Al's Ramblings

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

(8/31/2005 10:47:00 PM) - Al

I had a lot of stuff that needed to get done today at work, so I didn't take the time to check the score of the Brewers' game at all. Turns out I missed an exciting finish, as Prince Fielder smacked a HR to win the game in walk-off style. I still find it to be a shame that Prince is getting only an AB or three a week instead of playing every day in Nashville, but I think I'm in the minority, especially after today.

JJ Hardy had a big game today, so I'll have to update his numbers on the sidebar. One person suggested I also put up something for comparison sakes, such as the average SS's numbers.

Looks like Wes Obermueller will start Saturday, as he worked one inning in his scheduled start tonight at Nashville. I have my doubts whether he will be able to do much more than 5 innings, 3 ER; but after Santos' 2nd half, I guess that would be plenty acceptbale.

8/31/2005 10:47:00 PM

(8/31/2005 12:01:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin said in the JS that he doesn't even know when the deadline is, so it seems unlikely a deal will be going down, unless a last second phone call is made to him.

I sure find it strange that teams like St. Louis and Atlanta aren't stocking up on bench help for their inevitable playoff run. You only have to pay a month's worth of salary, and there are a lot of guys available who are better than their 10th best pitcher, or their laast bench guy.

8/31/2005 12:01:00 PM

(8/31/2005 11:49:00 AM) - Al

I agree with Jonah Goldberg that it's one thing for desperate people to help themselves to bottled water, food, or diapers from abandoned stores, and another to just sack those places for valuables. People doing the latter should be shot.--Glenn

That seems a bit harsh, but I remember having discussions like this back in Ethics class way back in college. I pretty much agree with Goldberg, and admittedly, am not far away from agreeing with Glenn either.

The thing that really irritates me, if I let myself think about it, is that the looters basically ignored all the warnings, disregarded the info at hand, and now are out taking stuff, right out of the pockets of the stockholders, of which, I am a tiny one. It's a herd mentality at its worst, and it is really sad that a city as fabled as New Orleans is suffering from such terrible PR as a result of a few idiots not smart enough to come in out of the rain.

8/31/2005 11:49:00 AM

(8/31/2005 11:23:00 AM) - Al

I had no idea the Astrodome was still standing, but it looks like many NO residents will be calling it home for a while.

We'll see the results of all the "war planning" FEMA does in the coming days and weeks. They probably have computers and binders full of "what ifs", and we'll soon see how they are prepared for a real world disaster.

As I said yesterday, the new city of New Orleans is likely to be much more protected, and not resemble the old city much at all.

8/31/2005 11:23:00 AM

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

(8/30/2005 09:02:00 PM) - Al


Glad to see you post to the Pythagorean records -- they're always interesting to look at. One other nugget: if you look at the NL West, it's top two teams, San Diego and Arizona, both have actual records well above what their RS/RA totals would suggest should be the case. The Padres Pythagorean would put them eight games under .500 and the Diamondbacks an amazing 30 games under, while Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Colorado also have actual records either at or slightly better than their Pythagorean predictions. The upshot is that the worst divisions since realignment is even lousier than the teams' actual records suggest.

Whether the Brewers can either develop or find pitching over the next two to three years will be the difference between watching a team skirmishing to get in the playoffs and a team capable of taking a division title or two.

I'd be interested to hear if you think part of what Melvin will be looking for this winter is a pitcher he thinks would be especially amenable to improvement because of Mike Maddux. Is it possible for Maddux to watch tape for a couple weeks on possible FAs or trade pieces and say 'Hey, I can fix a couple things with his delivery/approach and make him substantially better'? Do you think there are particular kinds of pitchers available that would fit this mold? Or is the Maddux pixie dust limited to turning 'scrapheap' guys like Turnbow and Davis around, and less useful for pitchers that come in with more fully-developed skill sets?

Also, what's the contract/service time picture for Cappy? How long do we have him on the cheap? And any chance that Danny Kolb is pitching middle relief for us next year and cleaning the lake on his property more often to keep the wife happy?

Enjoy the blog,


Andy, the NL West is so bad, the Dodgers still have a legit shot at the division, even though their DL has been filled to capacity most of the year.

I feel pretty good about the Crew's pitching, if they can stay healthy. They don't have a lot of high ceiling arms ready to step into the rotation, but they do have depth. I'm a big believer that I'd rather have a lot of "good" pitching prospects than a few "great" ones, because young arms are a lot like old cars in winter, they tend to break down at inopportune times.

I think Doug would probably discuss what tools the team is looking for with Yost/Maddux, and might float a name if and when they get close. But, I would assume Mike works mostly one-on-one in the here and now, not on video.

As for Cappy, he looks to have about 2 years and 2 months worth of time, meaning he'll be inexpensive yet in 2006, and Brewers' property until after the 2009 season.

I actually shared your thought about Kolb this weekend. I'd be happy to have him if he signed a one year, $800K type of contract. I wouldn't go longer than that, because I am of the belief his arm might beat the ball to the plate on his final pitch, whenever that takes place.

Thanks for reading and writing, Andy.

8/30/2005 09:02:00 PM

(8/30/2005 08:53:00 PM) - Al

White Sox pitcher accuses the Rangers of stealing his signs.

Personally, I can only giggle at the intelligence of a human being who thinks the opposition is stealing signs...and never once suggests changing them.

8/30/2005 08:53:00 PM

(8/30/2005 08:33:00 PM) - Al

One of my most fun filled aspects of looking at the minor league discussions is seeing how some folks overvalue mediocre prospects. This year, one of the most discussed has been AA RHP Dennis Sarfate, who many think should have been promoted to AAA Nashville by now. Dennis' father even chimed in a couple times, saying something along the lines that he didn't know what his son needed to do.

Right-handed pitching prospect Dennis Sarfate was promoted to Nashville and will make his Triple-A debut in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday. The 24 year old has spent the entire 2005 season with Double-A Huntsville, where he went 9-9 with a 3.88 ERA in 24 starts.--Brewers team site

I know I said on a couple occasions and said that while he has had a decent AA campaign, it's nothing to get excited about. No one ever really disagreed with that either. Now, assisted by some injuries and callups, he's in AAA, and may well get to start in the playoffs as well.

And you know what? 24 year-old pitchers with 4 ERA's...while pitching in a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league still doesn't have the numbers to warrant a call-up. I know Reid Nichols has mentioned Sarfate a couple times as a future reliever. I have no idea, but he wouldn't appear to have a whole lot of ceiling, based on his 2005 numbers. Compare what he accomplished to Dana Eveland, who is 21 and had a 2.50 ERA in AA, he's lucky to be in AAA now.

8/30/2005 08:33:00 PM

(8/30/2005 08:15:00 PM) - Al

They just showed the results of a flyover of the Biloxi riverboat gambling area...the boats look like they are under construction. They'll have to be completely rebuilt.

Speaking of gambling, the market took quite a hit today, especially retail stocks, with worries that they will never "get back" money that would have been spent the last few days in the South (Retailing giant Wal Mart still has 70 stores closed, over 100 were yesterday). What's especially bothersome to me is home supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe's took equally hard hits, like the rest of the sector. It seems to me both of those companies will be the beneficiary of insurance checks, some of which are already in the mail.

8/30/2005 08:15:00 PM

(8/30/2005 07:50:00 PM) - Jason

The way that Doug Davis pitches sometimes really boggles my mind. While being inconsistent at times, which nearly all pitchers are, many of Doug's problems come from just playing around too much when getting ahead of a hitter and then digging yourself a hole to where you need to throw a strike, otherwise you walk a guy.

Take the first inning of Davis' start tonight vs. Pittsburgh. Doug got ahead of 6 of the 9 hitters he faced in that inning, but yet walked four guys and allowed 5 runs, thanks to a couple of dunkers that found the green grass. In that first inning, Davis threw 42 pitches. When the count was in his favor or even, here is the breakdown of pitches:

12 balls
7 strikes

Doug just fools around way too much at times, and its innings like these that are the reason he leads the National League in walks. Now, there is nothing wrong with "wasting" a pitch every now and then, especially if you are a good breaking ball pitcher and you have a hitter up there that will chase (like a Geoff Jenkins-type of hitter). But there is still no excuse for not having the ball-to-strike ratio still be at least even when a pitcher is even or ahead in the count...otherwise, it renders the fact that you are ahead in the count meaningless.

Thankfully, the Pirates are helping out Davis immensely. After making Doug throw 42 pitches in the first, Pittsburgh allowed Davis to work through the 2nd and 3rd innings making him throw only 20, mainly because they swung at 15 pitches. Its easy to see why the Pirates have had troubles scoring runs this year, and why they are 54-77.

8/30/2005 07:50:00 PM

(8/30/2005 06:07:00 PM) - Al

I just listened to John Strain's audio post about Katrina. On the bright side, he and his family are fine, and his house is relatively undamaged.

But, he had to transport hospital patients home, as the hospital is out of food (John works in the mental ward). Covington, LA does not have electricity, no water...and may not for weeks. The entire town will have to basically be rebuilt. Thousands of trees down.

And as he points out, they have it good compared to New Orleans.

You have to believe that when the damage is cleaned up and the rebuilding begins, NO will become a different city. Something wil be done to protect the areas that are currently flooded, and while nothing can be done to make an area safe from "the big one", you have to think huge changes will be made to the flood plain areas.

If you have never been to New Orleans, odds are, you'll never see a reasonable facsimile. While it's too bad, time moves on. I promise you the city and area will be promoting itself as soon as it is able to accept guests (Biloxi, MS has a huge casino, I have not heard if it was hit or not).

8/30/2005 06:07:00 PM

(8/30/2005 05:29:00 PM) - Al

After pitching scoreless baseball in his last start, Steve Trachsel appears to be utilized only as the Mets' emergency starter the rest of the way. I was wondering about Steve as a FA signee, as it is unlikely NY will pick up his option (though it is for "only" $2.5M) for '06. He's a gritty vet who takes forever and seems to have little stuff, but he does seem to win with alarming consistency.

No doubt, the Crew could do a lot worse.

8/30/2005 05:29:00 PM

(8/30/2005 05:19:00 PM) - Al

Bellhorn signs with the Yankees...that could be interesting, huh? Most utility IF's can't get on base 35% of the time unless they are allowed to stand on the plate.

Many of us wonder why the Crew can't get more than roster filler for Wes Helms, one reason may be that similiar players like Bellhorn are available for nothing. Whenever you talk about guys near the end of the bullpen or bench, while they may have a role on a big league team and be decent, there are guys who are just as good who haven't got the opportunity. Many of those guys are the ones the Brewers have given a chance to, with stellar results in a few cases.

8/30/2005 05:19:00 PM

Monday, August 29, 2005

(8/29/2005 01:03:00 AM) - Robert R.

