Al's Ramblings

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

(1/31/2006 07:35:00 PM) - Al

For those of you who missed Jim Cramer's special show tonight on the ten best manufacturing stocks to own, the recap can be found here. I was glad to see two of my holdings (Caterpillar and Dow Chemical) included, as well as John Deere, which has been on my watch list for ages.

As I've mentioned before, if you're not watching Mad Money (CNBC, 5PM), you're missing an entertaining hour in which you might just learn a few things.

1/31/2006 07:35:00 PM

(1/31/2006 01:57:00 PM) - Al

Keep those RUTT nominations coming, just click the "e-mail Al" on the sidebar. Don't worry if you are unsure if they make too much money, or other criteria. If they are a player with upside and they can't find a spot to play, send 'em in.

1/31/2006 01:57:00 PM

(1/31/2006 01:51:00 PM) - Al

I turned on the TV this afternoon, and the 1979 Super Bowl highlights were on. Two quick thoughts:

1. I remember this being a complete blowout, but the Rams were ahead 19-17 going into the 4th quarter.

2. I still find it all but impossible, but supposedly, all 45 players on the Steelers' active roster had only played for PIT...not a single player had ever played for any other NFL team. I realize this was before free agency, but it still seems impossible they had never picked up a player on waivers or in trade.

1/31/2006 01:51:00 PM

(1/31/2006 10:38:00 AM) - Al

Join us for 6 hours of NFL Countdown, starting at 11AM Sunday.--ESPN promo

I'd rather chew off my own arm to escape from a trap.

1/31/2006 10:38:00 AM

Monday, January 30, 2006

(1/30/2006 06:01:00 PM) - Al


The other day I was home sick, and I spent some time looking through the archives. I read you RUTT picks and was surprised how many very good players you picked before they were well known, Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg being the two that jumped out at me. I did not find one for last year, I was curious to know if you planned on doing one for the coming season. Love the blog.


Thanks for reading and writing, Henry.

I spaced on doing the RUTT (Ramblings Underutilized Talent Team) last year, but now after being reminded, plan on doing one later this week. If you have nominations, e-mail them to me before the end of the week. One player, Lew Ford of the Twins, was mentioned on every single "ballot" 2 years ago, and ended up being an all-star.

In order to qualify for RUTT, you have to be 29 or younger, unsigned as of today (1/30), and if signed, not be counted on to start and making less than $2 million. Any player that could be considered a "true prospect" is also ineligible. While the definition of this is just kind of my call, the best example I can give is this:

Looking at the Brewers' reserve OF candidates, Corey Hart is not eligible, and neither is Nelson Cruz, as both are highly thought of by many. But, Gabe Gross (former #1 pick, now seen as a reserve) has seen his star fall enough that he could be on the team, as has Dave Krynzel (3rd year in AAA).

Hopefully, this year's team will have as much success as past members of the roster, such as Ensberg, Lane, Ford, David Ortiz (remember, MIN non-tendered him because they had Doug M), Ronnie Belliard, Marcos Scutaro, Keith Ginter, Bobby Kielty, Craig Wilson, Russ Branyan, and Mike Cuddyer.

Meanwhile, my notable miss was Jack Cust, which is a reminder to keep park effects in mind. I'm also disappointed I never put Brady Clark on the team, as I felt he could be a decent CF long ago...though he was never young enough to qualify, I don't believe.

Send in those nominations, and a short note on why you feel they would be a good choice. I stick with offensive positions, as it is simply too difficult to pick a starting staff out of guys that are "not being considered" for a starting spot.

1/30/2006 06:01:00 PM

(1/30/2006 05:49:00 PM) - Al

Second baseman/outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. agreed to a one-year, $2.3 million deal Monday with the Chicago Cubs and avoided a salary arbitration hearing.


Hairston---.334/.371, 705 OPS, 124 OXS
Ave 2B,'05-.337/.412, 749 OPS, 139 OXS

If you keep throwing $2M deals to every below average player that comes along, odds are you'll be in the midst of a jillion year World Series drought.

Hairston is a nice guy to pick up after being non-tendered for $500K. Pretending he's more than a cog on the bench is putting hope before history.

There a probably a dozen veteran AAA guys who could put up a 700 OPS for the league minimum (Matt Erickson comes to mind, and for that matter, is Keith Ginter on a 40 man?).

$2M here, $2M there...pretty soon, you're talking about real money.:)

1/30/2006 05:49:00 PM

(1/30/2006 05:17:00 PM) - Al

Ann reports the Kennedy led group fail in delaying the Alito vote...just how out of touch are the 2 MA senators?

I have no opinion whatsoever on Mr. Alito, but I will say this...the mere idea of a filibuster in 2006 is extremely offensive to me. It's an idea that was stupid way back when, and is beyond mentioning now. Quit wasting time and pass the bills at hand, ladies and gentlemen.

1/30/2006 05:17:00 PM

(1/30/2006 05:01:00 PM) - Al

Adam's weekly mailbag talks about the batting order, which bores me to tears, as it barely makes a ripple of difference in the amount of runs scored.

That said, it's nice to see there are so many logical combinations, as just a couple years ago, Eddie Perez "hitting" 7th and Royce Clayton "batting" 8th were a given. Most of the e-mailers have either Hardy or Miller hitting in the #8 spot, and both of them should be above average offensive producers given their defensive position.

1/30/2006 05:01:00 PM

(1/30/2006 09:16:00 AM) - Al

BUSH BREAKS FIFTY PERCENT APPROVAL on the Rasmussen poll. He's been trending up there for several days. I'm not sure why, but it seems as if he does better whenever John Kerry and Ted Kennedy get face time on the national news. The Democrats would be wise to let other people represent them.--Instapundit

That's exactly what I've said for years. Kennedy is hailed as a hero to the tax and spend far left, and is seen as a drunken idiot by everyone else. The mere fact he's still a much seen Dem, turning off independents and moderates every second, is a mystery to me. I see this like I do protestors stopping traffic and being simply doesn't play in middle America.

1/30/2006 09:16:00 AM

(1/30/2006 09:00:00 AM) - Al

Courtesy of Dave Pinto, Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner have become friends.

Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd took home the "Good Guy" award, while Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner -- forever linked by that famous groundball in the 1986 World Series -- received the "Willie, Mickey and The Duke" award.

Wilson, one of the most popular players in Mets history, spoke at the podium about the former Boston first baseman.

"Billy and I are really good friends now and we see each other quite a lot. He is a true friend and he is a true professional," Wilson said. "As great as that moment was for myself and New York City, I don't think that defines Bill Buckner's life or career."

I've mentioned many times before that it is truly one of the most unfair memories we have. Buckner was an outstanding player, not too far away from being a Hall of Famer, and to recall him for missing a ground ball is simply offensive to common sense.

It also tells you something about how cynical the East Coast is, as Boston and Philadelphia are both known for being very tough and unfair, as is New York. Meanwhile, Scott Norwood is much beloved in Buffalo despite his missed field goal. Even though it is also in the East, northern New York is comparable to the Midwest for the most part, having proud traditions in both manufacturing and agriculture.

Bill Buckner should be hailed for his career, as well as how well he's handled how his error has been overreacted to.

1/30/2006 09:00:00 AM

(1/30/2006 08:32:00 AM) - Al

At Home Plate with a look at how he expects the offense of the Crew to do compared to last year. Somewhat clumsily written, but take it for what it's worth.

He does make one point at the very end, that of the regulars, only Brady Clark had to go on the disabled list, everyone else was healthy, except for bumps and bruises. That is indeed unlikely to occur again in '06, and that's why the depth of Hall, Hart, and Gross will be vital.

