Al's Ramblings



Sunday, July 31, 2005

(7/31/2005 04:44:00 PM) - Robert R.

Well the trade deadline came and went with little action overall and none from the Brewers. That's not exactly surprising, although I am curious about what Overbay might have garnered.

In any event, the Brewers will play out the season with what they have, give some of the younger players, notably Cruz, Hart and Fielder, a taste of big league action, and try to finish with a winning record. Whether or not the Brewers finish with a winning record doesn't matter much to me, other than it's obviously easier to get to 90 wins from 83 wins instead of from 75 wins. The season ticket sales department and free agents may differ on that matter.

In any event, they'll have a team that's a lot closer to the playoffs than they were a few years ago with some notable players to deal from a position of strength. Overbay being the biggest potential deal, especially since every team can afford him. And the Brewers will have more information regarding their strengths and weaknesses, particularly among pitchers.


7/31/2005 04:44:00 PM


Saturday, July 30, 2005

(7/30/2005 06:46:00 PM) - Robert R.

It's been a very busy week and looks like it's going to be even busier for next week, so expect some infrequent blogging from me for a bit.

Catching up:

I attending UW-Madison as an undergraduate from 1986 to 1990. My football head coaches were Jim Hilles and Don Morton and the last few years were just flat out ugly. Richter's hiring of Barry Alvarez at that point is possibly as good as anyone could have done. You went from a half full stadium in front of terrible teams to a perennial Bowl participant with several top 10 finishes and a sold out and expanded stadium. I was one of the many that made the trek out to the Rose Bowl in 1994 and watched the Badger's win. My brother and I sat in the end zone where Wayne Cook went braindead. And then there were the Dayne years which is the greatest era in Badger football history.

The Badgers haven't been the same since Dayne left, with the Shoe Box scandal definitely hurting the team. And Alvarez hasn't been able to develop an explosive offensive since Dayne left with the passing game being behind the times. Still, Alvarez is the greatest football coach in Wisconsin's history and deserves his accolades.


7/30/2005 06:46:00 PM



(7/30/2005 06:40:00 PM) - Al

Jeff over at Brew Crew Ball points out the following:

And in other stats-minded news: J.J. Hardy has gotten his OPS up to .632, with 34 RBIs. Last year? Craig Counsell had an OPS of .645, with all of 23 RBIs. (Granted, some of the difference in RBIs is situational, and Hardy has come up a lot with men on base this year.)

Long story short, J.J.'s last couple of months have been quite solid, and even factoring in his less-than-stellar start, he's starting to look like a viable major league player.


Hard to believe JJ is performing as well as Counsell, who albeit, had no power at all.

Jeff has also been putting out graphs of the win probabilities at various times for the Crew. Check out his site here.


7/30/2005 06:40:00 PM



(7/30/2005 05:22:00 PM) - Al

As usual, I perused the fan forums and message boards when I got home from work. Here's what is being said:

Why don't we make a trade! Any trade! Bring up Cruz or Hart or Krynzel.

Um, sure. I tend to agree that shooting for a .500 record in '05 is a bit of an unimportant short-term goal, as it matters little if the team wins 80 or 82 games as it tries to contend for a playoff spot (which usually means you win 90 games to get to that point). Neither Hart or Cruz is a slam dunk to succeed, especially not right away. How exactly Dave Krynzel keeps even being mentioned is hilarious, as he has proved nothing in the past two years except he can't hit AAA pitching, never mind major league pitching.

Some have mentioned a 40 man roster glut this offseason, but I fail to see it. There are several prospects that need to be added, but also many players that can easily be dropped (Moeller, Durrington, Helms, Magruder, Helling just off the top of my head). Then there are some others who could still be decent big leaguers, but have low ceilings, and could be dropped if room is needed (Wes O, Bennett). I simply fail to see a roster crunch.

Also, if you ever see someone use the phrase, "They have to make a trade", that person isn't very bright. As it is, the Crew is about a .500 team with several quality young performers, and a top five farm system. Take a look at organizations with no clue (let's see, last year Tampa Bay brought BJ Upton to the bigs to play 3B, this year he's back at SS in AAA, doing well...what's wrong with that picture?), and you'll see how well the Brewers compare. I certainly don't see a playoff berth in '05, but I see a bright future.

Now that the Twins lost Torri Hunter, they will give up their chase for the playoffs. They may even be sellers.

Huh? Hunter is a fine CF, but is as overrated as they come offensively. He has literally had one good half season in his career. MIN has a boatload of depth, able to insert Lew Ford into the OF and not miss a beat. The Twins have the same problem they've had for the last few years, they are getting no offense at all from 2B and SS. As Aaron Gleeman has pointed out more than once, MIN is basically the exact same team they were in '04 and in years previous, it's just that the White Sox are better, and the A's and Yankees are just as good.

Let's compare a bit here:

Hunter--.321/.458, 779 OPS
Ford----.367/.431, 798
LeCroy--.326/.452, 778
BClark--.362/.405, 767


No one would think to say the Twins might as well give up if Lew Ford would have got hurt last night. Ford will now go from DHing much of the time to playing CF, and LeCroy will in effect replace Torri's bat in the lineup...and there's barely a blip of change. I just included Brady Clark for fun, he's almost Hunter's equal at the plate, 95% of fans would disagree with that, as Hunter is still living of his tremondous first half of 2003.

I doubt if MIN makes the playoffs, but I don't think it'll be because of losing Hunter. In fact, I think they might well win more without Torri than the 53% they won with him.


7/30/2005 05:22:00 PM


Friday, July 29, 2005

(7/29/2005 11:04:00 PM) - Al

First round pick Ryan Braun had a walkoff HR in low A West Virginia tonight, and has done nicely there, hitting .350/.550. If he follows the advanced college hitter model that Weeks did, he may well begin 2006 in AA Huntsville.

Adam Heether has done nicely in high A ball, producing .380/.500 numbers in an extreme pitcher's league, and also plays 3B. Despite playing his way into "prospect" status, Braun will be put wherever the braintrust feels he can have some success, and Heether may have to suffer because of it.


7/29/2005 11:04:00 PM



(7/29/2005 10:14:00 PM) - Al

That was a mighty bad 8th inning. Matt Wise has been all but superhuman this season, and it all balanced out for him, sadly. Julio Santana didn't exactly pick him up either.


7/29/2005 10:14:00 PM



(7/29/2005 09:00:00 AM) - Al

The two biggest long-term deals that I can think of off-hand are ARod with TEX and Manny Ramirez with BOS.

If you need anymore proof that it's a foolish move to spend $100M+ on one player, look no further than those two. Both are still great, and TEX is paying ARod ($8-10M per, if memeory serves) not to be there, and BOS has tried giving away Manny on waivers...with no takers.

I've said quite a few times I would never go over $10M per on a player, because they often get injured, and it's just too large a risk. There may be exceptions, but if ARod and Manny aren't good enough, I don't know who is.


7/29/2005 09:00:00 AM


Thursday, July 28, 2005

(7/28/2005 08:24:00 PM) - Al

Just wanted to throw this little fact out there.

Many pitchers get upset if you watch the ball after you hit a HR, and/or take a long, slow jog around the bases.

Of course, I always say that if it bothers the pitcher, maybe they shouldn't give up home runs to begin with.

Anyway, I believe I just saw the slowest run around the bases I've ever seen...it was by a pitcher, the Giants' starter tonight, who hit one about 450 feet off Santos.

Ironic, huh?


7/28/2005 08:24:00 PM



(7/28/2005 08:03:00 PM) - Al

Brady Clark is just such a nice CF, in every single way. He sure gets to a lot of balls in the gap that you don't expect him to.

EDIT: Brady is 9th out of 21 CF's who qualify in zone rating, which measures balls hit into CF and how many outs they turn them into. That seems about right.

Meanwhile, the "he's the best because I can see him play" Andruw Jones is 15th. Amazing how Jones is always so gosh darn unlucky, isn't it?:)


7/28/2005 08:03:00 PM



(7/28/2005 07:16:00 PM) - Al

Today, I spent my afternoon playing in a freeroll tournament offered by a poker site that I just got done clearing a bonus at. Technically, it wasn't "free", you needed a certain number of frequent player points to enter it, but of course, unless you want a baseball cap advertising an online site, all you can use these points on is entry fees. The top prize was a free entry into an upcoming tourney on the site, with a $500 entry fee.

{I realize you are probably thinking, as I first did 18 months ago, who in the world can enter an online tourney for $500? Well, considering they hold this once a month, and the total purse is usually over $1M, I guess the correect answer is over 2000 people do, including many professional players.}

Anyway, about 175 people signed up, and after a couple hours, there were about 50 left. I had played aggressively and got a few good hands, so I was OK, but in about 40th place. Since the top 4 finishers won an entry to Sunday's tourney, in effect, 5th place paid the same as 170th...nothing, there was no use "playing slow" waiting to see if enough people knocked each other out, so I continued being aggressive, going "all-in" and rarely getting a call. Finally, with under 20 players left, I was in last place, and decided to go all-in with King/Queen suited. Just hoping to steal the blinds, I instead got 2 callers, one had Ace/six, and the other had Ace/eight. I was fortunate enough to get a Queen on the flop, and no Ace came on the turn or the river...soon thereafter, I was at the final table of nine, in 3rd place. It got down to seven, and it stayed there forever, but then two players were knocked out on the same hand, leaving 5 of us. And just a couple hands later, I had 2 aces in my greedy little virtual hand. I put out a small raise, all folded, except for the short stack, who paused, thought about it, hit the "time" button, which gives a player extra time to think once a tourney, and finally called with Ace/Queen suited. I was a huge favorite, butt he flop came Jack/Jack/Ten, giving my opponent a straight draw, only needing a King. The turn brought an 4, and the river, a harmless 8...and somehow, that was it.

They didn't even play it out, which I thought was surprising, but understandable, as it was meaningless. Soon, the chat was full of messages from an "observer", offering to pay cash for my seat. As excited as I was to get to play in a huge, big money tourney, cold hard cash sounded pretty good. So, I checked out this fella's website, and he does this all the time, pays about 85% of the $530 your seat is worth. I recall all those investment quizzes that rate your ability to accept risk, asking if you'd rather have $100, a 10% chance of winning $1000, or a 1% chance of winning $10K, and one thing popped into my mind...this morning, I had some worthless points in my account, and because of some good play (and winning some 50/50 hands), I could have just under $500...sounded good to me.

I wrote to the gent to make sure this was OK by the site, and he assured me it was, as the transfer actually took place by e-mail, he sent it to me, I forwarded it to the cashier at the site, and a few minutes later, I cashed out.

Hey, it beats workin'...:)

Back to baseball.


