Al's Ramblings



Thursday, March 31, 2005

(3/31/2005 08:33:00 PM) - Al

I'm sorry, but the facts that MLB is somehow struggling gets funnier just about every moment of the day.

MLB merch sales up 100% over last year

By the way, the Nationals have sold 20,000 season tickets, which puts them at 1.62 million in attendance before April 1st. Yeah, we're gonna miss Montreal.


3/31/2005 08:33:00 PM



(3/31/2005 07:46:00 AM) - Robert R.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Bench

Most often, with a right-handed pitcher on the mound, the Brewers bench is likely to look like this:

Wes Helms
Bill Hall
Chris Magruder
Jeff Cirillo
Trent Durrington
Chad Moeller

Yuck. Against right handed pitchers, Wes Obermueller is likely to be a better hitter than anybody on that bench. Magruder has switch hitting abilities, but he's reportedly weaker batting from the left hand side. The Brewers would be well served to grab a left handed bat off the waiver wire. Ben Grieve served that role last year and the Brewers simply haven't replaced him yet. They'll miss Grieve and Ginter.

Against left-handed pitchers, the Brewers at least have some options. Still, expect whoever isn't starting at third, Helms or Branyan, to be the #1 option off the bench, followed by Hall and Magruder.

I don't know what the Brewers envision as the roles of Cirillo and Durrington. I suppose Cirillo is thought of as one of those players that will make contact in a situation with a runner on third and less than two outs. Durrington is likely thought of as a pinch runner option. Both are likely to get a case of splinters from sitting on the bench waiting for those situations to develop. Ideally, Melvin will pluck two players from the waiver wire, one being a left-handed bat, who can do more.

In a glass is half full way, at least it will be hard to criticize Yost for his strategic moves with regards to this bench. A good tactical manager couldn't get much out of this group either. Once you get past Helms and Hall, you shouldn't expect much.

For fantasy purposes, Hall, Helms, Magruder and Moeller were covered earlier. Cirillo and Durrington likely have negative fantasy value. The really useful reserves for the Brewers are in AAA.


3/31/2005 07:46:00 AM



(3/31/2005 12:25:00 AM) - Al

The JS reports that Yost is considering changing the order of his #3-5 spots in the rotation, basically saying Vic Santos has pitched so horribly he may be moved down to the #4 or #5 spot. Chris Capuano pitched very nicely in Arizona, and based on his sub 4 ERA in '04 (before his injury), should be the #3 guy, and it would appear now he will be. The only decision would seem to be whether Glover or Santos will be the #4 guy.

Also, Tommy Phelps has been sent down, meaning the 25 man roster is set, though no one would be surprised to see a player plucked off the waiver wire.


3/31/2005 12:25:00 AM


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

(3/30/2005 10:12:00 PM) - Al

Newsy bit at the Brewers' site, including another surprise or two.

Krynzel was one of three players cut on Wednesday, leaving 28 in camp, but presumably just one more decision to make.

First of all, allow me to say this proves Melvin has his head in the right place, unlike former GN Dean Taylor, who rushed prospects in an effort to save his job. 23 year-olds need to play every day somewhere, unless they are extremely low ceiling oddities, which Krynzel certainly is not.

Krynzel was optioned to Triple-A Nashville along with right-handed reliever Justin Lehr, while right-hander Julio Santana, a non-roster player trying to win a bullpen spot, was reassigned to minor league camp. Barring injuries to other players, veterans Rick Helling and Pat Borders will be assigned to Nashville before the season starts.

Lehr a minor surprise, but he and Bennett both will be well served to pitch every other day and work on location and their secondary pitches. More than anyone else on the AAA team, they are simply a few good outings from being recalled, as another pitcher will be needed soon, because...

That leaves 12 pitchers and 14 position players in camp, and Melvin said Wednesday that the Brewers are leaning toward an 11-man pitching staff to start the season. So, all 14 hitters still alive are apparently safe.

I saw a lot of days off when the schedule came out, and thought this could happen, then remembered how the Crew had 13 arms on the team for a while last year, and never even mentioned it. Seeing Brooks released makes a lot more sense now.

Why stick with just 11 arms? The April schedule includes so many off days that the Nos. 4 and 5 starters are available for relief work if needed for much of the month. The decision also came as few Brewers pitchers distinguished themselves in Spring Training.

The 14 position men still alive are catchers Damian Miller and Chad Moeller; infielders Russell Branyan, Trent Durrington, Jeff Cirillo, Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy, Wes Helms, Lyle Overbay and Junior Spivey and outfielders Brady Clark, Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Lee and Magruder.

On Wednesday, Melvin was not ready to announce that Magruder was a lock, saying only that, "right now it appears to be that way." The team may be looking to acquire a player, preferably a fleet baserunner, via the waiver wire or a trade.


I am curious why Trent Durrington wouldn't be a lot more on edge than Magruder. On this team, Trent would appear to be the 4th string 2B, 5th string 3B, and 3rd/4th string SS...as well as the emergency C. Durrington would seem very likely to see a majority of his playing time as a pinch-runner, and no offense to Trent, but he will never be mistaken for an Olympic sprinter. For nothing more than pure roster balance, you'd think if an OF became available (especially one with speed and a LH bat, as Magruder is a better RH hitter), I have trouble believing we'd keep Durrington and not the OF.

The 12 pitchers still in the mix are Mike Adams, Ricky Bottalico, Chris Capuano, Doug Davis, Jorge De La Rosa, Gary Glover, Wes Obermueller, Tommy Phelps, Victor Santos, Ben Sheets, Derrick Turnbow and Matt Wise.

I have a hard time seeing who could possibly be the last pitcher trimmed other than Phelps. Tommy has shown nothing in his month with the team, and has hardly been anything other than a AAA pitcher in his career.


3/30/2005 10:12:00 PM



(3/30/2005 01:40:00 PM) - Robert R.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Right Field

According to Baseball Reference, the second most similar player to Geoff Jenkins statistically is Carlos Lee. So expect a lot of similar comments.

Before 2004, there was a debate about Geoff Jenkins, was he injury prone or just unlucky? Every prior season he had missed a significant amount of time due to injuries, but they were most often collision related injuries such as broken bones. He'd get hurt, heal, and then come back 100%. There were no chronic, repeat injuries in his medical history. Last year, he definitely made a case for the unlucky side of the argument as he was healthy the whole year.

Unfortunately, he also had a down year with the bat, finishing with a .798 OPS. That's simply not good enough for a player who pulled down $8.7 million last year. Jenkins signed a contract extension that will pay him less this year and the addition of Carlos Lee should make the Brewers less vulnerable to lefties, which should help Jenkins somewhat. What would help more would be to sit Jenkins consistently against tough lefties since he has a big platoon split. Jenkins turns 30 this year, so there's no reason to suspect that last year was anything but a down year, not a permanent age related decline.

Jenkins finally shifted to right field after doing good defensive work in left field for years. He's nothing special in regards to range, but he's sure handed, one error last year, with a strong and accurate arm, which lead to 10 assists. He'll probably have more assists this year going after runners trying to go from 1st to 3rd on singles to right field. Right field duties last year were split between Brady Clark and Ben Grieve, so while the right field defense might not be markedly better in the conglomerate, it will most certainly be more consistent.

Backup options are the same as for Carlos Lee.

Jenkins is also in the same situation as Lee as far as to what future course the Brewers may choose to take. Since Jenkins has signed an extension with the Brewers before, the Brewers may lean towards keeping him.

Fantasy wise, Jenkins is worth about $20 in NL only leagues. Again, Hart and Cruz are handy guys to have as reserve/minor league insurance.


3/30/2005 01:40:00 PM



(3/30/2005 11:02:00 AM) - Robert R.

Since the outfield is all related, I'll try to get through all three positions today.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Center Field

Brady Clark is the present and Dave Krynzel is the future. I've not much good to say about the 2004 version of Scott Podsednik other than his SBs helped my roto team to a second place finish and a sizable amount of money. Thanks for that, too bad he didn't help the team that had him on their payroll as much.

Brady Clark had a solid year in 2004 especially from an OBP standpoint. He moves into a full time role this year and it's an open question on whether he can match his results of last year. Fortunately, Podsednik set the bar very low, so it's hard to imagine the position being worse. Clark doesn't have Podsednik's top speed, but he has better instincts and reactions in the field, plus a stronger arm, and the Brewers shouldn't see any defensive fall off in the position. Clark could earn a lot of money for himself if he has a solid year as lots of teams could use a centerfielder with good OBP skills.

Still, Dave Krynzel is the future. Krynzel has been relentlessly pushed through the system since being drafted by Dean Taylor with mixed offensive results. He's hit for average, walked, shown some pop, and stolen some bases, but he's never put it all together in a season. He's also K'd a lot and has been caught stealing at an unacceptable rate. He's still young and last season was certainly a good one, but it was obvious last September that he still had some adjustments and learning to make. He's looked very good this Spring and although he's likely headed to Nashville to see if he can continue his fine showing, he's still the first option for centerfield if Clark goes down for any period of time. Krynzel will never go to an All Star game because of his bat and his likely upside is as an average to slightly above average centerfielder offensively.

However, it needs to be said that Krynzel is a brilliant defender. If his bat comes around, I'm predicting multiple, deserved Gold Glove awards for him. Krynzel is likely to be in the league a long time, whether as a starting center fielder or as a 5th outfielder, due to his glove alone.

If Krynzel does what he has to at Nashville, I'm predicting that Clark will be traded to some team looking to shore up the outfield with a solid OBP option. The Yankees and A's are two teams that might be interested.

On a day to day basis, it looks like Chris Magruder is the backup centerfielder. The Brewers have been rumored to be looking for another centerfield option, with Marlon Byrd being the most substantial rumor, so it wouldn't surprise me if someone else is picked up before the regular season. Magruder may deserve more of an opportunity than he's gotten, but centerfield is probably beyond his capabilities for more than a limited stretch.

For fantasy purposes, I think Clark is worth around $13 in NL only leagues as he should steal around 15 to 20 bases. There's obviously some risk involved in his being traded or flaming out, but he is certainly capable of earning that back with a year similar to 2004. Krynzel is probably worth no more than $4 this year, but would be a handy guy to have around as a reserve/minor leaguer who can steal some bases.


3/30/2005 11:02:00 AM



(3/30/2005 10:07:00 AM) - Robert R.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Left Field

The Brewers big acquisition of the offseason was Carlos Lee who's essentially replacing Scott Podsednik in the lineup. They'll lose a lot of SBs as a result, but it's a huge upgrade offensively. And Lee is a great fit in the lineup, sliding between Overbay and Jenkins. Lineup construction might not matter that much in the big picture, but there's no reason not to optimize it anyways.

Defensively the Brewers take a bit of a hit. Jenkins had turned himself into an above average fielder at the position and really could make an impact with his arm, although his range is probably only average. Lee has reportedly turned himself into an average defender and the Brewers shouldn't lose too much in fielding in left field, but he won't put up the assist number of Jenkins. Overall, the Brewers do lose some range in the outfield with Lee, Clark, Jenkins in place of Jenkins, Podsednik, Clark so some more doubles may scoot through to the wall, particularly in right center.

