 70 bases, while creating fewer than 20 outs (even considering pickoffs) does contribute to winning baseball. However, a 679 OPS is unacceptable.

I like Chris Magruder more than most, but he is a somewhat rare blend of tools, ceiling, and production. Switch-hitters who can play all 3 OF spots, run well, has corner OF pop, and has had solid AAA production, while still near their prime, aren't easy to find.

Magruder, career AAA--.337/.413

In the minors, there are several names you will likely hear in the next couple seasons. Dave Krynzel is an outstanding defender, who is still very young, but has shown OBP skills, though his swing is "loopy" and is far too long. Corey Hart fits in this same mold, though when you're 6-7, I suppose it's tough to have a short swing. Corey is also still plenty young, and had AAA numbers good enough to hand him the RF job, though the Crew does not appear willing to do so.

Krynzel--.332/.416, 748 OPS
Hart-----.342/.485, 827

In AA, Huntsville also had 2 guys that classify as prospects. Brad Nelson is a converted 1B who made progress in LF, and did OK in a pitcher's paradise. Tony Gwynn Jr. was pushed to the AA level after a half season in low A ball, and he struggled a bit, though everyone raves about his defense as well.

Nelson--.321/.434, 755 OPS
Gwynn---.318/.311, 629

ANALYSIS--Jenkins will be in LF (or RF), and I can't imagine Pods not being in CF to begin '05 either. Brady Clark once again performed very admirably, and I wouldn't hesitate using him as a starting CF, especially on a team not expected to contend. It isn't Brady's fault he is a CF playing RF, where the expected offense is much greater.

I would pencil Brady in as the 4th OF, and ink him to a well deserved extension, probably a couple years in length and $1.5-1.75M in total. Brady wasted many years trying to get the opportunity, and is very likely to forego a reward in arby in exchange for lifelong financial security. I would keep Magruder around as the 5th OF, for reasons I outlined above, and for the simple fact he's inexpensive. Low risk, high reward never goes out of style.

To start 2005, I feel a Nelson/Krynzel/Hart Nashville OF is about as good as it gets. All will be 23 or under at the highest minor league stop, and all three are considered true prospects. A minor league FA needs to be inked for depth, to DH, and to be around in case of need in MIL. None of the three youngsters should be promoted to sit on the bench 6 days a week. Gwynn should repeat AA, and I would expect to see a marked improvement, especially in his OBP. The lanky defensive whiz may never develop much extra-base power, but there is a place on most teams for guys who can go get the ball and not get out.

For all these players to settle into roles they can excel in, a corner OF needs to be brought in, as at least a stopgap, with a 1-2 year contract, much like Ben Grieve was used in '04. Options available as free agents include:

David Dellucci
Todd Hollandsworth
Gabe Kapler
Danny Bautista
Darren Bragg
Jermaine Dye
Karim Garcia
Juan Gonzalez
Ben Grieve
Brian Jordan

I left out names such as Beltran and Finley, guys who have no interest in playing in MIL or signing a short-term deal. One thing of note, hardly anyone on this list outperformed Clark in '04. Kapler is known to be a favorite of Doug Melvin, and was offered a deal last year, but chose to be a reserve for the Red Sox. Dye may be a player like Grieve last season, looking to make a splash and then sign one more big money contract. Ditto for Gonzo. Jordan and Bautista would probably be happy just to sign and finish up their careers. Hollandsworth, Garcia, Grieve, and Delucci would likely be platoon partners for Clark.

MIN would always seem to be a potential trading partner, as they have a minimum of 6 major league outfielders. Jacque Jones is overrated and overpaid as a corner OF (though would be a solid CF), but may well be had cheap, as the Twins may well be looking to dump his salary, with several cheap replacements waiting in the wings. Jones can't hit lefties at all, but that would not be a problem, with Brady and Chris willing platoon partners. Jason Lane still patiently is waiting to show what he can do in HOU as well.

Finally, Geoff Jenkins needs to be installed as the RF from Day 1 next spring. He has a long-term deal, and the defensive ability. A good hit/poor field guy (like Grieve) would be much easier to take in LF than RF. This is a long overdue move, and any reasons for not doing it have faded so much, I can't think of a single one.

10/17/2004 11:29:00 AM

(10/17/2004 09:52:00 AM) - Al

Very surprising story about Cecil Fielder, and some blurbs about Prince as well. A sad state of affairs.

10/17/2004 09:52:00 AM

Saturday, October 16, 2004

(10/16/2004 02:09:00 PM) - Al

Interesting note...both Tampa Bay and Toronto have released tentative 2005 schedules, and the Brewers are visiting both. In the past, the Crew has hosted two interleague series and visited two as well, one of each always being the Twins. It would seem either the Twins/Crew home and home series is no more, or the Brewers are playing more versus the AL in '05.

UPDATE: Both TOR & TB are playing 5 interleague series in '05. That would leave the possibility of the Crew playing the Yankees at home, TOR & TB on the road, and MIN home and away.

10/16/2004 02:09:00 PM

(10/16/2004 01:30:00 PM) - Al

While Billy Hall and Craig Counsell's zone ratings were almost the same (Hall had more range, Counsell more surehanded), I just noticed that Billy Hall had the highest range factor of any SS in MLB last year with 300 or more innings played at SS. RF is a team dependent stat, as it just measures putouts plus assists divided by nine innings. Therefore, if you are an infielder that plays on a team with pitchers that get a lot of K's and fly balls, you will have an artificially low range factor. Still, considering Hall and Counsell were both on the team all year, and played behind the same staff, the fact that Billy made an extra out per game when playing SS (5.19-4.16) is either a result of very good luck or much better out making ability.