7/28/2005 07:16:00 PM



(7/28/2005 12:51:00 PM) - Al

Both the Yankees and Mets are likely to take a look at reliever Ricky Bottalico, who was designated for assignment by Milwaukee yesterday.--Newark Star Ledger

As I said yesterday, the Crew should end up getting something for Sir Ricky, but not a player of note.


7/28/2005 12:51:00 PM



(7/28/2005 12:26:00 AM) - Al

Bud Selig upholds Kenny Rogers' suspension (too bad he didn't make it even longer), and I was unaware of this little nugget of truth.

That team will now have 24 active players instead of the customary 25.

I guess I assumed there was a "suspended list" that didn't count against the 25 man roster. I have to believe the Rangers are rather perturbed at Rogers' selfish behavior, though they'll never admit it.


7/28/2005 12:26:00 AM


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

(7/27/2005 11:35:00 PM) - Al

The Twins, down on first baseman Justin Morneau, were in negotiations with the Brewers for first baseman Lyle Overbay.--TSN

I can't believe the Twins are down on Morneau at all. I would assume they were simply looking to add a bat, and they have the DH spot to use as well. Lyle would rake on turf, I'm sure. Sounds like the "were" makes this past tense.

If a trade were to be made, I'd insist on Lew Ford being included. Lew would be the best reserve OF in MLB this year, be looked at the future CF, and still be cheap for a while.


7/27/2005 11:35:00 PM



(7/27/2005 11:09:00 PM) - Al

This reads like an Onion article (only funny), although it is supposedly true.

It is astounding, I'll say that.


7/27/2005 11:09:00 PM



(7/27/2005 10:37:00 PM) - Al

ARI DFA'd Jose Cruz Jr. after the game today. What's ironic about that is Jose had a 786 OPS:

A. Last year's average MLB CF had an OPS of 775.

B. Jose's career OPS is 790. Not exactly sure what the D'Backs were expecting.:)


To be honest, I assume ARI was disappointed in his .213 BA, which tells me ARI is a good franchise to deal with (as if that wasn't well known after the Sexson trade), as they still use BA as a meaningful statistic.

Jose would be a great 4th OF, but he's also a decent everyday CF, and he makes $4 mil. Considering the Yankes have been discussing Randy Winn (who is a poor man's Brady Clark), you'd think they'd jump all over the opportunity to pick up Cruz.


7/27/2005 10:37:00 PM



(7/27/2005 10:00:00 PM) - Al

Botallico out, Rick Helling in. Botallico was DFa'd, giving Doug 10 days to work a deal, however minor. Ricky would have been worth a lot more had he not pitched at all in July, as he's been hit hard all month. You have to remember, being a relief pitcher is of itself a small sample. People are judging him by his last 9 innings, which is plenty small enough to be simply bad luck and/or a couple bad pitches costing him big time.

I'm surprised, as Doug Melvin said earlier this week, that no one has inquired about Helling, who had several very solid seasons a few years ago. He had a 4ish ERA in Nashville, which probably translate to a 5ish ERA in the majors...take a look at every team's 5th starter and tell me how many are better. Goodness, Hideo Nomo had about a 7/8 ERA, waived by the pitching poor Devil Rays, and he was claimed on waivers by the Yankees today

*cough*
$200 million payroll
*cough*

as if they have the ability to transport him back to a time in which he didn't really suck.

Obviously, this is about as minor of a move as can occur in MLB. Botallico was to be traded by July 31st, and he probably still will be, unless he's released. It seems safe to say the organization won't profit much from Ricky's departure to speak of.

As for Helling, he seems a safe bet not to make it to August 31st with the Crew either. He still throws pretty hard, especially for an older pitcher, and I thought way back in March he'd be a fine 1-2 inning man. Hopefully he will do well enough to garner back a prospect with a chance of making it someday (for example, Wes O was acquired in a deadline deal for Curtis Leskanic).

I guess it's worth noting there's a chance a trade will be made involving Ohka or Santos, and Helling could take some turns in the rotation. That said, Helling's time in Milwaukee will probably be short, whether he have success or not.

Finally, I have to feel Gary Glover was more worthy of a call-up (granted, this is far from a slam dunk) than Helling, so I have to think that Rick was the choice at least in part to let some scouts see him work to major league hitters.


7/27/2005 10:00:00 PM



(7/27/2005 10:37:00 AM) - Al

It's always one of my favorite Price Is Right moments. The person who bids last is at a huge advantage, as they can bid just higher than another contestant, or bid $1, if they feel the other folks have bid too high.

So, after this bidding:

#1--$1100, Bob.
#2--$800, Bob.
#3--$925, Bob.

{No, I'm not really sure why they always say Bob after they bid, but it's humorous.}

#4 surveys the situation, looks to the audience for assistance, and proudly turns and exclaims:

#4--$799, Bob.

And it happens at least once a week. Somehow, in their attempt to come up with the best possible guess, they end up doing the exact opposite of what common sense would dictate.


7/27/2005 10:37:00 AM



(7/27/2005 10:19:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman sums up the A's run this season to wildcard contention.

Take a look at the names mentioned in the article...Kiko Calero, Marcos Scutaro, Dan Johnson, Bobby Kielty, Kirk Saarloos...Billy Beane doesn't do it with mirrors, but he does it with a lot of players that other teams don't have interest in, due to one minor thing or another.

Beane simply looks at what a player can do, rather than settling for an overpriced veteran, whose main attributes are "experience", "leadership", and the ability to run quickly from home to 1B, as well as back to the dugout after creating yet another out. There's no Tom Goodwins or Brian Hunters on the A's roster.

Many folks missed the point of the fine book Moneyball. OBP is vital to the success of the offense, but Beane's true talent is the way he builds winning teams cheaply. He does it with castoffs and role players (Scooter, Kielty, and Saarloos have long been favorites of Ramblings), in many cases, outperforming even his wildest expectations, I'm sure.


7/27/2005 10:19:00 AM



(7/27/2005 09:03:00 AM) - Al

Looks like we have another top 18 year-old heading to the UW.

You know, if I tried to explain to my son that the Badgers basketball team used to be pretty weak, and that a .500 record and an NIT berth were looked at as major accomplishments, he would think I was crazy. The day Bo Ryan retires, we shall declare a day of mourning.

Actually, if the Brewers youth perform as they are expected to, we might make a similiar comparison in a couple years, at least we can hope.


7/27/2005 09:03:00 AM



(7/27/2005 08:57:00 AM) - Al

I really wish Bigfoot did exist, I tell you. But the idea that no one has ever come across one of these creatures...

A. with a working, functioning camera.

B. after it has passed away.

...would seem to indicate to me it is more legend than reality.


7/27/2005 08:57:00 AM


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

(7/26/2005 10:47:00 PM) - Al

Robert might especially enjoy this list of odd, yet common movie events.


7/26/2005 10:47:00 PM



(7/26/2005 10:24:00 PM) - Al

FYI, JJ Hardy is approaching an 800 OPS since his renaissance in late May. He's gotta be one of the best #8 hitters in the NL the past couple months.


7/26/2005 10:24:00 PM



(7/26/2005 10:15:00 PM) - Al

Not much to say about the relatively easy victory tonight, except I'm curious as to why Daron and Bill were at all surprised to see Capuano lifted after 5 innings and 96 pitches. Why let him bat and then only get, at most, 3 more hitters out?

Meanwhile, Webb was left out there until he eventually tired and gave up some runs. That said, I can hardly find fault with it the way the bullpen looked. Scary.

By the way, how many ground-rule doubles have the Brewers had this year that cost the team a run, at least temporarily? I may be exaggerating, but I would guess a minimum of 20. It seems to happen once or twice a week.


7/26/2005 10:15:00 PM



(7/26/2005 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Eric sends a link for how the Brewers hope to improve the fan experience at Miller Park. Thank you, sir.


7/26/2005 10:14:00 PM



(7/26/2005 06:44:00 PM) - Al

The JS checks in with a recap of Doug Melvin trades. Let me know when you find a bad one. That Sexson deal was about as big a steal as has occured in the last decade. Supposedly Mark A has said he hopes they can add a player at the deadline, but you have to assume it will be a minor one.

That said, if Doug would move Overbay, he'd probably get a great deal for him, as there appears to be no upper-third 1B on the market (unless Thome is dealt), or Clark (ditto for CF), it may well improve the team by several games next year.

UPDATE: Forgot to say that Randy Winn is supposedly very available, though he is kind of a "tweener", hits like a CF, but is weak defensively in CF, solid LF/CF, but a very poor offensive corner OF. That said, he's an interesting comparison BEFORE 2005:

Randy Winn--.344/.411, 755 OPS
Brady Clark-.360/.403, 763

Again, those folks expecting Clark to fall off the proverbial cliff seem to not "get" the fact he isn't really doing that much better than his career norms.

Also, Winn is vastly overrated, especially if he's not in CF.


7/26/2005 06:44:00 PM


Monday, July 25, 2005

(7/25/2005 09:53:00 PM) - Al

By far the most interesting event of tonight's game was seeing DLR used in the 8th inning, albeit versus some pretty weak hitters, but Jorge still had a nice inning, allowing only a foul ball which was ruled a double.:)

Turnbow has went from being just another reliever being used as a closer to a bonafide "it's over" guy, at least the past couple months.

While some wait for Brady Clark to return to his career norms (which really aren't much lower than where he is), I think it's just a darn shame no one gave this guy a chance until he was 32. He had success at AA, at AAA, and it was just assumed he weasn't good enough to start in the bigs. A good part of success is simply being given an opportunity.

If not for April and May, everyone would be saying that the Crew has their DP combination for the next decade. While we know better, JJ's fine last two months have pretty much escaped the mass media. In fact, I've barely heard about it, except for the fact he recently broke .200, and nothing draws a yawn quicker than BA from me.

Finally, Robert enjoyed most of his weekend just a short trip from Richland Center, where I grew up and most of my family still lives. We'd still like to end up back near there, if for nothing else, the real estate boom seems to have completely missed the area. I'm not sure, but I think the house we overpaid about $50K for lists at about 50-70% in the RC market. The difference between Middleton and Center, about 50 miles by highway, is even more mind boggling, a minimum of $150K per dwelling. What's that old saying about location?


7/25/2005 09:53:00 PM



(7/25/2005 02:34:00 PM) - Robert R.

I missed the Brewers over the weekend as my wife and I went on a small trip to Spring Green. Spring Green is my choice for a low key relaxing weekend in Wisconsin as it's relatively close, not overly commercialized, and contains some intellectually stimulating activities to go along with the relaxing, namely Frank Lloyd Wright's estate Taliesin and the American Players Theatre. There's also golf, the Wisconsin River, winery tours, shopping, and the House on the Rock in the area, although I'm not much of a fan of the latter, among other things.