1/30/2006 08:32:00 AM

Sunday, January 29, 2006

(1/29/2006 02:36:00 PM) - Al

One of the better notes columns I've seen all offseason is in the JS today.

Money points:

--Yost will sign an extension soon.

--No one sounds real optimistic about Carlos Lee being around after 2006...maybe not past the trading deadline, depending on how Hart and Cruz perform.

--A AAA mention, with Gwynn and Krynzel, both CF's, will both be there, along with Nelson Cruz, who the team thinks can play there, and Brad Nelson, still a prospect at 22. I assume Brad will play 1B and the others will bounce around, as all three should know how to play all three spots.

1/29/2006 02:36:00 PM

Saturday, January 28, 2006

(1/28/2006 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Last night, I was helping my 3 year-old make dessert. As we completed our task, he jumped down from our bar-type chair that he was sitting on...we're not really sure what happened, I think he never let go of the back of the chair, which resulted in him pulling it down with him...on top of my toe.

Years ago, I broke my little toe when I walked into a magazine stand. It hurt for a couple months, as it rubbed on my shoe and was quite tender. I went to the doctor, then a specialist, and they all said there was nothing they could do. The only interesting thing about the entire incident is it always aggravated me that they always referred to it as "the 5th toe", even though I called it my little toe. It just always seemed like they were going out of their way to make it sound more medical.

So, I am all but positive I broke my "4th toe", as it looks ten times worse than my little toe ever did. Thankfully, it only rubs on the tip, as opposed to the little one, which rubbed along the entire side, hence, much less pain thus far. Andrew told his mommy today after lunch when he got down from the same chair that "I have to do this carefully." Thank goodness for that.

If you take a look at the photo, you'll note the slight discoloration.:)

1/28/2006 09:54:00 PM

Friday, January 27, 2006

(1/27/2006 06:58:00 PM) - Al

Google "French military victories", and this is what you get:

You can't make that stuff up. I guess it is actually a Canadian student's creation. Still very funny.

1/27/2006 06:58:00 PM

(1/27/2006 01:14:00 PM) - Al

You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It's not that I'm that big a fan in the abstract, really, it's just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would.-Glenn Reynolds

That might be the most valid comparison I've ever seen. Wal Mart is the Goliath of retail, and while they are picked on unmercifully, at the end of the day, all the criticisms applied to them can be used on any retailer. The ironic thing is, Wal Mart just keeps getting better, even its detractors marvel at their effienciency.

1/27/2006 01:14:00 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2006

(1/26/2006 08:34:00 PM) - Al

Fascinating look back at the Challenger disaster, 20 years ago today.

I happened to have stayed home from school that morning, and was getting ready to go at noon, having just gotten over the flu or a bad cold.

What's funny is, I told folks how I had seen a hundred plus replays, and all were facinated, having only heard it secondhand. Now, I'm sure there would be 100 TV's on showing the replay over and over.

Ironically, I also recall one other thing from that day, that Joan Rivers did not do a monologue that night when she guest hosted for Carson, as she did most weeks on Monday or Tuesday...

{Actually, I'm sure it will shock many younger readers to know Joan Rivers was once a star, considering she is now a parody of herself.}

...instead, she said only what a horrible day it had been and no one felt like laughing. I read that in the paper a day or two later and have always thought it was strange, a comic hosting a late night talk show refusing to tell jokes.

UPDATE: I guess the actual anniversary is later this week.

1/26/2006 08:34:00 PM

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

(1/25/2006 10:08:00 PM) - Al


Magyar's article is worse than factually inaccurate. It's fundamentally flawed. At one point he snidely states: "The Milwaukee Brewers should never have switched leagues. Can anyone, including Bud, give me a rational excuse for this?" Well, here ya go, bub.

MLB has 14 teams in one league and 16 teams in the other for good reason. Just look at the alternative. If there were 15 teams in each league and no interleague play (as per Magyar's fantasyland), this means that on any given day at least one team in each league must be off.

Is it possible to schedule games in the real world such that MLB could fit in 162 games for each team over the span of a season with such constraints? Perhaps, though I doubt it. If it were possible, you'd see lots of series with unconventional lengths, and you'd lose even the rough symmetry we have now where most series across MLB start and end together. Most notably, you lose the exposure, fan excitement, and TV revenue from having a full slate of games every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

His 'solution' is particularly ironic given his gripe is scheduling chaos. For a guy who framed an entire article around running mathematical simulations over a ten-year span, it's surprising to see the import of odd and even numbers escaped him. Without getting into exactly why it was the Brewers that moved, there's an obvious reason a team was moved in the first place. Magyar is too myopically focused on bashing Bud Selig and the Brewers' switch to see this. Talk about stupid, stupid, stupid...


Thanks for reading and writing, Andy.

What's amazing is that while MLB has experienced a renaissance of incredible proportion and the game is the most popular it has ever been, you still see a lot of folks literally grasping at straws to be critical of Mr. Selig. Some, Jim Caple comes right to mind, have been proven incorrect so many times (the wildcard, Montreal, etc.), that they have began this style of criticism Magyar uses, which I would call "slash and run".

Caple once brilliantly theorized that the game of MLB, a multi-billion dollar business, of course, would be better off in the hands of a middle-aged fella in rural Minnesota who was still playing in an amateur league of some sort. The idea was blindingly ignorant, but Caple threw it out there so innocently that you barely understood how preposterous such a thought is, as it seemed so simple in this grand plan.

To be perfectly fair, The Hardball Times is one of the best baseball sites online. For them to print such a piece of utter crap is quite disappointing.

1/25/2006 10:08:00 PM

(1/25/2006 09:29:00 PM) - Al

The deal ends a turmoil-filled career in Indiana for Artest, best known as the man who set off one of the nastiest brawls in U.S. sports history last November. The fight with Detroit Pistons fans earned Artest a 73-game suspension - the longest in NBA history.

The latest mess with Artest began with a trade rumor in December that wound up coming true: Artest for Stojakovic. Upset at the perceived slight, Artest demanded a trade. The Pacers responded to the tantrum by deactivating the former NBA defensive player of the year.

Trouble follows Artest. He had kicked a ball into the stands, broke a television camera when he threw it down and verbally sparred with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley during games.

In the words of Utah Jaz owner Larry Miller, I'd rather lose without him than win with him.

I'd say the over/under on his time in Sacremento is November of this year.

1/25/2006 09:29:00 PM

(1/25/2006 10:31:00 AM) - Al

The Crank mentions Wal Mart and insurance. Very well said.

1/25/2006 10:31:00 AM

(1/25/2006 10:26:00 AM) - Al

On Milwaukee tells of high expectations for 2006.

UPDATE: OM is down, expected back up later today.

1/25/2006 10:26:00 AM

(1/25/2006 09:59:00 AM) - Al


I don't know what's sadder, the fact Ray Nagin is stupid enough to say such a thing, or the fact he's still running a major city.

1/25/2006 09:59:00 AM

(1/25/2006 09:47:00 AM) - Al

Factually inaccurate Hardball Times article about the Crew switching leagues and how the author would fix it.

About as bad as it gets from HT, who is usually reliable for fact checking. Even suggesting the Crew used to be natural rivals with the Tigers is simply changing history to suit your needs.

1/25/2006 09:47:00 AM

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

(1/24/2006 08:11:00 PM) - Al

I suppose I'm one of those Americans who don't spend much time thinking about Canada. I know it's up there, disapproving of us, like a sanctimonious older sibling.---Ann Althouse

Well written, and likely true.

