Al's Ramblings

Friday, December 29, 2006

(12/29/2006 11:14:00 PM) - Al

I likely won't be checking in much this weekend, so we'll probably see you next year!!

12/29/2006 11:14:00 PM

(12/29/2006 08:26:00 PM) - Al

Recap from Jeff Suppan's conference call today, after he passed his physical.

---Feels Crew is much improved, and was last year, until injuries hit.

---No idea why he had luck against the Brewers, "one of those things".

---"Very impressive" meeting with Mark and Doug, key to why he ended up in Milwaukee, contract will not affect his preparation.

---Milwaukee was always on his list of teams he wanted to play for, always enjoyed the city as a visiting player. Mark was honest, spoke of commitment and character, and a winning tradition. Said the fact Milwaukee is maybe a "low-key" city did not play a part, asked what low-key meant, then disagreed that Milwaukee or any major league city is low-key.

---Zito never played a part in his decision, agent said that Zito's signing may "create another market", that's where that came from. Jeff said he was looking for the best place for him, and he found it.

---Maddux was going to be in the LA meeting, but had family functions to attend.

---Not offended at all SL did not make a big offer, that is the business side of the game.

Jeff seemed very professional and mature, and seems very satisfied with the way things worked out.

12/29/2006 08:26:00 PM

(12/29/2006 11:39:00 AM) - Al

I was just scanning down the names of the players still available and trying to match them up to Doug's voiced needs (LH reliever, veteran long reliever in the Rick Helling mold) and dare I say it, one name jumped out at me as far as the RH long man/spot starter...Jamey Wright.

Of course, Jamey has a history with the Crew, and if I were to use a single word to describe him, I may well go with "unspectacular". That said, he does fit the mold as a durable, steady pitcher who could be had for a one year commitment, I'd say in the $1.5M range. Granted, with several teams still looking for innings-eaters for their rotations, including the Cards, Twins, and Mets, he may get a better offer or a more glamorous one (a good chance at the rotation), he seems to be a guy who flies under the radar a bit, despite decent career (albeit, unspectacular) numbers.

As we learned with Jeff Sackmann's research, there is a place on almost every team for a guy capable of starting and putting up a 5ish ERA. The idea of having him in the bullpen (where I've always felt his sinker/slider style of pitching would be better suited anyway) is quite appealing to me.

Another name I'd consider is Bruce Chen, who despite being labeled as a colossal failure much of his career, has a career ERA hovering just above league average. Bruce could be looked at as sort of a "combo platter" of Doug's two wishes.

12/29/2006 11:39:00 AM

(12/29/2006 10:55:00 AM) - Al

According to Newsday, the Mets have some interest in Jeff Weaver, the top remaining free agent starter with Barry Zito and Jeff Suppan off the board.

Weaver's market is likely to heat up now. Given his previous struggles with the Yankees, the Mets would be taking quite a chance if they signed him to a multiyear deal. Still, they could use an inning eater and Weaver is well suited for Shea Stadium. The Mets will also likely resume exploring trade possibilities after missing out on Zito, with Dontrelle Willis, Dan Haren, Brad Penny and Jon Garland serving as a few of their potential targets.--Rotoworld

Just wanted to note that "the top remaining FA SP" left was released by the Angels last year and finished '06 with a 5.76 ERA. Jason Marquis signed for 3y/$20M and he had a 6+ ERA, so I guess there's a chance Weaver will get a significant contract...makes me better about Suppan every day.

I'd just as soon take a flyer on Mark Redman or Jorge Sosa than pay Weaver $5M per.

12/29/2006 10:55:00 AM

(12/29/2006 10:25:00 AM) - Al

Over the last few years, we've heard more and more general managers acknowledge the need to go into the season six, seven, or more starters deep; a great example of that is the Brewers, who just signed Jeff Suppan.

One could make an argument that the Brewers' rotation was set, with Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas, and Carlos Villanueva. It wouldn't have been a great rotation, but if everybody stays healthy, those hurlers could give you a credible fivesome for 150 or more games. But, of course, the odds of that are tiny. When Villanueva becomes your sixth man, your chances of suffering a 6.00 ERA over 30 starts goes down substantially.

If there's one thing this analysis suggests, it's just how common that painful outcome is. If, as I suggested on Wednesday, your #4 starter isn't as good as you thought, that goes double for the guys who pitch the following day.--Jeff Sackmann, Hardball Times

Read the whole thing here. If there seems to be a correlation between pitching and playoffs, it's that the teams that make the playoffs get much better pitching from the bottom 20% of their rotation. If that isn't a reason to believe that rotation depth is vital to a team's success, I don't know what is.

12/29/2006 10:25:00 AM

Thursday, December 28, 2006

(12/28/2006 07:09:00 PM) - Al

Barry Zito will get a full no-trade clause under the terms of his seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants.

The option for an eighth year at $18 million kicks in if Zito throws 200 innings in 2013, 400 innings in 2012-13 or 600 innings in 2011-13. There's a $7 million buyout for the option, so Zito is due a paltry $137 million if it's picked up.

It just keeps getting worse.:) My figures say they are guaranteeing him $133M, but it's all monopoly money at this point.

Lotsa luck, that's all I got to say.

12/28/2006 07:09:00 PM

(12/28/2006 07:05:00 PM) - Al

The Astros are looking at bringing in free agents Paul Wilson and Pedro Astacio to compete for rotation spots.

Since they traded their fourth starter for someone they want to be a No. 2 in Jason Jennings, the Astros still have two open rotation spots. It'd be nice if they had one more sure thing before dipping into the Wilson-Astacio-Ortiz pool of free agents, but the Carlos Lee signing left them with little flexibility.--Rotoworld

How long has it been since the Crew's 6th starter is better than the Astros' #4?

12/28/2006 07:05:00 PM

(12/28/2006 01:21:00 PM) - Al

Rumor has it Zito is going to sign a 7y/$125M deal with the Giants.


12/28/2006 01:21:00 PM

(12/28/2006 10:53:00 AM) - Al

The Rangers have been told that Barry Zito is expected to sign elsewhere, and a source told that the left-hander would join the Giants.

Reports indicate that the Rangers' offer to Zito was worth only about $80 million for six years. If that's true, they never had a shot at signing him. They would have had to overpay him to come to Texas in the first place, and Zito is worth quite a bit more than $13.3 million per year in this market. The Giants will go higher, perhaps to $100 million or beyond, according to the New York Post.--Rotoworld

Do the Giants have the fed's printing press in the basement? I like Zito a lot, but I know there are many who have stated they would not touch him, due to his massive workload. I would hate to go over 4 years with him, so it's obvious I wouldn't have had a chance either.

12/28/2006 10:53:00 AM

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

(12/27/2006 08:32:00 PM) - Al

If you're wondering how much money you're getting back (or that you owe) from the IRS, you can get a pretty close estimate if you have your last pay stub here.

12/27/2006 08:32:00 PM

(12/27/2006 03:08:00 PM) - Al

The winter warmup is scheduled at Miller Park, and several players will be there, as well as alumni. Special ticket packages will be offered, and it will be telecast on TV and radio.

12/27/2006 03:08:00 PM

(12/27/2006 03:06:00 PM) - Al

Adam looks back at 2006 at the official site.

12/27/2006 03:06:00 PM

(12/27/2006 01:51:00 PM) - Al

From Doug Melvin's interview on Milwaukee radio station WSSP, and my comments follow:

---Very happy to get Suppan, added depth, sold him on the city, park, and team. Created a comfort level with the meeting in LA, decided to give him a 4th year because of this, gave them a "soft" deadline, but needed to know an answer. Because of the Dave Roberts thing, told them the team needed to know. $2M buyout and option year sealed the deal.

I'm surprised the Crew was thinking of going with "just" a 3 year offer in this environment. I also fail to see how the $2M buyout is much of an incentive when you're signing a contract worth $40M.

---"Stretched" on payroll to make this happen. OF's will probably be reduced at some point, but not because of the payroll.

Doug walking the line beautifully, basically saying they can't add much payroll, but that at some point, Mench or Jenkins will be gone, so they do have some wiggle room.

---Worked out very well to have meeting at Mark A's house, showed him video of young players, even dug out a DVD of Suppan as a HS pitcher from scouting video that Jack Z found. Doug said it's hard to believe that you have to recruit players with the money involved, but you do. Jeff wanted to call some teammates and others and let them know before the announcement was made.

It's just like college football and basketball, sometimes decisions are made because of seemingly absurd reasons. You can either play the game, or you can lose.

Jeff said he learned more from Mike Maddux as a teammate than anyone else in his career.

If they knew this before, I think Maddux would have been in LA as well.

---Rickie Weeks will be the 2B. Looks like Billy Hall will be the CF, no CF's left that will keep Hall from being the CF. Hart will be an everyday player for the most part, so the other guys will have to work themselves out. Will probably happen when someone gets hurt or isn't looking good in spring training.

Between the lines, it is apparent Doug really liked Dave Roberts for his speed and defense.

---Feels Hall and Weeks will be above average at CF & 2B offensively, just hope to be average at each spot, and above that at a few spots.

By the sounds of it, Doug hopes to be 8th or 9th in offense, or maybe a tad higher.

---Trying to add another LH reliever and a long reliever, a Rick Helling veteran type, in case a starter goes down. Carlos V is probably the 6th starter, and it will be tough to keep him off the 25 man roster. Always looking for more pitching, to add a pitcher that's a little better than a guy you have. Yo Gallardo may be up sometime in '07, he'll get a look in the Spring, but he won't make the team in April. Huge talent, led all of minor league baseball in K's last year.

Surprised to hear him mention Carlos V as a bullpen possibility, as I would think he'd go down to AAA and throw 90 pitches every 5th day. Inconsistent innings may keep Carlos from developing as much...but maybe all that is secondary. Yo, Carlos, and Zach Jackson is a fine trio to have at Nashville in reserve, that's for sure. I would imagine a veteran or two will be signed to fill out the AAA rotation.

Suppan gives the rotation depth, keeps them from knocking on wood that everyone stays healthy.

That's exactly what I've been saying.

Interview with Adam McCalvy, beat writer for the Brewers' site on WSSP radio:

Adam was in church Xmas Eve when he heard of the Suppan signing, missed the conference call, had to hurry up and put it together for the site.

Adam sounded rather unhappy with the timing.

Feels the team looks at Suppan as that one missing piece, a durable SP that will take the ball every 5th day. Brewers look like the only team in division with 5 starters written in ink, most clubs are counting on prospects and the like.

Yep, us and San Diego, and maybe LA.

Carlos V and the others will be there if needed, but not counted on to win 10-12 games. Needed that depth last year, and this year, they look to have it. Stretched out the bullpen as well, they had to pitch more than usual, because the replacements for Ohka and Sheets were not only weak, but they didn't go more than a few innings.