Due to rains on Saturday, it was a more low key weekend. We basically forgot about outdoor activities, did a little shopping, did a little swimming in the indoor pool, read a bit, and went to dinner. There's something to be said for relaxing without distractions. After dinner, we went to APT to see their production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

APT specializes in straight forward productions of classic plays, particularly Shakespeare, with the goal of being clear in the meaning. You're not going to see anything avante garde at APT, so that makes it an ideal introduction for those unfamiliar with Shakespeare. APT has an outdoor theater, so you're at the mercy of the elements to an extent, we got rained on at The Tempest, appropriately enough, a few years back, but there is cover if there is weather delays and on a good night it's tough to beat the experience. Last Saturday night was just about perfect.

The Merry Wives of Windsor was a spinoff of the characters of Sir John Falstaff and his followers from the Henry IV plays, a thoroughly disreputable bunch centered around the grotesquely fat, conniving and drunken Falstaff. The play finds Falstaff attempting to "seduce" a pair of rich housewives, who are thoroughly repulsed by Falstaff. (The fact that Falstaff thinks he's desirable instead of repulsive is the central joke.) The wives decide to humiliate Falstaff for his advances and wacky hijinks ensue complicated by a jealous husband and a subplot of a daughter to be married off. As you probably can tell, this isn't exactly high art but a play that revels in being coarse and bawdy. In fact, it may be the coarsest and bawdiest of Shakespeare's plays. It really has more in common with a Farrelly Bros. movie than with Hamlet. As usual, APT does a terrific job presenting the material, the costume of Falstaff is a sight to see, and they do the play justice. This production was one of my wife's favorites. I've also heard good things about APT's production of Moliere's Tartuffe and they're doing MacBeth, which will tour the state this fall.

Sunday was mainly a travel day, especially due to the weather. We did stop at the Shoe Box in Black Earth, although we didn't ask for the football player's discount. Back to work this week, but a good recharging weekend all told.


7/25/2005 02:34:00 PM



(7/25/2005 10:47:00 AM) - Al

Matt Wise was not with the team yesterday, as he flew home to witness his daughter's birth. I was curious as to why he wasn't brought in to start the 9th, but having learned that, Santana makes as much sense as anyone else.


7/25/2005 10:47:00 AM



(7/25/2005 10:43:00 AM) - Al

Even after winning the Tour for the 7th time, whispers persist that Armstrong has been cheating. This article says politics may be in his future, as well.

I have no idea if Lance has ever used drugs or common "blood doping" methods, but I do know he's never once tested positive. Until he does, the assumption should be that he's clean.


7/25/2005 10:43:00 AM


Sunday, July 24, 2005

(7/24/2005 07:21:00 PM) - Al

CIN home record: 31-25
MIL road record: 22-34

And yet, Daron Sutton was as dramatic as ever after the game, somehow living in a world in which it was unexpected that Cincy would win 2 of 3. For the most part, the only thing that went wrong for the Brewers was two hard hit grounders in the first two innings that were turned into double plays. If those both would have made into the outfield, the Crew might well hve scored 5 or 6 in the 1st inning, and the game would have had a different result. I think there's a lesson to be learned there about throwing strikes.

If the Reds trade Adam Dunn, they'll deserve whatever bad things happen to them. Sure, they'd prefer to trade Griffey, but I'd deal Pena or Kearns long before Dunn as well. Todd proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how meaningless K's are.


7/24/2005 07:21:00 PM



(7/24/2005 02:24:00 PM) - Al

Hard to believe Ned didn't think 6 innings was plenty for Davis today, letting him hit for himself in the top of the 7th inning. He's got almost 100 pitches in, he's not going to go much longer, as it is extremely hot in Cincy.


7/24/2005 02:24:00 PM



(7/24/2005 01:31:00 PM) - Al

I find it difficult to believe a politician would campaign at a soldier's funeral...but I guess it did.

The horror.


7/24/2005 01:31:00 PM



(7/24/2005 12:26:00 PM) - Al

Last night, as is usually the case for me, I played poker online while looking through Sharebuilder trying to find stocks to invest in, while watching the Crew play.

And to complete your thought, yes I am incredibly dull.

Anyway, one of the benefits of playing online versus live is the lack of tipping necessary, as you are expected to give the dealer a dollar or two whenever you win a decent sized pot. Not to sound cheap, but it is easy to see how this could cut into your profit (or add to your losses) quite quickly. If you frequent poker discussion boards at all, one thing that is often argued is to keep track of your victories for a session, and then deduct $1 for each win. So, last night, I did just that. This was briefly discussed here, when I played live in Milwaukee.

During my 3 hours or so last evening, I had a sizable profit (for myself). At the end of the night, I had made 16 marks on my paper next to the keyboard, meaning I won 16 decent pots. First of all, that seemed like a small amount, but if anything, it proves how a bad beat on just a few hands can make the difference between a great session and a break-even one. So, if I'd have donated $16 to the dealer's living fund, it would have taken just over 20% of my winnings last night. For the average player, that's HUGE. Without a doubt, playing online saves you a good share of your bankroll.


7/24/2005 12:26:00 PM



(7/24/2005 12:12:00 PM) - Al

Ken Griffey Jr. was on the pre-game show today saying he knew Brady Clark would eventually make it big back when he was with the Reds. What's funny is, every time the Crew plays the Reds, it is mentioned by Powell or Sutton that one of the veteran Cincy players (often Sean Casey) said how they felt the same way.


7/24/2005 12:12:00 PM



(7/24/2005 09:45:00 AM) - Al

the July 31 deadline seems arbitrary, artificial and too early. What is so magical about July 31? Why should teams have to decide whether they are contenders / pretenders / buyers / sellers with two months left in the season? Why not push the deadline back a month to the end of August, then let teams spend September trying to make waiver deals? Push back the deadline for post-season eligibility from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15 and you're in business.--Drew Olson, JS, on the trading deadlines


I wouldn't be upset if this was changed, but much of the appeal is that so many teams are still in the race. At the end of August, you are down to a couple teams having spots all but clinched, and a couple spots up for grabs among a few other teams. Right now, you can argue a dozen teams have legitamite shots at a playoff spopt in each league.

Also, the idea of a team picking up a player 9/14, with only a couple weeks left, bothers me. The team trading him away loses nothing, and the team picking him up improves immensely for the playoffs, but probably will replace a guy who has been with the team 5 1/2 months. Nothing good in that scenario.

I admit, however, this is one of the better talking points Olson has brought up.


7/24/2005 09:45:00 AM


Saturday, July 23, 2005

(7/23/2005 09:59:00 PM) - Al

---Anyone else notice that it wasn't too long ago that Ned was platooning Lyle Overbay? Tonight, with the LHP starting, Ned started him, as he has been doing for about 7-10 days, and he hits two HR's in his first two PA's. Ned's going to look as smart as Butch Wynegar soon.:)


---I saw someone say a while back on a message board that they think Dave Krynzel should be brought up to work with the big league coaches and see if they can get anything out of him. I don't feel that way now, but would have to lean that way next March. He seems to be regressing as he spends more time in AAA, and has a set of skills (speed, defense, and good pop for a CF) that translate well to the bigs. I'm seeing Dave more and more as a bench guy, so not getting him 500 more AAA PA's isn't as important as it would be if he had a higher ceiling.

---Weeks went 1-4 with a walk tonight...is that a slump for him?

---Speaking of Rickie, let's compare him to another guy playing really well:

Brady Clark--.371/.416, 787 OPS
Rickie Weeks-.373/.500, 873

Jeepers.

For that matter:

Carlos Lee--.332/.514, 846 OPS
Lyle O------.381/.465, 846
Rickie W----.373/.500, 873

Rickie is 22, two years removed from a tiny D1 college program, and he's the best offensive player on an above average offensive team.

Stay healthy, young man.


7/23/2005 09:59:00 PM



(7/23/2005 08:45:00 PM) - Al

Don't look now, but the Brewers are now 6th in the NL (of 16) in runs scored, 6th in OPS, and 7th in OBP.

You'll notice that Butch Wynegar has become a much better coach now that Geoff Jenkins has gotten hot and Rickie Weeks was brought up (I should mention JJ as well).

Ironic how that works, huh?


7/23/2005 08:45:00 PM



(7/23/2005 08:07:00 PM) - Al

ARod wants to play for the Dominican Republic in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Problem is, he's as American as I am. Born in the USA, raised in the USA.

I want to play for Mexico, OK?


7/23/2005 08:07:00 PM



(7/23/2005 06:32:00 PM) - Al

I seem to be shut out of the Brewers game on TV tonight, as I have a snowy screen on that cable channel this evening. For those too young to understand, "snowy" means there's no picture, just video static.


7/23/2005 06:32:00 PM



(7/23/2005 06:25:00 PM) - Al

SD takes part in a couple of odd trades today:

Joe Randa from CIN for 2 minor leaguers.

Randa is 35, and has been below average most of his career...

Randa, career----.342/.429, 771 OPS
average 3B, '04--.344/.453, 797 OPS

The Pads obviously think they improved, but any power Joe had in Cincy will be gone in SD.

Traded Phil Nevin (pending his approval) to BAL for Sidney Ponson

Um, what? Nevin has struggled this year, but is just a year removed from great production. Ponson has been 100% worthless since 2003, and for most of his career, actually. His '04 ERA was 5.30, and he's followed that up with a 6.04 effort. The idea BAL was able to get anything for Sid astounds me.

On that note, it also tells me that Vic Santos still has some trade value, regardless of how bad he's been the past six weeks.


7/23/2005 06:25:00 PM


Friday, July 22, 2005

(7/22/2005 02:24:00 PM) - Al

Mr Polanski had testified in Paris, amid fears that if he entered the UK he would face extradition to the US, where he is still required to face child sex charges.

Outside court, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said: "I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom.

"As a father of four children, one of whom is a 12-year-old daughter, I find it equally outrageous that this story is considered defamatory, given the fact that Mr Polanski cannot be here because he slept with a 13-year-old girl a quarter of a century ago."


I mentioned this court case here, and you'll be happy to know the child molester won 50K pounds.

By the way, I mention this story only because what Carter said is 100% accurate. I'd be tempted to tell him the money is sitting on my desk in the good ol' USA, come and get it.


7/22/2005 02:24:00 PM



(7/22/2005 01:55:00 PM) - Al

No trades likely, except for Botallico, per the JS. I think that's what I said a while back.


7/22/2005 01:55:00 PM



(7/22/2005 12:04:00 AM) - Robert R.

I've been out of town for the past several days. Today I learned that comic book artist Jim Aparo has died.

The name might mean nothing to most of you, but chances are if you read a Batman story between 1970 and the mid 90s, you read one of his stories. Especially if you ever read the Batman team-up book THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. In a very real way, a large chunk of my childhood died this week.