1/24/2006 08:11:00 PM

(1/24/2006 07:56:00 PM) - Al

So, UPN and WB are merging, and need to cover about 15 hours worth of prime time.

By my count, that's about 15 hours of programming they're gonna have to find.:) I don't believe I've ever watched a show on either network, and the only one I can name is The Gilmore Girls. Of course, I'm not the demographic they were looking for, which I think can best be described as "people without a remote control".

1/24/2006 07:56:00 PM

(1/24/2006 06:49:00 PM) - Al

Theo may well be the best GM in the game, but the way BOS handled the whole thing makes me wonder.

1/24/2006 06:49:00 PM

Monday, January 23, 2006

(1/23/2006 07:39:00 PM) - Jason

Marcus Landry of the UW men's basketball team was declared academically ineligible for the rest of the season on Monday - no huge shock considering he has had to miss the last two games for "academic reasons". This marks the second occurance just this year of a UW player leaving because of academic issues...they have already lost talented youngster DeAaron Williams.

This is a huge blow for the UW team. Maybe not this year, because of the emergence of fellow freshman Joe Krabbenhoft, but for future seasons, because it now may be hard for him to gain back his eligibility if he is having this much trouble so soon into his freshman year. Many folks both within and outside the UW program considered Landry one of the better pure freshman talents in the Big Ten, and it would have been a flawless transition at the forward spot in two years as Landry would easily fill into Alando Tucker's vacancy when he graduates. Landry may well buckle down and get his eligibility back for next season. I hope he does, both for the sake of the team and for Landry himself, who is a very talented basketball player.

As for the team itself, its good to have the Badgers get whipped like this against a mediocre opponent at this time of year. The next three weeks of the season is "moving time" for all teams, as clubs are in the meat of their conference schedule and schools are looking at what they have to do to position themselves for a tournament run. Wisconsin, as young as they are, was probably getting a little bit of a case of "big-head-itis", having defeated a few good opponents and getting some national hype (Joe Lunardi, "bracketologist" at, had Wisconsin at a #2 seed in the NCAA tourney before their loss on Saturday). While Bo Ryan certainly wouldn't bad-mouth his club publicly, I'm sure he had a few choice words with his kids in private after Saturday's game. Likewise, I bet practices this week will be nice and "active".

It was a good mid-season wake up call. I would expect a much sharper performance on Wednesday, and for the Badgers to move forward off this loss and get much better.

1/23/2006 07:39:00 PM

(1/23/2006 01:33:00 PM) - Al

Adam's weekly mailbag mentions that he sees Hart and Gross being the reserve OF's, among other things.

1/23/2006 01:33:00 PM

(1/23/2006 11:30:00 AM) - Al

As I was flipping channels this morning, I came across a clip of Barry Bonds playing in a golf tourney this past weekend. He looked very out of shape (and coming from me, an experienced out-of-shape person, that should mean something), and both commentators said they would have expected Barry to be looking trim, as his bad knees will not handle the weight gain well.

Of course, many folks politely fail to recall that many baseball players, from John Kruk to Kirby Puckett to Babe Ruth himself, were outstanding despite playing with a few extra pounds. Michael Jordan was a rare physical specimen, and never made it past AA. While it's closer to football and basketball than bowling and poker, baseball can indeed be played successfully by pudgy people.

1/23/2006 11:30:00 AM

(1/23/2006 11:13:00 AM) - Al

I have held a belief for the past decade and a half that we as a nation simply has far too many cars. I have never really done the math, but just think of all the vehicles that are sitting on lots at this second. Now, every day, people have accidents, so you lose a few that way, but for the most part, cars that are sitting on lots are "extras". When one finally does get "chosen", the vast majority of people will trade-in another vehicle, which means even though the lots sold a car, the net of the transaction still leaves us with too many cars.

As Ford announces huge job cuts and factory closings, I get the feeling they are simply coming to the conclusion that the demand for new cars is indeed limited, to a lesser amount than they would like.

1/23/2006 11:13:00 AM

Sunday, January 22, 2006

(1/22/2006 05:43:00 PM) - Al

NBC cancels The West Wing

The big news here is, who knew The West Wing was still on the air? I thought it had quietly gone away a year or two ago.

1/22/2006 05:43:00 PM

(1/22/2006 12:40:00 PM) - Al

I missed two of my favorite people on The Tonight Show Friday night, as Dennis Miller and Bob Uecker were both guests.

According to the recap I saw, Dennis doubled over laughing at one of Bob's stories, and apparently told Bob that he had the best delivery of any non-comedian he'd ever heard.

1/22/2006 12:40:00 PM

(1/22/2006 11:59:00 AM) - Al

Ken Rosenthal checks in with a look at the NL Central.

He also gives the number of $21M over 3 years as the offer the Crew made Jarrod Washburn, to be spurned, of course, choosing the Mariners' $37M over 4 seasons.

1/22/2006 11:59:00 AM

(1/22/2006 11:49:00 AM) - Al

Tom H discusses the braintrust not wanting Ben Sheets to play in the WBC, among other things.

1/22/2006 11:49:00 AM

Saturday, January 21, 2006

(1/21/2006 02:00:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to the Bison from NDSU, who pulled off a huge upset of the Badgers today. While I hate to see the Badgers lose, it's always "fun" to see an upstart program pull off a win that they'll be talking about in a decade.

I'm not sure what the final numbers were, but at one point, Taylor and Tucker were a combined 4-33 from the field...what's that old saying, "When the shots don't fall, any team is beatable".

1/21/2006 02:00:00 PM

Friday, January 20, 2006

(1/20/2006 10:13:00 PM) - Al

A few days ago, just before my voice all but left me, I taped a short appearance on the audio show, Woah Solvdd. It is only available on the internet, but if you wish to hear it, you can by clicking here, it is the January edition. I go by my forum name of "dadofandrew", FYI.

1/20/2006 10:13:00 PM

Thursday, January 19, 2006

(1/19/2006 09:46:00 PM) - Al

Seth Speaks went to a stop on the Twins' winter tour. You may have to scroll down, as I do not have the link to the post, just his outstanding site.

FYI, I guess the Crew has discontinued their tour, at least for 2006. I was always amazed at the quality of the players the team managed to convince to do this, so it isn't a huge surprise. All marketing is good marketing, so it's a shame, but things can't always stay the same, I guess.

1/19/2006 09:46:00 PM

(1/19/2006 08:35:00 PM) - Al

Mark Cuban is a man of many words, and his wealth has earned immense respect for his opinion. I tend to agree with most of his thoughts here, as I have wondered for some time why second-run theaters (the ones that get the movies long after they've had their success) do not sell the DVD of the movies they are showing, if the DVD is indeed out by that time.

1/19/2006 08:35:00 PM

(1/19/2006 11:54:00 AM) - Robert R.

The Brewers and Tomo Ohka exchanged arbitration figures this week. The Brewers offered Ohka $4.25 million and Ohka and his agent countered with $5.2 million. The midpoint is $4.725 million and the goal for the Brewers will be to show that Ohka is worth less than that and Ohka's agent will want to show that he's worth more than that.