Over .500 in games started by the Opening Day rotation, 83-78 won the division for the Cardinals. A 6th starter in '06 might have won the division for the Crew.

Not many holes on team right now, need to get OF figured out, maybe who is the last reliever. Plenty of people will be picking the Brewers to win, and more will make them a "sleeper" pick.

As of this second, SL has 3 starting pitchers, and I think the Cubs have 2 SP's that would make the Brewers' top 5...I think many will pick the Brewers based on that rotation alone.

Jenkins or Mench will probably be traded, as they look to have the most value, based on the winter meetings. Nix is intriguing, if he could stay healthy, and Gross is a nice reserve, hits some, plays all 3 spots. Gwynn looks to be back to AAA. Feels it would be difficult for Geoff to come back after last season ended.

With Gross as one reserve, I don't see Nix making the 25 man. I think a platoon of Jenkins and Clark would be the best bet to begin the year in LF, with Hart settling into RF everyday.

12/27/2006 01:51:00 PM

(12/27/2006 01:44:00 PM) - Al

Blackfive gives details of a visit to the troops by Senator Kerry, yep, as awkward as it sounds. Note that no one volunteered to host the VIP visit.

12/27/2006 01:44:00 PM

(12/27/2006 10:55:00 AM) - Al

From Jimmy Kimmel, the Scientology ending to the Charlie Brown Xmas special.

It's funny because it's true.

12/27/2006 10:55:00 AM

(12/27/2006 10:36:00 AM) - Al

This (the Suppan contract) comes in at 42 million and I think I'd rather have Suppan than most of the other pitcher that have signed in that neighborhood this offseason. I'd take Suppan over Padilla or Meche in a heartbeat and I'd certainly pay 3 million more a year for Suppan over the Marquis de Bad. Suppan fills a hole that the Doug Davis trade opened up and with a solid, though unsexy rotation (with the obvious exception being Ben Sheets, the only pitcher in history to K more than 1 an inning and walk less than 1 per game as he did in 2006). Suppan has never had a star season, but he's been an average or better starter each of the last 8 years.---Dan Szymborski

Dan is the gent who does the Zips projections, FYI.

12/27/2006 10:36:00 AM

(12/27/2006 10:08:00 AM) - Al

Jeff Sackmann at the Hardball Times tries to do some math to figure out what a #1 pitcher is, and what each of the rotation spots is likely to do.

As you would imagine, what people call an ace or a #4 is extremely inaccurate. The average #5 had an ERA over 6, which is why guys with a 5+ ERA still have value in MLB, even though many casual fans call them worthless bums.


My apologies to Jeff, who was able to show the chart without the spacesavers. If you wish to look at his pretty chart, click on the link.

Sheets would be labeled as a #1, while Capuano, Bush, and Suppan would all be #2's, with Vargas as a #4. This is why I feel so good about the staff.

12/27/2006 10:08:00 AM

(12/27/2006 10:06:00 AM) - Al

Jeff Suppan, who was excellent for the Cardinals in their World Series run, stays in the NL Central as he signed a four year, $42 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. His addition gives the Brewers arguably the best starting five in the National League.--Seth Speaks

Glad I'm not the only one who feels that way.

12/27/2006 10:06:00 AM

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

(12/26/2006 10:51:00 PM) - Al

President Gerald Ford has passed away at age 93.

While history will not fawn over his death like we did Reagan's, his time in office should be honored.

12/26/2006 10:51:00 PM

(12/26/2006 10:09:00 PM) - Al

Ann Althouse, my favorite law prof, asks a
very important question, and one which we will never know the answer to, of course.

If you read around the blogosphere, you'll see an awful lot of giggles and chuckles from folks who seem to think that we should do absolutely nothing and just accept that terrorism will always be around and will kill a lot of people every once in a while. I guess it's a feasible theory, if in fact, it wasn't so incredibly shortsighted.

12/26/2006 10:09:00 PM

(12/26/2006 09:39:00 PM) - Al

I just "watched" the end of the Bucks' game on Yahoo gamechannel, which if you are unfamiliar, is more like a play-by-play readout than anything else.

Terry Stotts has taken some criticism, but I would say right now, he might come in 2nd or 3rd if the Coach of the Year voting was held right now, though I'm sure he'd finish behind Jerry Sloan, who has a mediocre Jazz team near the top of the West.

Stotts has overcome injuries to Bobby Simmons, Ruben Patterson, and Carlos Villaneuva, and has thought out of the box a bit by going with a small lineup, starting 2 point guards and an off guard, for the most part.

After this stunning win on the road over the Spurs, the Bucks are back at .500 at 14-14, and have actually played 4 more games on the road, which makes the feat much more difficult and impressive.

The casual fans who were calling for Stotts' head a couple weeks ago sure look ridiculous about now.

12/26/2006 09:39:00 PM

(12/26/2006 08:30:00 PM) - Al

Dutch Boyd, bipolar poker player and many would say, thief-in-the-night, apparently had a complete breakdown at the main event of the December Bellagio tourney.

He greeted me at my table and told me all was good and that he was going to the Billboard Music Awards that night. Then, he asked me if I had any weed, since he hadn't slept in a few days. Knowing Dutch's well-documented mental history, and that a lack of sleep is the most tried-and-true trigger for a meltdown, an alarm bell fired off in my head. "Yeah, man" I told him, "I got weed, and I got a Xanax, too, if you need it. Call me."--Simon Says

Offering illegal and prescription drugs to a known problem child like Boyd, it would appear Dutch needs to find some new friends, first of all. Of course, I would assume Dutch's meds would take care of his many problems if he would take them as prescribed and not use alcohol and other drugs he talks about freely on his own blog.

Like often happens, Boyd's WSOP bracelet he won this past Summer was probably the worst thing that could have happened to him. After playing brilliantly to go into the final table as the massive chip leader, his appearance on TV was an embarassment, as many message board posters predicted he was off his meds or painfully on something after it was broadcast. I still recall someone saying that Dutch was proof that poker does not test its winners for drug use because not only would he have failed, he would have missed the cup.:)

I wish Dutch all the luck in the world beating his demons, and hope he goes about it with more class than he has thus far.

12/26/2006 08:30:00 PM

(12/26/2006 07:31:00 PM) - Al

Dave Ortiz is building a specialty unit for kids in his home nation.

12/26/2006 07:31:00 PM

(12/26/2006 12:00:00 PM) - Al

The Packers' final game of the season, originally scheduled for a noon start at Soldier Field in Chicago, will now start at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday. Has the NFL's flexible schedule muddled your New Year's Eve plans? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Drop us a quick e-mail at


Not only is this almost as much of a non-story as you can imagine, I don't know of many New Year's parties that begin much before 9 or 10. I can't believe that in this day and age there are too many folks hosting a get-together that don't own a TV. Add all that up, not to mention the game may well not mean anything...

12/26/2006 12:00:00 PM

(12/26/2006 10:51:00 AM) - Al

Sadly, I think Jason is right, that with NBC not knowing all the playoff implications when they made the decision yesterday, they went with the rivalry, a top team, and the Favre angle.

We also don't know what games the other networks "protected"...I would have chosen the Giants/Redskins affair, as the Giants control their own destiny, and are a bit of "you can't look away" train wreck, but Fox may not have allowed that, especially because of the size of the New York market, which I think is 8-10% of the nation's population.

So, on further review, I s'pose there is a reason for the madness.

UPDATE: I guess the NFL did wait until after the Jets' game to make the call, and I guess the Giants game is Saturday, unavailable to be switched.

12/26/2006 10:51:00 AM

(12/26/2006 10:31:00 AM) - Al

BrewCrewBall has thoughts on the Suppan signing, along with his new Zips projection. I'd project Jeff a bit lower than the 4.37 ERA, but probably not by a whole lot, maybe 3-5%.

A contract that was impossible to envision when Suppan's ERA was over 5.00 for the majority of last season. Suppan is durable, but he still fell short of 200 innings in each of his three seasons in St. Louis. Last year, he gave up 100 runs and struck out 104 batters in 190 innings. The Brewers are committing an awfully big chunk of their payroll to a guy who might not be anything more than a fourth starter. Still, while we'd like to argue that the money would have been better spent on a center fielder, it's not like the guys in the same price range -- Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr. -- were better investments.--Rotoworld

I can't tell you how much more I like Suppan than Pierre.

Given the money being thrown about this winter, that's downright reasonable. This gives the Brewers a rotation of Capuano, Sheets, Bush, Vargas and Suppan. How well this staff does depends on the health of Ben Sheets and how much offensive improvement the youngsters show. ERAs in the low fours are fine if you're not near the bottom of the league in runs scored.--Dave Pinto, Baseball Musings

Lost in the excitement of the Suppan signing is some uncertainty about the offense, especially the still developing ones; Prince, Rickie, JJ, and Corey. As of this second, I would expect the team to have a solid pitching staff, in the top 4, with the offense between 7th and 12th, depending on health and development.

With Jeff Suppan now a Brewer (and let me go on record as saying I don’t like how this sequence ended for the Brewers, who essentially traded Doug Davis for Jeff Suppan and Johnny Estrada and found themselves lighter in the wallet)--Wil Carroll, BP

This might be the least thought out statement ever at BP, which continues on its downward slide of apparent infinite length. First of all, let's ignore the simpleness of the above statement and just look at what it says...that Doug Davis is greater than Jeff Suppan and Johnny Estrada...what?

Secondly, he completely ignores that Claudio Vargas was included in the deal, and whose road numbers would indicate he'll be pretty good not throwing half his innings in the thin air of Arizona.

The negative about the Davis deal is that we had to include Dana Eveland, who at worst will probably be a decent relief guy, and if he hits his ceiling, may be a #2/3 SP for the next decade.

Carroll is famous for his vast writings on various injuries, and appears out of his realm, to say the least.

12/26/2006 10:31:00 AM

(12/26/2006 10:22:00 AM) - Al

I guess all it takes to have a lot of viewers on Xmas Eve and Xmas Day is for there to be a big free agent signing. Almost 75% of our weekday total on 2 days which usually would barely garner more than a handful.

Also, since I installed Firefox 2.0, my fonts and other factors have been all over the place. Not sure why, but pardon the inconsistency.

12/26/2006 10:22:00 AM

(12/26/2006 10:01:00 AM) - Al

Don't forget, the 2005 game when Prince and Rickie each hit their first HR will be televised tonight, 7PM Central, on FSN.

If you have Direct or Dish Network, give them a call, as I don't think you'll be seeing it otherwise.

Direct: 310-535-5000
Dish: 888-825-2557

12/26/2006 10:01:00 AM

(12/26/2006 09:50:00 AM) - Al

More on the Brewers rotation, with a comparison to the Padres, over at Outside The Beltway.

Thanks to Mr. Joyner for inviting me to cover the Crew at OTB as well.