To tangent off of Al's comments regarding HBO, let me say that I think I think HBO is just in a dip in a cycle. Curb Your Enthusiasm is returning in September, The Sopranos returns next year, Deadwood and The Wire have their followings, and I'm a fan of of Entourage. Plus there are rumors of Hanks and Spielberg doing a Pacific version of Band of Brothers in the near future. No doubt there are some clunkers on the schedule, like Al I'm simply not a fan of The Comeback and the "comedy of humiliation" ethos of the show. And Carnivale could never get it's plot going or go anywhere not telegraphed by the opening credits. Still, I can't help but think that HBO is only one or two hit shows away from its peak.

That brings us to Rome which debutted Sunday night and is the latest attempt by HBO for a large hit. I'll not claim to be a scholar on the period, but I've read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, read and seen Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, and seen I, Claudius which is one of tv's all time great mini-series and the obvious inspiration for the palace intrigue aspects of Rome. It's too early to judge the series as a whole, but it's fair to say that Rome gets off to a slower, exposition heavy start than I, Claudius with a focus on Roman politics that I couldn't care less about. A lot of time was spent in the debut of introducing the large cast of characters without much of a story to go along with it. Still, the series has handsome production values, is well acted, had some success with scenes designed to titillate and shock, and anyone who is vaguely familiar with the history will know that there is a lot of juicy plotlines available to follow. The show just needs to get Caesar out of Gaul and have him cross the Rubicon to get the plotting and backstabbing started. Hopefully, they don't take too long to get to that point.

8/29/2005 01:03:00 AM

Sunday, August 28, 2005

(8/28/2005 09:22:00 PM) - Al

You have to think The Weather Channel's ratings are through the roof tonight and tomorrow, and as long as the hurricane remains a threat in the South.

I got nothing else, just thought of that as I checked out TWC myself to see when "impact" is supposed to occur.

8/28/2005 09:22:00 PM

(8/28/2005 09:17:00 PM) - Al

I am linking to my Blogger comrade's weblog, John Strain of Covington, LA.

Hopefully, it misses...and if it doesn't, best of luck, John.

8/28/2005 09:17:00 PM

(8/28/2005 09:03:00 PM) - Al

A good example of the way weather affects the markets is on display with Katrina nearing the refinery rich areas of Louisiana. This is an extreme example of course, but commodity traders react to rumors, the latest forecasts, etc.

Now, Katrina is expected to hit New Orleans and hit it hard...but we have no clue what this will mean to the oil supplies short or long-term. But, because the threat of a supply cut-off is there, the Asian markets that have already opened Monday morning have US oil at over $70 a barrel, a 7% increase.

8/28/2005 09:03:00 PM

(8/28/2005 07:59:00 PM) - Al

I can't help but watch the Braves play and see a bit of what I hope the Crew will be in a couple seasons. I always find it funny that people go out of their way to say that ATL has only won one championship in this decade plus run of success. Quick, how many titles did the Big Red Machine win in the 70's, when they had their cycle...two. They had incredible teams, 9 1st or 2nd place finishes in the 70's, 6 division titles, but only two wins. If you wonder why, flip a coin 5 or 7 times...if you do it a few times, you will have at least one "sweep", despite the fact that a coin is 50/50.

It's also why you should see a few trades the next few days. If you are a team that looks like it is on its way to the playoffs, it is a fine time to strengthen a weakness, and regardless of how good you are, you have to have a weakest link. You only get a few chances to get there, and it's a shame a team sits there with plenty of veterans out there to be had, who while mediocre starters, could be exceptional reserves/depth.

8/28/2005 07:59:00 PM

(8/28/2005 05:52:00 PM) - Al

Welcome back Robert, glad to hear you are feeling better.

I am currently watching my tape of the game this afternoon, so I'll be back in a bit with thoughts. I will say I'm a bit diasappointed Yost resorted to using Ohka last night for an inning. While it isn't as big a deal since he isn't going to pitch until Wednesday, Ned had several choices, yet still went with the starter. I'm not sure if Lehr had made it back yet, but Capellan and Kane Davis could have easily given the team a low leverage inning.

8/28/2005 05:52:00 PM

(8/28/2005 08:44:00 AM) - Robert R.

We'll I'm back after a nearly 3 week stay in Froedert Hospital. The stay wasn't completely unexpected, I wasn't in an accident, but it was unscheduled. Good news is that I'm recovering fine and should be able to return to work in a few weeks.

I was generally pleased with Froedert with two exceptions. One, I found the furniture uncomfortable, especially the bed, although that situation was probably exasperated by the treatment. Second, Froedert doesn't have FSN on their tvs and I wasn't able to watch the Brewers except for one game on Telemundo. Someone should do something about that.

Between the Sheets injury and last night's game, I think we can see why the playoffs just aren't in the reach of the Brewers' this year. The injury to Sheets being a muscle tear instead of a strain probably means he's done for the season. That's too bad. Like his ear problems, I think the latest injury is just a case of bad luck and not due to any sort of abuse. We've seen enough of Ben Sheets to know that he can handle a few starts around 120 pitches without a problem.

We'll see what September holds in store for the Brewers pitching staff. Davis, Capuano and Ohka should be solid and should be in next year's plans, along with a healthy Sheets. Figuring out if Hendrickson and/or Santos will be part of the plan is probably one of the priorities for September.

8/28/2005 08:44:00 AM

Saturday, August 27, 2005

(8/27/2005 09:44:00 PM) - Al

How is it that Courtney Love looks worse than Kurt Cobain?--Jeffrey Ross, at the Pamela Anderson roast

Jeffery Ross may be the funniest man alive.

8/27/2005 09:44:00 PM

(8/27/2005 09:02:00 PM) - Al

Drew Olson seems dead on when he says the Crew would like to add to their rotation in 2006, and mentions two names I've often thought of as well, Kevin Millwood and Jarrod Washburn.

Washburn is about as much of a fly ball pitcher as you can be, actually collecting more outs in the air than on the ground in his career, a truly rare feat. That said, his career ERA is just under 4, an astounding feat for an AL pitcher who is pretty much an unknown to the casual fan. Add to that he grew up in WI, he would seem to be the only shot at a FA starter ending up as a member of the Brewers.

I didn't understand why Millwood didn't get a long-term offer last offseason, so I assume someone will give him one after another nice campaign with the Indians. He may have a bit of a friendship with Yost, but that isn't worth much to a 31 year-old as he looks to sign his last big contract.

I've said it before and I'll say it again numerous times this offseason, I think the team is much more likely to acquire a SP by means of a trade, probably Lyle Overbay.

8/27/2005 09:02:00 PM

(8/27/2005 08:41:00 PM) - Al

Too bad Rick Helling couldn't have made it through 5 innings tonight, as the Crew might well have had a good shot to win this game. As is, they were forced to bring in Dana Eveland on consecutive days, a role he is not used to at all. As is, it looks like Smpltz is o track to get a W on a day in which he was far from his best.

I would think we may see DLR for some extended work in the 7th. I would like to see Jorge step into Sheets' spot myself, being skipped when the club has an off day (I think that 5th starter would get the nod just 3-4 times in September).

8/27/2005 08:41:00 PM

(8/27/2005 08:25:00 PM) - Al

The last two nights, I have enjoyed the TBS announcing team. I haven't had to suffer through any of the mass silliness. Don Sutton avoids hyperbole and silly statements (for instance, Don hasn't one said, "What a disaster", he seems to realize it's just a baseball game) that his son repeats ad nauseum the entire broadcast.

Some say they aren't big fans of the TBS group, but I only wish we had them. Just the facts, and well presented.

8/27/2005 08:25:00 PM

(8/27/2005 06:18:00 PM) - Al

Nice ceremony going on in honor of Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker. Mark A seems just like the nerdy guy you knew in high school that you knew would be successful (and I say that despite the fact he could buy and sell me a thousand times over).

Good to hear Ben Sheets' injury seems to be as minor as could be, considering how much pain he was in at the time. One poster on a message board said he hurts his "lat" muscle often when he doesn't stretch much before lifting, and he's always good to go in a few days, though he questioned if Ben will be able to make his next start. I think most of us would be fine if Ben is 100% next April, so anything he's able to do in September is a bonus.

UPDATE: The TBS team just said Ben is out at least 15 days, though I have not seen confirmation of that in print.

UPDATE 2: Rotoworld confirms Sheets on the DL, Justin Lehr is back.

8/27/2005 06:18:00 PM

Friday, August 26, 2005

(8/26/2005 04:44:00 PM) - Al


I was telling my family last weekend about JJ's improvement since late May, which you have discussed on several occasions. I was unable to make many points, as the others said he had only raised his average from about .170 to .205, hardly a big deal. Would it be possible to put his numbers on the sidebar since late May?

A loyal reader,


Since the MIN series in which he completely sat out and supposedly decided to hit the way he has always hit:

JJ Hardy----.343/.388, 731 OPS, 133 OXS
Ave SS, '04-.326/.408, 734 OPS, 133 OXS

It isn't difficult to imagine the now 23 year-old Hardy being a far above average offensive player as early as 2007, or for the pessimists in the fold, 2008. Of course, SS is a difficult place to play, so JJ has been fine in the field and mediocre at the plate, even though a 731 OPS is hardly impressive. Also, note JJ's OBP strength...nothing is more important than not getting out, and OXS takes that into consideration.

That is also why Bill Hall might well have offseason appeal, as he is young, athletic, and looks to end the campaign with a solid 775ish OPS.

As for the sidebar addition, done, right below the e-mail addys.

8/26/2005 04:44:00 PM

(8/26/2005 04:42:00 PM) - Al

I was just looking at the park factor ratings for Miller Park. If you wish, you can find them here. I linked to the 2005 ones, and they go back to '01, the first year of play at Miller Park.

I will comment on them below:

2005: 11th most offensive, just above mediocre. HR's below average, 2B's and 3B's above average.

2004: 20th most offensive, below average. HR's below average, 2B's and 3B's above average.

2003: 10th most offensive, HR's above average, 2B's and 3B's almost exactly average.

2002: 18th most offensive, HR's below average, 2B's and 3B's above average.

2001: 11th most offensive, HR's below average, 2B's and 3B's above average.

So, why have we been so intent on looking for ground ball pitchers? I suppose many more extra-base hits come on fly balls than ground balls, but we play in almost a perfectly nuetral home park, that allows FEWER home runs than normal, and more doubles and triples than a perfectly normal park.

As for any analysis, I would say this would have me looking for doubles and triples guys a bit more, rather than sluggers. Dare I say it, but I think I'd also look for plus speed, especially in the OF, as they need to cover the ground to defend against the extra-base hits, as well as have benefits at the plate to be able to display that ability to run.

To be blunt, I can't imagine two guys more built for Miller Park than Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. It may really help JJ Hardy hit enough two baggers in future years to still turn into that "second-tier" SS we all hoped.

