Al's Ramblings



Friday, January 30, 2004

(1/30/2004 09:47:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings may very well have an interview with a real live Brewers' minor leaguer soon. I had written a request and some questions a while back, and the young man told me today he plans to file a response soon. Let's hope, as often time is elusive to pro athletes.

I will not divulge his name, but to not allow hopes to get too high, he is not a top youngster, rather a veteran pro. He also once played baseball with a fellow baseball blogger, hint, hint.


1/30/2004 09:47:00 PM



(1/30/2004 06:54:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Let me say that I fully agree that signing IRod doesn't do much of anything for the Tigers. At least, if we assume he was signed in order to help the current Tigers team, not so that they can flip him for prospects at the first opportunity.

But, what I find really interesting is if you realize just how bad Detroit catchers were in 2003. A combined 13.9 runs below replacement level. That's an astonishing number to me. Considering offense and defense, it's only a slight exagerration to say that the Tigers are only paying IRod slightly more than a million per win improvement. It certainly goes a long ways towards explaining how the Tigers lost 119 games.

Beyond that, I really find that to be an indictment of Dave Dombrowski. He went through 2003 without finding someone who wasn't at least replacement level? He let Tom Wilson clear waivers all the way to the Padres in the offseason? Granted, he inherited a mess of a major league roster and a barren farm system from Randy Smith, but there's never a reason to put up with less than replacement level. Whether through stubbornness or laziness, he really did Detroit fans a disservice in 2003.

Robert



Thanks for reading and writing, Robert. I know the Tigers were awful behind the plate, but as a 40some win team, they should have been looking strictly at the future. Brandon Inge isn't my idea of "the future" either, but at least they didn't play Keith Osik, or someone like him...an older guy with no ceiling. Now, could they have gone out and found a AAA catcher that was blocked, or a youngish fella who was out of options (Ramon Castro of the Marlins, for example)? Possibly, but you can say that about the Crew as well (though their old codgers played well).

At the end of the day, however, the Tigers are spending a ton of money ($20 million, which I guess is considered a lot of money only by me:) on IRod, an awesome catcher, but too old to be a good pickup for a team that lost so many games; and then perfect examples of veteran mediocrity (or aged crap, depending on my mood), like Nando Vina, Rondell White, and Jason Johnson. Each of these guys will assist the Tigers in putting more W's up, but will do nothing to get them back to the 90 win plateau.

I can't help but think the Tigers will try and cut corners elsewhere now that they've spent so much on 4 vets, as I can't believe many more people will come out to see a 65 win team than a 55 win team. And if that occurs, it's as painful as any result that could happen after a year as bad as they had in '03.


1/30/2004 06:54:00 PM



(1/30/2004 06:28:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings has been named "Site of the Week" at The 7 Wonders. If you're visiting from there, welcome, and check back often.


1/30/2004 06:28:00 PM


Thursday, January 29, 2004

(1/29/2004 10:46:00 PM) - Al

This is wrong on so many levels, it's frightening.

IRod should have no interest in the Tigers, and the Tigers should have no interest in IRod.

DET is at the extreme edge of the far end of the success cycle, as far away from contention as is possible. Paying a 30+ catcher $10 million a year may win the Tigers a few more games...and if you can justify paying $10 mil per to win 67 games rather than 63, bless you.



1/29/2004 10:46:00 PM



(1/29/2004 10:35:00 PM) - Al

TEX designated Mike Lamb for assignment today. Mike has played mostly 3B in his career, and has complied a .336/.385 line in his career.

Hmmm...

Lamb---.336/.385, 721 OPS, 129 OXS, 78 runs created
Helms--.310/.437, 747 OPS, 135 OXS, 81 runs created

I'll be the first to say Wes will likely beat his career norm in '04, but if someone would ever leave Lamb alone and put him out there every day (or at least versus RH pitchers), he probably would as well.

The Yankees would do well to bring Lamb in rather than trying to chase down someone far past their prime.


1/29/2004 10:35:00 PM


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

(1/28/2004 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer mentions today that Wes Helms is a 3B the Yankees should consider, now that Aaron Boone is out for the season. One name that didn't pop up on Neyer's list was Jose Valentin, who the White Sox yank around on an anual basis, but would be a decent addition for NY. The most obvious and best player for the job is Robin Ventura, as he has nowhere to play in LA, and could platoon with Enrique Wilson. I'm sure Jeff Cirillo is available.:)

Also, Elroy Hirsh passed away today. I never knew he was from Wausau until they discussed his high school years with classmates on local TV tonight. He was a wonderful ambassador for the state and the University of Wisconsin for decades.


1/28/2004 10:31:00 PM



(1/28/2004 11:17:00 AM) - Al

Jose Hernandez signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. Considering how incredibly bad their infield offense is, they should just let him start somewhere. Even after falling off the mythical cliff as he ages badly, he's a lot better than what they have now. They're paying Adrian Beltre $5 mil and hoping his OBP is over .300...yuck.

UPDATE: I bet the Yankees would love to have him right now as well.


1/28/2004 11:17:00 AM



(1/28/2004 11:14:00 AM) - Al

The Sports Guy, who some people insist is very funny, writes a column complaining how cold it is in Houston. I can't find yesterday's temps, but today, it's 50, with an expected high of 56.

The Sports Guy is not only unfunny, but wimpy as well.


1/28/2004 11:14:00 AM


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

(1/27/2004 10:45:00 PM) - Al

Since the Brewers' campaign ended, to say the Journal Sentinel "writers" have been MIA is the understatement of the millennium. Sure, they take turns writing a 'notes" column for the Sunday JS.

Robertson and Brian Duckworth, obtained from Philadelphia over the winter, will compete for jobs in the bullpen.--Tom H

Tom goofs on Brandon Duckworth's name, which remains uncorrected as of this posting. Tom is apparently too busy proving to us he is "in the know" with our minor league system (scroll down a tad) to bother with fact checking, I guess.

Drew Olson's weblog has not been updated since October 20th (that's 2003, FYI). When last we saw an update, Pods was still hoping to win Rookie of the Year, Richie Sexson was our 1B, and Howard Dean was a shoo-in to be the Democratic nominee.

Sure, every once in a while, one or the other comes through with a negative slant of the ownership, but with Spring Training less than a month away, to say these guys were even worse during the offseason than they were last season is a massive understatement.



1/27/2004 10:45:00 PM



(1/27/2004 08:52:00 PM) - Al

The rumor that simply will not die...Cheney not being on the ticket this Fall, with the names most often mentioned to replace him being Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, and now Rudy Guliani.

This has been mentioned steadily since Cheney's health problem. Fair or not, I don't think many folks feel any of the three wouldn't add more votes than the often invisible Cheney.



1/27/2004 08:52:00 PM



(1/27/2004 08:14:00 PM) - Al

Time worthy article about fantasy baseball that MLB sent out to the team sites.


1/27/2004 08:14:00 PM



(1/27/2004 01:53:00 PM) - Al

Milwaukee Business Journal discusses possible local owners. 3 page article, click next at the bottom.


1/27/2004 01:53:00 PM



(1/27/2004 11:26:00 AM) - Al

Apparently, "free speech" doesn't apply when the protestors disagree with your viewpoint.

I didn't even know it was legal to tackle folks.


1/27/2004 11:26:00 AM



(1/27/2004 12:56:00 AM) - Al

The Crank with a lengthy look at the AL West.

I seem to be the only person who thinks the A's will win the division rather easily.


1/27/2004 12:56:00 AM



(1/27/2004 12:52:00 AM) - Al

As a former delivery person myself, I feel for Scott. And dare I say it, you'd be amazed how many times the person that ordered the food has not a penny to his name, and no idea how it's going to be paid for.


1/27/2004 12:52:00 AM


Monday, January 26, 2004

(1/26/2004 11:37:00 PM) - Al

As long as I'm going to post my projections, I thought I would comapre and contrast them with other outlets who have posted '04 numbers. Those are Baseball Primer, through Transaction Oracle (TO), Roto Times (RT), and Baseball Prospectus (BP). All in all, all seem pretty similar, at first glance, RT seems the most offensive, with BP the most conservative.

The list is as follows, enjoy (listed as OBP/SLG, OPS, OXS):

Chad Moeller

AR--.335/.430, 765, 144
TO--.353/.443, 798, 156
RT--.335/.434, 769, 145
BP--.320/.407, 727, 130

Incredible difference between BP & TO, while we agree with RT. Chad's numbers the past three years are .344/.428, while on the road, he has a statline of .322/.395. BP is obviously not giving him any points for regular playing time, nor the fact Miller Park may help his power a bit.