10/16/2004 01:30:00 PM

(10/16/2004 01:03:00 PM) - Al

My wife and I were sitting all comfy enjoying Everyone Loves Raymond last evening, about 6:30, when we heard a gigantic blast, which sounded like an explosion of mammoth proportion. I wandered outside to find a very dark sky, and the faint sound of an airplane, but no sign of debris from a home having blown up. I went in and said it must have been thunder, or possibly a sonic boom.

So, on the news at 10, the LEAD story (yes, we do live in a small community) was a loud "boom" heard about 6:30. The police department was saying that the noise was almost certainly a sonic boom, made by either Air Force One or one of its military escorts, as the President had been in WI earlier in the day.

That must be why Air Force bases are usually located in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and other areas of open space. I don't think you'd ever get used to loud, house shaking noises like that.

10/16/2004 01:03:00 PM

Friday, October 15, 2004

(10/15/2004 09:11:00 PM) - Al

THIRD BASE--Both Wes Helms and Russell Branyan were utilized at 3B, along with Hall and Ginter.

Helms, 2004---.331/.362, 693 OPS
Helms, career-.315/.420, 735
Ave 3B, '04---.344/.453, 797
Branyan, 2004-.324/.525, 849
Russ, career--.319/.479, 798

Sadly, the Crew has no 3B of note in the minor leagues, at least not above the low A level.

Wes has a guaranteed contract for 2004 of $2.9M, not a franchise crushing deal, but an obvious and glaring error of the Melvin era which has had so few such mistakes of note. I feel there is a very good chance Wes' poor '04 was related to his injury. The two areas of his performance that were far below what you'd expect were his defense and his lack of power. He never appeared comfortable at all after his return.

Russ is exactly what he is, and will likely continue to be a reasonable facsimile of that. The fact that he was available at AAA for cash, the dictionary definition of "free talent", proves once again that the only difference between being a good AAA player and a role player in the bigs is almost strictly opportunity.

ANALYSIS---Most message boards seem to have Branyan pencilled in as the '05 starter, or as a member of a platoon. If no new face is brought in, that may well be what occurs. While I am indeed a fan of Russ, his best use in my mind is as a bench guy with pop, able to play 1B/3B/LF/RF, and when he's going good, should be worked into the lineup all but daily. It's difficult for me to look at his career OPS, almost exactly that of the average MLB 3B, and not like his potential to produce that relatively cheaply.

Wes would seem to be an excellent candidate for a "I'll trade my mistake for your mistake" swap this offseason. Even if he reverts back to his career norms, he's not that good of an everyday 3B.

If our new owner is looking to make a splash, the hot corner would be a fine place to start. There is no one in the minors to look forward to, and it is a tough position to fill in the bigs. In addition, the FA market is strong at 3B this year.

Tony Batista
Adrian Beltre
Troy Glaus
Shane Halter
Shea Hillenbrand
Corey Koskie
Herbert Perry
Joe Randa
Chris Stynes

Also, Mike Lowell of the Marlins could become a very desired FA if FLA fails to get a stadium bill passed by 11/1. The names on that list that appeal to me are Koskie and Glaus.

Glaus was a top 3B until this year, when he suffered an untimely injury, which may keep him from getting the money he otherwise would have. A decent defender as well, Troy would be a perfect fit in MIL, if healthy. He's a fly ball hitter, who would be aided by Miller Park. He's one of the few Angels that takes walks, and respects OBP. He's still in his peak performance years. He would take a major investment, probably close to the 6y/$66M deal Eric Chavez received. If his injury keeps his price and/or length of contract down, say he ends up with a 4y/$40M...I'd take a chance on that. Considering the Brewers IF might well have Fielder/Weeks/Hardy making up 75% of it, 3B would be an excellent place to spend.

Koskie's best years are in the past, and his numbers on turf are better than grass. That said, Corey would be much more highly coveted if he had played in a larger market {see his Baseball Reference page, as his comparables are Aramis Ramirez, Mike Lowell, and Aaron Boone, much better known and respected 3B}, and is a more realistic possibility than Glaus. At this stage of his career, he's probably a 125-130 games a year guy, though his minor dings may subside once off the hard turf of the Metrodome. Also, the Dome tends to hold down HR's a bit, and Koskie would benefit more than most in Miller Park. Koskie also has good plate discipline and is a fly ball hitter, and despite the fact he's seemingly been around forever, is only 31. I'd consider him a poor man's Troy Glaus, and while his career OPS is 836, not that much higher than Branyan's 798, his career .373 OBP makes him much more desirable.

It is easy to imagine Corey being a more consistent and better defender as well. Corey is a native of Canada, and lives in the suburbs of the Twin Cities year round. He is known to be a hunter and fisherman. If the Twins wish to save money by going with Mike Cuddyear or Terry Tiffee, Koskie would probably be as receptive to MIL as any free agent on the market. At 31, he is on the downside of his career, though his numbers have been very consistent:

1999--855 OPS

Even assuming a slight offensive decline, Corey would seem to be a defensive stalwart (9th, 2nd, and 9th the past 3 years in zone rating, despite playing on turf, which is faster than grass,I'd say Koskie is a top 5 defender) who is good for a couple more years of .355/.440 production. Considering the black hole that is 3B and the inexpensive youth projected to fill out the IF, a 3y/$15M offer would seemingly make perfect sense, if indeed the payroll is on the way upward.

10/15/2004 09:11:00 PM

(10/15/2004 06:51:00 PM) - Al

SHORTSTOP--This was a bit of a scapegoat position for the Crew, as neither Craig Counsell or Billy Hall produced enough to satisfy many fans. That said, neither performed at a level I would consider poor either.

