Al's Ramblings

Monday, October 31, 2005

(10/31/2005 07:52:00 PM) - Al

A recap of the Brewers' minor league system.

Hat tip to the minor league gurus at

10/31/2005 07:52:00 PM

(10/31/2005 06:57:00 PM) - Al

Theo Epstein resigned as GM of the Red Sox.

Anyone else thinking BOS may fall back to also-ran status?

Me too.

Astoundingly, the amount of money that separated Theo and the Sox was the difference between a veteran utility IF and a Trent Durrington type.

Penny wise and dollar foolish, from my viewpoint.

Personally, I'd love to see Theo go to Tampa Bay and turn that hidden jewel of a franchise around, after years of neglect and apathy. The article states he may take a year off, and also mentions LA, which would be ironic, as Theo is as much like DePod as anyone except Billy Beane.

10/31/2005 06:57:00 PM

(10/31/2005 06:37:00 PM) - Al

Reading Robert's last sentence of his Rome recap reminded me of something I've been meaning to mention. After an entire decade of faithfully watching ER every Thursday night, I officially made the switch to Without A Trace this year. Sure, I've watched WaT at various times, but rarely missed a new episode of ER. But, I do miss the heyday of ER, and just don't care about many of the characters anymore. Seeing the entire season premiere focus on the bratty kid of a nurse, yawn.

I used to really enjoy the show, and loved many of the personal subplots. To this day I'm angry they killed off Kellie Martin's character, I'm unhappy that the show's only consistent humor source first lost an arm and then his life. Noah Wylie's Dr. Carter has grown as a doctor and gone from a spoiled rich kid to a whiny crusader.

There has probably not been a better hour of dramatic TV than the ER episode titled Love Labor's Lost, which I saw the 2nd half of again on TNT this past Summer. It is from either the first or second season, and follows Dr. Greene through an overnight shift with him trying to deliver a baby and then the mother from the resulting complications. It was simply stellar TV, better than Six Feet Under and other HBO offerings I've loyally watched. Alas, it was impossible to keep that up, but to even compare that to seeing two adults chase a little kid cross country is offensive.

10/31/2005 06:37:00 PM

(10/31/2005 05:26:00 PM) - Robert R.

The 9th episode of Rome aired last night. In response to comments, follow the link to the synopsis.

I was reminded of a couple of lines from Watchmen last night. Roughly paraphrased "It all worked out in the end, didn't it?" "In the end? Don't you know, nothing ever ends." Caesar is firmly in power, but the plotting and challenges haven't ended. This episode they just centered around Atia who is reveling in being on the winning side, only to have past plots involving Octavia and Servilia come back to bite her in ways she wasn't expecting. And Octavian is quite the fascinating character as he quickly realized what was up with Octavia and used her anyways. She gets used an awful lot, doesn't she? We'll also got to see Atia lie in front of Octavian, who past viewers will remember is awfully good at discerning the truth.

We also get to see the beginnings of a rift between Pullo and Vorenus as for the first time Vorenus's fortunes aren't linked with Pullo's. It doesn't matter that Pullo would be terrible in Vorenus's role, it still hurts his ego.

I'm of the opinion that Rome is at its strongest in episodes that are building towards or in the aftermath of big events. That's when the cast gets to shine most fully, not when they are just obeying orders or holding their breath to see what happens. That was the case in last night's episode and it shows there's a lot left to explore between Caesar's rise to power and his eventual death on the Senate floor. I'm still of the opinion that Rome isn't great, but it's definitely risen to the level of good and is a welcome alternative to the glut of police procedurals and hospital dramas on tv.

10/31/2005 05:26:00 PM

(10/31/2005 04:56:00 PM) - Al

Time does a profile that says women are now joining the poker frenzy.

As long as they aren't very good, welcome to the game!! I just completed my best month ever of online play, so those folks who said they hoped ESPN's WSOP coverage would bring in a new wave of poor players, I think they were 100% accurate.

And thank goodness for that.

10/31/2005 04:56:00 PM

(10/31/2005 11:26:00 AM) - Al

It was 1992, when Sanjay Beach was Brett Favre's starting split end. It was 1998, when Darick Holmes was his featured back. And it was 1999, when Tyrone Davis was his No. 1 tight end.

Surrounded by stumblebums at not one but all three skill positions, old No. 4 had to wear the saddle one more time for the Green Bay Packers. Astonishingly enough, Favre almost brought them home.

Emphasis added by me.

Wow. This may be the most pitiful reporting ever done by a mainstream media source I've ever witnessed. Apparently, Favre had an outstanding game yesterday, and was done in by his poor supporting cast.

Yes, his team only scored 14 points. Yes, his team only got in decent position at the end because of what looked to be a poor call on an interference penalty.

And, oh by the way, he threw 5 interceptions.


10/31/2005 11:26:00 AM

(10/31/2005 08:28:00 AM) - Al

We can only hope Rick Helling returns, because as Robert pointed out, he is likely to get more money and a better role elsewhere. He probably isn't nearly as good as his stats made him out to be late in the season, but in his likely role as a long reliever and more importantly, depth for the rotation, he's almost as good as it gets.

10/31/2005 08:28:00 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2005

(10/30/2005 10:33:00 PM) - Robert R.

So far, Rick Helling and Wes Helms have officially filed for free agency. I'm sure the Brewers would like Helling to come back, but he very well may get more enticing offers elsewhere, either in terms of money, a promised starting role, or both. As for Wes Helms, I can't see the scenario where he comes back to the Brewers. The Brewers won't offer him arbitration to be a backup, particularly when his numbers this year might get him a raise from an arbitrator. And someone out there might offer him more playing time. Really, Wes Helms should have gotten more ABs this year as there were practically no circumstance that justified pinch hitting Chris Magruder ahead of him. Helms would probably work out well for a team in need of a righthanded bat, although I think any team looking to make him a full time starter will be disappointed. Helms doesn't hit right-handed pitching well and other than a strong arm he's very limited defensively.

Jeff Cirillo is the only other free agent eligible player on the Brewers, although a couple may be non-tendered, and he hasn't filed yet. I think it's fair to speculate that he'll either sign a low salary contract with the Brewers or retire and after last year I think the former would be a more attractive option.

10/30/2005 10:33:00 PM

(10/30/2005 10:12:00 PM) - Robert R.

Paul DePodesta was fired by the Dodgers over the weekend. Given that he's only been on the job for roughly 18 months and got to the post-season in 1 of his 2 seasons on the job, it's utterly unjustifiable on purely baseball grounds.

It's popular to say that DePodesta has no "people skills", but from a distance I think it's more a matter of not having "political skills". For the most part, he came into an organization that didn't agree with his philosophies, left a lot of people in place that didn't agree with him, and just allowed things to fester as people were openly insubordinate. It didn't help that he apparently was unable to communicate with the media. Even if you think people who think LoDuca was something other than extremely average are morons, doesn't mean you should let other people know that. In the end, it looked like the owner and DePodesta were the only ones on a similar page and that apparently fell apart over the choice of manager. It doesn't matter how sound your strategies are, you have to have a group of loyal people to implement those strategies and back you up when needed. DePodesta didn't have that and it's partly his fault.

The Dodgers still have a strong farm system, some talented players on the MLB roster and have several terrible contracts coming off the books. If they hire someone that's not incompentent, they'll be fine. DePodesta will land on his feet too. Oakland will likely hire him back and he'll still be a candidate for open GM jobs as there aren't many GM candidates that can say they presided over a division winner. If he learns from his mistakes in L.A., he'll likely be able to help some other team.

10/30/2005 10:12:00 PM

(10/30/2005 09:43:00 PM) - Al

A link to the Brewers' site details the players in the AFL.

Notice that Corey Hart just continues to hit, no matter what the level, the defense, or the situation.

10/30/2005 09:43:00 PM

(10/30/2005 08:38:00 PM) - Al

There is a link on the sidebar for, and if you feel the Bucks are a solid playoff contender, it may be worth your time to open an account there. About 3 weeks ago, they opened their NBA over/under line for regular season wins, and put the Bucks at 36, which I felt was a little low, but probably accurate within a game or two. Now, since the trade has put the Bucks into contention for home court in the first round (top 4 in conference), in the eyes of those who report on the league, DB's line remains at 36...really.

10/30/2005 08:38:00 PM

(10/30/2005 08:11:00 PM) - Al

Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.-Tax Prof

One of the stock guys on the Fox News block mentioned the rampant call for communist policies of late, especially in the call for limiting gas prices. As we learned in Econ 101, profit is the reward business gets for risking a loss...there isn't any reason to run a business if you're not going to make any money at it.

As the above statement shows, the government pockets far more of your cash that shareholders anyway.

10/30/2005 08:11:00 PM

(10/30/2005 07:56:00 PM) - Al

The Madison police are in such a precarious situation, as I'm sure bar owners count on the crowds for a huge part of their profit for the year, yet the vandalism and destruction that takes place hurts a lot of folks as well.

I think they are certainly on the right track, as this year, they didn't give the hoodlums a chance to set fires and such.

UPDATE: The law prof agrees, and in the article she quotes, it sounds like a very small group of troublemakers were the only ones pepper sprayed, less than 500. Sounds like very little property damage this year, kudos.

10/30/2005 07:56:00 PM

Saturday, October 29, 2005

(10/29/2005 08:43:00 AM) - Al

I hardly paid attention to the postseason, but it is astounding how poorly it was reported. The White Sox won with fine pitching and a pretty average offense, and what offense they had was almost all based on slugging, as this team scored just under half their runs via the home run ball.

Still, it was said by many that the Sox play "small ball", as if that led to their wins. I guess if you don't pay attention to the facts, it isn't completely untrue...except it is.

On a final note, for folks who like to believe the manager wins/loses several games a year, they don not. Look no further than Ozzie Guillen, who may well be one of the stupidest people on the planet. Starting pitchers who consistently give you 7 innings is a lot more valuable than micromanaging for a minute advantage.

10/29/2005 08:43:00 AM

Friday, October 28, 2005

(10/28/2005 09:22:00 PM) - Al

John with a thinking man's post, and not just because he links me.

10/28/2005 09:22:00 PM

(10/28/2005 07:40:00 PM) - Al

I'm a bit sad Desmond is so unhappy about the trade, but it's refreshing to see a player so upset to leave Milwaukee.

10/28/2005 07:40:00 PM

Thursday, October 27, 2005

(10/27/2005 02:19:00 PM) - Jason

Al mentioned the Bucks trade, and I like it quite a bit.

One thing the Bucks did is trade from their strength to shore up a weakness. Desmond Mason is a fine player, as Al pointed out, but most believe that Bobby Simmons, the free agent Milwaukee brought in, can be every bit as good or better than Mason is.