Jim Aparo was not the flashiest comic book artist, but he was a master of mood and storytelling and he was very versatile. He's principally known for his Batman work and there is a sizable group that considers him the definitive Batman artist. However, he's also known for his work on Aquaman (you might see some of it on Entourage this season), the Phantom Stranger and a run on The Spectre in the '70s that's still fondly remembered. (The Spectre run featured the title character as a full on Old Testament ghost of vengeance. One example was The Spectre turning a murderer to wood and then running him through a buzz saw.)

John Byrne has told the story that he was writing the story "The Many Deaths of Batman" without knowing who the artist was. He wanted the first issue to be entirely silent but reluctantly put in a two word speech balloon because he didn't think a scene would work without it. Jim Aparo was assigned the story and John Byrne noted that those two words were entirely unneccesary. That's the type of artist Jim Aparo was.


7/22/2005 12:04:00 AM


Thursday, July 21, 2005

(7/21/2005 10:03:00 PM) - Al

Hey, Al --

No matter how you divide the season, JJ Hardy has done nothing but
improve as a batter. He's had 231 AB+W. Dividing that number roughly
(using only whole games) by half, thirds, or quarters, here's his OBP
during each section of his season so far (through game of 7/20):

1st half: 278 -- 2nd half: 345
1st third: 267 -- 2nd third: 308 -- last third: 359
1st quarter: 259 -- 2nd quarter: 298 -- 3rd quarter: 310 -- last: 379

Here's his slugging average:

1st half: 220 -- 2nd half: 402
1st third: 172 -- 2nd third: 333 -- last third: 420
1st quarter: 180 -- 2nd quarter: 260 -- 3rd quarter: 340 -- last: 462

As you can see, there are no illusory stats in his consistent
improvement. It's there, no matter how you look at it.

It's a good bet Hardy will finish the season with an OBP equal to or
above league average for all batters, and his OPS will be comparable
(maybe slightly lower) than the average short stop. Good for the Brewers
in keeping him up and showing patience!

Thanks,
KH



Well researched and true. Thanks for sharing KH.


7/21/2005 10:03:00 PM



(7/21/2005 09:42:00 PM) - Al

I missed most of the game today, listening to a bit of the game before I went into the dentist's office. A 5-3 lead turned into a 12-7 win, so all turned out fine. Misc thoughts:

---I felt like I was going to be asked to appear at a dental school and used as a live display. The dentist proudly said I was the first person he had ever seen, in his career mind you, that was missing a "2nd molar" naturally (it never came in, was not pulled or lost). My last dentist mentioned it as being odd as well.

Then, after looking at the X-rays and making notes of my fillings and other work, he actually studied my mouth a while. He found a filling they had missed on the X-ray, because the white material used so perfectly matched the enamel, it was invisible. He also said the "strange" looking thing on the X-ray was a plastic filling, apparently quite rare. He guessed it was either quite old or someone was "using stuff up".

Finally, despite the fact my wisdom teeth cause me minor pain on a regular basis, they would be a bear to remove, so he would not recommend it. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not.

---A lot of the Brewers' bullpen depth disappeared today, as both Mike Adams and Jeff Bennett were placed on the Nashville DL. Any chance of more than one reliever being dealt

*cough*
Botallico
*cough*

likely was tabled with those transactions. That said, it probably shouldn't, as several Sounds' arms (Jose Capellan, Kane Davis, Rick Helling, Gary Glover, even Travis Phelps) could easily come up and not embarass themselves in a middle or long relief role.

---Many folks on message boards seem to think Geoff Jenkins or Brady Clark should/will be traded by the end of July deadline. Nope, or at least highly doubtful. I will say, however, Brady is as valuable now as he's ever been, and would be an outstanding pickup for any contender. I know early in the season, or maybe in March, I hoped Clark would do well, allowing him to be dealt to clear a spot for Dave Krynzel.

Oops.

No way Doug is willing to deal a near 800 OPS CF to be replaced by a 700ish OPS CF...and that 700 is in 500+ AAA AB's. I bought into the hype that Dave had matured, when really he just had a nice small sample of 50 AB's in Arizona versus not yet ready for prime time arms. If Clark were traded, another CF would have to be brought in, as I can only imagine the terrible numbers in which Dave projects to.

Geoff just signed an extension, of which this is the first season. Doug still mentions him as a cornerstone, in the same breath with Sheets. While every once in a while, a player signs and then is dealt a few months later, I don't see it happening to a guy who has spent his entire career with one team.

Other than Botallico, Wes Helms would seem a good bet to find a new home, as he is a nice RH 1B/3B that pounds LHP's. Overbay would seem to be off the market until the offseason. Even the oft-mentioned Tomo Ohka seems unlikely to go anywhere, as Santos looks to be suffering from his annual second half slide.

---Finally, great to see JJ Hardy driving the ball. The little nugget of fact that he's been above average offensively for almost two months is lost on everyone not reading this. With he and Moeller both coming on strong of late, the Crew's lineup rarely has a weak spot in it, 1-8. Today, it was the bottom half of the order that led the team to a dozen runs. We haven't been able to say that for a very long time.


7/21/2005 09:42:00 PM



(7/21/2005 08:22:00 AM) - Al

I watched most of the A's/Angels game last night after work. I did not see Keith ginter in the dugout, so I checked this AM to see if he was still in AAA. Turns out Keith was sent down 5/31 and recalled 6/15, so he was barely in the minors. His numbers haven't got a lot better since he returned, as he's only played a couple times a week.

Too bad Keith got off to such a slow start, as this could have been a good year for him to be the regular 2B.

And, the death of OAK seems to have been a bit exaggerated. They look to have all but completely rebuilt that team in one offseason, and are only a step below what they were before. They could well be real contenders again in '06.


7/21/2005 08:22:00 AM


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

(7/20/2005 11:21:00 AM) - Al

After last night's game, the Crew sent Wes O down to Nashville and recalled Justin Lehr from AAA. I wrote this at a message board yesterday:

As of today, Ben H has a 4.50+ ERA. If he's the answer, I don't care to hear the question. I believe Justin Lehr had a terrible outing in relief before being switched to the rotation, and his ERA is now down to 3.99 overall. If my recollection is correct, he must have about a 3 ERA as a starter. He's by far the best member of the AAA rotation.

Lehr has pitched brilliantly in Nashville, except for a horrendous outing in April. And, having been a starter, he can easily go a few innings if needed. However, it is difficult to imagine Justin having an ounce of success if he is used as sporadicly as Wes was. Some of the "blame" has to go to the rotation, which has been brilliant for the most part, but Ned has to find a way to get him regular work, at least once every 4-5 days. It's all but impossible to expect a relief pitcher to have any success pitching once every 10-12 days. Wes has had very spotty control, which is the #1 sign of lack of work.

FYI, I am almost sure Wes still has an option remaining for 2006 as well, as he was a late bloomer in Kansas City. Also, FYI, Jeff Bennett, who was rumored to be on his way to MIL last week, has apparently come down with a severe case of the flu or food poisoning, as his manager said a couple days ago he may be out for a week or more. Talk about bad timing.

UPDATE: Bennett spent a couple days in a Nashville hospital with viral menengitis.


7/20/2005 11:21:00 AM


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

(7/19/2005 10:38:00 PM) - Al

Ned made a chess move in the 8th as well, bringing in DLR to keep the Cardinals' best pinch-hitters on the bench. I wouldn't have done it (more for my lack of confidence in DLR after throwing 2 innings last night), but it at least shows Ned is willing to think out of the box a bit. He's usually so steadfast in his reliever usage when ahead (Santana in the 8th, Turnbow in the 9th), you know it took some guts to change it up.


7/19/2005 10:38:00 PM



(7/19/2005 10:33:00 PM) - Al

Rich Donnelly takes some criticism on the message boards, and even on our midseason roundtable, but I don't think he's made many bad decisions at all. I can't say I recall any, offhand. Tonight, he sent Damian Miller despite his slowness, and a throw that was up the line resulted in Damian scoring the go ahead run.

I wouldn't have given Damian more than a 40% chance of scoring, but with JJ up next, even his since MIN OBP is only .350ish, and a walk doesn't score the run. Rich is going to be wrong more than half the time, but he still made the correct move. That's tough for folks to understand, but it's true.


7/19/2005 10:33:00 PM



(7/19/2005 04:48:00 PM) - Al

Supposedly, Jim Bowden has asked Barry Larkin to come out of retirement to replace Christian Guzman at SS for the rest of 2005.

Talk about missing the forest for the trees. As I said back when DC overpaid for Guzman way back when, Jamey Carroll was better, and is still better than Christian.

Carroll---.339/.345, 684 OPS
Guzman----.297/.374, 671

Granted, Jamey is no world beater either, but he's better and about $4M cheaper. Add to that the fact Guzman has never hit on natural grass (as I pointed out in the link when DC signed him), that was a contract doomed to fail from the get go. It never fails to amaze me how veteran mediocrity is not only sought after, but aggressively bid upon.


7/19/2005 04:48:00 PM



(7/19/2005 07:20:00 AM) - Robert R.

Last night's game is an example of why the Brewers can always use more pitching. Jim Powell mentioned during the game that Santos hasn't had a quality start in over a month and he sure didn't turn it around last night. Santos should have a few more wins than his record, but the way he's pitching now isn't helping. The back end of the rotation could definitely stand to be upgraded if the Brewers want to take the next step. The question is will it be an internal or external upgrade?


7/19/2005 07:20:00 AM


Monday, July 18, 2005

(7/18/2005 11:33:00 PM) - Al

Cubs trade for Jody Gerut, give the Indians Jason DuBois.

Gerut is a weak corner OF, and as you can see in the stats if youn click on his name above, he doesn't hit LHP's at all, so he's a below average, platooning corner OF...color me a bit underwhelmed. Dubois hasn't had many AB's in the bigs, but his minor league numbers are very impressive, though he's always been old for his league.

I'd rather be on the Indians side of this deal, for sure, but Jason does seem like a bit of a lumbering slugger type...of course, CLE has a DH slot to fill, don't they?


7/18/2005 11:33:00 PM



(7/18/2005 09:57:00 PM) - Al

I still can't believe some people had questions about Rickie Weeks'talent a month or so ago. He may not still be at 2B in five years, but barring injury, he's going to be an excellent hitter.


7/18/2005 09:57:00 PM



(7/18/2005 09:46:00 PM) - Al

Since his decision to change his batting style in MIN in late May,and go back to what he's always done, JJ Hardy's numbers:

25-99, 10 doubles, 1 home run, 16 walks.

That works out to:

.357/.384, 741 OPS

The average SS in 2004 put up a statline of:

.326/.408, 734 OPS


With Hall struggling, it's good to know JJ has been above average for a SS in the past two months. I guarantee you, when he puts up those numbers next year, the media will say how improved he is, but the real improvement is already a couple months old.


7/18/2005 09:46:00 PM



(7/18/2005 09:34:00 PM) - Al

David Lee Roth will be taking Howard Stern's spot on the New York station that is the home to the most successful AM talker in history.