Gary Bennett

AR--.300/.325, 625, 98
TO--.287/.300, 587, 86
RT--.299/.314, 613, 94

Gary's BP rating was not listed. Gary's numbers the last three years have been .305/.333, though he did play in COL a bit.

Lyle Overbay

AR--.365/.435, 800, 159
TO--.373/.440, 813, 164
RT--.355/.413, 768, 147
BP--.340/.420, 760, 143

Again, BP on the low end, this time along with RT. In his career thus far, Lyle has .357/.391, so BP expects him to falter with a full-time opportunity.

Junior Spivey

AR--.350/.400, 750, 140
TO--.353/.418, 771, 148
RT--.342/.438, 780, 150
BP--.341/.428, 769, 146

I assumed every single guess would be below his career numbers (.363/.453, 816, 160), yet above his career road numbers (.335/.378, 713, 127). They are, though I'm by far the lowest of the projections.

Keith Ginter

AR--.355/.415, 770, 147
TO--.354/.419, 773, 148
RT--.330/.405, 735, 134
BP--.354/.431, 785, 153

Prospectus takes its turn being optimistic, while RotoTimes may have missed Keith's breakout '03 campaign completely. And yes, 3 of the 4 have Keith projected higher.

Craig Counsell

AR--.340/.325, 665, 111
TO--.330/.318, 648, 105
RT--.347/.351, 698, 122
BP--.329/.331, 660, 109

Roto feels Craig will hit his career norms, almost exactly, while the others come closer to his results the last 3 seasons (.347/.333).

Bill Hall

AR--.325/.405, 720, 128
TO--.309/.376, 685, 116
RT--.282/.394, 676, 111

I think both services that listed Bill are overreacting to his limited playing time in '03. For a guy who will be 24 this year, I looked at his AAA AB's (.335/.407) in '03 and moved him down slightly, as many 23 year-olds struggle at that level, while still improving and gaining confidence. Meanwhile, the others looked at his major league stats (.289/.438) LY and apparently came to the conclusion that his SLG was a fluke...but his OBP was dead-on. That seems odd, to say the least.

Wes Helms

AR--.325/.445, 770, 145
TO--.332/446, 778, 148
RT--.321/.445, 766, 143
BP--.317/.441, 758, 140

I was expecting at least one breakout, but not a single one. Wes is as close as any player on the list.

Geoff Jenkins

AR--.355/.510, 865, 181
TO--.363/.512, 875, 186
RT--.347/.487, 834, 169
BP--.349/.500, 849, 175

Geoff's 3 year numbers are .349/.495, so the bottom two are going by that, while the others are closer to his outstanding 2003.

Scott Podsednik

AR--.335/.420, 755, 141
TO--.365/.425, 790, 155
RT--.359/.416, 775, 149
BP--.341/.410, 751, 140

I expected to be the lowest here, so I was surprised to BP even more negative on Scott. His career stats are .375/.440, so all are expecting a downturn. His career AAA stats are .339/.419, and he is now 28, so this isn't a story of a kid finally learning how to hit. Scott has never been healthy, and he was 27 in '03, again, a mythical peak. I hope he matches my numbers, because it wouldn't surprise me at all to be sitting here in October discussing Pods' .320/.385 "what happened" 2004.

Ben Grieve

AR--.370/.420, 790, 155
TO--.376/404, 780, 152
RT--.354/.419, 773, 148
BP--.371/.459, 830, 170

I am flabbergasted, as I thought I would be the optimistic one on Ben. BP seemed to ignore the past 3 seasons ever happened, and have put Ben right back at his 2000 line. I feel you can pretty much throw out Ben's entire injury riddled '03, and his '01-'02 results are in the .365/.410 range, which most of us pretty much followed...except the BP folks. I just hope they're right, and the rest of us are incorrect, as that'd be outstanding.

Brady Clark

AR--.335/.395, 730, 132
TO--.328/.373, 701, 122
RT--.350/.398, 748, 139

Brady wasn't listed by BP, and while there's some disagreement, his career is .331/.385, so there isn't a whole lot of difference there.


Is there a conclusion to be gained...well, if you do something as simple as adding up the OXS's of the 9 players ranked by all, here's the results:

AR--1323, average of 147
TO--1362, 151.33
RT--1307, 145.22
BP--1306, 145.11

Turns out my original hypothesis of RT being "high" and BP being "low" was incorrect, as they were almost identical. Funny how the mind makes up different conclusions based on a high number or two (much like how folks insist so and so is a great defender, based on one or two fine plays, I s'pose). This is the OXS that could, within a point or two, be expected of the top nine players, who at this moment, are expected to be the leading PA men. If you go back to '03 and add up the results of the top 9 PA guys, you get:

1414, 157.11

Does this mean the offense will be expected to be worse in 2004? I have stated no prior to now, but it is difficult to argue with the numbers put forth, however simplistic. However, the 2003 club could have been expected to score 765 runs (5548 x .329 x .419 = 765 runs, which would have been good for 6th place in the NL), but only scored 714 in the real world.

While many would say this was because of bad luck, lack of "clutch hitting, or some other reason, I would argue it was due to a crappy OBP, as they got out 67.1% of the time (11th in the NL). For the most part, baserunners equals runs, and it's difficult for a team to have good SLG make up for an inability to get on base. From my vantage point, the mere addition of a probable Counsell/Hall platoon at SS (and the subtraction of Royce "Oops, I Got Out Again" Clayton) may well have pushed us up a spot or two in run production.

Looking at the '04 version, it is very possible all eight starters will have an OBP that is higher than the average for their position. On that same note, of the nine players projected by all four sites, only Wes Helms is projected to have a "below average" OBP, as the major league average is in the .330 range.

In addition, for years the Brewers have lacked mediocre replacements at the AAA level (as the farm system has been lacking in prospects at the AAA level since we all knew Bush as Reagan's VP), leading to a lack of depth as soon as a front line player went down. At this second however, Keith Ginter is a reserve (all together now...deep breaths, in and out), Brady Clark is the 4th OF...and as of this second, our Indianapolis AAA group has many fine youngsters (Hardy, Hart, Krynzel), as well as a group of the finest minor league free agents money can buy (my two favorites are Chris Coste and Chris McGruder). While a downturn is inevitable (except possibly with Hardy at short), it seems to me this current crop of reserves will limit the steepness of the drop.

No offense to them, but last year, we brought up journeymen like Mark Smith and Jason Conti in hopes of "sparking the offense"...not to mention wasting a spot with Enrique Cruz all year ("wasting" as far as '03 was concerned, I mean). There's nothing wrong with either Smith or Conti being on 25 man rosters, one or both are likely to spend some time in the bigs in '04 (especially Conti, who I really like as a superb defending 5th OF), but in September, those guys were OF's for us.

So, if you combine an improved OBP with the team scoring almost exactly one-third of a run fewer than they "should" have in '03, I'm optimistic the '04 version will score more than the '03 version. I put forth a few weeks ago that finishing in the upper tier of the NL in runs scored (8th or higher) was very realistic, and while I'm not as confident as I was then, it's still quite possible.


1/26/2004 11:37:00 PM



(1/26/2004 09:36:00 PM) - Al

Michael Redd just thanked God for "blessing us with another win". Which begs the questions:

1. What does He have against the Spurs?

2. Why does no one ever say, "We outplayed 'em...the Lord just didn't want us to have this victory"?


1/26/2004 09:36:00 PM



(1/26/2004 04:18:00 PM) - Al

A footnote from my discussion of possible cities where the Expos may land...am I the only person who thinks an expansion is only some new stadiums away? I know, many feel Tampa is a horrible baseball city, and some other areas, such as Miami and the Twin Cities have park issues, but all in all, if you can easily name 4-5 cities who "could" be a good home to MLB, is it really a stretch to say there are 2-3 "good" candidates?

And yes, this would allow 16 teams in each league, with 4 divisions of 4, a long held goal of mine for ages.:)


1/26/2004 04:18:00 PM



(1/26/2004 04:12:00 PM) - Al

The Raindrops, a fine Mets' weblog, ran a chart that split the number of plate appearances by age. The '03 Crew was 5th in the percentage of PA's that were given to players 26-29, most often considered "peak" performance.

If nothing else, Doug Melvin did a fine job of loading his team with players near their mythical peak. I'll be the first to point out obvious exceptions (Clayton, the catchers), but again for '04, he has added many guys in that range (Moeller, Overbay, Spivey, Grieve). I don't agree with everything he does, but he does seem to have a plan, and it involves much of what us numbers crunchers believe in, even though Doug rarely refers to sabermetrics.