Jamaal Magloire is a fine player. He missed most of last year with a broken finger, but has had a very solid career otherwise. He is not injury prone (he played in all 82 games from 2002-04 seasons), which is a big plus for 'big' men - they are seemingly always banged up. Per 40 minutes - a stat commonly used to determine effectiveness in the NBA - Magloire averages 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. By comparison, Ben Wallace (widely considered the top defensive player in the league) averages 9 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks per 40 minutes. Really, when you balance it all out, Magloire is maybe one slight step down from Wallace, at least in productivity. And at age 27, he is entering the prime of his career.

The Bucks play in a tough division when it comes to big men - you have the Wallace's in Detroit, Jermaine O'Neal in Indiana, and Zydraunas Ilgauskas in Cleveland. They have to be able to compete on the boards to stay with those clubs, which means they had to shore up the front line.

Its almost impossible in the NBA to pick up a better-than-average big man entering his prime, but the Bucks have done it, and didn't cripple their team by doing it. Losing the draft pick hurts a bit, but with the way the salary cap structure is in the NBA, its almost easier to fill your needs through FA than through the draft.

10/27/2005 02:19:00 PM

(10/27/2005 11:07:00 AM) - Al

One minor aspect of the Bucks trade I wanted to mention was that my original "problem" with the trade (granted, I knew nothing of the player acquired) was we had thrown out our incredible depth at the 2/3. Redd, Simmons, and Mason are all very good players, and proven scorers. Some folks scoff at such labels, but the truth is, players that can be counted on to score 15-20 points a game have plenty of value, even if they don't do other things real well...not to mention how dull it is when your team doesn't have such a player.

Since then, I have heard that Jiri Welch is very capable of providing depth, and admittedly, I completely forgot/did not know that Toni Kukoc was still with the team. Toni is just a role player at this stage of his career, but he is capable of 15-20 minutes if needed. I hate giving up draft picks, but there is little doubt this deal could propel the Bucks to upper echelon status, if things go as planned and good health is in vogue.

10/27/2005 11:07:00 AM

(10/27/2005 09:10:00 AM) - Al

I'll be back from a business trip tomorrow evening.

10/27/2005 09:10:00 AM

(10/27/2005 09:06:00 AM) - Al

Another perfect example of bargains in the market:

Profits down 3% (you use oil to make candles, right?), going to close some stores that lose money...stock topples 10% in a day.

The price-to-earnings ratio of many stocks is very low...but rumors and fear prevent them from moving up. Stocks are on sale, and the quicker folks see it, the faster they will rise.

10/27/2005 09:06:00 AM

(10/27/2005 09:04:00 AM) - Al

John Stossel rips on spending and the "bridge to nowhere".

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

UPDATE: Whatever happened to the line-item veto push years ago? I believe many said it would take a constitutional amendment*, but states have them and use them regularly. That would allow the president to take care of a lot of...questionable projects with a single stroke of the pen. I would have no problem with a line-item override as well, to balance out the powers.

*As an aside, I've never really had a problem with amending a document written, literally, in another world. They did an outstanding job, but some revisions were certainly needed, as some of the founding fathers were slave owners.

10/27/2005 09:04:00 AM

(10/27/2005 08:44:00 AM) - Al

Our old friend Chief Wiggles, who has been on the sidebar almost since there's been a sidebar, finished his book.

Looks like a great read.

10/27/2005 08:44:00 AM

(10/27/2005 12:01:00 AM) - Al


If you are a first time visitor to Ramblings, we offer daily thoughts about the Brewers and a variety of other subjects. Bookmark or put us in your favorites while you are here.

The usual suspects, Robert, Jason, Brett, and myself, as well as prior participants Ben, a law student, and Greg, a law prof.

AL: Welcome, and thanks for taking part. 81 wins in '05, how satisfied were you with this result?

GREG: I was very happily surprised. Before the season, IIRC, I predicted something like 70 or 75 wins. I think this team definitely exceeded expectations, especially when you consider that it finished three games below its Pythagorean expectation (which, of course, may be good news or bad news . . .). Doug Melvin stuck with a smart rebuilding plan, working toward contention rather than making a gratuitous play for a .500 season, and he got the .500 season anyway. That's some good rebuilding.

ROBERT: The Brewers won 14 more games this year. That's very good progress and I'm very satisfied with the result. Teams rarely go from 67 to 90 wins and this is exactly the progress you like to see on a contender. The fact that they underperformed their "pythagorean" record by a couple games is an encouraging secondary indicator. They didn't win a lot of one run games by flukey circumstances that they can't possibly duplicate. Plus, they did all that while getting some of the growing pains of young players out of the way, notably Hardy and Weeks.

BEN: Depends on when you ask the question. From the beginning of the year, I’m ecstatic. With three games to go, 1 over .500 and heading to Pittsburgh….a little disappointed. Then again, we did finish ahead of the Cubs, and we have reason to believe there will be greater success down the line, so this year should be viewed as a major success.

BRETT: I'm fine with that total. I thought they'd finish with 82, so they pretty much played up to my expectations. Considering they were in phase one of the "youth movement", .500 is a successful season in my eyes.

JASON: I think just about any fan should be satisfied with how the Brewers performed in 2005. A team picking up the number of wins the Brewers did from '04 to '05 is downright rare in this day and age of baseball. That being said, all the Brewers did in '05 was go from a below-average club to a mediocre one, which is what a .500 team is - mediocre. What they do from '05 on will truly determine what path the Brewers are on.

AL: I guessed about 75 W's, so they overachieved to me, bolstered by much better pitching than I expected, both the rotation and the bullpen. As far as the position players went, most did what I thought...except Bill Hall, of course. So, who were you most surprised by, other than Hall (who will get his own question later on)?

ROBERT: Biggest surprise for me was Jeff Cirillo actually being useful. I didn't see that coming, at all. However, right up there is Chris Capuano throwing 219 innings after only throwing 88.3 innings in 2004. Very effective innings at that.

BRETT: As a pitcher, Turnbow was surprising, considering how dominant he was (243 ERA+), he had to be a surprise. With the hitters, Helms and Cirillo were pleasantly surprising.

JASON: I was surprised by how strong the bullpen was, given the fact that it was supposed to be the weak link of this club. The production fell off a bit in Sept. with the injury bug hitting a few guys, but all in all the bullpen was fantastic for much of the season...and even the guys the Brewers plugged in to the bullpen in September (Kane Davis, Jose Capellan, etc.) did well for the most part. It goes to show that a good bullpen doesn't have to cost much just takes good scouting, good coaching, and faith in a player's abilities.

BEN: Derrick Turnbow for two reasons. First, because I didn’t expect Mike Adams to struggle as a closer the way that he did. And, second, because yet another Melvin/Maddux reclamation project pitched as well as nearly any other closer this year.

GREG: Turnbow shocked the world; no news there. Jeff Cirillo made an astonishing comeback. Before the season I asked on for examples of any player who had stunk as badly as Jeff for three years and then, at his age, came back to be a valuable player. Nobody really came up with a good answer, which says to me that Jeff's accomplishment was truly extraordinary. Rick Helling pitched better than he has ever pitched in his life; the sample size, 49 innings, was right at the cusp
of meaningful. And let us not forget that Geoff Jenkins, whom most of us had written off, went crazy enough in the second half to earn team MVP honors.

AL: Not one mention of Brady Clark? The guy was simply a machine, and had never started before. He was so consistent, we're already taking him for granted. A small mention to Damian Miller as well, while he was close to projections, he was often the #8 hitter, and probably one of the best in the NL. The lineup lacked a star, but was 6th in the league because of the 1-8 depth.

Now for the flipside, who disappointed you?

ROBERT: I'm going to give a group award to Ben Hendrickson, Jorge De La Rosa, Manny Parra and Mike Jones for being unable to step up and sieze a major league rotation spot that was open for any young pitcher who wanted to claim it. Granted, Parra and Jones are without fault due to injuries, but a combination of ineffectiveness and injury means the Brewers do have to look elsewhere for a starting pitcher for 2006. Offensively, I'm giving a minor mention to Chris Magruder as your fourth outfielder shouldn't be below replacement level.

GREG: The biggest disappointment was the team's inability to play up to its
Pythagorean record. I think it's mostly luck, because the bullpen was pretty strong, but fundamentals also had something to do with it. I like knowing that we had 84 win talent to build on, but I'd be happier to spend the winter basking in the warm glow of 84 wins.

As for individual players, my biggest disappointment was Russ Branyan's inability to stay healthy. He produced almost as well as anyone on the team when he was healthy, and I'd really like to know whether he can establish himself. Beyond that, the disappointments get marginal. I would have liked to see more of Mike Adams. Carlos Lee was a minor disappointment. He hit with good power, but he actually fell off a bit from his career norms and wasn't the middle-of-the-order beast we all hoped for. J.J. Hardy's first half and Rickie Weeks' second half (of his own major league stretch) were awful, but I'm a believer in the good stuff they both showed when they were on.

BRETT: Sheets' injury was obviously disappointing, though his performance certainly wasn't. Otherwise, de la Rosa was a disappointment, but I still think he's going to be a dominant reliever down the road. And, while Magruder was a disappointment, I don't blame him for being bad, I blame Melvin and Yost for not addressing that situation.

BEN: I’ve already mentioned Adams. Slightly disappointing that Jenkins and Lee never really got going at the same time. The possible connection between Sheets’ arm injury and raised pitch counts may be cause for concern, but we won’t know for another year or two.

AL: Hendrickson for not building on his fine '04 AAA campaign. Adams for not dominating AAA after he was sent down (though his secondary stats were good, a 6 ERA is unacceptable). Krynzel for not improving his 2004 AAA campaign. DLR for not showing his massive potential. That's a pretty short list, and none were more than role players.

OK fellas, no use putting it off any longer, will Overbay be with the team next Opening Day (save trade ideas for later)?

GREG: No. He is what he is...a useful but not championship-caliber hitter who doesn't figure to get much better. He has much more value to the Brewers as trade bait than as a player. The team has lots of needs and, in Prince, a very strong bet to exceed Overbay's production, possibly right away. You have to go get something for O.

ROBERT: Mark Attanasio is saying exactly what he has to say to give Doug Melvin leverage, but Overbay is going to be traded. Prince Fielder is ready and an .816 OPS from a first baseman isn't anything special. The Brewers can likely get cheaper, younger, and better at first base and address a hole elsewhere. That's precisely why you make trades.

JASON: I can't see how Lyle returns. By all accounts, Prince has nothing more left to prove in AAA, and Overbay has high trade value now. Likewise, the Brewers do have needs that Overbay can help fill (another starting pitcher, some bullpen help, etc.). Sure, Prince's glove might not be major-league ready, but if the Brewers are going to let Rickie Weeks work out his defensive issues at the major league level, they have no excuse but to let Prince do the same. Of course, all that being said, if the Brewers can't get what they want for Overbay this winter, there's nothing wrong with having Prince as a LH bench bat until they do.

