Al's Ramblings

Friday, December 31, 2004

(12/31/2004 08:36:00 AM) - Al

The donation page stands at $7.5 million. I've seen many comment that if you refresh the page often, it jumps up by thousands a minute.

Call me a pessimist, but I'm of the belief the toll is going to take a huge jump, as cities of 70K and 100K have been looked at from the air, with no signs of life to report. Apparently, these are hard to reach areas, as opposed to the mainland, which is where all the media is.

12/31/2004 08:36:00 AM

(12/31/2004 08:25:00 AM) - Al

David Pinto discusses the Randy Johnson trade, and I agree with him. I'd a lot rather be the D'Backs, as I cannot believe history would show 41 year-old power pitchers have done a whole lot at 42, 43, etc.

What I find especially troubling is the fact that ARI looks to be getting a prime 20 year-old C prospect...and they immediately look to ship him off for an overpaid 30something OF. The D'Backs are what they are, and need to rebuild, not get older. Trading Johnson was a good first step, but they appear to already be looking for ways to take a couple steps back.

12/31/2004 08:25:00 AM

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

(12/29/2004 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Amazon donations are at about $3.5 million right now. I get the feeling that when it's all said and done, the most money will come from the USA, and Amazon will be in the top five.

12/29/2004 10:03:00 PM

(12/29/2004 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Brian at has broke the story that the stadium district and Brewers will receive about $30 million from Mitsubishi that will be spent on past and future repairs for the roof, which Mitsubishi completely botched from the get go.

To be honest, it's too bad these fools are still in business, but it's good to see they have the cash to give out, especially without a lengthy court battle.

12/29/2004 09:41:00 PM

(12/29/2004 09:11:00 AM) - Al customers have pledged more to tsunami relief than France.

I got nothing to add, the facts are better than anything I got.

UPDATE: As of this morning, Amazon shoppers are sending 8 times the cash that France is, per Instapundit. Apparently, France has anted up...$177,000.

If you would like to donate, or simply see what the running total at amazon is, you can by clicking here.

12/29/2004 09:11:00 AM

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

(12/28/2004 08:40:00 AM) - Al

I'm not sure if I have the vocabulary skills needed to truly put forth how bad a signing the Reds made with Eric Milton. 3 years/$25.5 million. The horror.

Money quote:

The Reds went into the offseason with a lot of holes to fill, especially on the pitching staff. Milton waited to see if they were serious about improving.

They kept Wilson, their top starter, by offering a two-year, $8.2 million deal, acquired right-handed starter Ramon Ortiz from Anaheim, and upgraded the bullpen with David Weathers, Ben Weber and Kent Mercker. They also filled their vacancy at third base by signing Joe Randa to a one-year, $2.15 million deal.

At that point, the Reds felt good about their chances of getting Milton, who wanted to play near the East Coast to be close to his Florida home. He was

That isn't a bad group of role players, Weathers and Ortiz especially. That said, it's pretty much the dictionary defintion of overpaying for mediocrity. Randa hasn't been good for at least half a decade. Wilson's numbers are even worse than Milton's...and that's saying something. Weber was released by the Angels. Again, I'm not saying this group of guys don't have value, but to pretend they are going to make the Reds contenders is absurd.

There's no need to put out a lot of stats here, Eric Milton has allowed 4.76 earned runs for every 9 innings he has pitched in his career, and is very unlikely to improve at this point. Any slight bump he may get from moving to the NL after spending most of his career in the DH league would seem to be minimized by his tendency to allow fly balls, as Great American Park leans toward being a HR haven.

8.5 million per season for a pitcher with a career ERA of 4.76? This just might be the worst deal of the offseason, which is really saying something. Milton receives a $4 million signing bonus, $4 million in 2005, $8.5 million in 2006 and $9 million in 2007. He can opt out of the final year of the deal just in case he actually exceeds expectations. We put the chances of that happening at 1.9 percent.--Rotoworld

I have to believe the phones will be working in late 2006, with the Reds saying the phrase, "We'll pay some of Milton's contract" quite a few times.

Also, just once, wouldn't you like to hear a player say, "Well, I'm here because of the money. The Reds offered the most." There's nothing wrong with that, I'd play for a team in Hell for a fraction of what Milton is making. It'd just be so refreshing to hear the words spoken.

12/28/2004 08:40:00 AM

Thursday, December 23, 2004

(12/23/2004 10:11:00 PM) - Al

I'm going to take a cue from the King and take a few days off. Enjoy your holidays, and a special thank you to the men and women of our armed forces, at home and abroad.

I will plan on being back Monday or Tuesday.

12/23/2004 10:11:00 PM

(12/23/2004 03:59:00 PM) - Al

Skip Bayless tells why I won't sell the A's short anytime soon. Others fall in love with their team and look at what they can do...Billy Beane looks to build the best team he can, and oh, by the way, has won 90+ games for years in a row with a payroll near the bottom, and nowhere near the top.

I'm not convinced the A's will even be above .500 in '05, but Beane looks to have set them up for successin the 2nd half of the '00's.

12/23/2004 03:59:00 PM

(12/23/2004 01:28:00 AM) - Al

Blackfive tells what a fine job the USO does at home, in addition to putting on shows all over the world.

12/23/2004 01:28:00 AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

(12/22/2004 11:48:00 PM) - Al

King Gleeman analyzes the "other trades", 3 of which involved the Brewers, at the Hardball Times.

12/22/2004 11:48:00 PM

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

(12/21/2004 06:14:00 PM) - Al

Stop me if you've heard this before...but apparently, the DC Nationals are a go again, as only the pro-baseball mayor's signature stands between the promotional folks going back to work.

These 11th hour, I know I agreed but now I changed my mind, renegotiations are a bit much for me, so I hope this is the last one. The game is better off out of Montreal, so let's hope DC gets their act together.

12/21/2004 06:14:00 PM

(12/21/2004 03:12:00 PM) - Al

Also, even Billy Hall doesn't compare all that badly to the shortstops mentioned below:

Hall, career--.280/.394, 674 OPS, 66 runs created

If I'm a rebuilding team, I see Hall's athleticism, incredible power potential for a SS, and think, for $350K per, he's one worth one win less than Orlando Cabrera...who's making $8M a year now. Plus, if we can just get him to lay off some bad pitches, it's easy to imagine him walking more, and driving the ball better when he does get a pitch to hit. I don't know what Hall will ever amount to, but his ceiling is well worth giving this guy a shot.

12/21/2004 03:12:00 PM

(12/21/2004 01:44:00 PM) - Al

Orlando Cabrera signs a bloated contract with the Angels, who then non-tender David Eckstein (I dare you to find a report on this without usage of "spunky" or "gritty" to describe Eckstein).

Orlando gets 4 years/$32M, almost as much as Edgar Renteria.

Renteria--.346/.400, 746 OPS, 83 runs created
Cabrera---.316/.409, 725 OPS, 78 rc
Eckstein--.347/.353, 700 OPS, 74 rc

I'm surprised Edgar is only worth 5 more simple runs created than Orlando. I'm even more surprised the Angels found it necessary to throw money at Cabrera when they already had Eckstein.

I feel Eckstein will have little trouble finding a starting SS job, and he would be a possibility for the Brewers, although Melvin would likely hesitate to pay market value for David, as Doug has said often they feel JJ Hardy can do the job. If the Crew does pick up an infielder, I assume they'd go the veteran route, someone in the Craig Counsell mold, a utility guy who could start, if necessary.

12/21/2004 01:44:00 PM

(12/21/2004 11:20:00 AM) - Al

Hello Al, just popping by again to write you something. Let me say that I am in the minority, I think Ginter was OVERRATED. Sure he knew his strenghts and weaknesses and played to them, but that doesn't make him good, that makes him smart.

It may be a case of selective statistical analysis but Keiths numbers aren't really as good as they seemed. After the game on September 20, his average stood at .239, with a .313 OBP and .743 OPS. Hardly anything to jump up and down about. If not for a torrid streak to end the last two weeks of the season, Keith wasn't what one would call very productive and IMO not more than replacement level. Or to be more specific, a bench bat with a little pop. As a matter of fact, if not for another torrid streak from June 22-26, combined with his late run, Keith's numbers were downright horrible. Ginter was hardly as consistent or dependable as he has been made out to be. His numbers a mostly a product of rare, torrid hot flashes, sandwiched between relative unproductive lapses.

When Spivey went down with injury, the Brewers offense went with him, irrregardless of whether Hall or Ginter replaced him. Granted, as a friend of mine likes to say, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but what I have read thus far from Brewer players and management, the difference between Spivey and Ginter was substantial in many ways, and in no way should Ginter start over Junior, regardless of pricetag if Spivey could indeed be had.

Hall and Ginter were pretty much the same player and it would be pointless to keep both on the roster. Since Hall has ZERO trade value, Ginter had to be moved. The Brewers had seen enough of Ginter to know what he was and wasn't capable of over the long hall, and there was no question to them that Spivey was much more valueable to the team. I agree 100%. Kudos to Melvin for getting what he did. IMO another example of moving a player when his value was over inflated.