Furthermore, it confirms that if I'm sitting in Doug Melvin's chair, I look to package Overbay and a prospect (or two) for a healthy, under 30, innings-eater type of #3 starter, who could grow into a #2 SP. Potentially, that would give us a #1, 3 #2's, and a #3/4, if not in actual performance, in ceiling.

8/26/2005 04:42:00 PM

(8/26/2005 04:00:00 PM) - Al

As predicted, Brady Clark activated, Justin Lehr sent down.

8/26/2005 04:00:00 PM

(8/26/2005 03:38:00 PM) - Al

Earlier this season, the Brewers were 4 or 5 games under the amount of wins they "should" have, based on runs scored and runs allowed. As of this second, they are -3, which I guess means things are deviating back to the norm.

If you look at the standings, you'll see the Phillies and Brewers have the same amount of "expected wins", but PHIL has 6 more actual wins. Say what you will, in many cases, I'd much rather be lucky than good.

8/26/2005 03:38:00 PM

(8/26/2005 03:22:00 PM) - Al

What's that old saying?

There's no amount of money that you cannot outspend.

I guess it's safe to say that is especially true if you have a drug problem, ala Dwight Gooden. I think it's safe to say he's probably bought a house or two for a couple dealers.

8/26/2005 03:22:00 PM

(8/26/2005 02:35:00 PM) - Al

Thoughts from the two games at Miller Park:

---Wednesday, our seats were free, thanks to the Amoco promotion, as were about 10K other folks, as the 4th deck was close to full, but plenty of seats were available on the 1st and 3rd levels down the lines. I know I've discussed it before, but the 1st and 3rd level ("field" and "club") seats should be cheaper past the bases, as they are never full, unless the place is sold out. People obviously prefer paying $20 for a 2nd level "loge" seat (where we sat Thursday) than $28 for the field level, and however much the club is.

---Both days, the lines at the concession stands were minimal, and the place was sparkling clean. The brats never seem to really be "hot", more lukewarm, but other than that, it was close to the perfect atmosphere for both games.

---Thursday, we took our 3 year-old along. He actually did very well for the 3+ hour, extra-inning affair, he learned how to yell "charge" at the right time, and loves to dance (well, he calls it dancing) when they play music between innings. Considering he asked when the game was going to be over after the first inning, he was magnificent.

---We got to the park about an hour before the matinee affair was to start, and the Brewers were just completing batting practice (the Marlins must have opted not to take pre-game). As the grounds crew prepped the field, Brady Clark hung around between the dugout and the net to sign autographs. Mr. Clark seemed like he is the epitome of a quiet professional, never saying a word to anyone, except a very quiet "you're welcome" to those who thanked him. I hoped that I would be able to have him hold Andrew for a quick picture, but I never pushed my way to the front like others did, and never made any headway in about 10 minutes. Also, it seems to help a great deal if you are 8 or under, as no less than a couple dozen youngsters went right under me to the railing.

At one point, a couple young women, who I would guess were college aged (so, to be honest, they were between 14 and 25, as I just can't tell) both snuck their way past me. I was holding my son, so it's difficult to be "tough" holding a 30 pounder who says "ow" 125 times a day. One of the young women, dressed in her generation's quasi-uniform of a tank top and a short, denim skirt; managed to get between me and the aisle seat, even though my foot was resting on the base of the seat. At the very least, either Andrew or myself should have bought her dinner.:)

---We moved to a less crowded section about the 4th inning, just the next one down towards the foul pole, as it gave the little guy more seats to kick, inspect, and lift up and down for no apparent reason. Also, it allowed me to escape the inane chatter of the fella behind me, who never met a cliche he didn't like, nor did he fail to pair any seemingly unrelated couple of them together to make a totally false statement. After we moved, I saw he was sitting next to a very attractive woman, probably in her late 20's. She got up and left, and inside, I rooted against hope for her to realize her poor dating decision and not return, but after an inning or so, she came back, gosh darn it.

---With any luck, I will update this later, with pics of the boy and of Mr. Clark.


8/26/2005 02:35:00 PM

(8/26/2005 02:20:00 PM) - Al

Before I discuss my Miller Park experience, a quick mention of my portfolio, stocks that is.

As many of you know, about 18 months ago, I began playing a bit of online poker, with a very small stake to get me started. It is not at all stretching the truth to say that every person reading this (maybe except my 12 year-old readers) has spent more on a single dinner than I started my bankroll with. Well, after spending many, many hours at the .05/.10 and .10/.20 tables, I had enough to begin my current habits, which is to basically collect bonuses from the various sites, as well as clearing a small profit from conservative, by-the-book play.

A couple months ago, I decided it was silly to let my money sit in Neteller between bonus opportunities, as they don't pay interest. So, I opened a Sharebuilder account and put the excess into that.

I am not bringing this up to tell you what a large amount of money I now have, as it is a rather unimpressive total, I often see used cars selling for far more than I have. The reason I bring it up is this: In 18 months, I have never had a losing month, or even a losing two weeks (I add up my balance on the 1st and the 15th). However, I am in trouble right now...becuase my stock portfolio is down so badly of late. While I still have the utmost confidence in my choices long-term, it's down about 7% of late.

So, the reason for this is simple...has anyone ever heard anyone say they need to play more poker to pay for their investment habit?

8/26/2005 02:20:00 PM

(8/26/2005 11:38:00 AM) - Al

Made it back last night, saw a game Wednesday in which the Crew experienced some good fortune, and a game yesterday in which they hit the ball much better than the Marlins, yet saw the Florida franchise score the go ahead run in the 10th on a pair of infield hits.

I guess things evened out, huh?

I will add some thoughts later today, but according to the JS, it seems the team is having some difficulty deciding how to make room for Brady Clark, who is ready to be unDL'd. I just asumed Prince would go back down for the playoffs, but it sounds as if Melvin/Ash would like to put together a 25 man playoff roster, just in case the team goes on a 15 game winning streak. With a day off Monday, you could even see a reliever go down, as the team can surely get by with a 6 man bullpen for 5 games in 6 days, you would think. I would likely make that move, to be honest.

Of course, if a playoff team would offer anything of value for Wes Helms (and many probably should), this would be an easy call, though I'm not sure if Branyan is able to play at the moment.

8/26/2005 11:38:00 AM

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

(8/24/2005 09:16:00 AM) - Al

We are off to visit Miller Park for the next pair of games. Hopefully, they'll score double digit runs each game as well.

8/24/2005 09:16:00 AM

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

(8/23/2005 09:24:00 PM) - Al

Web gem by Rickie Weeks, fantastic range and a behind the back, no-look flip, to JJ Hardy, who appeared to stunned to throw onto 1B.

What's funny is, all we've heard about Rickie's defense was negative. Never a positive spin, despite almost superhuman range, an arm almost too good for 2B (heck, I saw that in one game in the Midwest League playoffs), etc. It really makes me wonder what exactly it takes to be known as a solid defensive player in the minors, as I've seen "eyewitness" accounts that Dave Krynzel and Tony Gwynn Jr. have struggled...despite the fact that Doug Melvin and the braintrust never fail to mention they are outstanding on D. My gosh, you would have thought Corey Hart was being asked to diffuse bombs, as there were many who said there was no way he could play CF. It's been over a week now...can I make my yawn official yet?

From now on, I think I will avoid the armchair skeptics take on how the kids are progressing in the field. With any luck, in 1-3 years, young Ryan Braun will be tearing the cover off the ball in AAA, and they'll be some saying he might have to move to LF or RF, as he's a butcher at the hot corner.

And I'll giggle and not worry about it at all.

8/23/2005 09:24:00 PM

(8/23/2005 09:53:00 AM) - Al

I keep forgetting to publicly change my view on Tomo Ohka. I said about a month ago Ohka would likely be dealt, as he wouldn't be offered arbitration for next season, as it was likely he'd make $3M or more.


Ohka would now look to be a part of the '06 rotation, and perhaps this could be the best sign of all...if the top 4 are Sheets, Davis, Capuano, and Ohka, I would dare to say less than a handful of clubs have 4 better starters. And if they do, there's little doubt they are contenders.

I distinctly recall years in which open auditions were held in the Arizona sun for the #2 and #3 starters, never mind #5.

I also seem to remember a day when prospects with hardly any potential (Kevin Barker, anyone) were handed Opening Day assignments with a hope and a prayer. As of today, it would appear Corey Hart, whose AAA numbers project him as an OK, but not great LF/RF, will open 2006 as some sort of poor man's uber-utility man, backing up 1B/3B/LF/CF/RF. With Carlos Lee in the last year of his contract, Corey will look to show that Lee is unneeded.

If Hardy is given the SS job and Hall is still around as well, Bill Hall and Corey Hart would look to be the leaders of certainly one of the best corps of reserves the Crew has ever possessed.

For comparison sakes, the '82 team had Ned Yost, Ed Romero, Rob Piccolo, Marshall Edwards, and Mark Brouhard (and the DH that wasn't playing, Don Money or Roy Howell). I'm not sure who I would say is the top two of that group, as my first inclination is to go with Money/Howell and Brouhard; but needless to say, the Hart/Hall duo seems to be a step up, to say the least.

EDIT: If you have a moment, click on the 1982 team page, and be thankful the Crew had no injuries to speak of in 1982. Also, Rob Piccolo spent the entire year with the Brewers, and got 21 AB's. Geesh.

8/23/2005 09:53:00 AM

Monday, August 22, 2005

(8/22/2005 10:04:00 PM) - Al

I'm surprised to see this type of forward thinking from the Pirates, who I would be expecting to chase that 75th win, ala the Mariners.

Good for them.

8/22/2005 10:04:00 PM

(8/22/2005 08:31:00 PM) - Al

I am linking to Ann's blog again, this time to the comments about Six Feet Under's series finale last night (warning, spoilers).

I have watched the show since its debut, and have always had an opinion about it, as it has always been close to my heart. While many shows have me feeling indifferent, 6FU always left me either disappointed, happy, or something. I adored the first season, which was especially full of incredibly politically incorrect statements and discussions, and was hilarious. Last year, Season 4, was as dry and flavorless as I could have imagined...luckily, George was brought in and in his decline to insanity, had as many dandy lines as everyone else combined. Also, Rico and Keith were focused on more, so despite the overall flatness, it was easy to watch.

I always enjoyed Rico, as he reminds me a bit of myself, a guy who started off as low on the totem pole as you can, and slowly worked his way up, with some good fortune and some skill involved. As for Keith, he always was the "everyman" of the show, a regular guy surrounded by the dysfunctional Fisher family. Keith nearly always reacted to things the same way I would, except of course, he was a tough former cop, and I am not. And I'm as heterosexual as anyone, but even I can admit that he's an incredibly handsome man.

That said, I grew to despise most of the characters, though as stated above, it's a testament to the series that I grew to care enough about them to feel so strongly. Never cared for Claire or Ruth, and while they each had their moments, both David and Nate were tough to take for the majority of the show's run. Billy will go down as the most despised character in my mind, as he is the epitome of irresponsible behavior that everyone just accepted. Brenda was also not worthy of the time spent on her, though in her defense, she was incredibly easy on the eyes for much of the show's run. Their mom, geesh. All of Claire's friends, just makes you want to give up on all youth. Even Rico's wife became difficult after poor behavior by her hubby.