Um, David Lee Roth? I smell a quick and painful failure.


7/18/2005 09:34:00 PM



(7/18/2005 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Wes O really can't be expected to pitch very well tonight (and he isn't), as he's barely pitched in the past three weeks. DLR will get some work tonight as well, it would appear. Ned has done a fine job with the top five pitchers in the bullpen, but needs to figure out a way to get his other two into a game at least once every 4-5 days. I'd be extremely tempted to cut down to 11 pitchers.

Surprised to see Clark and Lee both in the game yet, as at least one of them could be spelled by Billy Hall, who played some OF in Arizona. It would actually be good practice for Bill. I just remembered, Branyan could go into LF, Hall into CF. I am almost positive Weeks has played every inning since beign brought up as well, he could certainly use half a game off as well.

We might well see that rumored Bennett/Wes O swap now as well, it would be an ideal time, as Wes will be unavailable for a few days after tonight.

UPDATE: Russ is indeed inserted into LF. Smart move.


7/18/2005 09:14:00 PM



(7/18/2005 08:30:00 PM) - Al

Glenn points out this site that fact checks Morgan Spurlock. I would have no problem with Spurlock if he would simply admit his "documentaries" and his writings are simply fiction. But, he passes them off as fact, and I can't believe anyone pays attention to this liar. His Super Size Me film, which I commented on here, proves only that if you eat poorly and do not exercise, you will gain weight. He could have done that at any family owned diner, or even at his own kitchen table. But, that wouldn't have been an attempt to destroy a huge corporation...now would it?


Look at this section from the above link:

Originally discovered in the UK in 1986, the first case of mad cow in the United States wasn't documented until 2004 (in a cow raised in Canada and slaughtered in Washington state).

By the end of 2003, 143 official cases [of the human form of mad cow] had been counted in the UK, six in France, one each in Canada, Ireland, and Italy, and two in the United States--most recently, a Florida woman died of it in 2004, apparently after having eaten bad beef in the UK. (p. 102)--Spurlock


So to sum, Spurlock...

A) Questions the business practices of the U.S. beef industry,

B) does so by drawing a false link between bovine growth hormone and mad cow disease,

C) backs up his point by noting that Europe refuses to import U.S. beef, even though....

D) 153 of the 154 (99.3%) documented cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human form of mad cow) occured outside the United States, and 152 of the 154 occured in Europe.

A realist might also point out that these cases all occured over a period of time in which billions of pounds of beef were eaten the world over. Which means your risk of contracting the human form of mad cow from eating beef is virtually nil. And if you should contract it, there's a 99% chance didn't get the beef that gave it to you in the United States.

Somehow, Spurlock reaches into that bag of statistics and pulls out an indictment of U.S. beef.--Balko


It's just painful reading something that ignorant. The US beef industry is horrible because...it is incredibly effective in preventing this disease? What?


7/18/2005 08:30:00 PM



(7/18/2005 08:16:00 PM) - Al

You don't see this every day, a convicted child molester upset that someone said he's a womanizer.

Notice France is happy to have him, however. What's that old saying...the truth is funnier than fiction?


7/18/2005 08:16:00 PM



(7/18/2005 02:31:00 PM) - Robert R.

I was at the game yesterday. A few thoughts.

Washington isn't a very scary team offensively. Guillen has some pop and Wilkerson has OBP skills, but that's about it with Nick Johnson out. Castilla, Guzman and Preston Wilson are team OBP killers. If Preston Wilson is Bowden's only major acquisition, they're going to be in trouble down the stretch.

I was decidely unimpressed with Ryan Drese. RFK must be quite the pitcher's park to make him an acceptable starter.

Tomo Ohka obviously had a score to settle and pitched well, even managing a more than acceptable K rate. Other than the HR he gave up in the first, thankfully only leading to 1 run, he was in control until near the end of his stint.

I'd like to see Jenkins and Lee hot at the same time.

I'm continually impressed by Rickie Weeks' pitch recognition and control of the strike zone. And he's already a very good baserunner. He's got to work on his defensive consistency, but other than that, any flaws he has can be corrected with experience. Great draft pick.

We got the good Turnbow yesterday. Mike Maddux is the most underpaid person in the organization. Good coaching is extremely underrated.

I was having a conversation during the game while watching the scoreboard. Which organization is the most clueless, Tampa Bay, Kansas City or Colorado? My vote was for Tampa Bay. They've repeatedly failed to make much ground towards .500, they simply don't develop pitching, they've let Pinella hold the development of young players back out of pique, and they've made no changes to their development strategy.


7/18/2005 02:31:00 PM


Sunday, July 17, 2005

(7/17/2005 03:51:00 PM) - Al

Jim Powell just referred to this article, as Skip Bayless doesn't think Raffy Palmiero is a Hall-of-Famer.

Skip seems to miss the point, that the Hall is not for only the best player(s) of his era (if that was the case, Barry Bonds may be the only hitter inducted that's played the past few seasons), it's for players who have the finest careers. You certainly cannot argue that Raffy is a fine hitter, and has been for a long time.

I'd vote for him.


7/17/2005 03:51:00 PM



(7/17/2005 03:48:00 PM) - Al

I think this is the first time in about 5 years the Brewers have won consecutive Sunday games. They always seem to do poorly on Sunday, for whatever reason.


7/17/2005 03:48:00 PM



(7/17/2005 03:37:00 PM) - Al

A couple interesting notes from the Brewers' site:

Yost speaks of adding another reliever for the late innings, as Wise and Santana (and probably Eveland now as well) have been overused. Since a poster close to Eveland said on a message board that Wes O had been sent down when Dana was called up, I would assume he'd be the one going down, with Bennett or Cappellan coming up. That would move Ricky to a long man, along with DLR (in theory, as Jorge never pitches).

Doug Melvin is on a tour of the Crew's minor league teams, and called to say how good Nelson Cruz looked at the plate. I guess it doesn't matter if you have a long swing if you hit the ball.:)


7/17/2005 03:37:00 PM



(7/17/2005 01:51:00 PM) - Al

Magruder has to come out of the game after being hit on the elbow by a pitch. Too bad, as Lee certainly could have used an afternoon off, especially considering how hot it is in Milwaukee, and how hot it always is in St. Louis.

If Chris broke a bone, it will be interesting to see who the Crew brings up, I assume it would be Krynzel, as he can play all 3 defensive spots, though he hasn't been hitting at all. Meanwhile, Corey Hart is raking, recovering nicely after a slow start.


7/17/2005 01:51:00 PM



(7/17/2005 12:20:00 PM) - Al

So, do the Nationals play nothing except low-scoring close games? Pretty much, it would appear.

Nice debut by Dana Eveland. Rough around the edges, but he's 21 and in his 3rd pro season. Massive potential.


7/17/2005 12:20:00 PM


Saturday, July 16, 2005

(7/16/2005 06:57:00 PM) - Al

Useless nugget of info...if JJ Hardy is able to keep his current doubles pace going for a full 600 AB season, he'd have 41 of them. That seems pretty good for a youngster who is still learning.


7/16/2005 06:57:00 PM



(7/16/2005 05:27:00 PM) - Al

Before Mark A bought the team, speculation on possible ownership people included Mark Cuban and Oprah Winfrey. I know I said once that if Cuban owned the team, one thing he might consider is putting our AAA team in Madison, to keep players close by, create a WI fan mentality, and to provide cheap programming for a regional sports network a forward thinker like Cuban would probably start.

Turns out, the idea of Cuban buying a team wasn't as far-fetched as I figured it was.


7/16/2005 05:27:00 PM


Friday, July 15, 2005

(7/15/2005 11:03:00 PM) - Al

Greg Raymer discusses his last couple hands and his WSOP experience. He sure seems like a good guy.


7/15/2005 11:03:00 PM



(7/15/2005 10:12:00 PM) - Al

Let's see in what ways all is right with the world:

---Brewers win in extra innings.

---Key play is Chris Magruder's leadoff double in the 10th. I've defended Chris many times, as I feel he's a good reserve OF. If I had a young LH LF/RF, I'd love to protect his confidence by platooning him with Magruder, who is much better from the right side.

---Mike Matusow (I've seen his name spelled 4 different ways, I'm sorry, I have no idea which is correct) busts out in 9th place at the final table of the WSOP main event.

---And no, I have no idea what happened as far as the Bennett/Wes O swap. I'll check it out.

UPDATE: Bennett is injured, apparently. No move made as of yet.


7/15/2005 10:12:00 PM



(7/15/2005 12:02:00 AM) - Al

Once again, it's time for the most popular feature of Ramblings, the roundtable discussion, this time of the Brewers' first half of '05. We have veteran names that will be familiar to you, Robert, whose thoughts you often see here, past participants Greg, Bill, and Ben, as well as our newest contributor, Brett, whose work will begin to appear as he sees fit. Without further delay, let's begin.

AL: 42-46, how satisfied are you with that record at the break (note, this was conducted before Thursday's victory)?

BRETT: It's pretty much where I expected them to be, within a few games either way of .500. They are underperforming their Pythagoreon (proj. rec: 46-42), which probably indicates they have a good run in them. I'd say I really have no strong feelings about their record, though, I don't think their underachieving greatly, nor do I think they have played over their heads.

ROBERT: Within the context of pre-season expectations, they're about right where they should be. They could have won more games with some better luck, fundamentals, etc, so they've been a bit frustrating at times. Hopefully, their record will better match their runs scored / runs allowed ratio in the second half. It's nice to look at their rotation and lineup and know that they have a good chance to win every night. I don't think this team is playing over their heads at the break, unlike last year's team.

BILL: At the risk of appearing unreasonably optimistic, I must admit that I
am somewhat disappointed with the Brewers' record. The team's runs scored and runs allowed totals are very satisfying and should be reflected by a .500-or-better record. Instead, the Brewers are sporting a record four games *below* the break-even mark and I can't help but wonder "what if?" At the same time, the Brewers' first-half schedule was rather difficult and they have managed to remain within
striking distance of .500, a reasonable goal for a rebuilding club.

GREG: I`m very happy with the way the team has played. I`m disappointed
with the record only in comparison to the pythagorean projection. This
is an amazingly unlucky team, which just sucks in what should be a
breakout rebuilding year. But things have come together much better
than I expected.

BEN: 4 games under .500 is every bit as mediocre as it sounds. It always
feels as though the tough losses -- the bullpen implosion for Doug Davis
on the July 3rd -- linger more than the fortunate wins -- stealing the
opening win in the Marlins series the very next day, for instance.
Maybe that's why I can't help but feel as though they should be a little
better at this point.

AL: I guess I'll pretty much second Robert's thoughts here, they are about where I would have guessed, so I can't be too upset. The upside is there, to be sure. So, critique the job Doug Melvin is doing.