Anyway, thought you might like to hear a dissenting opinion. Love the Sight.


As always, I appreciate your reading and writing, Kent. Always good to see another opinion. So, let's take a look at what you wrote.

Firstly, I tend to look at seasons as a whole. Some players run hot and cold, some are more constant. Sexson had days when he was horrible, couldn't hit a breaking ball to save his lfe, but overall, he did a fine job. Once in a while, especially with relief pitchers, one terrible outing throws off the stats and needs to be looked at a bit differently, but overall, one AB counts the same as every other AB.

In a way, what you said is correct. Keith's season could have ended before his hot streak, because of injury or a decision to give another IF some playing time. If he would have missed his late September power surge, Kent says:

After the game on September 20, his average stood at .239, with a .313 OBP and .743 OPS.

I will assume Kent's numbers are correct, as they are about what I remember as well. Even with those as his closing numbers, his ability to play 2B makes him a good asset:

Ginter-------.313/.430, 743 OPS
Ave 2B, '04--.336/.409, 745

He was pretty much as mediocre as mediocre gets before his closing spurt. I would pretty much agree with Kent if Keith would have been our RF, but as a middle IF, Ginter, even in a "down" year, still did a nice job, especially when you consider his low salary.

To me, Ginter seems like the perfect Billy Beane pickup...above average production for minimal cost. If he becomes too expensive, Beane will go out and pick up another 2B who has attributes, but warts of some kind as well. Keith may not be a great defender, and he certainly doesn't look like much of an athlete. But, he takes pitches, gets on base, and hits for power.

I simply feel Ginter is as good as Spivey, and a much better deal for the money, as I wrote here. That said, Keith had value because of his low salary that Spivey did not.

12/21/2004 11:20:00 AM

(12/21/2004 02:10:00 AM) - Al

We thought DC was a done deal before, so let's hope it is this time. I'm the first to say that I'd love to see DC never have MLB again, but at the end of the day, I'm all for the all-around success of the game at all levels, from MLB down to town leagues.

The best thing for MLB is to have the former Expos franchise in DC. Anytime you can sell 11K season ticket deposits in just a few weeks, it seems quite likely there will be great fan interest. Remember, MLB set an all-time attendance record in 2004 with the anchor of Montreal dragging them down. It's all but a given that 2005 will bring yet another, if DC is home to the 30th franchise.

12/21/2004 02:10:00 AM

Monday, December 20, 2004

(12/20/2004 09:58:00 AM) - Al


I rarely watch the NFL (or the NBA) because of the officiating. Offensive holding happens on every passing play, and many running plays also. And for whatever reason, they let the defensive backs touch and bump the wideouts all the time, despite the 5 yard chuck rule. Is it just me, or are most NFL refs 60+?

The NBA is even worse in my view, but sometimes a charge/block is hard to call even in replays.

Love the blog, looking forward to baseball season already.


I knew someone would mention the NBA, but I feel it is very tough to see stuff with the speed of that game. The NFL is just horrible, and I don't know why.

And as the snow falls heavily, I wish April was here as well. Thanks for reading and writing, Samuel.

12/20/2004 09:58:00 AM

(12/20/2004 09:53:00 AM) - Al

King Gleeman discusses the Mulder and Hudson trades, and seems to come to the same conclusions as I have...never question Billy Beane, and he would seem to be building for another 5-7 year run.

12/20/2004 09:53:00 AM

Sunday, December 19, 2004

(12/19/2004 07:11:00 PM) - Al

I have a couple things to mention tonight.

Firstly, my e-mail box runneth over the past few days, and almost every one sounds the same. Let me repeat some subject lines I'm looking at right now:

Ginter trade
Ginter underrated
Ginter at 3B?

Keith sure got a lot of love from the fans, and much of it due to his success, and a bit due to his "every man" appeal, as he was probably not an iota over 5-7, and his legs looked short for even that height. It's tough not to give Doug Melvin the benefit of the doubt, as he has worked his plan magnificently since his arrival, and has looked the part of a genius often of late. But, despite the fact I like both the players we acquired, I am on record as saying I would have held onto Keith.

Also, I have heard from a few folks who say Keith was dealt due to reasons unrelated to his output. I will not bother to repeat unsubstantiated rumors, but they are out there.

Finally, my reasons for not really being much of an NFL fan came out loud and clear tonight. My wife is a Packers fan, and I saw most of the 4th quarter while playing with my little troublemaker.

Oh, the horror.

The NFL is, by far, the worst officiated sport in the history of mankind. Everything that is right about the improvements MLB has made in its umpiring, you can see the exact opposite in the NFL.

1. Simply incorrect, worst calls ever...ignored, and allowed to stand. One official (out of seven, mind you) threw a flag and called "pass interference" tonight on a ball that was overthrown by a minimum of 30 yards. Let me recap the play for you; the reciever ran right into the defensive back, on a pass Superman would have been unable to catch. The crowd, seeing contact, screamed for a penalty. About 10 seconds later, one total idiot (obviously a Simpson juror) throws a flag. The officials huddle, and the vast majority who saw the play correctly keep quiet, and the phantom penalty is allowed to stand.

2. A correct call is made on an interception...and the game is delayed several minutes while the replay is studied.

3. An onside kick is attempted, and it is recovered by the receiving team, he's on the ground hugging the ball. But, no call is made for several minutes, as the very old, always out of position crew takes an eternity to get to the scrum, and fails to take charge of the situation. I recall Vox Day complaining about this in a Vikings game earlier this year, MIN recovered the ball and was down...and MIN came out of the pile with the ball...but the ball was awarded to the other team. Not sure at what moment (if at all) the other team had the ball, but all that matters is that's the way the incredibly foolish men in the ridiculous shirts called it.

To paraphrase an old joke, if I had 6 months to live, I'd want it to be during an NFL game...because it'd seem like forever.

What's funny is, the NFL gets a kijillion dollars a season from TV, and they refuse to hire full-time officials. Instead, they have teachers, accountants, and cops patrol the field, and give them little feedback.

Full-timers could get together from Thursday through Saturday and review film and try to come up with a consistent definition of calls that seem to be multiple choice now...offensive holding is hit and miss, pass interference is a joke, and don't even get me started on the fact there is an "illegal block" (often 5-10 yards behind the return man) on every single kick return. These calls are night and day from week to week, or from game to game. How do you think a room full of refs would react to one moron throwing a flag which makes them all look like buffoons, and six others letting it stand? Peer pressure can be a positive way of getting through to guys who refuse to make calls on what they see...rather, "I think I saw".

I honestly don't know how anyone can take the sport seriously as it is. I really don't.

12/19/2004 07:11:00 PM

Saturday, December 18, 2004

(12/18/2004 07:24:00 PM) - Al

Thank goodness Billy Beane is still around, to make true player for prospects swaps. Gutsy, with only one concern...keeping the organization strong. Mr. Beane doesn't care if he wins 69 games in 2005, or if they miss the playoffs by one game, like they did last year.

Nice to see someone thinks just as I do.

12/18/2004 07:24:00 PM

(12/18/2004 07:18:00 PM) - Al

The JS with some fluff, though it does say once and for all Ben Sheets is not on the trading block.

12/18/2004 07:18:00 PM

Friday, December 17, 2004

(12/17/2004 01:26:00 AM) - Al

Tim Hudson to ATL for 3 players.

I may be the only person that feels this way, but I think the A's got 2 stars and one potential solid player, and of course, all are inexpensive. I've said for years Juan Cruz just needed to be left alone, and his '04 campaign makes me look pretty smart. Meyer is as good a pitching prospect as there is in the game that doesn't throw 95+. And Thomas may never be an all-star, but seems like a nice role player, and no one gets more out of cheap role players than Billy Beane (well, since Earl Weaver retired, at least).

Many people are saying the Braves robbed the A's, but as always, they are ignoring the financial side of the game. When you dump $5M in salary, you rarely get true market value (see what the White Sox got for Carlos Lee). But OAK picked up some nice additions, make no doubt.

12/17/2004 01:26:00 AM

Thursday, December 16, 2004

(12/16/2004 11:42:00 PM) - Al

It's been about 24 hours since I learned Keith Ginter had been traded. I can't say it was a bad trade at all, and in one way, I'm very impressed with Doug Melvin...he was happy to add a fine young OF prospect in addition to what he wanted, a cheap young reliever. You can never have too many prospects, as injuries, flameouts, and simple inability to move to the next level claim a lot of even your best kids.

I will, however, say it was a trade I would not have made. I simply feel Keith, an above average offensive 2B (and, on a lesser scale, 3B as well) signed for far below market value, was a player we should keep around. I would have installed him at 2B, non-tendered Spivey, and used the $3M or so Junior will cost to sign a couple middle relievers. If Weeks is ready to take over 2B late in '05 or in '06, I would have moved Keith to 3B.

