Al's Ramblings

Friday, March 31, 2006

(3/31/2006 11:59:00 PM) - Al

Jason Bartlett was sent down to AAA, and Juan Castro is now the Twins' starting shortstop.

I am almost positive that I just heard Aaron Gleeman scream.:)

I'm telling you, the Twins have to "value" guys that simply cannot hit far more than any team I've ever seen.

3/31/2006 11:59:00 PM

(3/31/2006 10:53:00 PM) - Eric

Number one on the list of things currently blowing my mind: Jason Bartlett was sent down to AAA, and Juan Castro is now the Twins' starting shortstop.

Juan Castro is 33 and has a career 610 OPS in 1979 Major League PAs. Jason Bartlett is 25 and hit .332/.405/.459 in AAA last year and put up a .332/.417/.475 line there the year before.

Oh, and did I mention that the Twins were dead last in the AL in runs scored last year? But apparently signing Tony Batista and Rondell White took care of that problem, allowing the Twins the luxury of focusing solely on defense.

Seriously, wow. The Twins cannot hope to contend with the White Sox and Indians while making awful decisions like this one.

3/31/2006 10:53:00 PM

(3/31/2006 10:36:00 PM) - Eric

If Brandon Phillips really is an option, I have to think the odd man out is Jeff Cirillo. He's clearly the least valuable offensive piece, and Phillips is an infielder.

3/31/2006 10:36:00 PM

(3/31/2006 10:31:00 PM) - Eric

In the article Al just linked, you'll find an interesting fact about the Brewers' plans for Corey Koskie this year:

Koskie, who will share time at third base with Bill Hall and may also see some action at first base, has been just as impressed with his young infield mates.

He will? What is he, the fourth-string first baseman, behind Fielder, Hart and Cirillo?

3/31/2006 10:31:00 PM

(3/31/2006 10:20:00 PM) - Al

Count Milwaukee as one team that would love to get its hands on departing Indians infielder Brandon Phillips.--Cleveland Plain Dealer

That would be mighty interesting, as who would go down if the Crew kept 12 pitchers? With Hall playing more OF, I'd have to guess Hart, as I know he has options. I guess you could argue Gross or Cirillo, but so many good things have been said about those two guys, I'm not sure if they'd let either one leave, as each would opt for free agency.

3/31/2006 10:20:00 PM

(3/31/2006 09:53:00 PM) - Al

Adam goes over the AAA roster, and a good idea of what the AA roster will look like as well.

As I've talked about before, that's a very deep AAA pitching staff, about 8 deep of solid prospects/role players.

3/31/2006 09:53:00 PM

Thursday, March 30, 2006

(3/30/2006 10:18:00 PM) - Al

Fernandez isn't in the clear yet, however, because the Brewers are scanning the waiver wire and release lists in an effort to find another left-hander.--JS

Gee, who would have guessed that?:) I'd have to look back at the archives, but it seems to me that prediction was made way back in the early days of 2006.

Joey Eischen has been the most noteworthy loogy I've heard, but knowing Doug, they are probably looking at another LHP that we will not hear about until he's our property.

To be honest, the only reason to knock the 40 man down to 38 was to allow a player to be added right away. You gotta figure the odds of someone being signed/dealt for is "probable" right now.

Looking at Joey's stats, I'm shocked he's had a sub 4 ERA the past 4 years, and that he's 35. I would have guessed 30. So many lefties, it would seem, don't make it until their late 20's.

3/30/2006 10:18:00 PM

(3/30/2006 10:13:00 PM) - Al

Miller Brewing and the Crew add another agreement.

I've mentioned many times that Miller got an incredible deal, as they are only paying about $2M per year for naming rights (naming rights have leveled off now, but went up quickly after this contract was signed)...and got an astounding amount of "free advertising" when the tragic construction accident occured. That is no one's fault, of course, but it is very much the truth.

3/30/2006 10:13:00 PM

(3/30/2006 08:57:00 PM) - Al

Seth Speaks reports Chris Coste is very close to opening the year on the Phillies' 25 man roster.

I can't help but think Coste is one that got away from the Crew, as catchers that can hit at all deserve every chance. However, considering he's 33, his career is not going to be a long one.

I just hope he gets a major league AB.

3/30/2006 08:57:00 PM

(3/30/2006 07:48:00 PM) - Eric

Brady Clark sprained his ankle today, and Bill Hall took over in center:

Bill Hall moved from third base to replace Clark in center field, "and continues to look really, really good in center," Yost said. Hall will get one more start in center field on Friday.

I wonder if that makes him the backup at CF rather than Hart; either way, one of them is backing up four positions and the other three. lists Cirillo as the primary backup first baseman, but I have to think Hart is. Kind of makes Cirillo seem superfluous, doesn't it?

3/30/2006 07:48:00 PM

(3/30/2006 07:41:00 PM) - Al

Right-hander Mike Adams was optioned to Class AAA Nashville today as the Milwaukee Brewers took a step toward finalizing their 25-man roster.

Adams, who was hampered by back and neck problems early in camp, was on the list of pitchers slated to work in an exhibition game today against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but did not make the trip with the team after being informed of his fate.

By moving Adams to the minors, the Brewers appeared to clear a spot for knuckleballer Jared Fernandez to make the team. Manager Ned Yost said that nothing is final and hinted that the Brewers may be considering some pitchers who are on the waiver wire.

"I'd say his chances improved,'' Yost said, referring to Fernandez. "But, nothing is final until that first pitch.''

The Brewers also placed right-hander Ben Sheets on the 15-day disabled list today. Sheets, who is recovering from a strained teres major muscle in his back, is slated to start a game in minor-league camp Saturday and is on target to join the Brewers' rotation in mid-April, after he makes two minor-league rehab starts.--JS

Barring a waiver wire claim, or a trade involving a player who just missed the 25 man roster, the opening day roster is set.

3/30/2006 07:41:00 PM

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

(3/29/2006 10:25:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

Who are the 12 teams having a chance to make the playoffs in the NL? Who are the 7 with good chances? Thank you for your prompt reply!


This weekend, I intend to post my player forecasts and team win guesses, so you'll have to wait until then for the 7. But, the 4 with only a mathematical chance (which I would have said about the Brewers until '06) are the Marlins, Nationals, Pirates, and Rockies.

3/29/2006 10:25:00 PM

(3/29/2006 09:55:00 AM) - Al

Nate Silver, who works for Baseball Prospectus, was on a Milwaukee radio station yesterday, and I copied this summary from a message board, which I will break up with my comments.

The Brewers have a young, exciting team. They have the most young major league talent of any team.

I would have to agree with that, though a great deal of that "talent" is really just two guys, Prince and Rickie.

Weeks reminds him of Lou Whitaker and could could have a break out year.

I've heard this before, and mostly because he plays 2B. I feel Molitor and Sheffield are far better names to use when looking at Rickie's potential ceiling as a hitter.

Prince could have 30 or 40 home runs. Wonders what kind of shape he'll be in down the road at 34 years old though but that shouldn't matter too much since the Brewers will be getting production out him cheaply in the first several years.

Again, I feel folks are way high on his HR total, though I think he'll hit a ton of doubles and have a fine SLG. 30 homers for a rookie would be outstanding, and I expect 25-28 if Prince stays healthy. I agree Fielder is likely to be an out-of-shape DH in 10 years. Pudgy young men do not mature into muscular older men...I would seem to prove that.

JJ Hardy's power numbers should increase this year.

I really wonder how many non-Crew fans know how good JJ did after May 24th (sidebar). I'm forecasting about an 800 OPS, a minor increase over his 775 OPS total after 5/24. Most projections are giving him a number of about 750, which seems to me to be a disappointment looking at his vast improvement.

Homer asked several questions about what percent chance they had of certain things-Nate said-75% chance to finish better than 81-81.

I'd say 65-70%.

Better than 75% chance of finishing higher than the Cubs.

I would tend to agree, as the Cubs are banged up and their bench is terrible.

30% chance that the Brewers would make the playoffs.


He predicted 86 wins for the Brewers.

I decided yesterday I would go with 87, as Sheets appears to be on track to return in mid-April.

He agreed with Homer that OBP should replace BA. Homer said nobody can talk about BA when they call the show because it's a useless stat.

A .270 hitter can be one of the best hitters in the league, or one of the worst (if he never walks and hits all singles). Doesn't get much more useless than that. Not to mention, OBP x SLG x AB's = runs. BA is nowhere to be found.

Said there's really no such thing as a "clutch hitter" save for maybe David Ortiz or going back in the day Eddie Murray, whose numbers in the clutch might have been slightly higher.

"Clutch" is a myth.

Said there's parity in the NL and 10 or 11 teams have a shot at the playoffs.

12 probably "have a shot", but I'd say 7 have a good one.

Claims it does not matter what your batting order is and that batting order might account for 1 or 2 wins over the course of a season (except if you did something crazy like put the pitcher in the cleanup spot).

One of the most overdiscussed things in the game, without a doubt. The best and the worst (like the P leading off or hitting 4th) shows about a 40-50 run difference over the season, about 4-5 wins, in computer simulations. That's why there's no great furor over guys who run fast but can't hit leading barely matters.

3/29/2006 09:55:00 AM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

(3/28/2006 08:48:00 PM) - Al

I've seen train wrecks, but this story pretty much tells me that I've never seen a train wreck like the Washington Nationals.

Royce Clayton, who has been horrible since before Clinton left office, has a guaranteed contract; and Ryan Church is headed for AAA, despite a .353 OBP in his rookie campaign, because some career minor leaguer had a decent spring.


3/28/2006 08:48:00 PM

(3/28/2006 08:28:00 PM) - Al

Friend of Ramblings John Strain shows the world why I will not invest in Charter, even though they may well be a takeover target.

We actually get pretty good service overall from them, as our internet/cable have barely been out in our 3+ years here, but whenever you call them, it's like talking to the kid who graduated last in his class. I still remember calling them and saying the TV and internet had both went out the same time, and the guy telling me that they were not connected. I went to work, and the repair fella told my wife that "of course they're connected."

Heck, they come in the house at the same place!

3/28/2006 08:28:00 PM

(3/28/2006 07:43:00 PM) - Al

Kane Davis was released today, odd because he has been injured, not to mention my contention that he's better than the best pitcher on almost any staff in the game. But, not many pennants are won on the strength of your 12th best pitcher.