BRETT: I think he's doing a great job. The way he has built the bullpen for virtually nothing is exactly the way that most of us like to see. The one beef I have with him is that he didn't acquire a bat for the bench. I would have liked to see him pull off another Branyan-type deal where he picks up a veteran 28 or 29 year old for cash from some team that has no room for him on their roster. The Okha trade was great - who would have thought they'd get that much in return for Spivey? I didn't. Bringing up Fielder was a nice touch, as well. Aside from the bench, where I think Magruder should be replaced, and the fact that they are carrying 12 pitchers for some unknown reason, I'm happy with Melvin.

GREG: What can you say? The man pulls solid bullpens out of his butt; he
turned Junior Spivey into the pitcher the team needed; the Lee trade has worked out great, providing an enormous upgrade at two positions. He was even right about Cirillo. Now is when things will really get interesting for DM, because he actually has a lot of talent on hand. No Brewers GM for quite a while has had to make choices about which good players to keep. Also, the challenge now becomes to replace some good players with great ones. As someone said this morning at Brewerfan.net, the thing the Brewers are missing is a couple of 900+ OPS guys. Those are hard to find. I`m convinced Weeks can be one very soon, but I`m not sure how long Fielder will take. DM also needs to go get Kelly Shoppach before someone else does. He has done a brilliant job building a respectable team; now he has to build a winner.

AL: On that note, I see Weeks being a top 2B as early as next year. I see Prince being better than Lyle, though maybe not right away. I see Hardy as being an above average SS offensively. That's inmprovement from 3 spots, and it's easy to see Geoff being better, as well as an improved bench, as some minor leaguers are added to the bench. That should lead to some improvement right there.

BEN: Generally positive. I think he managed to get better trade value for
Junior Spivey than most exptected. More importantly, he managed to do so before Spivey wound up injuring himself hitting off a tee. I still wish he had brought in a SS / utility player rather than handing the starting spot to J.J. Hardy, though Bill Hall's play has largely negated that fear. The Damian Miller signing was a good one, but his injury exposed the lack of depth at the position; signing Borders and then trading him made things worse.

Carlos Lee and Scott Podsednik are both All-Stars, so the trade is essentially a wash (slightly favoring the Brewers, because Pods was voted in as a reserve). This isn't to suggest that the Brewers aren't better off with Lee than they would be with Pods, but that has more to do with the play of Brady Clark than an indictment of Podsednik.

ROBERT: Melvin is clearly doing a fine job. His major trades have worked out well, the overall depth of the organization is much improved, he rebuild an effective bullpen from scratch with limited money, he got more than I would have imagined for Spivey at a time when you would have thought the Brewers leverage was low, he brought up Weeks at the right time, etc. Helms and to a lesser extent Jenkins seem to be his only real signing mistakes and they're not major ones. Melvin seems to get alone well with other GMs and seems to be viewed as a serious GM who isn't wasting other people's time. Of course, now things are getting to a point where his job is going to get trickier. There's going to be a 40 man roster crunch, the Brewers have to figure out how to work in some young players where there isn't an obvious hole, and the Brewers have to figure out how to go from decent to contender status. Are they buyers or sellers at the deadline? Or both? And can Melvin become more of a salesman for the franchise so that the Brewers can interest free agents? I'd like to see a simulation on where the Brewers would be if they had been able to also land Matt Clement in the off-season.

BILL: Doug Melvin has done a fantastic job of overhauling the team's Major League roster during his tenure. He has also surrounded himself with a core of competent advisors that together have placed the franchise on what I perceive as the right track. This season, Melvin's swap of Junior Spivey for Tomo Ohka was a laudable move that simultaneously opened the second-base job for Rickie Weeks and bolstered the back end of the team's rotation. I have every confidence that Melvin has a strong vision for the Brewers' future and the managerial acumen to make it a reality.

AL:: I recall hearing Doug had turned down a Pods for Vicente Padilla deal this past winter, and I was stumped. Instead of Padilla, Doug ended up getting a comparable pitcher, Tomo Ohka, for Junior Spivey, and managed to flip Scott (and Vizcaino) for Carlos Lee, proof of what you can accomplish if you are fortunate enough to be able to add payroll and have a player Kenny Williams desires.

Since then, I've just stood back in awe and watched Mr. Melvin make timely, well thought out moves, trying to balance out doing what's best for the prospect and the major league club. I would just like to add this to the discussion, at no time has Doug added a prospect of note to a trade, despite the system depth that would allow him to do so. I think he knows that the Crew's biggest strength is a vast pool of plus minor leaguers, yet wants to see that group succeed or fail before starting to trade the excess. I call this the "you never know" mentality, as whenever you trade Joe Prospect because he's blocked by Jimmy Phenom, Jimmy blows out a knee or fails to hit at AAA. I hope Doug gets the contract extension he deserves, and soon.

OK, let's discuss Ned Yost and any coaches you wish to.

BRETT: I'm pretty much indifferent on Yost. He'll get an extension, and I guess I'm fine with that. I can't really think of anyone that would do a better job that's available or would be, except maybe Jim Tracy. I will say that I think Yost "gets it" a lot more than those of us that are "stat-heads" think. He still bunts more than I would like, and his bullpen management is kind of puzzling at times, as is his insistence on bringing the infield in, but some of that could be attributed to him being a still rather inexperienced manager. I think the manager is irrelevant for the most part, anyway. Same goes for the coaches - very rarely do you even notice when they win the team a game, but it sure feels sometimes like they lose them. What's not to like about Maddux, though? He's great, and so is Dauer - the fact that they are first in DER is nice, and his Alien defense seems to work pretty well. I like Wynegar as well, as unpopular an opinion as that may be. I think he preaches patience and discipline, which is all we can ask for. You just have to hope the players can carry it out. Yost and the coaches futures depend on the players carrying out the plan.

ROBERT: I'm OK with Yost as well. He still makes some tactical errors, he seems to have a slow hook, his bullpen usage patterns are sometimes erratic, and he's been a bit too aggressive on the basepaths this year, but there's nothing major. On the plus side, he has found playing time for Bill Hall, he's been patient with Hardy, he's had reasonable lineups for the most part, and he's certainly a positive face for the organization. They do have to start winning by 2007 though. Maddux and Dauer have obviously done great jobs. I'm indifferent to Wynegar, Jenkins is the only player that really has no excuse for his performance, but I have a hard time blaming Wynegar when Jenkins is swinging at junk in the dirt. I don't think Wynegar is irreplacable, but I don't think he's any worse than your average batting coach. Donnelly deserves some criticism though. He's not Wendell Kim, but he's certainly cost the team runs. The coaches and the training staff also deserve kudos for avoiding injuries, being patient with injured players so they don't reaggravate injuries, and getting players back in a reasonable amount of time.

BILL: When a team over or underperforms its Pythagorean projections one of the first explanations usually is the skillfulness (or lack thereof) of the club's field manager. With the Brewers seemingly underachieving, one plausible explanation could be Ned Yost's tactical shortcomings. While the importance of a manager's in-game moves is often overstated, Yost has certainly made many questionable decisions this season and it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility that these have cost the
Crew a few wins in close contests. At the same time, Yost's players remain vigilant in defending him and his coaching staff and he is always described as a hard-worker who does his best for the team.

Finding an appropriate balance between tactical ability and clubhouse management is difficult and I don't pretend to know for certain whether Yost is, on-balance, a good or bad manager. I would be hesitant to commit to him long-term, however, until he demonstrates an ability to handle young players and their incumbent struggles and sensitivities. I have long believed that the team is grooming current Nashville
manager Frank Kremblas as their skipper of the future and if Yost fails to improve as a tactical manager and handler of young players over the next year, I would not be surprised to see Kremblas in Milwaukee.

The more important task for Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin, in my view, is to secure the services of Rich Dauer, Bill Castro, and Mike Maddux in particular for another handful of seasons. Maddux' work with the team's pitching staff has been remarkable and he is quickly developing a reputation across baseball as a top-tier pitching coach. Dauer's work as an infield defense coach and architect of the Brewers' "alien defense" shouldn't be sold short, either, and Castro has continued to take young Latin players under his wing while helping Maddux to craft an above-average bullpen out of waiver claims and minor league free agents.

The hot topic, of course, is hitting coach Butch Wynegar and his seeming inability to improve the team's "situational hitting" and performance in the clutch. I am uncertain as to whether a change would improve the team's fortunes and am hesitant to advocate that a man whose work ethic is unquestioned ought to lose his job. Still, at some point the organization needs to consider moving in another direction
even if the problem is not Wynegar so much as his ability to connect with his players.

AL: Allow me to chime in with Bill's theory about Kremblas is a very unique one. If the Crew decides to part ways with Yost, I think they'll have their choice of much more desired names than Kremblas.

GREG: I don`t see enough games to appreciate Yost`s in-game decisions, good or bad. I`ve always felt he was a generally smart manager whose best attribute was his willingness to learn and adapt. I think he has played the right guys this year, for the most part. I worry that his handling of pitchers has taken a step backward ---his greater indulgence for high-pitch outings is mildly disturbing, although he seems to get where the danger line is; also, the Brewers shouldn`t have had to
endure last week`s bullpen meltdown, given how good the starters are. But in
general, he seems to be using what he got to get what he wants, which is all a manager can do.

BEN: I'm going to start with Rich Dauer, because I believe he doesn't get as
much credit as is deserved for positioning the infield. It's a rarity to hear the announcers say that an opposing batter "beats the shift" when Dauer rolls out the alien defense. I'm amazed other teams aren't imitating it yet.

Ned Yost is an average manager. He does things I disagree with (letting the starting pitcher hit when his pitch count is on the wrong side of 100), but he also does a good job motivating the players, and has been known to spot a trend or two faster than a few saber-friends of ours (Overbay's slump against lefties comes to mind).

Butch Wynegar....I'd be much more critical of him, except I know that a number of players don't appear to be listening to him. Heck, J.J. Hardy has even said publicly that he's no longer following Wynegar's instructions, and is focused on pulling the ball. I know that no single approach to hitting works for everyone, but it is disconcerting that some players are tuning him out.

Mike Maddux has done an exemplary job once again in taking players off the scrap heap and turning them into effective major leaguers.

AL: What amazes me is how rarely Dauer's odd positionings of the infielders gets beat. I'd make a handshake agreement with Maddux, as it would not be proper to sign your pitching coach to a longer deal than the manager. He's been spectacular. I do not blame Wynegar at all, as I agree with his philosophy, but feel a different voice may be called for. I watch every game I can, and I can't say I've seen a single bad decision to send home a runner. Maybe I missed some, but the outs I've seen have been close plays with 2 outs, a good risk.

OK, let's talk about the players that have surprised you.