I wish Keith all the success in the world with the A's. I think he'll have a few good years as a starter, then finish up his time as a platoon partner/reserve. I will say that while Beane seems to have moved away from OBP, as more teams are using it, he's moved onto defense and pitching, or so it seems, Ginter seems to be a perfect case of teams still not looking at what a player can do and focusing on his weaknesses.

12/16/2004 11:42:00 PM

(12/16/2004 11:50:00 AM) - Al

A bit hard to read, but a recap of the Carlos Lee conference call is here.

12/16/2004 11:50:00 AM

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

(12/15/2004 11:13:00 PM) - Al

I am feeling underwhelmed after hearing of the Ginter to the A's for Justin Lehr and Nelson Cruz. Keith was my favorite player, as his approach at the plate was stellar, and he had fantastic power for a 2B. I do not feel like we got ripped off or anything, but a 27 year-old middle reliever and a 23 year-old OF prospect was not what I was hoping for if we did deal Ginter.

I do not dislike Junior Spivey, and I realize Rickie Weeks may well be in Miller Park for good as early as this summer. I just liked Ginter, and felt there was a good chance either Weeks would end up playing somewhere else, or Keith would end up at 3B as of next year.

I do not see much of a downside for OAK, as Billy Beane is probably thinking he got the best of this trade. Really, it's easy for me to compare this trade to the Lee/Pods/Viz exchange...the A's traded guys that had no real role in '05 for a player they feel will step right into the lineup. Lehr would seem to have a nice ceiling, but at 27, needs to step it up now. Cruz would appear to be the key, as Doug decided to add depth to the organization in addition to bolstering the relief corps.

Cruz was ranked the 10th best prospect in the A's system by BA last week. His recap:

Background: When the Mets looked to acquire utilityman Jorge Velandia from Oakland in 2000, the two teams initially couldn’t agree on a player in return. The A’s Latin American scouts raved about Cruz following his monster season in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, so they took him. No player in the system improved his prospect status in 2004 more than Cruz, one of five hitters in the minors to reach 300 total bases.

Strengths: Cruz is a legitimate five-tool talent. He has power to all fields and made strides in his pitch recognition, learning to lay off high fastballs and take pitches the other way. He has a plus arm and is an asset in right field.

Weaknesses: Despite the progress he made in his approach, Cruz still has a tendency to overswing at pitches, trying to hit every ball farther than the last and leaving him slow out of the box.

The Future: The A’s added Cruz to the 40-man roster, certain that they’d lose him in the Rule 5 draft if they didn’t. He’ll open 2005 in Triple-A and could play a significant big league role in 2006.

Interesting, Doug Melvin says the Crew wants Cruz to open '05 in AA Huntsville.

Doug Melvin was on WTMJ after the trade was announced...recap {Hat tip to Ajay}:

Likes Spivey's defense and decided to keep him. Ginter was not going to be an everyday player and the team wanted to improve defense. . . . Nelson Cruz adds to depth, Lehr should make the big league club. . . . wants Hardy to win the SS job and will give him every chance . . . Clark's on-base percentage is good and the team is comfortable with him in CF, works the count well . . . Krynzel may return to Triple A if not ready in Spring Training . . . Geoff Jenkins said that the loss of Spivey was really huge because of the spark he provided . . . Spivey's defensive positioning was good, good range . . . Sheets liked Spviey's range in the field . . continuing to look at upgrading pithching . . . think that Capellan can become a number one or two starter someday. . .scouts think he may be ready for the big leagues now . . .traded Kolb now because they knew they would not get someone like Capellan next year . . . more power arms on the team . . . nothing major in the works regarding more acquisions, only smaller moves . . . . Braves really wanted Smoltz in the rotation and that is why they traded Capellan (free agent pitchers were too expensive for Atlanta) . . . Kolb was more attractive because he is not a free agent next year. . . ownership has stepped up.

12/15/2004 11:13:00 PM

(12/15/2004 11:09:00 PM) - Al

A Cubs' blogger wrote his feelings on the Crew after e-mailing me some questions, which he also printed. You can check it out here.

12/15/2004 11:09:00 PM

(12/15/2004 11:51:00 AM) - Al

According to, SEA is giving Richie Sexson $48M over 4 years...while Theo Epstein and the Red Sox just signed Edgar Renteria for 4y and $40M.

The idea that a 1B who is above average is worth more than a younger SS, who is one of the top 3 or 4 at his postion in the game, just about sums up this free agent market. SEA overpaid, BOS gets a bargain (actually, pays almost exactly markwet value, which is a bargain this year).

It cements Theo as one of the most astute execs in the game. And you can put SEA in the same breath as ARI and the Mets.

12/15/2004 11:51:00 AM

(12/15/2004 10:57:00 AM) - Al


I think the Mets would make a terrific Choose Your Own Adventure story. I had a lot of respect for Omar Minaya in Montreal, when he was able to create respectable teams -- the Expos were flirting with .500 and the wildcard a few weeks before the 2002 trading deadline -- in an environment where everyone wanted them to fail. And yet he seems to be falling into the same trap of Steve Phillips and every other Mets GM over the past decade.

The Mets are old and filled with players who are either past their prime (Piazza, Glavine), vastly overrated (Cameron) or have never reached their potential (Benson). And their farm system is as bare as the Yankees. A rational GM would dismantle the team, trading most of the roster for prospects. Find some Ginter/Magruder types to fill out the roster until the prospects arrive, build around players like Matsui and Reyes and let good things happen.

Yet the Mets continue to overpay for guys like Benson and Pedro, foolishly believing that they are a pitcher and power-hitter away from a deep playoff run. Not only is Pedro's contract stunning for the millions they are paying him, but for their head-in-the-sand willingness to do everything short of handing him the keys to the stadium. Most baseball insiders have heard that Pedro's labrium might be up to 90 percent torn. Yet the Mets are this close to agreeing not to make an MRI part of the physical. They are buying an expensive car whose transmission might be close to being shot, yet they aren't making a complete tuneup part of the deal.

One of the reasons that the Brewers are out of the market for a guy like Clement is because Benson's deal set the market so high. If a guy who has trouble staying healthy and owns a mediocre career ERA (4.28) is worth 29.5 mil over four years, what is a healthy and improving pitcher like Clement worth?

The Mets mentality is probably similiar to the New York Knicks. Neither are
willing to strip their overrated rosters down for parts and go through 2-3 years of serious rebuilding because they believe the NYC fans and media won't stand for it. Until their mentality changes, me, you and the Ramblings readership could do a better job as GM than the Wilpon Clowns.


Excellent points, Craig. The only bargains in this FA market were found very early (Lidle) and possibly very late (time will tell). I had not heard of Pedro's supposed injuries, but any team willing to waive part of a physical need only ask themselves, "What do they not want us to see"?

The Mets and D'Backs both look to be disasters of mammoth proportions, and probably for the next half-decade minimum. The latest number I heard, $54M for Pedro, is double what he should be getting, as are the guaranteed years. Sore-armed vets like Pedro are worthy of 2y/$15 mil...if you have deep pockets and can afford to lose that for nothing.

It's scary how bad those two clubs could be, given how much they're spending.

12/15/2004 10:57:00 AM

(12/15/2004 10:47:00 AM) - Al

Seth Speaks discusses trying to trade for Ben Sheets. No doubt he underestimated how much talent it would take to get Ben, but you can check it out here.

The one mistake Seth does is hold back the top Twins' prospects, which you simply cannot do when trading for a SP in his prime.

I'm one of the few Brewers' fans who would consider dealing Sheets, as his bad back makes me a bit frightened. If I did, however, I'd look for excellent young players, like Lew Ford, along with the plethora of young pitching prospects the Twins have. Names like Luis Rivas have no place in a discussion for Sheets.

12/15/2004 10:47:00 AM

(12/15/2004 10:14:00 AM) - Al

Washington DC officials don't seem to want MLB, or are at least doing all they can to draw it out as long as possible.

If they don't have a solid deal in place on 1/1/05, it'll be Vegas in 2006. DC can go back to being known as the city with the most murders per capita.

12/15/2004 10:14:00 AM

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

(12/14/2004 08:39:00 PM) - Al

Hall of Famer Peter Gammons writes of what a horrendous decision this is for Pedro Martinez.

I will leave you to ponder on your own what a terrible decision this is for the Mets. Possibly, the worst contract in the history of the planet, if it actually is 4y/$52-56 million. That's at least twice what he's worth.

12/14/2004 08:39:00 PM

(12/14/2004 03:20:00 PM) - Al

Now, thoughts from the Kolb trade, remember, these were written before the Pods/Viz/Lee deal was announced:

Greg, Roundtable participant--What's not to love about this deal?

What's the single best kind of trade bait a rebuilding team can afford
to lose? An Established Closer, because they're creatures of luck as much as anything and because rebuilding teams don't need them. Kolb was overvalued, injury-risky, and for the Brewers an unnecessary luxury. What's the single best thing a rebuilding team can acquire? A young, healthy, advanced pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential, because they're as essential to success as they are rare.