I have been saying for months that I thought the Brewers would pick up a loogy near the end of spring training, and it sure is set up for such an event...Fernandez was hit hard in his last outing, two open spots on the 40 man, Helling still working his way back into pitching shape.

Zach Sorenson accepted his assignment to AAA Nashville. He is likely to make an appearance at some time this season, as of this second, I would assume he'd be the first player brought back if an IF went down...though his demotion off the 40 man may make that more difficult.

3/28/2006 07:43:00 PM

(3/28/2006 07:31:00 PM) - Al

I am usually shaking my head at comments made by ESPN's baseball analysts, but in the past couple weeks, I've heard some jaw dropping things said by their NCAA women's basketball folks.

A couple weeks ago, a player on Tennessee's team dunked on a breakaway, and one of the studio gals, Stacey Something-Something, said more people would watch because of it..."because now, the women's game has the dunk". The host then stated it was the 4th dunk in the history of the women's college game. Yes, the public is going to watch in droves because once every 5-10 years, a lady dunks the ball. Please.

Today, the other one said she had picked North Carolina to make the Final Four and win the title...and was picking against them tonight, in the Elite 8. Way to stick to your guns, ma'am.

3/28/2006 07:31:00 PM

(3/28/2006 11:41:00 AM) - Eric

I saw an interesting movie last night at the Downer called "The Emerald Diamond." I'd read about the movie last month in an article in the New York Times, and apparently a bunch of other people did too, as the theater was relatively full. It's a documentary about the nascent Irish National Baseball Team and the grassroots youth movement that it's inspired.

While on the surface, the rise of baseball in Ireland may not be appear to be any more interesting than the rise of baseball in, say, Djibouti, there are several side issues that make the story of Irish baseball particularly compelling.

First of all, baseball has begun to play a role in the Protestant/Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland. Apparently, your religious affiliation usually dictates the sports you play as a kid growing up in Belfast, but since baseball is relatively new, it's seen as neutral territory and played by both sides. Certainly that's an ennobling role for a sport frequently viewed through cynical eyes of late here in the States.

Secondly, the Irish can't throw. They grow up playing soccer and other sports like hurling, which similar to field hockey, but nothing involving throwing a ball. Think about it: as a kid, how many times did you play catch with your dad or your friends or your brother? Throwing stuff is so ingrained as a ritual of American youth that "catch" is a pastime in its own right. Not so in Ireland.

One point of interest I felt the film really missed an opportunity in not touching on was the role that Irish immigrants played in popularizing the game of baseball here in the US. I'm certainly not an expert on the subject, but a country of birth survey from shows that there have been 40 Irish-born Major Leaguers, ten more than the more well-known English compenent of the early game. The roster of those 40 men includes famous pitchers Tommy Bond and Tony Mullane.

The film as a whole affects a tone of almost giddy optimism perhaps not entirely appropriate for a documentary and thus somewhat obscures the approximate level of difficulty at which the Irish were competing; given that Brendan Bergerson is one of their ace pitchers, I'd peg it somewhere below major college baseball. If that puts it on the level of a smaller university like Southern, which produced Rickie Weeks and his gaudy college numbers, then perhaps Rory Murphy, the then-16 year old catcher who hit .538 in the 2004 European Championships, is somewhat of an actual prospect. We all know about the Brewers' fetish for Canadian ballplayers; perhaps a trip across the Atlantic is in order.

3/28/2006 11:41:00 AM

Monday, March 27, 2006

(3/27/2006 10:18:00 PM) - Al

Zach Sorenson did clear waivers, and will decide whether to go to Nashville or be a free agent tomorrow. Zach was almost a free agent before, but the Crew claimed him. He'd do well to dance with the team that brought him. Needless to say, I won't lose any sleep tonight hoping he reports.

I watched most of the exhibition game tonight, and one thing I had forgot to mention was that Doug Melvin said over the weekend that he expects utility man Vinny Rottino to contribute to the major league team...possibly this year. Vinny is a Racine native, who played at UW-LaCrosse, who has played all over the diamond in the minors, and is expected to go to AAA and play 1B/3B/LF/RF and hopefully, even do some catching. Last year, he began to catch a bit at AA, but for whatever reason (no one has come out and said it, but I assume it was winning over development), the experiement ended early on. Now, with Vinny continuing to smack the ball, if he had the ability to even be a 3rd string catcher, his value would increase a great deal.

Vinny isn't even that young, 25 I think, but he looks like he's 19. I like him more now that I've seen him, 'cause he's a bit husky. Much like lefty reliever Jason Kershner, he won't open on the 25 man roster...but he might finish on it.

3/27/2006 10:18:00 PM

(3/27/2006 09:11:00 AM) - Robert R.

A few thoughts on Zach Sorensen being exposed to waivers.

With useful veterans like Tony Graffanino also being on the waiver wire, I don't see Sorensen being picked up. Most teams have their utility situation well in hand at this point. The Marlins could probably consider it, but Sorensen is too old to fit into their big picture.

Since Sorensen had options, the main conclusion to draw is that a NRI is going to make the team. Jared Fernandez is the obvious candidate to make the squad as a result of a space being opened.

3/27/2006 09:11:00 AM

(3/27/2006 08:45:00 AM) - Robert R.

I was in my first roto auction of the year yesterday, a 12 team, NL only, 4 x 4. I won't bore people with the details except that inflation was insane, Jason Lane went for $30, and I was well served by my philosophy of chasing value not players I happen to like. I'm convinced that seeing where the auction leads you in terms of value is the only strategy worth having. I had to gamble a little bit, Craig Wilson and Eric Reed were late pickups, but that's typical of competitive leagues.

Of more general interest, there was a lot of optimism and interest in the Brewers as fantasy players. Chad Moeller was the only position player not picked up and Gabe Gross was the only position player that went for less than $10 with someone taking a $1 flyer on him. I thought that was a good gamble too. Corey Hart had a lot of interest among position players that were in the auction. On the pitching side, for the first time in my memory, every Brewer starter was picked up and David Bush gathered quite a bit of interest, garnering $11. (In a league without inflation, $7 or $8 would probably be a fair price.) Capellan, Wise, Kolb, and Turnbow also were picked up or kept. Granted, inflation was rampant and there were some homers present, but there's also a sense that there's a lot of talent on the team.

3/27/2006 08:45:00 AM

Sunday, March 26, 2006

(3/26/2006 09:17:00 PM) - Al

Interesting story about how more Naval Academy grads are choosing the Marines.

Hat tip to Glenn.

3/26/2006 09:17:00 PM

(3/26/2006 07:24:00 PM) - Al

The Milwaukee Brewers will learn Monday if infielder Zach Sorensen has cleared waivers, which would allow them to assign him to Class AAA Nashville.

Sorensen's waiver period ends at noon. If no other club claims him, he will be eligible to go to the minors. The Brewers informed Sorensen on Saturday that he would not make the 25-man roster.

I don't want to say Sorenson will definitely not be claimed, because I would ahve said the same thing about George Mason making the Final Four. That said, Zach will clear waivers and be a Sound tomorrow.

3/26/2006 07:24:00 PM

Saturday, March 25, 2006

(3/25/2006 10:40:00 PM) - Eric

The hits just keep on comin'. I was Googling Kerry Wood, with whom I am now stuck in my ESPN league, to find out his health status, and stumbled upon this piece of work. Jerry Crasnick breaks down the Cardinals' offseason and attempts to explain why they're still the team to beat in the NL Central:

The common refrain is that the NL Central talent gap has narrowed, but that remains to be seen. Unless Roger Clemens returns, the Astros might not be stronger. Until Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Wade Miller actually appear in games, the Cubs haven't improved. And Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, bottom feeders on the rise, have combined for one .500 season in 13 years and finished an aggregate 52 games behind St. Louis in 2005.

That last sentence is a real doozy as far as non sequiturs go. The Brewers and Pirates are "on the rise," but because of past history have no shot at the Cardinals? No other explanation required, of course; Crasnick apparently found that argument so convincing that he felt elaboration would be patronizing.

How vulnerable can the Cardinals be? They have baseball's premier stat machine in Pujols; a first-rate rotation with Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis and Ponson; and a proven closer, Jason Isringhausen, backed up by new set-up man Braden Looper. Now all that's left is staying healthy and hoping the team's winning culture brings out the best in players like Ponson and Encarnacion, with their enigmatic reputations and spotty résumés.

Will the Cardinals win the division? Almost certainly. You can downgrade a 100-win team significantly and still be left with a formidable contender. It's not Crasnick's conclusion that bothers me. It's the fact that he spent most of the article running through their iffy offseason moves and the injury questions behind Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds, setting himself up perfectly for the reasonable conclusion promised by the headline: "Cards contenders despite so-so offseason." Despite it, Jerry, not because of it! Then he finishes with the above two paragraphs, which present the argument that the Cardinals are an unstoppable Teflon-coated juggernaut simply because they were last year.

The Cardinals got worse over the offseason, and everyone knows it. How vulnerable can the Cardinals be? All he had to do was write one word: "more."

Postscript: At the bottom of the article, you'll find a link saying that Mr. Crasnick can be reached via email. Theoretically perhaps, but I'm unable to confirm this, as apparently you have to pay ESPN for the right to email their authors. Classy move, Bristol.

3/25/2006 10:40:00 PM

(3/25/2006 09:52:00 PM) - Al

The Milwaukee Brewers made six official roster moves today and told three other players they would not make the team, in essence getting down to 28 players - only three more than they'll take north to open the season.

The Brewers cut pitchers Justin Thompson, Jason Kershner and Allan Simpson, infielder Brent Abernathy, catcher Mike Rivera, and outfielder Nelson Cruz. All six were assigned to the minor league complex.

Catcher Mark Johnson, infielder Zach Sorensen and utility player Vinny Rottino also were told by manager Ned Yost they would not make the 25-man roster but will stay in camp to help fill out lineups for the remaining week of exhibition play.

The round of cuts - official and unofficial - left the Brewers with three more moves to make, all on the pitching side. One move will be putting right-hander Ben Sheets on the disabled list to give him time to recover from a shoulder injury.

The Brewers also must determine the health status of pitchers Rick Helling (elbow stiffness) and Kane Davis (shoulder tendinitis). Helling has been pitching in minor league camp and appears healthy enough to keep on the active roster but Davis has not pitched in more than a week.