BRETT: I wouldn't say I'm really all that surprised by anything that has happened, though I guess I wouldn't have expected such a great performance from the bullpen guys like Wise and Turnbow. Same goes for Clark, anyone that read my other blog new that I was a big supporter of his before the season and expected him to do well, but not this well. The walk rate is troubling with Brady, though. Hall may be turning the corner, but that's a big may. In my eyes he's still a hacker, and I'd expect him to drop off.

ROBERT: Jeff Cirillo. I thought he was toast, but he was great against lefties and he wasn't an embarrassment against righties. And he played fine defense. Certainly he's earned his spot on the roster. Nobody would have predicted that Matt Wise would be pitching this well. Turnbow and Santana were also pleasant surprises. Bill Hall made more of an improvement, especially defensively, than I thought possible. That Capuano seems to be in fine health is also somewhat surprising.

BILL: Billy Hall's improvements top this list for me and I am hopeful that he
will be able to maintain them over the course of the season. Already it appears that his newfound plate discipline has regressed significantly and he still suffers occasional lapses in the field. Nonetheless, Hall might finally be turning into the "Miguel Tejada lite" that so many observers felt was his future ceiling. I'll
hold off judgment until the end of the year, but even a .275/.325/.425 line from Hall will make him a valuable piece of a competitive team's puzzle.

Other positive surprises include the performance of Jeff Cirillo, the work of relievers Julio Santana and Derrick Turnbow, and job that Chris Capuano has done in the rotation. While I had anticipated that Santana, Turnbow, and Capuano would pitch well, Cirillo's renaissance took me completely by surprise.

BEN: Chris Capuano has more wins than days on the DL [knocks on wood]. As
good as he's been at throwing to the plate, he's embarrassed more major leaguers with his throws to first.

Bill Hall played like an All-Star for about a month and a half. The past month or so has left me fearing a regression to the mean (on offense and defense, he went from zero errors at shortstop to four seemingly overnight). Up to this point, however, it's still been a positive surprise.

I don't think the Brewers have had a fastball/change up guy as good as Matt Wise since Doug Jones. You can do a lot with control & changing speeds. He's sporting a better K/9 rate than Turnbow (who's a pleasant surprise himself).

GREG: This is obvious: Hall and Turnbow. Clark hasn`t really surprised me; he`s playing at peak Brady Clark range. I`ve been a believer in Hall, but he has taken a giant step this year under difficult conditions. Turnbow has come out of nowhere; for that matter, so has half the bullpen or more. I guess I`m also surprised that Santos has pitched as well as he has; that Weeks is already a quality big league regular; and that DM got value-plus for Junior Spivey. I won`t call
Capuano a surprise, because I knew all along he could do this; I`m just thrilled he has stayed healthy.

AL: I'm having a tough time, as all the pleasant numbers belong to players I felt would be fine, I advocated Hall as the regular SS (a mighty lonely stance, I might add), Clark would be fine, Cappy fine if healthy, I still think Wise would be a fine addition to the rotation, Turnbow has always been a hard thrower who needed guidance. I have been impressed with Santana's emergence as the fireballing 8th inning man, but most of all, I'm shocked Carlos Lee has been as good as he has.

Now the opposite...who has disappointed you?

BRETT: I guess I'd say Jenkins for a couple months, but he's hit a little better lately. Ditto for Hardy - it's a shame he had such a poor first couple months, because he's likely to be at least respectable for the rest of the season, but his numbers will still look bad. I was disappointed with the quick hook for Adams. I'm still a fan of his, and I don't quite get why the Brewers aren't. Spivey was a disappointment, but thankfully he's gone.

GREG: Obviously I wish JJ had gotten going faster. I think he`s going to
be a plus hitter, so his miserable start is a big letdown. I thought Jenkins would come back strong, and he hasn`t. Really, the biggest disappointment has been Sheets. He`s our best player, but the virus has kept him from showing it. The thing is, these aren`t huge disappointments. No one is absolutely cratering; no huge injuries have hurt the team (although Branyan was big -- does everyone realize how good he is?). An almost bizarre number of players are doing exactly what a reasonably optimistic projection would, um, project.

ROBERT: Jenkins has certainly been a disappointment, but he's played well defensively and he has shown signs of life. Hardy's struggles are understandable. Jorge De La Rosa hasn't shown much of anything and it's difficult to justify an expanded role that he'll need to develop.

BEN: Vestibular Neuritis. Not an indictment of Sheets, so much as a hope that I'd never hear the phrase again during my lifetime.

Sticking with pitching, it was disappointing to see Mike Adams lose the closer spot for failing to get ahead of hitters. He's doing fairly well in AAA, however, so chances are he'll get another shot.

Anytime Geoff Jenkins has an OPS under .800, that's a disappointment.

I'm willing to accept bad hitting from a rookie like J.J. Hardy who's in the majors because of his defense, but Chad Moeller is a major league vet who's been every bit as bad. Also, if you're Ben Sheet's personal catcher, your cERA shouldn't be half a run higher than the other guy.

BILL: Geoff Jenkins and Lyle Overbay, certainly, and the time that Ben Sheets
missed with vestibular neuritis. I bought in to the conventional wisdom that Carlos Lee's presence would make up for Jenkins' shortcomings and help him become a 900-OPS hitter once again and obviously that hasn't been the case. Overbay's struggles come as even more of a shock, however, as it seemed early in the season that he would be able to replicate his numbers from the first half of 2004 with ease. Finally, Mike Adams' struggles and knee-jerk demotion came as a big surprise and I still feel as though he deserved a more extended opportunity to work out his problems in Milwaukee.

AL: I'm disappointed in Wes O's inconsistency, awesome-mediocre-horrible from game-to-game. Adams losing faith in his fastball, and Davis, despite his wins, seemingly nibbling a great deal as well. Finally, Sheets had an inner ear problem, but took forever to get his "stuff" back afterwards. He missed a month, but he's really only been himself for 3-5 starts.

All right then, the trading deadline is near...who do you think will be a former member of the Brewers before the season is over? Any idea what the Crew will look for in return?

,b>BRETT: Probably a couple of bullpen guys, likely Santana and/or Bottalico. Maybe Clark, but I'd doubt it unless they really got a great offer for him, same for Overbay. I'd guess that the deals will look a lot like the other deals they have made since Melvin has been there, a veteran for an organizational soldier or a live arm, or two. If it's Clark or Overbay, probably quite a bit more. Mostly I think the spare parts guys will be gone, though, not some of the better guys. Ohka could go, too.

ROBERT: I think Melvin is just posturing on Overbay and if he gets good value at the deadline, he'll pull the trigger. Bottalico will be gone, but I'm not expecting anything of immediate value for him. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see at least one of Santos, Ohka, Hendrickson or De La Rosa traded. Starting pitching prospects with upside to be a #2 or #3 and an upper level catching prospect have to be the main targets. Yusmeiro Petit, Jeff Mathis, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Quiroz, Gerald Laird, and Jeremy Brown are probably on the Brewers' shopping list. It's quite possible that the Brewers could be sellers and improve.

BILL: I would anticipate that Ricky Bottalico will be gone by the deadline and that other potential trade candidates include Tomo Ohka, Victor Santos, Wes Helms, and Julio Santana. None of those trading chips will net the team a top-tier catching prospect so I would expect that they will target young and inexpensive arms. There is still an outside chance that Lyle Overbay or Brady Clark will be dealt but I am
unconvinced that Melvin is willing to part with them so long as the Brewers have a shot at .500.

BEN: I know Melvin has said that he doesn't think you can get as good a value trading position players during the year, but there are a number of teams who could use an upgrade at first. Also, having seen Fielder during his call-up, I have to believe someone will make a run at Overbay.

History suggests one or two players from the bullpen will draw interest; I'm uessing Bottalico and/or Santana.

I won't make any pronouncements to who they should try to trade for (Kelly Shoppach), so long as the players are both young and major-league ready.

GREG: Botallico, if he hasn`t pitched himself off the trade market. Really, anybody in the bullpen who garners a good offer could be gone. I don`t get some people`s zeal to deal Ohka, but either he or Santos is expendable as part of a major deal (i.e., Kelly Shoppach). Overbay, obviously, is about to become expendable; it`s just a question whether somebody overpays based on Doug`s "trade position players in the offseason" noise. As for what to get: (1) a catcher; (2) a starting pitching upgrade; (distant 3) an outfield upgrade. I`m no longer worried about 3B, in particular. Beyond catcher, the goal has to be what I mentioned above: replacing a good player with a great one. That seems most likely to happen (which isn`t to say it`s very likely at all, because it`s hard) in the rotation or the outfield.

AL: Kelly Shoppach. There, just wanted to mention his name as well.:) FYI, Kelly is a AAA C for the Red Sox, who is blocked by Varitek and knuckleball-specialist Doug Mirabelli in Beantown. BOS needs some relief help and Overbay may be an upgrade to Millar, so it's possible he could be part of a package, but it seems doubtful. Botallico will all but certainly be gone, Helms as well. Santana, Santos, and Ohka will all be discussed. As for what the Crew will look for, I differ from Doug Melvin, as I'd look for lower level players to replenish the system, as AA and AAA look loaded. However, Doug has stated numerous times he wants to win now, and wants major league ready players, or some that are close.

Guessing time...predict the final record.

BRETT: I said 82-80 before the season, and I'll stick with that.

ROBERT: I thought 75 wins was about right before the season and I'll stick with it. I don't think they're going to do anything really aggressive at the deadline and I think we'll see more youngsters in September. More wins that that wouldn't surprise me, less would.

BILL: 81-81.

BEN: 82-80. Spring Hopes Attorney.:)

GREG: 82-80.

AL: I think I also said in the 75 range. This team could stay healthy, get some breaks, and get that .500 season, without a doubt. However, I'd say 77.

Any other thoughts?

BRETT: I'd still like to see the Brewers give Hendrickson or de la Rosa a legit shot at being a starter. I hope Adams is back in the bigs soon, as well. And I'd like to thank Al for inviting me to write here, and participate in this roundtable.

ROBERT: I'd really like to see the Brewers make some sort of bold move at the deadline, whether being buyers or sellers. They have a lot of nice players on the major league roster and in the minors, but they're going to need several more impact players to compete with the Cardinals and the better teams of the NL. Magruder, Moeller and Durrington are weak spots, but they're not particularly weaker than most bench players. Santos and Ohka compare favorably to most 4th and 5th starters. But that type of thinking only really gets you to .500. With the 40 man roster going to be a log jam in the offseason, quantity for quality is going to be a repeated theme. I think the Brewers are aware enough of their situation that they'll be proactive at the deadline.

AL: I have done some weak investigation on the offseason 40, and I see very few substantial losses. However, I will say that the Crew may well lose a decent prospect in the Rule 5 draft for the first time in recent memory. I would not change my plans, however.