Craig, 2004----.330/.315, 645 OPS
Craig, career--.345/.344, 689
Ave SS, '04----.326/.408, 734

Bill, 2004-----.276/.374, 650 OPS
Bill, career---.280/.394, 674
Ave SS, '04----.326/.408, 734

Craig got on base at a pretty good clip, while Billy's extra-base power was just below league average. A .330/.394, 724 OPS would be acceptable, to say the least. But, unless John Edwards makes it part of his faith healing revival tour, I don't believe you can combine two players into one, even with the medical advances sure to come with a Kerry administration. Regardless, by far the most promising SS in the system was at AAA last year, JJ Hardy.

Hardy, AAA----.330/.495, 825 OPS

It should be noted that JJ will turn 22 this offseason, and got only 101 AB's, due to a shoulder injury similiar to the one that felled Richie Sexson, basically their non-throwing shoulder "popping out", and both needed surgery to correct the problem. JJ is expected to be 100% by spring training.

Enrique Cruz struggled at AA to start the year, and was sent to High Desert, where he performed admirably, .347/.476, 823 OPS. Cruz wasted a year as a Rule 5 pick in MIL, and a slow start could have been expected. 2005 will be an important year for Cruz, still just 23, but he needs to put up some good numbers above the high A level. He'll begin '05 in AA Huntsville.

ANALYSIS--If not for JJ's injury, all went fine last year. Counsell started off strong, and JJ would have been brought up in July or August, and we could have avoided watching Craig grow weary late in the campaign. JJ could probably begin the year as the Crew's starting SS, but there is no reason to have him in that role. With 100 AB's at AA and coming off of a serious injury, a minimum of a couple months at Nashville should be prescribed. Quite possibly, JJ will be the SS of the present and the future by August, 2005.

What to do in the meantime? The best case scenario would be to sign a solid veteran SS who could be traded at the July deadline. The next best would be to sign a middling SS who could hold down the SS spot until Hardy arrives, then maturely move into the top reserve role. This should be a LH hitter, as JJ hits RH, and should probably be "rested" against a top RH arm once a week or so.

Taking a look at the list of free agents this year, here are a list of those who may be willing to sign a one-year deal, mostly due to age or ineffectiveness of late, that I would be interested in (hence, Rey Ordonez is not on the list):

Rich Aurilia
Mike Bordick
Deivi Cruz
Chris Gomez
Jose Hernandez
Barry Larkin
Omar Vizquel
Christian Guzman
Craig Counsell

Barry Larkin interests me more than most, and I think Aurilla would also be a stopgap of note. Either Vizquel or Guzman would have the highest ceiling, but are likely to get at least a couple seasons guaranteed.

Personally, Counsell is very appealing to me as the choice. He proved last year he was underutilized for most of his career, and if he had not faded down the stretch, Craig would likely be looking at a 2y/$4M deal from a contender like MIN or CLE. As it is, Craig will probably sign as a utility guy, or possibly a platoon starter, for money in the $1-1.25M range. Given the fact he's from the Milwaukee area, and is said to be an intelligent guy, maybe looking for a position in the game after his playing career is complete, the Brewers must be an attractive option.

I still like Billy Hall more than most folks do, despite his unattractive numbers. I fully admit to worshipping at the altar of OBP, and Billy, for his career mind you, has taken a right turn at 1B 72% of the time. Unless you have Russ Branyan type power AND play defense well at a vital spot on the far right of the defensive spectrum, an OBP under .300 is simply unacceptable. All that said, Billy is still capable of being a great range, bad hands SS; and I can certainly imagine him settling in as a .310/.420 hitter, which is almost exactly mediocre for the position. Truthfully, once you get past the top guys, the Nomars, Jeters, etc; most shortstops have trouble putting up an OPS over 700. Hall can do that, and I wouldn't fear putting him out there to man SS until Hardy is proclaimed ready. However, the braintrust has shown no such faith in Hall, and seem to look at him as a athletic utility guy, unable to handle SS in the field on an everyday basis.

Hardy, if healthy, looks to be a guy who may well be compared to Edgar Renteria in a few years. Good glove and very good potential to be above average for his position with the bat. 21 year-olds very rarely have success like he did in AA, and he was on pace to top that before his injury. Regardless of how we get to him, it seems quite clear JJ is the man, in '06 at the latest.

10/15/2004 06:51:00 PM

(10/15/2004 07:48:00 AM) - Al

The Crew claims Derrick Turnbow off waivers from the Angels, and gives an early release to Gary Bennett, who would have been a FA soon anyway.

Turnbow is a hard thrower who has never put it together. Lokking at the JS article, Melvin could easily be describing Dan Kolb before he found his niche (and the strike zone) in MIL.

UPDATE: A better comparison would probably be Victor Santos. Turnbow's K rate is almost one per ining, though he has always walked too many.

10/15/2004 07:48:00 AM

Thursday, October 14, 2004

(10/14/2004 06:46:00 PM) - Al

If you are interested, the Yankees will be in MIL June 6th-8th next summer.

No official word, but it's a sure thing. FYI.

10/14/2004 06:46:00 PM

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

(10/13/2004 10:52:00 PM) - Al

Rumors continue to swirl that the Yankees will be visiting Miller Park this summer. This seems to be already getting folks excited on the message boards. I'm glad others are, but I see them play far too much as it is.