Backup outfielder is still one of the questions in camp. Magruder and Krynzel are probably in competition for the last spot on the roster, although Krynzel simply doesn't hit enough to play corner outfield on a regular basis. Shifting Branyan to the outfield is a tempting option on a short term basis, if needed. And minor leaguers Nelson Cruz and Corey Hart are in play if there's an injury to Lee. Hart probably has more upside than Cruz but has some defensive concerns and everyone describes his swing as long. He's still probably ahead of Cruz. Cruz came over in the Ginter trade and has had a very solid camp. He doesn't have the upside of Hart or Nelson, but he's more polished defensively and seems to have a good idea of what he's doing at the plate. Whoever is doing better in Nashville will probably get the call, if necessary.

The Brewers will face some interesting questions as to what to do with Carlos Lee. They have corner outfield prospects, but none project to be as good as Lee. OTOH, they're a whole lot cheaper than Lee. Still, if the Brewers aren't spending money on Lee, what are they going to spend it on? Lee is paid fairly after all. There are a lot of options and you would think that if Lee, Hart, Cruz and Nelson are playing well, the Brewers will have a lot of options to address other areas of weakness. This isn't a problem area for the Brewers now or in the future.

Fantasy wise, Lee's combination of BA, HR, and RBI potential make him a very attractive outfielder in NL only leagues. I'd peg his value at around $25. Given his age and health, you can't go wrong with him. Given Oakland is probably the only AL club that's a potential contender that could use a corner outfielder, I think there's very little risk involved. Magruder, if he makes the team, is maybe worth $1. Hart and Cruz are good reserve / minor league picks, with Hart having more upside.


3/30/2005 10:07:00 AM



(3/30/2005 09:53:00 AM) - Al

Also in the JS, I sure hope the Brewers have a real reason for releasing Brooks, as the reason given, wanting to keep a 30+ hard thrower who has sucked this Spring, isn't overwhelming me.

Maybe there is a deal already in the works (actually, word has it the Orioles are ready to give up on Matt Riley, a 25 year-old LHP), but as of now, it would appear the last spot on the pitching staff will either go to a kid with an option (Lehr), or an older pitcher who has never really had any success in the majors (Phelps/Santana).

I'm the first to admit Brooks doesn't have a whole lot of ceiling, but of that group, Lehr is the only one who isn't free talent. If either Santana or Phelps makes the team, the Crew would have been better off taking a Rule 5 pitcher and using that last spot to utilize a pitcher that at least has a chance to be more than filler someday.


3/30/2005 09:53:00 AM



(3/30/2005 09:47:00 AM) - Al

The JS says Krynzel is heading to AAA where he will play every day. The link says he's been sent down, btu the article only says they are leaning towards that.

Dave has had a nice stretch of results this March, albeit in a very small sample. Let's hope he goes down and tears it up, making a July trade a real possibility.


3/30/2005 09:47:00 AM


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

(3/29/2005 07:46:00 PM) - Al

Baseball America puts out its 31st team, a list of prospects who just missed their respective teams Top 30 list, usually because of their team picking up a player or two. The Crew has four of them, and Moneyball favorite Jeremy Brown also appears.


3/29/2005 07:46:00 PM



(3/29/2005 03:21:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers released Brooks Kieschnick (literally, seconds after I figured out where the "c" went in his name) and removed RHP Ben Diggins from the 40 man roster. Ben will attempt to gain back his prospect status in the lower minors, as he rehabs.

As I stated, I disagree with the decision to not have Brooks on the 25 man. He fills two roles at a mediocre level, which gives him value to me. But, as with most decisions that occur this time of year, it won't matter a whole lot on the field. For the most part, the last five spots on the roster are interchangable with AAA veterans. As an example, Matt Erickson has been a very solid AAA player for half a decade, and could easily be the 25th man for any MLB team, but instead, most teams choose to keep a player that's not necessarily better, but is younger, has a higher ceiling, was once rated as a true prospect, and so on. That's one reason I think it is simply wrong to pay anything but near the minimum salary for your 5th OF, your 2nd utility IF, your last two pitchers on the staff, etc. The best 11th (or 12th) man on any pitching staff in the game is probably better than the best AAA veteran...but not by enough to even equal one win over the course of a season.

In this case, I'd be pretty perturbed if they had cut a young player who may well make an impact someday. Brooks is what he is, 32 and able to pitch some, hit a bit, and overall, that makes me want to have him. But, the odds are, he'll never be any better than he is now. In fact, I'm excited about the staff that is being assembled; no Capellan, no Ben H, and they still feel they have 11-12 guys better than Brooks, who compiled a 3.77 ERA last year? I can't wait to see how it shakes out.


3/29/2005 03:21:00 PM



(3/29/2005 11:53:00 AM) - Robert R.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Third Base

Branyan vs. Helms seems to have generated the most controversy this Spring, mainly due to apparent favoritism towards Helms from Ned Yost. Until Yost shows otherwise, I'm assuming that we're looking at a platoon situation here, with Branyan getting the majority of ABs as the lefty in the platoon. Ideally, it would be an interesting experiment to sit Jenkins against tough lefties, start Helms at 3B, and Branyan in RF. We'll see if the Brewers are that creative.

Branyan was picked up off the scrap heap from Cleveland last year and made the most of his opportunity, playing solid defense and hitting several memorable moonshots. He is Mr. Three True Outcomes and lived up to that reputation last year. (Brewerfan.net has talked about producing some 3TO t-shirts, possibly featuring Branyan, and I want one.) The question remains whether Branyan will hit for enough BA to get his OBP to acceptable levels and whether the Brewers will be able to set aside emotion when he inevitably Ks with runners on and less that 2 outs for the Nth time, but it looks like he's getting a chance to prove his worth.

Wes Helms is coming off a terrible year. And he gets the fans' ire for being commonly known as a favorite of the manager. Last year, Helms signed a multi-year contract that was offered to him for no good reason, by otherwise astute GM Melvin, after a mediocre year, came into camp overweight, didn't produce, hurt his knee slipping on some stairs in Puerto Rico, and then really struggled after coming back, not hitting for power and with his already limited range reduced to that of a statue. His $2.7 million contract for this season assures him of making the roster.

That said, if properly utilized Helms has uses and may very well be the most useful bench player on the 2005 Brewers. Helms hits lefties well, managing over an .800 OPS against southpaws, in an otherwise brutal year and is a good complement to the likes of Branyan, Overbay and Jenkins. I'd much rather have a backup corner infielder on the bench than go with 5 middle infielders like the 2004 version. I think Helms' limitations are well known, very limited defensive range and can't hit right-handed pitching, but if properly spotted, he can help the team. Ned should also realize he's not doing his buddy any favors when he uses him against right-handed pitching too much and exposes all of his weaknesses.

Jeff Cirillo is also fighting for a spot on the team. After the last 3 years, he's going to have to show me something in the regular season before I assume he's not done. Bill Hall and Trent Durrington also have the ability to backup the position if needed.

The Brewers have no notable third base prospects in the system. And they may not consider Branyan and Helms any more than stopgaps. A trade deadline deal for someone like Eric Duncan is probably near the top of Doug Melvin's wishlist. And, between Overbay, Clark, and Spivey the Brewers do match up well with the Yankees.

For fantasy purposes, Branyan is worth around $10 in NL only leagues, solely due to power. He's ideally paired with a no power, high BA, SB threat like Juan Pierre on a roster. Helms also has some value and is likely worth around $7.


3/29/2005 11:53:00 AM



(3/29/2005 07:50:00 AM) - Robert R.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Shortstop

This is straightforward. J. J. Hardy is the present and the future at the position. He'll be backed up by Bill Hall.

Craig Counsell was the place holder at the position last year, played very good defense, and put up a .249/.330/.310 (.639 OPS) line. J. J. Hardy has a strong defensive reputation and most projections have him as a .730-ish OPS. The Brewers should expect noticable improvement and Hardy is a potential rookie of the year candidate.

The main objection to Hardy is the time lost to injury last year. And while it is not ideal, Hardy was probably only about 100 ABs or so from getting a midseason callup, so between Spring Training exhibition and intrasquad games, he'll probably be at a similar point. Certainly a week or two in MLB in April should where he should have been. There's some concern about the injury reoccurring, but at least it was on his non-throwing shoulder and everyone is aware of it. Diligence by the training staff should cut down on the possibility of it reoccuring. Hardy is never going to hit like ARod, Jeter, Garciaparra, or Tejada, but he could turn out similar to Omar Vizquel.

There's a school of thought, namely Al's, that Hardy should be sent down to avoid starting his service clock. And I understand it, but Melvin's decision not to bring in a veteran in the offseason pretty much decided it then. It's also only a debate because of Hardy's injury, since Hardy would probably have had half a year of service time already under the old plan. The Brewers really aren't set back in that respect. Hardy is clearly the best shortstop in the organization at the major league level right now and will start based on merit.

Bill Hall is the backup. He's youngish, athletic, has some pop in the bat, and can make some great plays in the field, but he swings at everything, leading to a terrible OBP, and he's very inconsistent defensively, with it apparently stemming mainly from concentration. I've given up on him ever being a starter, although the only barrier appears to be one of concentration and judgement. He'll have some shining moments this year and also look really bad at times. If he betters a .260/.290/.380 line, I'll be surprised.

For fantasy purposes, Hardy is worth about $5 this year in NL only leagues and is an especially solid choice in keeper leagues. Hardy is a better real player than a fantasy player. Hall is worth about $4 due to some power and speed numbers that he'll put up, he's a better fantasy player than a real player.


3/29/2005 07:50:00 AM


Monday, March 28, 2005

(3/28/2005 09:14:00 PM) - Al

I of course hope Jason is accurate of his portrayal of a Badgers' buckets squad that is reloading, not rebuilding, but I doubt it. You can't replace 2/3rd's of your minutes with a couple heralded freshmen and guys that did not play at all many games and not expect some falloff.

Of course, I admit to worshipping at the altar of Bo, if anyone can transform the '05-'06 team into contenders, he can.

While I congratulate Bruce Pearl, for his new job and for making my prediction of a "dynasty" at UW-M come partially true, it is simply astounding he gets a big college job because of...two NCAA wins. Just think, Rick Pitino was a young no-name coach until his Friars of Providence got hot at the right time, and if you didn't know or remember that, you'd think he fell from heaven as an example of a "winning college coach". I'm just saying, you'd think it would take more than that...Bo Ryan won for decades at the D3 level before he got the UW-M job.

As for Rob Jeter, I can't imagine a better man for the Panthers position, the top assistant of a top Big 10 program. UW-M should have one man on their list as of this second.