Kip Wells is in a similar position to Ohka as far as service time and starting experience. And he recently came to terms with the Pirates on a one year deal for $4.15 million. Let's see how they compare:

Kip Wells
Age 28
Career Record 55 Wins vs. 69 Losses (.443 Win%)
162 Game Averages
4.36 ERA, 101 ERA+, 187.7 IP, 1.473 WHIP
6.67 K/9, 1.63:1 K:BB ratio

Tomo Ohka
Age 29
Career Record 44 Wins vs. 53 Losses (.454 Win%)
162 Game Averages
3.95 ERA, 114 ERA+, 191.7 IP, 1.377 WHIP
5.17 K/9, 2.16:1 K:BB ratio

Raw numbers they look pretty similar, with Ohka having a slight edge. If you can make the argument that career numbers are most important, then the Brewers should win.

OTOH, if you look more towards recent numbers, the argument swings in Ohka's favor. Just looking at ERA the last two years:

2004 ERA 4.55, ERA+ 91
2005 ERA 5.09, ERA+ 84

2004 ERA 3.40, ERA+ 122
2005 ERA 4.04, ERA+ 103

A full run of ERA is not insignificant. If you make the argument that recent results are more pertinent, then Ohka is clearly much more valuable than Wells.

There are compelling arguments to both sides. Considering that, I think this will be settled before a hearing, since both sides face similar risks.

1/19/2006 11:54:00 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

(1/17/2006 07:19:00 PM) - Al

Temperatures dropped from about freezing Monday afternoon to minus-28 Celsius (minus-18 Fahrenheit) overnight as a cold wave hit after inflicting record-low temperatures across Siberia.

Who would have ever guessed that Siberia would be experiencing a cold snap?

1/17/2006 07:19:00 PM

(1/17/2006 05:55:00 PM) - Robert R.

I don't climb on my soapbox often, but I'm feeling feisty today.

Protests violently quelled in China is a headline in today's paper. And sadly it will probably be ignored in most of the United States.

Still, that serves as a segue for something I've been meaning to discuss for awhile. The movie adaptation of V FOR VENDETTA opens in two months on March 17th and I suspect it's going to be the next "controversial" movie after BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN wins some Oscars. I can see the diatribes now "It's further proof that Hollywood hates America as it depicts a terrorist as a hero." And I expect the Left to embrace the film as a scathing indictment against the Bush administration.

I'll get my response in early, both sides are completely missing the point and projecting their own biases. (Those opposed to the film may also argue that Larry Wachowski is weird and screwed up, which is probably true but also besides the point.)

V FOR VENDETTA was a comic book written in the 1980s by comic book writer Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd in a style that was noir influenced and abstract at times, but realistic. The high concept of the story was that the protagonist was a mixture of concepts like Robin Hood/Batman/The Count of Monte Cristo/The Harlequin from the Harlan Ellison's short story "Repent Harlequin Cried the Tick Tock Man"/etc. dressed up as a modern day Guy Fawkes vs. an Orwellian 1984-ish/THE PRISONER government. It's no coincidence that the story first started appearing in 1983 and 1984. It's a fantasy folks and shouldn't be interpreted too literally, even if the movie version is tweaked for today's audience. Here's a quick overview of the story.

Much will probably be made out that the title character V is a "terrorist" who proceeds with assassinating political leaders and blowing up public symbols. That's all true, but one thing the book takes pains to make clear is that V is hardly a hero. For one thing, the book makes clear that he's certifiably insane, he uses people, he engages in acts that could be considered tantamount to brainwashing, and the American version of the book features a washed out color palette of grays, browns, and greens and presents none of the characters in black and white or bright primary color terms. The book also makes several of V's victims and foes sympathetic, particularly the head government detective Finch.

What will most likely confuse people is that the totalitarian government is set in a semi-futuristic England. If it was called "J FOR JIHAD" and set in Saudi Arabia, there'd probably be little controversy in this country about the story. And probably little interest too. Same if it was set in China, North Korea, or an alternate world where Germany won WWII. One thing authors do to get people's attention is set stories in places that have meaning to the target audience. And a totalitarian government set in England ala 1984 certainly has to have more resonance with the intended paying audience than a story set halfway around the world. The story is meant to be universal, but giving the reader familiar cultural touchstones is always a good writing strategy.

The movie will open in two months and early reviews have been quite good. And I'm eager to see Natalie Portman in a movie not directed by George Lucas. I expect we'll see debates over "what is a terrorist vs. a freedom fighter" and "how totalitarian is our government", but the fact that a movie of this sort will be released tells me that we still have plenty of freedoms. Of course, I also think that the mainstream media, by focussing inward, will be missing where the film could have the most resonance.

Namely China. I have friends over in Shanghai and they'll tell you that dvd bootlegs of major films are ubiquitous mere days after a movie opens. And, of course, China has the internet and we all know that internet piracy is rampant. China makes no bones about censoring content, but is that even possible in this day and age? What happens when someone releases a movie that calls for open revolt against a totalitarian government and it has the potential to be widely viewed by the citizens of a totalitarian regime? I know the answer is "probably nothing", but it is a question I'm intrigued with anyways.

1/17/2006 05:55:00 PM

(1/17/2006 11:18:00 AM) - Al

Ramblings' friend John Strain isn't very excited about the chocolate city remark either.

1/17/2006 11:18:00 AM

(1/17/2006 11:11:00 AM) - Al

A profile of JJ Hardy's past and future.

It pretty much says what the sidebar does...JJ hit nicely after changing his outlook at the plate, and he should continue to as he gets older.

1/17/2006 11:11:00 AM

Monday, January 16, 2006

(1/16/2006 06:25:00 PM) - Al

Just when you think the mayor has hit rock bottom, he manages to dig a little more out of the hole.

New Orleans will be a much different city in 10-20 years, I can even see it as being a haven for retirees, much like Arizona and Florida are today. That would have many of its residents living elsewhere in the hot, humid Summer months; also known as hurricane season, of course.

So, who is to oversee this transformation...the guy who had no evacuation plan and left busses sit idle...who uses "chocolate" as a descriptive African-American term?


1/16/2006 06:25:00 PM

Sunday, January 15, 2006

(1/15/2006 08:00:00 PM) - Al

I've been bothered by a bad cold the past few days, once again proving my immune system is all but gone. Of course, my son, who usually mocks illness by running wild after 24 hours or so, has seen his cold linger for almost two weeks, so maybe, just possibly, this is indeed, the worst cold in history.

I did come across this article from Slate, saying that the Army has indeed lowered their standards a bit to hit goals. I assume this also applies to physical maladies as well, as one of my coworkers relatives was turned down recently by the Navy due to partial color blindness...but they said the Army would happily take him.

I mentioned long ago that the mention of a military draft was fiction, and linked up a fine rundown, as the author of that said that the military branches (especially the Army) turns down lots of recruits due to issues that could easily be waived in the event of need...and sure enough, that's exactly what has happened.

While the Slate piece comes off as extremely negative, it just seems to me to be a case of a government agency doing what it takes to succeed.

1/15/2006 08:00:00 PM

Friday, January 13, 2006

(1/13/2006 07:38:00 PM) - Al

Don Walker has a look at Mark A's thoughts.

He also reports single game tickets go on sale 2/25 at 9AM. Season ticket renewal is running at about 99%. I've heard from unofficial sources that the 9 and 20 game packs are causing a huge increase, but I guess we'll find out later.

1/13/2006 07:38:00 PM

(1/13/2006 04:08:00 PM) - Al

Hat tip to Pete, he sends along the Bill Hall chat transcipt, and notes Hall is publicly fine with Koskie's acquisition.

1/13/2006 04:08:00 PM

(1/13/2006 03:59:00 PM) - Al

Matt Wise signs a 2y/$1.7M deal, avoiding arby.

Considering that some very mediocre relievers got $3M a year, that's a bargain and a half. Also, while Wise signs under market value, he's now secure for life.