BEN: Only if Doug Melvin doesn’t get an offer that he likes. Since we all remember his posture during the Sexson deal (that it’s better to trade a position player during the off-season than during the regular season), I have to believe he’ll be gone by the end of the year.

BRETT: There's no way in my mind that he will be back. I don't see the Brewers going with a multi-million dollar bench bat by design. He's as good as gone.

AL: No one here is falling for the Mark A/Doug company line, huh? One, after Doug said all summer he could get more for Overbay in the offseason...why keep him? Two, Robert hit the nail on the head, you trade from your strength. Prince is younger, cheaper, and quite likely better. You can't play 2 1B, especially not in the NL. The only guy we could get as much for (that doesn't have a starting spot nailed down) as Lyle is Bill Hall, and he seems much less likely to be dealt. Your reflections after his breakout '05, predictions for '06?

ROBERT: I didn't see it coming, but as Al and my brother remind me, you don't give up on young players with tools that can at least hold their own at the MLB level. Bill Hall still doesn't walk as much as you'd like, but his game improved in every other facet. It looks like he's just maturing into a very good ballplayer, albeit one who's going to rely on BA and SLG for much of his value.

I don't see how Bill Hall doesn't open up in 2006 as the starting third baseman for the Brewers. There simply isn't a better option available on the open market. I suspect that Hall may regress a bit in BA, say to the .280 level, but he should hold most of his power and be at least an average third baseman who will fill in at middle infield as the need arises. He's a bit wasted at third, but then so is ARod, and as long as he produces I don't have a problem with him playing there.

BRETT: I didn't see anything like Robert does for him, with a shoddy minor league track record and a similar MLB career thus far. I wish he'd walk, but he doesn't. Maybe those saying he could be Jose Hernandez were right, but I think he'll slide back a little bit next year. He'll open up as the starter at 3B, but I hope Branyan and/or Cirillo are kept around.

GREG: Okay, just this once: I told you so. I didn't think Hall would be this good this soon, but I did say to anyone who would listen that he was young and skilled enough to make an impact if he just improved his BB/K ratio, which plenty of young players do. He did that, and his power and speed took care of the rest.

JASON: The sky is the limit for this kid. Thankfully, the Brewers didn't sour on his potential like they have with some other younger players they have had in the past (Ronnie Belliard comes to mind). He certainly has the ceiling to vault into a top-level third baseman in this league for many years, and he is all the more valuable due to the fact that he can play anywhere in the field.

BEN: The most encouraging part of the ’05 season for Hall is that, after going cold in July to make my fear of regression to the mean look far more likely, his hitting improved in August, and further improved in September. I don’t know whether he’ll be able to hit well enough to hold down the hot-corner long-term, but he certainly made the most of his opportunity this year.

AL: Brett has stuck with his opinion on Bill, but I think he "forgets" where he plays. As a middle infielder, Hall barely has to do more than not suck to make about $50M in his career. I'll go as far as to say with his speed, huge power (again, for a 2B/SS), and fine arm, he could just hit like a SS and still make a fortune. As is, Hall is 25 and was a top 5 SS (if he would play there) in '05. Doug seems to be very hesitant to say he's the 3B, so I think they may have a move in mind, and want Hall to begin 2006 as a utility guy. Whether or not that happens, we'll see. I would be very tempted to float Billy's name on the market, as an athletic SS with pop, I still think he could bring more than O.

OK, free agent targets, will the Washburn/Morris connections matter? Other names/positions you feel will be addressed.

BEN: But for the two pitchers Al mentioned, I don’t see the Brewers being that active in free agency. Partly because there aren’t a lot of quality free agents out there, partly because I expect a number of bench spots to be filled by farm system promotions (Hart and Cruz in the outfield), but mainly because there’s no obvious place to slot a high-profile free agent in the lineup right now. Joe Randa is also going to be a free agent with a Wisconsin connection, for instance, but I think the team would rather give Hall the chance to play everyday. By and large, I expect them to stick with the players they have.

GREG: I don't know the market well enough, but my sense is that we can't afford Washburn. Morris is a sleeper to watch; teams may not want him badly enough to inflate the market. As for position players, we don't want big-time FAs almost by definition; we want young guys with upside.

ROBERT: The connections to the various pitchers may matter in that the Brewers will actually be considered, but the Brewers still will have to put an offer on the board close to or at market value. Other than Millwood, who I think is going to be surprisingly expensive, I'm not crazy about the free agent crop. That said, I'd think Washburn is likely to be average in ERA and throw a lot of innings, both of which are things the Brewers can put to good use considering the problems they had with Santos, Obermueller, et. al. over the course of the season. Washburn might represent a 3 to 4 game improvement over that mess, and combined with the "pythagorean" record and improvement from Weeks and Hardy that could put the Brewers on the cusp of Wild Card contention.

Other than that, I see the Brewers as being very quiet on the free agent market. They'll probably resign one of Helling or Glover, more likely Glover, to be a middle reliever/spot starter. They may pursue a relief pitcher for some added depth in the bullpen. It's possible they may also pursue a backup catcher other than Moeller. And, it's possible they may pursue a veteran backup centerfielder. Still, other than starting pitcher, I think it's just going to be a matter of filling out the depth on the team.

BRETT: I don't like the idea of overpaying for mediocrity, and that's what Morris would be - with an injury history to boot. Washburn's GB/FB scares me, his K rate is paltry. His ERA is good, but I don't know how much you can expect that to continue, because it really hasn't been a trend in the past. Ohka's just as good in my mind. Even with all that, I wouldn't be surprised a bit if he's a Brewer.

JASON: If the rumors about Washburn wanting to come home are true, the Brewers would be foolish to not go after him hard. He would fit well in the Brewers rotation, and should be within their price range. Morris, even with the Wisconsin connection, may not fit into the price range.

AL: I've seen a lot of names that would help the Crew's rotation, Morris and Washburn both have WI ties, so as rare as that is, they have to be chased. Two other names I like are Kyle Lohse and Victor Zambrano, both may be non-tendered. Bill Mueller would be a veteran OBP man, and could split time with Hall at 3B. Doug has also mentioned a veteran OF, and as Robert said, that player is probably going to be a LH bat who can play defend well, as Corey Hart is probably also on the bench with him.

Now, trades that may happen, and/or your what you would pursue.

JASON: I would pursue an upper-level starting pitcher hard with Overbay. I would also suspect that Brady Clark's name will come up in trade talk this winter, but the Brewers would be foolish to even think about dealing him now.

BEN: Aside from a Red Sox deal (Lyle for Bronson Arroyo and Kelly Shoppach), I’m not even going to try to guess. If the Brewers do sign a pitcher like Washburn, I would expect both Overbay and Ohka to be traded (with only the latter representing a salary dump). 3-4 million would be a bit much to pay the 5th starter.

GREG: Overbay and change for Shoppach and Arroyo is my dream trade. We will need a new starting catcher in 2007, and I'd love to be able to break the new guy in during 2006 in a time-share with Miller. I consider Davis and Ohka worthy parts of a contending rotation, and I wouldn't completely write off Helling, but the team should go get a starter who at the very least can push Ohka to #5. I would consider trading Lee or Jenkins if doing so would sufficiently improve the team at a position
of need to compensate for the probable dropoff you'd get by plugging in Hart or Cruz as a starting corner OF. No disrespect to Brady Clark, but I think we'll soon need a new CF, so I would be very eager to pursue young guys with upside (who can get on base!) at that position. I think CF is a greater position of need than 3B right now. Finally, I hate the idea of throwing real resources out to get Established Veteran
Relievers. It's a bad gamble with a low potential return.

ROBERT: Overbay will be traded and there will probably be a long line of suitors as he's not overly expensive or old. The Mets, Boston, Atlanta, the White Sox, Minnesota, Houston, Anaheim, Seattle, Detroit, and several other teams could use Overbay. Ideally, I think the Mets and Boston match up best with the Mets not seeming overly attached to Heilman, Seo and Pettit and Boston has Kelly Shoppach blocked. Heilman would probably be my main preference of the bunch, but I'll take the best package regardless of whether it contains a MLB ready starting pitcher or not.

Other than that, I'd consider making Krynzel and one of the trio of Hart, Nelson Cruz and Brad Nelson available and see what's out there. Ideally I'd like to deal Clark, but the Brewers would need to find someone able to handle centerfield other than Krynzel or Gwynn before I'd trade Clark.

BRETT: I'd really like to see Shoppach picked up, be it in an Overbay deal or Clark. My main target for a while has been Yusmeiro Petit, and I think he'd be available for Overbay. With the disarray of the upper-level pitchers in the system, he'd be ideal to add into the mix. I wouldn't be against a Lee trade, or a Clark one, either. Obviously, there'd be a need created by a Clark deal, but maybe the Brewers feel either Hart or Cruz could handle CF. I'd really pursue a guy like Brad Wilkerson, as there is a OF crunch in Washington, and they seem to have soured on him a bit. He had a decline in power due to a wrist injury and park effects, but he's still a walks machine.

AL: I see Overbay being traded, and Hall possibly being such a target that Doug is surprised and deals him for a package. I don't see Clark being discussed, unless a young CF that is ready to play is part of the return. Wilkerson is a favorite of mine as well, as he is a CF who hits like a corner OF.

So, who may sneak up on us in 2006, your sleepers for '06?

ROBERT: It's hard for me to call anyone a "sleeper" on the Brewers. Most players are either established veterans or highly touted prospects. I suppose it's debatable whether Nelson Cruz or Corey Hart are "highly touted" and, as such, they're potential sleepers, but I only see them getting substantial playing time because of injuries.

I don't think Brady Clark has a long term lock on centerfield, but Krynzel and Gwynn both have issues. Krynzel was his same inconsistent self, mediocre BA and power and a bad K:BB ratio pretty much negate his defense and walks. And Gwynn had a good year except for a total absence of power. One or the other is probably trade bait, and at this time I'm more optimistic that Gwynn will develop some power than Krynzel developing some strike zone judgement.

Therefore, given a lack of other candidates, I'd suggest Jorge De La Rosa and Dennis Sarfate as the real "sleeper" candidates for the team. And their opportunity will depend on how well the Brewers address starting pitching in the offseason.

BRETT: It almost has to be a pitcher, and I'm guessing it will be a bullpen guy that gets plucked off the scrap heap, just like it was this year. Since I have no idea who that may be, I'll say Mike Adams steps it up and becomes a great setup/middle man.