3/28/2005 09:14:00 PM



(3/28/2005 07:50:00 PM) - Jason

Nice win on Opening Day. Although it is just one game, it is good to see the Brewers beat up on a lefty, since for the last couple of years it seems a lefty - ANY lefty - would pitch like Cy Young against Milwaukee. Just a couple of thoughts-

- I too was a bit suprised Ben came out in the 7th, but his pitch count - 109 - is really not much to get upset over. Hey, if the Brewers are gonna pay this guy $10 million per season over the next three or four years, he should have no problems throwing that many pitches each start. In my view, the Brewers have coddled Sheets quite well early in his career. That's not to say the Brewers start abusing him, but we shouldn't start getting upset when Ben throws more than 100 pitches in a start, even in April.

- Is anyone else concerned that Ben gave up 13 fly ball outs today against just 2 ground ball outs? Im sure Sheets is still working off a bit of rust perhaps, but against a team that actually has a good lineup - not one that hits Tike Redman third in the order - Sheets really can't have that kind of ratio and succeed.

- In the 10 games today, all with teams featuring their "top" starter (with the possible exception of the Cubs, although some would argue Zambrano is as equally talented as either Wood or Prior), and yet only 8 of the 20 starting pitchers on the day came up with 'quality' starts (6 or more innings pitched with 3 or fewer earned runs). The sheer quality of pitching in the major leagues might be as bad this year as any year in the history of the sport.


3/28/2005 07:50:00 PM



(3/28/2005 07:05:00 PM) - Jason

Bruce Pearl left the UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team today to take the head coaching job at Tennessee. There was some speculation out there that Pearl would indeed leave UW-M after this season, and it became almost certain once the Panthers made it to the Sweet 16.

Congrats to Pearl for getting this job, which will probably roughly triple the salary he made at UW-M. However, he is heading into a whale of tough situation, and is much more likely to be fired at this job rather than succeed. Football is the cream of the crop in terms of men's athletics at most Div. I schools, with men's basketball coming in second. However, men's hoops isn't even the most important basketball team at U of T - women's hoops and the dynasty created by Pat Summitt is. Tennessee is in no-man's land with regards to men's basketball; they are bordered all around by top-notch programs (Kentucky, UNC, Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech) which reduce U of T to basically try and land second-tier recruits. Likewise, they play in a killer conference in the SEC. It's no coincidence that Pearl will be the sixth coach of the Volunteers in the last 16 seasons.

All that being said, Pearl would have been foolish to turn down this offer. Like I said, he is probably tripling his salary. Furthermore, he will never be as more attractive of a hire than right now - the run UW-M made this year happens seemingly once every decade for a mid-major. A lot of odds are against him, but he has to take this shot, because it may not have come again.

This change may have repercussions on the UW basketball program. A couple of people I have talked to say that UW-M will almost certainly talk to Rob Jeter, who is the top assistant for Bo Ryan and coached with Bo when they were at UW-M, and Jeter sounds just like the type of coach the Panthers could put right at the top of their list.

As far as the state of UW basketball goes, I disagree with Al that next year will be a 'rebuilding' year. Sure, they lose tons of talent in guys like Wilkinson, Hanson, and Morley, but I expect Alondo Tucker to have a monster junior year and for Ray Nixon, who has shown flashes in his limited playing time in 04-05, to step right into the starting lineup and play very well. Obviously, a lot of the Badgers success depends on the continued development of Brian Butch and Kam Taylor, but there are a lot of people I know who think guys like Michael Flowers and Jason Chappell will have very good seasons next year. A lot of clubs lose senior talent this year...and it wouldn't shock me to see a team like Indiana head into next year as the favorite to win the conference.


3/28/2005 07:05:00 PM



(3/28/2005 05:52:00 PM) - Al

Jeff from Brew Crew Ball and yours truly chatted last night as the Brewers/Rangers game began. The result can be found here.


3/28/2005 05:52:00 PM



(3/28/2005 10:36:00 AM) - Robert R.

That is an interesting article on plans for development in the Menomonee Valley. Work is currently underway for a new road connecting Miller Park to Canal Street which opens up another entrance into Miller Park and improves access to the Menomonee Valley. It's reasonable to think that any new development would be in the vicinity of the new roadway.

There are still lots of barriers to be overcome before we'll see substantial development in the Menomonee Valley. Soft soils, soil and groundwater contamination, flood plain issues, the lack of infrastructure such as utilities, etc. are all problems that will need to be addressed and will require time and money to solve.

Still, it's absolutely necessary that development occur in the Menomonee Valley at some point. It's a huge hole in the center of Milwaukee. Literally and figuratively in terms of the tax base and general aesthetics. Redeveloping the area should be one of the top priorities of local government.


3/28/2005 10:36:00 AM



(3/28/2005 09:48:00 AM) - Al

MSNBC with an article about Mark A looking at adding retail and restaurants to the Miller Park area.

Hat tip to Ajay.


3/28/2005 09:48:00 AM



(3/28/2005 08:45:00 AM) - Robert R.

Watched a chunk of the Brewers-Rangers Spring Training game last night. Typical Spring Training game. The most notable thing about the game was the horrible defense displayed by Corey Hart followed closely by Rickie Weeks. Bill Hall got in on the job too. Weeks looks like he has the tools to be a decent defender, but his judgement, concentration and effort was lacking at times.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Second Base

Second base was one of the strengths of the 2004 team, with Junior Spivey, Keith Ginter, and Bill Hall combining for a .273/.338/.466 (.804 OPS) line. Only San Diego and Houston, behind Mark Loretta and Jeff Kent, has significantly better production from the position. This is one position that the Brewers will have a tough time improving on and are likely to regress some with the trade of Keith Ginter.

This is another relatively simple position to assess. Junior Spivey is the present and Rickie Weeks is the future. And the future could start as soon as June. Bill Hall will back up on a day to day basis, but if there's an injury to Spivey, I'm expecting Rickie Weeks to get strong consideration.

There's not much to say about Spivey. He's an above average hitter and he has above average range, although his fielding is sometimes inconsistent, so he has value. He's not an All Star and he certainly seems injury prone, so I expect him to be moved after Memorial Day. Doug Melvin gambled that Spivey would be healthy enough to garner him something at the trade deadline last year and lost. We'll see if he wins that bet this year. The Yankees are the most commonly speculated destination for Spivey, and the acquisition of Tony Womack does nothing to change that, although I don't think Melvin will get that much in return for Spivey alone. The Tigers also wouldn't surprise me as a possible destination.

Rickie Weeks is the future and he'll open up at Nashville. His bat is almost ready. He had a good year in the Southern League last year, but it wasn't up to inflated expectations. Then he went and demolished the AFL. He's looked good at the plate in Spring Training and he shouldn't have too many problems at Nashville. He's still one of the best second base prospects in baseball. He still has quite a bit of work to do on his defense though and that should be a point of emphasis for the minor league coaching staff.

Normally it wouldn't matter what other prospects the Brewers have at the position when you have someone like Weeks, but Hernan Iribarren had quite the year last year and is regarded as their best hitter in the low minors by several sources. If Weeks can't stick at second due to defense, expect Iribarren's name to be bandied about a lot starting in 2006.

The Brewers have had a good history of finding and developing second basemen. Gantner, Vina, Loretta, Belliard, Spivey, and Ginter all have had various degrees of success at the major league level, although Belliard and Loretta had the biggest success away from the Brewers. It's typically been a strength of the organization and that doesn't look to change any time soon.

For fantasy purposes, Spivey is worth about $8 in NL only leagues and that's as a last resort for a decent starter since there's a high likelihood of trade to the AL. Rickie Weeks is one of the most desirable minor leaguers you can have as a reserve, especially in keeper leagues. If you pick up Spivey you should also try to pick up Weeks as insurance.


3/28/2005 08:45:00 AM


Sunday, March 27, 2005

(3/27/2005 05:35:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers have serious questions about the back end of their bullpen, but four of their middle-inning relievers -- righthanders Wes Obermueller, Matt Wise and Gary Glover and lefty Jorge de la Rosa -- are drawing trade interest. Obermueller is the most in demand -- he could be a fifth starter or long man.---Ken Rosenthal, TSN

I like all four of these arms, and I hope we keep them all, in one way or another. Obie still has options (supposedly), and I'm sure his athleticism has many teams all over him. DLR throws hard with his left arm, they always have value. And allow me to remind you that Wise and Glover were both signed as minor league free agents...many times, the difference between a "proven" major league reliever and a guy struggling at AAA simple opportunity.


3/27/2005 05:35:00 PM



(3/27/2005 03:56:00 PM) - Al

All I can say is, North Carolina is fortunate to have the pure athleticism they displayed today. You can go a long way when you have talented, hard working players, but at some point, it is likely you will run into a team of mega talent, that also plays smartly.

It's always tough to see your favorite players walk off the court that last time. I still remember thinking how sad it was that I'd never get to see Mike Kelley on the court again, and right now, I feel the same way about Mike Wilkinson and Clayton Hanson...though even I admit, it seems like both of them have been around for 6-7 years.

There was a discussion a while back on Brewerfan.net on how good next year's team will be, and while I feel Bo Ryan will manage to get more out of them than I think is possible, it is difficult to see it as anything but a rebuilding campaign. Between the 5 seniors that moved on today, they take with them about 130 minutes a game. Next year will be Kam Taylor (who looked like Devin Harris on several occasions today), Alando Tucker (who dominated on offense for the first 30 minutes)...and a lot of question marks. There are a minimum of two freshmen coming in who will be able to at least contribute as role players, but much of the success will depend on the players who barely contributed today, including Brian Butch, Greg Steimsma, Ray Nixon, and Mike Flowers.

It was a pleasure to be a fan of this year's model, which improved almost daily the entire year.


3/27/2005 03:56:00 PM



(3/27/2005 12:23:00 PM) - Al

Happy Easter to all of you have tuned in today. I don't think you will find a better picture to represent the holiday than this one, from Power Line. Freedom is most often a by-product of pain, death, and hours of fierce combat. However, this has not stopped it from spreading, and will continue to do so.

A special thank you to the men and women who serve in the armed forces and create moments like those pictured.


3/27/2005 12:23:00 PM



(3/27/2005 11:24:00 AM) - Al

Weak Pope Unable to Speak on Easter Sunday

Also in the news, the sun rose in the East, and Tom Green still is not the least bit amusing.

At what point does it stop being worthy of printing the same damn thing, over and over?


3/27/2005 11:24:00 AM



(3/27/2005 11:15:00 AM) - Al

Just a programming note, while the main course today is certainly the Badgers appearance in the Elite 8, at 1:30 in Wisconsin, the Crew makes an appearanxce on Fox Sports Net at 8PM tonight, in a rare March night game. That follows Poker Superstars at 7 on FSN, which means I'll have to tape the ABC lineup to enjoy at a later time.


3/27/2005 11:15:00 AM



(3/27/2005 10:31:00 AM) - Al

Let me say I have little doubt that Melvin dealt Mark Johnson to the Cubs because it was best for Johnson's career. We accepted a 23 year-old who has done nothing in A ball except prove you canot steal 1B, the human being epitome of nothing. I'm sure the Cubs asked about Mark, and Doug, seeing the writing on the wall, gave Mark a better opportunity to succeed.