The other pitcher on the bubble is right-hander Mike Adams, who has been limited in camp by back and neck problems.

Thompson, 33, is attempting to come back from multiple shoulder surgeries that sidelined him for much of the previous six seasons. He will be placed in the starting rotation at Class AAA Nashville to stretch him out and see if he might help the Brewers at some point.--JS

No surprises at all, except for the mere fact Mike Adams, who I swore was sent down earlier this month, is still in the mix, albeit as a possible injury replacement. The only player that you could say is a mild surprise is Jared Fernandez, the knuckleballing veteran who is making the team as the 25th man, it would appear.

If you are not sure of the 25 man, I listed it here, when I was predicting it a while back. Basically, take Sheets out and put Fernandez in.

So, to clear this up a tad, Sheets to the DL makes it 27. Kane Davis looks to have lost his spot to Fernandez, and may end up on the DL as well. Helling looks to be ready for the regualr season, but if not, Adams looks to be his "backup".

3/25/2006 09:52:00 PM

(3/25/2006 03:55:00 PM) - Eric

I strongly dislike ESPN. Not only the TV version, which is the MTV of sports, but especially the website. It's poorly organized, the popups are infuriating, and their fantasy setup pales in comparison to Yahoo's.

After paying $50 to join a three-year keeper league on with some buddies, I got home the other night, opened a beer, and joined the live draft. Every single person in the league was having problems with the funtionality, and I was completely unable to use the thing; the only activity open to me was to sit, fists clenched, as it autopicked horrible player after horrible player (Randy Johnson should make an excellent keeper!). I was using the same computer, browser, and version of Java that had worked for me in four Yahoo drafts earlier this month. Ridiculous.

Now today, I come across this, an article by one of ESPN's stable of Insider fantasy "experts." Keep in mind that it's this guy's job to advise their myriad subsribers.

Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: He has batted .286 with a .536 slugging percentage in 11 spring games, demonstrating his powerful stroke, and his seven walks compared to 28 at-bats show he's a lot more patient than his father, free-swinging Cecil. Fielder could slip into a straight platoon with Corey Hart, a .316 hitter with a 1.001 OPS this spring, but so far, the statistical comparisons to 2005's Ryan Howard seem right on track.

He could? I have seen absolutely no indication of that even being a possibility; the closest is the suggestion that Hart, in addition to backing up the three outfield positions, will give Fielder and his big body an occasional day off at first. You can see where he would get the idea of a platoon: Fielder is left-handed, Hart is right-handed, and both are highly-regarded prospects. But to simply publish that without looking into the reality of the situation is appalling.

3/25/2006 03:55:00 PM

(3/25/2006 11:57:00 AM) - Eric

There's a Doug Melvin chat up on the Brewers' site. For the most part, it's standard GM-speak, but there were a couple of interesting tidbits:

John_Morey: What are Vinny Rottino's chances of making the squad? He has had a great spring.

Melvin: Vinny had a very good Spring Training and we all root for him. I would be surprised if he's not in the big leagues sometime during the season.

max_kraft: What player in your Minor League system do you think will make the biggest impact on the Brewers Major League team if brought up?

Melvin: Dana Eveland, Zach Jackson and Nelson Cruz are players close to the big leagues who could have some impact on our club during the '06 season.

I didn't realize the Brewers were so bullish about Rottino, and even assuming they were, I wouldn't have expected Melvin to be so candid about it. As for the second comment, Eveland and Cruz are no surprise, but I viewed Zach Jackson as more of a 2007 guy, especially with Eveland and Helling ahead of him. Reading between the lines, this would appear to be the death knell for Ben Hendrickson and an acknowledgement that Dennis Sarfate's future is in the bullpen.

3/25/2006 11:57:00 AM

Friday, March 24, 2006

(3/24/2006 10:44:00 PM) - Al

Last year Chris Capuano won 18 games for Milwaukee, and Doug Davis struck out more batters than Carlos Zambrano, A.J. Burnett or Roger Clemens. So who is this year's leading candidate to flourish in the Mike Maddux finishing school? Try right-hander David Bush, who came to Milwaukee from Toronto in the Lyle Overbay trade in December.
Bush, a former second-round pick out of Wake Forest, never quite fit in Toronto. He relied too much on his breaking ball, and he lost confidence in part because of manager John Gibbons' quick hook. But he's a natural strike thrower, and he should benefit from the switch from the American League East to the NL Central.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin says Bush reminds him of a young Rick Helling because of his competitiveness, and farm director Reid Nichols sensed Bush might have an impact when he watched him throw batting practice early in camp.

"He's a little unorthodox," Nichols said, "but I know a lot of our guys were complaining about having to hit against him."

Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy recovered from a terrible first half in 2005 (.187, one homer) to hit .308 with eight homers after the All-Star break. The Brewers attribute the turnaround to Hardy's mental toughness and what Melvin calls his "selective contact approach" at the plate. In 427 plate appearances, Hardy drew 44 walks and struck out only 48 times.
Melvin's statistical analyst, Dave Lawson, crunched some numbers and found that Hardy's season was similar to Robin Ventura's rookie year with the White Sox in 1990. Ventura had more walks (55) than strikeouts (53) that season, while apparently sacrificing power for contact.

The following year, Ventura busted out for 23 homers and 100 RBI. Those power numbers are a reach for Hardy. But if he can steer clear of the back spasms that have bothered him this spring, the Brewers think he's capable of putting up Bobby Crosby-like numbers at short.--Jerry Crasnik,

Hardy could certainly have an 800 OPS this year if things go well...he had a 775 OPS after May 20th last season. The funny thing about Bush is that in a "down" 2005 campaign, his ERA was about 4.50...which translates to about 4 in the non-DH NL...which is pretty much what 18 game winner Chris Capuano had. And, the way the media portrayed him, Bush was some sort of throw-in, as Zach Jackson was made the centerpiece of the Overbay trade. While Jackson is younger and has a near limitless ceiling, Bush is 26 and is near his peak.

3/24/2006 10:44:00 PM

(3/24/2006 10:32:00 PM) - Al checks in with a preview, some kind words and optimism to be found.

3/24/2006 10:32:00 PM

(3/24/2006 10:20:00 PM) - Al

How bad are the Dodgers going to be, you ask?

They didn't feel Hee-Seop Choi could help them, which is about as blatant a disregard for OBP as is possible after Moneyball.

Too bad he won't get much playing time in Boston, unless some moves are made.

3/24/2006 10:20:00 PM

(3/24/2006 10:07:00 PM) - Al

Unless he marries a supermodel, I believe this is as good as it's ever gonna get for Aaron Gleeman.

Honestly, it couldn't happen to a better writer either.

3/24/2006 10:07:00 PM

(3/24/2006 09:53:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

I know you and I are both big fans of Bud Selig. I thought you might enjoy this article.

Take care.


Written by one of the best columnists as well, fine job.

Once again, memories are awful fuzzy now that Selig has done what leaders do...ignore shortsighted naysayers and do what's right. It's the same thing he did with the wildcard, realignment, and by far his biggest accomplishment, a new CBA without a work stoppage, the first since what, '73, which included groundbreaking revenue sharing that has leveled the playing field immensely.

Thanks for reading and writing, Ajay.

3/24/2006 09:53:00 PM

(3/24/2006 08:28:00 AM) - Al

In the book Eric mentions below a couple posts, in which Jenkins is touted as the NL's best defensive RF, Ronnie Belliard is the AL's best defensive 2B.

Too bad he was stuck behind Eric "Not" Young and let go for nothing, huh?

3/24/2006 08:28:00 AM

(3/24/2006 08:21:00 AM) - Al

I awoke this morning with a bit of a bounce in my I do annually the day after Duke is eliminated from the big tourney. I have nothing against the players, but watching the arrogant preppies in the stands tear up at the end of the game always makes me smile.

And to think, they were defeated by a state run, public university...

3/24/2006 08:21:00 AM

(3/24/2006 05:41:00 AM) - Eric

Geoff Jenkins touted as the best right fielder in the National League. I've been meaning to pick up Dewan's book, but I have to wait for the logjam to clear a bit. Also:

As Carlos Lee goes, the Brewers go. The team was 49-17 in 2005 when Lee drove in at least one run and 20-9 when he homered. Lee, who is entering a contract year, has matched or bettered his home run total in each of his seven Major League seasons. The young Brewers, who aspire to be contenders this season, will need Lee's upward trend to continue to take the pressue off youngsters Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and Billy Hall -- all of whom figure to get significant at-bats.

Talk about unsurprising "trivia." You mean to tell me that a team is more likely to win when its players, especially the ones put in a position to drive in runs, play well? Golly gee.

3/24/2006 05:41:00 AM

Thursday, March 23, 2006

(3/23/2006 09:48:00 PM) - Al

With DLR promised a spot on the 25 man, and kind words said about Lehr and Fernandez by the GM, and word that the team is leaning toward 12 pitchers, I'd say the smart money is on an opening day staff of:



Kane Davis, who is out of options and would never go to AAA (he would take free agency and if not able to sign onto a 25 man, sign on with a far thinner staff than the Crew), has not pitched in 5 days due to a minor injury. If he could be stashed on the disabled list and then to Nashville for rehab, the Brewers could hold his rights until early or mid-May, in case of an injury or ineffectiveness.

With about 23 of the 25 spots written in stone before camp started, it sure feels different than previous years.

3/23/2006 09:48:00 PM

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

(3/22/2006 10:20:00 PM) - Eric

USA Today has an article up about which rookies are likely to have the biggest fantasy impact. It's interesting, but I have a bigger question.

What is the deal with that picture of Prince Fielder? The caption wonders if he can challenge his father's home run total, but I'm wondering if he got the kidney stone out.

3/22/2006 10:20:00 PM

(3/22/2006 08:38:00 PM) - Al

If these numbers are correct, it's not much more dangerous to be a member of the military now than it has been since 1980.

If true, those are simply hard to believe stats.

3/22/2006 08:38:00 PM

(3/22/2006 07:37:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers optioned three players to Class AAA Nashville today: centerfielder David Krynzel and right-handed pitchers Dennis Sarfate and Ben Hendrickson.--JS

Would have been a huge shock had any of these guys not been sent down, and as a matter of fact, Krynzel has been doing his rehab in minor league camp, so his transaction was just on paper. Sarfate had a nice month, putting up a 1ish ERA, and at worst, would seem to be on the fast track for an '07 bullpen slot, or to be dealt at the deadline.