JASON: Jorge de la Rosa. This kid has so much talent, its hard to believe that he won't succeed, especially with Mike Maddux's track record. Hopefully an off-season and spring training of working with Maddux will help get Jorge's head on straight, because it looks like confidence in his fastball is all that is keeping him from busting loose. It would save the Brewers some money and give Yost an option from the left side if Jorge can develop into a reliable pitcher.

BEN: Sticking with the theme, I’m going with Adams too. He went from one of the most effective relievers in baseball in ’04 to AAA for most of ’05. I’m interested to see if he can revert to his old form, and how he responds to his setbacks of last year. In the spirit of not overlooking the left-handed pitcher with plus stuff, I can’t help but think that de la Rosa will put everything together at some point in his career as well. Finally, if he re-signs with Nashville, I think Warren Morris could have a shot at a bench spot on the major-league roster; he won’t steal many at bats from Rickie Weeks (or Hall for that matter), but he would likely be an upgrade over Trent Durrington.

GREG: I don't actually believe Dave Krynzel will suddenly put it all together, but he has shown sporadic bursts of many talents, and guys his age are prone to giant leaps. Just for fun, I'll say he emerges as a useful OF and heir apparent to Clark. I also like Eveland's chances to crack the rotation and do well. Either Hart or Cruz (hoping for both would be greedy) will get substantial time because of trade or injury and emerge as an impact hitter. All of those possibilities, of course, depend on what moves the Brewers do or don't make.

AL: Corey Hart and Jeff Bennett. I like Hart significantly more than Cruz, as he is 3 years younger and posted similiar results. Bennett is not going to wow anyone, but cheap middle relief has its value.

Finally, final thoughts on what you hope happens this winter and up until camp opens in Feb, both on and off the field.

ROBERT: Doug Melvin has already put the Brewers in a solid position for 2006 and beyond. The main goal for the offseason has to be upgrading and solidifying the starting rotation. Tomo Ohka will likely get offered arbitration as I have a hard time imagining the Brewers bringing in two pitchers that are significantly better. Overbay will be moved to make room for Fielder. And I imagine that the rest of the starting position players will look the same with most of the changes coming to the bench.

Other than that, I think the other offseason goal is to see what can be done to help the young players get better and start off 2006 running. Perhaps send an instructor to help Rickie Weeks with his defense over the offseason? Get Jorge De La Rosa some innings in Winter Ball. Perhaps get Fielder, Hart and Cruz some additional ABs in Winter Ball. And basically, just make sure the team gets to and out of Spring Training healthy and in shape.

BRETT: First, I want to see Doug Melvin locked up long, long term. Yost will probably follow shortly after, and I can't say I have a problem like that. It's shaping up to be a Schuerholz/Cox type of deal in my eyes, whereas I can't see anyone else in those positions for a long time.

In terms of transactions, I want Ohka back and I think he'll be back. Same goes for Branyan. I really hope they can solve the bench situation this offseason, be it via trade, free agency, or in-house with guys like Hart and Cruz. If Chris Magruder or Trent Durrington see time on the 25 man roster next year, I'd be extremely disappointed. I'd really like to see Mark Bellhorn brought in, if the Yankees let him walk (Mark refused a minor league assignment and is a FA since Brett thought this), as he can play 2B/3B/SS and get on base. Obviously they're not going to be asking him to help Weeks with his defense, but he'd be a nice guy to have around. Hopefully they can address more needs with the Overbay trade, but it's sure nice to look at the lineup and not see any glaring holes heading into the offseason for a change.

I was surprised by how strong the bullpen was, given the fact that it was supposed to be the weak link of this club. The production fell off a bit in Sept. with the injury bug hitting a few guys, but all in all the bullpen was fantastic for much of the season...and even the guys the Brewers plugged in to the bullpen in September (Kane Davis, Jose Capellan, etc.) did well for the most part. It goes to show that a good bullpen doesn't have to cost much just takes good scouting, good coaching, and faith in a player's abilities.

JASON: I hope that the Brewers continue to stick to their plan for success, and not stray away from it because of some success and higher expectations, which seems to happen a lot lately. I also hope that the Brewers continue to stock the shelves of the minor leagues, because for a team like Milwaukee that is the best way for consistent success, year-in and year-out.

GREG: My answers to the other questions pretty much set forth my hopes for the
offseason; young C, SP, young CF. I'd also like to see the team pay some attention in trades to restocking the midlevel minors, because we're about to experience a severe shortage of hitting prospects at AA and AAA, and some of the present generation inevitably won't pan out. Also, the team needs to think about what it can do to improve its performance against expected wins. I don't want them to do anything
stupid, like go pay $1.5 million for a LOOGY or something, but they need to think about their use of one-run strategies and at least consider whether anything about the hitters' approaches contributed to their bad RISP performances. Like I said before, I mostly chalk the shortfall up to luck, but I'm not that smart:). The team needs to think about the issue.

BEN: I hope that the team abandons the idea of the ribbon boards. I have seen these kinds of boards in operation, and the only thing they really add to the entertainment experience is another place to generate ad revenue. Asking the mainly taxpayer-funded stadium board to foot the bill for the boards now is a bad PR decision, especially since this type of upgrade would be dictated by the terms of the team’s lease in a year or two (assuming 4 or 5 more teams add the boards as well, which is likely to happen).

I’d like to see FSN replace Bob Brainerd with a correspondent who’s
actually half as funny as Brainerd thinks he is. I actually cringe when
they give the man a microphone.

AL: Meanwhile, I like Bob infinite times more than Daron or Bill, but go on Ben.

BEN: On the field, I fully expect Doug Melvin to sign a handful of fringe major league pitchers that I’ve barely heard of, then have 1 or 2 of them make the opening day roster and contribute. It’s what the man does, after all. I also look forward to seeing which players start to step out of the shadows of Prince, Rickie, and J.J. and emerge as the next real crop of minor league prospects.

Other than that, I just hope that Sheets and company are all healthy for the start of Spring Training.

AL: I want to see the rotation improved...which I feel would make it one of the deepest in the league, 1-5. Overbay gone in a trade that makes the team better, hopefully now and later. A LH bat to come off the bench, preferrably an OF. Finally, a LH reliever who can get LH bats out, throws strikes, and makes $1.25M or less. I must agree that Melvin needs to be locked up, though it sounds like that's just a formality. Bellhorn would be a fine reserve, nice catch Brett.

As always, thanks for participating guys. Bill was unable to make it this time because of his busy schedule, hopefully, he will return next time.

10/27/2005 12:01:00 AM

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

(10/26/2005 01:21:00 PM) - Al

If you want my opinion, Robert, I think your classy posts balance out my love of poker, Cops, and all things Seinfeld.

10/26/2005 01:21:00 PM

(10/26/2005 01:08:00 PM) - Al

Big trade, Bucks trade Desmond Mason and get a big man I can't say I know real well, but has good numbers.

The article seems to think the Bucks are now a solid playoff contender, and I guess they better be, as they gave up a 1st round pick next year. If it's a lottery pick, obviously, the Hornets made a lot better deal, so you have to figure the Bucks feel they are a playoff club, and didn't mind losing the 15th-21st pick in waht is considered a very weak 2006 class (granted, pending which underclassmen come out).

10/26/2005 01:08:00 PM

(10/26/2005 11:16:00 AM) - Robert R.

Al gets all the e-mail, but I think it's time I get some feedback. Do I add enough meaningful material to the site? Are my recaps of Rome interesting (even if I do think I let the last one get carried away in length)? Do the theater reviews add anything? What would you like to see more of? Those type of responses basically.

You can hit that little link on the right hand side or e-mail me at

10/26/2005 11:16:00 AM

(10/26/2005 10:43:00 AM) - Al

With any luck at all, the season ending roundtable will be posted late tonight, after a marathon cut and paste session. This is usually one of the most popular features here at Ramblings, as the less input I have in a post, the better.

10/26/2005 10:43:00 AM

(10/26/2005 10:30:00 AM) - Al

Speaking of poker, Harrah's announced the '06 WSOP schedule. If I read it right, the main event champ will have to play 9 days to win, although the longer schedule makes it so 14-16 hour days won't be needed.

10/26/2005 10:30:00 AM

(10/26/2005 10:19:00 AM) - Al

A chart with World Series ratings over the years...I'm surprised to see they haven't dropped off more, to be honest. We have so many channels, I don't even know what all we have, to be honest. I watched some of the Series for the first time last night, but switched over to watch ESPN's repeat of the WSOP, as I worked and missed the first airing earlier in the evening.

10/26/2005 10:19:00 AM

(10/26/2005 10:09:00 AM) - Al

I am surprised I haven't heard more about this, as issues of race usually make headlines. Shame on USA Today...the woman might be President someday.

10/26/2005 10:09:00 AM

(10/26/2005 08:26:00 AM) - Robert R.

One of the people that constantly amazes me is comic book artist Joe Kubert. He's been drawing great art since World War II, is one of the few artists that is more well known for his non-superhero work including Sgt. Rock, Tarzan, Enemy Ace and Viking Prince, he started an art school in the 1970s, and he's gotten strong critical reviews for his graphic novels of the last 10 years including Fax from Saravejo and Yossel . He could easily be someone who rested on his laurels after a 60 plus year career and assisted his sons who are also comic artists. Instead, he's still active and is returning to his best known creation, Sgt. Rock, in a mini-series starting in January. DC Comics has released preview pages of the new series, although the last 2 look out of order, and the pages are gorgeous showing all of Kubert's strengths of composition, layout (look how the 2 page spread carries your eyes to the right and then down like the parachutists it depicts), the use of blacks, his impressionistic backgrounds, and his ability to draw distinct and expressive faces.

10/26/2005 08:26:00 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

(10/25/2005 09:03:00 AM) - Al

According to this site, Ramblings is worth in excess of $40,000.

If you're in the market, I'd take a lot less.:)

10/25/2005 09:03:00 AM

Monday, October 24, 2005

(10/24/2005 10:29:00 PM) - Al

One of my favorite bloggers, John Strain, tells us that the Saints look like they will be in San Antonio permanently, just like we've been told by Dave that the Hornets will likely end up in Oklahoma City forever.

I cannot foresee another major league team there with the current politicos in charge, as they certainly don't have the foresight to get a stadium built.

10/24/2005 10:29:00 PM

(10/24/2005 08:42:00 AM) - Al

Former GM Harry Dalton passed away yesterday.

10/24/2005 08:42:00 AM

Sunday, October 23, 2005

(10/23/2005 10:18:00 PM) - Al

I can't believe HOU was able to tie the game on that line drive hit right at Podsednik. Scott made a decent throw, but even though Burke wasn't at 3B and Pods was coming forward, it still didn't get him. I would guess Scott may have "taken something off the throw", assuming either the runner wouldn't try to score, or that he had him easily if he did, as long as it was accurate. His arm isn't even average, but I thought anyone except Luis Gonzalez would have had him easily.