1/13/2006 03:59:00 PM

(1/13/2006 03:51:00 PM) - Al

The official site has a nice story about knuckleballer Jared Fernandez, a former big leaguer who had a good AAA campaign in '05, and followed it up with a fine winterball season.

While a darkhorse to make the roster out of Arizona, he could well be the first guy called up.

1/13/2006 03:51:00 PM

Thursday, January 12, 2006

(1/12/2006 07:33:00 PM) - Al

And why do I just know this lady weighs 95 pounds...or less?--Ramblings

LINK to picture of the author in question.

Dunno man, she looks to be at least 105...the oinker.


We'll compromise and go with 100, Eric:). Thanks for the pic.

1/12/2006 07:33:00 PM

(1/12/2006 03:53:00 PM) - Al

Slate reviews a woman's book who has lived a life of extreme privilege, yet thinks she has it rough. Hat tip to Glenn, like he needs the readers.

Look. It's tough coming out of Ivy League schools to New York and making your way in the world. The notion that you can be—and have to be—the author of your own destiny is both terrifying and exhilarating. And for those without marketable skills, who lack social and intellectual capital, the odds are indeed stacked against them. But someone like Kamenetz, who graduated from Yale in 2002, doesn't have much to kvetch about. In the press materials accompanying the book, she notes that just after she finished the first draft, her boyfriend "proposed to me on a tiny, idyllic island off the coast of Sweden." She continues: "As I write this, boxes of china and flatware, engagement gifts, sit in our living room waiting to go into storage because they just won't fit in our insanely narrow galley kitchen. We spent a whole afternoon exchanging the inevitable silver candlesticks and crystal vases, heavy artifacts of an iconic married life that still seems to have nothing to do with ours." The inevitable silver candlesticks? Too much flatware to fit in the kitchen? We should all have such problems.

I can only imagine how painful it would be to read entire book full of such "whoa is me...and by the way, I can buy and sell you with the money we find in the couch".

I am left with just one thought...can you imagine being a customer service rep when this arrogant thing calls to say she had to accept a Beamer at the rental counter that clashes with her eye shadow?

Read the entire article. Every time a quote comes from the book, it is simply insufferable. I have no idea how a pity party for the well-to-do got the green light.

And why do I just know this lady weighs 95 pounds...or less?

1/12/2006 03:53:00 PM

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

(1/11/2006 11:38:00 PM) - Al

Adam looks over the Brewers' bullpen.

1/11/2006 11:38:00 PM

(1/11/2006 10:59:00 AM) - Al

Adam has a notes column at the official site, focusing on Yost being extended.

Also, a look at Mark A's first official year as owner...hidden in that is news that the Crew apparently made more than $5M last year.

Money quote [no pun intended]:

More than two million fans passed through the Miller Park turnstiles for the second straight season but just the fourth time in franchise history, and the Brewers' profit margin for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31 was better than the $2-$5 million earlier projected.

Also, this is the first we've heard of this, other than speculation on my part:

Even so, the Brewers made what two sources called a "very significant" offer to free agent left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who ended up signing instead with Seattle for four years and $37.5 million. Had the Brewers convinced Washburn to accept a "hometown" discount (he is from western Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), or had Attanasio broken the budget to sign the lefty at any cost, it would have been an enormously popular public relations move.

Despite Doug's public stance of "no interest", an offer was apparently made, probably in the $5-6M range per year. Jarrod decided he'd rather have the cash, which is certainly his right, although I'd say it's all but monopoly money at that point.

Sir Melvin would have made a fine riverboat gambler. His "truth vs. lies" ability is as good as it gets.

1/11/2006 10:59:00 AM

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

(1/10/2006 09:46:00 PM) - Al

Dave Krynzel needs surgery and will need about 8 weeks to recover. Apparently, he hurt himself...riding a motorcycle, and told the club yesterday.

That sound you heard was Dave's prospect status being even more in doubt. Heck, I had him as a 5th OF before this crap.


1/10/2006 09:46:00 PM

(1/10/2006 09:22:00 AM) - Al

The JS's take on the Branyan move. Sounds like Doug would like to find Russ a major league job or sign him to a minor league deal.

Also, the party area that was discussed will now be waiting until 2007.

1/10/2006 09:22:00 AM

Monday, January 09, 2006

(1/09/2006 10:06:00 PM) - Al

"I didn’t actually say they were Eichmann, I said they were little Eichmanns."—Ward Churchill clears things up regarding the 9/11 dead

Thanks for clearing that up, Ward.

1/09/2006 10:06:00 PM

(1/09/2006 05:53:00 PM) - Robert R.

The Cubs dealt Corey Patterson to the Orioles for two minor leaguers today. Based on early assessments of the prospects, it looks like the Cubs might as well have non-tendered Patterson to begin with.

Patterson seems like a pretty decent reclamation project to me, posting numbers in 2003 and 2004 that were in the vicinity of average for a centerfielder. Patterson is still young enough to bounce back and at least be marginally productive as a bottom of the order centerfielder. A .250/.315/.450 line is not out of the question for Patterson in a bounce back season, which ironically would be pretty similar to what the Cubs could get out of Jacque Jones.

As a Brewers fan, I can only hope that this paves the way for a roster spot for Marquis Grissom. In a rational world, Jerry Hairston would be the backup centerfielder, but I can only hope Marquis Grissom assumes that role in Dusty's world.

1/09/2006 05:53:00 PM

(1/09/2006 04:58:00 PM) - Al

As I speculated after the Koskie deal, Russ Branyan is designated for assignment.


MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Milwaukee Brewers have designated infielder Russell Branyan for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Corey Koskie, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night. The announcement was made today by Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.

Branyan, 30, played 85 games for Milwaukee last season and hit .257 with 12 home runs and 31 runs batted in. He was placed on the disabled list from June 2 to July 4 with a fractured middle finger on his left hand. Branyan was acquired by Milwaukee from the Cleveland Indians for future cash considerations on July 26, 2004. In 536 career Major League games, he has recorded a .232 batting average with 93 home runs and 238 runs batted in.

With the designation, the Brewers have until this Friday to either trade or release Branyan.

The Brewers 40-man roster currently stands at 40.

Let's hope a few teams have interest and we're able to get a decent minor leaguer (remember, they cannot be on the 40). Good luck to Russ, as he has proved he is at least a solid platoon option at 3B.

1/09/2006 04:58:00 PM

(1/09/2006 11:21:00 AM) - Al

Article on Damian Miller from the LaCrosse Tribune.

1/09/2006 11:21:00 AM

Sunday, January 08, 2006

(1/08/2006 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Jason is 100% accurate. If the Badgers peak late in the season, they can play with anyone in the country. Tucker is a man against boys, and Kam Taylor has games when he just can't miss. Mike Flowers has come on like a madman of late as well, Brian Butch is becoming the player we'd all hoped for, and as often happens on a Bo Ryan club, the sum appears to be much greater than its parts would lead you to believe.

I had thought this would be a down year, maybe 16-17 wins. I might have been a half dozen low.

UPDATE: DeAron Williams has quit the team. I wonder if this opens up a scholarship for walk-on Kevin Gullickson, who looked very impressive in garbage time yesterday.

I had never heard Tanner Bronson had been given a scholarship either. Tanner is the cult hero that usually comes in with about 30 seconds left to a huge ovation. There was an article distributed by AP that I have not found online yet about Bronson yesterday, mentioning that despite the fact he looks like a choir boy, he was a fine high school player, garnering all-area honorbale mention from the JS.