Doug Melvin said today on the webcast that he really likes the set-up of the AAA rotation, having Evelnad and Jackson down there for SP depth. Doug had some kind words for knuckleballer Jared Fernandez as well.

3/22/2006 07:37:00 PM

(3/22/2006 08:35:00 AM) - Robert R.

I saw V For Vendetta last night. Some people are getting worked up over this movie? Honestly? I've read the original story and this is really only the slicked up, rip roaring (relatively), crowd pleasing version with a couple of controversial hot button references to be edgy. There's a lot more of The Count of Monte Cristo, Phantom of the Opera, and Beauty and the Beast in this version than in the original. The evil government in this movie is too transparently evil to be truly considered a reflection on any existing government. V's politics have been stripped from him, instead of being a anarchy espousing anti-hero he's pretty much a dark hero fighting for freedom. Etc. Essentially, all the the gray areas of the source material have been stripped away and only the Doctor and V scene, the torture sequence, and the "Valerie" sequence are truly representative of the original graphic novel.

And, yet, on its own terms, I think the movie works. I don't think it works on a level much beyond "edgy rebel sticks it to evil regime", but working on a basic entertainment level with a hint of ideas is a lot more than most movies accomplish. It's a tremendous step up from The Matrix sequels with a couple of relatively restrained but well mounted action sequences, a length that doesn't overstay its welcome, and ideas that are much less ponderously presented. V's also a welcome protagonist in the action film genre as his unique, some would say pretentious but I say those people have no sense of fun, way of expressing himself is retained and Hugo Weaving proves himself adept at the verbal gymnastics required. V is very much of a polar opposite of Clint Eastwood in expressiveness which adds welcome range. And Natalie Portman, despite an accent that slips occasionally, shows that getting away from George Lucas is all that is necessary for her to be a credible movie actress. The Wachowski's addition of humor to the fairly humorless source material works a lot better than I would have thought. And buildings blow up in the movie in suitably spectacular fashion.

On a Hollywood surface level, I think the movie succeeds admirably. Unfortunately, the story's intellectual legs have been knocked out from under it in the bargain.

3/22/2006 08:35:00 AM

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

(3/21/2006 06:55:00 PM) - Al

Every once in a while I go to the site meter at the bottom of the page and proceed to check out how folks happened upon Ramblings.

repeating goodbye band

Erin Andrews

interesting facts about Luis Vizcaino


Jim Yost dead boy

3/21/2006 06:55:00 PM

(3/21/2006 06:10:00 PM) - Eric

Yahoo has posted the results of their "expert" draft, which, as you may have guessed from my punctuation, are less than overwhelming.

Lance Berkman falls until the eighth pick in the fourth round? Terry F. Tiffee in the fifth? Travis Hafner--one of the top five or seven hitters in baseball--wasn't even drafted? Wow.

EDIT: After further reflection and noticing that after the draft, Tiffee was immediately dropped for Hafner, I am assuming that the guy could not find Hafner (since he has no real position and is listed as "Utility" by Yahoo) and thus drafted Tiffee as a placeholder. I suppose I must therefore retract some of my previous venom.

3/21/2006 06:10:00 PM

(3/21/2006 03:37:00 PM) - Al

One of the first signs of people who have too much "stuff" is the way they complain about minor things as if it is somehow important, just because it is happening to them.

Today on Dr. Phil, two teen daughters of a woman says she's "addicted" to Dr. Phil.

She watches it every day. It's like she has to watch it.

What's really sad about this is it minimizes people with real problems and real addictions. Saying someone is "addicted to shopping", or in this case, a TV talk show, is just ignorant. It means the people making the claim are simply out of touch. Somewhere, there's a kid watching Phil whose mom is out spending the grocery money on crack, who hopes that they'll get the chance to beat up those little spoiled brats.

And with luck, when the brats call home, mom will be watching Phil and let the machine get it.:)

3/21/2006 03:37:00 PM

(3/21/2006 02:50:00 PM) - Al

Left-hander Doug Davis will start for the Milwaukee Brewers in the season opener against Pittsburgh April 3 at Miller Park, manager Ned Yost announced today.

Davis, who had been slated to start the second game, will take the place of right-hander Ben Sheets.

Yost said today that he expects Sheets to begin the season on the disabled list--JS

Let's all harken back to a few years ago, when Grumpy Stewart would have challenged the manhood of Sheets if he had to go on the DL, while Lopester would be figuring out ways to work Eric Young into the lineup, while complaining his bench of Mark Loretta and Ronnie Belliard (both future all-stars, of course) were too blessed slow.

The times, they are a changin'.

I realize many of you were not with us 3 years ago, but allow me to quote from the JS:

Though he was bothered by shoulder soreness and slowed by an upper respiratory virus early in camp, Neugebauer rallied and made two exhibition starts in Arizona. Though his control was inconsistent, he touched 94 to 96 mph on the radar gun. That velocity, coupled with an injury to the other No. 5 candidate, Paul Rigdon, made Neugebauer the front-runner for the No. 5 spot.

Three sources who attended the staff meeting at which the decision was made said there were differences of opinion as to whether the Brewers should take Neugebauer north after just two somewhat shaky appearances and 5 2/3 innings
. Apparently, pitching coach Dave Stewart strongly argued that Neugebauer was healthy enough to start the season with the big-league club. Manager Davey Lopes and general manager Dean Taylor agreed.

You can almost hear the Looney Tunes theme playing in the background, can't you? Comparing the current regime to the stooges that used to occupy the positions is all but impossible, as to say they had no clue is to unfairly insult those with no clue.

3/21/2006 02:50:00 PM

(3/21/2006 02:34:00 PM) - Al

David Pinto writes it's down to Chris Coste versus 2 others for the 25th spot on the Phillies' roster.

Seth Speaks sent me this link from a message board discussing the possibility.

It's tough to not root for a guy like Coste, who has produced every single year of his career, who has had to watch dozens of "prospects" go onto the bigs despite, well, never showing they could not suck in AAA, never mind the majors.

3/21/2006 02:34:00 PM

(3/21/2006 02:13:00 PM) - Al

The Replacement Level Yankees blog runs simulations based on the various projection modules. The Crew ends up with between 80 and 85 wins, though the respected Pecota system by Baseball Prospectus has them in the playoffs 25% of the time.

I'd say about 33%, so that unbiased view is pretty close to mine.

3/21/2006 02:13:00 PM

(3/21/2006 01:17:00 PM) - Al

So, a 5th starting pitcher won't be needed until April 17th, and the Brewers play 12 games in the season's first 14 days.

Say Sheets is held back until then, I was wondering, would the team go with 7 relievers (an 11 man staff), or 8 (a 12 man staff)?

Starters usually aren't "stretched out" in April, so outings tend to be short, very rarely over 7 innings, and 5 plus and 6 plus are very common. Because we hate to put stress on our pitcher's arms, let's figure the rotation averages 5 innings a start. Ignoring the fact you only throw 8 innings if you lose on the road, as well as extra innings, that's 4 innings a game you have to cover, or 48 innings over the first two weeks. 48/7 is just under 7 innings per reliever, which doesn't seem like too many to me, especially since 5 innings is probably a worst case scenario.

The fact that Zach Sorenson keeps getting mentioned as a utilty player has me thinking the team is planning on opening with 11 pitchers and 14 position players.

3/21/2006 01:17:00 PM

(3/21/2006 10:36:00 AM) - Al

I have two thoughts after reading this article about Pat Tillman's family still making the news and vocally criticizing the Army.

1. I can only imagine the horror that Tillman would feel about this. I can almost here Tillman saying "Yep, it happens", right before losing conciousness.

2. Maybe I'm missing something, but the family's anger seems to be all over the place, and mostly they seem to be questioning how "friendly fire" could have killed their son. Of course, we're talking about war here, the dictionary defintion of chaos, and I'll be the first to admit, put me in that situation, and you can bet your life I'll err on the side of "shoot first, ask questions later".

3. Again, maybe I'm misreading, but do they really want charges brought against the soldier(s) who mistakenly fired against their son?

4. Tillman, like every other member of the military killed in action, died a hero. I just can't help thinking that they are tarnishing his memory.

3/21/2006 10:36:00 AM

Monday, March 20, 2006

(3/20/2006 11:00:00 PM) - Al

The writing gig I took care of last Friday night made the cut and was posted today over at The Hardball Times.

You can see my season preview of the Crew, done in a unique "5 Questions" format, that I struggled with for some time, here. I think it turned out OK, though it amazed me how long it took to properly research, write, and link an article of that size.

Please, feel free to e-mail me suggestions or comments.

3/20/2006 11:00:00 PM

(3/20/2006 10:39:00 PM) - Al

Adam thinks, like I do, that Sheets will take it easy and return a couple weeks after the season begins.

3/20/2006 10:39:00 PM

(3/20/2006 09:31:00 PM) - Al

I thought the Pirates were close to breaking through...according to this 5 Questions at HT, maybe not.

3/20/2006 09:31:00 PM

(3/20/2006 09:21:00 PM) - Al

Theo is back, picking up Wily Mo Pena for Bronson Arroyo. Theo is as gutsy as any GM I've ever witnessed, very few would pick up a "part-time" player for a solid SP. Of course, the Reds weakened themselves considerably today offensively, as Scott Hatteberg is barely a fraction of Pena, never mind what Pena will probably do as he gets closer to his peak age and plays every day.

Arroyo is a decent pitcher, probably comparable to Dave Bush, but the difference is obvious...Bronson is 29, and has likely already began his slide downward. Bush is 26, and is just entering his peak years.

3/20/2006 09:21:00 PM

(3/20/2006 06:39:00 PM) - Eric

There's an odd Yost quote in that DLR article Al linked earlier:

After watching Bush work around eight hits and a walk in a three-strikeout effort that lowered the-right-hander's spring earned run average to 1.29, Yost said: "I like the way he competes. He's like Ben and Doug (Davis) and 'Cappy' (Chris Capuano) in that way. I like guys who go after it."

I'm sure it doesn't mean anything, but doesn't it seem strange that he didn't mention Ohka?