12/26/2006 09:50:00 AM

(12/26/2006 08:53:00 AM) - Jason Christopherson

Eh, I'd say the Packer game has a pretty decent appeal, being a solid rivalry game with possible playoff implications for a team that has a large national following. Golly, I wonder if NBC will mention the possibility of it being Favre's last game in promos this week? I'm sure it won't be brought up during the broadcast of the game.

I've been drooling over the Suppan signing since coming home from one of the kids' gift opening frenzies on Sunday. The loss of a second round pick to St. Louis doesn't seem like that big of a deal any more. While I think the Brewers are doing things the right way by building from within and should continue to do so, I see this signing as a "win now" signal, and it also shows me that we are comfortable enough with our minor league depth to give up that pick. I don't know if that would have been the direction the Brewers would have taken in previous years.

12/26/2006 08:53:00 AM

(12/26/2006 08:36:00 AM) - Al

How exactly the Packers/Bears game has any appeal at all is far beyond me, I guess.

12/26/2006 08:36:00 AM

Monday, December 25, 2006

(12/25/2006 09:42:00 PM) - Al

Tom H feels Suppan will be a steadying influence on the staff.

I can't disagree.

12/25/2006 09:42:00 PM

(12/25/2006 03:17:00 PM) - Al


I see the "always hurt Sheets" has just averaged 24 innings less per season the
last three years than Suppan. Sheets has 193 more K's during the three years and
129 less walks. If Sheets doesn't miss a start the next two seasons he will be
a 20 mil/year guy.

Merry Christmas,


I got nothing to add, except to say Tony LaRussa does tend to limit innings
because he likes to use the bullpen heavily.

Bill Hall is a $20M per player right now, if he were a FA. If Ben's healthy, he
will be too.

12/25/2006 03:17:00 PM

(12/25/2006 02:30:00 PM) - Al

2007 proposed rotation, stats are from 2004-2006

Ben Sheets, 28, 3.13 ERA

Chris Capuano, 28, 4.17 ERA

Jeff Suppan, 32, 3.95 ERA

Dave Bush, 27, 4.18 ERA

Claudio Vargas, 28, 5.08 ERA (4.37 ERA away from home, possibly a more fair comparison)

I don't really have much to add, except that Carlos Villaneuva is waiting in reserve as well.

I've seen lots of people say that the rotation is now the best in the NL Central, but I fail to see a better rotation in the NL. The only one I can find that is comparable would be San Diego, who also look very solid from top to bottom.

12/25/2006 02:30:00 PM

Sunday, December 24, 2006

(12/24/2006 10:06:00 PM) - Al

So, I'm on my computer, playing online at Poker Stars (I'd feel bad, but there are currently 76K of us there), and soaking my feet in my favorite gift of the year, a foot massage thing that bubbles and heats the water (Yes, I suppose this is kind of a girlie thing, but when you have bad feet like me, that's the least of my concerns). I feel like an electrical accident waiting to happen, but other than that, it's a very good night. Santa delivered a plethora of stuff to my 4 year-old, while we were out looking at Xmas lights ("He did that last year too!", Andrew exclaimed).

My favorite moment was when he opened a Bob the Builder movie. Unknowingly, my wife had bought this for him at Big Lots for a low price point ($2, if memory serves) as a stocking stuffer, and did not realize it was in a 3 pack of DVD's he already owns. As he opened it, he saw the picture on the front and recognized it, and said, "A rock!", and set it down and started opening another of the score of wrapped toys and the like. If you recall the classic Peanuts Halloween special, while all the other characters are proudly proclaiming what candy they received, Charlie Brown keeps saying, "I got a rock", very matter-of-factly, in a monotone voice that indicates Chuck is used to disappointment. Through his 4.5 years of existence, Andrew has heard me say, "I got a rock" disgustedly dozens of times, almost always in jest, of course, but at some point, "a rock" in his mind has become synonymous with getting something you don't really have any use for...this is exactly why you can't use profanity around the kid, they remember stuff.

So, my better half is at the 10PM church service (as you can imagine, I'd much rather be there than here, but someone had to stay home, as Andrew is fast asleep, darn the luck), and on this Xmas Eve night, allow me a few moments to thank the following folks:

---Jason and Robert, who both offer up thought provoking , in-depth analysis painfully lacking from the daily drivel I offer up.

---The many faithful readers of the site. For the most part, you are not casual "I wonder if they won" types, as noted by the fact that visitors barely go down once the season ends. Thanks for the many e-mails as well, I know Jason was shocked at the response his initial post's great to get that response. We do appreciate the occasional negative or questioning e-mail as well, though admittedly, we don't get a whole lot of those.

---Many of the readers and frequent e-mailers to Ramblings are members of our armed forces, I have always assumed due to the fact we provide many links to "real media" info on the Crew. As is the custom, allow me to wish them a very happy holiday season, and even moreso if they are stationed far away from home, defending us and our interests. My family will be "setting an extra plate" tomorrow when we have our quiet holiday dinner, and I hope you will too, or at least keep them in your thoughts.

In conclusion, I hope you have a blessed and very Merry Xmas this year. As I said before, if you're a Brewers' fan, it's very difficult not to be more optimistic about 2007 than we were yesterday. Suppan isn't Barry Zito, but he's a SP that would better any of the 30 teams in the game, and he chose to play with us. If that doesn't make your holiday a happy one, not much mortal man can do for ya.

12/24/2006 10:06:00 PM

(12/24/2006 09:28:00 PM) - Al

Adam mentions in his report that the Brewers added "some things" in order to get this done now, before Zito signs, and that the contract agreement was finalized just after midnight on the 24th...though not sure if that is Central of Pacific time.

The quote that I'm intrigued by is Suppan's agent saying it was the "right city, right team, and the right deal".

With teams such as Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and St. Louis in Suppan's past, I get the feeling he had little interest in the big cities of San Francisco and New York; which actually worked in the Brewers' advantage for once.

Tom H has updated his intial story, this longer version basically says the 5 hour meeting they had last Tuesday showed mutual interest, and was seemingly the key to this going down.

Doug also says, "At least he has had success, unlike some others who signed", which is about as close as he'll come to saying that Ted Lilly and Gil Meche are hellishly overpaid as of this second.

12/24/2006 09:28:00 PM

(12/24/2006 04:04:00 PM) - Al

I just saw the news on the ESPN ticker.

Jeff Suppan and the Brewers just made this a very merry Christmas for all but the most negative Brewers' fans.

Dare I say it, it's "only" about $2.5-3M over what I would say he was worth before the inflationary spending this offseason.

Top to bottom, 1-5, the Brewers now have the deepest rotation in the National League. Carlos V is also probably as good as any #6 SP as well.

Here's the official release from the Crew, whose media guy is probably wishing Suppan had waited until his next day at work.:)

12/24/2006 04:04:00 PM

(12/24/2006 03:16:00 PM) - Robert R.

JSOnline is reporting that the Brewers have signed Jeff Suppan for 4 years, $42 million with a team option.

I've don't know if I've seen more online speculation about the Brewer's chances of actually signing a free agent in a long time. Obviously, Suppan isn't a star, but he should be a solid, veteran in the rotation and help make the Brewers' rotation one of the deepest in the NL. Yeah, he's a little older than is ideal, but it's potentially the biggest impact signing by the Brewers in a long time.

Merry Christmas.

12/24/2006 03:16:00 PM

(12/24/2006 10:54:00 AM) - Al

Adam with a Xmas interview of Corey Hart.

Corey seems like a nice young man. I find it kind of strange he lives in Arizona, unless his wife is from there. I like it when they ask his favorite food and he says "all of them". Enjoy that metabolism, Corey.

12/24/2006 10:54:00 AM

Saturday, December 23, 2006

(12/23/2006 08:20:00 PM) - Al

I almost forgot to wish all loyal Xmas Ramblings' readers a Happy Festivus.

I wonder where my head was?

12/23/2006 08:20:00 PM

(12/23/2006 08:16:00 PM) - Al

Tom H does double duty, also with an article about how overpaid most of the free agents have been.

12/23/2006 08:16:00 PM

(12/23/2006 06:54:00 PM) - Al

Tom H's Sunday column is up early.

He seems to realize that Carlos V is a mighty good 5th/6th starter, and he also talks about Yo Gallardo...I feel Yo is at least a year away, at least he should be, considering his youth.

12/23/2006 06:54:00 PM

(12/23/2006 08:30:00 AM) - Al

Mickey Perry, redshirt freshman guard, is going to transfer.

Perry is one of those "Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond?" questions, and honestly, the answer to that changes with my mood. If I would have had an infinite amount more talent than I do (I can, however, shoot free throws and unguarded 3's like no one's business), the idea of being a role player on a Big Ten team versus a main cog at UW-Milwaukee is an incredibly tough call.

I truly don't know how you can make that decision at 17 or 18.

12/23/2006 08:30:00 AM

(12/23/2006 08:25:00 AM) - Al

For those keeping score, I'd say about 8 inches of wet, heavy snow.

I went out and shoveled one side of our sidewalk, and a path down the driveway to the sidewalk, and i think I moved about a half-ton. It's all but impossible to describe how heavy the snow is.

Meanwhile, Durand got nothing, not one flake. Word is, Rhinelander got about a foot, so I guess it could indeed be worse.

12/23/2006 08:25:00 AM

Friday, December 22, 2006

(12/22/2006 08:49:00 PM) - Al

This morning, we had no snow on the ground and it was raining.

As of right now, I estimate 6 inches of snow, and it's still coming down.

I hate snow.

12/22/2006 08:49:00 PM

(12/22/2006 10:26:00 AM) - Al

John Sickels goes over the top 20 prospects for the Crew.

I'm mildly surprised by not seeing Ryan Braun on top, but that's more of a personal belief that position players should rank higher due to lower flameout rate and injury risk.

My other disagreements with Sickels involve many of the older players being rated dar too low, or at all. Tony Gwynn Jr. may not have a really high ceiling, but at the very least, he should have a nice career as a reserve...if we really have 20 guys better than him, that's wonderful, but I doubt it.

Vinny Rottino, Zach Jackson, and Angel Salome all seem 5-10 notches too low, and Tim Dillard should be higher as well.

12/22/2006 10:26:00 AM

Thursday, December 21, 2006

(12/21/2006 08:01:00 PM) - Al

Adam at the official site with his recap of the Suppan negotiations, and if the Crew ends up getting him, you probably can chalk it up to persistence and a hope for the future.

12/21/2006 08:01:00 PM

(12/21/2006 07:44:00 PM) - Al

I started suffering from a tickly, scratchy throat during the night Tuesday, so I'm been battling it with Zicam and Airborne ever since, and the results are pretty impressive. Thus far, I've only been bothered by my throat and a bit of a runny nose, very off and on.

This is my first experience with Airborne, I bought a couple boxes at Wal Mart a month or so ago. I've long thought it was not a serious remedy, but may be in the midst of changing my mind.