The most memorable part of the finale was the last few minutes, in which Claire "sees" the future, including how pretty much how all the main characters die. I chose to see this as "possibility", basically as daydreams as she drives. Yet, it would seem all of Ann's commenters are taking it as "fact", what actually occurs. I guess I would prefer things end like they did on Seinfeld, as you can imagine Kramer walking into Jerry's apartment at any time, and the gang sitting at the coffee shop, discussing how horrible The Dukes of Hazzard movie was. I don't want to think that Keith is going to shot in cold blood in 20 years, for example.

Overall, it was a brilliantly written and acted show, and Sunday nights won't be the same without it. I really have no use for HBO now, as I signed up for almost 15 years ago, and other than the occasional movie, I have used it to watch Dennis Miller Live and Six Feet Under, and that's pretty much all.

And allow me to throw this little nugget of info into the mix...The Comeback may be the worst show to ever air on television. I've seen cable access shows about phlegm that were 100x more enjoyable. Every time I forget to change the channel (and the remote is clear over there), all I can think of is that Lisa Kudrow made a gazillion dollars on Friends, and can't act her way out of a paper bag. Oh, to be in the right place at the right time.

8/22/2005 08:31:00 PM

(8/22/2005 07:18:00 PM) - Al

Eric Rudolph will serve his sentence at the maximum security federal prison in Florence, Colo. The prison about 90 miles southeast of Denver also is home to Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Richard Reid, who tried to ignite a shoe bomb on a trans-Atlantic flight; and Terry Nichols, who helped carry out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Many of those injured at Olympic Park had said they decided not to attend the sentencing, partly because Rudolph turned the earlier sentencing in Alabama into a forum for his anti-abortion, anti-gay views, and partly because they believe it's time to move on.

Yes, there's nowhere better to be with strong views against homosexuality than federal prison. Ah, sweet irony.

8/22/2005 07:18:00 PM

(8/22/2005 02:12:00 PM) - Al

Earlier this season, I thought Gary Glover did a pretty nice job as the 5th starter for the Crew. Not "let's sign him to a long-term contract" great, but certainly at an acceptable level to continue taking the ball every 5th day (being skipped when possible, of course). Gary has continued to pitch decently since accepting his AAA assignment, sporting a sub 3 ERA. I would honestly say he is a better option than Victor Santos right now, on the standard 4 days rest.

This is how Gary performed during his 9 starts, while compiling a 3-3, 5.64 ERA:

6 IP-3 ER

Meanwhile, let's take a gander at this mystery pitcher's 9 starts, while going 5-2, 4.88 ERA:


If you will note, the main difference here is that one start Glover had in which he only went 1.1 innings, as well as the fact that the "mystery" arm got plenty of run support, as he won 5 games during this mediocre stretch.

I can't believe there are 150 SP's that are better than Gary Glover right now in the bigs. Gary's track record is unspectacular, but take a gander at the Royals' rotation, and unspectacular is several notches up.

By the way, those other 9 starts were the 6/30-8/17 efforts of Chris Capuano, who had a speed bump in what otherwise has been his breakout campaign. Glover isn't likely to even get a paragraph when he signs this offseason, but he will have no fewer than a dozen clubs calling, despite his limited ceiling. Ditto for Rick Helling, who has been superb, pardon that one game that he couldn't get anyone out.

And in yet another good sign, the Brewers won't be high on their they are too deep in pitching.

8/22/2005 02:12:00 PM

(8/22/2005 01:31:00 PM) - Al

On one of the message boards I frequent, many of the regulars take joy in teasing one poster. I find him to be charming, and he has written to Ramblings and I have used his e-mails on occasion. One of his frequent thoughts is that the Crew should move Corey Hart back to 3B. I see Hart as the 4th OF next year, barring a trade of course, and also more than likely as the reserve 1B, playing against tough LHP's while Prince is given the day off.

I seem to remember that he wrote just a while back, once again proposing the Hart switch, and I simply restated the defensive spectrum, saying it is very rare that a player ever moves to the left.

Well, not so fast Al.

I still see Corey as an OF, but in the Arizona Fall League at least, he's back to manning the hot corner. While it may just be to get him AB's, it's something I never thought would happen.

8/22/2005 01:31:00 PM

(8/22/2005 01:14:00 PM) - Al

As I often do, I spent much of my weekend (though when on vacation, every day is the "weekend") chasing a bonus at one of the online poker rooms. Interpoker had a special "pocket KK" bonus, which for you uninformed folks means you win $10 every time you are dealt a pair of Kings. Of course, the odds of this are 220-1, but if you play 3 tables like I do, you will see them just under once per hour on average. Bleary eyed, I called it quits at 10:30 or so last night, just before the midnight Eastern deadline.

As I tell everyone that will listen, the best part about playing for the bonuses is this...I'd be playing for free even if they weren't offered. In fact, this Summer has seen many fewer bonuses offered than in the past, meaning that I have actually played many days just for fun and in hopes of grinding out a small profit. However, when you include the fact that you're "getting paid to play", for the most part, it makes it a win-win proposition. While it is technically possible to lose more playing than you earn in bonus, it's unlikely, especially being the conservative player I am.

That is, at least until the average online player improves their game.

8/22/2005 01:14:00 PM

(8/22/2005 01:05:00 PM) - Al

UW law professor, Ann Althouse, one of the most read non-partisan political bloggers, sums up what I clumsily tried to say a while back...that while the days of anti-war protests and folk songs seem to make the news, they don't win elections.

I went even a bit further, as I think most undecided/casual voters are very turned off by people getting arrested, blocking traffic, etc.

8/22/2005 01:05:00 PM

(8/22/2005 12:55:00 PM) - Al

Peter Gammons wrote over at Insider (the pay version, sorry, no link) that in a poll of 70 GM's, scouts, and baseball men, they ranked today's rookies as to who would be the best player in five years...Rickie Weeks came in 1st, Prince Fielder 11th.

To me, you can see how good Weeks will be just by watching him struggle a bit right now, as he's still taking walks, still driving the ball, and still working the count wonderfully. He's obviously below average in the field, but he hasn't embarassed himself either; and has made several highlight reel plays as well. I've been hinting for a long time that Rickie may end up at a different position, but I don't feel a change is forthcoming, nor should it be.

8/22/2005 12:55:00 PM

Sunday, August 21, 2005

(8/21/2005 10:21:00 PM) - Al

Cecil Cooper thinks the Crew's youngsters will be solid, and Phil Garner also has some pleasant words as well, in the JS.

Same things we've been thinking for a couple years.

8/21/2005 10:21:00 PM

(8/21/2005 04:26:00 PM) - Al

Blackfive has a post that discusses the work Soldier's Angels does. I am not familiar with them at all, but if half what he says is true, it's a group worthy of your support.

8/21/2005 04:26:00 PM

(8/21/2005 09:50:00 AM) - Al

On Saturday mornings, I try to watch the stock picking shows on Fox. One of my favorite personalities is Ben Stein, most famous for being the monotone teacher in The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and of course, for the game show Win Ben Stein's Money.

Ben is one of the more intelligent guys out there, and yesterday, everything he said, common sense stuff, just made him sound like a genius. He said he didn't know if the real estate market was in a bubble, or would be in a bubble soon, but that it doesn't matter, you should buy a house now, and if you can, buy a vacation home now as well, because in 20 years, you'll be glad you did. With interest rates at a historically low level, he's right, not to mention that despite the fact no one has any idea what the housing market will be next year, it will appreciate over the next two decades (and likely, quite a lot).

Ben also argued against eliminating the federal gas tax, which would make gas about 50 cents a gallon less for everyone. Ben said that not only was that money counted on, it punishes those who use a lot of a vital resource.

Stein just seems like a good guy to pay attention to. He picks a position based on the facts, not silly, minor nuggets.

8/21/2005 09:50:00 AM

(8/21/2005 09:45:00 AM) - Al

I can attest that however much people are complaining about gas prices, it doesn't seem to be slowing them down. Traffic was flying. I drove the RX-8, which got a so-so 22 miles per gallon. However, they were FKMPG: "Fred Krause Miles Per Gallon," defined as "the mileage obtained by a vehicle traveling 85 miles per hour with the air conditioner set on 'MAX.'" It's a somewhat more demanding standard than the EPA version.--Glenn

Heh. I never get the mileage I think I should, and this is probably why.

8/21/2005 09:45:00 AM

(8/21/2005 09:35:00 AM) - Al

The Mariners let prized pitching prospect Felix Hernandez go 115 pitches last night. Felix is 19, and has been babied (properly), limited to 100 pitches all through his minor league career.

As I am fond of saying, if you're hearing about a 19 year-old phenom making his ML debut, it is very likely you'll be hearing about career ending surgery soon thereafter.

8/21/2005 09:35:00 AM

(8/21/2005 09:29:00 AM) - Al

Mark Bellhorn was DFA'd by the Red Sox. I did not know he had been injured this year, nor so ineffective. That said, he does have nice numbers for a 2B/3B (and I know he has played SS, though with poor range), a career 750 OPS. A lot of teams won't bother, as he never hits for average, but as a utility or platoon guy (or a stopgap), he would seem to be a nice option.

8/21/2005 09:29:00 AM

Saturday, August 20, 2005

(8/20/2005 08:45:00 PM) - Al

As I said, I would have left Ben in.:)

He got through the 9th on 9 pitches, giving him a count of 121, high, but not worrisome. Those like me who were watching on Gamechannel saw the last inning take about 90 seconds. We'll never know how long it really took, I guess.

8/20/2005 08:45:00 PM

(8/20/2005 08:41:00 PM) - Al

Sheets out to start the 9th, with 112 pitches.

I don't hate the move, but I would have brought in the rested Turnbow.

8/20/2005 08:41:00 PM

(8/20/2005 07:55:00 PM) - Al

Jayson Stark writes of the fastest men in the game, with a mention of Rickie Weeks. I've never seen Nook Logan of DET play, but if he's indeed faster than Joey Gathright of TB, he's FAST.

8/20/2005 07:55:00 PM

(8/20/2005 07:40:00 PM) - Al

I am "watching" the game on Yahoo, coutesy of Gamechannel. No TV tonight, and no radio either.

That said, Sheets looks to have good, but not his best stuff. He's got out of a jam or two, and currently has a runner on 3B with one out. Hart with a pair of walks, and Overbay with 2 hits thus far.