1/26/2004 04:12:00 PM



(1/26/2004 04:03:00 PM) - Al

With any luck, my '04 Brewers' hitters predictions will be online tonight.


1/26/2004 04:03:00 PM



(1/26/2004 03:52:00 PM) - Al

Thought provoking story on why Las Vegas would be a good destination for the Expos (or any other team, for that matter). I've been a big believer in the beyond dead franchise ending up in Portland, OR until now, and still believe it would be the best, as Vegas has no plan for a ballpark. But, the obvious point had alluded me until now.

Probably more than any other team, a Las Vegas franchise would benefit from tourist industry dollars: the Triple-A Travel Agency, for example, could sell Vegas packages that would include three tickets to a series against the Yankees, or the Diamondbacks, or the Dodgers.

Think of the away fans a Sin City franchise would generate, I'd guess up to 50% of the daily attendance. I'll be the first to say that attendance isn't everything, but I would also think that away fans buy more food, drinks, and souvenirs than home fans. My point is, the "home team" would only have to generate about 20,000 fans a game to have an annual turnstile count of 3.25 million fans. At the very least, the excitement a team in Vegas would generate would be infinitely more than the MON team...well, ever has.

I don't have to say that the legal gambling issue is a stumbling block, but to be blunt, both legal sports betting and casino gaming are available to everyone with a personal computer, never mind less than an hour's drive for 90+% of the population.

The city of lights is appealing in many ways to the game, without a doubt.




1/26/2004 03:52:00 PM


Sunday, January 25, 2004

(1/25/2004 10:42:00 AM) - Al

The JS says it was a huge turnout for the finale of the Brewers' statewide tour, as the Brookfield Mall was hoppin'. I received an e-mail from a regular writer that he had heard 20-25,000 were in attendance, while the JS said a "ballpark figure" (pun intended) was "a conservative 11,000", though 12,000 cars had rolled into the parking lots by mid-afternoon.

Sounds like a good time was had by all, and kudos to the Crew for finally adding this event, as the Twins have been doing it for years. Hopefully, next season they will allow people to buy single game tickets also, which would seem to be the only thing missing.


UPDATE: A couple people who were there have said they heard 20K while among the crowd Saturday.


1/25/2004 10:42:00 AM


Saturday, January 24, 2004

(1/24/2004 08:58:00 PM) - Al

Al Sharpton is a complete joke as a presidential candidate, and the fact he's invited to these debates is very funny. He has no more chance of winning than I do, and I'm not even running (though I suppose if the public drafts me...:).

I didn't see it the other night, but supposedly, Peter Jennings asked Sharpton who he would have as Director of the Fed, as he was apparently critical of Alan Greenspan (regarded as a genius by most). Al froze like a deer in headlights, and uttered a bunch of words that can only be described as "made up nonsense".

So, John Stossel has dug up some little nuggets of fact, at least according to the IRS, who I'm certainly not going to question in print.

{The IRS is awesome, I tell ya!}


Money quote:

According to presidential candidate Al Sharpton, "The top one percent in this country pays very much less than ten percent, very much less than five percent."

Sharpton said he thinks the wealthy should pay "somewhere around 15 percent."

But that's so silly because — and I bet most of you don't know this — the IRS says the richest 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 34 percent of all income taxes. Twice what Sharpton wanted them to pay.


I'm pretty sure Mr. Sharpton just said he wants to lower taxes for the very wealthy...cross that off my list of things I'll never see.




1/24/2004 08:58:00 PM



(1/24/2004 01:55:00 PM) - Al

The Tigers and IRod are "still talking, exchanging numbers".

Am I the only one who sees this as DET paying $10 mil per in 2004 & 2005 to win 70 games, and $10 mil per in 2006 & 2007 for a DH?


1/24/2004 01:55:00 PM



(1/24/2004 11:01:00 AM) - Al

Geoff Jenkins will not discuss contract during the season, and "sources" say the Brewers have made an initial offer of 3 years, $20 million, with incentives for plate appearances, according to this article in the Wisconsin State Journal.


1/24/2004 11:01:00 AM



(1/24/2004 09:31:00 AM) - Al

Offensive Brewers' projections (the only fun ones) will be posted soon, likely early next week.

Pitching projections (I usually just do ERA) are on the horizon.

Another Ramblings roundtable (the followup to the immensely popular postseason edition) is planned to debut to coincide with the beginning of Spring Training, about mid-February.

Thanks for checking in on a regualr basis.


1/24/2004 09:31:00 AM



(1/24/2004 09:25:00 AM) - Al

Ramblings favorite Shawn Estes signed with COL. I liked his chances of reverting back to near league average ERA with a lot of innings in '04, though I would say the same thing about Glendon Rusch (now with TEX), if asked. I like both to be decent #4/5 starters this year, and considering neither one will make $1 million, there's some value there.


1/24/2004 09:25:00 AM



(1/24/2004 08:18:00 AM) - Al

Seth Speaks has been doing fantasy projections for MLB this past week. He got around to the NL Central recently, so give him a visit soon.


1/24/2004 08:18:00 AM


Friday, January 23, 2004

(1/23/2004 07:03:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman with an outstanding post on how much better Ted Williams' career numbers would be if he wouldn't have missed so much time serving his country.

Not sure if Ted was any better than Babe Ruth, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.


1/23/2004 07:03:00 PM


Thursday, January 22, 2004

(1/22/2004 09:47:00 PM) - Al

Brian, who is the mastermind behind Brewerfan.net, has just broke the news that Baseball America will rank the Brewers minor league system #1 in the next couple weeks.

As I've said more than a couple times, Dean Taylor will be the recipient of many thank-yous in the upcoming seasons, as he was the GM when the transition from poor to upper echelon began. While there is little doubt that Weeks and Fielder (Melvin picks) are the top dogs, depth is the key to success, as many pups flame out or suffer injuries as they develop.

What's funny is, there has been an "uproar" about the current state of the Crew...and it comes just as they have started doing everything the way they should be; building a top farm system, going with youth and potential rather than aged mediocrity, and cutting back payroll based on where they are in the success cycle.

The bandwagon will be growing, and it will probably start as soon as the official #1 announcement is made. To those of us who have been preaching this gospel for many trips around the sun, the only reinforcement left is for the excellence in the minors to lead to wins in the majors.

Hang on tight, it's going to get a lot more crowded around here soon.


1/22/2004 09:47:00 PM



(1/22/2004 08:00:00 PM) - Al

I just realized I forgot to mention in response to Jason's report that when I lived in Eau Claire, there were hardly any Twins' fans, and I was there from '89-'96, during which the MIN club won a title. I'd say it was either 80-20 or 90-10, Brewers then, though things may have changed.

Not really a whole lot to say, other than I read El Duque worked out in front of scouts from 20 MLB teams...and threw 35 pitches. I'd still have no problem giving him a minor league deal, although I doubt if so many have flown to see so little in decades.


1/22/2004 08:00:00 PM


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

(1/21/2004 09:59:00 PM) - Al

Regular correspondent (and author) Jason shares his visit to a stop on the Crew's state tour.

Hey Al-

I went to the Brewers get together in Chip Falls yesterday, recap as follows.

I overheard Laurel (Prieb) talking about (Rickie) Weeks in that he is pleasantly surprised how quickly he is grasping professional baseball both on and off the field. He also mentioned to a reporter that he believes the Brewers are an excellent investment because of the park, the quality in the minors, and the loyal fan base.

Don Money seemed pretty grumpy, but I've met him probably four times and he doesn't seem to be all that friendly (I know, small sample...). He signed my "Down in the Valley" book. Lyle Overbay was next in line. He's a lot bigger than I thought. Good size for a 1B--it's probably a logical step for the infielders going from Richie to Lyle and eventually to Prince. Probably need someone about 6'1" for next season as it's still going to be a big step down to Prince!

Then came Rickie. When I first got into the room I saw there was an extra player or coach signing, but I couldn't make out who it was. I knew he was pretty short, but he was mostly obscured by the fans in line. Then I got a look at his face--I have a couple of cards of him and it finally dawned on me that the Brewers actually sent "the franchise" to the Northwoods! Last time the Brewers were in town for a public stop we got Lou Collier and Ray King!

You are absolutely right--he is very thin in the torso and legs. But his arms--you could tell he was chisled just by looking at the biceps. Humble and friendly, he seemed nervous to be meeting fans--almost like he didn't think he deserved all the attention. I know you don't put much stock into mental make up, but I think it's important and Rickie sure seems to have his head on straight.