10/13/2004 10:52:00 PM

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

(10/12/2004 08:00:00 PM) - Al

As I briefly mentioned in the last post, take a look at the Yankees payroll and explain to me how exactly you can spend that kind of money and still trot out John Olerud at 1B, Cairo at 2B, Kenny Lofton at DH, and use Tanyon Sturtz as an important reliever?


10/12/2004 08:00:00 PM

(10/12/2004 07:13:00 PM) - Al

SECOND BASE---This was one of the Brewers' deepest positions to begin the season, and they needed every bit of it.

Junior Spivey began the year as the everyday man, and performed admirably, after a slow start. In an injury riddled season, his numbers were fine, when healthy.

Junior, 2004---.359/.421, 780 OPS
Junior, career-.362/.447, 809
Ave 2B, '04----.336/.409, 745

It should be noted Junior's career numbers are a bit inflated by his time spent in Arizona, a top 3 offensive park in the NL.

Keith Ginter has long been one of Ramblings' favorites since he was acquired. Keith takes a lot of pitches, hits the ball hard, and has excellent "offense for position".

Keith, 2004---.333/.479, 812 OPS
Keith, career-.344/.448, 792
Ave 2B, '04---.336/.409, 745

Then, we have a young fellow named Rickie Weeks, an outstanding young 2B prospect, who was the #2 pick in the entire draft just over a year ago, in June of '03. Despite being rushed, Rickie put up decent numbers in AA Huntsville, remember, a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league.

Rickie, 2004--.366/.409, 775 OPS

Rickie walked 55 times in 479 AB's as well. His OBP skills are consistent, and his tools are as exciting as anyone in the game. Scouts and opposing managers rave about his bat speed, and the lean Weeks is sure to add power as he matures.

Far below Weeks, but still worth mentioning, is Calix Crabbe, who spent '04 in High Desert.

Calix, 2004--.367/.419, 786 OPS

HD is an offensive haven second only to the thin air of Colorado, so if anything, Crabbe's numbers are a bit disappointing. But, he should be mentioned as a player to watch, as he plays middle infield and isn't an automatic out.

ANALYSIS--If nothing else, I'm gonna dance with the one who brought me (figuratively of course, as I have no interest in dancing, nor does anyone have any desire to watch me do so). Keith Ginter is signed cheaply through 2006, is more above the norm at 2B than Overbay is at 1B, and simply plays the game like I want to see it played. Considering Weeks will likely also appear on the major league roster for good by mid-2006, I'm as comfy about 2B as I am any spot on the roster. If only the rest of the team was as solid as the right side of the infield.

{Allow me to chime in my constant disclaimer that I still do not think Weeks will play 2B in the bigs, at least not for his career. He has a cannon for an arm, the athletic ability to play OF, and the fact his bat will be ready before his middle IF glove is, leads me to make the educated guess he will be a 3B or OF. Until he is moved, however, I will continue to project him as a 2B.}

What would I do with Junior? I'd thank him for his service, and allow him to leave as a non-tendered free agent. In a perfect world, I'd prefer keeping him and dealing him before the season begins. If that sounds familiar, it is exactly what we hoped to do from the minute we acquired him in December of '03. Spivey is far from durable, he's now over 30, and our other option at 2B is either equal or better. At minimum, he'll get a $2.5 salary in arby. That's not a risk I'm willing to take.

Some concern themselves with a couple issues.

1. The team played poorly without Spivey in the lineup.

2. Spivey is a better defender.

Both the above statements are true, but neither is a big warning sign to me. The team played much better before Matt Kinney was released, and though I still believe Matt will have some good days in the big leagues, I don't think his departure led to the swoon.

Junior is a slightly better 2B in the field, but it's not worth a couple million bucks.

Ginter, '03-'04--815, 819 zone ratings
Spivey, '03-'04--856, 826 ZR

It's funny, as I always said how great it would be if the Yankees overpaid for Spivey, and seeing the Yankees trot out...Miguel Cairo in the playoffs, they certainly wouldn't have been blamed had they done so.

10/12/2004 07:13:00 PM

(10/12/2004 09:06:00 AM) - Al

This is the first of a multi-part series, reviewing the players that played for the '04 Brewers.

FIRST BASE--Lyle Overbay had a very good debut as he played everyday for the first time, displaying a good batting eye and excellent doubles power. Lyle, at the very least, would appear to be an average or above average option at 1B for the next few years. He will be cheap next season, and will likely qualify as a "Super 2" for arbitration before the 2006 campaign.

Lyle, 2004---.385/.478, 863 OPS
Lyle, career-.376/.451, 827
Ave 1B, '04--.361/.471, 832

Prince Fielder spent the year in AA Hunstville, and adapted well, especially for his young age. If anyone out there has an inkling why Prince won't be an offensive force for years to come, they should speak up now, as absolutely no one has as of yet. Prince will not have to be protected on the 40 man until after the 2005 season, but it would seem rather obvious Prince will be the AAA 1B and also the first guy on the depth chart they turn to if an injury occurs. While Fielder's numbers are good, they don't jump out at you. That said, he was 20 and in an extreme pitcher's park and league.

Prince, 2004---.366/.473, 839 OPS

ANALYSIS---I'm not going to bother with any other first sackers, as barring devastating injury, the Brewers' 1B for the next 5-7 years is listed above. Considering the first half Overbay had, many folks were drooling with anticipation of having both in the lineup in 2006, willing to sacrifice LF defense to fit both sticks into the batting order. From here, one thing seems mid-2006, the 1B will be Cecil Fielder's son. Overbay seems likely to be with another team or in LF at that point.

I would like to point out is while Lyle struggled in the 2nd half, most likely due to a combo of fatigue and advance scouting, he still finished the season as an above average hitter at the most offensive position in the game. He walked 81 times in less than 600 AB's...plate discipline rarely slumps.