8/20/2005 07:40:00 PM

(8/20/2005 09:44:00 AM) - Al

Miscellaneous thoughts:

...I have seen several people say in the past few days that either the Brewers don't care about CF defense, or have got extremely lucky that Hart has been OK out there. I have to wonder aloud if OF defense is just simply overrated. I just read in TSN that some scouts feel Carlos Lee will have to go back to the AL to be a DH, because of his "horrible" defense. Lee and Hart will never be anything but serviceable on defense, but how important is that? Corner OF's make less than 2 "outs" a game (putouts + assists), yet get a minimum of 3 AB's, and usually 4. How bad do you have to be to not be able to pick up a base hit and lob the ball back in?

Hart has also been just smacking the ball, and could easily have twice as many hits as he does. He doesn't seem to have much of a plan up there, but he's 23 and far from overmatched. It does bode well, to be certain.

...The "collapse" of the bullpen shows how good fortune wins and loses you games on a regular basis. Kane Davis gave up a ground ball that went up the middle and a 50 foot dribbler. Dana Eveland had one pop-up out taken away by the roof, and another hit the net as it fell, and both those hitters scored.

...Doug Davis pitched fine, but 112 pitches in 6+ innings is unacceptable. Doug seems to waste a couple pitches to every single batter, and that makes him a 6 inning pitcher, for the most part.

...That was the first time I've seen Capellan pitch, and he sure looks to have found his niche as a reliever. He has the classic look of a Doug Melvin pick-up as well, big and muscular. I'm not sure what his option status is, but it's tough not to pencil him into the 2005 bullpen.

...I still find it very strange that no one who saw Weeks play and gave us first-hand reports that his defense was subpar ever mentioned how many highlight reel plays he made. Rickie has made more great plays in a couple months than Spivey did in his year plus in MIL. For the most part, amatuer scouts tend to say that all minor leaguers are weak, so I tend to ignore them. The lack of positives about Weeks athleticism do not change my mind.

...With two LHP's going for HOU to close out the series, it will be interesting whether Wes Helms or Chris Magruder start in one or both games. Both hit lefties very well, and in Helms' case, will almost certainly be walking for nothing this offseason, yet would be a nice 1B/3B/DH option from the right side for a number of playoff contenders. Considering Cirillo is now in AAA and could easily step into his role, anything other than roster filler for Helms would have to be considered a positive step.

...In closing, I'm actually glad the game isn't on TV tonight, for no other reason than Daron Sutton is just unbearable. He seems to get worse on a nightly basis, and adds absolutely nothing to the game. They'd be better off with dead air, to be honest. What's ironic is that Don Sutton is a marvelous broadcaster, yet is chided by many for his "lack of flair". I don't need imitation excitement, I need analysis that a 15 year-old with his own cable access show can't provide {"Boy, he should have had that"}. And by the way, if the catcher moves the ball after he catches it, he doesn't think it was a strike, he's trying to "frame" the pitch to make it look better than it was. Daron continually asks "where was that pitch?" after Damian or Chad bring it back several inches.

As I've said about Bill many times, just when you think they've hit bottom, they manage to dig a little more dirt out of the hole. What's so sad is we have such a fine radio team, but the whole split second satellite delay makes it impossible to utilize Bob and Jim.

8/20/2005 09:44:00 AM

Thursday, August 18, 2005

(8/18/2005 11:02:00 PM) - Al

Rumors persist that 2 players, both big names, will be suspended tomorrow by MLB for drug violations. I will not mention who they are, but a simple internet search will reveal them, if you need to know.

I will say this, however...let's say I was a drug user of some sort. Let's say my company started a drug testing program, random, stupid would I have to be to get caught? Seriously. I suppose maybe if I spoke English as a 2nd language, maybe I could have taken an older supplement (this is the defense early failures such as Alex Sanchez and Juan Rincon used, if you read between the lines). C'mon though, both the players being rumored are as American and English speaking as possible.

I think the question needs to be asked at some point, how much do players feel they NEED to be the very best? I know I'd be giddy if I were just good enough to be "just" a utility infielder, but why take the risk otherwise? Raffy was a Hall of Famer if he never played an inning this year, for example.

8/18/2005 11:02:00 PM

(8/18/2005 09:40:00 PM) - Al

Almost 3 months ago, I visited Potawatami Casino in Milwaukee and played some poker. I witnessed some of the worst play I've ever seen, and I know I said something to the effect of that I have little doubt you could make a decent living if you played conservatively and had a big enough bankroll to withstand the swings, even at the 2/4 level I play.

After a short visit Tuesday night, I have even less doubt. Simply put, I've never played at an online site where worse play occurs, and to be honest, I could play better than most of them without looking at my cards. And I realize that I am by no means a top player, just your basic, run-of-the-mill, by the book, low-limit player.

What did I see, you ask?

---Several players, about 5, bought in for $80-100, played every hand, called every bet for 20-30 minutes, and lost their entire buy-in, just like that.

---One player called a board of A-K-4 with a 9/3 unsuited. He then raised on the turn when a 9 came. Of course, he lost to a player who had a K with a 5 or 6 kicker. I noted that neither player betting aggressively had started with a hand I would have ever seen a flop with.

---As seems to be the case when I play live, I think I played 3 hands outside of the 2.5 hours. Of course, as I told my wife the next day, 2.5 hours is about 75 hands, which is about half-an-hour (or less) if playing 3 tables online, as I usually do.

---Two different players bet and raised "blind", meaning they never looked at their hole cards. While this is (I suppose) kind of unique and fun, in an ignorant kind of way, it isn't the way to win money, to say the least. and yes, as if to add insult to injury, one guy won a huge pot doing this.

---One player, proudly playing his J/2, bet and called, despite being raised, with the board showing 3 spades after the flop (one of which paired his Jack), and 4 after the turn. His opponent turned over an Ace/King, with the Ace being a spade. The player who had played and bet his J/2 called it a "bad beat", and after going "all-in" with his remaining $4 pre-flop the next hand (well, he had 7/4), got up and muttered "Yeah, another Potawatami flop".

---With KQJT in the middle of the table, two players raised the river for several bets (heads up, you can bet all day on the river), and finally, the guy next to me called, and asked the other fella if he had a flush, as there were 3 of a suit on the table. The fella said, "No, I have a straight", and proudly produced a 9. To no one's surprise, the caller had an Ace. There's a reason they call that "a dummy straight".

---With a middle of A-A-9-X-X, the dealer tried to give the pot to a guy who had 3 aces, rather than the player who had a pair of 9's, giving him a full house. I am astounded at how unprofessional and simply bad most of the dealers are. They forgot to move the dealer button, or moved it twice, about 10% of the time. What's really surprising, and perhaps a testament to the awareness of the players, it was only noticed once that I saw. At one point, the player to my right got up, and a new player sat down. The button had just passed, and he said he'd wait until the big blind to be dealt in. The dealer dealt him at least one card every single hand...then skipped him when he finally posted the blind. Really.

---I did see the first really attractive woman playing poker I'd ever witnessed (all due apologies to other ladies I've seen there). I hope this trend continues, as I find the average person there looks a lot like me, or is a college age male, wearing a baseball cap. I will admit, the younger guys often dominate the table, especially the stereotypical math geeks.

8/18/2005 09:40:00 PM

(8/18/2005 09:12:00 PM) - Al

Right on cue, Clemens looks mortal as he works into the 7th.

Good thing the Crew made him work deep into the count most of the night, rather than "making contact" and "expanding the strike zone" by grounding out 4-3 on the 1st or 2nd pitch. Roger had 80 pitches going into the 7th, so he wore out just before you'd expect him to, in the 90-100 range.

8/18/2005 09:12:00 PM

(8/18/2005 07:55:00 PM) - Al

Farmhand Nick Slack suspended for "performance enhancing drug" use. While they do test for recreational drugs in the minors, they only announce positive tests of the enhancement variety.

It's disappointing from the standpoint that we spend a lot of time on education and prevention," Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said of Slack's suspension. "We do a lot of seminars on it."

Under the terms of the program, the substance that caused Slack's positive test was not revealed. In addition to steroids, players are tested for amphetamines and "recreational" drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

"You can't necessarily read into this violation that it was steroids," Ash said. "I can't really get into the specifics of it, but it doesn't necessarily have to be steroids."

Asked about Slack's future with the organization, Ash said: "I can tell you this much: he's going home." Brevard County has 18 games left in its season and has faint hopes of a berth in the Florida State League playoffs, but Ash said the Brewers will not permit Slack to rejoin the team this season and will review his situation during the winter "along with everyone else."

Slack, who is listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 215 pounds, was drafted by the Brewers in the 20th round in 2003. In 39 games for the Manatees, compiling a 3-4 record, five saves and 6.54 earned run average. In 52 1/3 innings, he allowed 60 hits and 43 runs (38 earned). He walked 14 batters and struck out 46.

"We are extremely disappointed in any positive findings that do not adhere to baseball's drug and alcohol policy,"Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said through the team's media relations department. "We as an organization will continue to educate every member - be it a player or staff member - in hopes of having a drug and alcohol-free farm system."

Could have just as easily been andro or other muscle builder type things that used to be sold over the counter, FYI.

No offense to Nick, as he's certainly a much better pitcher than I would be, but one look at the stats in bold above, and it would appear to be a no brainer. Minor league gurus can correct me if I'm wrong, but a player "retired" earlier this year after one game...and then pitched the next night, having changed his mind...if memory serves, and I'm pretty sure that was Slack as well. It's always a shame when those who have immense talent simply throw away their opportunities.

8/18/2005 07:55:00 PM

(8/18/2005 07:31:00 PM) - Al

A source with access to major-league waiver lists told the Journal Sentinel that the Brewers got all but seven of their players through waivers in recent weeks. Those seven players, all of whom were pulled back, are: Russell Branyan, Clark, Doug Davis, Carlos Lee, Lyle Overbay, Ben Sheets and Matt Wise.--JS

Waivers are an odd thing, as no team bothered to claim young, inexpensive players like DLR, Cappy, Turnbow, Weeks, or Hardy, as I'm sure the teams thought to themselves, "Why bother, they aren't going anywhere."

Yet, Sheets was claimed, even though he just signed a long-term deal, Overbay, even though Doug has said he's not being moved, etc.

8/18/2005 07:31:00 PM

(8/18/2005 07:17:00 PM) - Al

Bill Schroeder said in the opening tonight that the Crew needs to jump on the first fastball they see from Clemens.

Yes, nothing I would rather do than let the 40something starter get through 9 innings by throwing 75 pitches. Fortunately, even though they went 1-2-3, Weeks and Magruder both struck out (as Billy Beane calls it, "the pound of flesh"), and Lyle fouled away several pitches before getting out. I would say Roger threw either 17 or 18 pitches, so if he's good for 110, he might only get 6 innings in before having to hand it over to the bullpen.

There's a reason Bill compiled a .281 OBP during his career...he swung at the first good pitch he saw...and he usually got out.