Then came Daron Sutton--I've already kind of mentioned our meeting. He also signed the "Valley" book--right below his dad's autograph. Later on, I realized it was just to the left of Bill Schroeder's signature, too. Daron and I kind of carried on our conversation as I moved through the line, so I didn't get to talk much with an Kolb or Ginter. I wanted to ask Keith if he had seen brewerfan.net and the "Free Keith Ginter" slogans, but I was distracted by some other folks in line asking about where they could get a copy of my book. Kolb seemed rightfully giddy, just signing his new deal.

Over 200 people showed up. Considering it was in the middle of the day on a Tuesday 3-4 hours away from Milwaukee, I think that was outstanding and it hopefully sends a message to the Brewers that they shouldn't forget about us. Not everybody over here is a Twins fan. The fact that they sent a rather impressive lineup to us this year tells me that they already know that.

Have a good day!

Jason



Just a couple things to add, as I worked tonight as tha same group visited Stevens Point, about 30 minutes from my house.

I've heard nothing but good things about Laurel Prieb and Wendy Selig-Prieb, and it's a shame so many folks are so hard on them.

I do have a lot of doubts about Rickie Weeks staying healthy at 2B, though he has a much better chance at being an outstanding offensive player if he remains there. As I type, I just saw Weeks on TV, as he and Ginter were in the crowd of the UW-Stevens Point home game. Rickie looks extremely thin even next to Keith, who is solidly built, but is certainly not going to be mistaken for a bodybuilder anytime soon.

Rickie spoke on the sports tonight, talks very nicely and sounds very mature. I'd rather have that than have him sound like an idiot, but as Jason said, if he hits and can't say a sentence without a few "ums" and "you knows", so be it.

If Don Money is a grouch, that might explain his never ending run as Beloit's manager as much as anything. You'd think Money's resume as a guy who played all 4 IF positions well would qualify him to be a base coach and work with young IF's on a major league club.






1/21/2004 09:59:00 PM



(1/21/2004 09:52:00 PM) - Al

Al -

I share your concern about the Brewers abandoning what has become a very promising farm system. I sure hope they stay the course. Maybe the temptation of the Giants' model is out there, but people in the business must certainly realize that doing things the way SF has been doing them only works if Barry Bonds is in your lineup. In fact, having Barry Bonds makes signing Free Agents the only real course to take because he won't be around forever.

Jon


Thanks for reading and writing, Jon, and I'd argue that the Giants "plan" is foolish even with Bonds in the lineup, but as long as it works, I suppose it's difficult to argue with. It would seem rather obvious that when SF starts losing, it will be an ugly freefall.



1/21/2004 09:52:00 PM



(1/21/2004 12:01:00 PM) - Al

From the JS:

Ash said Brewers scouts planned to attend "showcase" workouts by veteran pitcher Scott Erickson, who missed last year with an injury, and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.


Erickson was just discussed here a couple days ago, as an extreme ground ball pitcher trying to batle his way back from injury.

Hernandez is a decent pitcher, but is likely several years older than his listed 33.

Either would be a nice veteran arm to add to the end of the rotation, as I assume a minor league deal with a spring trainign invite is all it would take. In either case, it's low risk/high reward for the Crew.



1/21/2004 12:01:00 PM


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

(1/20/2004 12:18:00 PM) - Al

Mike Hunt writes about the Brewers' caravan stop in West Allis, sellout crowd and all. Doug Melvin is quoted as saying,

It's got to be the right time to spend the money.

No kidding. Spending millions chasing that 75th win is ridiculous.


1/20/2004 12:18:00 PM


Monday, January 19, 2004

(1/19/2004 12:32:00 PM) - Al

A couple tidbits about the Brewers' continued quest to add a veteran back of the rotation starter to the spring training roster.

Daron Sutton mentions in his latest Brewers.com article that Doug Melvin thought he had Rick Helling signed to a minor league deal last week, but Helling opted to sign with MIN instead, to be closer to his North Dakota home. This is odd, as Doug himself mentioned Helling by name as a pitcher that was not suited to pitch half his games in HR friendly Miller Park, as Rick is an extreme fly ball pitcher.

Also, I read that Scott Erickson, as extreme of a ground ball pitcher as exists, is currently working out trying to find a team to sign him. Scott is recovering from arm trouble which has limited him to just a few games since 2001. I certainly wouldn't sign him to anything but a minor league contract, but other than Shawn Estes, also a noted sinkerballer, there doesn't seem to be many pitchers who would fit into our plans.

That said, if Doug is willing to bring Helling in, fly ball pitchers such as Rick Reed are certainly fair game, even if they wouldn't necessarily "fit in".


1/19/2004 12:32:00 PM


Sunday, January 18, 2004

(1/18/2004 07:12:00 PM) - Al

I must admit, it seems extremely strange that there will probably, at some time in the near future, be a new owner of tyhe Brewers. Bud Selig has been such a constant, and it seemed to be a family business, so change just seems so unexpected.

My only real fear is that we will lose our newfound determination to build one of the finest minor league systems in the game. Seeing a team that has had success, like SF, go out of their way to sign a Type A free agent just so they can avoid, heaven forbid, paying a $1-1.5 million signing bonus to one of the best amateur players in the country. I called this the bizarro way of building a winner when it happened, but as long as the Giants are winning, imitators will be spawned. I just hope we're not one of them.


1/18/2004 07:12:00 PM


Saturday, January 17, 2004

(1/17/2004 12:07:00 PM) - Al

The big news of the time is that the Selig family and the other investors have put the Brewers on the market. I have always been quite fond of Bud, as he is the sole reason that the Brewes are in Milwaukee, and pretty much the only reason Miller Park was constructed.

This is a topic that will take more time to delve into than I have, but allow me to say that while I yearn for the day a Mark Cubanesque owner falls from the sky and throws millions around like $5 chips, I am not nearly as excited by the news as many.


1/17/2004 12:07:00 PM


Thursday, January 15, 2004

(1/15/2004 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Patrick at Brewerfan.net received an e-mail from Doug Melvin which stated while the team did not expect to receive "supplemental" picks between the 2nd and 3rd round as compensation for losing Perez and VanderWal, but that MLB has said they will.

Tune in next June, and we should actually have a real answer, I guess. If the Crew gets those picks, they will have 6 choices in the first 100 or so picks, if not, only 4.


1/15/2004 10:03:00 PM



(1/15/2004 07:09:00 PM) - Al

MLB has set the all-star break as an internal deadline for figuring out where the Expos will play in 2005, and thankfully, Montreal isn't a possibility, unless a local owner is found.

I remain firmly entrenched in the camp of Portland, OR (as opposed to Portland, Maine; where they have the nerve to call a state emergency when the mercury dips below zero. Does anyone remember the exact moment we became such incredible wimps in this nation?), as I feel they are the only city or area to have a plan for building a stadium.

Also, having Portland join the NL West would allow Pittsburgh to join its rightful division, the NL East, where they'd play in-state rival Philadelphia more. I'd pretty much give Colorado the choice of staying in the West or moving to the Central, as they have little loyalties or rivalry to anyone.


1/15/2004 07:09:00 PM



(1/15/2004 03:41:00 PM) - Al

It's cold outside

Gore has never been much on timing, has he? Ignoring the fact his own administration thought this was pure folly is a convienent oversight, don't you think?


1/15/2004 03:41:00 PM



(1/15/2004 03:39:00 PM) - Al

Dennis Miller, one of my favorite entertainers, is profiled here, as his new show premieres in a couple weeks. I agree with every single thing he says, if I wasn't a total nobody, I'd say Dennis has taken his views from me.


1/15/2004 03:39:00 PM


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

(1/14/2004 10:11:00 PM) - Al

Sidney Ponson signed a 3y/$22.5 mil deal with BAL today. I don't hate the contract, but I feel the Orioles overpaid considerably. Ponson is only 27, so they signed him for his years of 27, 28, and 29; so he is unlikely to fall off a great deal, and is a decent health risk.

Still, his numbers look like this:

career--4.54 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
'01-'03-4.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

When you consider the league average ERA is 4.52 over Sidney's career, he is as average as you can get. However, considering he's "peaking" now, he's a good bet to improve on that. Over the last three campaigns, he's improved, by about a third of a run per 9 innings, which over 200 innings is...8 runs. Ooof. Even considering he's a good bet to give you 200 innings, he doesn't project to be worth 15 runs over "average".

Off the top of my head, I'd guess an "average" SP is worth about $3 mil per...and BAL is paying $4.5 million per for a win and a half. With his relative youth and relative good health, a slight premium, maybe $5-6 mil per could have been expected. BAL has to be hoping his 2003 season was not a fluke. Allow me to say that teams that pay expecting a player's best season to continue are almost always disappointed.