I plan on seeing Prince as the 1B soon, but this is a perfect example of being happy with what you got. We have a fine 1B near his peak age, and one of the best prospects in the game a level away. Oh, to have this "problem" at all eight everyday spots. I will file this one away as a question I can better answer with more information after the upcoming season.

10/12/2004 09:06:00 AM

Monday, October 11, 2004

(10/11/2004 11:53:00 PM) - Al

What's that noise you ask? Most likely, if you live in Wisconsin, it is the sound of the Packers' bandwagon emptying. I'm not into football anymore, as I missed too many games while working in the retail biz.

That said, the "mystique" of Green Bay suffered a national TV hit as well, with the blimp catching many folks leaving before the 3rd quarter was even over, and Al Michaels pointing out several times how the stadium had emptied out in the 4th quarter. Crowd shots did look like the 9th inning of a 9-2 Dodgers loss, as Chavez Ravine is famous for folks leaving long before the contest ends, to beat traffic and do whatever it is people do in LA to be cool.

10/11/2004 11:53:00 PM

(10/11/2004 07:43:00 PM) - Al


If MLB follows the same scheduling format they have recently, SF will come here in about the second week in April. Too early for 714. Plus that format puts the Giants here in Sept of '06...too late for 756. If he plays at the same pace, which I doubt...maybe 800.

I have also heard that there will be one less Cub series in Milwaukee, and that the Yankees may be coming here.


I've heard the same, though I was unaware of the "pattern" involved. The Yankees would make the "missing" Cubs' series a wash as well, as they would draw heavily.

I am surprised more teams haven't released their schedules yet, as they have had them since early September.

10/11/2004 07:43:00 PM

(10/11/2004 06:21:00 PM) - Al

The best baseball blog eulogizes the Twins' season. I can't really say I disagree with Gardenhire's decision to yank Santana after only 5 innings, as he certainly wouldn't have still been around in the 8th, when the damage occured anyway. I might have let him go another inning, but with 87 pitches through 5, he would have needed to come out soon regardless.

I'd be questioning the wisdom of having 7-9 OF's capable of starting, while sticking with the horrendous DP combo of Guzman/Rivas long before I'd worry about second guessing a pitching change. Leaving Morneau in the minors while sticking with Doug M for 2/3rd's of the season was as silly as it gets as well. The most irritating thing to me was paying Jacque Jones to be mediocre when he could easily net you that 3rd starter for the playoffs, and give one of many blocked younger and cheaper players a chance.

10/11/2004 06:21:00 PM

Sunday, October 10, 2004

(10/10/2004 09:57:00 PM) - Al

I finished reading Absolutely American last night, a book by David Lipsky about the young men and women that attend West Point. Mr. Lipsky actually went to northern New York to do a magazine article for Rolling Stone, and ended up staying four years, as he follows several cadets, mostly freshmen when he begins, but some seniors as well, as they go through the academy or onto the beginning of their Army careers.

It's as enjoyable of a read as I've had for some time. The academies, for the most part, get the absolute best of the best, as well as a few Division 1 athletes that are just "good" students. Of course, even in the atmosphere of "the best", there are several washouts, and much of the book focuses on a cadet near the bottom of his class named George Rash. (In a sidenote, perhaps the biggest laugh of the book is the tale of George's brother, who along with the strange last name was given the ironic name of Richard by his parents. He chooses to change his name to Salinger, his mother's maiden name.)

Of course, George should be reminded that John McCain graduated in the lower rungs of his class at the Naval Academy, and a certain President was a B/C student, albeit at Yale. Many of George's shortcomings are athletic, as he manages to fail his physical tests every single year, and is told several times by the military brass that they would just as soon he leave, even after the midway point, in which cadets who drop out or are "separated" are responsible for paying back the government for their education, about $60K a year.

All in all, just a wonderful book.

10/10/2004 09:57:00 PM

(10/10/2004 08:24:00 PM) - Al

Should be a few things to look forward to in the upcoming week.

One, we get BOS/NY, part two. And to think every once in a while, someone still publicly says the wildcard was a bad idea. Yeah, right.

Two, we should get the Crew's '05 schedule. The two things most will look for is when and how often the Cubs visit, as well as Barry Bonds' annual visit to Miller Park. I'd say that mid-late May would be best, as Superman will likely be approaching 714 & 715 home runs.

Also, here at Ramblings, there should be updates on major league players and the top 25-40 prospects, which I've decided to do by position. In the next couple weeks, I would expect to have the end o' the season edition of the roundtable, by far the most popular feature here, as it involves hearing from people more intelligent than myself.

Thanks for stopping in, and hope you continue to do so.

10/10/2004 08:24:00 PM

(10/10/2004 07:30:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al,

I thought I would send you this exchange that I had with Eugene Kane. I wrote what I thought to be a fair email to him and his response shows just what type of person he is.

Mr. Kane,

I just have one question for you. What does race have to do with it? If baseball players are good, it shouldn’t matter what color they are. That has been one of the biggest points of the civil rights movement. Your color shouldn’t matter. What does matter is if you can get the job done. I was very disappointed to see this article as this is exactly the type of article that the African-american community does not need. People should get jobs based on abilities, not on color.


The response:

Excuse me, but aren’t the Brewers a losing team?

So why can’t I suggest how to make it better?

Blacks and Latinos are the biggest stars in baseball.

Sorry, I think you over-reacted to my sincere recommendations for the new owner.

Eugene Kane
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Anyways, I thought you might be interested in what he had to say.
You do a great job on your website and I enjoy reading it everyday. Thank you.