BEN: Because the pitching staff has been so healthy [knocks on wood, again], most of the load in the bullpen has been placed on the same set of guys. Given the way some of the relievers were hit around before the break, I'm a little bit concerned about fatigue. For that reason, I'd like to see de La Rosa get a chance to pitch when the team is ahead 4 or more runs (instead of behind by that margin).

Since I don't think I've mentioned his name yet tonight, Rickie Weeks has been as good as advertised. Looking back, one would have to be a complete idiot to have advocated selecting Kyle Sleeth over Rickie. So, if you're ever in Miller Park, and see someone in the bleachers reacquainting himself with the taste of shoe leather, feel free to stop by and say "Hello."

GREG: This is still a rebuilding team, but it`s entering a new phase. With all respect to the live-for-today contingent at Brewerfan.net, we still aren`t ready to overpay for present value, and we could actually stand to shore up the low minors if real prospects are available in the right deal. But the time has come to focus seriously on tooling up the major league team for a championship run within the next few years. It hasn`t been this much fun to root for the Brewers since at least 1992, if not 1987.

AL: Carlos Lee needs some days off, or he may have a weak second half. While the team lacks overall depth, has the Brewers ever had a utility IF as good as Hall (this is assuming that JJ is the starting SS and Branyan the 3B)? I've said a few times that this club's reserves are actually more in AAA Nashville than on the MIL bench. For example, Krynzel looks more like a reserve every day he fails to put up more than a 750 OPS in a league where Gary Glover is an ace.

And allow me to close with a common sentiment of mine, that I think echos many other optimistic views...it's a great time to be a Brewers' fan, and a year from now will be even better.

Thanks to all the participants, who once again did a fantastic job. Much appreciated, guys.


7/15/2005 12:02:00 AM


Thursday, July 14, 2005

(7/14/2005 10:04:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Bennett's Bf.net profile

Just short of a K per IP, 2-1 K/BB ratio, 33 hits in 45 innings, just over 1 baserunner per IP. 3.20 ERa is a tad higher than you'd like to see in AAA, but one bad appearance could have easily raised it a run.

Dana Eveland's Bf.net player profile

Solid AA numbers, but not dominant, as Huntsville is a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league.


7/14/2005 10:04:00 PM



(7/14/2005 09:30:00 PM) - Al

UPDATE: Link from San Jose Mercury News, confirming only Eveland's call-up. Hat tip Ajay and Bf.net.

UPDATE: Wes Obermueller is one of the pitchers sent down. Wes actually pitched very nicely in relief, but he'll go down to get some innings.

I have to believe that despite his 3.10 ERA in relief, one of the main reasons for his demotion was the 27 walks versus 25 K's. If memory serves, Mike Adams was "pitching around" hitters when he was demoted as well.

A few years ago, Grumpy Stewart preached it, and now, the braintrust simply doesn't tolerate it.

It's a good time to be a Brewers fan.:)

Also, it should be noted that many teams would simply love to add Mike or Wes to their relief corps. While the team has improved, their depth is simply off the charts. I would say that Bennett would have been my 4th or 5th choice, and I didn't even know Eveland was under consideration for a big league promotion.


7/14/2005 09:30:00 PM



(7/14/2005 08:53:00 PM) - Al

Greg Raymer out in 25th place, went all-in with KK, lost to a flush on the river (by the way, this happens to me on a daily basis).

Mike Matasow is in first place. When they read the chip counts, and said Mike was in first, the crowd booed. Apparently, I'm not the only one who hates the fact a common criminal may well win the WSOP.


7/14/2005 08:53:00 PM



(7/14/2005 06:39:00 PM) - Al

Brian at BF.net is reporting that pitchers Jeff Bennett and Dana Eveland will soon be promoted to the Brewers, and two current Brewers' arms will be demoted or DFA'd.

Will update when more is known.


7/14/2005 06:39:00 PM



(7/14/2005 12:04:00 AM) - Al

Fox is premiering a new sitcom called "The War at Home" . . . on September 11? Please tell me that's a mistake.---Baseball Crank

No mistake. I'm not the least bit offended by the premiere date (though it's a bit un PC, to say the least), but the mere idea that a sitcom has "war" in the title should have been stopped by someone several levels down from who eventually gave it the final green light.

Also on the PC front, I saw an ad for the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie, and I could have sworn the car did not have Confederate flag on the door, just a "01". I can understand the reasoning, but it seems very strange without it there.


7/14/2005 12:04:00 AM


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

(7/13/2005 10:55:00 PM) - Al

I have to admit, I agree completely with Hillary on this one. At the end of the Cold War, the cuts were fast and furious, leaving us stretched to the limit.

I said a long time ago we needed to do a straight 50% raise of military payroll, and I still feel that way. While the Army and Marines have both fallen short of recruiting goals some months (the Marines are likely to still make their annual goal, the Army is not), the reenlistment rates have been excellent, assisted by bonuses (Though I've read a couple articles that suggested that many join the armed forces to fight, and even compared it to signing up to play baseball, and just training 8 hours a day, many would quit and go home. But, if you sign up to play baseball and you get to play baseball, odds are you'd reenlist.) of course.

Time will tell, but "relaxing" the tight requirements would easily fill the ranks, as proof, remember in the early 80's, the military had twice as many members, all voluntarily there as well.


7/13/2005 10:55:00 PM



(7/13/2005 10:40:00 PM) - Al

John Sickels discusses his preseason top 20 list of Brewers' top prospects. He seems pleased with most.


7/13/2005 10:40:00 PM



(7/13/2005 09:55:00 PM) - Al

I'd like to announce a birth to the Ramblings family...Brett, formerly of Brew Grit has joined our group of writers. He took part in our midseason roundtable and will be a fine addition, as I've enjoyed his thoughts and opinions often.

Welcome Brett, it's great to have you.


7/13/2005 09:55:00 PM



(7/13/2005 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Heya Al,

I'd take ya one better. Now that Raymer has made it down to 58 to go,
I think it's the greatest poker accomplishment ever. I mean Harrington
made it through fields of 2,600 and 800 to make final tables. Greg has
made it through 2,600 and now over 6,000 to make it down to basically
6 tables left. It doesn't look like he's in as good of shape as he was
last year, but with his aggressive style, he could get back into it.
And apparently, there is at least one woman left in the field. The
last one to make it to final table was Annie Duke...I think that was
2000?

Mike



Mike wrote me late last night, as of this minute, Raymer has made the final 35 in good shape, going all-in and doubling up against the lone woman left in the field, Tiffany Someone. KK held up versus AJ for Greg. That has left Tiff short-stacked, so it's doubtful she'll make the final table now.

As for "the greatest accomplishment", that's tough to say, but without a doubt, it is simply incredible, almost a mathematical impossibility. I'll wait until he makes the final table to call it anything more than that.:)

FYI, as for Duke, she finished 10th in the main event in either '00 or '01, so technically, no woman has ever made the final table, as they say the last 9 is the final...even though they go to one table when it reaches 10 remaining.

Remember, you can read all about the goings on at the WSOP by clicking the link under our e-mail addys.


7/13/2005 09:48:00 PM



(7/13/2005 11:51:00 AM) - Al

A Milwaukee company has been formed to attempt to lure Major League Soccer to the city, according to the JS. The Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Chicago seem to be the "hotbeds" for soccer in the Upper Midwest, probably due to the large ethnic populations, in part.

I am not sure how this would effect the Brewers (if at all), as MLS clubs usually only play a single game a week, and pro soccer fans tend to not be huge fans of other sports. I would say that Mark A should look to make pals with the group and even throw some cash towards them to be a minority partner of the team, if it ever becomes reality. At the very least, it'd be nice to come to some sort of scheduling arrangement, so as to never play at the same time.


7/13/2005 11:51:00 AM


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

(7/12/2005 09:58:00 PM) - Al

I will know if I ever become wealthy...because if I do, I will go to the hospital when I get the flu.

Wonder if he considered fluids and rest?


7/12/2005 09:58:00 PM



(7/12/2005 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Too bad Kenny Rogers got drilled, huh?

What a selfish clod. It's always a sign you are a fool when punching a water cooler and breaking a finger is the 2nd stupidest thing you've done this year

I started watching Court TV tonight at 6 (2 hours of Cops!) as I played poker online, and never turned it over to the game until about 9:30. It was in commercial, and I giggled at the cable pop-up that said 7-10. I estimated the game was in the top of the 6th, and I guess I was an inning off.

Felipe Lopez is an all-star? Didn't he get sent down last season?


7/12/2005 09:41:00 PM



(7/12/2005 04:14:00 PM) - Al

I think it's official, Ollie Stone has gone flat out bonkers. Hat tip to Glenn.

Of course, when you visit Fidel Castro and return saying what a great leader he is, the trip to the padded walls and velcro shoes is a mighty short one.


7/12/2005 04:14:00 PM



(7/12/2005 03:53:00 PM) - Al

For the trading day ending 7/11/05:

826 stocks established new 52 week highs, 17 stocks established new 52 week lows, Investor's Business Daily


I'm not sure if there's a more secure sign of an upcoming rally than numbers like that. That's just short of a 50-1 margin.

I have found that whenever I investigate a company, nearly 80-90% are within a few points of their 52 week highs. Being a value investor (hence my love of the most successful retailer the world has ever known trading so cheaply), I look for good companies that are selling at under what they "should be". The ironic thing is, with stocks seemingly all so close to their highs, when I locate one that looks good and is currently not near its peak, I say to myself, "Hey, this one looks great...I wonder what's wrong with it"?


7/12/2005 03:53:00 PM



(7/12/2005 09:16:00 AM) - Al

Almost 6000 people started, and after Day 3 (well, actually Day 5, as there was Day 1A, 1B and 1C) of the World Series of Poker, last year's champion, Greg Raymer...is in 1st place?

It was an upset when he made the money, having to fight through that many players, who regardless of skill, are just one lucky card away from knocking you out. If he were to make it to the final table again, it may go down as the greatest feat in poker history.


7/12/2005 09:16:00 AM



(7/12/2005 08:53:00 AM) - Al

All right then, it appears the Home Run Derby will be finished any minute now...


7/12/2005 08:53:00 AM


Monday, July 11, 2005

(7/11/2005 04:22:00 PM) - Al

King Gleeman points out this is unintentionally hilarious. Rob Dibble is as dense as they come. To think he'd make the DevilRays an instant contender is simply incorrect. He's a nice player, but nothing more.


7/11/2005 04:22:00 PM


Sunday, July 10, 2005

(7/10/2005 10:40:00 PM) - Al

JS with a story about Yost's future, but a much more important item is mentioned in the article, which is Doug Melvin's future, as his deal expires after 2006.

Melvin has rebuilt a horrible franchise from rock bottom (with some minor league talent, mind you). I'm much more concerned with Mark A extending Doug's deal through 2008 or 2009 than I am Ned.


7/10/2005 10:40:00 PM


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