1/14/2004 10:11:00 PM



(1/14/2004 09:36:00 PM) - Al

Sean Pen writes a long article on his trip to Iraq. Not real newsy, and incredibly free of many digs about the US occupation.


1/14/2004 09:36:00 PM



(1/14/2004 11:08:00 AM) - Al

I remember the old days, when we had respect for the office of President...of course, with the exception of Julia Stiles, who was probably horrified by the comments as well, judging by her PG talk, you wouldn't expect anything but from the idiots who spoke...I doubt there's a rapper alive that can spell Bush.


1/14/2004 11:08:00 AM



(1/14/2004 11:02:00 AM) - Al

The new slogan is in. Can't say that I like it or dislike it in any way, as unless you are bonafide contenders, the marketing tends to be rather generic.


1/14/2004 11:02:00 AM


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

(1/13/2004 10:49:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Having scanned the Ramblings, I thought I should point out that Garret Anderson has nearly 300 games logged at Center Field (mainly in 1999 and 2000, and will likely play cf in 2004.

As an aside, I feel the need to point out that I'm about 20 minutes from watching the finals of the Celebrity Poker Showdown (Having seen the 5 previous shows, I'm 'betting' on Nicole Sullivan to win). I think it was Thanksgiving '02 that I caught the finals of the WSoP on ESPN. The first time you watch Texas Hold Em, figuring out the game is usually the toughest part. It was a novelty to me....and then months later my family turned me on to the WPT shows on the Travel Channel. There's a tremendous dichotomy to Tournament Poker: the results of any one hand is more about luck than anything else, yet the aggregation of those hands are more often determined by player decision-making than pure luck.

Phil Ivey (one of my favorite pro players) didn't win a single tournament that I watched this past year, but he was in the top 10 finishers in nearly every tournament, and I don't recall ever seeing him lose from making a bad call - does that make him one of the luckiest players on tour, or one of the least lucky? (Can't help but think of the hand that put him out of the 2003 WSoP -- He hit a big hand off the flop, manages to turn it into a full house, then proceeds to lose when Moneymaker hits a bigger full house on the river.)

Thank God for all the Poker shows on TV right now, it gives me something to do instead of watching 'Queer Eye.'

Ben



Heya Al,

I found this article on tvgameshows.net. I kind of like the idea of encouraging Bill Schroeder to follow Matt's lead. :)

Mike


The original choice to host The Chamber and the first Average Joe female lead will co-host GSN's forthcoming World Series of Blackjack. Former Sports Geniuses host Matt Vasgersian and Average Joe's Melana Scantlin will oversee the casino tournament. Professional blackjack champion Max Rubin will provide the expert commentary for the series, which premieres March 15.

Vasgersian was scheduled to host The Chamber, the short-lived torture game on Fox in 2002, but became disenchanted with the format during the taping of the first episode and departed. He is also the lead broadcaster for the San Diego Padres.

The series is GSN's first venture into casino gaming. ESPN's success with the recent World Series of Poker has led to an explosion of concepts for TV versions of casino games.




Thanks to both Ben and Mike, both participants in the Ramblings recap, for writing about televised card playing. I am saddened to hear that a fledging network feels their answer to success and Matt V are somehow related. Not only is he unbearable, he knows nothing about baseball...and I assume he knows even less about blackjack. Though I am glad to hear they have an "expert" commentator...

{18...I think he'll stay here.}

Ben, I have heard Garrett will be the CF as well, though I forgot to note it here. As bad as Erstad's been at the plate, talk about a huge defensive downgrade.

I willl not divulge who won the Celebrity Poker title, as I'm sure it will be rerun hundreds of times, but I will say I rooted for Nicole Sullivan, although that Paul Rudd is quite a looker.


Not that there's anything wrong with that.


1/13/2004 10:49:00 PM



(1/13/2004 08:41:00 PM) - Al

Overheard on the Celebrity Poker Final tonight on Bravo:

David Cross--Did you notice that when we were playing our first round match, they gave us nuts, and bathwater, and cat food; then when Affleck and Schwimmer played, they had tacquitos and stuff?

Ben Affleck, watching from the lounge, obviously having no idea who Nicole Sullivan (the dog walker on The King of Queens) is--My money's on the girl.


1/13/2004 08:41:00 PM



(1/13/2004 11:30:00 AM) - Al

Jeff Fassero signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, and would seem to be exactly the type of pitcher the Crew will be bringing in, as most veteran "inning-eaters" fellas have signed deals, mostly for far more than expected. With the Rogers and Lidles signed, the Crew will likely look to add depth, as I can't tell you one name still on the market that I promise will outproduce the Brewers' 5th starter in '04.

A fella who is returning from injury that decides to trade security for a chance to pitch every 5th day is probably all we'll see from now on in. I'm still holding out hope for Shawn Estes, but judging from my e-mail, I'm the only one who is. Garrett Stephenson and Rick Reed are not great fits for Miller Park, but are other names I see out there that may come cheap and just be looking for an opportunity.


1/13/2004 11:30:00 AM



(1/13/2004 11:25:00 AM) - Al

For years, I've watched Poker on ESPN whenever they choose to air it, which is slightly less often than women's bowling, and just a tad more than curling.

Meanwhile, the World's Strongest Man is on several times a day, as if there is some sort of magic appeal to huge guys lifting rocks that weigh 500 pounds.

Suddenly, almost without warning, we are in the midst of a huge poker renaissance, and several networks are featuring the "sport" as a staple of programming. The Travel Channel is featuring the World Poker Tour, Bravo has Celebrity Poker (which really should have been called Affleck, Schwimmer, Sheen, and some others you may recognize their face but not their name Poker), Fox Sports Net has a half-hour show called Late Night Poker, which focuses on Brits you can't understand, as well as ESPN, which shows highlights of the World Championships all year, mixed in with previous years as well.

I have always liked watching it, and now apparently, others do as well. Why? To me, the best part is knowing that the best in the world aren't really that much better than amateurs, as the last couple world titles have been won by amateurs. The last one, won by a guy named Moneymaker (really) had never played in a real tourney before he won, and had learned the game online, playing there for years. Another odd thing is that in a game with no physical skills (except holding your bladder for extended periods), women are extremely rare.



1/13/2004 11:25:00 AM



(1/13/2004 11:11:00 AM) - Al

Prediction: Gephardt and Edwards both improve their standing in Iowa this week, leading up to the caucus.

I've seen a couple Edwards Q & A sessions on C-SPAN in the last 14 days, and I'm surprised he isn't near the top, at least ahead of Kerry, who is as wooden as they come.



1/13/2004 11:11:00 AM


Monday, January 12, 2004

(1/12/2004 01:48:00 PM) - Al

John VanderWal signed with CIN today, 1y/$700K.

Sadly, I have read in a couple spots that MLB has eliminated compensation picks for Type C FA's, of which Eddie Perez and VW were. In the past, teams losing Type C players received a supplemental pick after the 2nd round of the June draft, but this ended at some point, as there were no supplemental picks after the 2002 2nd round either.

Best of luck to VW, he did manage to stay in the Midwest, close enough to Michigan that he can fly home on a day off. With the Crew having what looks to be an all LH hitting OF, he wasn't a good fit here.


1/12/2004 01:48:00 PM



(1/12/2004 01:01:00 PM) - Al

I liked it better when the Cubs put up the screens to block the rooftop view, but I suppose it was easier to take the free money and run.


1/12/2004 01:01:00 PM



(1/12/2004 12:59:00 PM) - Al

I don't get this, I guess. Not only is Kendall not much better than Hernandez, they're picking up a C right at 30, the historical falloff age for catchers.


1/12/2004 12:59:00 PM



(1/12/2004 12:42:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman is back from Las Vegas, with a full report.

To be honest, if you put me in a sports book, with free nachos and hot dogs, I doubt I'd ever leave.


1/12/2004 12:42:00 PM



(1/12/2004 09:22:00 AM) - Al

Kenny Rogers is said to be signing with the Rangers, a 2y/$6M deal. I was fond of Rogers, but the day I give 2 years to a 39 year-old...


1/12/2004 09:22:00 AM


Sunday, January 11, 2004

(1/11/2004 08:09:00 PM) - Al

What's that? It wasn't "destiny"?

Gee, who woulda thunk it...oh that's right, anyone with a brain in their head.

Although, this parody of the fawning coverage Brett Favre receives is right on the money. Never before in the history of mankind has a QB been lauded for trying to throw the ball through defenders.

Now, back to baseball.


1/11/2004 08:09:00 PM



(1/11/2004 07:55:00 PM) - Al

I received an e-mail from the Twins, telling me about their new ballpark proposal. It looks great...but am I the only one who thinks the stadium that is still on the drawing board looks a whole lot like the one on Miller Park Way?