While we lost a solid role player, it's a positive for veterans looking to sign and have several offers. If they know the Crew will look out for them, it could well be a tiebreaker for a sought after minor league FA.


3/27/2005 10:31:00 AM



(3/27/2005 09:43:00 AM) - Robert R.

I don't get the Mark Johnson trade. Was that a favor to him in order for him to get more of an opportunity this year?

Next in the series.

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - First Base

There's no mystery here. Lyle Overbay is the present and Prince Fielder is the future.

Lyle Overbay had a very good year last year, winding up with a .301/.385/.478 (.863 OPS) line while playing solid defense. Still, it was a tale of two halves as he was arguably All Star level in the first half and close to replacement level in the second half. He definitely was one of the reasons for the Brewers second half collapse.

The Brewers believe that Lyle wore down playing everyday at the MLB level. We'll see, but it is reasonable to believe he'll finish somewhere near his 2004 final totals.

Fielder is projected to be ready by no later than opening day 2006, so the Brewers have some decisions to make. Do they attempt to move Overbay to the corner outfield, a position he's indicated some willingness to try, or do they trade him for help at another position? I think a trade is more likely as the Brewers have plenty of corner outfield options already in Lee, Jenkins, Hart, Cruz, and Nelson. I look at the Yankees and Tino Martinez and have to believe that there's a chance that Tino could completely collapse and come calling the Brewers at the deadline offering someone like Eric Duncan. Considering Overbay has years before he reaches Free Agency service time, he has to be an attractive option for a number of teams.

Beyond Overbay, Branyan or Helms will serve as the day to day backups when the Brewers decide to give Lyle a day off. If there's an injury to Overbay, Prince Fielder is likely to make his debut.

For fantasy purposes, Overbay is worth about $13 in NL only leagues. He could exceed that, but he also could get traded at midseason to the AL leaving you scrambling.


3/27/2005 09:43:00 AM


Saturday, March 26, 2005

(3/26/2005 10:42:00 PM) - Al

Brooks Kieshnick designated for assignment. I'm not a huge believer in Brooks being any more than a useful spare part, but considering he's a LH power hitter and a mediocre middle/long reliever, I sure would find a spot for him.

One thing that always kind of frustrated me was that Yost never seemed to figure out how to best utilize him. Brooks would be most useful as a long man, when the club is far behind early in the game. Brooks can pitch a few innings, bat a couple times, and then be used as a PH the next couple days.

Needless to say, Brooks will not clear waivers, as some team will see this as a chance to carry 26 players (OK, maybe 25.5). Hopefully, we can get a decent lower level prospect for him.

Also, AAA C Mark Johnson was dealt to the Cubs for a speedy A ball OF, which makes Pat Borders our AAA C, and more importantly, our 3rd string backstop.


3/26/2005 10:42:00 PM



(3/26/2005 10:32:00 PM) - Robert R.

If I didn't see it I wouldn't have believed it. Both Illinois and Louisville were dead in the water. I was even more shocked that Illinois was able to come back against a top team like Arizona. Just fantastic basketball and the perfect counterpoint to the "it generates discussion" nonsense that the NCAA uses not to justify a football playoff.


3/26/2005 10:32:00 PM



(3/26/2005 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Miller Brewing Co. announced this week that rockers Bon Jovi will play a free concert at Miller Park in August, part of the brewery's 150th anniversary celebration. Dubbed "The Big Brew-Ha," the Aug. 20 event will begin with a tailgate party surrounding the ballpark. Stay tuned for more information, including additional entertainment, concert times and ticket distribution.

I was hoping this was a pre-game or post-game affair, but the Crew is on the road that day. There aren't many pop-rock bands I'd rather see. Most of the time if I have a CD on in my car, it's still a Bon Jovi one.


3/26/2005 10:31:00 PM



(3/26/2005 11:17:00 AM) - Al

The JS with a rundown of the final spots on the roster.

Allow me to say if the Brewers keep Krynzel or Durrington for pinch-running reasons, someone needs to sit down and explain to me how often a runner getting from 2B to home a quarter of a second sooner matters over the season...then, how often is that likely to happen with one spot on the roster. To be honest, you're talking about a couple runs at most.

They also have the final spot of the pitching staff coming down to Lehr and Kieshnick. Lehr does have options remianing (I think), but I have had him on the staff since they dealt for him. I'm not sure, other than a couple poor outings in March, why Brooks is suddenly on the bubble, after all, he had a 3.77 ERA in '04, not to mention his ability to PH.


3/26/2005 11:17:00 AM



(3/26/2005 09:47:00 AM) - Robert R.

With the season not to far away, I think it is reasonable to start breaking down the roster by position. Only a couple of bench spots and bullpen spots are truly up for grabs. I'll work my way around the starting position players, the starting pitchers, the bullpen and the bench.

First up

2005 Brewers Position Breakdown - Catcher

There's no getting around it, last year's catchers were awful, combining to hit .213/.280/.311 for a .590 OPS. They were decent defensively but in no way made up for their putrid hitting. Chad Moeller was handed the starting job, coming over in the Sexson trade, after a promising stint in Arizona and just bombed out. Lacking internal options, the Brewers went out and acquired Wisconsin native Damian Miller in free agency for 3 years and roughly $8.75 million.

There were a few eyebrows raised initially due to Miller's age. And that was reasonable. Still, in the context of the signings over the winter. the deal turned into a middle of the pack to good deal. Combining Miller's offense and defense should make him about 4 to 5 wins better than what the Brewers got out of the Moeller/Bennett combo in 2004, and about 3 to 4 wins better than replacement level. There's risk due to age, particularly in the third year, but when Gary Bennett types go for roughly $750K on the open market, the Brewers certainly weren't being extravagant in their spending.

Miller is the best offense/defense catcher that the Brewers have had in a long time. Moeller is getting one more year, since he's pre-arbitration eligible, to earn his backup catcher union card and that should be plenty of motivation. Expect Miller to catch 3 out of the 5 spots and for each of the catchers to be paired with specific starters. Reasonable expectations are for Miller to put up an OPS in the low to mid .700s and for Moeller to rebound to an extent. With the plan/hope being that the Brewers will get something around a .700+ OPS out of the position in 2005. And that's a substantial leap forward in production. This is one position on the 2005 Brewers that is definitely improved substantially.

Lou Palmisano is the only Brewers prospect at the position that has any sort of chance of being more than a defensive minded backup. If injuries occur, Pat Borders and Mark Johnson will be available at AAA to fill the gap, and I wouldn't expect anything but solid defense out of them.

The Brewers probably rate a C+ at catcher going into the season and I'm certain that catching prospects will be on Doug Melvin's trade deadline wish list. For fantasy purposes, Damian Miller is worth about $5 in NL only leagues and Chad Moeller may be worth $1.


3/26/2005 09:47:00 AM


Friday, March 25, 2005

(3/25/2005 09:31:00 PM) - Al

Nothing says celebration in Applachia like burning stuff up.

So much for using this opportunity to change that burdensome stereotype of West Virginia...that appears to be extremely accurate.


3/25/2005 09:31:00 PM



(3/25/2005 09:12:00 PM) - Al

Melvin said the Brewers are no longer interested in Red Sox submariner Byung-Hyun Kim. Melvin dispatched super-scout Lee Thomas to watch Kim's outing on March 20, confirming reports that the right-hander's velocity has dipped into the mid-80 mph range.

That's a shame. The ironic thing is, if Kim was throwing 90, everyone would want him. For the price of BOS paying his salary, a "kinda, sorta" prospect seems fair for BYK. If BYK is healthy, he will be effective once again.


3/25/2005 09:12:00 PM



(3/25/2005 09:10:00 PM) - Al

Jeff has an interview with John Sickels, so take this opportunity to check out his new weblog soon.


3/25/2005 09:10:00 PM



(3/25/2005 09:03:00 PM) - Al

---Apparently, Ned Yost said before the game that Gary Glover had the inside track on the 5th starter's spot, and pitched a very impressive 5 innings today.

---Dave Krynzel also went 4-4, so is it still possible he'll break camp with the Crew? Yes, but I sure hope not. 23 year-olds need to play every day, and for Dave, he does not look to be as prepared for '05 as Brady Clark. So, the correct place for Dave is Nashville, not 10 AB's a week in the bigs.


3/25/2005 09:03:00 PM



(3/25/2005 09:01:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to the Badgers basketball team...wow. Tale of two halves, and luckily, NC State started missing most of those 25 footers. I really felt the officiating was quite ticky-tacky...almost like watching a HS game. One reason the Badgers had so many turnovers is they called traveling so strictly, and unlike they had all year.

They will certainly be a heavy underdog on Sunday (especially if they play North Carolina), but it's nice to have a chance. Heck, only 8 teams are still playing.

Nothing is better than Wisconsin winning and Duke losing, is there? Andy Redick couldn't be more overrated, and notice one of those crappy Big 10 teams defeated them...rather easily


3/25/2005 09:01:00 PM


Thursday, March 24, 2005

(3/24/2005 09:56:00 PM) - Al

---Ben H pitches 4 good innings, and 1 bad one, though bad luck played a part. Good luck in Nashville, young man.

---Meanwhile, Wes Obermueller pitches 3 scoreless, for those keeping track at home, that's 1 run in 15 IP in March. Although I've been relentlessly plugging Gary Glover for the "set him up to fail start/relieve on an inconsistent basis in April" spot on the roster, it would certainly appear Wes has done about all he can to go north, despite the fact he has options remaining, and other bubble pitchers (Turnbow and Glover) do not.

---Brady Clark twists an ankle, but supposedly is fine. No offense to Dave Krynzel, who wouldn't suck in CF (in fact, he'd likely be excellent in the field), but I am much more comfortable with Clark, at least until Dave puts up better AAA numbers.

---Jeff Cirillo with a walk-off HR to win the game today. He would also seem to have won a spot on the 25 man, though there are likely to be much better players (and more importantly, players that have a future with the Brewers that may include 2006) available on the waiver wire in the next ten days. I am always a fan of utilizing every method of stockpiling talent, and considering Cirillo signed a minor league contract, can be sent down without being exposed to waivers. Needless to say, I'd have no problem with Jeff playing at Nashville for a while, while picking up a decade younger player with some upside to fill out the 25 man roster. None. That would also give Wes Helms a chance to platoon (and maybe play against a few weak RHP's as well) and hopefully get off to a hot start, creating some trade value. Hey, a guy can hope.


3/24/2005 09:56:00 PM


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

(3/23/2005 10:50:00 PM) - Al

To add on to Robert's thought, I've said for quite sometime that I felt Matt Wise will be a member of the rotation by early June. If healthy, Sheets, Davis, Cappy, and Wise should give the Crew 80% of a good rotation. One of that others should fill it out at a satisfactory level.