1/08/2006 09:54:00 PM

(1/08/2006 08:24:00 PM) - Jason

Don't look now, but Wisconsin's men's basketball team is a force to be reckoned with.

Under the radar screen of today's NFL playoff games, the Badgers pasted a very talented Michgan State team by 19 points, leading most of the second half by a 15-20 point margin.

Its scary to think about how good this team could be come February and March. Wisconsin is so young, it has plenty of "ceiling", to use a baseball development phrase. The only senior on the team is Alando Tucker, who is playing fabulous. Brian Butch, a sophomore, is beginning to establish himself as one of the top big men in the conference. Kammron Taylor, a junior, is the second-best point guard in the conference, behind Illinois' Dee Brown. Marcus Landry, a true freshman, is averaging nearly 7 points and 3 rebounds off the bench in just 15 minutes. Greg Stiemsma, a sophomore, looks like he could be a defensive monster in another month's time. Michael Flowers is one of the better defensive guards in the league, and Ray Nixon - while off to a slow start - has big-play ability.

The only two losses this club has right now were on the road at Wake Forest (who, at this moment, is giving #1 Duke one heck of a game), and on the road at a very underrated Pitt team.

With an easier-than-normal conference schedule, a 20-win season is certainly within grasp for a club considered before the year to be an OK team.

Dick Bennett brought this program to a new level by making them competitive against just about anybody. Bo Ryan is taking this program to the level of being able to contend for conference championships on a yearly basis.

1/08/2006 08:24:00 PM

(1/08/2006 07:44:00 PM) - Al

Jeff from Brew Crew Ball reports that Shane Nance signed a minor league deal recently. Shane is an easy guy to root for, 5-7 or maybe 5-8 lefty reliever.

I doubt if he's looked at as much more than AAA depth, as Jason Kershner is much more polished, especially versus LH hitters. Still, Shane is just 28, so he's got a good decade before he's out of chances as a southpaw.

1/08/2006 07:44:00 PM

(1/08/2006 04:41:00 PM) - Al

So, I'm working off a poker bonus this afternoon, and in the background, I have on the Steelers/Bengals game.

The horror.

Thus far, 2nd quarter mind you, each team has had one of their college educated buffoons commit a 15 yard penalty after the play was over, because, apparently, these are the stupidest human beings on the entire planet (except, of course, for Ted Kennedy).

I truly do not understand how anyone can take a game played by such idiots seriously. It's like rooting for one insect over another to get through a maze first.

1/08/2006 04:41:00 PM

(1/08/2006 02:37:00 PM) - Al

From the "found this while looking for something else" department:

Brady Clark's career AAA stats: 797 AB's, .375/.453, 828 OPS, 95 walks (1 per 8.39 AB's)

Mystery player's career AAA stats: 949 AB's, .380/.448, 828 OPS, 136 walks (1 per 6.98 AB's)

It should be noted that while Clark put up his nice AAA numbers at 27, 28, and 29; the other player accomplished his at 23, 24, and 25.

While it would be silly to say I expect the unnamed player to match Brady Clark's production, this is what I mean when Ramblings talks about how instead of a team like the Royals, just starting the rebuilding process (years later than they should have, due to their surprising .500ish campaign a couple years ago), is signing ancient mediocre stopgaps like Reggie Sanders; they should go out and sign a few of the above guys to minor league contracts, or trade their vets for players that are blocked in other organizations, and/or out of options. If you throw a few of these against the wall, a couple will stick, just like Scott Podsednik did, for example.

Instead, the KC is wasting their money on players who are a game or two better than replacement level. Does it matter if they win 68 or 60 games in 2006? Nope. By running Sanders, and Doug M and Mark G out there 140 games, they are effectively eliminating any hope of finding that diamond in the rough.

By the way, the mystery player is Gabe Gross, who not only matched Clark's AAA numbers, he was a college QB, so he is far more of a natural athlete than Brady. Gross is at worst a decent reserve who can play all 3 OF spots and has a good eye at the plate. If given an opportunity, he could well prove to be an average, or maybe a slightly below average OF; or maybe a platoon guy. I feel good about him being on the bench. 26 year-old, former #1 draft picks, that have had some good numbers in AAA, is the epitome of what you look for when looking for a nugget to mine.

1/08/2006 02:37:00 PM

(1/08/2006 10:24:00 AM) - Al

Toys R Us is closing 73 stores, which if memory serves, is about 10% of its total, maybe more, as they had a round of closings last year as well.

That's too bad, mostly for the associates involved. That said, it's been expected since the late 90's, as TRU lost market share annually, to Target and Wal Mart and other mass retailers. Needless to say, the extremely clumsy manner that they went about their final years as a publicly traded company, adding and then removing several district support positions (called the "create a position" program by one of my friends), and then taking part in costly remodels of many stores ($1-2M per), which showed me the company had no idea what the problem was.

[Maybe if we make our stores look different, folks will come buy the same merch they've ignored!]

To this day, they still seem to be incredibly concerned with keeping their employees in matching shirts, and everything else, not so much.

Sadly, there's not a line on the annual report for that.

Last year, TRU became a private company, purchased by a group that many said was interested in them for their real estate.

1/08/2006 10:24:00 AM

Saturday, January 07, 2006

(1/07/2006 10:45:00 PM) - Al

Tom H thinks it is as good a trade as I do. He also thinks it may well be Branyan removed from the 40 man on Monday, as I do. DFAing Russ and picking up a player not on a 40 man somewhere would be a wise move. If not Russ, it's not like Zach Sorenson would be claimed on waivers by anyone, and since the Crew have shown interest, I assume he'd sign a minor league deal.

He also verifies that the Crew will pay Koskie just $2M a year.

Ironically, I don't think that was a bad trade by JP up in Toronto at all. He had too many 3B, and all he could do is wait for a team to have someone go down with injury...and if that occurs, Eric Hinske is still there.

1/07/2006 10:45:00 PM

(1/07/2006 08:21:00 PM) - Al

Welcome to the Sons of Sam Horn readers making their first trip to Ramblings.

No, I don't think Bill Hall or Brady Clark are going anywhere.

1/07/2006 08:21:00 PM

(1/07/2006 01:56:00 PM) - Al

Now that we've had 16 hours or so to let the trade sink in, some additional thoughts:

---One thing I never really considered in my initial analysis was that Koskie balances out the lineup nicely, adding a 3rd LH hitter whenever a RH starts the game. I'm not one who worries about batting order, but I would think Yost will tinker quite a bit, as almost everyone (with the possible exception of Brady Clark, who will be leading off, at least to begin the campaign) could hit in several spots. I would be tempted to have Corey bat 2nd, as he walks a lot, but feel Ned will put him 6th or 7th (or maybe even 8th, if Hardy bats 2nd).

---Regardless, as batting order is insignificant, this would seem to be the Brewers' most "balanced" lineup ever. Even the '82 team had a bottom 3 of Money/Howell, Moore, and Gantner, and just a couple years ago, we had Eddie Perez 7th and Royce Clayton 8th. Considering you have Hart and Hall in reserve for 7 of the 8 positions, that's 10 players that are better than the 7th spot just a while back.

---You can certainly imagine that with cheap role players such as Gross and Cirillo, two very good OBP guys (in Gabe's case, the potential is there, after years of AAA success), this is as deep and solid of a bench as has ever been seen in MIL.