8/18/2005 07:17:00 PM

(8/18/2005 07:02:00 PM) - Al

Just got back, wanted to mention that Prince is up and Brady Clark is on the DL. I believe Nasville has about 15 games left (plus the playoffs), so if Prince remains with the club the rest of the way, he'll miss out on about 60-90 AAA plate appearances, and instead, get about 7-10 PA's a week (figuring one start and a PH most of the time) until the Sounds are eliminated, as he would have ben up then anyway.

It doesn't appear to be a "bad" move, but I would not have made it. It'd be different if the Crew was a game out of the wildcard, but they aren't. I'd just as soon see Prince in the lineup and getting AAA AB's than being a threat off the bench.

It would have been a much more boring promotion, but I would have brought up Dave Krynzel, as he could have stepped into Durrington's PR spot, went into CF in the late innings for defense, and just maybe, Wynegar or someone could have convinced him to shorten up that swing.

UPDATE: I guess they could have just brought Durrington back as well, though Dave would be able to play CF at a higher level than Hart or Magruder late in the game, while Trent would just be the 3rd 2B and (geez) 4th 3B, othering than PRing.

8/18/2005 07:02:00 PM

Monday, August 15, 2005

(8/15/2005 09:52:00 PM) - Al

I have a meeting Wednesday, and I will be taking the family along to vist the zoo, and swinging by my hometown as well. We'll see you later this week.

8/15/2005 09:52:00 PM

(8/15/2005 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Ben Sheets is just a hard thrower in Coors Field. Other than trying to load up on sinkerballers, I'm not sure if there is a strategy for building a pitching staff at Coors. I will say this though, as Doug Melvin has also stated, if you have an offensive ballpark, you need to focus on the offensive side of the team. You don't win with pitching in the thin air of Denver.

If you recall, the Rockies' success was with a group of players that resembled a slow-pitch softball team. Seeing them speak of building with "speed", "defense" and "athleticism" always makes me chuckle.

8/15/2005 09:48:00 PM

(8/15/2005 08:59:00 PM) - Al

Many fans think Lyle Overbay will be dealt this offseason, and I agree. It appears Prince Fielder is ready to at least be mediocre in the bigs, on his way to being outstanding, if history is any judge of what 22 year-olds who do well in AAA are able to do when they reach 25, 26, etc. So, most folks think Overbay will bring back a good return, and he will. But, I wonder...if Lyle Overbay is worth X, what is Billy Hall worth?

At first, this seems silly. Overbay is in his second campaign of being a solid, everyday 1B, and while he'll cost more last year, as he's eligible for arby, he won't be a free agent until after the 2009 season. But hey, not so fast Sherlock. Hall will also be arby eligible, and will be a free agent after 2008 (I think). But let's compare their 2005 production to the average at their position:

Overbay--.372/.464, 836 OPS
Ave 1B---.361/.471, 832

Hall-----.315/.484, 799
Ave SS---.326/.408, 734

So, while Lyle is better, he is not nearly as far above mediocre as Hall. This is really Billy's first year as an above average player, so some may wonder if it was some sort of fluke, so that may lessen his value a bit. And, Doug Melvin may not feel obligated to shop Hall, as there is no one at AAA ready to jump into Billy's spot, as Prince is at 1B. Finally, Billy can play 2B, SS, or 3B; and play them all well. He will probably be the #1 reserve at all three positions, if he is still with the Crew in April of 2006.

{Just a note, isn't it nice to have a guy who is above average offensively at SS or 2B who projects to be a reserve?}

So, it would be interesting to see what Hall would bring on the open market. Could it be as much as Overbay? Possibly, especially if the club has a strong need at one or both of the middle IF spots.


An added note, Hall's fine range defensively would serve him well on the Metrodome turf. Hint, hint. Also, while we're on this topic, even though I'd call Hall's OBP disappointing, it's just barely below what you'd expect from a SS. I could also argue that a few top shortstops throw off the expected return, but we'll save that for another time.

To be realistic, Lyle would likely bring more in return as he is more "proven", and because it's easier to justify trading for a solid #3 hitter than it is a lesser hitting middle infielder. That said, it wouldn't be as much of a difference as many would expect.

This could be an unexpected nugget that Doug Melvin is able to cash in.

8/15/2005 08:59:00 PM

(8/15/2005 08:40:00 PM) - Al

Just got word that our Robert has been a bit under the weather of late. Here's hoping for better days ahead.

8/15/2005 08:40:00 PM

(8/15/2005 08:26:00 PM) - Al


Last year, you had a great post regarding RISP. I was wondering if I could see that again or anything other post regarding RISP is meaningless.

It had something to do with 2 different scenarios and showing the same amount of runs scored.



I can't believe Travis thinks I've ever had a great post.:)

I searched my archives and believe he meant this one, in which I make this statement:

BA with runners in scoring position is even more meaningless than BA...and that's saying something.

8/15/2005 08:26:00 PM

(8/15/2005 08:10:00 PM) - Al

I think batting Billy Hall 2nd is just strange. Ned has used Damian Miller in that spot, so he would seem to not be a slave to speed, and an OBP believer. I would think that Miller, Branyan, Hart or even Overbay (just moving everyone up a notch) would make more sense. Hall's strength is in his power, and that's unlikely to have much impact batting in the #2 hole.

The statline shows Geoff Jenkins to have the best BA in the NL since July 4th. That's funny, because that's when many message baord posters insisted he should be released. Ah, the never ending tradition of making business decisions based on emotion. No wonder most small businesses go under in the first couple years.

8/15/2005 08:10:00 PM

(8/15/2005 08:05:00 PM) - Al

Newsweek checks in with a look at President Bush meeting family members of the heroes who have given their life. This is astounding to see from a mag who was making stuff up just a few months ago, and passing it off as fact.

Hat tip to Michelle.

8/15/2005 08:05:00 PM

(8/15/2005 07:54:00 PM) - Al

Jeff over at Brew Crew Ball takes a look at fielding percentage, range factor, and zone rating, and comes to the conclusion that zone rating is the only one that seems to "work".

He's right.

8/15/2005 07:54:00 PM

(8/15/2005 07:33:00 AM) - Al

Hi Al,

I realize I'm a couple of weeks late on this, but last night I was
flipping through "The Bill James Player Ratings Book : 1993" and was
intrigued by the last sentence Mr. James wrote in his paragraph about

"A product of the same Miami Cuban community as Jose Canseco; the
Rangers may be hoping he will be a good influence."

I imagine no comment is necessary.

Yours truly,


I print this because it's humorous, and because I have barely commented on the issue, from the Congressional hearings to Raffy. I do know the sport is healthy, and doing wonderfully, despite the fact the mass media seems to focus an inordinate amount of time on a handful of players (out of 1200) testing positive.

Rumor has it at least one "well-known" player is currently fighting a positive test through MLB's in-house process, so we'll probably have to hear the inevitable overreaction at least one more time.

8/15/2005 07:33:00 AM

(8/15/2005 07:07:00 AM) - Al

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I went out to celebrate our anniversary, and one of the previews we saw was for an upcoming Jodie Foster film called Flightplan, which looked liked Panic Room on a plane. It was very intense (and as trailers often are, VERY LOUD), and if I were still a near weekly moviegoer, I'd be eagerly awaiting the release date. If you wish to check it out, you can do so here.

You often hear folks complaining about the lack of roles for women over 30, but Foster manages to find good films, from her fun Maverick part to her more dramatic spins. And while it's some sort of fluke limited to the entertainment world, Foster looks better at 40 than she did at 20.

8/15/2005 07:07:00 AM

(8/15/2005 07:00:00 AM) - Al

Skip Bayless has an article that is Bud Selig friendly, while bemoaning the fact he has no power at all, at least not nearly as much as he should.

As I have said more times than I can count, the game of baseball is in the best shape it has ever been, and this is the most underreported fact in the world today. Things like "highest attendance ever" is glossed over, while it's reported Ryan Franklin tested positive.

8/15/2005 07:00:00 AM

(8/15/2005 06:51:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers have the Hart HR up on their web site, and while I'm sure most successful 6-6 hitters have similiar looking swings, you can't help but see Richie Sexson. Also, it's difficult to make a judgement just on one HR cut, but that swing looked much more compact and "quick to the ball" than did his long foul ball he hit last year, which was the result of a painfully slow, long swing. Let's hope that was the exception, and this year's version is the rule.

8/15/2005 06:51:00 AM

(8/15/2005 06:38:00 AM) - Al

As a quick update to the last post:

1. Gord Ash did say they wanted to get a look at Kane Davis so they know more about him before the offseason.

2. Jeff Bennett pitched 2 innings Saturday night, and thus was unavailable Sunday. That's twice Jeff has been very unfortunate as to why he was not recalled.

3. Mike Adams was also considered, but just came off the DL, and has only pitched once since returning.

And just a couple weeks after giggling at me for thinking aloud that Corey Hart could play CF, after one game, many folks are suggesting we deal Clark and play Hart every day in '06.

If you're looking, you'll find the cart right over there, in front of the horse.

8/15/2005 06:38:00 AM

Sunday, August 14, 2005

(8/14/2005 07:51:00 PM) - Al

Beofre I discuss the Crew turning over 10% of their roster in 12 hours, a quick "hmmmm" moment.

I usually check out 2-3 Brewers' message boards each day. A pair of them could be decribed as "bad", but if you dig through the trash long enough, you'll find a diamond ring eventually. The other board I do post at some, though not as much as I used to. The other day, I wondered aloud why Corey Hart couldn't play CF, if not everyday, as a 4th OF type. I was roundly chastised, many said there was no way, and I was asked if I had ever seen Hart play OF. I simply figured that if Hart had the speed to steal 30+ bases, and a good throwing arm, he certainly should be able to play CF on a passable level. Sure enough, a couple people said, you know, maybe Corey could play CF, at least in theory. But by far the majority still thought it was a foolhardy idea.

So, in case you missed it, today the Brewers called up Corey Hart to play CF until Brady Clark returns. Apparently, the braintrust has never seen Hart play OF either.:)

I have no idea how Corey did defensively, though Bob did say he hit the ball hard all four times up, including a long HR in his final AB. I hesitate to feel Hart will be very comfy in CF, and likely is below average as a defensive CF by a large margin. However, if he hits like that, no one will care. Also, if Jeromy Burnitz can play CF, in Coors Field no less, and be respectable, I have little doubt Hart will be fine out there.

As for the other changes, Kane Davis and Jose Capellan were brought up from Nashville, as Matt Wise and Julio Santana were both DL'd. Davis pitched nicely today, hit 96 on the Miller Park radar gun, and was striking out well over a man an inning in AAA. Capellan has also pitched extremely effectively since he was moved to the bullpen a while back. If Jeff Bennett has gained back the strength he lost when he was ill a while back, I'm a bit surprised he wasn't chosen, but I'm happy to get a look at these two. Kane was a darn solid middle reliever back in the day, and while I'd be very surprised to see him occupying a 40 man spot this offseason...that's exactly what happened last year with Gary Glover.