Take a tour of it, if you have the capability. If you've ever been in the Metrodome, it'd be infinite times better than that. Let's hope the near legendary unwillingness of MN folks to build sports venues (unless, of course, your hockey team moves to Texas) ends in the near future.

The Q & A on the front page has some factual statements about what the Crew did wrong, and how the Twins would avoid them as well.


1/11/2004 07:55:00 PM



(1/11/2004 04:10:00 PM) - Al

Just a big rock in Iowa.


1/11/2004 04:10:00 PM



(1/11/2004 03:17:00 PM) - Al

I was just reminded of Diamond Mind's projections that they do at the start of each season. Looked back at their 2003 picks...said we'd win 65 games, which is 3 less than our actual total of 68, but it did hit our "expected" W/L mark exactly.



1/11/2004 03:17:00 PM



(1/11/2004 02:32:00 PM) - Al

Peter Gammons feels the Crew have improved themselves this offseason, and doesn't even mention Chad Moeller, who I think is the key to the Sexson deal.

UPDATE: Fixed link, thanks Mike.


1/11/2004 02:32:00 PM



(1/11/2004 12:54:00 PM) - Al

The Crank checks in with a small cut of Vlad as well, and that Barry Bonds is simply on another level when you comapre current players.


1/11/2004 12:54:00 PM



(1/11/2004 12:49:00 PM) - Al

Roger Clemens will be deciding whether or not to accept a 1 year, $5 millionish deal with HOU, or retire, in the next few days, according to BP's Wil Carroll.


1/11/2004 12:49:00 PM



(1/11/2004 12:16:00 PM) - Al

Vlad Guerrero will sign with the Angels, 5 years, $70 mil is what's being reported.

Allow me to say the Angels will regret this move, probably even more than their horrendous Darin Erstad signing. With this signing, the OF now is Jose Guillen, Garret Anderson, and Vlad. No idea who will play CF, as I cannot recall any of them ever playing CF.

Despite his strong arm, Vlad is a horrific RF, so I assume it won't be him, and Garrett isn't a kid anymore, so Guillen appears to be the obvious choice. Considering Jose's "value" is almost 100% equal to his fine campaign in 2003 (ignore his poor 6 years previous), lots of luck with all that.

The thing that makes this a truly scary deal for ANA is the fact that their 1B is now the inconsistent, overrated Erstad. The idea of taking a below average offensive CF and making him your 1B is something only a mind like Steinbrenner could employ as a move to help your club.

Erstad, career---.344/.425, 769 OPS, 146 OXS, 88 runs created
Erstad, '01-'03--.320/.367, 687 OPS, 117 OXS, 70 runs created
Ave. 1B, '03-----.358/.462, 820 OPS, 165 OXS, 99 runs created

Darin may end up being the worst 1B in MLB next year, and will take home $8 mil for his efforts. He will be 30 in 2004, so he certainly isn't a good bet to outproduce his career numbers, and when you see he's trending down badly since 2001, he would seem a poor gamble to even match his career norms.

Vlad is a fine offensive player, of course, but $14 mil per for five years is both too much and too long. And the fact that Mike Cameron signed for less than half that only verifies my belief that Cameron is a better bargain than Vlad.


1/11/2004 12:16:00 PM


Saturday, January 10, 2004

(1/10/2004 06:28:00 PM) - Al

"If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people," Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. "We are not going to have one of these incidents."

This Wesley Clark quote seems to have barely cracked the mainstream press, and I wonder why. To be as polite as I can, Clark would appear to have promised the absolute impossible. A terrorist attack during his reign would be met with backpeddling unseen since...well, since Clark has changed his stance on the Iraq war seemingly nonstop since his campaign began.

Clark ads have been running nightly here, in anticipation of the late February primary, and I'd be foolish to say they aren't done well. He apparently was a wounded war hero at one time, and his military record is very respected. But, that "promise" makes me believe he is all but out of touch with reality.


UPDATE: Not to mention this story is barely making a ripple. I thought proof of chemical weapons were a big deal, but apparently not when they're found.


1/10/2004 06:28:00 PM


Friday, January 09, 2004

(1/09/2004 07:32:00 PM) - Al

Forgot to mention how much fun the Bucks' season has been thus far. Of course, I can't say I didn't expect it...

Amazingly, not only are they over .500, they are in very good shape, as they have played more games on the road than they have at home. For a "true" winning record, a team needs more road wins than home losses, and the Bucks are +3 in this regard.

Is this some sort of glimpse into what could happen with the Brewers? Probably not, as the two sports are so different as to be almsot unrelated. However, certain things are similiar:

1. Opportunity is a huge key to success. It wasn't long ago Mike Redd was thought of only as a solid offensive bench guy...he may well be an all-star playing 36 minutes per. Damon Jones is far from a star, as he's with his 8th team in 6 years...but just because 7 teams have looked elsewhere, doesn't mean he can't contribute. You have to look at what players can do, and work with them on what they can't.

2. A team is sometimes best even if a player or two are out of position. I haven't seen that many games, but the combination I often see playing best together is: point guard, Redd, Mason, Thomas, and Kukoc. Obviously, there's not a true center on the floor (and really, not a true power forward), but they seem to mesh well together, and are able to exploit teams with their athleticism and offensive ability. Now, if the opponent has Shaq in the middle, somehow that lineup wouldn't have much success, but, it often seems to work.

I've long been a believer in putting your best offensive team on the diamond, which is exactly like what Davey Johnson often used to do. You know every player will bat at least three times, but even the SS may well not have anything but easy, routine grounders on a given day. You could put a catcher who can't throw at all behind the plate against many teams in the AL, and not lose anything except a SB a week.

As I finish typing this, the Bucks are up 20 at the half to a very superior looking Miami Heat team...that can't shoot a lick.


1/09/2004 07:32:00 PM


Thursday, January 08, 2004

(1/08/2004 09:53:00 PM) - Al

TB signed Robert Fick to a 1 year deal today.

I can only imagine the Red Sox and Yankees shuddering in fear now that the Rays have added a sub 800 OPS 1B/OF to their roster.

I hate to say it, but with the Orioles an offensive force with horrible pitching, and the Blue Jays almost as good as the other two, if things break wrong, I could imagine TB losing 110 games this year, as they seem to be adding below average players at a stunningly ineffective rate. Grit loses 2 of 3 to talent every time.


1/08/2004 09:53:00 PM



(1/08/2004 09:32:00 PM) - Al

Two relievers who may have made nice fits as 5-6 inning starters (scroll down a tad), Terry Adams and Jose Jimenez, signed today, Adams with TOR, Jimenez with CLE. The likelihood of adding a pitcher to the starting corps gets slimmer every day.


1/08/2004 09:32:00 PM



(1/08/2004 09:21:00 PM) - Al

Brandon Villafuerte was put on waivers by SD yesterday. Gotta wonder why we wouldn't take a chance on this youngish arm who has had success in the past. He's only 5-11, so he isn't likely to have a long career, but he's got some talent. Considering our 40th man on the 40 man is a weak prospect at best, I'd grab this low ceiling, but effective middle reliever in a heartbeat.


1/08/2004 09:21:00 PM


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

(1/07/2004 09:32:00 PM) - Al

Allow me to say that the world's most perfect food is waiting for you at McDonald's.

As part of the "new taste menu", is {drum roll please}:

The mushroom onion swiss burger.

Simply the best.


1/07/2004 09:32:00 PM


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

(1/06/2004 09:33:00 PM) - Al

A picture is worth a thousand words...this one is worth even more. Who woulda thunk it?


1/06/2004 09:33:00 PM



(1/06/2004 04:09:00 PM) - Al

How good is this year's RUTT batting order, you ask?

Ramon Vasquez, a 27 year-old SS from SD, who has pretty much been a full-time starter for 2+ years, and can play anywhere in the IF, was not able to crack the RUTT starting lineup.

Remember the limitations:

1. 29 or under, as of July 1st, 2004 (season age).
2. Making $1.65 million or less in 2004 (that's 75% of "average").
3. As of today, they are not in their team's projected starting lineup, or remain unsigned and don't figure to make more than the above cutoff.


CATCHER--Yorvit Torrealba, 25, SF

Yorvit heads an extremely weak group of backstops, but is heads and shoulders above the rest of the contenders. He'll begin '04 backing up AJ Pierzynski.

Yorvit, career-.332/.400, 732 OPS, 133 OXS
Ave C, '03-----.322/.403, 725 OPS, 130 OXS

His defense is often called his strength, and while he doesn't have quite enough walks (28 in 340 AB's) for my tastes, he's a catcher. If they can hold a bat without looking frightened, they are worthy of a chance.

