Al's Ramblings



Tuesday, February 28, 2006

(2/28/2006 10:42:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching Murderball on A&E. It is a documentary about wheelchair rugby, which was actually referred to as murderball when it was invented.

I havd heard nothing but good things about the film, and even with the annoying bleeps as they edit out naughty words, it is a joy to watch. Not an ounce of pity envelopes a single character (everyone of these guys are 100 times better people than this idiot), and even the "villian", an American who now coaches the Canadian team is hardly a bad guy, just different.

No made up junk here, and no scenes with a guy telling half and quarter truths, then editing in himself running out of a bank with a gun not really given to him, but the viewer is told it is.

Just a wonderful movie.


2/28/2006 10:42:00 PM



(2/28/2006 08:11:00 PM) - Al

Lots of info on the Crew's intrasquad scrimmage today...for the diehards only, of course. Just scroll down.


2/28/2006 08:11:00 PM



(2/28/2006 07:28:00 PM) - Al

Yesterday, I received my first book from a publisher who wanted me, as a member of the internet, to read and review a book that is being released soon. DHL left The Last Nine Innings, by Charles Euchner, on my step, and I am about 50 pages in thus far. It chronicles a single game, Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Yankees/D'Backs.

I think if you are a fan of playoff baseball, you will really enjoy this book. Myself, I'm a Brewers' fan, and until they reach the postseason, I tend to watch one of the 75 other channels while doing other things in the evenings.

The one passage that I enjoyed thus far is the author discussing Derek Jeter's defense, or lack thereof. Money quotes:

Jeter finished near the bottom of all statistical measures for fielding among 21 major league shortstops who played in 2/3rd's of their teams' games...From 1998 to 2003, Jeter finished last among 18 shortstops who had played at least 500 games...in fact, (Jeter) does better than only two of the 102 shortstops who have played as many career innings.

Emphasis added by me, as I detail how poor a defender...the 2004 and 2005 AL Gold Glove winner is.

Every year, someone e-mails to ask me if I think Geoff Jenkins has a chance at a Gold Glove, and every year I write back and say I feel Geoff is above average, probably not worthy of a Gold Glove, but solid. Then, I ask how they got the idea Gold Gloves were given to the best defenders. The mere idea Jeter is considered for one is laughable.


2/28/2006 07:28:00 PM



(2/28/2006 12:19:00 PM) - Eric

John Walsh has an article up over at the Hardball Times rating the throwing arms of Major League outfielders. He first looks at play-by-play data in several situations where it is possible to take an extra base (i.e, when a runner is on first and a single is hit, the "extra base" would be going to third rather than stopping at second) and determines the league average of how often the runner is thrown out, held, or successfully advances. He then looks at the fielders to determine how much under or over the league average they were with respect to holding and throwing out runners. Going a step further, he assigns run values to the events, eventually coming up with a measure of the overall runs saved above the league-average performance. Of interest to Brewer fans is that Geoff Jenkins shows up as having saved the second most runs of any right fielder, and the third most per opportunity:

Top Right Field Arms by Runs Saved
Name Opps KR HldR Runs
Francoeur 86 265 105 5.5
Jenkins 158 159 103 3.6
Rios 145 115 117 2.6
Lane 137 84 124 2.5
Jones,J 122 103 114 2.4

Top Right Field Arms by Runs Saved per 200 Opps
Name Opps KR HldR Runs Runs/200 opss
Francoeur 86 265 105 5.5 12.8
Diaz 86 68 117 2.2 5.2
Jenkins 158 159 103 3.6 4.6
Jones,J 122 103 114 2.4 4.0
Rios 145 115 117 2.6 3.6


"KR" and "HldR" are merely percentages, namely the percent above league average the the fielder was in Kills and Holds, respectively. For instance, Jenkins has a 159 KR, meaning he killed 59% more baserunners than a league-average right fielder would have.


2/28/2006 12:19:00 PM



(2/28/2006 11:35:00 AM) - Eric

Hey, another Dan Fox link, although this one admittedly a bit less substantial. At the end of the article, the 2002 Brewers are listed in a table of the teams most conserative with regard to sending a runner from third in a sac fly situation; they held the runner almost 30% of the time.

What struck me as funny is that two of my most "outstanding" memories of that woeful year involve Eric Young getting thrown out; granted, not in sac fly situations, but still, you'd think caution in one area would indicate caution in another. Scroll down to the play-by-play in these two games and check out the first innings:

4/23/02 @ Montreal
7/2/02 @ Pittsburgh


In the Montreal game, Young led off with a triple and got thrown out at home going for the inside-the-park homer (and I can assure you, he was sent by the coach and was out by forty feet). In the Pittsburgh game, Young led off with a single and was "killed" at second by Brian Giles, then also made the third out of that inning. Typical Brewers.