8/14/2005 07:51:00 PM

Saturday, August 13, 2005

(8/13/2005 09:19:00 PM) - Al

I stumbled across this collection of films that critic Roger Ebert hated. Very funny, and my personal favorite is his capsule of North:

I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

I should make public that I enjoyed a couple of the films on his list of most hated, Tommy Boy and Armegeddon. Neither were classics mind you, but I didn't regret seeing either of them. My wife and I went to see Tommy Boy on its opening weekend, and the sold-out theater laughed a lot too.

8/13/2005 09:19:00 PM

Friday, August 12, 2005

(8/12/2005 10:44:00 PM) - Al

Hat tip to minor league guru Jim at, two articles that say the lower minor leagues may well be gone next year.

Article 1

Article 2

It's hard for me not to look at the incredible attendance in the Northwoods Leagues and some indy leagues and think there are at least 30 cities that would love to have a "rookie" level pro team. I will be the first to say that the two leagues they look to be eliminating, the Arizona and Gulf Coast, where they don't even sell tickets, are embarassments.

8/12/2005 10:44:00 PM

(8/12/2005 10:20:00 PM) - Al

Sorry about the lack of posts this AM, as we had a scheduled power outage from 8:30-11:30 this morning.

I did not hear anything about Clark except that he didn't play tonight. I do however, always find it funny when those amateur scouts tell us that they have firsthand knowledge that so and so can't play defense at all. We've heard it about Weeks, who is shaky on the more routine grounders, but has also made numerous outstanding plays. This March, I read many times that Magruder was the worst defensive player in the complex, which I found odd, as he was fine in 2004. Know what, he's been fine in 2005. The small sample police never fail to overreact.

A week ago, I saw many calls for the release of Justin Lehr, and now he's been the most consistent reliever the last week or so. Gee, maybe you don't get a good read on a pitcher in...4 innings.:) And we wonder why amateur scouting is so's all about the small sample, especially after the first 5-10 rounds or so.

8/12/2005 10:20:00 PM

(8/12/2005 10:17:00 PM) - Al

One of the more positive articles about the Crew's future in the national media in quite some time. It doesn't say anything Ramblings hasn't been repeating for the past couple years, but it is extremely friendly and optimistic.

If it had been printed a couple years ago, it would be truly be special, but I guess we'll take what we can get.

8/12/2005 10:17:00 PM

Thursday, August 11, 2005

(8/11/2005 06:53:00 PM) - Al

Over a year and a half ago, I posted what a poor signing Vlad Guerrero was for the money. I compared his production to that of Mike Cameron, who signed for $6.5M, less than half of Vlad. This was actually one of my most controversial thoughts, as several people wrote to disagree. Of course, many said there was no way Cameron was as good as Vlad...a point I agreed with. I had stated that I would rather have Mike and the money (about $7.5M per) than Vlad, and to be honest, without looking at the numbers, I still would. However, since I thought about it this evening, as Mike was injured today, I figured we would revisit it.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at Cameron's stats is that he has played in pitcher's parks, Safeco and Shea. Playing 81 games a year at those home parks hurts your power numbers, to say the least. Take a look at his splits:

2004 home--.314/.446, 760 OPS
2004 road--.385/.531, 916

2005 home--.309/.444, 753
2005 road--.329/.512, 841

Huge differential each season. Tough to look at those results without feeling that Shea has hurt Mike, just like Safeco did. Given that, let's compare Mike's road numbers to Vlad's overall numbers, 2004-5:

Mike--.350/.520, 870 OPS, 182 OXS, 109 simple runs created
Vlad--.380/.580, 960 OPS, 220 OXS, 132 simple runs created

Vlad is a better offensive player, which is the same conclusion we came to 18+ months ago. However, Cameron is a top defensive CF (though playing RF this year, due to Carlos Beltran), and Vlad's D can best be labeled as "inconsistent". He's very talented, with a great arm, but he's also led all OF's in errors in a season. While I have little doubt Vlad is much worse of a defender than Mike, I'll pretend they are equal.

So, in effect, Vlad will be about 23 runs better, and using the Rule of 10, will lead his teams to 2 more victories over the course of a season. In effect, Vlad's pair of wins cost the Angels $7.5M, or $3.75M a piece.

I'd still prefer Cameron myself, as I think I could spend that extra cash wisely and get more than a couple wins. Let's not forget, I didn't give Cameron a bit of credit for his defensive prowess either. While Vlad is better, his performance fails to justify his excess cost.

8/11/2005 06:53:00 PM

(8/11/2005 03:02:00 PM) - Al

About a month ago, Robert took a stab at predicting what he thought the '06 roster would look like. I agreed with 90% of it, but diasagreed with his decision to have Corey Hart as the 4th OF, saying he should go back to AAA.

Allow me to say Robert was correct. Corey has simply dominated AAA pitching in 2005, after doing pretty decently in 2004. If Corey is still with the organization in '06 (and I hope he is), he should be on the 25 man roster.

In 861 AAA AB's, Corey has:

.360/.515, 875 OPS, 87 walks (just over the 10% threshold), 58 doubles and 32 HR's. He's still just 23 (will turn 24 in March), and has a great arm and tremondous speed (tied for the PCL lead with 29 steals). With some luck, he will get some time in CF in winterball, as he has the tools to play there, but has only played there in emergencies.

It should be said that Hart has nothing left to prove in AAA, and is likely to get a fair share of AB's, as the Crew's run of good health is unlikely to repeat in '06, especially if Jenkins and Lee both return.

If no offseason deals are made, I would pencil in Hart and Krynzel for those reserve roles right now. Dave is your prototypical 5th OF, right down to the nugget of realization that he can't hit a lick.

{To put this in perspective, Dave's OBP for 2005 is .327, in a setting where Gary Glover and Rick Helling are top o' the line starting pitchers. Not 10th/11th men on the staff mind you, but the toughest guy you'll see in a series. Hence my disappointment that Dave fails to reach safely in 2/3rd's of his attempts.}

Even though he has a few years before he hits his peak, it's tough to see him as anything but a bench guy, and if he ever does break through, it may well be because someone (Wynegar? Davey Nelson?) managed to teach him to take more pitches and cut down on a swing that's so long and loopy it makes me nauseated just to think of it (either that or those weren't scallions in the leftover hot dish I had for lunch).

Krynzel would most likely see time as a PR and/or defensive replacement in the late innings, as he would be an obvious range and arm upgrade over Lee (more likely going into CF and shifting Clark over to LF).

8/11/2005 03:02:00 PM

(8/11/2005 02:17:00 PM) - Al

I kept forgetting to post the link to the Cheesehead's e-mail and response with Tom Haudricourt of the JS. It's especially funny now, as his main point looks even more ridiculous, as apparently, the Nationals "forgot" how to win close games.

If you look up "those a century behind the times" in the previous post, there will be a sketch of Tom H (and Drew Olson), feet propped up on their desk, watching the game on TV in the office, making notes about batting average and RBI's.

The irony is, they'll even tell you this when you e-mail them.:)

8/11/2005 02:17:00 PM

(8/11/2005 02:08:00 PM) - Al

A transcript of Peter Gammons' Hall of Fame induction speech.

I've loved Peter for just under 3 decades now, as he used to write in The Sporting News (back when it was on newsprint, and didn't suck). Gammons has been far ahead of the curve as far as the Brewers go for a couple years, often talking about the farm system and such. He's also one of the few mainstream writers who uses meaningful stats and doesn't embarass himself with cliches and being centuries behind the game.

8/11/2005 02:08:00 PM

(8/11/2005 01:56:00 PM) - Al

The Smoking Gun has another classic mugshot (wrong place, wrong time, I'm sure), and while there, check out the other winners they link to.

Ironically, I'd say the vast majority of those pictured are brighter than Kenny Rogers.

8/11/2005 01:56:00 PM

(8/11/2005 08:06:00 AM) - Al

That's a shame.

Somehow, I'm sure Kenny will blame someone else for his failures.

8/11/2005 08:06:00 AM

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

(8/10/2005 10:32:00 PM) - Al

Certainly a shame the Crew lost all three games to the Cards, but to be honest, the Cards win 2 out of every 3 they play. It doesn't take much for them to sneak out that 3rd win.

Brady Clark had to leave the game with sore ribs. Simply put, that can't be good. He may be 0 for his last 15, but 3-4 of them have been "atom" balls.

I can't agree with Ned's decision to have Sheets hit in the bottom of the 7th. That has to be looked at as the best chance to score a run or more the rest of the way. I think he let his loyalty and appreciation get in the way of the simple little fact the Crew needed at least two runs to win.

8/10/2005 10:32:00 PM

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

(8/09/2005 08:53:00 PM) - Al

King Gleeman tells of his trip north of the border.

I'd like to do some of these things, but alas, my wife and son like to eat, and I'm antisocial. Ah, to be young.

8/09/2005 08:53:00 PM

(8/09/2005 07:39:00 PM) - Al

I don't really mind it, but I have to look for that list of umpires ERA, as Angel Hernandez has one of the largest up/down zones I've ever seen.

UPDATE: Looks like Angel is having an off night, as he is actually an offensive ump. We'll see how his zone looks in a few inings, odds are he'll revert back to normal.

I still fondly recall what former ump Ron Luciano wrote about calling balks...he said he never called one, but he always tried to be the 2nd guy to have his arms up, as if to say "Yeah, I saw it too."

There should never be a balk called that has any doubt. Both these two called the last couple nights have been of the invisible variety. Yawn.

8/09/2005 07:39:00 PM

(8/09/2005 04:52:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure what the gent was thinking when he shortened Kenny Rogers suspension to time served, but allow me to say, this fella's as softhearted as they come. It's a shame how one blithering idiot can override the common sense of baseball fans everywhere.

If anything, Rogers should get more than 20 games, not less.

8/09/2005 04:52:00 PM

(8/09/2005 04:40:00 PM) - Al

And welcome back, Jason. Looking forward to reading your thoughts about the Crew.

I have to agree about DLR, he did seem to throw a ton of breaking balls, especially last night. If I threw 95 and was a lefty, I doubt I'd ever throw another pitch to LH bats, and in his current role, just pitching an inning or two at a time, I'd only throw a couple pitches. No reason to get beat with your 3rd best pitch.

To be honest, as has been discussed a few times, Jorge should probably be in AAA, but he is out of options and is unable to be sent down. The odds of him clearing waivers are nonexistant, as he'd be put in the rotation of a dozen clubs. As already mentioned, while you can occasionally find a hard throwing righty (Turnbow, anyone), but LHP's with that kind of velocity are few and far between. It's either use him or lose him, and I'd have no problem hiding him if we were a 90 win team, so I certainly have no qualms about having him out there as a near .500 team.

I am not certain Jason, but I disagree about the Clark throw to the plate. I'm pretty sure Lyle Overbay forgot to go to the mound area for the cutoff. Either he forgot, or he just figured Brady would throw to 2B. Clark actually made it a very close play at the plate, as Mark G was not running 100%. On the replay, he looked to all but stop going around 3B, then just jogged on in. Brady's throw did look to be low enough to be cut, I just don't think anyone was there to do so.