The direct result of this trade is that Capellan gives the Brewers another serious rotation candidate for 2005 -- probably not in April, but by July with any luck. Sheets and Davis are set, Capuano is set if he's healthy, and Santos is set if they don't acquire somebody better. That leaves Hendrickson likely for the fifth spot, with Capellan and de la Rosa right behind him and a whole raft of AAA newbies sorting themselves out behind those two. Of course, anybody behind Sheets and Davis could swing to the bullpen based on need and/or developmental wisdom. That's a lot of pitching depth and versatility, despite the recent spate of bad injury news in the minors.

The indirect result is that the Brewers can breathe a lot easier than they could two days ago. They made the pitching acquisition they needed this offseason while actually saving money in the bargain. If they land another starter -- Clement, say -- that's great, and it's almost gravy baseball-wise. Money-wise, they can do it, or they can go add salary to the lineup. They still have major trading chips in Pods (if someone will pay for his 2003 numbers), possibly Ginter (or Spivey), and maybe
Santos, plus all of the midlevel prospects, none of whom they had to throw in to get Capellan. In short, the team's opportunities are in closer alignment with its needs than at any time in recent memory.

Jason, baseball entrepenuer--I've been reading all the articles and bios and will be very interested to find out from the others what the down side of this could be? I think most of us watched Kolb and wondered if the band-aid keeping his arm in place would hold each time he came out of the pen. Considering Kolb cost close to nothing to get in the first place, flipping him for a 23-year-old flame thrower while freeing up cash AND getting a mid-level prospect from the Braves chain seems like an absolute steal.

Seth of Seth Speaks--I think that the Brewers ripped off the Braves this weekend by getting Capellan-plus for Kolb! I ranted about that on my site yesterday. Kolb is fine, but Capellan could be special. Just a great deal for the Brewers! They've got some great young talent and prospects. They're probably two years away from having a chance to compete yet. To be honest, they need more pitching, so getting Capellan is huge. Their lineup could be decent with Lee and Jenkins and Overbay and probably some of the prospects (Weeks, Fielder, Hardy, Krynzel). Pitching is a question mark.

Aaron of Aaron's Baseball Blog--I think this is a great deal for the Brewers. They have used an asset every team has -- playing time -- to turn a waiver-wire pickup into a closer, and then turn that closer into a top pitching prospect. It doesn't get much better than that for a rebuilding team.

By the time the next good Brewers team rolls around -- and I love their system, so I think that time will come--Capellan will have a chance to be a major part of it. And in the meantime, they can take another waiver-wire pickup or two and try to turn them into closers, just like they did with Kolb.

Turning nothing into something, and then trading that something for a younger something with a whole bunch of potential. It's a beautiful thing.

I have let my feelings on Kolb be known...good, solid ground-ball pitcher, but I feel he is an arm problem waiting to happen. He quit throwing his 90+ mph slider in '04, and his K rate went way down, but he had success despite pitching to contact. Why would you quit throwing a pitch that turned around your career? Seems pretty obvious to me, it hurt when he threw it. I wish Mr. Kolb all the best, but I'd bet the house on a roll of the dice before I'd give him anything but a one year contract. Capellan is a big, strong youngster who throws hard (what's the ol' saying, you can't teach velocity?), and the only red mark on his resume is Tommy John surgery a couple years ago. He is back and stormed through the Braves' system last year, 3 levels, 3 outstanding statlines.

FYI, the PTBNL is Alec Zumwalt, an OF turned P, who also throws hard, but has had a fraction of the success Jose has. Nothing wrong with getting a kid that throws gas in every trade as a throw-in, but make no bones about it...Jose Capellan will make or break this trade. Right now, I'd say he's just about as good a SP prospect as there is who has not had some good major league outings. Perhaps most importantly, he's Crew property until after the 2010 campaign

12/14/2004 03:20:00 PM

(12/14/2004 09:55:00 AM) - Al

What do other folks think about the two trades that have went down? I asked some of my frequent contacts, and here's what they said.

On Carlos Lee:

Greg, Roundtable participant--This is a great trade for a bunch of reasons. First, it makes the team better by solidifying the offense and the corner outfield positions (I'm assuming Jenkins will play RF, probably very well). Second, we gave up nothing of great value to get a frontline player. Third, it shows fans and, more importantly, the rest of MLB that the Brewers are ready to be a player again if the deal is right. Finally, it proves to all of us that, even with their backs against a decade of losing, this organization is going to make smart moves, not desperate ones. Doug Melvin held his cards perfectly until his moments came along.

Now the immediate pressure is off. We've improved at catcher, albeit in a deal on which I think we'll cool before it's over. We've deepened the pitching. We've added a big hitter. None of this has required creating a new need, and none of it has blocked (or sacrificed) any of our prospects. The team can spend the rest of the offseason on the rare luxury of tinkering around the edges of a fairly solid foundation. I'd be happier if we could spend it buying a championship, but this ain't bad for the financial world in which the Brewers live.

Bottom line: Those of us who care most about getting a better team now are happy. Those of us who care most about building for the future are equally happy -- When is the last time that a team traded multiple players for a high-salaried "name" and got younger?

Seth, from Seth Speaks--I love this trade from the Brewers perspective! Carlos Lee can flat-out hit and will provide a right handed bat with power (And good all-around hitting ability). Krynzel is probably ready to start in CF anyway. Podsednik's lone attribute is his speed and base stealing ability. If he can get on base for the Sox enough, he could wreak havoc on the basepaths, and maybe that's the direction that Chicago wants to go.

But I really like Carlos Lee and I think that the Brewers got a great deal,
depending on who the Player to be Named Later is.

Aaron (aka King Gleeman), of Aaron's Baseball Blog--This is another great move for the Brewers, in my opinion. Podsednik is a decent player, but he's nowhere near as valuable as Lee going forward, assuming of course their salaries aren't big issues. I like Vizcaino more than most, I suspect, but losing him isn't a huge blow (although I thought maybe he'd get a chance to close in 2005).

Mostly, as a Twins fan, I love this deal, since it clearly weakens Chicago for 2005 and beyond. Plus, it leaves open the possibility of them trading Aaron Rowand, which would just be wonderful.

This seems like as good a place as any to mention BA's Jim Callis has said the PTBNL is Mitch Stetter, a good young lefty, who the Crew has said they see as a reliever in the big leagues.

As far as myself, I think this shows what good trades you can make when you can pick up salary. Lee is in no way anything but a good, solid, near peak age LF, and is being paid a fair wage, albeit more than I'd like. But when a team needs to lose some payroll, they often take less than the player is worth in order to dump that salary. Pods is a serviceable CF, but the Sox like him because they overvalue stolen bases. Viz is a nice reliever, who has been good two years and simply awful in one. Stetter has had success in A ball, but is thought to be a low ceiling prospect.

Lee is almost the twin of Geoff Jenkins, stat wise. If we had dealt Geoff yesterday for a low OBP OF with speed and a middle reliever, I'd be a mighty unhappy camper. Carlos Lee may blow out his knee tomorrow, but it's tough to say this was anything but a good trade for the Crew.

12/14/2004 09:55:00 AM

(12/14/2004 09:29:00 AM) - Al

Notes from Doug Melvin's press conference after the Lee trade.

---Lee will hit between Lyle and Geoff, balances out the lineup.

---Lee/Clark/Jenkins OF improves the team's defense as well.

---Doug realized they had not told Ned Yost yet, though he had known it was a possibility.

---Brady will likely lead off, has a good OBP, Doug thought his 2nd half OBP, when he played regularly, was about .420. {Note: Actual 2nd half OBP was .415}

---Gave up a lot of bullpen in the meetings, but "those guys can often be found", noting Viz was acquired in a minor league trade, and Kolb was released.

12/14/2004 09:29:00 AM

Monday, December 13, 2004

(12/13/2004 08:37:00 PM) - Al

In the new alignment, Jenkins will switch to right field, opening up a spot in left for Lee, with Clark between them. Clark has first dibs on inheriting Podsednik's leadoff duties.

"He was pretty good in that position, when given a chance," Melvin said. "His on-base percentage was one of the tops in the National League in the second half of the season. [Outfielder Dave] Krynzel will also have the opportunity in Spring Training to compete."

So, Geoff will switch to RF, and Brady will probably be the #1 hitter. I would lean toward Spivey or Ginter myself, but that's just me.

12/13/2004 08:37:00 PM

(12/13/2004 07:15:00 PM) - Al

A baseball source also said the Angels and Milwaukee Brewers are discussing a trade that would send an Angels reliever to Milwaukee for utilityman Keith Ginter, who hit 19 home runs and drove in 60 runs in 380 at-bats last year.

Ginter, 28, could provide security at second base, shortstop and third base and also has played some corner outfield in the Major

It'd take a terrible trade to bring me down after the two deals Doug Melvin has made of late. I'm a huge Ginter fan, but I realize it's probably Spivey in '05 and Weeks from then on.

In Doug we trust. He just flipped a waiver wire claim and Jesus Pena for a consistent run producer. I'll bow to his superior knowledge, and let him do his thing for a while.