3/23/2005 10:50:00 PM



(3/23/2005 03:36:00 PM) - Robert R.

Victor Santos got knocked around hard by the White Sox today. He's not had a good spring and he's still the defacto #3 starter. He'll likely get two more outings before games start to count, so there's not that much time left to sort himself out. It's a good thing for Victor that he left a positive impression on management from his work last year.

The Brewers have some options if Santos doesn't get himself straightened out, unlike in past years. Capuano, Obermueller, Wise, Glover, De La Rosa, Hendrickson, and Capellan all have various degrees of upside and there's at least the hope that the Brewers will be able to find three decent starters in that bunch. And by decent, I mean an ERA under 5. A fast start by Manny Parra might also propel him into that mix.

The biggest barrier to the Brewers breaking .500 remains the back 3/5ths of the rotation. Melvin, Yost and Maddux are going to have to be decisive and creative to sort out that group into something positive.


3/23/2005 03:36:00 PM



(3/23/2005 11:27:00 AM) - Al

Hardball times phones in a 5 Questions: Milwaukee Brewers, using a Dodgers blogger, with predictably "out there" results.

Aaron Gleeman has his top 50 prospects, and his 41-50 has a couple Brewers. No sign of Weeks or Fielder yet, so they are in the top 20.

The Oracle of Cheese wonders if the Crew should look into trading Prince Fielder...um, no. Lyle is a nice 1B, at least until he becomes arby eligible. But, he doesn't have HOF potential.


3/23/2005 11:27:00 AM



(3/23/2005 10:09:00 AM) - Al

Nice write-up on Mike Wilkinson at the JS today. He is projected as a late 1st or early 2nd round pick in the June NBA draft, according to the article, and will be married in late May. It's hard to imagine Mike not getting in a few years of pro ball in either the NBA or Europe.


3/23/2005 10:09:00 AM


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

(3/22/2005 10:05:00 PM) - Al

---Russ Branyan hit his 4th HR of the spring today. If Helms is still with the team (and I certainly expect him to be) on April 4th, it looks like a platoon at 3B.

---Capuano with a brilliant result yesterday, 5 innings, 0 runs. The top 4 spots appear written in stone. The JS said today that the 5th spot would seem to be between Glover and Obermueller. With Wes having an option or two remaining, I would send him down to get regular work and let Gary take the 5th spot, in which he'll only be needed three times in April.

---Capellan pitched today and once again struggled. It looks all but for certain the Crew will have a minimum of two good young starters in reserve at AAA, as Hendrickson should open their as well.

---Good to see JJ Hardy get a couple hits, one a triple, today. I don't think he'll be overmatched in MIL, but I would still prefer to see him open at AAA, perform admirably, and come up in early June.

---Ken Rosenthal picked Hardy to be NL ROY. I cannot find a link online, so I guess this must be just in the print edition, thus far at least.


3/22/2005 10:05:00 PM



(3/22/2005 08:00:00 PM) - Al

He's an outstanding online poker player...and he's 17.

Somehow, this irritates me a lot.


3/22/2005 08:00:00 PM


Monday, March 21, 2005

(3/21/2005 09:28:00 PM) - Al

More mentions that MIL had scouts watching BY Kim the last time he worked. I've read a couple places that the Red Sox are willing to eat his salary if they get a "mid-level" prospect in return.

I'm not sure what's meant by "mid-level", but 26 year-olds with numbers like Kim's are all but impossible to come across. Let's compare him to another decent 26 year-old pitcher.

BY Kim------6.8 H/9, 9.8 K/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.30 ERA
Mystery man--11 H/9, 7.5 K/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.84 ERA

To be fair, Kim should really have better stats, as he's been used as a reliever for most of his career, and the other pitcher in question has been exclusively as a starter. That said, those career numbers are nothing less than stellar...even compared to Ben Sheets, the unnamed arm above.

I'm not sure if BYK had mental trouble, physical ailments, or a combination of the two. I do know he's worth taking a chance on.


3/21/2005 09:28:00 PM



(3/21/2005 07:29:00 PM) - Robert R.

Blogger ate my post, so let's try again.

Al has Cirillo in the "Looking Good" category and everything I've read and heard seems to agree with him. Cirillo is a great story and was perhaps my favorite player on the Brewers back in the late 90s. That said, I hope he doesn't make the team.

Slugging .250 in the Cactus League and the last few years lead me to the inevitable conclusion that Cirillo's done. I felt Yost played to the story when he brought up Durrington last year, despite no discernable need or role, and I'd feel the same way about Cirillo. Helms and Hall can backup the infield without Cirillo and I have no desire to see my fond memories of Cirillo spoiled by watching him struggle.

If the Brewers want to send him to Nashville and bring him back in September for a last sentimental goodbye, then great. But, as of now, there are lots of better ways to use that roster spot that Cirillo would be occupying. Mike Restovich is one of the names to be on the waiver wire bubble and he certainly has more upside and present potential than Cirillo. And you have to believe that there will be others like him.

I'm kind of happy that Cirillo came back to Milwaukee and will likely retire in a Brewers uniform. But, it's come to the point where there are players on the waiver wire that can contribute more. The sooner management and Cirillo figures it out, the better for everyone, the team, fans, and Cirillo.


3/21/2005 07:29:00 PM



(3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM) - Jason

Bruce Pearl left the UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team today to take the head coaching job at Tennessee. There was some speculation out there that Pearl would indeed leave UW-M after this season, and it became almost certain once the Panthers made it to the Sweet 16.

Congrats to Pearl for getting this job, which will probably roughly triple the salary he made at UW-M. However, he is heading into a whale of tough situation, and is much more likely to be fired at this job rather than succeed. Football is the cream of the crop in terms of men's athletics at most Div. I schools, with men's basketball coming in second. However, men's hoops isn't even the most important basketball team at U of T - women's hoops and the dynasty created by Pat Summitt is. Tennessee is in no-man's land with regards to men's basketball; they are bordered all around by top-notch programs (Kentucky, UNC, Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech) which reduce U of T to basically try and land second-tier recruits. Likewise, they play in a killer conference in the SEC. It's no coincidence that Pearl will be the sixth coach of the Volunteers in the last 16 seasons.

All that being said, Pearl would have been foolish to turn down this offer. Like I said, he is probably tripling his salary. Furthermore, he will never be as more attractive of a hire than right now - the run UW-M made this year happens seemingly once every decade for a mid-major. A lot of odds are against him, but he has to take this shot, because it may not have come again.

This change may have repercussions on the UW basketball program. A couple of people I have talked to say that UW-M will almost certainly talk to Rob Jeter, who is the top assistant for Bo Ryan and coached with Bo when they were at UW-M, and Jeter sounds just like the type of coach the Panthers could put right at the top of their list.

As far as the state of UW basketball goes, I disagree with Al that next year will be a 'rebuilding' year. Sure, they lose tons of talent in guys like Wilkinson, Hanson, and Morley, but I expect Alondo Tucker to have a monster junior year and for Ray Nixon, who has shown flashes in his limited playing time in 04-05, to step right into the starting lineup and play very well. Obviously, a lot of the Badgers success depends on the continued development of Brian Butch and Kam Taylor, but there are a lot of people I know who think guys like Michael Flowers and Jason Chappell will have very good seasons next year. A lot of clubs lose senior talent this year...and it wouldn't shock me to see a team like Indiana head into next year as the favorite to win the conference.


3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM



(3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM) - Jason

Bruce Pearl left the UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team today to take the head coaching job at Tennessee. There was some speculation out there that Pearl would indeed leave UW-M after this season, and it became almost certain once the Panthers made it to the Sweet 16.

Congrats to Pearl for getting this job, which will probably roughly triple the salary he made at UW-M. However, he is heading into a whale of tough situation, and is much more likely to be fired at this job rather than succeed. Football is the cream of the crop in terms of men's athletics at most Div. I schools, with men's basketball coming in second. However, men's hoops isn't even the most important basketball team at U of T - women's hoops and the dynasty created by Pat Summitt is. Tennessee is in no-man's land with regards to men's basketball; they are bordered all around by top-notch programs (Kentucky, UNC, Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech) which reduce U of T to basically try and land second-tier recruits. Likewise, they play in a killer conference in the SEC. It's no coincidence that Pearl will be the sixth coach of the Volunteers in the last 16 seasons.

All that being said, Pearl would have been foolish to turn down this offer. Like I said, he is probably tripling his salary. Furthermore, he will never be as more attractive of a hire than right now - the run UW-M made this year happens seemingly once every decade for a mid-major. A lot of odds are against him, but he has to take this shot, because it may not have come again.

This change may have repercussions on the UW basketball program. A couple of people I have talked to say that UW-M will almost certainly talk to Rob Jeter, who is the top assistant for Bo Ryan and coached with Bo when they were at UW-M, and Jeter sounds just like the type of coach the Panthers could put right at the top of their list.

As far as the state of UW basketball goes, I disagree with Al that next year will be a 'rebuilding' year. Sure, they lose tons of talent in guys like Wilkinson, Hanson, and Morley, but I expect Alondo Tucker to have a monster junior year and for Ray Nixon, who has shown flashes in his limited playing time in 04-05, to step right into the starting lineup and play very well. Obviously, a lot of the Badgers success depends on the continued development of Brian Butch and Kam Taylor, but there are a lot of people I know who think guys like Michael Flowers and Jason Chappell will have very good seasons next year. A lot of clubs lose senior talent this year...and it wouldn't shock me to see a team like Indiana head into next year as the favorite to win the conference.


3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM



(3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM) - Jason

Bruce Pearl left the UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team today to take the head coaching job at Tennessee. There was some speculation out there that Pearl would indeed leave UW-M after this season, and it became almost certain once the Panthers made it to the Sweet 16.

Congrats to Pearl for getting this job, which will probably roughly triple the salary he made at UW-M. However, he is heading into a whale of tough situation, and is much more likely to be fired at this job rather than succeed. Football is the cream of the crop in terms of men's athletics at most Div. I schools, with men's basketball coming in second. However, men's hoops isn't even the most important basketball team at U of T - women's hoops and the dynasty created by Pat Summitt is. Tennessee is in no-man's land with regards to men's basketball; they are bordered all around by top-notch programs (Kentucky, UNC, Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech) which reduce U of T to basically try and land second-tier recruits. Likewise, they play in a killer conference in the SEC. It's no coincidence that Pearl will be the sixth coach of the Volunteers in the last 16 seasons.

All that being said, Pearl would have been foolish to turn down this offer. Like I said, he is probably tripling his salary. Furthermore, he will never be as more attractive of a hire than right now - the run UW-M made this year happens seemingly once every decade for a mid-major. A lot of odds are against him, but he has to take this shot, because it may not have come again.

This change may have repercussions on the UW basketball program. A couple of people I have talked to say that UW-M will almost certainly talk to Rob Jeter, who is the top assistant for Bo Ryan and coached with Bo when they were at UW-M, and Jeter sounds just like the type of coach the Panthers could put right at the top of their list.