My backup is Jason Grabowski, an all-around utility man for the A's, who has caught a few games at AAA and supposedly will get a shot to be the backup to Damian Miller in '04. He's had an outstanding AAA career, .382/.495, with 151 walks in 909 AB's.

FIRST BASE--Jeremy Giambi, 29, unsigned

Jeremy is my choice at 1B, and will be a wonderful signing for someone, most likely at a bargain basement price. He suffered through an ineffective, injury-plagued 2003, but his main crime was being a member of the Red Sox, one of the best offensive teams of all time. After starting slowly, he lost his spot to David Ortiz ('03 RUTT), who went on to have an astoundingly good season.

Jeremy, career-.387/.430, 813 OPS, 166 OXS
Ave 1B, '03-----.358/.462, 820 OPS, 165 OXS

Giambi is no Gold Glover, but his defensive numbers at 1B aren't bad at all. Besides, anyone with 251 BB's in 1417 AB's (that's one every 5.65 AB's) is exactly what RUTT was designed for. OBP is the most important stat, as it measures how often a player reaches base safely. We value not getting out here, so Jeremy is our 1B.

Graham Koonce is the backup, as he is 29 and has posted a .400 OBP in the OAK (surprise!) minor league system the past couple years, after being released and having to come back through the independent leagues.

SECOND BASE--Keith Ginter, MIL, 28

On the bright side, at least Ginter isn't sitting behind the ancient Eric Young, who was a decade older and simply not as talented as Keith offensively or defensively. And, I'll be the first to say Junior Spivey is a quality major league 2B, something I would have never said about EY (who signed to be a 2B/OF reserve with the Rangers yesterday). To paraphrase what Doug Melvin said, we needed talent, and Spivey is a nice player, who other teams will want and likely pay for.

That said, Keith Ginter finally received his shot in 2003, at least a year after he'd earned a chance to play regularly in the bigs. He took that chance and ran with it, taking pitches like a madman, and finishing with these stats:

Ginter, career--.355/.422, 777 OPS, 150 OXS
Ave 2B, '03-----.334/.403, 737 OPS, 135 OXS

Keith is not just a bit better than mediocre, he hits very well for a middle infielder. If he isn't playing every day come mid-April, "Free Keith Ginter" will once again be the catchphrase of this weblog.

I chose Estaban German as his reserve, as German has been a prospect since the turn of the century, and despite a rather poor season from Mark Ellis in OAK, is rarely mentioned as a possible reserve.

SHORTSTOP--Marcos Scutaro, 28, OAK

Scooter is the first repeat member of our RUTT squad from last year, and as I said, Ramon Vasquez would have been a safer pick, but I'm sorry, there isn't a more deserving player in baseball than Scooter. In 2000+ AAA AB's, he has put together a superb line of .375/.430, while walking 254 times (once per 8.17 AB's). In spotty playing time in 2003, he managed a .333/.347 line, which is almost identical to Vasquez's career line. He'd probably be a better fit at 2B, but he won't embarass you at SS either.

THIRD BASE--Brandon Larson, 27, CIN

Larson was a victim of short-sightedness on the Reds, as they sent down Larson after less than 100 AB's, almost a dictionary definition of a small sample. He has been outstanding in the minors, .355/.545 (900 OPS!) in over 1000 AAA AB's, and while he hasn't quite hit the 10% BB threshold, he did walk 13 times in 89 AB's in Cincy last year...and as a result of that plate discipline, he was quickly sent a packin'. What's that, you don't swing at bad pitches...off you go. Talk about an organization without a plan.

I'm going to use Mike Lamb as my reserve, as Lamb has nice skills, yet TEX refuses to give him playing time.

LEFT FIELD--Jason Lane, 27, HOU

Lane is simply a victim of the Astros paying Craig Biggio far too much money and a silly love for "veteranness", as they played much of '03 with Orlando Merced and Brian Hunter, two crappy, older than dirt players as their backup OF's. So, they sent Jason to waste away in AAA, where he has managed a .341/.494 line, to go along with his .354/.615 line in just under 100 major league AB's. Lane has played CF plenty, but as long as the Astros insist on having Biggio in the everyday lineup, for memory's sake of when he used to be good, he'll have to play a corner spot, as he does for RUTT.

CENTER FIELD--Lew Ford, 27, MIN

Ford sneaks in, as I was overwhelmed with nominations for him...I believe he and Ginter were named on every ballot. Ford's best fit would likely be as a 4th OF, but he would seem to have the skills to be a decent CF.

AAA--.374/.468
ML---.397/.575 (73 AB's)

Good skills, no real weakness in his game...and entering his year of 27. What's there not to like?

RIGHT FIELD--Mike Cuddyer, 25, MIN

Why yes, the Twins do have two OF's on the team, despite the fact they went out of their way to resign Shannon Stewart. No, they have done nothing to strengthen their exceptionally weak middle infield. Cuddyer may well be a bonafide star, and at the very least, looks to be plenty worthy of a job.

AAA--.380/.541
ML---.315/.422

Mike is a fine athlete, and MIN even played him at 2B in the minors last year, after they sent him down to allow {ahem} Dustan Mohr more chances to play, then shipped Mohr off this offseason for a box of sunflower seeds. Fail to plan...

My OF reserves include Ben Broussard of CLE, Gabe Kapler of BOS (though Gabe did it to himself, choosing to stay with the Red Sox despite offers elsewhere), and Bubba Crosby of NYY.

DESIGNATED HITTER--Jack Cust, 25, BAL

I added a DH this year, as Cust was also an inagural RUTT member, and simply deserves to play. In his early career, he has a solid .336/.393 line, and has walked 23 times in 140 AB's. In altitude assisted AAA, Jack has hit .412/.524, while walking 185 times in 801 AB's (a phenomonal ratio of 1 BB every 4.32 AB's). Of course, as is often the case, teams look at what he cannot do well; as he is a poor defender, and fails to make contact often. With an eye that like, he'd be a good bet to walk 100 times, and should keep getting better.

Todd Sears, now with SD, is my reserve.


There you have it, the RUTT offensive lineup, which to be honest, would likely be very cheap and pretty close to league average. Of course, as I found out last year, finding a pitching staff to go along with it is much harder than the batting order.


1/06/2004 04:09:00 PM



(1/06/2004 03:08:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Just wanted to drop a line and let you know how much I appreciate your site. I live in Jacksonville FL, but I was born in beautiful Milwaukee and do what I can to follow the Crew.
First thing in the morning at work is check my work e-mail then check out your blog to see if there is anything new.

My Fighter wing flew practice combat sorties with while deployed to Naval Air Station-Key West. (I know, tough trip. It was rough, haha.) I am in the Floida Air National Guard, stationed at the Jacksonville International Airport. Keeping an eye on the southern half of the U.S. coast.

Keep up the good work and I'll keep reading whatever you have to write.

Sincerely,

Christopher


Christopher, thanks for reading, writing, and defending our nation. Every once in a while, someone will criticize the reserves and the Guard, then usually look like idiots as they discuss how they got arrested for protesting something. The only way to make a change is to work within the system, and last time I checked, Congress did not vote based on signs. And, anyone who doubts the importance of the Guard/reserves should take a gander at our current troop alignment in Iraq and Afghanistan...a higher percentage of our soldiers than ever before is made up of folks not in the full-time military.

I'm glad you enjoy the coverage, and check us out every day. While Ramblings is in no way a substitute for a good daily newspaper's coverage...until we get a real fishwrap covering our Crew, I understand.


1/06/2004 03:08:00 PM



(1/06/2004 01:27:00 PM) - Al

ATTENTION: BANDWAGON IS FILLING UP IN KC

Remember a couple years ago, when Rob Neyer said he was not going to follow his Royals team anymore? Turns out, despite his fine writings and intelligent comparisons, Rob is back on the Royals' side, as they are not awful again.

Pathetic.


1/06/2004 01:27:00 PM



(1/06/2004 01:02:00 PM) - Al

Molitor and Eck both make it in. Congrats to both, especially to Mr. Molitor, who will go in with a Brewers' cap on his plaque.


1/06/2004 01:02:00 PM



(1/06/2004 01:01:00 PM) - Al

Thye just showed a clip of Uecker at his induction last year. I had almost forgotten he went in...with the funniest speech they'll ever have.


1/06/2004 01:01:00 PM



(1/06/2004 12:34:00 PM) - Al

Roberto Alomar has signed a 1 year deal with the Arizona D'Backs, which is strange for a myriad of reasons. They said they traded Spivey to allow the kid to play every day...hmmm.