10/23/2005 10:18:00 PM

(10/23/2005 09:53:00 PM) - Al

Emergency managers estimated no more than 7 percent of the (Florida) Keys' 80,000 residents evacuated, despite fears they could be stranded if Wilma washed out parts of the Overseas Highway, the only road connecting the 110-mile (175-km) island chain to mainland Florida. The last city evacuation bus left Key West on Sunday morning with only the driver and one passenger.

Wow. I honestly think if you're still there with a minor, there has to be an upcoming "endangering a minor" charge.

I heard my company closed their stores in the area after Friday's business day. I must admit, while I may well be willing to ride it out if only responsible for myself, but the idea of sticking it out with a child in your care offends me as an incredibly poor decision.

10/23/2005 09:53:00 PM

(10/23/2005 08:18:00 PM) - Al

So, what exact day do you think Sarah Jessica Parker went nuts?

10/23/2005 08:18:00 PM

(10/23/2005 07:25:00 PM) - Al

Prince Fielder, the top first base prospect of the Brewers and son of former Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder, left the Arizona Fall League to be with his pregnant wife. Fielder is expected to take the first base job, which would make Lyle Overbay trade bait. While the Brewers aren't saying a word, they would entertain an offer for a third or fourth starter. If all else fails, would the Sox deal Bronson Arroyo for Overbay?---Boston Globe

I like Arroyo, but I don't think he'd be any better than Ohka. While he'd be a certain improvement as the #5 starter (and one of the top 5th best starters on a team in the game), I can't help but feel underwhelmed, especially when you consider that Fenway is a doubles machine, Lyle might hit 50+ there annually.

10/23/2005 07:25:00 PM

(10/23/2005 06:27:00 PM) - Al

So, I was enjoying my lunch today, unhappy that the talk radio station in which I would usually be enjoying a call-in financial show had been pre-empted by the Packers. I have long ceased being an NFL fan, as I often work Sundays in the Fall and Winter months. I heard some of the halftime show, as the Packers' host discussed the "hapless" Vikings, and I thought to myself, "I wonder if this fella realizes that the Packers will be 2-4 (after the assumed win), just a game better than MIN".

I went back to the break room to get a drink and eat a piece of the excess b-day cake an associate had brought in, and just happened to walk through the door as MIN scored a TD. I glanced at the score, saw it was 17-13, and thought with the extra point, they'd only be down 3. Then, much to my surprise, the score changed to 19-17. Allow me to say that that was as good of a kick as I've ever witnessed, 56 yards right down the middle, and it hit the net, which is several yards behind the goal posts. I know for a fact I couldn't kick it that far if you let me kick it a 2nd time from where it landed on the first attempt.

The ironic thing is, it may only take 7 wins to take thus far awful NFC North. If either the Packers or Vikings manage to win that many, they could easily take at least one game, as the best weapon I know of is a hot QB.

I was shocked to see in the paper when I got home that the Packers had actually been favored, as they rarely win on turf, just as the Vikes rarely win outside. Yet another betting opportunity lost because I hardly ever check the lines.

10/23/2005 06:27:00 PM

(10/23/2005 06:24:00 PM) - Al

I have sometimes been chided for my dislike of vandalism, hidden in the "ceremonial" tearing down of the goal posts after a big football victory. I've been told it's just "good, clean fun", and such.

Sure, you lose a kid once in a while as they destroy public property, but I guess them's the breaks when you are "having fun".

Part 2 of this will be in a couple months, when the lawsuit is filed by the parents of the irresponsible deceased.

And you think I'm kidding.

10/23/2005 06:24:00 PM

Saturday, October 22, 2005

(10/22/2005 09:10:00 PM) - Al

Daniel Negraneau writes a recap of his tourney play, as well as his private life and other poker adventures. His latest entry mentions his evening of playing hours of $4K/8K...yes, that's $4000/8000 blinds, and if that isn't shocking enough, imagine my surprise when he mentions he got to the table at 12:30AM, and 71 year-old Doyle Brunson was there.

10/22/2005 09:10:00 PM

(10/22/2005 07:47:00 PM) - Al

This site predicts where the top 50 free agents will sign, thinking the Crew will end up with Abe Nunez and Jason Johnson.

Nunez would appear to have just come off a career campaign, but at $900K, he'd be OK.

Johnson is a classic innings-eater, bottom of the rotation type, who has had a ERA of 4.10-5.13 every year in the last five, mostly in the mid 4's...which would translate into a 4ish ERa in the NL, given the half-run translation.

They have Washburn going to TOR, 3y/$23M.

10/22/2005 07:47:00 PM

Friday, October 21, 2005

(10/21/2005 11:20:00 AM) - Al

Sales and revenues of $8.977 billion were up $1.318 billion, or 17 percent, compared to $7.659 billion for the third quarter of 2004. The higher sales and revenues were driven by continued strong global demand and improved price realization.

Profit of $667 million, or $0.94 a share, was up 34 percent compared to profit of $498 million in the third quarter of 2004. Machinery and Engines operating profit as a percent of sales increased substantially -- 7.9 percent in the third quarter of 2004 to 10.5 percent in the third quarter of 2005. The increase was the result of improved price realization, higher sales volume and effective management of our period cost structure, somewhat offset by continued pressure on variable manufacturing costs.

This is from Caterpillar's press release today. The analysts on Wall Street had projected a $1.04 profit per share, and since CAT missed it by a dime, their stock is taking a beating today, down $5.50 a share, over 10% of their value.

I don't think a market has ever been so ripe with buying opportunities. The idea of losing that much value because they are now expected to have a record profit of $4.06 per share for the year, rather than $4.16, is ridiculous. I've been a big believer in if the price of oil gets back down to the $50 range, we will experience a smooth run upward for the next few months. The only difference between CAT today and CAT yesterday is it is a much better buy today.

10/21/2005 11:20:00 AM

(10/21/2005 10:43:00 AM) - Al

Ratings for Milwaukee Brewers telecasts this season on Fox Sports Net North were up 42% from last season.

The 121 games FSN North carried in the regular season averaged a 4.3, or 38,132 households. The 115 games FSN carried in 2004 averaged 3.1, or 27,016 households.

The Brewers ratings increase was the highest among the FSN's 20 regional networks that carry baseball telecasts.

I also remember ratings were up last year, which means in 2003, about a dozen people were watching, probably those without remotes, too tired from putting in a long day working for the man.

I saw someone say all the top rated games were weeknights, which means the complaints about the lack of weekend games were without merit.

10/21/2005 10:43:00 AM

(10/21/2005 08:52:00 AM) - Robert R.

The World Series is set to begin Saturday with Roger Clemens facing Jose Contreras. Just looking at the teams it looks like we're in line for a lot of close, low scoring games. Both teams got there on the strengths of their starting rotation and just enough offense. To me, the teams matchup like this:

Starting Rotations: Even
Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt vs. Contreras, Buehrle, Garland and Garcia basically. The Astros have the bigger names, but the White Sox have been pitching spectacularly well this post-season and have more depth in case someone pulls a muscle in the first inning. Still, I'm not expecting any early exits by any pitcher during the series.

Bullpens: Edge Astros
The White Sox bullpen is well rested, but when it gets to the late innings, I'll take Lidge over Jenks. I'll be surprised if either bullpen blows a late lead though.

Offense: Edge White Sox
And this edge will be bigger in games in Chicago when the DH is used, which is 4 games out of the series. Bagwell with a bad shoulder and Orlando Palmeiro appear to be far inferior to what the Sox can use to DH. I don't expect many sustained rallies in the series and the ability of the White Sox to hit HRs would seem an important factor when both starting rotations look to be dominant throughout the series.

Managing: Even
Garner is calm while Guillen is emotional and both styles of managing have their merits. The White Sox are a bit more aggressive running the bases, which has backfired a bit in the playoffs, and both teams will sacrifice and squeeze depending on the situation. Still, when all is said and done, I think starting pitching will decide the series.

My Pick: White Sox in six. The ability of the White Sox to trot out a real DH and home field advantage are the keys to why I'm picking the White Sox. I'm expecting a series of low scoring games that will be decided by a key home run and the Sox have more ability to hit home runs. Paul Konerko is my favorite for MVP of the series.

10/21/2005 08:52:00 AM

Thursday, October 20, 2005

(10/20/2005 07:59:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin had a chat today at the Brewers' site, and for a guy who usually is extremely secretive (not even a rumor of Ohka or Lee being traded for before it happened), he let a lot slip, in my opinion.

Let's go over a few of his statements, and what they mean to me:

Base_Ball: I am a big fan of J.J. Hardy, and I appreciate Ned Yost sticking with him after his rocky start this season. How to you explain his dramatic turnaround and do you expect him to continue to hit with so much power and consistency?

Doug Melvin: J.J.'s plate discipline was consistent even during difficult times and that made us believe that he was going to hit in the second half of the season. We do see him hitting somewhere between 15 and 20 homers and being more consistent next year.

That's almost exactly what I was saying when JJ was struggling. When you're walking consistently, the hits will soon follow, as it means you are seeing the ball well.

Todd_Beier: Hello Doug. Congrats on a great year! I think you are doing a superb job in handling a small market team. What prospects do you think have a shot going into next season?

Melvin: Thanks, Todd. A lot of our young players got an opportunity this past season and I see next year not as many young players getting that same opportunity as we want to build on our winning season. So next year we will not view it as an opportunity to develop players at the Major League level like we did this year. Keep your eyes on the following players: Nelson Cruz, Dave Krynzel, Jeff Bennett, Mike Adams and Ben Hendrickson.

I found it odd he didn't mention Corey Hart, until I realized he did not mention Prince or Dana Eveland either. Melvin remarked after his trip to Nashville what a quick bat Cruz had, while the others are likely looked at as being role players.

darkhorse748: Is third base a position you are going to address or are you satisfied with the current platoon?

Melvin: We feel confident that Billy Hall could handle the third base position for us and also we will be asking Jeff Cirillo to return.

"Could" handle...not saying will handle, is he? Note also the mention of Cirillo, not of Branyan.

dfhdt_asbad: What do you plan on doing with the Lyle Overbay and Prince Fielder dilemma?

Melvin: This is probably the most asked question this offseason and I honestly do not have an answer at this particular time. We are fortunate to have two talented first basemen at the Major League level. We are not forced to do anything in regards to trading one of them. To build a depth that we have currently on our roster has taken a lot of hard work and time and it is something that we view as a strength in the organization.

Oof. Painfully dry response, though I suppose he has to say it.

Keith_Gauger: Hello Doug. Does the fact the Brewers are selecting 16th instead of 15th factor into your mind set in regard to free agency due to draft pick compensation ramifications?