The second game in particular was quite memorable, as I was in Pittsburgh at the time and attended. Both teams played quite sloppily but the Brewers ended up winning, making it a happy memory. If you read the PBP more closely, you'll notice that Young also made two outs in the eighth inning; I wonder how many times in MLB history a player has made two outs in an inning twice in a game? Also notable is Ruben Quevedo's hitting performance: 2-4 with 3 RBIs. He had four hits that entire year, and those were his only RBIs and 60% of his career total in that category.


2/28/2006 11:35:00 AM


Monday, February 27, 2006

(2/27/2006 09:43:00 PM) - Al

I'm certainly not one to tease someone about their weight, as I've been various stages of heavy most of my life. That said, tonight I'm watching GSN's High Stakes Poker, and every commercial break they have a promo for an upcoming show featuring Tonya Harding, former bad girl Olympic skater. Regardless of your views on Harding, I think it's safe to say she, at one time, was a very attractive, athletic young woman.

What's that old saying that every woman turns into her mother...I think Tonya may well look older than her mother. Wow.


2/27/2006 09:43:00 PM



(2/27/2006 09:06:00 PM) - Al

All right loyal readers, if you would like to match your skills against the Ramblings team, as well as a half-dozen other intelligent baseball fans, in a free fantasy league, pay attention. If not, move along, there's nothing to see here.

I created a free Yahoo league, and invited some of my favorite posters from Brewerfan.net, as well as my favorite Ramblings contributors, not to mention a pair of excellent writers from other blogs, Jeff from BrewCrewBall, and Seth from Seth Speaks. So, there's a dozen teams, and only 11 have been created...hmmm.

The live online draft is 3/20, 7PM Central time, standard 5x5, except OPS replaces BA. If you cannot be there, you can pre-rank your choices (I almost always do better in drafts I miss). So, shoot me an e-mail if you'd like to take part. I will not be taking gifts, it will just be the luck of the draw. Don't be intimidated, to be honest, I simply don't put in enough time or effort to do well in most circumstances, I usually finish near the midpoint. At least one of my co-contributors said the same thing, so if you are driven, you could probably finish top 3 or 4 just by trying hard. All I ask is that you stay active the entire season. I will pick a winner at random Thursday evening, so send in an e-mail if you would like to participate.


2/27/2006 09:06:00 PM



(2/27/2006 08:27:00 PM) - Al

The Crank with a piece which suggests pitching isn't any worse than ever, but the above average pitchers are pitching a lot less...meaning a team's mediocre and worse arms are pitching more.

One of the reasons I continually talk about taking pitches and working the count is because if you knock the SP out in the 6th, you will likely face a team's 8th-10th best pitcher until the 8th. Dan's research would indicate that's a very good thing.


2/27/2006 08:27:00 PM



(2/27/2006 06:53:00 PM) - Al

For the pitcher I just used .000/.000, which really isn't far from how the Brewers' pitchers usually hit.--Eric

Heh.


2/27/2006 06:53:00 PM



(2/27/2006 03:11:00 PM) - Robert R.

The WBC starts this week. And I guess I'm supposed to have strong feelings on it, one way or another. Curiously, I don't.

There's no doubt that this first tournament seems a bit thrown together at the last minute. Rosters still appear to be fluid, some of the best players aren't participating, and players haven't been in Spring Training long. It's not a formula for great baseball being played.

Still, I find myself curious to find out what exactly we're going to get. I suspect that the non-US countries are going to be very fired up to compete. Particularly the Asian teams and Cuba. And I'm particularly intrigued by the potential of the Dominican Republic and Venezuelan teams.

I think the best bet is just to learn from NBC's Olympic coverage and not write the story before the event happens and have to scramble when reality doesn't match expectations. This first event isn't going to be baseball's equivalent of the World Cup, but I'll withhold final judgement for awhile.


2/27/2006 03:11:00 PM



(2/27/2006 12:26:00 AM) - Eric

There's a fun new toy up over at Baseball Musings, a Lineup Optimizer

I plugged in the Brewers' PECOTA projections for the lineup of Clark, Hardy, Fielder, Lee, Jenkins, Weeks, Koskie, Miller, Pitcher. For the pitcher I just used .000/.000, which really isn't far from how the Brewers' pitchers usually hit.

According to the toy, the optimal order is:

Koskie
Lee
Jenkins
Weeks
Fielder
Miller
Clark
Hardy
Pitcher

That lineup is projected to create 4.299 runs per game.

Of course, that lineup isn't exactly likely to occur, so a more reasonable estimate of the team's productivity is the R/G of the lineup as I entered it, 4.267.