12/13/2004 07:15:00 PM

(12/13/2004 04:40:00 PM) - Al

The JS proves that it's better late than never. I guess now it's officially old news.:)

ESPNews is reporting the Bennett/Byrd swap will occur later today.

12/13/2004 04:40:00 PM

(12/13/2004 04:05:00 PM) - Al

Another interesting note will be if the Crew swaps Jeff Bennett for Marlon Byrd now, to fight for CF playing time with Clark, until Krynzel is deemed ready.

UPDATE: Noticed this when I linked Byrd's BR stats...Pods and Byrd seem to both be a tale of two seasons:

Pods, '03--.379/.443, 822 OPS
Byrd, '03--.366/.418, 784

Pods, '04--.313/.364, 677
Byrd, '04--.287/.321, 608

To be realistic, each of these guys "norms" will likely be somewhere in between these two seasons.

UPDATE 2: Several message board posters have said Doug Melvin said Clark and Krynzel will split time in CF, and another said Doug replied, "That Byrd has flown" when asked about the deal. This may end up being much ado about nothing.

12/13/2004 04:05:00 PM

(12/13/2004 04:01:00 PM) - Al

The White Sox and Brewers are discussing a trade in which the Brewers would acquire outfielder Carlos Lee for outfielder Scott Podsednik, reliever Luis Vizcaino and a third player that has not yet been agreed upon.

Podsednik would replace Lee in left field.--Fox Sports

The rumor has been Ginter and Pods for Lee. I can understand why he would be included, but if Doug Melvin is able to get Carlos Lee without Keith being involved, I'd be giddy.

Will update as necessary.

UPDATE: Being reported as Pods, Viz, and a PTBNL for Lee. Though no official link, the only way a PTBNL is ever a major leaguer is if the team cannot get a hold of him to let him know.

UPDATE 2: ESPNews is reporting this as a done deal, as noted in the update just above. Unless the PTBNL is a top prospect, this looks to be a steal for the Crew. Lee is by far the best player in this trade, Pods is a horrible offensive LF (where the Sox plan to play him), and Vizcaino is a decent, if inconsistent reliever.

FINAL UPDATE: Press conference announced, and it's on ESPN ticker. It's a done deal, as reported above.

12/13/2004 04:01:00 PM

(12/13/2004 01:19:00 PM) - Al

Richie Sexson joins the Mariners, as I have predicted since 2002 or so.

12/13/2004 01:19:00 PM

(12/13/2004 11:30:00 AM) - Al

The Crew takes Marcos Carvajal in the major league Rule 5 draft. Marcos would appear to be used strictly as a mop-up man if he is kept, he's only 20, and has pitched just one inning above A ball.

His K's per inning are high, so I assume he's a hard thrower, which is just what the Brewers seem to be looking for these days.

UPDATE: From BA's weblog of the Rule 5 draft:

The best arm among pitchers selected in the first round might belong to righthander Marcos Carvajal, plucked by the Brewers out of the Dodgers system. Carvajal allowed just 50 hits and had 72 strikeouts in 72 innings as low Class A Columbus' closer. He throws three pitches for strikes, but his 6-foot-4, 175-pound frame is too slight to handle a starting load, according to scouts who saw him in the South Atlantic League. The native of Venezuela reached 96 mph with his fastball during the season and finished the year with a short stint in Double-A.

UPDATE 2: The Brewers took Carvajal and sold him to the Rockies.

12/13/2004 11:30:00 AM

(12/13/2004 09:46:00 AM) - Al

I remember when I was a young boy, there was a line of books called "Choose Your Own Adventure". In it, you could fight aliens, be a spy, a Rambo style one man fighting force, etc. You'd start on page one, and after reading the first couple pages, you'd have to make a decision, such as, "Do you want to pursue the bad guys? Go to page 11. Do you wish to do some more research? Go to page 45.

You would continue onward like this until you either "won" or you were killed. Of course, usually when you "died", the obvious thing to do was go back to your last decision and do the other thing. About a decade ago, I found an adult version of these books at one of those book clearance houses that set up in empty stores, sell through what they have, then move on. It was basically the same, except there was a woman involved. This created numerous problems for me, of course, as any decision involving the female gender caused me to try and figure out if I should make the decision as the cool, sure of himself spy, or as myself, a man unable to complete a sentence to an attractive gal without enough spending a considerable amount of time spent checking the condition of my shoes.

Anyway, it occured to me that about a month ago, an interesting Choose Your Own Adventure title might have been "Rebuilding in the Desert", and would chronicle the hero as they try and take the D'Backs from a 51 win disaster to a playoff contender. Of course, fact is often much more unbelievable than fiction.

I think it is safe to say that if the reader would have chosen to not trade Randy Johnson and his budget busting contract; ask MLB to forgive $80 million in debt; sign a free agent 3B (hence blocking their best prospect, Chad Tracy) to a 4y/$45M contract, about 50% over market value; sign a fly ball pitcher to pitch in the thin air of Arizona, again paying more than even the inflated market value of the 2004 offseason. Finally, let's finish up by bringing in two Brewers' castoffs, Royce Clayton and Craig Counsell, to be the '05 DP combo, replacing the already in-house options of Alex Cintron and Matt Kata, who were unwanted because of their youth, inexpensive salaries, and better production.

Let's compare their overall numbers, shall we?

Cintron--.326/.411, 739 OPS, 26 in '05
Kata-----.310/.400, 710, 27

Clayton--.313/.371, 684, 35
Counsell-.345/.344, 689, 34

I'll be the first to say that neither Alex or Matt would appear to be a future star. That said, the average SS in MLB had a 734 OPS last year. I can think of many a worse situation than running out a slightly above average, switch-hitting SS who will be 26 and making close to the MLB minimum. That said, getting older and crappier is exactly how they rebuild a team in the bizarro world.

This is a team that's getting older, spending a fortune on 3 players who are unlikely to be around when ARI finally gets around to contention, and booting out decent, cheap youngsters who are better than the vets they are replacing them with.

If this was even an option in a book, it'd have to be rewritten. Too bad the D'Backs and their fans can't simply "turn back the pages" and start over.

12/13/2004 09:46:00 AM

(12/13/2004 08:56:00 AM) - Al


If the Brewers did get Carlos Lee, who would play LF and RF, Lee or Jenkins?


I would assume Jenkins, but having not really seen Lee play, couldn't tell you much about his arm and/or defense. Neither has ever played RF, except one game Geoff played in his rookie season.

By the way, if you're not familiar with Lee, his closest compatriot in MLB is Geoff Jenkins, according to Baseball Reference.

12/13/2004 08:56:00 AM

Sunday, December 12, 2004

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

JS has the story of a proposed Jeff Bennett to the Phillies trade, as well as Melvin saying everyone is waiting for the free agents to sign before making a big trade.

Also, no plan on taking anyone in the Rule 5, if you believe Doug.

12/12/2004 11:00:00 PM

(12/12/2004 09:39:00 PM) - Al

A number of teams have interest in White Sox left fielder Carlos Lee, who theoretically could be part of a trade for Johnson. Milwaukee reportedly is one of the strongest squads from that group and would seem to have a natural fit with the White Sox in leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik or utility infielder Keith Ginter, who could challenge Willie Harris at second base and serve as the team's backup third

I have mentioned many times my love for Keith Ginter, but I will admit, this makes some sense. The Sox are looking to dump salary, and their needs match what the Crew has to deal. One thing that a message board said last night hit me hard...that Spivey was the 2B for '05, and Weeks would likely be ready by '06, if not August of '05. That leaves Ginter as available.

I will say this, I would install Keith as my 2B for 2005 and go from there. That said, Carlos Lee sure sounds a lot like the player that was described by Mark Attanasio in the Kolb trade story.

"You would be surprised about some of the trades we are looking at for players up at that end of the range," said presumptive new owner Mark Attanasio, who met with club officials on Saturday and listened to some of the potential trades being discussed. "We have looked at some players who are in that price range as part of a trade."

Melvin & Co. declined to name their targets, but Brewers brass fielded phone calls from other clubs all day in the team's hotel suite. Colorado has been actively shopping outfielder Preston Wilson, who will earn $12 million next season, but Brewers manager Ned Yost said, "He's not the answer."

In a perfect world, the Brewers would acquire a third baseman or right fielder who hits right-handed and could fit into the cleanup hole between first baseman Lyle Overbay and left fielder Geoff Jenkins, a pair of lefties.

Kolb, center fielder Scott Podsednik and infielder Keith Ginter were among the players drawing interest from other teams. The Chicago Cubs were reportedly among the clubs showing interest in Kolb, and San Francisco may be a fit for Podsednik.

FYI, Lee is signed through 2006, at $8.5M a season. Carlos hits RH and would be all but a perfect fit in the middle of that order, which Doug has talked about since the minute he dealt Richie Sexson. His numbers can be found here.

Pods and Ginter combined will make about $1.2 million in 2005, leading me to wonder if the Crew could convince the Sox to take Wes Helms' $2.9M '05 deal off their hands, if this is indeed more than just a rumor.