Melvin: If we sign a type-A free agent this year by drafting in the number 16 slot, we would lose our first round pick. So that does come into play when signing a free agent this offseason.

Doug seems to value that first round pick.

jtombball: Do you think Krynzel will be in the Majors this year? Do you think Brady Clark will be traded?

Melvin: David Krynzel has enough talent to play in the Major Leagues and I hope that it is with us. I am not motivated to move Brady Clark at this particular time, as he has been a great addition to our ballclub and fills the lead off role for us, which is always a very difficult position to find.

Dave appears to have the dreaded "has enough talent, but" label. I hoped Dave would be our 5th OF next year, but Doug's prior mention of looking for a veteran OF makes my scenario seem unlikely.

Base_Ball_3: We've heard so much in past years about super stars in the making like Rickie Weeks, Fielder, and Hardy. Is there any one player in the system that Brewers fans should start to get excited about in the coming years?

Melvin: I think some players to look at in the future that you will be hearing about are Ryan Braun, Alcides Escobar, Hernan Iribarren, Nelson Cruz, Tony Gwynn and Charlie Fermaint.

Another Nelson Cruz sighting, and Tony Gwynn beijg mentioned with Cruz and Braun is also a surprise.

jtombball: What do you anticipate the starting rotation to look like next year, including prospective free agents? How about a starting lineup?

Melvin: I anticipate the rotation to be Ben Sheets, Doug Davis, Chris Capuano, Tomo Ohka, and the fifth spot will be very competitive. As far as our lineup goes, it will consist mostly of what you saw this past season. You must remember, last year at this time we did not have Derrick Turnbow, Carlos Lee or Damian Miller. So the baseball offseason is always filled with mystery and surprises.

Looks like Tomo Ohka will be offered arby, which I assumed, but many felt would not happen.

jtombball: What are your plans with Wes Helms?

Melvin: I talked to Wes at the end of the season and we agreed that he should pursue the free agent market. I told him that we would still have interest in a similar role that he performed for us last year.

Again, what we expected, but now public.

brewerfan1982: With the payroll expected to jump to about $50 million next season, how much room do you expect to have to play with after contractual pay raises and pay raises through arbitration in our current players?

Melvin: Our payroll at the current time does not have a fixed number as Mark Attanasio has told me to be flexible in case of a trade or free agent signing. Whatever we do has to make sense from a financial responsibility stand point.

Key word, flexible. Sounds like Mark A and the braintrust have targeted a few players, or a key position (3B, is that why the lack of commitment to Hall?), and is willing to go over budget to sign 'em.

darkhorse748: Do you believe that baseball should have instant replay or do you think that will just slow down the game more?

Melvin: I believe there is some part of the game that could use instant replay, but it would have to be very minimal use because it could slow the game up. It should only be used if the umpires really felt that they did not have a good view of a particular play. It could never be used on balls and strikes.

I don't hate the way basketball uses it, just to check the time on the last shot, but of course, with no clock in baseball, I just don't see a use myself. The NFL has set an example which I would compare to a train wreck...but I wouldn't want to offend twisted, melted chunks of steel.

Base_Ball_2: What do the Brewers have for catching prospects? This seems like a tough Major League position to fill. Why?

Melvin: We have two good young catchers in Lou Palmisano and Angel Salome. Catching is one of the more difficult positions to find and while both of these two talents are prospects, they are still a few years away from the Major Leagues.

Salome is a possible star, if he can defend and stay healthy. I think he won the MVP in the Pioneer League at 19, and that's usually a rookie league for former college players.

Danny_Falconer: What role will Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz have with the team next year?

Melvin: Both of these young players play similar roles for our ballclub. I anticipate seeing them on the Major League club sometime next year. Corey is currently playing third base in the Arizona Fall League to increase his versatility. Nelson is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic to sharpen his skills.

Corey is being looked at as a bench player, at least in 2006. Expecting both to be on the team...hmmm. I'm not sure if Doug is expecting one to be starting in place of a traded Carlos Lee, or if he's expecting to deal one this offseason, and really expects both to be in the majors.

rbinny39: Did Fielder's on-field performance (slow start) in the AFL have anything to do with shutting him down for the fall?

Melvin: Prince Fielder had a medical condition in his family and we still hope for him to return.

I believe word is Prince's wife is expecting and there may have been a complication. Hopefully, all will be fine and Prince will return.

Matt_Prigge: How is the Brewers scouting system in regards to countries like Cuba and Japan? It would be great to see a Hideki Matsui or Jose Contreras type player sign with Milwaukee.

Melvin: We currently do not scout the Japanese leagues. We feel that it is difficult for us to compete with the New York, Seattle, and San Francisco markets. The players tend to gravitate to these markets as a personal preference.

Again, far more honest than Doug usually is. No sense in scouting it, so we don't. If we did, I'd emphasize the Japanese minors, as they are more likely to jump at the chance than a proven entity.

Base_Ball: Do you intend to play Billy Hall every day? If so, where? Does Hall playing mean that Hardy will not be in the lineup every day?

Melvin: Our goal is to have Hall and Hardy both end up with 450 to 550 at-bats per season. We view J.J. as our current and future shortstop and Billy's versatility allows him to be viewed as an everyday player, but currently not have an everyday position.

Again, Hall doesn't have an everyday position...though it seems apparent Jeff Cirillo isn't going to beat him out. While we are wondering about Washburn, I gotta wonder if Doug has a free agent 3B in mind, or a trade target with a team that needs a 1B.

darkhorse748: I would love to have Rick Helling back in Milwaukee as he had pitched well in limited starts. Any chance of re-signing Helling?

Melvin: We plan on trying to re-sign Rick Helling.

C'mon, get to the point.:)

fgdfs: What was your favorite moment or game from 2005? Mine was Opening Day when Jeff Cirillo had his first at-bat back with the Brewers and the game where Prince and Rickie hit their first home runs.

Melvin: Great question to end our session. There were a lot of favorite moments. I think the game where Rickie and Prince hit their first big league homers and we came back to beat Minnesota was a sign to the fans that the future is bright. Also, beating Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder in back-to-back games was also a highlight of mine.

Emphasis added by me. So, if Prince is the future...doesn't that make Lyle the past?

Allow me to say that chat had more info in it than the sum of everything the JS duo has ever written.

10/20/2005 07:59:00 PM

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

(10/19/2005 11:03:00 PM) - Al

I disagree with almost everything they did, but it's hard to argue with success. The Astros have stuck with overpriced vets for too long, and also kept talented youngsters like Jason Lane on the bench. Giving Clemens $19M was the height of foolishness, as the odds of a 40+ pitcher staying healthy and having a fine season is almost none...but obviously, not quite.:)

10/19/2005 11:03:00 PM

(10/19/2005 10:59:00 PM) - Al


This slighty misrepresents the actual reality, but notice that the Brewers finished third in their division, behind the two teams now fighting to represent the NL in the World Series.


I also recall that the Crew just missed finishing with the 5th best record in the NL, as SD snuck past them the final weekend. If the kids improve and the key players stay healthy, there's no denying the '06 team can contend.

10/19/2005 10:59:00 PM

(10/19/2005 01:00:00 PM) - Al

One year as bench coach is all you need to manage, I guess.

I have to imagine those paying their dues in the minors and as coaches have be be pleased as punch at this development.

10/19/2005 01:00:00 PM

(10/19/2005 09:48:00 AM) - Robert R.

In news straight out of Star Trek IV, the Air Force is apparently well on its way to developing transparent aluminum armor to replace glass. Honest. I'd lay high odds that the scientists developing this are Star Trek fans.

10/19/2005 09:48:00 AM

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

(10/18/2005 09:03:00 PM) - Al

An update on Prince, the link below now says he left due to a "family health problem", changed from "personal problem". I hope everything works out for Prince and his family.

10/18/2005 09:03:00 PM

(10/18/2005 08:08:00 PM) - Al

Ned finishes behind Bobby Cox in a manager of the year contest.

10/18/2005 08:08:00 PM

(10/18/2005 04:59:00 PM) - Al

I must admit, I sure am disappointed in the way our young prospects are just blowing off the AFL like it's a Friday afternoon discussion at college. JJ Hardy was tired after less than 400 AB's (and was a bit banged up, but that's not the excuse he used), Dana Eveland complained but showed up, and now Prince Fielder has gone home due to "personal reasons", which unless he has an ill child, is pretty weak.

Meanwhile, Vinny Rottino, an older, undrafted player who has played his way into prospect status, jumps at the chance to show off his skills. The correlation there would seem to not be coincidental; first round pick, phenom, $2M in the bank is too busy to work on his game, gritty kid with $2K in the bank gets the call and is there the next day.

Of course, how upset can you be? I've often said I wish we had more players with talent, and fewer that were labeled as scrappy and the like. With the amount of top tier prospects the Brewers have, it's surprising we haven't seen more of this behavior. It also makes Rickie Weeks quietly going to the AFL and dominating, then playing with pain for months even more impressive.

It's a shame, but I wish we had more guys that hit like Prince that didn't have much interest in playing in the hot Arizona sun.

10/18/2005 04:59:00 PM

(10/18/2005 02:51:00 PM) - Robert R.

Reactions to Episode 8 of Rome entitled "Caesarion".

I found this episode a bit disappointing despite some good parts. While I admire that Rome hasn't been dawdling around, there are series that would have spent a whole season leading up to Caesar crossing the Rubicon and another on Caesar's conflict with Pompey, spending only one episode on Caesar in Egypt is too rushed for my tastes. To me, this felt more like a concise history lesson than a story with the exception that a good deal of time was spent on Cleopatra, who apparently we won't see again after next episode for awhile.

I suspect that part of the reason it had a rushed nature was because this looked like one of the more expensive episodes to produce. Rome can rightly be proud of its production values and this episode is a particular standout. You've got some well done Egyptian sets, scenes in the Egyptian desert, a slew of new speaking roles in addition to the series regulars, and a lot of extras particularly the dozens they used for the carrying the litter scene. On that score the episode was a winner.

Getting to the plot, Caesar comes to Egypt and is startled that they had the audacity to kill Pompey. He demands the killer, that Egypt pay its massive debts, and wants to settle the dispute between boy king Ptolemy and his older sister Cleopatra which is threatening to disrupt grain shipments to Rome. Caesar also figures out that Ptolemy has already captured Cleopatra. Lots of potential for intrigue here. Ptolemy advisors decide that they'd all be better off with Cleopatra dead and contemplate attacking Caesar while Caesar sends out Vorenus and Pullo on a rescue mission. In the meantime, the Egyptians give Ceasar the killer, who ends up a head on a spike and start gathering up the payment.