---With the rotation six deep, and the bullpen seemingly loaded with bonafide candidates (Turnbow, Kolb, Wise, and the 6th starter would appear to be locks; then you then have Cappellan, K. Davis, Lehr, Adams, and de la Rosa fighting for 2-3 jobs), I have to honestly wonder where the weakness is on this team. I guess you'd have to say it is a lack of a "star", or a player near the best at his position (though Sheets and Turnbow may question that). That said, the left side of the infield has two youngsters who may fit that bill in just a year or two.

---Looking at the bullpen, the idea I posted just after the Overbay trade of trading a couple relievers for one veteran arm (especially a LH) seems to make even more sense now. None of us know how much, if any, wiggle room there is to add payroll, but there's no doubt in my mind that many teams, especially those at a different place in the success cycle, would happily trade a very good loogy for DLR and a nondescript RH middle man.

1/07/2006 01:56:00 PM

(1/07/2006 01:25:00 PM) - Al

Koskie is owed $5.25-million US this season and $5.85 million in 2007 and of that $11.1 million, the Brewers are only on the hook to pay Koskie $2 million per season.

The Brewers and Jays will split the $500,000 buyout on the option if Koskie's 2008 contract is not picked up -- or vested by obtaining 600 plate appearances either this season or next. That's a lot -- $7.35 million -- for the Jays to pay Koskie to play elsewhere. Koskie, not corner infielder Shea Hillenbrand nor Eric Hinske, became the odd man out after the Jays shipped gold glove winner Orlando Hudson and reliever Miguel Batista to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Troy Glaus last month.--Toronto Sun

Doug Melvin is indeed king.

1/07/2006 01:25:00 PM

(1/07/2006 12:25:00 AM) - Al

Corey Koskie's career stats:

.369 OBP

429 walks in 3142 AB's, 1 BB per 7.32 AB's

Pardon me while I dry my eyes.

1/07/2006 12:25:00 AM

(1/07/2006 12:10:00 AM) - Al

The key to the deal was Toronto’s willingness to pick up at least half of the $11 million left on Koskie’s contract. Melvin would not specify the exact sum the Blue Jays took back other than to say it was “a fair amount.”--JS

So, what's better than outstanding?

Koskie at $2.75M per? Hall becomes the best utility IF in the game, and you could make a case that Hart is one of the best 4th OF's.

I may begin to weep soon.

1/07/2006 12:10:00 AM

Friday, January 06, 2006

(1/06/2006 11:38:00 PM) - Al

Let's go over Adam's story on the official site:

MILWAUKEE -- Unable to meet his free agent price tag a year ago, the Brewers swung a surprising trade late Friday night to acquire veteran third baseman Corey Koskie from the Blue Jays for a Minor League pitcher.

The Brewers, who will decide whether to start Koskie at third base over Bill Hall, parted with right-hander Brian Wolfe in their second trade with Toronto in less than a month.

Koskie, a 32-year-old left-handed hitter, is a career .277 hitter in eight Major League seasons. He became expandable after the Blue Jays traded for slugging third baseman Troy Glaus, giving the team a surplus of corner infielders. Koskie is reportedly signed for two more years at a guaranteed $11.5 million, but the Jays picked up a portion of that cost.

They are paying "a portion". It just went from being a good deal to outstanding in my eyes.

"Having flexibility is key because when these opportunities come up, you can take advantage," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who declined to say how much of Koskie's contract will be paid by Toronto. The Associated Press reported this week that Toronto was willing to pay as much as $3 million to expedite a trade sending him back to Minnesota, but the Twins declined.

Melvin followed those reports, and when Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi called earlier in the week to gauge Milwaukee's interest, both sides began negotiating.

Considering the Jays got a 25 year-old who was in AA (however, Wolfe did pitch in the Arizona Fall League, and was once a highly regarded Twins' prospect, albeit, years ago), I doubt they are paying $3M, but we can hope.

"This is a player we showed interest in when he was a free agent, and we were one of the teams he was interested in at the time," Melvin said. "Now we were able to get him at the right price."

Koskie ended up signing a three-year, $17 million deal with the Blue Jays after playing his first 10 professional seasons in the Twins organization. He earned $2.5 million in 2005 and is set to make $5.25 million 2006 and $5.75 million in 2007.

The original deal also included a $6.5 million club option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. According to the Toronto Sun, should Koskie amass 600 plate appearances in either 2006 or '07 -- or combine for at least 1,200 over that span -- it would cause his 2008 option to vest.

In 2005, Koskie was limited to 97 games by a broken right thumb that required surgery to repair ligament damage. He batted .249 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs.

They bought low.

"The more I get over the initial shock, the more and more I am excited about it," said Koskie. "Last year during free agency, I called my agent and said 'What about Milwaukee? I hear good things.'"

Suddenly, guys sound excited to play for the Brewers. A minor reason I wanted to go after Corey is that he is a Canadian, and an outdoorman...literally, one of the very few players who would look at small market, cold weather Milwaukee and think, "I can see myself living there year round".

Koskie's presence calls into question the role of Hall, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2005 while playing three infield positions. At the Winter Meetings, Brewers manager Ned Yost said he expected Hall to be the frontrunner for Opening Day duties at third.

"I talked to Bill Hall today and told him we had a chance to get a player [who would affect Hall's role]," Melvin said. "Nothing had been done at that point, but being the guy that he his, he understood it.

"Corey will play some third base and so will Billy. Will it be a total platoon? I don't know at this point. ... That will be Ned's to handle. As we get better as a team, we need to get as many good players as we can."

If Hall is hot, he will play. I would say that right now, if all stay healthy, Hall will probably start 60 games at 3B, 20 at SS, and 15 at 2B. Considering injuries are bound to occur, he'll probably start 125 games, if he is healthy and effective all year.

Wolfe, 25, missed 2004 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and signed with the Brewers in May of last season. He was 5-2 with eight saves in the Brewers' Minor League chain and pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

To make room for Koskie on the 40-man roster, the Brewers will need to designate a player for assignment on Monday.

I like Wolfe, but his ceiling is probably as a middle reliever. And if Branyan can somehow be flipped for a solid, unspectacular LH reliever, I'll officially nominate Sir Melvin for knighthood.

1/06/2006 11:38:00 PM

(1/06/2006 11:30:00 PM) - Al

Over an hour afetr the deal, the JS does not have a word.

Words cannot describe how awful they are. I mean, throw the AP story on, if nothing else.

1/06/2006 11:30:00 PM

(1/06/2006 10:46:00 PM) - Al

I wanted to go after Koskie after the '04 campaign, when he was a FA. Here's what I said about him then:

Koskie's best years are in the past, and his numbers on turf are better than grass. That said, Corey would be much more highly coveted if he had played in a larger market {see his Baseball Reference page, as his comparables are Aramis Ramirez, Mike Lowell, and Aaron Boone, much better known and respected 3B}, and is a more realistic possibility than Glaus. At this stage of his career, he's probably a 125-130 games a year guy, though his minor dings may subside once off the hard turf of the Metrodome. Also, the Dome tends to hold down HR's a bit, and Koskie would benefit more than most in Miller Park. Koskie also has good plate discipline and is a fly ball hitter, and despite the fact he's seemingly been around forever, is only 31. I'd consider him a poor man's Troy Glaus, and while his career OPS is 836, not that much higher than Branyan's 798, his career .373 OBP makes him much more desirable.