12/12/2004 09:39:00 PM

(12/12/2004 08:47:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin has appointed Mike Adams as the closer of 2005.

In another development, if you follow links around the internet, Scott Posednik is rumored to be headed to 4-6 different teams. I haven't seen a member of the Crew linked like that ever...even Sexson was only 2-3, and rarely more than the Dodgers and D'Backs.

Corey Koskie is said to be close to signing with the Blue Jays...that would appear to leave Eric Hinske, a WI native, out of a job. Too bad he has such a hellish contract.

12/12/2004 08:47:00 PM

(12/12/2004 06:57:00 PM) - Al

The player to be named later from ATL is thought to be Buddy Hernandez. Buddy will be 26 when the season starts, and was taken by OAK in the Rule 5 draft last season, but given back to ATL. To me, that's a dandy compliment, as Billy Beane is as good at finding diamonds in the rough as anyone alive. From Baseball America:

Hernandez, 25, signed as a nondrafted free agent out of North Carolina Wesleyan in 2000. He's almost the exact opposite of Kolb, as he's less than imposing yet has had no trouble missing bats in the minor leagues. He's just 5-foot-9, his fastball arrives at 87-90 mph without exceptional movement and he lacks a notable second pitch, but he has averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings during five years in the minors. He went 7-2, 2.47 in 47 games at Triple-A Richmond this year, with a 60-26 K-BB ratio in 67 innings. Opponents batted .190 with five homers against him. His career record is 17-7, 2.16 with 14 saves in 193 minor league appearances .

I'd say Hernandez is a softer throwing Mike Adams. I always root for guys like this, as if I (and almost all of you) were 50 times better than we were, this is who we'd be. He's a results guy, seemingly doing it with mirrors. That said, I'd say there's two things I can say about Buddy:

1. He will never be anything more than a reliever. 5-9 righties rarely have the stamina to starters, and are never given the chance anyway.

2. I'll take my chances with an entire bullpen of guys like him, rather than hard throwers that have never had success. You can usually say words like "gutsy" and "gritty" are meaningless, but when you're called on for the 3rd day in a row, go ahead run on base, 95 degrees...I'll take the guys that have overcome an entire lifetime of people telling them they were too small or too untalented over Joe Natural Athlete every time.

I have previously said Kolb should have been traded with his value at its highest, perhaps last offseason or at the July deadline. No way there was ever an offer as good as this, however. Kudos to Mr. Melvin.

12/12/2004 06:57:00 PM

Saturday, December 11, 2004

(12/11/2004 07:13:00 PM) - Al

JS has the link, Dan Kolb was traded to the Braves for their top arm, Jose Capellan, and a player to be named.

The kid is 23 and flew threw the system last year, supposedly throws in the high 90's...consistently. He was ranked as the 5th best prospect in the Southern League (Rickie Weeks was 3rd, Prince Fielder was 4th) last year, as he pitched about 50 innings in three different leagues.

Link to the Brewers' site report is up.

12/11/2004 07:13:00 PM

(12/11/2004 09:03:00 AM) - Al

The JS verified today that Pods and Kolb are drawing interest from other teams.

Also of note, the Mexican League team JJ Hardy was playing on has deactivated him after a week, which makes him unable to get PA's before spring training opens. One thing I've been curious about is the possibility of an Arizona (or a Florida) "winter league", play from after Thanksgiving to just before Xmas, and just after the new year until late January. With the state of winter ball (somewhat unsafe, weighted in favor of "homegrown" players, far too much emphasis on winning, and meaningless tiny samples) bad and getting worse, this might be an option for MLB to look at. Many players will want to play just to be seen, many teams would like players to get some playing time and rehab in, and it could be a good setting to try out a new position, for example.

I can't believe it would be much of a moneymaker (at least not at first), but even if it ran a $2 million loss per year, that's an expense of $70K per team per year...very minimal for the benefits listed above.

12/11/2004 09:03:00 AM

Friday, December 10, 2004

(12/10/2004 10:35:00 PM) - Al


Pods to SF for Jerome Williams

I can't believe this wouldn't have the Crew adding a prospect, but I'd do even that in a second. no link, but I've seen it so often, it is officially a rumor of mammoth proportions.

Kolb to Cubs for Kyle Farnsworth

I'm a huge Farnsworth fan, as he is the epitome of talent that has never developed properly. He throws as hard as anyone in the game, and has a healthier past than Kolb. I assume we'd get a prospect as well, and I feel Kyle may well thrive in a small market, relaxed atmosphere. He has been inconsistent, but bottom line is, he strikes out a man per inning. He's one adjustment away from being a star, and I trust Mike Maddux to make it.

12/10/2004 10:35:00 PM

(12/10/2004 07:34:00 PM) - Al

Gammons checks in with one of his finest efforts, as he often does when he feels the game needs a dose of love.

But in an earlier column, he penned a few words that prompted more than a couple folks to e-mail me:

Then those who are a starter short will start thinking about the possibility of Ben Sheets being next summer's big trade deadline prize.

First of all, if Peter is referring to "next summer" as 2006, I would tend to agree with him. I do not have much desire to sign a young pitcher with back trouble, coming off back surgery, to a long-term contract, pardon me for not getting emotional when discussing a baseball player.

Otherwise, Gammons is famous for keeping his ears to the ground, and reporting what he hears. Some of it is true, some are not. He has mentioned Sheets as often as any SP not on a contender in the last couple years, and for good reason...I'm sure teams ask about him and talk about getting him all the time. Does Melvin discuss his availability? I doubt it, as Ben is coming off surgery, and couldn't garner as much as he's worth right now.

With injury prone, bottom of the rotation guys getting $7.5 mil per, Sheets has to be thinking a couple more seasons of good health, and it's filthy rich, minimum eight figures per trip around the sun. I'd hesitate paying any mortal being that much, as knees, shoulders, elbows (and backs), etc. all tend to give out over time.

12/10/2004 07:34:00 PM

(12/10/2004 07:03:00 PM) - Al

Melvin said he decided Junior Spivey must return at second base. It was after Spivey was lost in early July with a shoulder injury that the team’s offense and defense began to slide precipitously.

“We played our best baseball when he was playing,” said Melvin. “We run the risk of his history of injuries. But unless something changes, we’re counting on him.”

I have agreed with Doug Melvin on 95% of his moves in his time as GM, but I admit, I just don't get this one. I have nothing against Junior Spivey, but the idea of paying him in the vicinity of $3M to patrol 2B in '05, for about 120 games, when you have his statistical twin available for much less, puzzles me to no end. The only reason I can see to offer Junior arby is to trade him, which is exactly what we tried last year.

Ginter, career---.344/.448, 792 OPS
Spivey, career---.362/.447, 809

While I could understand the argument Spivey is slightly better, I disagree with it. Much of Junior's success came in Arizona, the 2nd best hitter's park in the NL. Also, Spivey's career stats are mostly in part to his 2002 campaign:

Ginter, 2003--.352/.427, 779 OPS
Spivey, 2003--.326/.433, 759

Ginter, 2004--.333/.479, 812
Spivey, 2004--.359/.421, 780

And to be honest, the idea of "We played our best baseball when he was playing" is either silly or stupid, depending on your mood and your overall satisfaction with your time spent on the planet thus far. The Crew played better with Matt Kinney on the roster as well, and we had no problem releasing him.

I am a founding memeber of the Free Keith Ginter club (not only that, but I'm also a client). I like the way he approaches each PA; takes pitches, walks often, and drives the ball with authority, especially when you consider he's a middle infielder.

12/10/2004 07:03:00 PM

(12/10/2004 04:56:00 PM) - Al

As I weave into another topic, allow me once again to link the King, as he wrote about this very topic a few days ago at The Hardball Times.

I am all for capitalism, in fact, I adore the concept. All of us have the right, and should in fact, go all out to get the best possible contract from an employer. For instance, I work in retail management, and twice in my "career" I have left one employer to go to another. In both cases I changed employers because I thought it was the best thing to do for my "future", I actually took less money at my new position, and upon hearing my resignation, both my former companies did a dance of glee (I'm sorry, I mean offered me more money to stay).

Hence, I have no problem with players going to the highest bidder, nor do I struggle with a decision to stay at home (Like Brad Radke did, granted, I wish I could give a "hometown discount" and walk away with $9 mil a year. I think it's safe to say Brad won't be standing in line for government cheese anytime soon.) for less money, or take less money to play for a winner, or take less money to play in a warm climate. I think it's wonderful players can decide where they wish to play, and wish them the best.

So, my main thought this week has been, "What exact moment did these teams lose track of what players are worth?"