8/09/2005 04:40:00 PM

Monday, August 08, 2005

(8/08/2005 10:01:00 PM) - Jason

Until Jorge De La Rosa actually gains enough confidence in his fastball to throw it consistently over the plate, he is going to be nothing more than a mediocre-at-best reliever in the major leagues.

The man throws 95 mph, and yet fools around with curves and change-ups so much that it makes me sick.

He probably doesnt belong in the majors to begin with, but there is still no excuse for any pitcher who throws a 95 mph heater to not have that pitch be their bread-and-butter...not some fancy looking curve or a change.

8/08/2005 10:01:00 PM

(8/08/2005 09:42:00 PM) - Jason

For as much talk as Ned Yost gives about 'focusing on the fundamentals', this Brewers club really is one of the poorer defensive teams in all of baseball. Not just because they lead the league in errors, but for just bone-headed mental mistakes that always come back to bite them. Unlike a team such as the Cardinals, who have the firepower and pitching to overcome a mistake or two per game and still win, the Brewers don't have that type of breathing room.

Take the 8th inning of tonight's game vs. the Cardinals. Two out, man on second, 4-4 tie. Abraham Nunez, who is having a fine year offensively, hits a looping line drive to center field. Brady Clark is playing deep - which he always does, and has been successful at catching many gappers and balls at the wall because of it - and the ball drops in front of him for a hit. Mark Grudzielanek, who was at second, is off at the crack of the bat, and scores easily from second. However, Brady Clark throws the ball all the way into home with no chance of getting an out. As a consequence, Nunez moves up to second base. A ground rule double later, he scores as well.

Its this type of bone-headed play - not knowing where to go with the ball and missing the cut-off man - that often can be pointed to as the difference between a win and a loss. A team like the Brewers can ill afford to hand ANY team extra outs, much less extra runs.

Brady Clark just has to use his head...simple as that. There is no excuse for that type of play in that type of situation.

8/08/2005 09:42:00 PM

(8/08/2005 08:14:00 PM) - Al

Santos looks to be pitching plenty bad enough to skip in his next scheduled start, which can be done because of the off day Thursday. That will also allow the Crew to split up Ohka and Santos, the two weakest links in the rotation.

Notice how effective the strategy has been thus far to "pitch around" Pujols. One walk, one run. It simply amazes me that the announcing team fails to grasp simple mathematics...baserunners equals runs.

8/08/2005 08:14:00 PM

(8/08/2005 03:37:00 PM) - Al

I'm right there with Robert as far as the 8/31 moves go, if the Crew is still in contention for anything. I'd probably make 3-4 moves myself, adding some combo of a 3rd C, Fielder, Hart/Cruz, and Krynzel; and removing a couple pitchers, and one or two others.

As we've discussed all season, the bulk of our depth (with the exception of Bill Hall) is in AAA. It is unlikely to ever come to this, but if it does, there's little doubt our 26-40 guys on the 40 man are as good as anyone's.

8/08/2005 03:37:00 PM

(8/08/2005 10:18:00 AM) - Robert R.

To take a stab at Al's question of the day, I don't anticipate the Brewers doing anything external to improve the club despite having concerns over Santos and thinking the team could use another reliable arm in the bullpen. However, I don't see the starter or reliever available that will clear waivers that will be a clear upgrade.

I think the more relevant question is, do the Brewers call up the likes of Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz and/or Corey Hart to add some punch to the bench and give them more weapons for the playoffs? I'd probably wait a week or two, but if the Brewers go on a run, I'm shipping down a reliever and calling up Fielder and I probably do some more roster shenanigans on August 31st for the potential post-season roster. I can't see a pinch hitter making the difference of more than a game in a couple of weeks and we'll know if the Brewers are actually in the Wild Card hunt or not based on how the regulars play. Further, I don't think the Brewers need as many relievers as they have on the roster in the first place and if they put together a run, they'll probably have someone underused in the bullpen to begin with.

8/08/2005 10:18:00 AM

(8/08/2005 10:08:00 AM) - Al

I pretty much feel the same way I did last night, as far as the Crew trying to improve their wildcard chances...I have no problem with making trades that help in 2006 and beyond, nor would I disagree with upgrading the bench, or the bullpen.

However, I do not feel the chance at a wildcard (which I would categorize as "remote") is worth moving a single "propect" for. Now, of course, many people will disagree on what a true "prospect" is, but I classify it two ways:

1. A player who projects as a major leaguer.

2. A player who has had success at every level along the way. He may not be athletic as some, or loaded with natural ability, but he produces.

Many people leave out the second group entirely, and often leave out players who project as reserves or bullpen guys. Not me. If a player is good enough to be a backup, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine him improving a tad, is it?

As a small market, the key to having a 5-7 year window of success is to keep bringing up inexpensive cogs from the minors to replace mediocre players as they become eligible for arbitration and/or free agency. You can't pay your 4th OF $2.5 million, for example. Many folks will tell you that Tony Gwynn Jr. "only" projects as a 4th or 5th OF, and despite the struggles of Dave Krynzel in AAA, still ranks behind Dave on the prospect ladder. Therefore, the argument goes, Gwynn is disposable. I could even agree with that if we were on pace to win 90 games, and be true contenders. But, with a longshot's longshot chance, I can't see tearing down the depth of the farm system just to improve a game.

The Brewers depth should improve immensely when the rosters expand, as Prince will surely return, as will a couple more position players, as will a couple more pitchers. Also, do you see us going out and picking up a pitcher better than Victor Santos, whose ERA is 4.02? While anything is possible, I doubt it.

The main thing I'd be looking for is what I'd describe as a professional LH hitter, and as an example, I'd throw out the name of Ben Grieve, good OBP man, some pop, and no long-term commitment. If Geoff or Carlos were to go down, the majority of the playing time would go to either Nelson Cruz or Corey Hart, with some Magruder mixed in. All we need is for someone to PH that has the ability to not get out, and punch one in the gap once in a while.

Also, there may well be a veteran reliever who projects better than Helling or Lehr, a Dave Burba type. Those would be the two main things I'd keep an eye open for.

While most folks keep thinking to themselves that a 5 game winning streak would push the team right into the race, let's not forget, a 5 game losing streak makes this post seem hilarious for ever mentioning the wildcard.

8/08/2005 10:08:00 AM

(8/08/2005 10:01:00 AM) - Al

I must admit, interrupting what you're watching to report the death of a network anchor is about as "unnewsy" as it gets. A scroll along the bottom of the screen would have done the job just as well.

My first thought was of the demise of the space shuttle crew as well.

Of course, if it would have been Dan Rather, I wouldn't have believed it until they concluded the investigation to see whether the death certificate had been forged.:)

8/08/2005 10:01:00 AM

Sunday, August 07, 2005

(8/07/2005 11:15:00 PM) - Al

I'm going to sleep on it, mainly so I don't embarass myself more than usual, but the question has to be asked...would you make a move or two before the August 31st deadline to try and improve the team?

If you have an opinion, shoot me an e-mail, I'll plan on commenting on this tomorrow.

8/07/2005 11:15:00 PM

(8/07/2005 10:23:00 PM) - Robert R.

To echo Al, I've never seen a runner bunted over to third in that situation either. While it's probably happened, I've seen Don Baylor bunt over a runner after a leadoff double to start the game (and he didn't end up scoring), the additional automatic out tends to outweigh the advantage of a runner on third to begin with. Especially when Ohka actually has some ability with the bat. That's one of the few times that Schroeder's been on the right side of a debate.

Going 4 and 2 on that east coast roadtrip is certainly an accomplishment for a young Brewers team. I suppose they're on the edges of the Wild Card, going 8 - 2 over a ten game stretch would convince me that they're actually in it, but I'm sure that they're a vastly improved team that looks like they've stepped ahead of the Cubs.

Watching the Cubs tonight, I'm fairly convinced that if you look past the payroll hype you'll see that the Brewers are a better team. Other than first and third, the Brewers are as good as or better than the Cubs at every position, especially in the outfield. Sheets and Capuano match up favorably with what Zambrano and Prior have actually done this year, and the Brewers have stability in the back 3/5ths of their rotation, along with a better bench and bullpen. Dusty Baker may be fine with a veteran team that mainly needs a manager not to over-manage and to deal with egos, but he's certainly done a poor job this year juggling players and figuring out the strengths and weaknesses and putting his players in a position to succeed. Batting Corey Patterson and Neifi Perez 1 - 2 for the better part of the first half should be a firing offense, especially when you are burying Jerry Hairston's OBP skills and underutilizing Todd Walker in the process. Neifi Perez has been cut in the last year, I don't think he'd get too upset batting 8th if he was playing every day. Say what you will about Ned Yost's tactics, but his juggling of players at third base, his ability to find Billy Hall playing time without completely burying J. J. Hardy on the bench, and the way he quickly and decisively sorted out the bullpen are all things that Ned Yost can be proud of this year and which stand in stark contrast to what is happening with the Cubs.

8/07/2005 10:23:00 PM

(8/07/2005 06:10:00 PM) - Al

Ohka pitched a very nice game, and having Brady Clark playing deep saved him the 2 run HR by Utley. Turnbow had his fastball back after a couple days off.

Padilla pitched almost as well, but Burrell couldn't quite catch Weeks' double off the wall. Padilla may be a name to remember, as he was offered for Podsednik last year, and may be non-tendered this offseason. He has pitched much better of late, but still has a 5+ ERA, simply unacceptable for a player with that much talent, in his peak.

I've said it before, but allow me to say it again...Philadelphia fans are the worst in the history of the world. They have booed Mike Schmidt mercilessly, he was only the best 3B in the past 30 years. Now, they have turned their attention to the very mediocre, far overpaid David Bell...who lost a relative serving his country last week. Painful.

8/07/2005 06:10:00 PM

(8/07/2005 06:03:00 PM) - Al

I can't believe he isn't bunting here.--Daron Sutton, with Ohka up, runner on 2B, and one out

Look, I'm far from a genius. Has anyone EVER seen a batter sacrifice a runner to 3B in this situation? I mean, the game has been being played for 100+ years...has anyone seen it occur a single time.

8/07/2005 06:03:00 PM

(8/07/2005 09:53:00 AM) - Al

I heard rumors about this a few days ago, and it would appear to be true. I've begged the Crew to get Derek Lowe for his ground ball ability many times in the past.

What's also ironic is the fact that Lowe's wife seems to be more attractive than his girlfriend.

UPDATE: An e-mailer informs me Hughes is best known for her legs that look to be about 4 feet long. I believe I know which FSN personality she is, and while certainly not icky looking, I'll stand by the above statement.:)

UPDATE 2: An easier to read story from the Boston Herald.

8/07/2005 09:53:00 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.

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