Of course, getting all the rest I need and not having to work artificially long shifts "for the man" may be helping just as much.

12/21/2006 07:44:00 PM

(12/21/2006 07:34:00 PM) - Al

Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Brewers' 4 year offer to suppan is between $36M and $40M.

That's actually less than I would have expected, I would guessed $42-44M.

12/21/2006 07:34:00 PM

(12/21/2006 06:06:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to post this while most folks were at work toda, but another edition of "classic" Brewers telecasts will air tonight at 7 CST. Due to a slight change in schedule, tonight's game will be the comeback versus the Reds, which the way I remember it, could be considered the coming out party of Bill Hall.

Since the lead story on my 6PM news tonight (not the sports mind you, but the entire newscast) was that the Packers game cannot be carried by cable systems outside the Green Bay area due to blackout rules (not on network TV, only the NFL network), hopefully many folks will tune in to the Brewers' game.

12/21/2006 06:06:00 PM

(12/21/2006 05:45:00 PM) - Al

I really don't know if you can call it a real estate "slump" or "downturn" when almost 2/3rd's of the top 100 markets are expected to rise in 2007.

12/21/2006 05:45:00 PM

(12/21/2006 11:04:00 AM) - Al

Newsday reports the Mets interest in Suppan may be "Plan C", if they don't get Zito, they are likely to make a trade for a veteran SP.

12/21/2006 11:04:00 AM

(12/21/2006 10:53:00 AM) - Al

David Riske signed a one-year deal with the Royals yesterday. Riske was one of the generic veteran RH's I thought the Brewers might well chase, but I think it's safe to say that the Crew's focus is elsewhere at the moment.

Also, with the plethora of OF's still on the roster, one of them may be used to acquire one or two more arms.

UPDATE: After going to Riske's BR page, I feel a little worse. He's been every bit as good as David Weathers and others I suggested going after earlier. The Royals have made several additions that will help them finish solidly in 5th place next year...I guess you could say they are now looking like a 70 win if that matters.

12/21/2006 10:53:00 AM

(12/21/2006 10:21:00 AM) - Al

Doug Melvin confirms the Crew made a 4 year offer to Suppan, after meeting with him and his agent for 5 hours Tuesday. Mark A finalized the offer Wednesday.

I've never been involved in a big money negotiation, but 5 hours seems like a heckuva long time. Seems to me Yost, Melvin, and Mark A probably spent 4+ hours selling Jeff on the future of the team, the young talent, the organization, the city, and so on; then talked money. The braintrust then went over what they could offer Jeff, and Mark made the official offer the next day.

They also told Suppan he is their "only focus", while other teams are focused on Barry Zito, I assume trying to make Jeff feel wanted and a bit snubbed by the others. However, if Jeff wants to pitch for the Mets, I doubt he'll mind.

If nothing else, you have to wonder when Doug told the JS he "was still deciding" about making an offer to Suppan. Right now, that looks like a fib of grand proportion.

12/21/2006 10:21:00 AM

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

(12/20/2006 10:34:00 PM) - Robert R.

I pretty much disagree with Al in regards to the depth issue. The Brewers missed the playoffs due to injuries and none of the moves they made this offseason really are that substantial. If they have similar injuries again, the hope is in someone like Ryan Braun, not in having Craig Counsell on the bench. Honestly, the less Craig Counsell plays, the better chance the Brewers have in 2007.

Just comparing the opening day roster of 2006 vs. the projected roster for 2007 reveals quite a few similarities.

2006 2007

Miller Miller
Moeller Estrada
Fielder Fielder
Weeks Weeks
Hardy Hardy
Koskie Koskie
Hall Hall
Cirillo Graffanino
Lee Mench
Clark Clark
Jenkins Jenkins
Gross Gross
Hart Hart
......... Counsell

Frankly, I don't see a big difference. Estrada replacing Moeller and the young players being one year older and hopefully better, along with good health, is much more important to the Brewers than who the backup middle infielders are. Good health by Ben Sheets is also a key. And hopefully a better bullpen. Craig Counsell is probably the position player that has least to do with the potential success of the Brewers on the projected roster and frankly he falls behind Braun and possibly Rottino and Rivera at AAA.

That said, if I have a problem with the offseason to date, it's not with the Counsell/Graffanino/Cirillo merry-go-round, but with the bullpen, which was one of the worst in MLB, essentially being unchanged. Of course, there's plenty of time between now and opening day to do something about it, but once the Suppan situation is settled, that has to be the #1 priority of the team.

12/20/2006 10:34:00 PM

(12/20/2006 06:40:00 PM) - Al

Just when you think it's safe...Mark A and others met with Suppan today and made (or reiterated) a 4 year offer for his services.

It certainly seems as if Doug was being dishonest when he wondered aloud if the team would make Jeff an offer. The bad news of this is that the Mets and other Barry Zito suitors want to make Suppan a backup plan...which can only drive up his price.

12/20/2006 06:40:00 PM

(12/20/2006 04:05:00 PM) - Al

I know many folks are probably working their last day of the week, or will be tomorrow, so allow me to wish you a happy holiday season. It looks like any Suppan (or any important) news will not be happening until after the 25th, and most important stuff will likely wait until after the first of the year.

I will be posting until the 22nd, then probably will be off until sometime on the 25th. At some point, I plan on putting up a "state of the team" in-depth profile. I am still amazed how many message board posters ignore that the Crew has added a ton of depth, and that right now, you could argue that every single person on the bench could be starting for a few teams, and in some cases, maybe 10-15 teams.

I am stunned that many people have either written or implied that depth doesn't matter, because "We have no chance if we have injuries". It's almost as if they have completely forgotten 2006 less than 90 days after the season ended, when the lack of depth (not that we didn't have any, remember Hall and Hart were on the bench Opening Day, we just didn't have enough) and injuries probably kept us out of the playoffs.

Regardless, drive safely and we'll see you when you return. Of course, for those who check us out online, see ya tonight!

12/20/2006 04:05:00 PM

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

(12/19/2006 06:02:00 AM) - Al

Ben from TPA interviewed Ned Yost IV.

You can take a look at it here.

12/19/2006 06:02:00 AM

Monday, December 18, 2006

(12/18/2006 09:58:00 PM) - Al

Doug says he hasn't decided whether or not to make Suppan an offer, as I assume he's tired of making offers and having them ignored.

I would not pause at all to offer him a 4y/$40-44M deal, but if Doug knows that won't win, I'm sure he's well beyond making an offer just to feel better about things.

UPDATE: After thinking about this for about 90 minutes, I think Doug is just being coy. This is what was in the JS from Mark A:

"We're trying to participate where we can," said Attanasio, who confirmed the Brewers plan to make a sincere effort to sign free-agent pitcher Jeff Suppan. "We thought we had a shot at Jason Schmidt (who signed with the Dodgers for $47 million over three years). We put in a very credible offer.

I would say a "sincere effort" means an offer will be put forth. Either that or Doug knows another team has already bid more than he feels comfortable with.

12/18/2006 09:58:00 PM

(12/18/2006 08:20:00 PM) - Al

Adam with his weekly mailbag, in which many are unhappy Cirillo left. Yawn.

Hey, I liked Jeff. He fit in nearly perfectly as a platoon partner for Koskie, and he could also play 2B passably. However, the Brewers could not afford to let Tony G walk, as he is worth more in trade, should someone's 2B go down. TG can also play a decent SS. Cirillo really has two good qualities, he plays a good 3B, and he hits LHP very well.

If we would have lost Cirillo and not have anyone to replace him, that's one thing, but the angst over losing him and having Tony G is completely unnecessary.

12/18/2006 08:20:00 PM

(12/18/2006 12:35:00 PM) - Al

15 game suspension for Carmelo Anthony, 10 games for Nate Robinson, and smaller amounts for others.

No official word whether Anthony's larger suspension was for the punch he threw, or for running away like a little girl after the punch.

No offense meant to little girls, of course.

12/18/2006 12:35:00 PM

(12/18/2006 10:27:00 AM) - Al

Tommy Thompson was just on CNBC, talking about a possible pandemic, and if companies are prepared for such an event.

He is apparently quite serious about running for President, though I feel he may well be positioning himself for a Vice Presidential nod, as the Midwestern anchor to an Eastern prez nominee (Romney or Guiliani?).

12/18/2006 10:27:00 AM

(12/18/2006 09:36:00 AM) - Al

Call me a pessimist, but the almost spooky optimism that has surrounded the search for those hikers in Oregon seems to be a situation of thinking with your heart and not your head.

I'd be absolutely shocked if they find any of them alive. It's not impossible, but far from probable. Nature is a deadly force, and no one has been heard from since Sunday the 10th. That's not a scenario for a happy ending.

12/18/2006 09:36:00 AM

Sunday, December 17, 2006

(12/17/2006 07:07:00 PM) - Al

Larry the Cable Guy was just profiled on 60 Minutes.

How out of touch is the New York based reporter doing the story? Here's his voiceover he did near the beginning of the piece:

In fact, maybe you've never even heard of him.

During the interview, it is revealed that "Larry" has been the largest grossing stand-up act for the last 3 years, and the fella who started the Blue Collar Comedy tour is actually quoted saying:

They just don't get him in New York and LA.

No, they don't.

12/17/2006 07:07:00 PM

(12/17/2006 03:56:00 PM) - Al

I believe this is a dictionary definition of mailing it in.

Gutsy call, Time.

12/17/2006 03:56:00 PM

(12/17/2006 01:05:00 PM) - Al

Discussions between the Pirates and Jeff Suppan's representatives have diminished in recent days, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Pirates may be focusing on someone they have a better chance of signing, Joel Pineiro. The Giants and Brewers are the current favorites for Suppan, but there may be more suitors out there. Don't rule out the Jays.--Rotoworld

Shades of the Dave Roberts sweepstakes...which I will gladly allow the Giants to win if that means we could get Suppan. Of course, that is just the conjecture of the Rotoworld staff at this point, but as with Roberts, it probably means the Brewers are making a serious run.

12/17/2006 01:05:00 PM

(12/17/2006 09:33:00 AM) - Al

Sadly, a wonderful day in sports (especially for WI basketball, as both the Badgers and Bucks won good, hard games) was completely marred by the fight at Madison Square Garden last evening.

Several players will be suspended, and rightfully so. Carmelo Anthony, the leading scorer in the league, looks like he'll be gone for anywhere from 5-15 games, according to what the analysts are guessing.

The NBA won't go easy, as they are sick and tired of the image of their league being represented by young men rolling in the stands and throwing punches.

Personally, I just find it difficult to believe that anyone is ignorant enough to get involved in a fight during garbage time is smart enough to not walk in front of a bus.

12/17/2006 09:33:00 AM

Saturday, December 16, 2006

(12/16/2006 08:21:00 PM) - Al

J.C. Romero is set to make $1.6 million next season after agreeing to a one-year contract with the Red Sox on Friday.