As far as the state of UW basketball goes, I disagree with Al that next year will be a 'rebuilding' year. Sure, they lose tons of talent in guys like Wilkinson, Hanson, and Morley, but I expect Alondo Tucker to have a monster junior year and for Ray Nixon, who has shown flashes in his limited playing time in 04-05, to step right into the starting lineup and play very well. Obviously, a lot of the Badgers success depends on the continued development of Brian Butch and Kam Taylor, but there are a lot of people I know who think guys like Michael Flowers and Jason Chappell will have very good seasons next year. A lot of clubs lose senior talent this year...and it wouldn't shock me to see a team like Indiana head into next year as the favorite to win the conference.


3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM



(3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM) - Jason

Like Al, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend of basketball in the NCAA tournament. Of course, its easier to enjoy when the two Wisconsin teams, the Badgers and UW, both advance - and looked pretty good doing it. I've seen UWM play many games this year, and it's hard to believe they have played two games better than the ones they played over the weekend. With the way Illinois is struggling and the fact that UWM is quick enough to match their guards, that game should be a doozy.

While UW does indeed catch a break by not having to play UConn, they play NC State; a team that, in my view, Wisconsin may have a hard time matching up with. Wisconsin typically has its biggest problems playing teams who are up-tempo, shoot-as-fast-as-you-can type clubs, and NC State is indeed one of those teams. If Wisconsin does need to improve on one thing, its consistency on offense; they can't afford 5 or 6 minute offensive droughts from here on out if they hope to advance. Thankfully, they were able to get away with them against their first two opponents.

It should be noted that UW-Stevens Point won the Division III title for the second straight year, winning in the title game by 24 points. I have to believe that collegiate basketball in Wisconsin is as strong now as it has ever been.

On a Brewers related note, its good to see that the Brewers are going to begin contract talks with Ben Sheets starting tomorrow. Sheets' agent is in camp for 10 days, and I believe the Brewers best chance (and maybe only chance) of getting him signed to a long-term deal will be during this 10-day window, as many players hate doing contract talks in the middle of a season - especially long term deals. Its simple: the longer the Brewers go into camp and the season without Sheets locked up, the harder it is going to be to get it done.


3/21/2005 02:38:00 PM



(3/21/2005 01:48:00 PM) - Al

MSNBC does a nice Q & A with new owner Mark A.

He uses the same example I've used many times about an empty seat being like an empty hotel room or an unused airline seat...a lost source of revenue. I think the fact the Crew is using premium pricing for the first time this year is not a coincidence.


3/21/2005 01:48:00 PM


Sunday, March 20, 2005

(3/20/2005 08:04:00 PM) - Al

Democrats Abroad, founded in 1964, has about 20,000 members in 45 countries, including 5,000 in Canada.

It was established to encourage the 7 million American citizens living outside the United States to register to vote as Democrats.

It claims to have registered more than 250,000 voters worldwide, including 35,000 in Canada, in 2004. Its goal is 1 million registrations next year and 2 million for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.


So, they registered 250K in '04...and hope to register 4 times that in '06? Talk about setting unrealistic goals.


3/20/2005 08:04:00 PM



(3/20/2005 07:57:00 PM) - Al

Vermont's rally cry!!!

Hat tip to Glenn.


3/20/2005 07:57:00 PM



(3/20/2005 07:15:00 PM) - Al

It may be the best 4 days of the year, especially if you enjoy both college basketball and rooting for the underdog. Bucknell proved themselves to be more than a worthy opponent, actually taking the lead by a point with under ten minutes remaining. At that point, they seemed to run out of gas, short on a lot of shots, turnover prone, etc.

While UW-Milwaukee gets stuck with top ranked Illinois in the next round, the Badgers get #10 seed NC State, a team that was probably seeded a couple notches too low, but still, you'd rather face them than #2 seed UConn.

For a while, it looked like Duke might suffer a loss, but Mississippi State faded at the end. There may be a person or two out there that is not a Duke alum that doesn't despise the Blue Devils...but I have yet to meet them. Nothing says arrogant rich kid like going to Duke.


3/20/2005 07:15:00 PM



(3/20/2005 02:25:00 PM) - Al

Prince Fielder, son of Cecil, is turning heads in Brewers camp with a team-high 11 RBIs. GM Doug Melvin said, "The guy he reminds people of is Mo Vaughn." He means the Boston Vaughn, not the Flushing Vaughn.

It's difficult to remember that as a compliment, as Mo Vaughn sucked for years after being outstanding in Boston.

Troy Glaus, $45-million pickup of Arizona, "looks like he's struggling making throws," one NL scout said.

ARI is going to go down as the team other GM's say they are NOT going to be like. The D'Backs went out and spent an incredible amount of money this past offseason, and rather than get a couple stars, they got 2nd and 3rd tier fellas, either coming off injury, or older, or both. Much like DET the year before, they overreacted to a 100 loss campaign. Rather than giving into the inevitable rebuilding that needed to happen, and plow money into the farm system, scouting, and international signings, they went out and spent it on older players who will be gone by the time the D'Backs don't suck.

I would have loved Glaus to have come to MIL...at an intelligent 3 year, $21 million deal. ARI gave him double that, and more than one person said Troy would have to be a 1B or DH from now on...but the D'Backs seemed to go more on hope than anything else. Let's see, Russ Ortiz is a good, solid starter, but is also a fly-ball guy...and ARI is a launching pad. The idea seemed to be to throw money at players, then throw money to the next one after the good one signed.

Fail to plan...


3/20/2005 02:25:00 PM



(3/20/2005 02:11:00 PM) - Al

This article suggests the Crew still has interest in BOS pitcher BY Kim, who I have and still yearn for. If he truly is struggling just because of the intense media pressure in boston, Milwaukee seems like a perfect destination, as the beat writers often watch the game at their desk at the JS offices.

BOS would have to pay most of his salary (or take back salary, but the Brewers really only have Wes Helms as "sunk cost"), but I'd gladly take a flyer on BYK for $1M per.

26 year-olds who have a career ERA of 3.50 are tough to find, seems like a great time to look for a former high-level prospect (in the Kolb/Davis realm) and see what he can do.


3/20/2005 02:11:00 PM


Saturday, March 19, 2005

(3/19/2005 06:57:00 PM) - Al

Every year, there's one team that is so impressive, it's difficult to believe everyone didn't pick them to get to the Sweet 16.

This year, that team is UW-Milwaukee. I picked them to win Thursday, but even I picked against them today. Boston College was outplayed all afternoon, BC was fortunate to be in the game in the last 30 seconds.

Suddenly, I think Panthers alumni are going to be a bit prouder.


3/19/2005 06:57:00 PM



(3/19/2005 05:20:00 PM) - Al

Goodness, where's that Illini team that devastated almost every opponent the entire season?

UW-Milwaukee is just a treat to watch, win or lose. I don't see Bruce Pearl being on that urban campus for long.


3/19/2005 05:20:00 PM



(3/19/2005 05:01:00 PM) - Al

Early look at the '05 roster, based on the commentary from Arizona:

Locks:

PITCHERS

Ben Sheets
Doug Davis
Victor Santos
Chris Capuano
Mike Adams
Ricky Botallico

CATCHERS

Damian Miller
Chad Moeller

INFIELDERS

Lyle Overbay
Junior Spivey
Wes Helms
Russell Branyan
JJ Hardy (up from Near Lock)

OUFIELDERS

Geoff Jenkins
Brady Clark
Carlos Lee

NEAR LOCKS

PITCHERS

Justin Lehr
Brooks Kieschnick
Jorge de la Rosa

INFIELDERS

Bill Hall

LOOKING GOOD

PITCHERS

Matt Wise
Derrick Turnbow (up from Bubble)
Gary Glover (up from Bubble)

INFIELDERS

Jeff Cirillo

OUTFIELDERS

Chris Magruder

ON THE BUBBLE

PITCHERS

Jeff Bennett
Jose Capellan
Ben Hendrickson (down from Looking Good)
Wes Obermueller
Rick Helling
Tommy Phelps


REMOVED

Matt Erickson
Trent Durrington
Dave Krynzel
Sam Narron

Barring injury, the position players seem to be set. I have 12 pitchers as "looking good" or better, so as of today, thase are my picks for the team that will go north.


3/19/2005 05:01:00 PM



(3/19/2005 11:23:00 AM) - Robert R.

Example 1,000,001 that ticket prices are set by supply and demand and baseball is reasonably priced:

I bought tickets for U2 at the Bradley Center in September. For approximately $60 a ticket, including service fees, I get the privilege of sitting in the upper deck behind the stage. And I couldn't get 4 tickets together, so my brother and friend are sitting elsewhere. And U2 gets 6 months of interest on my ticket to boot. It could have been $110 a ticket if I wanted to see U2's backs from a lower level.

And I'm not complaining. I'm going to have a lot of fun at that concert. Just like I have a lot of fun at most baseball games.

One of these days I'll have to run through the prices of major entertainment events in Milwaukee to put things in perspective.


3/19/2005 11:23:00 AM



(3/19/2005 09:20:00 AM) - Al

They got this guy on suicide watch...they should give him a gun and tell him they'll be back in 15 minutes.--Lynn Westmoreland, GA congressman

I just think it's nice to hear someone say what everyone else is thinking.

Also, both Juliet and one of her co-hosts were wiping tears from their eyes after the 9 year-old's father spoke very briefly this morning. Even during 9/11 coverage, I don't recall ever seeing an on-air personality cry.


3/19/2005 09:20:00 AM


Friday, March 18, 2005

(3/18/2005 10:59:00 PM) - Al

The Badgers get Bucknell instead of Kansas Sunday, a huge break. I'll be the first to say Bucknell is certainly capable of beating the UW, but at least they'll be favored versus the Bison, while a KU/UW matchup likely would have been pick 'em, or KU as a 1-2 point pick.

And those folks who said Old Dominion was a quality team weren't kidding. Michigan State has looked like they're playing in slow motion most of the night, though it looks like they will escape.


3/18/2005 10:59:00 PM



(3/18/2005 10:14:00 PM) - Al

So, during tonight's Badgers tourney game, I noticed a lot of non-uniformed older fellas on the Northern Iowa bench. So, after one timeout, I counted 1,2,3,4,5,6,7...that's 7 men in suits. I know I remember a few years ago, the NCAA decided to limit teams to 3 assistant coaches. I recall Dick Vitale discussing that Duke had to get rid of a couple fine young men with head coaching aspirations, and that Coach K had tried to find them other jobs. That was also when Tony Bennett joined his dad at Madison, and because Dick did not have a spot open, Tony was the manager one year.

I do not know if the rule has been relaxed, done away with, or what, but I do know 7 seems like 2-3 too many.


3/18/2005 10:14:00 PM



(3/18/2005 09:15:00 PM) - Al

Latest round of cuts announced, no surprises at all:

Left-hander Rigo Beltran was released outright

If I had ever heard of Rigo, maybe I'd be surprised. As it is, I'm wondering why he was given an invite to major league spring camp.