Michael, thanks for reading, writing, and sharing your correspondence. To say Mr. Kane is fighting a losing battle is the understatement of the new century. I'm not sure if he's unwilling to admit he wrote an ignorant column, or if he's truly that stupid. Bringing race into something that has nothing to do with race...priceless. The Crew should look at every quality player and every avenue to improve. However, saying they should bring in minority players is just as shortsighted as saying they should just bring in Caucasians...makes no sense.

As I said, the only thing worse than the JS employing this guy is the fact they apparently have no editors with the guts to tell him his column is pure trash, as outdated as Confederate flags and/or KKK robes.

10/10/2004 07:30:00 PM

Friday, October 08, 2004

(10/08/2004 11:27:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman was featured in a Star Trib article, including a large pic of he and 3 other fellas.

I get the feeling Aaron will jump right into stardom after he graduates from college, he's already better than 95% of the MLB columnists out there, and certainly never states a position without using facts to back up his argument. The idea ESPN uses former players, who literally trip over themselves to be the first to say "gritty" and "he's been here before", is as old fashioned as it gets. Maybe if another outlet (Fox Sports Net maybe) would start it's own highlight show, and focus it more on 21st century stats, they would be wise to use Aaron and others of his mindset. I have to believe ESPN would lose ground much like CNN has.

10/08/2004 11:27:00 PM

(10/08/2004 11:18:00 PM) - Al

Gary Glover signed a one year contract with the Crew today. I put forth here how well he had pitched in AAA and in MIL, and that he would be considered for a spot, and sure enough, much like Doug Davis a year ago, struck gold with the Crew after being released by two teams.

I won't expect Davis production from him, and I'd settle for Burba type numbers. Honestly, I assume he's being brought in as depth for the rotation, and if not needed there, will be looked at in middle relief.

10/08/2004 11:18:00 PM

(10/08/2004 10:43:00 PM) - Al

Jose Guillen sounds as if he's either going to be back with the Angels next year, or at the very least, just restored a lot of his market value. A week ago, rumor had it the Angels may release Jose, if they were not allowed to suspend him as they desired.

Any hopes of picking up a talented, yet really stupid OF as a RF stopgap for '05 just ran into a speed bump.

10/08/2004 10:43:00 PM

(10/08/2004 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Can someone explain to me why this still makes the news? Frats have no reason to exist, other than the vast conspiracy to annoy me (which makes every bit as much sense as most "conspiracy" theories). Every once in a while, someone will defend these clods with the word "tradition", as if the length of time these immature brats have been allowed to exist aids their cause.

The difference between a frta and a cult? Cults don't have Greek names...that's all I can think of.

10/08/2004 10:31:00 PM

Thursday, October 07, 2004

(10/07/2004 05:36:00 PM) - Al

One of the most ignorant pieces of writing I've ever witnessed. Obviously, the JS needs to find an editor that will say, "what a load of crap".

Can you imagine the outcry if a white writer suggested the Bucks needed some white fellas on the team?

The horror. I've read it three times now, and have yet to find a point, or a trace of human thought within its borders.

To paraphrase the greatest TV show ever, just when you think the JS has hit rock bottom, they manage to dig a little more out of the hole.

10/07/2004 05:36:00 PM

(10/07/2004 01:57:00 PM) - Al

Yes, I know I lied and abandoned my team...but do you have to take money from me?

Is there a player who gives less effort than Sammy Sosa? Please. The guy barely walks fast while playing defense, and by the looks of it, is a total headcase. Dusty Baker would appear to have lost control of his team the second he walked into the clubhouse, and given that's his strength, I can't imagine what use he serves in Chicago.

10/07/2004 01:57:00 PM

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

(10/06/2004 10:33:00 AM) - Al

Does anyone else find it ironic that a pothead is having trouble making a decision?

Ricky can smoke all the marijuana he wants. He just can't do it and play in the NFL. If you want to play, you must play by the rules set forth by those who sign the checks.

Talk about an incredible waste of immense talent. Regardless of how much you give to some, they insist on doing their best to throw it away.

10/06/2004 10:33:00 AM

(10/06/2004 09:30:00 AM) - Al

A while back, about a year ago, I looked into opening an online brokerage account, for speculating in a couple cheap stocks with a high ceiling, to use Ramblings language. One of my main stocks of interest was a company called Sirius, the #2 satellite radio provider. At the time, it was about $1.75 a share, and I was looking at investing about $500.

Today, Howard Stern announced he would be joining Sirius in 2006, when his current contract is up. Suddenly, the biggest name in radio is a part of the Sirius team.

I have to believe this classifies as a lost opportunity of monumental proportions. Granted, it's still only at $3.75 or so, but to value investors like myself, who look to get in as near the bottom as possible, given my limited amount to invest, oops.

10/06/2004 09:30:00 AM

Monday, October 04, 2004

(10/04/2004 11:39:00 PM) - Al

New color scheme brought to you by me mistakenly erasing a number or two off my template while editing the links. That's what made the sidebar blue/green/teal, depending on your monitor and its settings. Having came across this tidbit of info, I adjusted the heading bar, which I recall my friend Jason wrote me years ago and told me it made people think he was reading a woman's magazine website.

So, after a couple tries, I stumbled upon gray and basic black, which I don't think will offend anyone.

That said, if you have trouble seeing or reading the actual posts, let me know. I know many people find "white on black" difficult to follow, so if you have a similiar problem with Ramblings, hit the "e-mail me" link on the right ASAP.