Even guys with a 6 ERA the prior year get plenty of cash.

As I've said a couple times, it's not just the top of the line FA's that are getting fine deals, it's from the top to the bottom. Just a year ago, JC would have got a lot of minor league offers with invites to camp, and maybe a couple of "make good" offers, 1y/$750K.

He signs for double that now, which nary a peep from anyone.

12/16/2006 08:21:00 PM

(12/16/2006 08:00:00 PM) - Al

The two worst writers to cover the Crew pair up for a Sunday can almost feel my excitement, can't you?

No idea if this is a weekly thing or what, but the current one is about the Crew, so I feel obligated to link it.

12/16/2006 08:00:00 PM

(12/16/2006 07:43:00 PM) - Al

Anyone that saw the Badgers/Pitt game today may well be thinking that if there's a better team in the country than the UW, they'd sure like to see 'em. That may be a stretch, but I will say this...take a look at the guys not in the rotation, or barely in the rotation; Gullickson, Bohanon, Hughes...those are guys that could easily be playing 25-30 minutes a game in D1. My goodness, Gullickson DID that for us last year.

This is a team that, if they continue to grow into their roles and peak at the right time (like Bennett's Final 4 team did a few years ago), and stay healthy, I can honestly say this is a club that could win 6 straight in March and April.

12/16/2006 07:43:00 PM

(12/16/2006 09:25:00 AM) - Al

Seemingly no news on Jeff Suppan today.

After rereading the stories from yesterday, there was really no timetable given as far as talking to Jeff and his agent. If it were me, I'd really like a decision to be made before Xmas, but I've also heard several people say Jeff will wait until Barry Zito signs so that he will be the best remaining pitcher on the market..if that's the case, and Suppan is just wanting to go to the highest bidder (which is certainly his right), mentioning the Brewers as a true contender is probably silly.

I watched the "classic" game on FSN last night, and I came away all but drooling at the possibility of having Carlos V stashed away in Nashville as our 6th starter, just waiting for someone to be injured or ineffective. I see many message boards are proliferated with people not wanting Suppan (a viewpoint I find laughable) because Carlos V might be just as effective. Of course, the funny thing is, even after a season in which we suffered through injuries to Sheets and Ohka, and their replacements literally cost us a playoff berth, many don't see any need to have more than 5 major league ready SP's.

Actually, you see that feeling applies to all over the field. Memories are very short as far as infield depth as well, as no one can figure out why we would want to have backups to Koskie, Hardy, and Weeks that can step in and give you close to major league average offensive production at those spots (as well as very good defense)...despite the fact all three missed significant time in '06 and in prior seasons as well.

The irony of this is quite apparent...some teams, Cleveland for example, were hoping to add Counsell as a starter, while Graffy would have been San Diego's 2B had the Crew not offered him arby. However, although the Crew upgraded their bench and paid good money for these players, they are "only bench guys", and should be paid $500K. Talk about not responding to an ever changing market. Sure, we could have went into '07 with a couple of utility IF's like Chris Barnwell and Trent Durrington, and if they only started a game a week, pinch-ran, and pinch-hit, they wouldn't have much negative effect on the club. But, if you ignore history, you are doomed to repeat it. How many injuries do you need to suffer until you improve your depth?

Counsell---.344/.350, 696 OPS, 54 simple runs created (based on 450 AB's)
Graffy-----.338/.396, 734, 60
Ave 2B/SS--.333/.405, 738, 61

Tony is almost exactly league average, and Craig is just a tad beneath. Both are plus defenders. I have a lot more confidence in these two proven vets than I do a couple unknowns.

Granted, if a team is trying to field a roster and only spending $25-30M, you pretty much just have to hope for the best. But if you're not in that situation, you can afford to pay your reserves assuming they may well have to start 60 they often will.

12/16/2006 09:25:00 AM

Friday, December 15, 2006

(12/15/2006 10:38:00 PM) - Al

Hat tip to Aaron Gleeman, this is a compilation of "acting" at the outset of each CSI:Miami episode.

I cannot believe how often he puts on his sunglasses as he's uttering his catch phrase of the week, it's as comical as it is ineffective.

I'm not sure, but if there is such a thing as proof you can sell your soul in exchange for good fortune, I think Dave Caruso is it.

12/15/2006 10:38:00 PM

(12/15/2006 09:41:00 PM) - Al

I've seen a lot of promotional stuff for The Pursuit of Happyness, a Wil Smith film about a man who went from being homeless to a multi-millionaire. Every single one stresses how this man went from the brink of nothing to being a role model of success.

I must admit, it looks like a wonderful, uplifting movie. One ironic thing is that while it is obvious that Smith, and the man he is portraying, Chris Gardner, are African-American, at no point have I even heard his race mentioned in any of the promos.

Even on the last 15 minutes of Oprah yesterday, which I caught while channel surfing, no one would even mention how difficult it was for a minority to work his way up, and then start his own financial services firm. I was shocked when I heard Ms. Winfrey herself say, "You know, the only place in the world this could have taken place was America", to which Gardner replied, "Absolutely".

12/15/2006 09:41:00 PM

(12/15/2006 09:34:00 PM) - Al

Brewers sign a AAA roster filler, in all likelihood. His minor league numbers are very solid, but he was very old for the level.

12/15/2006 09:34:00 PM

(12/15/2006 06:55:00 PM) - Al

Adam rehashes the Suppan story at the team's official site.

12/15/2006 06:55:00 PM

(12/15/2006 03:49:00 PM) - Al

Red Sox signed LHP J.C. Romero, who had been with the Angels, to a one-year contract. The Boston bullpen is certainly getting more crowded. Whether it's really any better is still to be determined....He held left-handers to a .202 average for the Angels last season, but he still finished with a 6.71 ERA and a 31/28 K/BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings. Even when he's effective, he's a terribly frustrating pitcher.--Rotoworld

Not a very striking endorsement, kind of a "that's not as bad as usual" compliment. I think JC would have fit in nicely as a 6th/7th inning loogy to pair with Shouse, and JC has been pretty durable, allowing him to eat a frame here and there in a 7-3 game either way.

12/15/2006 03:49:00 PM

(12/15/2006 01:48:00 PM) - Al

A friendly reminder, since I know many of you check Ramblings at work, FSN begins televising "classic games" tonight, 6:30 for the majority of us, Central time.

The entire schedule is here.

12/15/2006 01:48:00 PM

(12/15/2006 01:04:00 PM) - Al

Jim, a longtime friend of Ramblings, reports that Theo Epstein is on Boston sports radio today saying that the Red Sox will be acquiring one or two relief pitchers that struggled in '06. He wonders if it is possible Derrick Turnbow could be one of them.

Most of Doug Melvin's moves have come with no notice at all, and I doubt Bow will garner a whole lot in return at this second, though he is a healthy RHP who can hit 98 on the gun. Doug has liked Matt Clement for a long time, though he is recovering from an injury and much spendier than Derrick.

Time will tell, I guess.

UPDATE: Sox pick up Brendan Donnelly from the Angels for a minor leaguer. Though he'll probably get a ton in arby, it's a very nice pickup for BOS.

12/15/2006 01:04:00 PM

(12/15/2006 11:47:00 AM) - Al

The Jeff Suppan sweepstakes remain something of a mystery, creating the possibility that teams will make late bids for the free-agent right-hander.

The Brewers are considering just such a run.

General manager Doug Melvin says that he has the payroll flexibility to add Suppan even if he does not trade outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who will earn $7 million next season.

Melvin had a 45-minute conversation earlier this week with Suppan's agent, Scott Leventhal. Suppan is believed to be seeking a four-year deal for $11 million per season.

One stat that surely intrigues the Brewers: Suppan, who turns 32 on Jan. 2, is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in seven career starts at Miller Park.

The Giants are another team considering Suppan, who was teammates in St. Louis with two of their players, right-hander Matt Morris and catcher Mike Matheny.

The Mets and Mariners could become players for Suppan if they lose out on Zito. The Pirates and Royals also are interested, though probably not at Suppan's price.--Ken Rosenthal

As I said way back during the roundtable, we need to go after Suppan hard while the others are begging Zito to take their $100M.

12/15/2006 11:47:00 AM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

(12/14/2006 09:47:00 PM) - Al

Tom H checks in with official word that Doug is prepping an offer to present to Mr. Suppan.

12/14/2006 09:47:00 PM

(12/14/2006 02:51:00 PM) - Al

The Yankees are displaying some interest in free agent Joel Pineiro. It's unclear whether Pineiro would prefer to start or reliever. The Yankees would see him as a swingman, whereas others, such as the Cardinals or Twins, could pencil him right into the rotation. Also believed to be interested are the Red Sox, Pirates and Royals.

Am I the only one that realizes that Pineiro has a near 6 ERA away from Safeco in the past 3 years? Hey, I'm the first person to say that Joel might rebound, especially as a reliever, but how can this fella be the subject of this much interest?

Seriously, weren't the Twins and Cardinals both in the playoffs last year, and they are hoping they can pencil him into their rotations?

12/14/2006 02:51:00 PM

(12/14/2006 02:24:00 PM) - Al

A preview of the many bowl games available this season.

Back in the old days (fasten your seat belts, kids), when we had 3 networks (PBS doesn't count), I watched a ton of bowl games and always enjoyed them, but rarely do now, unless a Big Ten or military academy is playing, and then only if there's no poker, Dog the Bounty Hunter, or Flip This House (what did you say, Ginger was on, I lost all track of my surroundings) options on.

Of course, I'm entertained by almost anything, as long as I'm hypothetically playing poker online at the same time.

12/14/2006 02:24:00 PM

(12/14/2006 02:12:00 PM) - Al

John Rocker is interviewed at Deadspin.

And yes, he is pictured with his girlfriend.

12/14/2006 02:12:00 PM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

(12/13/2006 11:22:00 PM) - Al

My wife and I just concluded our annual holiday time viewing of Christmas Vacation, possibly the finest Xmas movie ever made unless you're into really sappy black and white films.

I'm not sure if there's a much funnier hour-and-a-half if you are in the spirit that the holiday season usually brings. Be sure to make it a point to watch it again in the next couple weeks.

12/13/2006 11:22:00 PM

(12/13/2006 10:14:00 PM) - Al

Free agent starter Jeff Suppan has at least one offer on the table, but agent Scott Leventhal said they are still talking with the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.

Hat tip to friend of Ramblings Ajay.

Supposedly, the money being discussed is in the 4y/$40M range, or as it has become known "Ted Lilly money". The ironic thing is, I'd much prefer Suppan to any FA pitcher except Barry Zito, including the new BOS import.