I'm sorry, but for the most part, most of the FA signings have been ridiculous this offseason, as if we were talking about Monopoly money. Mr. Gleeman said he felt there was one "fair" signing, Doug Mirabelli and BOS got together and decided 2y/$3M was fair for a good hitting reserve catcher, and I may think it's a tad high, but overall, very fair. I would also add the Cory Lidle/PHIL marriage, 2y/$6.3M seemed about right to me, and honestly, a bit weighted toward the Phillies. Given the market, I'll go out on a limb and say the Twins/Radke 2y/$18M seems "OK", as does the recent Russ Ortiz/D'Backs 4y/$33M. Both are a bit high, but compared to what I will discuss below, are equivalent to buying Manhattan for $24 from the casino-Americans.

Other than that, my friends, the owners have been losers as often as the Washington Generals. The trifecta of Jaret Wright, Jon Lieber, and Kris Benson, all decent pitchers when healthy mind you, but also the well known fact exists that they have all had arm troubles in the very recent past, and they signed the dotted line for $64 million. Really. It's one thing to have a guy run into arm trouble after a career of consistent good health (like Radke and Ortiz may well do), but to chase a guy with arm woes and pay him for his best season rather than the inconsistent bastion of mediocrity they are, is mindnumbingly silly.

Let's move on, to the head shaking example of Jermaine Dye. Dye used to be a fine player, above average offensively, above average defensively. Of late, his numbers have not been to Dye for, to say the least:

Age 27, 2001---.346/.467, 813 OPS
Age 28, 2002---.333/.459, 802
Age 29, 2003---.261/.253, 514
Age 30, 2004---.329/.464, 793
career---------.334/.463, 797

His health has also been rather spotty, as his games played high is 131 in the past 3 seasons. On the bright side, his production hasn't declined...yet. I think if you did a study of corner OF's, you'll find many fall off the proverbial cliff in their early 30's, in fact I seem to recall mentioning this when Jenkins signed his extension. If you take out his terrible '03, in which he was playing hurt, it would seem safe to expect about an 800 OPS from Jermaine in 2005, maybe a bit lower in 2006. So, what's wrong with paying him $10.3 million over 2 years {pause to thank powers greater than I this is not the Brewers' big signing this year}, you ask.

Ave RF, 2004--------.352/.451, 803 OPS
Bubba Trammell------.339/.459, 798
Todd Hollandsworth--.336/.447, 783
Brady Clark, 2004---.383/.397, 780

Yes, the White Sox are paying 5 million American dollars, per season, for a player that compares extremely well with a mediocre RF, 2 players who have never even been considered anything but platoon/reserves, and Brady Clark's 2004 campaign.

Giggle. Good one.

And as long as I stumbled onto his stats, I'll nominate Hollandsworth to be a cheap stopgap to split time with Clark in '05, while waiting for Corey Hart to develop in Nashville...unless the Crew is able to sign a "forgotten" man who slips through MLB's drunken sailor like spending spree.

And yes, Troy Glaus' 4y/$45M deal is even worse than Dye's, but at least I can fathom Troy being worth that kind of money, if he is indeed recovered from his injury of '04. Yes, it is a contract that could singlehandedly destroy a franchise's ability to compete short-term. At least Glaus is a consistent offensive force at his position, unlike Dye, who has been either mediocre...or below, since the turn of the century.

12/10/2004 04:56:00 PM

(12/10/2004 04:51:00 PM) - Al

Before we get into it, thanks to King Gleeman, check out the Office Space soundboard.

Allow me to say once again that Jim Caple gets paid to write lies, made up crap, and simply untruths for and Aaron writes for free is the dictionary definition of irony.

12/10/2004 04:51:00 PM

(12/10/2004 04:33:00 PM) - Al

I plan on being back tonight to post on a variety of topics, including:

--Gammons' thoughts on Sheets being traded
--Spivey returning as the Crew's 2B
--Kolb to Cubs rumors(Farnsworth?)
--And mostly, why I have been looking on bemused at mediocre, past their prime players getting contracts the last few days for millions and millions of dollars. I thought I had seen everything when I heard the "not guilty" verdict read for Orenthal James Simpson, but seeing Jermaine Dye sign for $5 mil a year might well have topped it.

I have been struggling with Blogger the past few days, so software willing, I shall return.

12/10/2004 04:33:00 PM

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

(12/08/2004 11:08:00 AM) - Al

I can't believe there was ever any doubt on this one, but there's just no way you can pay a utility IF $2.5M.

12/08/2004 11:08:00 AM

Monday, December 06, 2004

(12/06/2004 07:24:00 PM) - Al

Good news and bad news.

Chris Magruder has signed a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. I like Magruder more than most, and it's good to see he cleared waivers.

Pedro Liriano was claimed on waivers by the Phillies, as the Crew attempted to clear a spot, probably for the Rule 5 draft, or maybe a trade is forthcoming. I also liked Liriano more than most, though his ceiling is probably as a decent middle reliever. That has value, especially in his pre-arby years, when he's inexpensive.

12/06/2004 07:24:00 PM

(12/06/2004 02:10:00 PM) - Al

Ever get the feeling of deja vu?

A long-haired, fierce-hitting defensive back with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, he turned away a $3.6 million contract after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to volunteer for the war on terrorism, ultimately giving his life in combat in Taliban-infested southeastern Afghanistan.

Millions of stunned Americans mourned his death last April 22 and embraced his sacrifice as a rare example of courage and national service.

As The Washington Post reported in a long two-part story December 5 and 6, we now know that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire and that the Army lied about it.

Um, didn't we find this out sometime last summer? I recall seeing it on the ESPN crawler, hardly a bastion of classified info. I guess my question would be why we expect the military to release every minute bit of information regarding injury and death. It certainly doesn't take away from Tillman's greatness or sacrifice. I believe estimates say 25% of WW2 deaths were because of friendly fire, especially in those days of bombs being dropped on a hope and a prayer.

Mr. Tillman is still a hero. May he rest in peace.

12/06/2004 02:10:00 PM

(12/06/2004 01:16:00 PM) - Al

Once again, we made our annual outing for Toys for Tots today. We chose to shop locally, as the 90 minute drive to Appleton or Green Bay to Toys R Us didn't appeal to me. This was the first year our son, Andrew, now 2 1/2, was old enough to "help us". We tried to explain the concept to him, as we were afraid he would get upset when we dropped the toys into the collection box, or think this was a shopping trip for him. He didn't grasp the concept, as my wife told me he looked at her with wide eyes of shock when she tried to tell him that some kids didn't have many toys, and that we were going to buy them some. When we repeated this on the way there, he muttered something about "needing his toys", so we had to explain that we weren't going to take his toys, and that he was still going to get gifts, and that this was a special trip for other little people.

When we got to the store, we again tried to get him to grasp the concept, and I happened to say I had no idea what little boys and girls liked, and I needed his help. He chose a tractor playset first, and proudly put it in the cart himself. We bypassed the next thing we discussed, and as we moved on, he said, "But, some boy needs that." Tough to argue with that. Andrew did a fine job, usually choosing between a couple mid-range items we put in front of him. Only one time did he forget he was shopping for others, when we passed the Thomas the Tank section, as he is a big fan of all things train related.

After the check-out, he did struggle to drop the toys into the boxes, but only because he didn't understand how the kids got the toys from this box. Luckily, there was a picture of Santa on the box, and if Santa is involved, all is good.

FYI, there is a link to Toys for Tots on the right if you aren't a fan of shopping. I remember the semi coming to TRU about 20% full and struggling to fit all the donated toys in; back in the days of a fiscally healthy, not for sale TRU. I hope that still happens.

12/06/2004 01:16:00 PM

(12/06/2004 01:05:00 PM) - Al

Gammons checks in with his take on the steroid news that was leaked last week. Once again, as Peter often does, he tells us that Bud Selig was way ahead of most, pushing for more comprehensive testing, but averted a work stoppage by compromising with the union, and settled for the weaker plan.

{Note: Of course, this directly contradicts what many folks said at the time, that Bud deserved no credit for there being no strike, which was an ignorant statement before, but is laid to rest as totally false with the leak.}

I have avoided comment on this latest news, as I see it as the media reporting something we all knew to be the case. Sure, a couple of big names (Giambi and Bonds) have come out, but for the most part, this is as unnewsy as it gets.

Before last week, we knew that some players had used steroids in the past (Canseco and Caminiti said they had) and 7% of MLB players tested positive in 2004. The media is telling us exactly what was already out there, plus a couple big names. Yawn.

12/06/2004 01:05:00 PM

Sunday, December 05, 2004

(12/05/2004 11:35:00 PM) - Al

I am very thankful for all the e-mail I get, I publish some, reply to some, and thank some others for taking the time to write. In the past couple weeks, many seem to be in a holiday mood, as I have had several folks write to say how much they enjoy the site, and I believe three have asked how they could donate to the site. Of course, many web pages have a Paypal button somewhere, which I have never bothered to put on the page, for reasons I will not get into. I have considered it, and may do so at a later time, but have not as of yet.

Allow me to take a couple minutes to thank folks for writing, and if you enjoy Ramblings so much you want to pay for a free site, please click on one of the links on the right and send worthy organizations some cash. I will appreciate it, and so will they.

12/05/2004 11:35:00 PM

(12/05/2004 10:47:00 PM) - Al

With free-agent catcher Damian Miller in the fold, the biggest needs are at third base and right field.