10/04/2004 11:39:00 PM

(10/04/2004 09:17:00 PM) - Al

I just listened to the press conference to introduce Mark A to the Milwaukee media. It is available at the Brewers' site, if you are interested.

He is extrememly well spoken, and said all the right things. He didn't even say anything that could be considered anything but intelligent. In his finest moment, he showed off knowledge of the game and the latest writings of the game, when asked about Moneyball, he replied that while OBP is important, even Billy Beane has said everyone looks at that now, and that he has moved onto other statistics, including defensive ones (paraphrasing here). In that one brief statement, he should a knowledge of baseball that is very likely more studied and more current than any beat writer covering the team.

Other blips:

Impressed by the stadium and fan base.

Minor league system, while likely not #1 anymore, is still outstanding.

Management team is solid. No changes upcoming.

The Crew has a great balance sheet with payroll, no bad contracts. Many teams have a player or two they are still paying that is no longer with the team. The Crew has none. Said many times that it's a fine opportunity, all money spent will go towards helping the team, not past mistakes.

The temptation is there to sign a couple free agents to "make a splash". While that will not happen, signings to help the team "for the next few years" will be considered. He repeated the point of "looking to win for several years" many times.

Thinks the team has many fine players, and many more "young and exciting" players in the minors.

Says he wants to own the team "for the next 35 years". Also, Milwaukee is the reason the deal was made, the team is staying put.

His tagline, which he repeated a few times, "We want to win."

He's obviously a smart man, as dummies don't build an investment portfolio that allows you to buy a MLB team. Let's hope he's half as good as his first impression.

10/04/2004 09:17:00 PM

(10/04/2004 08:38:00 PM) - Al

Due to popular request, I have added a link for 2005 MLB free agents along the right side. I am not sure how well he will keep it updated, so if he does not, I may change it to another, but it will remain until next Spring.

10/04/2004 08:38:00 PM

(10/04/2004 07:23:00 PM) - Al

The sale is official, pending the approval of MLB.

10/04/2004 07:23:00 PM

(10/04/2004 02:44:00 PM) - Al

Major League Baseball: The major leagues drew a record 73,022,969 fans, finishing the season with their third-highest average attendance.

The total for the 30 teams, helped by new ballparks in Philadelphia and San Diego, was 3.8 percent higher than the previous mark of 72,748,970 in 2000 and 8.1 percent above last year's 67,568,397, the commissioner's office said Sunday. The average attendance of 30,401 was up from 28,013 last year and trailed only 31,337 in 1993 and 31,612 in 1994.

Seven teams set home season records: Anaheim, Boston, the Chicago Cubs, Houston, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia and San Diego.

And it will be even better next season, as Montreal will have been replaced with DC. It's taken a decade for the game to return to what it was before the '94 strike, but it is back.

10/04/2004 02:44:00 PM

Sunday, October 03, 2004

(10/03/2004 10:39:00 AM) - Al

One thing I always find amusing is how many folks will call very good seasons of the Cubs, A's, and the loser of the Astros/Giants battle as "disappointing", and in many cases, various synonyms of the word "bad" will be used.

All three of the clubs who just missed the playoffs had very nice years. Both the A's and Cubs suffered from poor pitching by their main guys. None of the "big 3" of OAK had a good 2nd half; Mulder especially. Meanwhile, Mark Prior missed time with injury, and Kerry Wood finished the year with eight victories. All were built nicely, but just didn't get the job done. There's no difference (or, extremely minimal) in the skill level between 90 and 95 wins, just like 65 and 70 wins. Bad luck, "minor" injuries...and more bad luck is easily the difference between the playoffs and staying home, in many cases.

10/03/2004 10:39:00 AM

(10/03/2004 10:31:00 AM) - Al

I think LA just handed the NL East to Florida.---Harold Reynolds,8/26, after the Dodgers traded away their "heart and soul", Paul LoDuca, to the Marlins

What I said then.

Not only was it an incredibly ignorant thought that FLA could pick up 9 games by improving catcher and the bullpen, while weakening the rotation and 1B, all the subsequent harping Harold did about team chemistry just makes him look like more of an idiot. I believe roundtable participant Robert summed it up best, saying on a message board he had lost track of all the playoff appearances LA had made in recent years, so it was difficult to judge how much team chemistry would be affected.

Of course, LA hadn't made a playoff appearance for a long time, until now that is.

10/03/2004 10:31:00 AM

(10/03/2004 10:19:00 AM) - Al

I'm not positive, but I believe there has been at least one playoff spot up for grabs every year on the final weekend since the wildcard was introduced. This year, just one remains, SF or HOU. SF lost the game after leading 3-0 in the 9th. Ouch.

A couple items of note about the Brewers' final game today. If they win, they will match LY's win total, and actually finish with a better record, as they will play one less game in 2004, as one was rained out and not rescheduled. Also, Lyle Overbay is hitting .299, and will hit .300 if he goes 1-1 or 2-4, or better, of course. Mind you, I'm far from your "normal" fan, but neither one of these means a whole lot to me. BA is as meaningless as it gets, and 65-70 wins is all the same.

So, the other night, Daron & Bill both provided a list of what they'd like to see in 2005. I all but hung on their words, they being so intelligent and all. I did enjoy a good laugh when Daron summed it up by saying, "We totally agree", to which I thought, that's because you share one brain. That said, Schroeder's list was pretty bad, to say the least,

Bill's wants for '05--A couple LH relievers, more power from 3B & RF, improvement from the 4th and 5th starters.