Suppan simply is one of the best there is at keeping his team in the game. He won't pitch many shutouts, but he won't get knocked out in the 3rd inning more than a couple times a year either. And while "innings-eater" has come to be sort of as a code for "crappy pitcher who rarely gets hurt", Jeff taking the ball every 5th day and keeping his team in the game is to be counted on. While far from young, he's never been a velocity guy, so his slide downhill should be far less steep than most. Look at his consistent lines over the past 7-8 years...golly.

If there was ever a guy to overpay for, I'd nominate Suppan.

12/13/2006 10:14:00 PM

(12/13/2006 06:51:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers' initial allotment of "Holiday 4 Packs" has sold out, but they have added more, per Don Walker of the JS.

Only 16K tickets in this thing, but it is always good to see interest seems high.

12/13/2006 06:51:00 PM

(12/13/2006 02:03:00 PM) - Al

28 players non-tendered, and other than Marcus Giles, nary a regular in the bunch.

My top ten:

Todd Williams

Yes, it's a pretty weak crop when a 36 year-old middle reliever is the best available player non-tendered. A mediocre '06 after a very solid 04 and '05.

Victor Zambrano

As I noted last night, he'd be a nice fit in almost any rotation, though he may not be ready to pitch until June.

Jorge Sosa

Sosa might fit in as a 5th starter/long man. Throws hard, but has had very little success except in 2005.

Jerome Williams

Honestly, if you take out his '06 campaign, he might have signed a 4y/$40M contract this offseason, had he been a FA. Several teams will go after him, driving his price up. Would be an upgrade for almost any team as an 11th/12th man.

Brad Wilkerson

Brad was mighty good a couple years ago, as I often say, it's a slippery slope for corner OF's when they hit their 30th b-day.

Willie Eyre

Generic reliever, had a sub 4 ERA in the 2nd half last year for the Twins.

Brandon Claussen

Former top Yankees prospect, lefty soft-tosser. Might have a future as a reliever.

Brandon Duckworth

Another former prospect that's never put together what was expected. AAA depth.

Jayson Werth

Werth missed all of last year with an injury, solid backup/platoon OF.

Joel Pineiro

His last 3 seasons he's gotten worse, but he used to be very good. Many teams will try to recapture his former magic.

12/13/2006 02:03:00 PM

(12/13/2006 01:57:00 PM) - Al

The Red Sox sign their Japanese import, 6 years, $52M...actually not terrible in this market...if you are able to dismiss that they had to pay his former team $51M to negotiate with him. $103M for 6 years of an unknown foreign pitcher from a nation known for blowing out their pitchers very early...better them than me.

12/13/2006 01:57:00 PM

(12/13/2006 11:36:00 AM) - Al

Peter Boyle, best known for his role as Ray's dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, died at the age of 71.

I don't know of anyone who doesn't love the character he played on Raymond, and it's tough not to summarize this with his favorite phrase, "Holy crap"!

He'll be missed.

12/13/2006 11:36:00 AM

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

(12/12/2006 09:58:00 PM) - Al

I have to wonder if Vinny Rottino will indeed be considered as the RH platoon partner at 3B, after punching up his splits last year at Nashville.

A .950 OPS is pretty solid. If the Crew has room for Vinny as the 25th man on the roster, he might even prove competent enough to allow Graffy to be dealt, if indeed the injured trio of Rickie, JJ, and Corey all return healthy.

12/12/2006 09:58:00 PM

(12/12/2006 09:09:00 PM) - Robert R.

I'm less sanguine than Al is about Cirillo leaving for the Twins.

Seemingly because Melvin and Graffanino's agent couldn't get on the same page, the Brewers ended up with two veteran middle infielders with relatively redundant skill sets. Yeah there are minor differences if you look closely, but Counsell and Graffanino are relatively similar in overall value. In exchange, the Brewers ended up losing a valuable skill set for this team, the ability to mash lefties as part of a third base platoon.

The Brewers will survive. Their ability to compete effectively will be determined by their young position players and starting pitchers, not by the difference in backup infielders. Still, there's not a doubt in my mind that this is a minor miscalculation on Melvin's part. No way did the Brewers intend to spend over $5 million on veteran, backup middle infielders when they have a tight budget and other areas of need, such as the bullpen.

12/12/2006 09:09:00 PM

(12/12/2006 08:05:00 PM) - Al

There will soon be an official list of "new" free agents out there, as the list of non-tendered players will soon be official, probably as soon as a couple hours.

Rumor has it Rod Lopez may be non-tendered...if they were discussing trading Mench for him, I have to believe the Crew might have some interest.:)

UPDATE: In addition to the almost mindnumbingly surprise that Marcus Giles was let go by the Braves, a couple of very serviceable SP's are now available, Victor Zambrano, who only made 5 starts last year due to injury; Chris Reitsma, a very solid reliever who also had injury woes in '06; and Brandon Duckworth, a former top prospect that's never fulfilled his promise, but could fit into the 5th starter or long relief spots on many teams.

12/12/2006 08:05:00 PM

(12/12/2006 12:36:00 PM) - Al

BP ranks the Brewers' top ten prospects, and they correctly put Ryan Braun #1.

12/12/2006 12:36:00 PM

(12/12/2006 09:59:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman says Cirillo is a nice role player for the Twins to add, and even quotes me...but it's still a good post.

12/12/2006 09:59:00 AM

Monday, December 11, 2006

(12/11/2006 09:37:00 PM) - Al

The new, two-piece, synthetic microfiber ball has created quite a stir all season and Commissioner Stern has decided to scrap it for several reasons. Like the fact it becomes slippery when wet, sticks to the rim and actually dries out players' hands to the point they suffer cuts from using the ball. Although you don't hear from them as much, several players like using the new ball, so they'll have to learn to get accustomed to the leather version again, when the change is made January 1st.

I'm a bit ambivalent about this, as I've never touched the new ball. That said, changing at midseason seems about as awkward a way of making the change as possible.

12/11/2006 09:37:00 PM

(12/11/2006 08:57:00 PM) - Al

Adam at the official site says that Jeff is torn about leaving, and that all the Brewers eligible will be offered arby, including Kevin Mench.

To me that was a no-brainer, as Mench had more teams asking about him than almost anyone at the winter meetings. He's still doubtful to be back in MIL, to be sure.

12/11/2006 08:57:00 PM

(12/11/2006 08:36:00 PM) - Al

Drew Olson is reporting Jeff Cirillo will sign with the Twins and platoon at 3B with Nick Punto.

Apparently, Jeff was swayed by the possibility of a few more AB's and a pair of visits a year to Seattle, where his family still lives.

To me, it isn't much of a debate, as I would much prefer either Tony G or Counsell to Jeff, though I always liked Jeff in the limited role he had in '06. It occured to me the other day that Vinny Rottino could step into Jeff's role as a platoon mate with Koskie, and all-around utility man...he would be a nice 25th man, as he could realistically play any position on the field except P and CF.

Best of luck to Jeff, however, he sure seems like a great guy.

12/11/2006 08:36:00 PM

(12/11/2006 03:16:00 PM) - Al

Jeff at BrewCrewBall discusses some available possibilities for the Brewers FA "chase".

I'm all for Steve Trachsel, especially if he ends up signing a one-year contract.

While you're there, make sure you bookmark BCB, likely the best Brewers' blog on the 'net.

12/11/2006 03:16:00 PM

(12/11/2006 02:12:00 PM) - Al

It's official, this year's Xmas letter is complete.

For those of you who do not receive the annual letter, which has grown to near mythical proportions over the years, maybe I'll post it on Ramblings this year. You see, about a decade ago, my wife and I grew tired of receiving a few cards each year which basically were just bragfests, look how cute our baby is, here are pictures of our trip to Italy, our son's an honor student at Yale, hubby got his master's from Princeton, our daughter was homecoming queen and was accepted to {insert yet another stuck-up private school here}. I joked that I wish people would send out "real" letters, like how Junior was still in prison and how Ashley gave birth...again, so that means she's still technically a high school, and so on. So, we sent out a bit of a wacky Xmas letter, filled with goofy news events, sad but true tales of our "life", etc.

Over the years, in an ironic twist, it's been tough to continue this, because with the arrival our of son (now 4, but still perfect) and the cuteness of our dog, it's been difficult to keep the satire and not just talk about random things about the boys we find entertaining, but I doubt anyone else would.

Anyway, after my wife does her editing, they should be going out later this week.

12/11/2006 02:12:00 PM

(12/11/2006 11:30:00 AM) - Robert R.

Also from Tom H.'s Sunday column

That much-needed centerfielder just might turn out to be Hall. If the Brewers are unable to acquire one before spring training and rightfielder Geoff Jenkins is still on the roster, look for Hall to open in center and Corey Hart in left.

In many ways, I think that's possibly the best possible outcome for the Brewers' infatuation with moving Hall to the outfield. Hall's bat still has a lot of value in centerfield and it allows Hall to also take advantage of his defensive assets.

The Brewers could do a lot worse than Hart - LF, Hall - CF, Jenkins/Clark - RF platoon, Gross - 4th outfielder. Properly deployed, which is unfortunately a caveat with Yost, Clark is the only outfielder where a sub-.800 OPS is almost certain.

Trading Mench over Clark makes sense too as Clark has much more defensive verstatility than Mench. If necessary, you could go with a Gross/Clark platoon in any position if there are injuries.

12/11/2006 11:30:00 AM

(12/11/2006 10:35:00 AM) - Al

A firm that analyzes every ticket sold, and helps teams get the most money for each seat.

Teams do need to look at each seat just like hotels and airlines look at rooms and seats...anything is better than nothing.

12/11/2006 10:35:00 AM

Saturday, December 09, 2006

(12/09/2006 09:23:00 PM) - Al

Tom H with his Sunday column, wondering about Hall, Hardy, and Weeks.

Rickie certainly has all the athletic ability to win a Gold Glove at 2B (let's just assume for a sec that it is truly a defensive award), as does Billy at SS.

For whatever reason, the braintrust has always had a lot more faith in JJ than others. Let's hope they prove correct.

12/09/2006 09:23:00 PM

(12/09/2006 07:29:00 PM) - Al

One of my guilty pleasures is Cops. It is simply never tiresome to see people get stopped for something minor, then lie and/or have their past get them in deeper trouble.

Police Officer: Whose crack pipe is this?

Habitual Criminal: I don't know.

PO: Well, it was in your car, so I have to charge you with it.

HC: No way!! But it's not mine. That's not fair!!

I know it isn't nice to laugh at others, but it's pretty tough to resist at times.

12/09/2006 07:29:00 PM

(12/09/2006 10:16:00 AM) - Al

Doug Melvin's chat from yesterday has finally been posted online. I will have some highlights as time goes on.

Base_Ball: Myself and other Brewer fans I know are having trouble understanding the move of Bill Hall to the outfield. It seems to me that his production makes him one of the best shortstops in the league and that his defense is adequate at that position.