It is easy to imagine Corey being a more consistent and better defender as well. Corey is a native of Canada, and lives in the suburbs of the Twin Cities year round. He is known to be a hunter and fisherman. If the Twins wish to save money by going with Mike Cuddyear or Terry Tiffee, Koskie would probably be as receptive to MIL as any free agent on the market. At 31, he is on the downside of his career, though his numbers have been very consistent:

1999--855 OPS

Even assuming a slight offensive decline, Corey would seem to be a defensive stalwart (9th, 2nd, and 9th the past 3 years in zone rating, despite playing on turf, which is faster than grass,I'd say Koskie is a top 5 defender) who is good for a couple more years of .355/.440 production. Considering the black hole that is 3B and the inexpensive youth projected to fill out the IF, a 3y/$15M offer would seemingly make perfect sense, if indeed the payroll is on the way upward.

The obvious question is, who's at 3B? Is it Hall or Koskie, or a platoon, which of course, would give Koskie the vast majority of the playing time. My first thought is whoever does not start is the best bench player the Crew has had since Don Money. Actually, the entire bench suddenly looks pretty darn good:


As I was typing that up, I just thought how sad Russ Branyan is, as he may well be the player removed from the 40 to make room for Corey. He may as well be, as he certainly has no place on the team now.

To me, this seems like a classic case of buying low. Koskie was very consistent, and had an injury filled, off year in '05, and suddenly, after the Blue Jays acquire a bunch of good players, have no patience and dump him for nothing (with all due respect to Brian Wolfe, the minor league pitcher dealt, who I'm sure is much, much better than me).

What this really does is give the Crew depth at every position on the field (though C is arguable). Corey Hart is talented enough to play every day if needed, and Hall's versatility gives them 5 infielders to play 4 spots. Gross and Cirillo are both solid role players.

Finally, I do not yet know if the Jays are picking up any of the tab, as Corey had negative value to them at $5.5M, as shown by the return they got. If they are, it's even a better deal.

So, how happy are you we ended up with Doug Melvin as our GM?

1/06/2006 10:46:00 PM

(1/06/2006 10:34:00 PM) - Al


The Brewers have acquired Corey Koskie from the Blue Jays for minor league pitcher Brian Wolfe. No mention of money on the official site's story.

Wonderful move, and I'll have more to say later.

1/06/2006 10:34:00 PM

(1/06/2006 11:09:00 AM) - Al

Not much going on with the Crew, as I assume they may well be done, pardon a minor league deal or two with the prerequisite invitation to spring training. Adam McAlvey has his first in a weekly series looking at the team position by position, with a look at the best rotation I can recall the Crew ever having, especially at the bottom.

Nice win for Bo Ryan's Badgers last night. I thought it would be a rebuilding season for Bucky, but with only two losses to date, both on the road to ranked teams, it would seem they could easily contend in the upper division of the always tough Big Ten.

Finally, don't look now, but Wal Mart is once again sinking to levels near the six year low they set a couple months ago. I recall hearing then that in the past six trips around the sun, Wal Mart has doubled their sales and their profits, but seen their stock actually go down. Go figure.

One thing to keep in mind when you hear WM's sales "only" went up 2.2% in December is that it's much more difficult to have a large % increase when you did a bijillion dollars in sales last year. If someone dropped their sales increase on your foot, in white bags with a $ on them (like Scrooge McDuck has in his large vault off his bedroom), your foot would be about 20 feet underground. Also, they always measure sales increases by comp store sales...and an aggressive company like Wal Mart thinks nothing of opening a store a couple miles from an existing store.

My stock portfolio is tiny even compared to other tiny portfolios, but it's difficult to imagine a safe stock with as much upside as WMT.

1/06/2006 11:09:00 AM

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

(1/04/2006 09:32:00 PM) - Al

Dan Kolb signs, 1 year/$2M. More than I would have liked to pay by about $500K, but it's not my money.:) I'm a bit surprised that other clubs would have went that high considering his past injury woes and ineffective '05, but when crap is going for $3M, darn near any veteran arm is worth $2M.

1/04/2006 09:32:00 PM

(1/04/2006 10:41:00 AM) - Al

As someone who has worked in retail for years, the miscommunication at the mine doesn't surprise me in the least. It's almost beyond belief the amount of times people have heard a paragraph, and then remember the two words that give them the most positive news. A week later, all they can recall is the two words that gave them hope.

Coal mining is dangerous work, and always will be. Sadly, it sounds like most of the miners survived the initial blast, but ran out of oxygen. When you're doing your work two miles from the "door", not to mention 100 yards below the earth, any problem becomes a big problem.

1/04/2006 10:41:00 AM

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

(1/03/2006 04:00:00 PM) - Al

Dave Pinto points out this updated depth chart, and also correctly giggles at the Marlins' OF.

Here's the link for the AL projections. In my opinion, the Royals could easily be simply horrible. And to think, that's the lineup they "wanted" to achieve going into the offseason.


1/03/2006 04:00:00 PM

(1/03/2006 01:29:00 PM) - Al

The best sub place I've ever ate at, Philly's in Wausau, has apparently been sold to a buyer that wants to franchise the local sandwich shop, Ramblings has learned.

If you're looking for a franchising opportunity, I can't imagine a better one, especially if you can get in at the bottom. I can't seem to find any news of this, so maybe it hasn't been made public.

If you would like info, shoot me an e-mail, I'll link it to you when it becomes available.

1/03/2006 01:29:00 PM

(1/03/2006 10:39:00 AM) - Al

Jeromy Burnitz now appears headed to the Pirates, who are on their way to some sort of record for adding payroll and not improving the team at all.

Jeromy is 37, and he is still a decent player, but expecting him to match Craig Wilson's production while staying healthy...and paying him $5M per, seems unlikely at best. Burnie would be much better off not being expected to play every day, as well as in the AL, where he can DH.

1/03/2006 10:39:00 AM

(1/03/2006 10:33:00 AM) - Al

Seth Speaks does an extensive interview with Chris Coste, who I also talked to a couple years back. Seth is 100% accurate that the only reason Coste has never had any big league time is politics, as he has played very well in AAA.

1/03/2006 10:33:00 AM

Monday, January 02, 2006

(1/02/2006 05:02:00 PM) - Al

The Crank links and highlights an article that details where the money is going in Iraq. Very interesting stuff.

1/02/2006 05:02:00 PM

Sunday, January 01, 2006

(1/01/2006 09:49:00 PM) - Al

I just stumbled upon this e-mail from a soldier's father to a military blogger. Hat tip to Blackfive.

Rest in peace, Mike Stokely.

1/01/2006 09:49:00 PM

(1/01/2006 07:57:00 PM) - Al

Maybe I missed this when it happened, but Wes Helms signed with the Marlins a couple days ago.

Once again, I'm always surprised when role players like Wes sign with an NL team, as he would probably be a upper echelon DH versus LHP, which would basically double his playing time opportunities.

1/01/2006 07:57:00 PM

(1/01/2006 07:21:00 PM) - Al

Adam checks in with his 2006 preview. I'm positive he has minor league FA Wil Rodriguez throwing with the wrong arm, but other than that, its his normal solid work.

1/01/2006 07:21:00 PM

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

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

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.

I'm happy to pay taxes to help the helpless. I don't like paying taxes to help the clueless. Look at the Occupy movement...I'm forced to pay taxes to help those whose plight I delight in.--Dennis Miller

If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, and your life will be brief.--President Trump

Never have lives less lived been more chronicled.--Dennis Miller

I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.--Mad Dog Mattis

I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.--Thomas Sowell

Ramblings makes me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.--Marxist sympathizer (one of Ramblings' proudest moments)

If you would like to advertise on Ramblings, pen a guest article, have a comment on a post, or have a media request.

Al is @suitedconnect on Twitter

Al's WTMJ appearance from July, 2015 with Justin

Al's postseason WTMJ appearance with Justin


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

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

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