Ugh. Even for Bill, this is as flawed a list as I could imagine. If the '04 Crew proved anything, it's that LH releivers are as unimportant as anything in the game. Of course, good LH relief pitching is a wonderful thing to have, but carrying a lefty or two just to do it is foolish. Now, if he had said more offensive production from 3B/RF, that would at least make some sense, but I think most Crew fans would be perfectly giddy with Ichiro and Wade Boggs type offense from those two slots, and punt the power. The idea of 4th/5th starters is also odd, as it suggests the Brewers had 3 solid starters in '04, and will in '05 as well. While Victor Santos was passable, a 5 ERA in a career best season is hardly cause to stand pat. Also, the AAA numbers and late season starts of Ben Hendrickson makes me more confident of him having success in 2005 and beyond. Maybe Bill just meant we needed 2 more starters, which is sensical.

Daron's list for 2005--Increase payroll, add a Doug Davis "type" starter, and improve 3B/RF

I was surprised by the first one, as this is almost the first mention of payroll all season by the announcers. I have long stated spending money on a 70ish win team is like painting a car that doesn't run, and still feel that way. That said, notice there was no number mentioned. It'd be all but impossible to field a team in '05 for $28 million, with huge raises upcoming for Sheets/Davis/Kolb. Even before the upcoming ownership change, I would have predicted a $40 million payroll, and maybe even guessed $45M. With a new owner looking to make a splash and with the tax benefits involved, I would put the over/under at $52M for '05. Dare I say it, my biggest fear is overpaying for veterans who reek of no upside.

Daron actually mentioned Derek Lowe as the Davis type starter, "a #3 starter who can be counted on for 200 innings", paraphrasing here, as I did not write it down. First of all, let's not forget, Derek Lowe was a superstar two years ago, and Davis was placed on waivers by two pitching poor teams in 2003. However, I've mentioned Lowe as well, he is a ground ball pitcher who is from the Midwest, and is said to hate the preesure cooker atmosphere in BOS. Daron did not mention it, but Lowe's poor '04 may well drive his price and demand down enough for a team without much tradition to get into the mix.

He also mentioned 3B/RF, which I find odd for a couple reasons. One, unless you're planning on adding a Carlos Beltran, the Brady Clark/Ben Grieve combo in RF did pretty well. Two, with Wes Helms signed through next year, and Russell Branyan seemingly all but assured of a spot on the Opening Day roster, it would seem we already have two 3B options. Three, neither one named C, which was as much of an offensive black hole as exists. Whenever you can glance at the numbers and say Keith Osik in '03 far outproduced both catchers in '04, the word unacceptable comes to mind.

Is Brady Clark better suited to be a 4th OF, or a CF? Yes. Is Brady likely to improve much more on his fine '04 campaign? No. Still, considering Corey Hart is close to being ready, and there are some other options on the horizon (Dave Krynzel, Brad Nelson, Rickie Weeks), I certainly don't think signing a corner OF to a long-term contract is a high priority. In fact, I would say it is very likely Weeks will be starting in MIL by 2006 (at the latest), and is as likely to be playing 3B or OF as he is 2B.

Improvement at the C spot (while Jason Varitek is pie-in-the-sky, WI native Damian Miller is also a FA, and has expressed interest in finishing his career in MIL) and adding a solid, if unspectacular SP (durable and steady) in the Lowe mold would be my top goals this offseason. Right below that would be overall improvement of the offense.

Meanwhile, all coaches have been brought back for 2005. One interesting note, Doug Melvin said the length of contracts has not been discussed...which would probably mean the team is considering locking up pitching coach Mike Maddux long-term. That could mean Maddux would be signed longer than Yost, who is signed through the '05 season, which would be strange. Of course, Yost might be extended as well.

Finally, the Brewers have cancelled their Monday "state of the Brewers" press conference, and rumor has it the sale of the team to Mark Attanasio will be announced. I would assume Melvin has been in touch with him, as it seems strange Doug would tell the coaches they have a job if he's not sure he will.

10/03/2004 10:19:00 AM

Friday, October 01, 2004

(10/01/2004 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Minor league baseball announced they broke their all-time attendance record, which was set 55 years ago, in a different era, back when the minors had over twice as many teams as they have now. Technically, MLB does not oversee the minors, but if this isn't a strong indication that the sport is as healthy as it's ever been, I don't know what is.

10/01/2004 08:42:00 PM

(10/01/2004 06:44:00 PM) - Al

So last night in the 9th inning, Keith Ginter missed a routine grounder, or at least it looked like a routine grounder to me. As is usually the case, Daron and Bill couldn't believe such a misplay could have possibly taken place, as this seems to prove the basball gods are against the Brewers. Bill, the ultimate stooge, proclaimed Keith had "tried to get too fancy". I watched the replay several times, and thought to myself, "Hmm, it appears to me that ball may well have hit the lip between the infield grass and the dirt." Actually, in the mental shorthand in my head, it was more like, "Ball maybe hit lip". Of course, all turned out well, Ginter actually made a fine play to help win the game, and I forgot all about it.

So, I pick up the mythical JS on my computer tonight, and start skimming the recap of the game. What do I see, you ask?

It was a perfect double-play ball but it hit the lip (of the grass) and skidded a little bit on Keith," Yost said.

Pardon me, but if there is a pair of announcers any less into the actual happenings of a game, let me know. I know many folks complain about the monotone of the Braves' guys, but they are all smart, into the game, and other than spouting Braves' PR, do a fine job. Daron and Bill miss all but the most cliched "facts", and many of them (good things happen when you make contact; you have to expand your strike zone with two strikes, you shouldn't dive for a ball, you should play it safe) are either wrong, or about three decades behind current baseball thinking.

10/01/2004 06:44:00 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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