Melvin: We are looking to move Bill Hall to the outfield with the idea of keeping J.J. Hardy in the lineup. We feel that if J.J. is healthy he has the chance to be an average to above-average shortstop in the Majors. J.J. is probably also our best defensive player on the club. With Hall, the most important thing is to keep his bat in the lineup, and we feel his athleticism allows him to play anywhere.

I like JJ as well, and feel he may well be an above average SS, possibly as soon as 2007. However, Bill Hall's numbers from '06, and his projected 2007 numbers are well beyond what JJ could ever hope to produce. Moreover, I think it's easy to suggest that if you leave Hall at SS, it would not be that difficult to find a LF/CF that can do more than Hardy offensively.

One thing Doug has not really said is if he's trying to improve the team defensively. An OF of Hall/Roberts/Hart would have basically been 3 CF's in his OF, and would have, in theory at least, been very good defensively. Another possibility is that he feels Billy will be better offensively in the OF as he won't wear down.

pkrup: Will it be difficult for you to deal Kevin Mench if it is not done before Tuesday?

Doug Melvin: No, Mench has created a lot of trade interest.

That would sure seem to indicate Mench will be offered arby, as I had expected.

jermyv: Hi, Mr. Melvin. Now that Tony Graffanino has accepted arbitration, is he a possible trade candidate. Thank you.

Melvin: Our plans are to keep Graffanino at this time. But there is always the possibility for trades in the future.

Doug to English translator...We like having Tony because our INF has 3 guys coming back from injury, and 2 old guys (that's if Jeff Cirillo signs). But, if they are all healthy and effective, Tony may well have more value to someone else.

Daren_P: Do you think that some teams overspent?

Melvin: It's obvious that some teams have overspent.

You can almost hear Doug's snarl as he typed.

rw9917_yahoo_com: Will Vargas have to compete for a spot in the starting rotation in Spring Training?

Melvin: We're counting on Claudio Vargas to be the No. 4 starter behind Chris Capuano, Sheets and Dave Bush. We like his arm and his durability.

If you look at his road splits, Vargas is a solid #4/5 guy, perhaps even a weak #3. His only real weakness is he would look to be a 6-7 inning guy, which is fine, but when 7 inning pitchers struggle, they usually will only give you 5 or 5 1/3...which is a lot of outs for the bullpen to have to get night after night.

hurt: How many at-bats do you foresee Corey Hart getting this year?

Melvin: We'd like Corey to get 450-550 at-bats this season.

500 AB's is basically a full season, especially if you miss a few games with minor injuries. I'd rest Corey once a week versus a tough RH, as it looks like Gross will be around at the very least. Nothing wrong with setting up a youngster (or a veteran, for that matter) for success by giving him a day off when he's not that likely to get a couple hits.

12/09/2006 10:16:00 AM

Friday, December 08, 2006

(12/08/2006 09:59:00 PM) - Al

Just wanted to take a second to thank the many readers who e-mailed a note regarding the passing of my mom. It especially touched me that many military personnel wrote, many far from home this holiday season.

It's been a rough time, as her illness and death both occured due to complications from a relatively routine surgery. The problem would have eventually shown up had she had the surgery or not, but it sped things up.

A couple of you asked if there was anything you could do. My wife, son, and I did our annual Toys For Tots shopping today, continuing a tradition we have done for about a decade now. If you wanted to donate what you feel you can to that fine organization, I know my mom would feel that was a wonderful way to assist a young person this Xmas.

Thanks again for your kind words.

12/08/2006 09:59:00 PM

(12/08/2006 01:19:00 PM) - Al

This is such a good idea, I'm surprised it's never been done before:

Fox Sports Net cable has collected 17 Milwaukee Brewers telecasts from the team's past and will begin airing them regularly in prime time starting next Friday.

Brian Peterson, a spokesman for FSN North, said the games were chosen by FSN and the Brewers.

Brewers TV game analyst Bill Schroeder will serve as host.

Games from as far back as 1975 and as late as last season are on the list.

For example, the game to be aired at 6:30 p.m. next Friday will be Milwaukee's 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 1, when rookie pitcher Carlos Villanueva turned in an outstanding performance.

That doesn't qualify as a classic game really - as in "Brewers Classic Games," what the collection is being called - but it aims to get fans in a positive frame of mind during the hot stove season.

However, there are bona fide classics in the mix: Games 4 and 5 in the 1982 World Series, Games 3 and 4 in the '82 ALCS, Juan Nieves' no-hitter in '87 and Rob Deer's and Dale Sveum's home-run game on Easter '87. The 1975 All-Star Game from County Stadium is on the list as well.

Brewers Classic Games

6:30 p.m. next Friday: Carlos Villanueva pitches well in victory over St. Louis (10-1-06)

7 p.m. Dec. 21: Bill Hall hits homer to win game against N.Y. Mets on Mother's Day (5-14-06)

7 p.m. Dec. 26: Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks hit first homers against Minnesota (6-25-05)

7:30 p.m. Jan. 1: Ben Sheets strikes out 18 Atlanta batters (5-16-04)

7 p.m. Jan. 9: Milwaukee, down 9-0, comes back to beat Cincinnati (4-28-04)

7 p.m. Jan. 15: Juan Nieves pitches no-hitter against Baltimore (4-15-87)

7 p.m. Jan. 23: Milwaukee beats Toronto, 22-2 (8-28-92)

7 p.m. Jan. 31: Rob Deer, Dale Sveum hit homers against Texas (4-19-87)

7 p.m. Feb. 7: Milwaukee scores seven runs in the ninth to beat Houston (5-22-00)

7 p.m. Feb. 14: Milwaukee wins 13th consecutive game vs. Chicago White Sox (4-20-87)

7 p.m. Feb. 21: 1975 All-Star Game at County Stadium

7 p.m. Feb. 26: Game 3 1981 ALDS vs. N.Y. Yankees

6:30 p.m. March 5: Game 3 1982 ALCS vs. California

7 p.m. March 14: Game 4 1982 ALCS vs. California

7 p.m. March 20: Game 5 1982 ALCS vs. California

7 p.m. March 27: Game 4 1982 World Series vs. St. Louis

7 p.m. March 30: Game 5 1982 World Series vs. St. Louis

Being a true geek, I'd love it if they's also do some sort of "Game of the Week", say Saturday morning, or Sunday morning, anytime they rarely have any live action going on, from the year before, sort of a retrospective to prep you for the upcoming season. It would kind of be the opposite of the games above, as they'd be nondescript affairs...except of course, the Crew would win each game.

I know many other networks have done this, back when we had Direct TV, the YES network, owned by the Yankees, had a classic game on every Sunday night, if memory serves. I'm a bit surprised the Brewers and Fox have the rights for the World Series games, as those are shown on ESPN Classic somewhat regularly.

Great move though.

12/08/2006 01:19:00 PM

(12/08/2006 01:13:00 PM) - Al

The JS also reviews the Crew's efforts in Orlando.

12/08/2006 01:13:00 PM

Thursday, December 07, 2006

(12/07/2006 07:39:00 PM) - Al

Adam M with his last report from Orlando.

12/07/2006 07:39:00 PM

(12/07/2006 02:29:00 PM) - Al

I have a hard time giving up on one-time highly regarded pitchers in their mid-late 20s who still have arms attached to their shoulders.---Jason C

With good reason...they are one mediocre campaign away from signing a deal worth $25M.:)

As for those two and darn near every former prospect...or any pitcher who has had some success at one time or another in the majors, I'm all for signing them to a minor league contract and throwing them against the wall and see who sticks.

12/07/2006 02:29:00 PM

(12/07/2006 02:15:00 PM) - Jason Christopherson

A couple of interesting pitching options have popped up as the result of some roster trimming today. The Royals have released RHP Runelvys Hernandez and the A's dropped lefty Juan Dominguez. Granted, both have their issues--Hernandez is perhaps Quevedo-ing his way out of a big league uniform and Dominguez struggled mightily in AAA last season. I have a hard time giving up on one-time highly regarded pitchers in their mid-late 20s who still have arms attached to their shoulders.

I don't know enough about either of these guys to know if there are major injury concerns or if they have just forgotten how to succeed on the hill. If it's the latter, I hope DM takes a chance by giving them minor league deals, spring training invites, and Mike Maddux's cell phone number.

12/07/2006 02:15:00 PM

(12/07/2006 01:17:00 PM) - Al

Royals agreed to terms with RHP Gil Meche, who had been with the Mariners, on a five-year, $55 million contract.

Meche will receive a $2 million signing bonus along with a $7 million salary in 2007, $11 million in each of the following two years and $12 million each in 2010 and '11. While it's not the worst contract of the winter, it's as stunning as any of them. It's easy to see what the Royals like about Meche. At 28, he could be just coming into his own, and he was touching 98 mph on the gun in the second half of last year. Still, we're talking about a pitcher with a history of shoulder problems who has never thrown 190 innings in a season. His career ERA stands at 4.65, and he finished with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP last season. There's maybe a 10-20 percent chance he'll really be worth this kind of money over the next five years. A better bet is that he makes 30 starts no more than once or twice through the length of the deal.

Over the past 3 years, away from the park most forgiving of bad location, Gil was 12-12 with a 5.31 ERA...which is almost exactly what I'd project him for in 2007, maybe a 5.10 ERA if I was feeling especially optimistic. Now, there's a place on most every staff in the game for a bottom-of-the-rotation SP who can give you 175 innings and a 5ish ERA...and they're worth about 30% of what the Royals paid.

To be honest, the difference between Jamey Wright and Meche away from Safeco is negligible, and Jamey may well sign a minor league contract.

12/07/2006 01:17:00 PM

(12/07/2006 01:14:00 PM) - Al

The Cardinals could be close to signing free agent Dan Kolb, likely to a one-year deal. They've also been talking to Octavio Dotel, but he doesn't want to settle for a setup role. Kolb, 31, had a 4.84 ERA in 48 1/3 innings for the Brewers last season.

Kolb did have one horrible outing last season that makes his ERA look artificially high. Kolb has issues with both going more than one inning and pitching consecutive days, so he has to be babied a bit to have success.

12/07/2006 01:14:00 PM

(12/07/2006 09:50:00 AM) - Al introduces some new names into the Brewers/Phillies discussions.

12/07/2006 09:50:00 AM

(12/07/2006 09:27:00 AM) - Al

The Brewers pick up a lefty reliever in the rule 5 draft, Edward Campusano. Excellent numbers, but never pitched above AA. No word if he is being kept or traded, as was thought yesterday.

UPDATE: Word on the street is he is headed for the Phillies or Tigers for $100K.

UPDATE 2: Tigers, it is official.

Luis Gonzalez signs with the Dodgers, so if there is a Mench for Rod Lopez deal on the table, it may well be made shortly. Time will tell.

12/07/2006 09:27:00 AM

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

(12/06/2006 09:39:00 PM) - Al

The Phillies and White Sox have pulled off a deal: Freddy Garcia to Philly for Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd.