At that point we meet Cleopatra who's portrayed as a drug addicted wild child than as the heavily made up beauty that we normally see in Hollywood productions. I'm told that this is more historically accurate and it does help justify the reason for the show in that we haven't seen this type of portrayal before. Pullo and Vorenus bloodily rescue her at the last minute and take her back to Alexandria in a lavish litter. Cleopatra decides, in a statement echoing Caesar's statement before his final battle with Pompey, that she must seduce Caesar or die. Cleopatra also knows that she's ovulating and tonight would be a good night to conceive a child, preferably a male, and pass it off as Caesar's to seal the alliance. Therefore, at camp, she first summons Vorenus, who hesitates one suspects partly because of Niobe and partly because he doesn't want to be treated like a slave. Vorenus then orders Pullo to go in and obey Cleopatra in what is undoubtedly the best orders he'll ever receive.

Vorenus and Pullo have been Forrest Gumping their way through the history books all season. But usually there's some space between their historic encounters. Coming on the heels of their running into Pompey, it's stretching credulity here. Especially with Pullo possibly impregnating Cleopatra. I understand the device, but some restraint would be welcome.

Vorenus and Pullo do deliver Cleopatra to Caesar and she is brought in to put the boy king in his place. Caesar also demands, and gets, the heads of the advisors who plotted her death. Afterwards, Cleopatra successfully seduces Caesar while Egyptians lay siege to the Roman garrison while Caesar and Cleopatra have sex. So far fine, but I think the episode goes off the rails after this point, as it's all buildup and the climax is anything but climatic.

One of the major missteps of the episode, to me, is the intercutting of sex scenes between Caesar and Cleopatra and Caesar's ex-lover Servilla and Octavia. It's dodgy thematically, unless you think Servilla is just using Octavia, and HBO suddenly got all prudish as Octavia and Servilla do nothing more than tamely kiss while fully clothed in bed. This in an episode with heads on spikes, a dead boy in the Nile, really coarse language, and two nude sex scenes involving Cleopatra.

Then, we get our only other scene set in Rome. In the Senate, Cicero tries to talk Brutus in joining him in conspiring against Caesar. Marc Antony walks in and basically tells Cicero, in no uncertain terms, that the walls have ears and he's not a forgiving person. At all. He then announces that Caesar has lifted the siege in Alexandria, after the better part of a year, and defeated the Egyptian forces. There's no strategy discussed, this stuff just happened. They'd probably have been better off saving this for episode 9 so that there was at least some suspense.

Finally, Caesar reveals to the troops "his" son Caesarian that Cleopatra bore. And Pullo cheers enthusiastically. Kind of funny, but really dodgy historically where there doesn't seem to be any doubt over parentage. Still, more realistic than William Wallace fathering the next King of England. I guess that's the climax and we'll see how this news effects Caesar's relations with his wife. Still, if the big event of this episode, and it sure seems to be the focus, is that Caesar and Cleopatra hook up, there certainly wasn't much suspense or intrigue leading up to that. Rome is definitely better off between historical events instead of depicting them at this point.

No new episodes next week as HBO repeats the season starting next Sunday. It's a good chance to get caught up, especially if these recaps have piqued any interest.

10/18/2005 02:51:00 PM

(10/18/2005 10:14:00 AM) - Al

The Roto Authority ranks and predicts where the top 50 free agents will end up.

Apparently, he's not familiar will Bill Hall, though I would love to see Bill Mueller in a Brewers' uni.

10/18/2005 10:14:00 AM

(10/18/2005 08:46:00 AM) - Al

I wouldn't even want to drive 5000 miles, never mind walk it.

10/18/2005 08:46:00 AM

Monday, October 17, 2005

(10/17/2005 09:47:00 PM) - Al

Blackfive reviews a book by a military blogger.

I read a bit of Colby's stuff when he was linked, and it was OK. His "goodbye" letter he's forced to write home is priceless.

10/17/2005 09:47:00 PM

(10/17/2005 09:32:00 PM) - Al

I admit, I thought a Condi/Hillary race would be insanely interesting (as well as bring some A/A voters into the party) as far back as '02, when it became apparent Rice was the most respected member of the cabinet. Dick Morris has written a book which proposes this could happen, and The Guardian has an excerpt (hat tip to Ann).

10/17/2005 09:32:00 PM

Sunday, October 16, 2005

(10/16/2005 05:12:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching Flip This House, an A&E reality show which follows a real estate company which buys cheap, old houses, updates them, and (in theory) sells them for a profit. They just bought a $2.25M mountain home for $522K at auction, and are looking to completely redo it. They mentioned a lot of ballplayers have a 2nd home in this area (the company is based in South Carolina), and lo and behold, the caption says Doug Davis, Milwaukee Brewers on the screen, and there's Doug looking at the home.

I did hear that Doug and his family were moving on a late season telecast, but do not recall where to.

10/16/2005 05:12:00 PM

(10/16/2005 04:50:00 PM) - Al

There are some rumors that the Twins are planning on non-tendering Kyle Lohse, who is 27, has pitched about 180-200 innings a year for the Twins, and has put up a 4.25-4.50ish ERA 3 of his 4 full seasons in the big leagues. Hmmm...

What do I keep saying we should look for in a trade for Overbay...a #3/4 SP who has been healthy and has the ceiling of a #2? Lohse is almost a perfect fit in that regard, though after posting a career low ERA of 4.18 in '05 (remember, that's 3.68 in the NL), he'll likely get $4M+ if he offered arby by the Twins or someone else.

He'll make more money that I'd want to spend, but if Washburn doesn't end up here, and Overbay is dealt, I'm sure he could be fit into the budget. There seems to be a lot of naysayers with Lohse, but I like his durability and his potential breakout potential.

10/16/2005 04:50:00 PM

(10/16/2005 12:51:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention this morning the battle over how the Vikings will react to the distraction caused by the charges that a few players did something illegal over their bye week. Some were saying to bet against them, as their preparation had been affected, while others were saying to bet on them, as it would "pull the team together".

My take? First of all, you have to remember a pro football player's mentality, they are used to unethical behavior charges being leveled against them or teammates, probably in high school, college, and the pros. Secondly, I'm sure just a few players are targeted (if any are), as it's not illegal to be on a boat with strippers.

It's boring, but I'd forget it ever happened, and look at the two teams playing the game. All the rest is for the lawyers, and the tabloid media.

10/16/2005 12:51:00 PM

(10/16/2005 09:24:00 AM) - Al

Just heard on the news that a bus crash near Osseo last night claimed the life of 5 Chippewa Falls high school students, band members, apparently.

Having spent 7 years in Eau Claire, I am familiar with that area almost as well as any. I went to school and worked with lots of folks from Chip Falls. I always felt it was one of the perfect places to live, a small, historic town right next to a medium size city.

A sad day there, to be sure.

10/16/2005 09:24:00 AM

(10/16/2005 09:14:00 AM) - Al

This is such an optimistic article about the stock market, it makes me want to take out a loan to invest more. The ironic thing is, while I may not be quite as bullish as the author, I tend to be extremely optimistic. When you look at earnings, this seems to be one of the cheapest points in the market I can remember.

It gives me a good bit of confidence that I have several of the stocks on his chart on Page 3 on my watch list as well. His feeling seems to be that there are stocks that could double and still not be at histrical highs, nor be incredibly overpriced, and I would tend to agree.

10/16/2005 09:14:00 AM

(10/16/2005 08:43:00 AM) - Al

Both USC and Wisconsin won their football games yesterday, with the aid of some good luck late. What's amazing is, in the clips I saw of each coach's press conference, neither said a thing about being fortunate, rather relying on cliches such as "we made a big play".

Luck may not sell on the recruiting trail, but I hope they realize how stupid they sound to anyone with a brain. In USC's case, if the QB doesn't fumble the ball out of bounds, the game is over. If that's not simply a good break, I don't know what is. In the Badgers' game, it took a mistake by the opponent, which you can at least argue meant they didn't deserve to win either.

10/16/2005 08:43:00 AM

(10/16/2005 08:38:00 AM) - Al

Thought I would mention that I know I have had several readers sign up for Full Tilt Poker of late through the link on the sidebar, probably due to the popularity of ESPN's WSOP coverage. Full Tilt is one of my favorite online sites, it has all but perfect software and "look". However, I rarely play there because they have a terrible bonus structure. So, if you want to get your feet wet, or play in some small tourneys, Full Tilt is a wonmderful choice. If you want to play $2/4 or above, shoot me an e-mail, and I'd be happy to suggest a site that will "pay you to play".

10/16/2005 08:38:00 AM

(10/16/2005 08:35:00 AM) - Al

Just in case anyone is interested, if you go to the Brewers' site and click on the ad, they have positions open for a Brewers' sports reporter and stringer. These are positions, and while just part-time, they could be a foot in the door for someone looking to break into the media.

10/16/2005 08:35:00 AM

Saturday, October 15, 2005

(10/15/2005 08:50:00 PM) - Al

Tonight, I remembered to go to Baseball Prospectus and print up the final position-by-position stats, to use to compare players to what is "average" for their position. Since I now have no use for the 2004 numbers, I'll toss those, but before I do, I thought I'd compare and contrast, though I would not think the differences would be much at all.

2004 C--.326/.400
2005 C--.318/.389

It got even worse. Those folks who mutter about "finding a reserve C that can hit" have no grasp of the game.

2004 1B--.361/.471
2005 1B--.357/.471

About as close as posible, a statistical tie.

2004 2B--.336/.409
2005 2B--.337/.412

Again, hardly worth mentioning.

2004 SS--.326/.408
2005 SS--.328/.398

Slightly worse, but barely a blip on the screen.

2004 3B--.344/.453
2005 3B--.338/.432

Geez, did Mike Schmidt and George Brett retire? This makes Bill Hall look like some kind of superstar, doesn't it?

2004 LF--.358/.465
2005 LF--.344/.443

Another huge dropoff, though Barry Bonds' injury alone probably made quite an impact.

2004 CF--.340/.435
2005 CF--.337/.422

Lower, there seems to be a trend here.

2004 RF--.352/.451
2005 RF--.344/.448

2004 P--.177/.184
2005 P--.179/.188

That's some consistent futility, isn't it?

So overall, if there was a change, it was negative. Some folks will point to the drug testing, and if there was significant use, I'm glad that it has ceased. However, if it did make an impact, it was, as I have long thought, very small.

10/15/2005 08:50:00 PM

(10/15/2005 10:44:00 AM) - Al

The Boston Herald is reporting Grady Little will be the next bench coach for the Crew.

I always was fond of Little's way of handling his team, until he left Pedro in the game far too long. He and Yost are friends from the ATL system, apparently.

Time will tell if Frank Kremblas is the 3B coach or back in AAA next year, I guess.