Infielder Matt Erickson returned to minor league camp

I feel badly for Matt, as I am convinced he's every bit as good as 90% of the utility infielders in the bigs. However, those guys tend to have more athletic ability, and tend to be handed spots based on former prospect status (I like Billy Hall more than I should, but he'd fit into that description).

catcher Julio Mosquera was returned to minor league camp

With Pat Borders and Mark Johnson seemingly entrenched as the AAA backstops, good luck Julio.

Pitcher Sam Narron, optioned to AAA

Sam has a decent chance of being seen in a MIL uniform sometime in 2005, as he's a LHP who would seemingly be effective as a situational lefty, as a junkballer.

Outfielder Nelson Cruz was optioned to Triple-A Nashville

Cruz was expected to start the season at AA Huntsville, but it would appear he and Brad Nelson have swapped spots. We'll see what kind of numbers he puts up compared to Hart, Krynzel, Weeks, and Fielder.

Lefty Andy Pratt was outrighted to Nashville.

Pratt used to be a top prospect a couple years ago, but right now is just another guy. I know this will come as a surprise, but this southpaw has had a lot of control problems.

FYI, apparently Jeff Bennett was announced as being sent to minor league camp, but that was an error. I would assume he will be soon, as he has all his options left, and many similiar relievers have none.


3/18/2005 09:15:00 PM



(3/18/2005 02:10:00 PM) - Robert R.

It's a gray, miserable day with fresh snow on the ground in southeastern Wisconsin. And the Brewers will be playing exhibition games in Miller Park in two weeks.

There are things to criticize about how Miller Park was designed and constructed. However, today makes about as strong an argument as there is for why a roof was necessary for a team in Wisconsin.


3/18/2005 02:10:00 PM



(3/18/2005 08:05:00 AM) - Al

Nothing better than turning on the TV to Fox and Friends and seeing that Juliet Huddy is on. It's almost worth being up early to see.


3/18/2005 08:05:00 AM



(3/18/2005 06:53:00 AM) - Al

With Spring just around the corner, one last blast of Winter hits the lower half of Wisconsin. Yesterday, forecasts gave us 6-12 inches, and this morning, I let my dog out, happy to not see even a flake. So, I checked online, and the forecast is now 6-10 inches, although I see the southern part of the state is already white.

Am I imagining things, but didn't they used to have a "late" game on CBS for the first round of the NCAA tourney? I seem to recall one game starting about 10:30 or 11, and then after the 2nd games were over, this late game was joined in progress. Not only was it nice to see that 3rd game, halftime provided a good chance to catch up on the highlights and upsets of the day.


3/18/2005 06:53:00 AM


Thursday, March 17, 2005

(3/17/2005 04:51:00 PM) - Al

Watching the late coverage of the hearing, it's a bore and a half. Some quick thoughts:

Canseco, the one guy on the "Yeah, steroids use is rampant", looks like an idiot compared to the other more well-spoken players who say they are against drug use.

I find it very humorous that the blame is on "major league baseball", while it is very obvious the player's union is responsible for dragging their feet on this issue for so long. The players union did not care about health of its members, or a fair playing field, they were concerned about keeping a small minority making huge amounts of money. I think it's funny the minimum salary barely goes up (now at $314K, I believe, after years at $300K), and they fought tooth and nail against adding two spots onto the roster (thus giving sixty more players major league jobs), because a player or two may have lost jobs if the DH was eliminated. The union was (and probably still is) very concerned about the minority, and seemingly ignorant to the 98% who tested clean in the '04 season.

Finally, what a complete example of grandstanding by the Congressmen, pretending that they are very offended by this, then saying things like "What do you think, Mr. Soso?" Like Ted Kennedy, who embarassed himself for an infinite time by mispronouncing both McGwire's and Sosa's names back when they chased the record, they proved they knew nothing about the subject, and nothing else.

And, by the way, MLB will experience its best season ever in 2005. Talk about much ado about nothing.


3/17/2005 04:51:00 PM



(3/17/2005 04:45:00 PM) - Al

My only question is: Is UW-Milwaukee beating Alabama an upset when it semed most folks picked the Panthers to win?

For the most part, the top 15 teams or so will win, but after that, it's a crapshoot. I hope the Big 10 can put up a good showing, but other than Illinois, I could certainly see each of the other clubs losing in the first round.


3/17/2005 04:45:00 PM



(3/17/2005 01:57:00 PM) - Robert R.

UW-Milwaukee pulled off the first major upset of the NCAA tournament this afternoon. I didn't get to see the first half, but watched most of the second half over my lunch hour. UW-Milwaukee did just about everything right in the game. They played the game at a fast paced tempo, they created turnovers, they were opportunistic in converting turnovers into points, and they shot very well, particularly from beyond the 3-point arc. All the ingredents of an upset.

It's been a pleasure watching UW-Milwaukee build themselves up into a legitimate Division 1 college program. A variety of solidly entertaining programs is a good thing to have.


3/17/2005 01:57:00 PM



(3/17/2005 08:59:00 AM) - Robert R.

Congressional hearings are today regarding steroids in MLB. They'll get their public spanking, there will be some grandstanding, it will get some coverage in the news, and it will be overshadowed on ESPN by the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

The best thing that Bud Selig can do in this situation is just be honest and present the committee with the facts. Admit that MLB was more concerned with finances than steroids in past CBA negotiations. And then proceed, in painstaking detail, to detail the findings of testing to date. Will Carroll did that in Baseball Prospectus the other day and it's one of the most boring pieces of writing you'll ever read. Bud could read from that verbatim and put the whole committee asleep.

There are already laws against the sale and distribution of steroids without a prescription. And the Balco investigation shows that they can be enforced. There's a CBA that was adjusted in the wake of public outcry to create a more stringent steroid testing policy. It's dubious that Congress can require more due to 5th Amendment grounds. Like it or not, athletes doing steroids is a bad example, not a public health and safety issue. And interfering with an agreed upon CBA between management and labor is something that will likely be fought by both Unions and business interests as a bad precedent.


3/17/2005 08:59:00 AM



(3/17/2005 12:18:00 AM) - Al

The JS profiles Matt Wise, and discusses his arm health. I picked Matt to be in the rotation by June before the fellas reported to Arizona, and I still think he'll be starting every 5th day, after someone is injured or ineffective.


3/17/2005 12:18:00 AM



(3/17/2005 12:11:00 AM) - Al

I forgot to post that I was interviewed at Sports Fan Magazine.com a week or so ago, and that went up Tuesday. You can check it out here, the author e-mailed me back to say he loved the "team checklist" line, so I hope you do as well.


3/17/2005 12:11:00 AM


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

(3/16/2005 10:25:00 PM) - Al

A judge formally sentenced Scott Peterson to death Wednesday after family members got into a shouting match and Laci Peterson's mother sobbed as she called her son-in-law "an evil murderer."

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi allowed only Laci's family members to speak at the hearing after indicating he believed the death penalty was warranted.

Peterson's father yelled from the audience as Laci's brother, Brent Rocha, spoke to the court, saying "Laci and Conner are the true victims here."


"What a liar!" Lee Peterson said before the judge admonished him and he stormed out of the courtroom. Jackie Peterson, Scott Peterson's mother, also interrupted Rocha but her voice was inaudible.


Always good to see the extremely guilty defendent's father have a temper tantrum in court. If life was fair, someone would have beat the crap out of him as he left. Son kills his full-figured wife because he decides he'd like a petite blonde, he's not getting any sympathy from me. San Quentin is a palace compared to what the loser deserves.


3/16/2005 10:25:00 PM



(3/16/2005 06:45:00 PM) - Jason

Haven't posted in a couple of days, so I'm going to touch on multiple topics - I'm calling this my 'prediction' post. I'll revisit this at the appropriate times for each topic, and we'll see how I did:

- I predict Michael Jackson will get off just like Robert Blake did today, even though they are both guilty as sin.

- I predict that Mark Prior will start the season on the Cubs disabled list, and neither he or Kerry Wood will pitch more than 150 innings this year.

- I predict (unfortunately) that, despite the fact that there is a possible 40+ HR guy available in Russell Branyan, Ned Yost will make Wes Helms the opening day and everyday third baseman...which will be a travesty. If Yost has one downfall, its that he puts personal feelings in ahead of common sense and statistics when it comes to decisions regarding playing time.

Now, some thoughts/predictions on the NCAA tourney, which begins tomorrow AM:

- Al referenced in a previous post the Jim Nantz' comment that he thought the Syracuse bracket, which includes Wisconsin, is 'the toughest bracket I have ever seen in the history of the NCAA tournament'. I disagree completely. In fact, it't not even the toughest bracket in this year's tourney. That Austin bracket is absolutely loaded, and if there is a 'Cinderella' to come into the Sweet 16 round, chances are it will come out of that bracket. The Syracuse bracket is strong on traditional 'names', but not really on basketball talent - North Carolina and UConn are strong clubs, but no one else in that bracket really scares you; nobody knows what to expect out of Kansas (especially if their top player, Langford, isn't 100%), Florida is a weak #4 seed, Villanova has in my view the toughest 5-12 matchup, and some of the weakest at-large clubs ended up in this bracket (Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Iowa State, N.C. State). It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see this bracket produce the 1-2 matchup in the Elite 8 - something that rarely happens anymore in the tournament.

- My upset special list: Teams that are an 8 seed or lower in their bracket that have a more than legit chance to win their first round game. In addition, I predict at least two of these eight teams will get to the Sweet 16:

Nevada
UW-Milwaukee
St. Mary's
New Mexico
Mississippi St.
Old Dominion
UTEP
Iowa

- The first #1 seed to lose: Washington. The fact that they are even a #1 seed is a joke. It wouldn't shock me to see them lose to the winner of the Pacific/Pitt contest in the second round.

- My Wisconsin prediction: Sweet 16, where they will lose to UConn. They will handle Northern Iowa, a team that in my view shouldn't even be in the tournament, and they will upset Kansas - a team that is overrated heading into the tournament - in the second round.

- My UW-Milwaukee prediction: First round loss. As I listed above, I think UW-M has a legit shot to win this game, but I think Alabama will grind out a tough win. But this game could go either way.

- My Final Four: Illinois, Wake Forest, Kentucky, UConn.

- My National Champion: Wake Forest.


3/16/2005 06:45:00 PM



(3/16/2005 11:15:00 AM) - Al

Gary Glover appears to be earning a spot on the pitching staff...maybe even the rotation. Dave Krynzel seems to be on his way to AAA regardless of how he does.

The JS reports on this in today's edition.


3/16/2005 11:15:00 AM


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

(3/15/2005 08:10:00 PM) - Al

On a related note to the Prior post below, Aaron Gleeman discusses the Twins' selection of Joe Mauer over Mark Prior in the '01 June draft.