At this point, general manager Doug Melvin seems inclined to hold an open audition at third base among three holdovers: Wes Helms, Russell Branyan and Keith Ginter. Each comes with his pluses and minuses.

“My gut feeling is that’s what we’ll probably do,” said Melvin, who has had no luck pursuing free-agent third basemen.--JS

I am on record as saying I would non-tender Spivey, start Ginter at 2B, and if you can't get a better 3B, go into '05 with Helms/Branyan. I just think we can better use $2.5-3M than to keep Junior instead of his near statistical twin, Ginter.

Heck, if you can assume that little Pods for Padilla swap rumor was legit, you can pay almost all of Padilla's '05 salary if you just let Spivey go and let the much cheaper Keith play 2B.

When the winter meetings begin Friday in Anaheim, Calif., Melvin will continue his pursuit of a corner outfielder, perhaps dangling either centerfielder Scott Podsednik or closer Dan Kolb as bait.

Personally, I'd hold both up to the highest bidder, and hope someone offered enough. Kolb especially, as I simply have no faith in him to stay healthy. I would not deal Pods, but a solid SP would have me send him off in no time flat, as his replacement is in-house, cheaper, and if you are able to ignore Pods' stunning '03, every bit as good.

There should be more movement on the market after Tuesday, the date for teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. Interested suitors would have to surrender draft picks to sign free agents who have been offered arbitration.

The Brewers have only one free agent, shortstop Craig Counsell. The plan is to give prospect J.J. Hardy a shot at winning the job next spring, but Melvin has had preliminary talks with Counsell’s agent, Barry Meister, about returning in some capacity.

“We’ve talked about bringing him back,” Melvin said. “I told (Meister) we’d talk again Monday or Tuesday.”

Melvin is interested in bringing Counsell back on a one-year deal at a much lower salary than his $3.15 million pay of last season. But the veteran infielder is looking for a multi-year commitment and has had feelers from other clubs.

Counsell is a Class B free agent, and the Brewers would get a second-round draft pick in return if they offer him arbitration and he signs with another club. Should Counsell accept, however, they’d be unable to cut his salary by more than 20%.

“It’s a close call right now,” Melvin said. “It’ll probably go down to the wire.”

Frequent Roundtable participant Ben said at a message board today he expects the Crew to offer Counsell arby. He said he didn't think the Crew would find a decent stopgap for much less than the $2.52M that Counsell would have to be offered in arby; that Craig might well sign elsewhere if given a multi-year deal, which would give the Brewers a 2nd round pick, if arby is offered.

Personally, I wouldn't dream of paying a utility IF $2.5M (even if he is starting at SS), so I would not offer Counsell arby, but as usual, Ben makes some very good points.

12/05/2004 10:47:00 PM

Saturday, December 04, 2004

(12/04/2004 01:50:00 AM) - Al

It's just a parody. Very, very funny. Hat tip to Six Meat Buffet.

My favorite:

We hate everything this country stands dare you question our patriotism?

12/04/2004 01:50:00 AM

(12/04/2004 01:33:00 AM) - Al

I love your site, am a die hard Blue Jays fan and am also a member of the: "believer in respecting OBP, throwing strikes, and keeping the ball in the park, don't believe in paying a no hit/good field SS $2 million per year, don't think it's a good idea to "play for a run" early in the game. Build up your minor league system, and watch success follow." camp as you put it on your site.

-With regards to your comments that Clement, Odalis Perez and Russ Ortiz are the best FA buys on the market.

While I do think Clement is a good SP with nice K/BB and HIT/IP stats, I think he is a good but not great FA buy.

-He is being pursued by many teams and therefore is likely to have his salary pushed up by demand (definitely a factor against the Jays or Brewers or Indians signing him)

-My reason to doubt his future performance is, believe it on not, the friendly confines... As a ground ball pitcher he is rarely susceptible to the HR, and therefore the most important factor in a ballpark he pitches in is the amount of space. A small ballpark has much less space for a non-fly to land. Clement had a 4.50 ERA as a road split this year. Here are his home road splits for his Cub career:
Home ERA
Road ERA




If you want other examples of ground ball pitchers performing better in small parks check out: Victor Zambrano in Wrigley: 2.38 at home 3.13 on the road. Or the most interesting:Notorious groundballer Derek Lowe in Fenway. Lowes splits while pitching in Fenway the last few years are incredible... Year
Home ERA
Road ERA





Also about Clement, his numbers were not so good before he arrived in Chicago (admittedly this is probably because he was older during his cub years...

-Odalis Perez is a good FA but he is coming off a few year in Pitcher Friendly Chavez Ravine

-Your choice of Russ Ortiz as a good FA, baffles me: Bad ERA, way too many walks...

Your other comment I would like to comment on is the Podsednik deal...That the Brew Crew would reject this baffles me. The only likely explanation is that they are infatuated with Podsednik and expect him to regain his ROY form...In my opinion they would be wise to trade him Now while he has value...Be Dammed if he's a fan favourite his OBP in the leadoff spot kills...Oh well, now that the Phils got Lofton it don't matter too much...

I hope you read this and thank you if you do...As I say I love your site and read it all the time...


Thanks for reading and writing, Caroline, and I'm sorry your lovely charts were unable to be duplicated by me. I did leave all the info there, so my dedicated half-dozen readers can see your info, however poorly presented.

As for Ortiz, in the post that was Bloggered, I did discuss the fact that Ortiz has succeeded despite a high WHIP, and while walking too many. I believe the word I used was "enigma", as he has had amazing success in his career. A few starts, or even a season can be labeled as a fluke. Six years cannot.

12/04/2004 01:33:00 AM

Friday, December 03, 2004

(12/03/2004 10:21:00 AM) - Al

According to sources, the Phils recently offered inconsistent one-time All-Star righthander Vicente Padilla to Milwaukee for speedy center fielder Scott Podsednik, who is available because he hit .244 (with 70 steals) in 2004 after batting .314 (with 43 steals) as a rookie in 2003. The small-market Brewers passed because Padilla could land as much as $3.5 million in 2005 through salary arbitration.

I obviously have no idea what kind of budget Doug Melvin has to work with in '05, but as long as Padilla's injury woes of 2004 are over, I would have done this deal in a heartbeat. You don't find 27 year-old good arms available very often. Brady Clark is not a downgrade from Pods at all, and Krynzel/Gwynn are in the pipleline.

Two questions that come to me are:

1. How is Doug chasing FA's if he can't afford a $3.5M arby verdict?

2. Could this trade be brought up again if the Crew misses out on a FA SP they are going after (Clement maybe)?

12/03/2004 10:21:00 AM

Thursday, December 02, 2004

(12/02/2004 01:32:00 AM) - Al

My very lengthy post on Clement, which also included thoughts on Odalis Perez and Russ Ortiz, is apparently lost forever. Clement is my favorite FA SP on the market this year, followed by Perez and Ortiz. Simply put, Matt would be a perfect fit in MIL, for several reasons.

Clement, 3 year--35-36, 3.80 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.39-1 K/BB, .306/.360 opp OBP/SLG, 1.76 GB/FB ratio

With all that, add to it the fact Clement has started 31 games and thrown 169 innings minimum every year of his career, he is made for Miller Park...induces ground balls, a K per inning, and has been healthy. As with all pitchers, his next pitch could easily be his last, but the best indicator of future health is past health, and Matt has that.

Clement is expected to sign with CLE, as he lives about an hour away from the Jake, and will likely sign for about $8 mil a year.

12/02/2004 01:32:00 AM

(12/02/2004 01:03:00 AM) - Al

From ESPN Insider:

Devil Rays
White Sox
Red Sox

Dec. 1 - Placido Polanco appears likely to benefit from the lucrative multiyear deals signed by Cristian Guzman (four years, $16.8 million) and Omar Vizquel (three years, $12.25 million), reports Insider's Jerry Crasnick. Agent Paul Kinzer said Polanco could have a three- or possibly a four-year deal in place by the end of next week in Anaheim.

"We don't have anything close, but that's what teams are telling us," Kinzer said. "I think it's going to build by the winter meetings, and hopefully something gets done there." Milwaukee has talked to Polanco about playing third base, and Boston is looking at him as a possibility to play second, short and third, but Polanco probably will attract enough interest to land a full-time job at second base. He's a Tony La Russa favorite and could wind up back in St. Louis if the Cardinals don't re-sign Tony Womack.

I like Polanco, but he is certainly going to be overpaid because of the horrendous Guzman signing. I would like to see him signed to be the SS until Hardy is proclaimed ready, then be a top utility IF. That said, I'd like to see him as a $2 mil a year guy, which isn't going to happen with the far inferior Guzman getting twice that. He is an above average offensive SS, though he hasn't played there in a few years, playing mainly 3B with the Phillies. He's probably almost exactly a win below mediocre as a 3B, not bad, but not a guy you want to overpay for either.

12/02/2004 01:03:00 AM

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

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

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.

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

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