Not sure if this is a team lacking a plan (though signing Shane Reynolds and Steve Sparks to be your 4th and 5th starters would indicate that), or if they just couldn't turn down a chance to add Robbie, but, at best, they appear to be treading water at best.


1/06/2004 12:34:00 PM



(1/06/2004 12:28:00 PM) - Al

I'm heading over to MLB.com to hear Paul Molitor make it into the Hall Of Fame. I guess it's at 12:30 our time.

UPDATE: The "pre-show" starts at 12:30, the announcement is at 1PM or so.


1/06/2004 12:28:00 PM


Monday, January 05, 2004

(1/05/2004 09:02:00 PM) - Al

One of the most popular players in Philadelphia history, Tug McGraw, died today. Word is, Tug was such a fan favorite, he was only booed loudly every other time he blew a save.:)

Apparently, Mr. McGraw had defeated two brain tumors, but was beaten by a third that was recently found. Too bad Tug won't be on hand for the opening of the new park this April.


1/05/2004 09:02:00 PM



(1/05/2004 08:37:00 PM) - Al

Looks like Danys Baez is going to sign with TB, 2 years, $3 mil per. That certainly isn't a lot for a 26 year-old with a career sub 4 ERA. Not sure if we were in on this or not, but I hope we were.

UPDATE: I just found out Baez is a Cuban by birth. Hearing that, I seriously question his age, as I'm 21 if you go by "Cuban years". I don't think TB did badly, as he should be fine the next couple years even if he's in his 30's, but there's no way I would have gone longer than a couple with that question mark hanging over his head.


1/05/2004 08:37:00 PM



(1/05/2004 07:43:00 PM) - Al

Pictures from a soldier's funeral procession are linked here. Warning, if you aren't real sure about our country's standing, you'd be best to skip 'em. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link.


1/05/2004 07:43:00 PM



(1/05/2004 07:10:00 PM) - Al

Get your RUTT nominations in NOW!!!!

Many of you already have, and I thank you for doing my work for me.:) There are many obvious choices this year, as many good players seem to have fallen victim to a poor stretch of 50-100 AB's. I will continue to take your e-mails until noonish Tuesday.


1/05/2004 07:10:00 PM



(1/05/2004 06:48:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I linked to your Operation Hero Miles link on 12/26:

I thought the letter was great and what a wonderful program it is! Thanks for a great posting!
Also, I went to college and played behind (ok, I didn't really play) Chris Coste. Any chance of him making the team as a utility player?


Thanks Seth, who writes Seth Speaks up in Gleemanland.

Coste looks to be AAA depth and not much more right now. Too bad, as I would certainly like to see what he could do in 40 games backing up Moeller. If there is another Tom Wilson out there, I'm almost positive his name is Chris Coste.

And no offense Seth, but why exactly many bloggers I have written to in the past chose to ignore this request is beyond me. I appreciate your link immensely, and also that you choose to check out Ramblings once in a while.


1/05/2004 06:48:00 PM


Sunday, January 04, 2004

(1/04/2004 06:37:00 PM) - Al

BEST OF THE REST

With my fave Cory Lidle signing elsewhere, I thought I'd list a few "bargain" signings that I would not be unhappy with. For the purposes of this post, bargain will be defined as "may be willing to sign a one year deal worth $2 million or less". List is in order of preference.

1. Kenny Rogers--Rogers is far from perfect, but he's shown no reason to not believe he's got one more year in that ancient arm. He's thrown 195+ innings in 4 of the last 5 seasons.

2. Terry Adams--Adams has had success as a reliever and as a starter, and I would lure him with a promise of starting every 5th day. He's 30, and has a sub 4 ERA in his career when given the ball to open the game. Ground ball pitcher extraordinaire, very likely to have success in Miller Park.

3. Danys Baez--Misused in the role of closer, Baez is still just 26 and actually has a ceiling. What's there not to like?

4. Shawn Estes--Estes is basically Glendon Rusch with a different name, but overall, he'd be a good fit in MIL because of: Almost a 2-1 GB/FB ratio, 6.96 K/9 ratio, and allows a HR every 12.2 innings.

5. Jose Jimenez--Another closer that would seem to be a good 5-6 inning starter possibility, his secondary numbers are outstanding: 2.73 GB/FB ratio, allows a HR every 12.1 IP. Low risk, high reward.


1/04/2004 06:37:00 PM



(1/04/2004 06:05:00 PM) - Al

Drew Olson mentioned today that the Crew attempted to sign Cory Lidle, object of my platonic affection, to a 2 year deal, but that Lidle chose to sign a one year contract with hopes of striking it big with a good '04.


1/04/2004 06:05:00 PM



(1/04/2004 06:03:00 PM) - Al

Chief Wiggles shares an e-mail...funny how we never hear news like this on CNN, isn't it? Too busy reporting about...Britney Spears' marriage???


1/04/2004 06:03:00 PM


Saturday, January 03, 2004

(1/03/2004 08:34:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Good to see you mention Hero Miles. It's a great idea. I've heard around the base that many airlines are allowing soldiers to fly at very reduced rates as well. Happy New Year!

Zach



Zach is a member of our military stationed in Germany. His e-mail has been sitting in my inbox a while now, as I have waited patiently for many bloggers to post a link to my story, as I e-mailed many much more popular weblogs than mine and link up Operation Hero Miles. As of today, only The Baseball Crank has linked to the story. I figured that with the holidays, many folks hadn't checked their mail, but enough time has passed for me to be rather disenchanted with the lack of willingness to assist a wonderful cause.

Color me a bit disenchanted.


1/03/2004 08:34:00 PM



(1/03/2004 07:39:00 PM) - Al

I've heard from 3 folks so far with RUTT nominees, feel free to send in a player or an entire team of nominees. I'll probably be putting the team together next week.


1/03/2004 07:39:00 PM


Friday, January 02, 2004

(1/02/2004 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Nominations are now being accepted for the Ramblings Underutilized Talent Team (hereafter to be referred to as RUTT). As I did last season, I will be putting into print a group of players that have earned the right to play every day in the big leagues, but have not yet been afforded that opportunity, for one reason or another. As was the case last year, the restrictions are as follows:

1. 29 or under.
2. Making $1.65 million or less in 2004 (that's 75% of "average").
3. As of today, they are not in their team's projected starting lineup, or remain unsigned and don't figure to make more than the above cutoff.

Send your nominees to the e-mail addy at the right, whether it be one player or several. We are going to have at least one repeater off the '03 squad, and quite possibly a couple.

Sadly, I will be unable to include RUTT stars Morgan Ensberg and David Ortiz, but I'm sure we'll find plenty of fellas who would do very well if given 500 AB's.


1/02/2004 09:41:00 PM



(1/02/2004 11:58:00 AM) - Al

Reason #45,128 to hate Jim Caple:

Oh, and by the way, I voted for Molitor, Eckersley, Morris, Rice, Gossage, Trammell, Sandberg and, for the first year, Blyleven.


For those of you unaware, Bert Blyleven is in his 7th year of eligibility. Apparently, Bert's past glories have somehow changed since 1/1/03 (11 years after he retired), and 1/1/04 (12 years after he retired).

And incredibly, Caple not only defends ignorance like this, he proudly states for all to see what a blithering idiot he is.



1/02/2004 11:58:00 AM



(1/02/2004 11:20:00 AM) - Al

Another article from a Seattle paper, indicating Jenkins would likely be part of any deal involving Guillen.


1/02/2004 11:20:00 AM


Thursday, January 01, 2004

(1/01/2004 08:06:00 PM) - Al

To say the least, this is unexpected for a number of reasons.

Carlos Guillen is a nice player, though I'm not sure how to take his dandy season of 2003, continued improvement, or a career year of 27?

The article suggests SEA needs to dump salary, meaning they could not take anything but a cheap player or two back in trade. One possibility would be Keith Ginter, who would fit in nicely as a utility man in SEA (or almost anywhere, for that matter). Another option would be a starting pitcher, as Davis, Wes O, Kinney, Franklin, etc. are all cheap for 2003 at least. Finally, the third option would be minor leaguers.

The best case scenario as I see it would be to deal Junior Spivey for a solid SP, then pick up Guillen from SEA. That would put Ginter at 2B and Guillen at SS, and Counsell to the bench.

I must admit, seeing the Crew has interest in yet another middle IF is odd. I'm all for improving the team in any manner possible, but with JJ Hardy a year away at most, and Rickie Weeks still playing 2B; trading for a SS who is 28 and a FA in a couple years would seem to be the first move of a series, probably including having Weeks learn another position, corner OF being the most likely.


1/01/2004 08:06:00 PM


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