3/20/2006 06:39:00 PM

(3/20/2006 06:34:00 PM) - Eric

A "hidden" AP article that wasn't picked up by either the JS or ESPN, focusing on Attanasio's surprising success with the team.

"Candidly, I did not expect to be at this point this soon,'' Attanasio said during an interview as he watched his team play one of its first spring training games. "I thought we would be here in Year 3 at the earliest. I think we're a year ahead of schedule, maybe two years.''

3/20/2006 06:34:00 PM

(3/20/2006 05:20:00 PM) - Eric

I finished Fantasyland today. One word review: engrossing. On the eve of our own fantasy draft, I feel it's especially relevant.

Summary: Sam Walker, a sportswriter for the Wall Street Journal, hears about the Tout Wars, an elite Rotisserie league chaired by BaseballHQ's Ron Shandler, who was publishing projections before Nate Silver had his first kiss. He'd resisted playing fantasy baseball for years, all too aware of its heroin-like hold on participants, but, probably envisioning the resultant book, he called up Shandler and begged his way into the league. Despite his dearth of analytical experience and skill, he figured he has an edge over his competition simply because of the access his WSJ press credential allowed him; for instance, he could actually call up Carlos Tosca and ask why Josh Phelps isn't getting more playing time.

Walker's writing is engaging and clear, resulting in outstanding readability; I plowed through the book in just over a day. The access he was counting on to give him a leg up in the Tout Wars has the added benefit of humanizing the ballplayers; the book opens with a touching story about Jacque Jones' response to reading Shandler's opinion of him. However, Walker overplays the human angle in his strategizing, assuming for no particular reason that if he weighs "stats" and "scouts" equally, he'll be unbeatable. It's frustrating to read about his poor decision-making skills, partly based on a questionable system called the "Hunchmaster" designed by one of his assistants. He even consults an astrologer, and at the end of his season, asserts that he should have paid more heed to her soothsayings!

That said, just as it's intriguing to read about the player behind the numbers, I suppose a story about a robotic stat fiend who smote his opponents' ruins upon the mountainside would make for an uninteresting book, and make no mistake, Fantasyland is anything but uninteresting. Thoroughly engaging, quite funny, and at times poignant, I definitely recommend picking it up.

3/20/2006 05:20:00 PM

Sunday, March 19, 2006

(3/19/2006 09:47:00 PM) - Al

DLR may have turned a corner, and Bush goes 5 solid innings to be an obvious member of the rotation at the JS.

3/19/2006 09:47:00 PM

(3/19/2006 09:39:00 PM) - Eric

I'm currently happily buried under a glut of interesting new baseball books, including, besides the usual Baseball Prospectus & Hardball Times annuals, various prospect handbooks like Baseball America's and John Sickels, the following:

The Book by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andy Dolphin
Baseball Between the Numbers by the BP "Team of Experts"
Fantasyland by Sam Walker
Baseball Before We Knew It by David Block

The first two are fairly comparable in that they challenge the accepted stategies that govern the game. The other two are proving to be wonderfully humanizing looks at a game sometimes reduced to numbers (such reduction is, in fact, a constant theme in Fantasyland.) In-depth reviews forthcoming as soon as I actually manage to finish them.

3/19/2006 09:39:00 PM

(3/19/2006 06:59:00 PM) - Al

60 Minutes has a fascinating story on tonight about the NYPD defending itself against terrorism. They have 10 police officers living overseas that dig up info on attacks there, how they do it, what they used, and so on. Every day, they check popular tourist destinations, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, for bombs. There's no way to stop every idiot with a homemade explosive, but this type of pro-active approach is very impressive.

Compare this with the city of New Orleans, months later, still wondering when the federal government is going to throw more money at the problems they are having.

3/19/2006 06:59:00 PM

(3/19/2006 04:28:00 PM) - Al

Also on Sunday, the Brewers signed right-hander Allan Simpson to a Minor League contract and invited him to Major League camp. Simpson, who lives in Appleton, Wis., made five appearances for Cincinnati this spring before he was released and is 2-2 with a 6.22 ERA in 43 Major League games.

Simpson probably isn't much more than a solid AAA reliever, but to be honest, I've had questions about the depth in the Nashville bullpen, as it looks like Mike Adams and Jason Kershner are the only 2 vets expected to be there, with maybe Jared Fernandez.

He also lives in Appleton, likely from meeting a girl when he played there while in the Mariners system. A career 3.82 AAA ERA, and he's hasn't started a game in years. Nice roster filler for the sounds.

UPDATE: Simpson is not the pitcher the Reds released for being pudgy, that was Josh Hancock.

3/19/2006 04:28:00 PM

(3/19/2006 02:13:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure why I still read Jim Caple, especially when he attempts to inject humor into an otherwise ignorant topic.

I think there's a reason Caple remains just about the only columnist at you can read for free.

3/19/2006 02:13:00 PM

Saturday, March 18, 2006

(3/18/2006 05:41:00 PM) - Al

David Wells thinks the Red Sox should open with a 5 man rotation, even though they have numrous off-days in April...because that's what would be best for David Wells.

The irony here is, Wells continues to call people idiots, and it seems obvious that he's a complete moron...and a selfish one at that.

3/18/2006 05:41:00 PM

(3/18/2006 05:08:00 PM) - Al

First of all, and I may be repeating myself, but how great is March Madness? Many #14, 15, and 16 seeds were right in the game, I guess Albany was up 12 on UConn before the inevitable run.

It's too bad the Badgers run ended so quickly, at the very least, they peaked at the wrong time, as they certainly were playing far from their best basketball at the end of the campaign. Of course, if you could make a team come together in mid-March, everyone would do it. When it happens, as it did when Dick Bennett led a bunch of overachievers to the Final Four, it is truly special to watch.

Bo Ryan mentioned he thought the team lost confidence playing tough teams on the road late in the season, and that makes as much sense as anything else. I still think far too much was made of the fact they lost some depth to ineligibility, but we'll never know. At the very least, the '06-'07 version should jump out of the gates quickly, as they will be a year older, hopefully bigger and stronger, and be very accustomed to each other.

I submitted my article, so I will let you know if and when it is used.

3/18/2006 05:08:00 PM

Friday, March 17, 2006

(3/17/2006 10:23:00 PM) - Eric

More news on Brewer baserunning. Last time it was Brady Clark and stolen base break-even rates; this time, it's Rickie Weeks, Carlos Lee, and taking the extra base.

You often hear analysts discuss the hidden runs contributed by players who run the bases intelligently and always take the extra base, frequently followed with a strawman attack along the lines of, "That doesn't show up in your Moneyball spreadsheets." Well, actually, it does. Similar to the win expectancy used in analyzing Clark's basestealing, we're now going to use run expectancy charts, which are simply the amount of runs the average team scores given a number of outs and baserunners.

The run expectancy chart for the 2005 NL is as follows:
Runners  0 Outs  1 Out  2 Outs 
0,0,0 0.528 0.279 0.107
1,0,0 0.887 0.536 0.232
0,1,0 1.135 0.690 0.331
1,1,0 1.503 0.916 0.448
0,0,1 1.380 0.961 0.368
1,0,1 1.762 1.168 0.496
0,1,1 1.980 1.405 0.589
1,1,1 2.303 1.548 0.766
The first column is first base, second base, third base, and the three other columns are the runs expected given the number of outs in the column heading. For instance, with 0,0,1 & 2 Outs, or a runner on third and two outs, the average team scored .368 runs.

Dan Fox takes an in depth look at this subject in his article "Around the Bases One More Time" from the Hardball Times '06 Annual, pages 168-173. The situations he looks are are:

*Runner on first, second not occupied and the batter singles
*Runner on second, third not occupied and the batter singles
*Runner on first, second not occupied and the batter doubles

He tallies up the actual amount of bases advanced and subtracts the bases expected, resulting in a stat he calls IR, or Incremental Runs. "Negative values indicate that the runner performed poorly in his opportunities by not taking as many bases and therefore contributing fewer runs than he should have."

As for how this pertains to the Brewers, Fox shows that Rickie Weeks and Carlos Lee were two of the worst runners at taking the extra base last year. Weeks in particular deserves a special demerit for being thrown out five times in only thirty opportunities; Lee was thrown out twice in 29 opportunities. Weeks' IR is -2.83 and Lee's is -2.79, meaning that between getting thrown out and simply not moving up as expected, together they cost the Brewers 5.73 runs, which in today's run environment is worth about half of a win.

Of course, you have two completely different baserunner profiles in Weeks and Lee; the former is quite fast but young, while the latter is experienced but rather plodding. Perhaps Lee is advancing basically as much as he can, but is simply too slow to take as many extra bases as the average runner; he was pretty canny with stolen bases last year, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Weeks, however, clearly needs to improve his judgement on when to go for that extra base, as getting thrown out 1/6 of the time is simply unacceptable.

3/17/2006 10:23:00 PM

(3/17/2006 01:24:00 PM) - Jason

The UW basketball season is coming to a fitting end this afternoon, as they are being thrashed by Arizona in the first round of the NCAA tourney. Truly a pathetic performance, as UW was down double digits only 3 minutes into the game and have shown absolutely no life throughout this contest. They have looked like a club that is ready for the season to end, and they will get their wish. UW has looked lifeless for about the last three weeks, a combination of a team that is obviously tired coupled by the fact that they just havent progressed since the early parts of the season...they have regressed.

Bo has work to do with this group. They should start by learning how to shoot, since not many on this team can.

3/17/2006 01:24:00 PM

(3/17/2006 10:45:00 AM) - Eric

All but official that Dave Bush is the fifth starter, as Eveland was optioned to AAA and Helling hasn't thrown in over a week.

Interestingly, in my fantasy draft last night, Bush was picked and Ohka was not. People are noticing him.

3/17/2006 10:45:00 AM

(3/17/2006 10:45:00 AM) - Al

I am off to work soon, and then I need to complete a bit of outside writing, as my deadline is fast approaching. With luck, I'll be back to tell of the battle for the 11th and 12th pitching staff spots and my far from bulging portfolio tomorrow.

3/17/2006 10:45:00 AM

(3/17/2006 10:36:00 AM) - Al

Larry Kudlow asks the same question I have several times...why is no one talking about record earnings and the strong economy?