I was one of the few people who would have chosen Mauer on ability alone, as I questioned Prior's health (college pitch counts are notoriously insane, 150+ is not uncommon) and thought Mauer was a sure fire all-star. The funny thing is, Mauer has suffered health issues as well, though Joe will likely still have a tremondous career as a 1B, 3B, or DH if he is forced to give up the rigors of catching.

I just despise taking a huge monetary risk on a pitcher, as if the arm, elbow, or shoulder goes, they are likely done.


3/15/2005 08:10:00 PM



(3/15/2005 07:36:00 PM) - Al

Cubs ace Mark Prior will be out indefinitely because of inflammation in his right elbow, the latest injury to one of Chicago's star pitchers.

Kerry Wood, slated to start on Opening Day, is sidelined with bursitis in his right shoulder.---ESPN.com


Gee, who would have ever guessed that two young arms would suffer problems...

Link 1

LINK 2

LINK 3

If you don't learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. Young pitchers get hurt all the time, but if you have them throw 120+ pitches all the time, they have no chance at all.


3/15/2005 07:36:00 PM



(3/15/2005 07:27:00 PM) - Al

Thanks to James, a very friendly article on Doug Melvin, that basically says he's the most underrated GM in the game.

A great read.


3/15/2005 07:27:00 PM



(3/15/2005 06:51:00 PM) - Al

Derek has Part 2 of his Brewers' preview today at Cub Town.

I used the opportunity to once again rip on Grumpy Stewart, because he was an idiot.


3/15/2005 06:51:00 PM


Monday, March 14, 2005

(3/14/2005 10:06:00 PM) - Al

Right-hander Ben Hendrickson picked up the win in Monday's game but was unhappy with his performance. After allowing three earned runs on five hits in two innings, Hendrickson's ERA is up to 12.00 in three games.

"This is Ben's third outing now, and he hasn't been lights-out in any of those outings," Melvin said. "He's got to step it up or that's where a guy like [Rick] Helling comes in."

Helling, like Cirillo, is in camp on a minor league deal. The former 20-game winner could win a job at the back end of the rotation or in long relief.

"Sometimes a young guy will try to take a job from a veteran," Melvin said, "but then other times veterans can come in and take jobs away from the young guys."

Said Yost: "Right now, his command is way off. You can't pitch in the big leagues without command. You're just going to get pummeled."

Hendrickson dominated the Triple-A International League last season, going 11-3 with a league-best 2.02 ERA. He went 1-8 with a 6.22 ERA with the Brewers after a midseason callup, and Yost said he was encouraged by the fact that Hendrickson showed improvement in each of his appearances. Because his fastball tops out in the upper 80s, he relies on command and a sweeping curveball for outs.

"The time is rapidly coming where he's going to get to start getting some results out on the field," Yost said.


I didn't notice this earlier, it's in the same link as the Lee news. I'm not one to be bothered about a small sample size in March, but the truth remains, Ben H has at least one option left, while many pitchers (Glover, Wise, Turnbow) do not. To be honest, the idea of having young arms like Ben and Jose Capellan at AAA doesn't bother me in the least.


3/14/2005 10:06:00 PM



(3/14/2005 09:43:00 PM) - Al

Derek has Part 1 of his Brewers' preview up at Cub Town. I know it is good because he used my quote.:)


3/14/2005 09:43:00 PM



(3/14/2005 08:15:00 PM) - Robert R.

Expanding on a thought from earlier this evening.

I think many fans think of the Branyan/Helms battle as a test of Ned Yost's ability to seperate friendship from the cold blooded calculus of talent evaluation. Any statistical analysis of the careers of Branyan and Helms will lead to the conclusion that Branyan is simply the better player. And while using Helms in a platoon role with Branyan is defensible, it's completely indefensible to use Helms as the everyday third baseman. To illustrate the point, here are Helms's three year splits vs. right handed pitching (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS, K:BB)

2002 .269/.306/.436/.742 43K:7BB
2003 .249/.307/.421/.728 107K:27BB
2004 .248/.306/.332/.638 46K:13BB
3 Year Total .253/.307/.400/.707 196K:47BB

Those numbers should speak for themselves. Simply put, Helms can't hit right-handed pitching. The consistency of the BA and OBP numbers are particularly telling. No amount of spinning Spring Training numbers and talking about how hard Helms works is going to change that. Helms is useful against lefties and can help the team in that role. Anything more than that is just favoritism by his manager.


3/14/2005 08:15:00 PM



(3/14/2005 07:42:00 PM) - Al

Carlos Lee's hand is fine, just a bit painful, but no fracture.

Also, Yost says it may end up being a platoon at 3B...gee, who would have guessed?

All in a nice rundown at the Brewers' site.


3/14/2005 07:42:00 PM



(3/14/2005 06:13:00 PM) - Robert R.

Big game by Russell Branyan today in what is the only important position player battle for the Brewers in Spring Training. Three true outcomes worshippers are overjoyed.

Meanwhile, I think everybody is waiting on word on the results of the MRI on Carlos Lee. Worst case, he shouldn't miss too much time, but Jamey Wright hurting the big offseason acquisition would just be salt in the wounds of Brewer fans. God doesn't hate us that much, does he?


3/14/2005 06:13:00 PM


Sunday, March 13, 2005

(3/13/2005 10:04:00 PM) - Al

Jim Nantz said:

That's the toughest bracket I've ever seen.

Of course, that's the one the Badgers are in, and if they get past Northern Iowa (who I would have picked against any other #6 seed), they meet Kansas in Round 2.

Ouch.

Jason was correct, the Big 10 gets 5 teams in.


3/13/2005 10:04:00 PM



(3/13/2005 04:42:00 PM) - Robert R.

Aside from a nice run from Wisconsin starting at about the 7 minute mark, Illinois was in control of the game the whole way. Not much to get upset about though. The Badgers came out of the game healthy, should get an appropriate seeding, and will get a chance to prove themselves again starting Thursday or Friday. A Sweet Sixteen appearance is possible.

Hat tip to Illinois. There are other teams with perhaps more talent around the country, but none of them put their talent into a team scheme as well as Illinois does. Illinois is particularly impressive defensively, but they have a nice inside/outside balance to their game and they can work around a cold night by one of their shooters. They may get beat, but noone else has shown me enough consistency this year for me to pick against Illinois in the tournament.


3/13/2005 04:42:00 PM



(3/13/2005 08:03:00 AM) - Jason

To add on to a few of Al's thoughts on the UW basketball game:

- If I'm not mistaken, I believe Zach Morley was bothered by a couple of nagging injuries early in the season, and never really got into the flow to start the year. It's good to see him playing well now, because if there is one thing the Badgers aren't this season, it's deep - Morley is really the only bench player whom you can really coun't on for major contributions on at least a semi-consistent basis. Morley is the prototypical 'sixth man' - a guy who can score a variety of ways, whether it be spot-up shooting, or inside post play. His defense leaves something to be desired for me, but thankfully Bo's defensive scheme relies more on a team-oriented system rather than straight-up, one-on-one play.

- I agree that Alford's not a bad coach, but you would be surprised to know that a lot of people in Iowa City don't feel that way; one of my friends has people he knows who live in the Iowa City area, and the word there is that it would be no shock if Alford gets fired after this year. Supposedly, his recruting ability is poor compared to the other Big Ten schools, and his ability to 'handle' his team is in serious question. (I believe two or three players from Iowa were actually kicked off that team this year, not just Pierce, their leading scorer whom Al refers to).

- It wouldn't shock me to see the Big Ten get four teams in the Dance. Some feel that Minnesota may indeed have enough to get in, as does Iowa. I think it will be one or the other of those two, if any. That win by Utah State late last night over Pacific was a killer to those bubble teams, because it erased an at-large spot for one of them, as Pacific was in whether they won or not. Hard to believe that a few years ago, 17 wins was considered the 'magic number' you needed to secure an NCAA berth. When the brackets are laid out today, a number of big-conference schools with 18-22 wins are likely going to be left out.

I predict today's UW-Illinois game will be close, and it wouldn't shock me to see UW win. Illinois may rest some of their players more than normal in this game, because even if they lose, their #1 seed in the NCAA tourney is not in doubt since a number of the higher-ranked clubs have already bowed out of their respective conference tourneys.


3/13/2005 08:03:00 AM


Saturday, March 12, 2005

(3/12/2005 10:31:00 PM) - Al

Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Lee was hit on the left hand in the first inning.

Lee left the game immediately, but X-rays were negative.


Does this mean Lee doesn't have a left hand?


3/12/2005 10:31:00 PM



(3/12/2005 10:20:00 PM) - Al

I watched Hill Street Blues when I was younger, and have yet to find another hour long cop drama I enjoy half as much (though Without A Trace is growing on me). I recall one episode to this day, as there was a killer loose, and a stand off was expected. As the cops pulled their shotguns out of the trunk, Officer Renko said something I'm sure many cops feel, but is never publicized:

I hope he resists.

The actual quote was longer, something to the effect of "God help me, I hope he resists", but the latter has stuck with me for what must be over two decades.

I was reminded of that phrase today when I heard that the barbarian in Atlanta surrendered, as Arnold would say, like a little girl.

If only the innocent and law abiding could be fully protected, dare I say, I wish he would have resisted.


3/12/2005 10:20:00 PM



(3/12/2005 09:58:00 PM) - Al

My blogging friend John said goodbye to his beloved canine companion today. A touching recap of the last week can be found here.


3/12/2005 09:58:00 PM



(3/12/2005 09:28:00 PM) - Al

Just finished watching the Badgers play Iowa in the tourney, what a game. Sadly, I couldn't even check Ramblings, as I felt it was likely Jason or Robert had commented on the game. Tucker wins it on a 3 at the buzzer, banked in as if to make the dagger to the heart just a bit duller so it's even more painful for the Hawkeyes' fans. Thoughts...

...Zach Morley has looked like a man possessed the last couple games. Where's that been all year?

...The refs were as bad as I've seen in years, they called Wilkinson for a foul on a perfect, flat-footed screen. Lots of no calls under the basket, then a touch foul under the hoop after they crossed midcourt.

...Steve Alford has my money as the 2nd best coach in the Big 10. That team had very little talent, yet still came together nicely, even after losing their top player.

...That Brunner guy for Iowa looks older than me. Where's the NCAA when you discover a 37 year-old on the other team?

...The pity is, it looks likely only three teams from the Big 10 will make the NCAA, as Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Iowa all have merits, but may well cancel each other out, as none have an especially strong case either.

...You know, I can remember when Clayton Hanson used to shoot 3's as good as anyone. He's still a nice defensive player, full of grit and all, but he's went from being a offensive role player to being Mike Kelley, The Sequel...the opposition only has to have a token defender on him, and he'll probably not take a shot. And you know, I loved watching Kelley play, but it was always frustrating wondering how good he'd be if he'd be able to take (and hit) open 3's.


I hope the Badgers are able to keep it close enough versus the Illini that they are within striking distance at the end. With Morley playing so strong, this team could be peaking at the perfect time to make a run in the Big Dance.


3/12/2005 09:28:00 PM


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