Hat tip to Ajay.

10/15/2005 10:44:00 AM

Friday, October 14, 2005

(10/14/2005 08:32:00 PM) - Al

Just when I was beginning to lose all faith in the TV-viewing public, there's this: No one is watching Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith. This development pleases me on a number of levels, not the least of which is the fact that ESPN poured what appeared to be an extraordinary amount of money into promoting a person and a show that is, in many ways, the epitome of what is wrong with the network.

ESPN often defends their dumbed-down content and annoying on-air talent by pointing to increasingly high ratings, but it's nice to know that they can't always get people to buy every kind of crap they decide to sell. No, what they've got now is a guy whose entire act is essentially yelling nonsensical things into the camera while people turn their televisions off.--Gleeman


Smith is a less talented version of Jim Rome...if that's possible. Cliches + mock anger + a cool, hip image = crap.

10/14/2005 08:32:00 PM

(10/14/2005 08:26:00 PM) - Al

Hilarious video of a reporter pretending to be in deep water, after a report on the "staged" presidential teleconference. Click here and then hit East Coast feed.

10/14/2005 08:26:00 PM

(10/14/2005 06:44:00 PM) - Al

Today my wife went to a small scrapbooking store in town to pick up a few things that the bigger retailers do not have. She bought a few things and at the register, the owner of the establishment informed her she did not buy enough merch to use her credit card. My wife, unhappy about the prospect of buying things she did not want just to do the sale, informed the woman that if she displayed the Visa/MasterCard logo, she was supposed to accept it for all purchases (see, she does listen when I speak). The lady said she could do whatever she wanted. My wife left, leaving the merchandise behind.

First of all, I'm not positive this is a violation of her agreement, but I know back in the early 90's, this was a common practice among mail order sports memorabilia vendors, in the small print, they'd say something like, "$50 credit card minimum". It was often stated by writers that this was a violation, but the ads continued, seemingly unbothered by this claim.

When she got home, she did report this to MasterCard, and in fact, they did have this as a pre-existing choice on their web site, "merchant required minimum purchase", so it isn't the first time it has come up, it would seem.

More importantly, I have to chuckle at the shortsighted broad who feels that alienating customers and turning away business to avoid paying minimal fees (I would guess small businesses pay about 59 cents per transaction plus 5% of the total, plus a monthly charge). I still recall from Econ that 9 of 10 small businesses fail, and considering this little nugget of info, it's difficult to believe this one will be one of the 10%.

10/14/2005 06:44:00 PM

Thursday, October 13, 2005

(10/13/2005 09:01:00 PM) - Al

One pitcher that may be a free agent this offseason is Ted Lilly, who was a top prospect a few years ago, and while never fulfilling his Sheets-like expectations, has had several good seasons. TOR is rumored to be considering non-tendering Lilly because of his ineffective '05.

3.69--100 IP

Those are his ERA's the past 4 campaigns, obviously, his '05 was a huge falloff, after 3 superb years (remember, to comapre him to the NL, deduct a half-run). Also, notice his dramatic innings reduction, due to a couple trips to the DL. If you think he may well have been less than 100% for much of 2005, you're thinking along with me.

Lilly will probably end up getting paid like 2005 never happened (see Derek Lowe), as the FA crop of SP's is rather weak, and he throws with his left arm. But, if some teams shy away because of his terrible '05, and hold his price down, he may well be as good as Washburn, albeit a bit riskier, and without the Wisconsin connection.

10/13/2005 09:01:00 PM

(10/13/2005 08:25:00 PM) - Al

Personally, I'd love to see the play Robert described just below. The numbers of dead in Rwanda border on science fiction, but very few people doubt the validity of the fact genocide took place, and likely still does, and has literally wiped out 7 figures of human beings.

Coutesy of Ann, here's a description of the earthquake toll in Pakistan. Again, you'll note the US military is once again seemingly the first ones there. Also, all I can think of is how dramatic Shep Smith and Geraldo were because (gasp) folks had to wait 3 days for assistance to reach them in New Orleans. Take a gander at what it's like on the other side of the world, boys, and call me in the morning.

10/13/2005 08:25:00 PM

(10/13/2005 12:19:00 AM) - Robert R.

I'm lax in not following up on the other play I saw last weekend, I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA by the Milwaukee Rep. Yeah, that's the full title.

This is a relatively short but very good two person play centering around a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and the writing teacher who helps her write a book. And it's notable that the play is not a strident harangue against the west, but simply more of a survivors tale. The blame is placed squarely on the killers, with the only real political criticism being that the UN force there did nothing but watch, which is a perfectly valid criticism.

But, beyond that, this is a play about two people first and foremost. And about the carthartic power of writing and how exploring the past can help you purge yourself. Not to mention that the play has a definite sense of humor.

Beyond the writing, the play is well acted. Lee Ernst as the teacher wisely underplays a fairly routine story arc for his character. Lanise Antoine Shelley is the star of the show and makes a strong impression in her first lead in a Milwaukee play. I suspect that she be widely mentioned in end of the year retrospectives.

The play is at the Milwaukee Rep through Sunday and well worth seeing, if you're interested in theater at all.

10/13/2005 12:19:00 AM

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

(10/12/2005 11:33:00 AM) - Al

Rickie Weeks' surgery went even better than expected.

Hopefully, his recovery will go smoothly as well.

10/12/2005 11:33:00 AM

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

(10/11/2005 11:00:00 PM) - Al

Link king Eric provides yet another, the first proof of what we all knew, that the team made money in 2005.

10/11/2005 11:00:00 PM

(10/11/2005 10:30:00 PM) - Al

Bill Buckner's legacy is unfair, but he doesn't seem to be bothered by it.

Casual fans really show their ignorance here. Buckner was a just less than Hall of Fame quality player, the idea he's remembered for an error is astoundingly unfair, and borderline insanity.

10/11/2005 10:30:00 PM

(10/11/2005 10:08:00 PM) - Al

Just going to put down some miscellaneous thoughts this evening:

---I sometimes wonder how the mainstream media can miss the obvious while debating the mundane. Yesterday, the boys at PTI were wondering why in the world MLB didn't change the NLCS to tonight, and giving the Angels/Yankees winner a day of rest. Both agreed that would be the smart thing to do.

Explain that to the guy who took Wednesday off work so he and his son can drive down to the NLCS...oops, it's now a day earlier, Bubba, here's your 36 hours notice.

Can't see the forest, all the trees are in the way.

---According to the knowledgeable folks at the site, the Brewers will pick 16th in the June 2006 draft. More importantly, that means that if the Crew signs a Type A free agent who is offered arbitration by his club, the Crew will lose that 16th pick. Meanwhile, the Nationals, who finished with the same record, would lose their 2nd round pick if they sign a Type A FA, which will be about 50th overall. If you don't think that's a big difference, you haven't been paying attention to how the Crew has built their team. I've said I would make an exception for Washburn, as his WI ties make him a rare player that would love to play in Miller Park. Another name that won't go away is Matt Morris, who I believe married a woman from WI, and may like to spend a few years in Milwaukee.

---I'm enjoying coverage of the first days of the WSOP on ESPN tonight. In the first episode, top pro (and quite fetching) Jennifer Harman lost when her full house ran into a straight flush, made on the river. I like to play online, and being a conservative player, I rarely put much money in the pot unless I hit a hand early. Many players (often known as "fish") chase terrible draws all the way to the end, throwing money away with just a hope and a prayer of winning the pot. Of course, that means that I hardly ever "get lucky" on the last card, as if I feel I'm behind, I've already folded. Meanwhile, I lose on the last card several times a night, somewhere between 5 and 25 times, probably.

It's refreshing to know it happens to know it happens to the best in the world, and they can't do a thing about it either.

---Sir Gleeman reported the other day Matt LeCroy had been removed from the Twins' 40 man. I've always liked Matt, as he is a catcher that can hit, and he's built like me. Of course, many folks claim he can no longer catch. I never know what to think of this, as I find it hard to believe a human being can go from being regarded as an above average defensive catcher (as Matt was back in 2000, when he was a rookie that couldn't hit) to being so bad he can't be trusted to play the position. Aaron pointed out that Matt absolutely rakes against LHP's, while hitting RHP's at a clip that would embarass almost anyone (about a .320/.320 clip)...except a backup catcher.

At the very least, he would be a fine platoon partner for Prince, a good bench bat, and 3rd string C. I would sure ask around to see if I could find a scout or two who didn't think he was "that bad" as a backstop.

---As you probably surmised from the above thought, I have yet to buy into the idea Overbay may be back in '06. After hearing Doug say all year that he thinks it is easier to move a position player during the offseason, while a pitcher may be worth more for a playoff run, it seems strange to me to think they may be forced to move Lyle during the 2006 season, if Prince destroys AAA as a repeater like you would expect him to. While I am of the opinion Lyle may slightly be better in 2006 than Fielder, the improvement at the position the player(s) you get for Lyle would seemingly easily make up for it.

---Something that keeps bouncing around my feeble mind of late is a "wouldn't it be nice if this happened" scenario. While I have little illusion of it actually taking place, it sure would be a perfect storm of sorts. Most people don't think Overbay will garner a #2 SP by himself, and I would tend to agree. I've long advocated an Overbay/prospect (I often float Nelson Cruz, as many rebuilding teams may look at him as a cheap LF/RF with potential to be decent) for a healthy SP who is regarded as a #3/4, but who is still 28 or under, and could seemingly take that step up to a #2.

However, if the Crew signed Jerrod Washburn, that would probably put them at a payroll that needed to be lowered. Overbay and Davis (and for that matter, Ohka, but I use Doug as I feel he would have more value as a LHP) will each make about $3M in '06...I bet a team would give us a pretty solid young arm or two, with ceiling; for that package, which would set us up with a rotation of Sheets, Washburn, Cappy, Ohka, and the young, cheap pitcher acquired.

This trade would likely have to be made with a large market team with a good farm system...anyone know what young pitchers the Mets have? Aaron Heilman is often mentioned, a former high draft pick who has never put it all together, and I know Robert mentioned a kid at AA (Yusmeiro Petit, I believe) back when it seemed the Crew might make a move at the deadline. To be honest, for a package of Lyle and Doug, the Mets might throw in another youngster, or maybe a proven player with little ceiling (Doug has said he'd like to find a veteran middle reliever, and a veteran reserve OF, maybe one of those). That also might help to balance out the payroll the Mets would be picking up, albeit for two proven commodities.

10/11/2005 10:08:00 PM

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

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

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Al's WTMJ appearance from July, 2015 with Justin

Al's postseason WTMJ appearance with Justin


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Website that gives info on how to send comfort to our military overseas

Tribute to Robert Warns II
Never forget the sacrifice of our military, and why we enjoy the freedoms we have.

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