My goodness, even my stocks are up.:)

For the second time (the first being Georgia Pacific), a stock I had in my "watch list" but do not own is way up today because of an offer to buy the company. Always nice to see I had the right idea, but am far too middle-class to take advantage of it.

What's that old saying, the first million is a far more difficult than the 2nd and 3rd?

3/17/2006 10:36:00 AM

(3/17/2006 10:06:00 AM) - Al

Dear Al,

The Bucks cannot go 3 and out against the Pistons as the first round of the NBA playoffs was changed to a 7 game series as of the 2002-2003 season (allegedly to
give LA a better chance of winning).


I barely remember this, but now that it's brought up, it does sound familiar. Thanks Dave.

3/17/2006 10:06:00 AM

(3/17/2006 10:01:00 AM) - Al

Hi Al,

I just wanted to let you know that Robert Falkoff
wrote the article on about Dave Bush. I
noticed that he has been writing a lot of the Brewers'
articles the last few weeks. I believe had
Adam covering the WBC. Anyway, isn't it encouraging
to know that can just grab some guy that
presumably hasn't been covering the Brewers at all and
plop him into Adam's spot, and he can still produce
better and more insightful pieces than Drew and Tom
could ever dream of? No wonder Mike Bauman left the
JS for


I will correct that, Patrick, thanks for writing.

3/17/2006 10:01:00 AM

(3/17/2006 09:29:00 AM) - Al

I was unable to get Blogger to publish last night, though I did just push one through now.

The one thought that hangs with me is that if you don't like the NCAA men's basketball tournament, you must be a complete drag to be around.

3/17/2006 09:29:00 AM

Thursday, March 16, 2006

(3/16/2006 09:17:00 PM) - Al

I just switched it over to check the score of the WBC game, and Jorge de la Rosa is on trying to save the game for Mexico. The announcer just said, "Geez, throws 96 and also has a knee-buckling curveball. It doesn't get much tougher than that for a LH hitter."

DLR strikes out Griffey, then walks Chipper Jones.

Regardless of how DLR did tonight, I would keep him if I were the Crew. He has not even scratched the surface of talent = results, and he would be claimed by at least 10 teams if you tried to sneak him through waivers.

Also, a non-scientific study of those who think we should release him shows that every single one of them thought we should do the same with Bill Hall a year ago. Youth sometimes takes a while to show its potential, and some never do. That said, DLR is a lefty who throws 95+. That's mighty tough to let walk.

3/16/2006 09:17:00 PM

(3/16/2006 07:46:00 PM) - Eric

A couple of Brewers-related articles from our upstairs neighbors, about Overbay and Koskie adjusting to new teams.


The tag on Overbay is he's a doubles guy, not a home run guy and he takes it as a compliment.

"Absolutely," Overbay said. "I've always wanted to be a .300 hitter with lots of doubles and drive in runs. The biggest thing is driving in runs and it doesn't matter how you're driving in runs as long as you are. I just take pride in that."

Uh yeah, Lyle, exactly. It doesn't matter how you're driving in the runs, but it does matter how many you drive in, and a home run drives yourself in as well.


"J.P. told me I'd play a little first base, DH some and play the outfield," Koskie said. "I said 'you just traded for a left-handed hitting first baseman.' He didn't say much."

Awkward moment.

3/16/2006 07:46:00 PM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

(3/15/2006 09:31:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al.

Just got done perusing your blog and I thought you might like to know the Bucks DO NOT have a #1 in next years draft, having traded that along with Desmond Mason to NO for Magloire. So the better the Bucks finish, the worse draft pick the Hornets get. Its better to go 3 and out against Detroit and give up your #1 than not make the playoffs and give up a lottery pick.

Anyway, love the blog.


Well, it's always better to win, without a doubt. Back to .500 with a win over the Bulls tonight, and lots of talk that they "could" move up as high as the 6th seed if they get on a bit of a hot stretch.

3/15/2006 09:31:00 PM

(3/15/2006 09:00:00 PM) - Al

It occured to me tonight that no one has made a roster prediction yet, so I might as well take the plunge...

Davis, D

That's if the Crew keeps 12 arms, of course, which is currently the rumored alignment. Sheets and Helling are the most likely of this group to begin the season on the DL, I would say the next two most likely possibilities are...

Davis, K
Fernandez, J

I am not sure if Capellan has an option left or not, but if he does, I would be tempted to have him begin in AAA. And yes, Fernandez is the veteran knuckleballer.

I still think there is a good chance Doug brings in a veteran LOOGY near the end of the month.




Not only is the top 13 position guys all but a sure thing, #14 is all but certainly Zach Sorenson, the utility speedster. I think I heard somewhere that Yost said last weekend that "there are no spots available" as far as position players go. I would tend to agree.

3/15/2006 09:00:00 PM

(3/15/2006 07:07:00 PM) - Al

A nice profile on Dave Bush.

I'm not sure if the braintrust was trying to keep pressure off Dave or what, but it was clear to me he should be the 5th starter from the minute he was acquired. As it turns out, the "race" has been a joke, as Eveland has pitched as poorly as he did last Spetember, and Helling has been injured.

3/15/2006 07:07:00 PM

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

(3/14/2006 09:34:00 PM) - Al

I don't know about Brad Pitt leaving that beautiful woman to go hold orphans for Angelina. I mean, how long is that going to last?--actor Michael Douglas

Nothing is better than someone saying something that everyone else is thinking.

Jolie is quite a looker...but so is Aniston. And while Aniston is no brain surgeon, I think it's safe to say that Jolie, at least used to be, certifiably nuts.

3/14/2006 09:34:00 PM

(3/14/2006 09:17:00 PM) - Al

I find it funny that so many of us that are casual fans of the Bucks are hoping they make the they can go 3 and out versus the Pistons.

I guess the memory of the Nuggets beating the Sonics a dozen years ago trumps common sense for a lot of us.

3/14/2006 09:17:00 PM

(3/14/2006 08:16:00 PM) - Al

Thoughts from today's televised game in 'Zona.

Corey Hart looks to be in midseason form, with a compact swing (well, as compact as a 6-6 guy can have) swatting line drives all over the park. I will probably regret saying it, but I doubt if the Crew loses a thing if Corey has to step into any of the 3 OF spots due to injury.

Dennis Sarfate looks like he isn't far from being able to contribute in the bullpen either. His 3rd pitch may be suspect, but his fastball is ready. Sarfate's dad often posts on one of the message boards, and he keeps saying Dennis has matured and such, but me being a numbers oriented guy, it's tough for me to look past his near 4 ERA in a AA pitcher's park at 24. But, watching him on the mound, he just screams reliever; muscular, well-built, athletic. I doubt he'll ever be a star, but having a kid in the bullpen making near minimum who might have the potential to be more than that is a fine use of a relief spot. This is his last option year, so the Crew will probably either trade him or pencil him in for a roster spot in '07. Having a guy at 26-28, his mythical prime, for his pre-arby time is perfect.

Zach Sorenson can run, I'll tell you that. He hit a chopper back to the mound, and ran like a deer down the line to 1B, as the pitcher lobbed it over, it only got him by a couple steps. He looks to be a small step up from Durrington in the "utility guy who can run fast" area.

If things go as planned, Nasville's AAA rotation will include Sarfate, Zach Jackson, Ben Hendrickson, and Dana Eveland, with the early money on knuckleballer Jared Fernandez taking the last spot in the rotation. While the shine might be off Ben H's star a bit (I still see him as a 2 pitch relief guy), you can count on one hand how many AAA teams have 3 true "prospect" SP's in the rotation.

Nelson Cruz sure hits the ball with some pop, but his swing is mighty long. I see him as a low OBP/decent SLG guy. If he is able to be more than a platoon/reserve, it might well depend on if he is able to play CF at a mediocre level everyday.

They just spoke to former Brewers'/current Rockies' reliever Ray King...any time someone starts talking about having to be in excellent shape to play MLB, chuckle and think of Ray King, whose face is as chubby as any newborn.

My "sleeper" pick, Jason Kerschner, had a crappy outing today, 4 runs while getting 4 outs. I've thought from the get go he would start the season in AAA, and get his chance during the season, and this verifies it. For bubble guys, a small sample is all you get to make an impression.

3/14/2006 08:16:00 PM

(3/14/2006 05:45:00 PM) - Eric

Big news! The Giants plan to celebrate if Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth (and presumably Hank Aaron as well) on the all-time home run list.

I'm shocked.

The hyperbolic response of the national media to this "new" story (Did anyone really doubt that he used before this? I think the Onion article is pretty dead on) is getting rather irritating. For the Giants to ignore Bonds' record pursuit would be the baseball equivalent of the silent treatment, a notably mature response to conflict.

Look folks, regardless of your moral stance on steroids, it's inarguable that Bonds was a Hall of Famer even before he allegedly began to take steroids. Greatest ever? That's personal opinion. But you can't wipe Bonds' history off the books because of "enhancement" any more than you can Ruth's because of the color barrier.

3/14/2006 05:45:00 PM

Monday, March 13, 2006

(3/13/2006 07:56:00 PM) - Al

I'm very surprised only 15K turned out to say goodbye to Kirby Puckett. I expected at least twice that...maybe if it would have been held during the afternoon, or on a non-school night.

Or, maybe the allegations made more of a difference than I thought.

3/13/2006 07:56:00 PM

(3/13/2006 07:41:00 PM) - Eric

Perhaps I'm being too sensitive, but the none-too-subtle implications of the picture accompanying this article really shocked me. Perhaps I'm viewing it a bit cynically, but I can't believe no one thought it might be interpreted that way.

3/13/2006 07:41:00 PM

(3/13/2006 07:12:00 PM) - Al

Actually Jason, I was shocked when I heard the Badgers had made the tourney 8 years in a row...I thought 5 or 6 at most. I'm a big believer in more teams making the tourney, 96 seems like a nice round number, as with so many deserving teams, there's simply no way to take them all, mainly because so many tiny conferences receive an automatic bid.

Dan Kolb does seem a bit odd, to say the least. That said, he's a guy who chose to remain a Milaukee area resident after being traded. He might just be a small town (or small city) guy, who has trouble getting excited over the far too long days of spring training. I think Dan will be fine if he stays healthy.