Not sure if this opens up a Lieber to MIL possibility or not, because the Phils did get a starter, but gave one up as well.

12/06/2006 09:39:00 PM

(12/06/2006 08:40:00 PM) - Al

Adam M with his daily recap of activity, or lack thereof.

12/06/2006 08:40:00 PM

(12/06/2006 08:34:00 PM) - Al

Barring an unexpected proposal from another team, free agent Tony Graffanino will accept the Brewers' offer of arbitration, his agent said. It's the second year in a row Graffanino has been forced to do this. Last year, he took Boston's offer of arbitration and was later traded to the Royals just prior to Opening Day. The Brewers could also seek to trade Graffanino, though they'll want to make sure the rest of their infielders are healthy in spring training before they take such a step. As things stand now, Graffanino figures to receive very little playing time if everyone else is available.

Hmm, this does not match the info that Tony could not be dealt before June 15th if he accepted arby. However, with all three of the expected starters coming off injuries, the Crew would be wise to wait until early April to ensure all 3 (Koskie, Hardy, and Weeks) are healthy.

12/06/2006 08:34:00 PM

(12/06/2006 08:31:00 PM) - Al indicates that the Phillies are no longer involved in active trade talks with the Brewers and White Sox. It looked like the Phillies wanted to trade Aaron Rowand and Gavin Floyd to Chicago for Freddy Garcia, then deal Jon Lieber to Milwaukee for Kevin Mench. However, the White Sox apparently wanted more and the Phillies weren't going to move Lieber without bringing in another starter.

However, rumor has it that the Crew has a handshake deal with the Orioles, Mench for Rod Lopez, if the O's do not sign OF Luis Gonzales.

12/06/2006 08:31:00 PM

(12/06/2006 01:31:00 PM) - Al

Miller Park is being used as a gigantic staging area for associates and families of Falk Industries, which had a huge explosion this morning, apparently.

Hopefully, no one was injured seriously.

12/06/2006 01:31:00 PM

(12/06/2006 11:47:00 AM) - Al

The Philadelphia Inquirer says a deal sending Jon Lieber to Milwaukee for Kevin Mench and Derrick Turnbow is in place, pending the result of the Phillies' negotiations with the White Sox. The Phillies might not make the trade unless they can get Freddy Garcia from the White Sox, probably using Aaron Rowand and Gavin Floyd. It's unclear whether that will work, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen isn't wild about the idea. "We have a center fielder right now," Guillen said. "I won't trade one of my pitchers one-for-one for Rowand right now. He's a good player, but we're not desperate for a center fielder. I love Aaron, but we need more.

I do like the trade as far as the Crew is concerned, but it looks like it's contingent on the White Sox/Phillies deal taking place.

12/06/2006 11:47:00 AM

(12/06/2006 11:07:00 AM) - Al

Mench and Turnbow for Jon Lieber is on the table, waiting for the Phillies to accept, according to Rotoworld.

I happen to feel this is a pretty fair trade both talent-wise and financially. I'd feel a bit better if PHIL would throw in a prospect, as Lieber is only signed through '07, but that's just the fan in me hoping the Crew gets the better of the deal.

I just had a would the Phillies' fans treat Turnbow if he continues to struggle? It pains me just to consider.

Here's a link for Lieber's last 3 years...he's old (my age), far from a star, but he's a mighty solid starting pitcher. He throws strikes, and has an outstanding K/BB ratio of about 3.75. One more thing to keep in mind, he pitched in Philly, which is a hitter's park. His road ERA last year was right around 4.50, about what you'd expect, and much lower than his overall ERA.

12/06/2006 11:07:00 AM

(12/06/2006 09:47:00 AM) - Al

The best recap I've found is this one at, though they leave out the whole Kevin Mench somewhere rumor.:)

12/06/2006 09:47:00 AM

(12/06/2006 09:41:00 AM) - Al

The award for "Most Rumors Mentioned In For a 24-Hour Period" goes to Kevin Mench, who's apparently being shopped all over the place by the Brewers. Early in the day there was some speculation that Mench was headed to the Phillies, but later several other teams were added in as possibilities. For a guy who isn't exactly a big name or a premium player, Mench got a lot of play in the media room Tuesday.--Aaron Gleeman

Lots of interest should equal more in return, of course. Let's hope.

12/06/2006 09:41:00 AM

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

(12/05/2006 08:17:00 PM) - Al

Adam M updates another day at the winter meetings.


"Maybe it's better to wait and find out where all of the free agent players are going," Melvin told a small group of reporters. "There's not as many clubs talking trades here as I thought."

That makes a lot of sense, as several teams are said to have interest in Jenkins...but only if they do not land Luis Gonzales and Trot Nixon.

Melvin is not in conversations with a single free agent, and he had only one face-to-face meeting before dinner on Tuesday, a sit-down with the Rangers. Texas may be considering Brady Clark as an option to play center field, but the Brewers are seeking starting pitching depth. Melvin doesn't see a match.

"I don't see anything coming out of that," he said.

Doug's sole focus, even before trading Davis, was to add starting pitching, and it still is, it would seem.

The Brewers and Phillies were at the center of one of the more lively rumors in the lobby at the Dolphin Hotel on Tuesday. Talk circulated earlier in the day that the teams were closing on a trade that would have included Phillies veteran starter Jon Lieber and Brewers outfielders Kevin Mench or Geoff Jenkins and possibly relievers Derrick Turnbow or Jose Capellan.

Again, is there something I'm missing here...that sure seems like a lot for a veteran SP who is far from cheap.

UPDATE: If Lieber is healthy, I'll take the risk. His career numbers are here, and before last year, this guy was very consistent and his K/BB ratio is still amazing.

Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash did chat with Phillies officials, including GM Pat Gillick, but Melvin dismissed talk of the deal as "an Internet rumor."

Melvin asked the Phillies if they had interest in Jenkins and/or Mench, and "Pat Gillick says no," Melvin said.

"No" right now. I think we're a backup plan.

Teams continued Tuesday to ask about Turnbow, who was an All-Star last season but struggled mightily in July and eventually lost the closer's role. Before the season started, he inked a three-year contract and is due about $6 million over the next two seasons. After that, Turnbow has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining.

"I think they all think we're the Brewers of [old] and we have to give him up because he's making $2-3 million and the Brewers are looking for salary relief," Melvin said. "That's not the case.

There are a couple of incredibly strange parts of that quote, and to me the part about Derrick really sucking and being owed $6M in '07-'08...and there's still tons of interest, is almost beyond belief. Doug seems a bit proud about the money, doesn't he?

"I wish we had a place to spend money," Melvin continued. "We have a little extra money, there's just no place to spend it. That's the frustrating part."

There will be plenty of opportunity to add payroll in trades. The season is still almost 5 months away.

The Brewers came to the meetings with two needs already met. They upgraded their offense behind the plate by acquiring catcher Johnny Estrada in a six-player trade with Arizona, and later signed veteran free agent Craig Counsell to serve as a utility infielder. The Brewers would still like to add pitching, preferably a starter, and they would like to add a center fielder.

Gabe Gross and Brady Clark can't feel like their future is real bright in Milwaukee, even though at the end of the day, I bet the braintrust wants those two to be the reserve OF's.

It has become clear to Melvin that he will have to fill his needs via trades because the asking prices of the available free agents are "off the charts," as he put it. Teams continued to wait Tuesday to see where marquee pitchers Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt will end up, and even the representative for free agent left-hander Ted Lilly drew an enormous media horde when he stopped in the lobby on Tuesday.

"Whenever there's a new labor deal, it seems like teams get excited about spending money," Melvin said. "We're fortunate that we did Estrada and got Counsell done before we got here. That was huge. If we didn't, we'd be scrambling.

"I thought that on the free agent market, there would have been some guys out there that were available. [Prices] have gone well beyond what we thought."

Me too.

• Melvin contacted Schmidt's agents before the meetings began to see if the right-hander would even consider an offer from Milwaukee. Melvin characterized the response from Randy and Alan Hendricks as lukewarm.

"I think this is how [agents] operate: They say, 'There's A and B where I want to be, and to go to C, D or E, I'd have to get the extra year or get more money.'"

The team faced the same dilemma last month with outfielder Dave Roberts, who preferred to stay on the West Coast and eventually signed with San Francisco. The Brewers also showed interest in Juan Pierre, but they were told that Milwaukee was not on Pierre's wish list. He eventually went to the Dodgers.

Thank goodness Pierre didn't want to play here, first of all, at least for the money he signed for in LA. Doug sounds like he did make an offer, though probably not for as much as Schmidt would need to play in the Midwest.

• The Orioles and Dodgers are among the teams that have inquired seriously about Mench, but both teams presumably prefer free agent Luis Gonzalez because they wouldn't have to give up a player to get him, Melvin said. Brewers and Orioles officials met on Monday, and Melvin expects the lines of communication to remain open.

To speak in poker terms, that's a pretty obvious tell on Doug's part. And, BAL would seem to have a surplus of bottom-of-the-rotation starters; Rod Lopez, Kris Benson being the most shopped.

• Melvin had contact Tuesday with representatives for free agent infielder Jeff Cirillo and planned to e-mail a one-year offer later in the day. Melvin insisted that there would be room on the '07 roster for Cirillo, Counsell and Tony Graffanino, a free agent who was offered arbitration last week. Cirillo, who is represented by Ken Felder, has also drawn interest from the Diamondbacks, Giants and Twins.

Hmmm. That is an interesting statement. Either Doug sees no problem going with only a single reserve OF because he feels he will eventually have 3 solid everyday OF's (Hart, Hall, and ???), or he is considering going with only 11 pitchers, which seems all but impossible considering the Crew carried 13 for a good portion of '06.

The only other thought that crosses my mind is Vinny Rottino is a possibility, but the only way that saves a roster spot is to have him as the 2nd string C, which also seems very unlikely.

• Melvin has directed his staff to predict potential non-tenders. Teams must decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players by Dec. 12, and Melvin pointed out that David Eckstein was non-tendered by the Angels a few years ago before signing a three-year contract with the Cardinals.

There are almost always many solid players that are non-tendered, even Dave Ortiz was ages ago. That said, with the salary scale this season, how can anyone except an injured or below average player not be offered arby this year?

• Melvin does not anticipate making a pick in the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, and one team asked whether the Brewers would be willing to trade their pick (seventh overall). The talent pool is considered thin this season because of changes in the new collective bargaining agreement that gave organizations an extra year before they have to protect Minor Leaguers on 40-man rosters.

I'd be shocked if they made a selection this year, as the talent pool is very watered down due to the CBA changes and the 25 man roster seems room for a position player if they have room for 3 IF's, and I don't see them using the "mop-up" man on a hard-throwing prospect, as Doug never mentions Dennis Sarfate as a potential reliever, and he's out of options.

12/05/2006 08:17:00 PM

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

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