3/13/2006 07:12:00 PM

(3/13/2006 01:30:00 PM) - Jason

Some unvarnished opinions on the NCAA Tournament field that was released yesterday afternoon:

- Wisconsin couldn't have asked for a better draw in the tourney, ending up in the Minneapolis bracket and getting an 9 seed. Moreover, they face a club in Arizona in the first round that they match up well with, and should beat. Sure, if they win they'll get Villanova in round two, but that is a team in turmoil as well with their best player trying to overcome an eye problem. Conventional wisdom suggests the Badgers will be done by Sunday, but at least the groundwork is there for UW to advance to the Sweet 16 should they get their house in order and be able to hit a few shots.

- I believe Wisconsin has now made eight straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. Imagine the laugh that would have got back in the 80's with Steve Yoder on the bench.

- Three of the four Division I schools in Wisconsin got NCAA berths (UW-Green Bay was the only team not to). I think that speaks to just how far basketball has ascended in the state of Wisconsin, and how the development of the players in Madison and Milwaukee in high school has become much better.

- This year's field is as wide open as any I can remember in recent history. You could make a legitimate case that upwards of 15-20 teams could win this tourney. You know just how wide open this field is when you see that if Seton Hall were to beat Wichita State in the first round, it would be an upset.

- I don't buy the notion that were were a ton of snubs in this tourney. Questionable decisions? Of course, but there are in every tourney bracket. In most cases, the teams that didnt get in the field didnt get in because they just didnt play well enough. Michigan is a talented squad, but was horrible down the stretch and lost to Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tourney. Florida State shoudnt have gotten in just because they beat Duke; one win doesnt make a whole season. In my view, Cincinnati should have replaced Air Force, Missouri State should have replaced Utah State, and Hofstra should have replaced Texas A&M. Thats really the only major faults I find with this field.

- CBS' interview with Craig Littlepage, the Tournament Selection Committee Chair, was disgraceful. Jim Nantz and Billy Packer, no doubt fans of big conferences (since thats all they see) basically ripped Littlepage a new one on live national TV because a few schools from big-name conferences were passed over for smaller schools out of non-power conferences. I find it hilarious that just minutes after CBS aired a long segment featuring great finishes in the NCAA tournament, many of which were by lower seeded mid-major clubs, they trot out Nance and Packer and basically say this tournament is going to suck because the bottom-feeders out of power conferences didnt get in over teams from mid-major conferences who were strong all year. Nance and Packer no doubt drink from the Tom Izzo, Mike Kryziewski and Roy Williams kool-aid. What makes this tourney great is the potential matchups it provides, and that hope for every team that maybe David can beat Goliath. Ask Dick Bennett they year UW went to the Final Four a few years back.

Let the games begin.

3/13/2006 01:30:00 PM

(3/13/2006 11:19:00 AM) - Eric

The Brewers notes today have an item about Dan Kolb that struck me as odd:

Kolb, who has felt strong physically this spring, said he wasn't sharp mentally. Pitching in the low-pressure environment of the minor-league camp didn't help give him an edge. "It was just a lazy day," he said. "(Saturday), I was geared up to pitch. Today was one of those days when you should just stay in bed. I felt OK in the bullpen, but I didn't really have anything after that."

If I was coming off the season Kolb just had, I certainly wouldn't be admitting to any lapses in focus. Perhaps he's hinting that he wants the set-up job, but it might be a good idea to, you know, actually pitch well first.

3/13/2006 11:19:00 AM

(3/13/2006 10:55:00 AM) - Eric

Good news on the business front. Sponsorship is rapidly expanding, both from existing partners and new ones.

In addition, the team is close to finalizing a new agreement with its largest sponsor, Miller Brewing Co. The Milwaukee brewer, which paid $40 million for the naming rights of Miller Park, is expected to sign a seven-year agreement that would significantly increase its sponsorship.

"We're seeing the strongest interest in being involved with the team since I've been here," said Schlesinger, who joined the Brewers in 2003. "We are working on some national accounts that normally only look at Chicago or Minneapolis. A lot of doors that have been closed in the past are suddenly open."

3/13/2006 10:55:00 AM

Sunday, March 12, 2006

(3/12/2006 10:19:00 PM) - Al

This is my 2006 season preview that I wrote that appeared at The Hardball Times, an online baseball magazine:

5 Questions: 2006 Milwaukee Brewers

In 2005, the constant mentions of the future finally became discussion of the present, as the Brewers won 14 more games than in 2004, and won 81 games, also ending a decade plus string of sub .500 results. Many key components expected to lead the Brewers to the next level, including all-world prospects Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder, assisted in the improvement. They will be asked to take the Crew to the next level in '06, to playoff contention.

1. So, how good can these kids, Weeks and Fielder be?

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being a guest on David Pinto's Baseball Musings radio show. Dave asked me if I felt Prince could be as good as his father, noted Tigers' slugger Cecil Fielder. I answered honestly...that I'd be disappointed if Prince "only" had the career of his dad. Dave chuckled softly, then realized I was serious...that I felt this 21 year-old had the potential to be as good as any power hitter to ever play the game, never mind his father, Cecil, a fine slugger in his day. Meanwhile, Rickie's quick hands and compact swing have been compared to Paul Molitor and Gary Sheffield, both former Brewers, and five years after Sheffield retires, two Hall of Famers. Weeks is thought to be a 40/40 candidate when he reaches his prime, and many forecasts have Fielder hitting 30-35 home runs...this season.

Of course, neither are top defenders right now. Prince is surprisingly agile for a man of his size, but will never be confused with Keith Hernandez. Weeks has all the physical tools to be a defensive wizard, but despite many fine plays made possible by his range and strong arm, was weak in his rookie campaign, bobbling grounders and often taking odd routes to the ball. Rickie is mentioned as a candidate to move to the outfield, but will be given every chance to make it as a middle infielder, where his offensive contributions would be even more above the norm.

2. The everyday lineup seems to lack a superstar run producer, don't you think?

I agree, though not many teams have a Pujols, ARod, or Bonds. What they lack in excellence, they would seem to make up for in the lack of easy outs, however. Much discussion has taken place this month on message boards, as fans debate the merits of their preferred batting order. The many possibilities seem to show the depth this team has, 1-8.

Fielder nor Weeks would appear to be ready to break out, but neither should be anywhere near below average at the plate. JJ Hardy enters his second year at SS healthy, and looks ready to blossom. After an abysmal start in '05, JJ returned to his former batting stance and style in late May, and the results were instantaneous, as he put up a .343 OBP/.432 SLG the rest of the way. Corey Koskie was injury plagued in his north of the border debut, but would seem likely to return to near his career norms, especially considering he won't have to face many southpaws, leaving that to Bill Hall, who experienced a huge offensive year, .342 OBP/.495 SLG and looks to platoon with Koskie at 3B, while also backing up Weeks and Hardy.

The outfield of Carlos Lee, Brady Clark, and Geoff Jenkins were solid and sturdy, and look to repeat that. Lee played all 162 games, and opposite of his career pattern, he faded as the game count got higher. Clark, finally getting a chance to play everyday for the first time at 32, took advantage of the opportunity, hitting .306, and getting on base at a .372 clip. Jenkins got off to a slow start, but warmed with the weather, ending with a .375 OBP/.513 SLG, and played through the pain as well, as he finished out the season playing with a fractured pelvis. They should get a bit more rest in '06, as youngster Corey Hart is primed to be the 4th OF. Hart has shown fine power and speed in the minors, and is finally filling out his 6-6 frame.

Damian Miller returned to his home state and produced just as hoped, while steady behind the plate.

3. But, you know, 90% of the game is pitching, how does the mound corps look?

First of all, I challenge your mathematical skills, but we'll save that for another time.

Any discussion of Brewers' pitching begins with the right arm of Ben Sheets. Sheets has been plagued by a strained muscle in his back, both in '05 and again in Arizona this month. Early rehab results have been good, though he may not be ready for the opener. The rest of the rotation; Doug Davis, Chris Capuano ( bar bet alert, possibly the least known 18-game winner of the past couple decades), Tomo Ohka, and David Bush (picked up as part of the trade that sent Lyle Overbay to Toronto and opened 1B for Fielder), is surprisingly deep. This is exactly the opposite of previous rotations, assembled based on decent performances in the month of March versus opposing minor leaguers; whose success, not surprisingly, failed to carry over to the regular season.

The bullpen is loaded with Doug Melvin reclamation projects, which has become a consistent pattern of the GM, since taking over the reigns late in 2002. Closer Derrick Turnbow (waiver claim) was almost perfect in 2005, 1.74 ERA and 39 saves. Set-up man Matt Wise (minor league free agent) will be joined by Dan Kolb, resigned after a year with the Braves, after being traded last offseason for Jose Capellan. The rest of the 'pen will come from lefty Jorge de la Rosa, who despite 95+mph velocity and a dynamic breaking ball, has been inconsistent; and veteran Rick Helling, who was spectacular in 2005.

4. No offense, but how do you expect this team of youngsters and castoffs to contend in '06?

Doug Melvin stated on a radio show that the stat-guy the team uses has this team winning 88 games in 2006, so if they stay healthy, contention is certainly within reach. That said, this is a team that can lose any position player (except Damian Miller) and not suffer a dramatic falloff, as both Bill Hall (2B/SS/3B) and Corey Hart (1B/OF) are young players capable of outproducing the injured player they replace. The rotation had six serious contenders, and the bullpen is so deep, de la Rosa, who would be thrust into many rebuilding starting staffs on potential alone, may not earn a spot on the 25 man roster. Despite success in partial seasons in Milwaukee last year, the same can be said of both Justin Lehr and Kane Davis, two RH relievers who are not guaranteed a job. The 2006 team may have the most depth of any in 35 years of team history...and that's not even mentioning the fine minor league system.

Also, owner Mark Attanasio is as much a fan as he is an owner, and has repeatedly said there is no limit on payroll if a move is needed to take that next step. I have to believe he is being truthful, and if the team is within 5 games of a playoff spot in late-July, they have the mid-level prospects that might actually allow the Beermakers to be buyers at the trading deadline for the first time in a couple decades.

5. What's that...they still have kids in the minors, despite all that have made the jump? Who might help out this year?

Yep. While the only one who can be compared to Weeks/Fielder is Ryan Braun, a 3B drafted just last June, whose earliest arrival date is probably July of 2007, the farm system is still loaded, ranked 5th in MLB by the gurus at Baseball America (though in fairness, they still include Fielder and Hart). The AAA rotation will include a minimum of three true prospects, LH's Zach Jackson and Dana Eveland, and RH Dennis Sarfate, any of which might be given a chance in '06. OF Nelson Cruz will be tried in CF in AAA Nashville, and Tony Gwynn Jr. is unlikely to ever hit like his dad, but his speed and defense translate well to the bigs in a reserve role at minimum. 1B/OF Brad Nelson is still young, but he could help out if he's able to make the transition to AAA. Reliever Mike Adams is a safe bet to return to 2004 form as well, after suffering through an inconsistent, injury-plagued '05.

In conclusion, it would seem to be a fine time to be a Brewers' fan. While you may doubt whether or not they have what it takes to contend in '06, they have a nucleus of young talent that should continue to improve over the next few seasons. Not only do they have a nice mix of proven talent and soon to be contributing prospects, they have a loaded, deep minor league system. With GM Doug Melvin and Manager Ned Yost both recently signed to multi-year extensions, the leadership is in place. Good health and a couple players performing at levels above what you'd expect might be just enough to keep the 2006 version in the mix through the final weekend.

3/12/2006 10:19:00 PM

(3/12/2006 08:13:00 PM) - Al

If the goals they speak of are realistic, all the branches of the military seem to be on pace for a successful year. Given that the unemployment rate is under 5%, that'sd especially encouraging.

3/12/2006 08:13:00 PM

(3/12/2006 07:41:00 PM) - Al

I'll be very surprised if there isn't a close to capacity crowd at the Kirby Puckett memorial. Only if you've lived in the Twin Cities can you understand how big his legend was and is.

3/12/2006 07:41:00 PM

Saturday, March 11, 2006

(3/11/2006 11:30:00 PM) - Al

Independent baseball in Boston?

Seems like a grand idea to me, as many folks are kept out of Fenway by the ticket prices and inability to plan their life months ahead to get seats. I'd argue that even a better idea would be to put a rookie/low A team of the Sox there, but that would take ages to make'd have to buy an existing team and move it, after building the stadium.

3/11/2006 11:30:00 PM

(3/11/2006 10:28:00 PM) - Al

Geoff Jenkins, who last year bought a home in Paradise Valley for $6.3 million.

I'm sure the Arizona market is hotter than those I've lived in, but I couldn't imagine living in a home worth $1M, as I have no use for 6 bedrooms and 5 baths. I did see a home with 2 guest houses just the other day, and it was under $2M.

3/11/2006 10:28:00 PM

(3/11/2006 09:43:00 PM) - Al

The Sheets news is just about as close to a best case scenario. With the season opener just over 3 weeks away, it would seem extremely unlikely that Ben will be ready to go by then. This is where the Crew's newfound roatation depth will come into they only need a 5th starter a couple times in the first 2-3 weeks, and a 4 man staff of Davis, Capuano, Ohka, and Bush isn't going to fall apart, and if Helling is ready to be the 5th guy, that's another positive.

I'd say the smart money is on Ben starting the year on the DL, then making a couple rehab outings in extended spring training (or somewhere warm in the minors) after doing his strength routine for a bit.

3/11/2006 09:43:00 PM

(3/11/2006 05:45:00 PM) - Eric

Sheets was diagnosed with a muscle strain. Sounds like one of the other back muscles, the teres, was compensating for his injured lat.

He still could be the Opening Day starter, but I seriously doubt it. My guess is we'll see him a couple weeks into the season.

3/11/2006 05:45:00 PM

(3/11/2006 03:51:00 PM) - Jason

At halftime of the two Big Ten tourney games this afternoon, CBS interviewed the head of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. To make a long story short, the big news to come out of this interview is that it sounds like the committee has pretty much settled on the 34 at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament, which could only possibly change if an "underdog" (there are really only two left) wins a conference tournament between today and tomorrow. It pretty much sounded like the only major work left is seeding.

Wisconsin is lucky that they overachieved so much earlier this year, because their last month has been ugly, and a so-so first half of the season would have almost certainly led to an NIT berth. That game against Indiana on Friday was one of the ugliest games Wisconsin has played in the Bo Ryan era, with the exception of the home loss to North Dakota State earlier this season.

My guess is that UW will be between an 8 and 10 seed, and be shipped out west...and be a first weekend casualty, because they simply cannot shoot or handle the ball consistently. Solid guard play has almost always been a pre-requisite to do anything in the tournament, and thats something that Wisconsin just doesnt have, at least not this year.

3/11/2006 03:51:00 PM

(3/11/2006 03:49:00 PM) - Robert R.

The Onion's take on Barry Bonds and the "new" controversy. As with any good source of humor, there's more than a little truth here.

3/11/2006 03:49:00 PM

Friday, March 10, 2006

(3/10/2006 10:52:00 PM) - Al

Ann reports that adopting Down Syndrome kids is quite popular.

That's about as unique a discovery as I've heard of in a long while.

3/10/2006 10:52:00 PM

(3/10/2006 10:27:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure whether to be repulsed or to order a couple of these to go.

There's no doubt, however, that it needs some fried onions to complete it.

3/10/2006 10:27:00 PM

(3/10/2006 10:17:00 PM) - Eric

John Sickels on Holmberg from this year's Prospect Book:

Before the draft, he was best-known for his excellent defensive skills at second base...He does have some pop in his bat, and his command of the strike zone is good, which helps a lot. But many scouts are still skeptical, and it is common for polished college players to put up gaudy numbers in the Pioneer League, without being top prospects. We need to see more. Grade C, but if he keeps hitting like this, or even 80% of this, at higher levels, that grade will rise.

To compare, he gave Hernan Iribarren a C+.

Another interesting tidbit about Holmberg is that he's actually the second of two players the Brewers took from Embry-Riddle University last year, after RHP Patrick Ryan in the 19th round.

3/10/2006 10:17:00 PM

(3/10/2006 09:58:00 PM) - Al

Well written preview of the system can be found here.

I'd never heard of Kenny Holmberg, but I hope he gets his chance.

3/10/2006 09:58:00 PM

(3/10/2006 10:54:00 AM) - Al

I answered 5 questions over at Michael's site.

3/10/2006 10:54:00 AM

(3/10/2006 09:30:00 AM) - Eric

The Journal-Sentinel staff members continues to assert themselves as top-notch sportswriters, conflating Mat Gamel and Brandon Gemoll into one unidentifiable entity known as "Matt Gemoll."

(For some reason, the Camp Reports have a byline only in the print edition, so you'll have to trust me when I ascribe this particular gem to Dru Olsen.)

3/10/2006 09:30:00 AM

Thursday, March 09, 2006

(3/09/2006 06:56:00 PM) - Eric

According to Dr. Ned Yost, Sheets' discomfort may actually be a good thing:

"He didn't pull anything," Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost said after Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Athletics. "It just felt strange to him. It was not a knifelike pain, just a dull ache. He has some scar tissue back there, and it could be he popped some of that, which would be a good thing."

3/09/2006 06:56:00 PM

(3/09/2006 06:52:00 PM) - Al

As for Gwynn, I'm a big believer that spring games are as meaningless as they come, but it's getting tougher to see Dave Krynzel as a better prospect than Tony Jr. every day. I doubt if either will ever be anymore than a reserve, or maybe part of a mediocre platoon, but while Tony is a college kid who seems full of the intelligence and maturity of his dad, Dave's out ridin' motocross and secretly "hiding" his broken bones from management.

As I said a while back, if Nelson Cruz is passable as a CF, that means the depth chart reads something like:


Sadly, seeing that Gross is only 2 years older than Dave and has far better AAA numbers, I have a hard time even seeing Krynzel having a better future than Gabe. I see Krynzel being rumored in every trade until he's no longer in the organization.

3/09/2006 06:52:00 PM

(3/09/2006 06:47:00 PM) - Al

Looks like Eric beat me by seconds with the Sheets news. I always believe in avoiding long-term contracts to pitchers whenever possible, and this is exactly why...minor irritations have a way of turning into more.

With some luck, Sheets will still be plenty healthy enough to give the team 150+ innings in '06. That said, if there was a stock market which sold shares of MLB players, BSHEETS sunk on troublesome news late in today's session.

3/09/2006 06:47:00 PM

(3/09/2006 06:38:00 PM) - Eric

Some worrisome news out of Arizona: Sheets tweaked his back in his first spring start and was removed from the game. Coupled with the fact that he was hit hard before being taken out, it's hard to be optimistic about this.

In other, more encouraging news, Tony Gwynn Jr. continues to Hulk Up with another extra-base hit, a triple, today.

3/09/2006 06:38:00 PM

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(3/08/2006 10:47:00 AM) - Eric

I was reading one of the articles in the back of the Baseball Prospectus and found something interesting. If you're unfamiliar with Win Expectancy Added (WX), it uses PBP data to measure the probability of the team winning added by single performances like an at-bat or an attempted steal.

For example, when David Ortiz came to bat with two outs in the top of the eighth inning and a runner on first in a tie game versus Toronto on September 16, the Red Sox had a 43.95% chance of winning the game. After Ortiz clubbed a two-run home run, the Red Sox had an 83.42% chance of winning the game. The 39.37% difference in win probability is credited to Ortiz as 0.3937 WX.

Keith Woolner takes a closer look at baserunning, noting that the general 67 or 70% break-even success rate usually quoted is only an approximation. Some guys pick higher-leverage times to steal, when getting caught would hurt their team's win probability more than average, and thus have a higher break-even rate.

What might interest you is that, of all players who attempted more than 20 steals last year, Brady Clark had the lowest break-even rate at 68.4%. That sounds bad, but is actually good; it means that Clark picked the best times to steal of any player attempting steals at a high volume. Compare to Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox, who would have had to have succeeded at an 80.5% clip to break even. The problem is that Clark didn't get anywhere near 68.4% with his 43.5% rate; thus, despite his good timing, he still hurt the team's changes of winning with his attempted steals. This perhaps means that while Clark has great judgement about when to go, he just doesn't have the physical tools to capitalize on it.

Of course, that's only one season's worth of data, and I have no way of checking other years, but that sounds like a pretty good picture of Brady Clark: a smart ballplayer with fringe physical tools.

3/08/2006 10:47:00 AM

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

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.

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

June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020