Now let's use a different projection system, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS, with the same lineup (Koskie's projection is here) and see what we get.

This time
, the expected lineup scores only 4.136 R/G, due to the fact that ZiPS is more bearish on Hardy, Weeks, Lee, and especially Koskie.

The .131 difference in R/G between the two projections is about 21 runs over the course of the year, so let's hope PECOTA knows what it's talking about.

Of course, this is an extremely simplistic way of looking at things; for one, Bill Hall isn't even taken into consideration, and if Koskie hits like ZiPS thinks he will, Hall's going to be the starting third basemen before long.

It's not the differences between the two projections that interest me most, but a similarity: both have Prince Fielder pegged with startling precision, given his dearth of Major League experience.


2/27/2006 12:26:00 AM


Sunday, February 26, 2006

(2/26/2006 09:11:00 PM) - Al

Another former GM might join the Crew, and talk of an extension with Turnbow at the official site.

I would hold off as far as Turnbow, myself. I prefer to go year-to-year with most pitchers, including those who have never had any success at all until last year.


2/26/2006 09:11:00 PM



(2/26/2006 12:16:00 PM) - Robert R.

NL Central Roundup - Early Spring Training Fluff Edition

Cubs:
Kerry Wood throws off mound and is in line for a return around early May. Aramis Ramirez won't play in the WBC. And various other goings on that won't amount to much on the field.

The Cubs need to stay healthy this year and that's the most important news to monitor.

Reds:

The Reds are saying a lot of roster spots are up for grabs. Particularly in the bullpen.

I don't know if this is truly an open competition for jobs or if the new GM is just getting a late state and is not throwing everything out at once. I do know that these "open competitions" seldom work out. Like in the late 90s and the Brewers had open competitions for 3 or 4 spots in the starting rotation every year. The Reds look like they have a collection of marginal major league talent on their pitching staff and it really won't matter if they throw 7 or 21 pitchers of that type at the wall to see who sticks.

Astros:

Not much new out of Astros camp. There's a feature on Craig Biggio who stands, remarkably, just 207 hits shy of 3,000. And the Jeff Bagwell injury/insurance saga is still smoldering. No news on Clemens who is probably the biggest key to the Astros making the playoffs again.

Pirates:

The Pirates deny anything major is going on, but Kip Wells is going to see a blood clot specialist. That's certainly not the usual routine for someone with routine arm fatigue. Unlike the Brewers, the Pirates actually appear to have some catching prospects that will get a chance this year.

The Pirates have some intriguing players, but they're surrounded by a lot of mediocrity. They really need everything to go right in their pitching staff if they want to break .500.

Edit: Confirmed later, but Kip Wells has complete blockage of an artery of his throwing arm. It's unlikely he'll be any factor this season.

Cardinals:

The Cardinals appear to be taking things normal as defending central champs. Their early season ticket sales have been very successful. Pujols in playing in the WBC. In actual news, there are three pitchers competing for the #5 spot, and all three appear to have some potential for success in that role. And Rick Ankiel is switching to first base.

The Cardinals are still the team to beat. Nothing in the press suggests otherwise.


2/26/2006 12:16:00 PM


Saturday, February 25, 2006

(2/25/2006 09:11:00 PM) - Al

"I never knew Dale (Sveum), but I knew Dale was good," said Yost. "I went to a Christmas party at Jeff Foxworthy's house (in Atlanta). (Boston catcher) Jason Varitek was there. I said, 'Hey, Jason.' He said, 'I'm (mad) at you.' I said, 'Why are you (mad) at me?' He said, 'You took the best coach I ever had away from me.' I felt really bad.--JS

That Ned, what a name dropper.


2/25/2006 09:11:00 PM



(2/25/2006 08:32:00 PM) - Al

Team officials said 71% of all sales came online

Kind of makes you wonder why folks bother standing in line for hours, huh? I just can't help but wonder why those with nothing better to do for 12-16 hours don't do some charitable work (or, heaven forbid, read a book) and then hop online at about 8:45 after a good night's sleep.


2/25/2006 08:32:00 PM



(2/25/2006 07:41:00 PM) - Al

An underground marijuana farm. Golly.

Just think what these guys could accomplish if they weren't smoking pot.:)


2/25/2006 07:41:00 PM



(2/25/2006 06:24:00 PM) - Al

As expected, the Crew breaks their single day ticket record, 94K in 8 hours.

UPDATE: Absolutely hilarious checking out the message boards tonight, as many fans cannot believe the Brewers didn't set aside tickets for them...because "they always go to Opening Day!!!"

If things go as planned friends, there may well be games sold out before single game seats ever go on sale next year or the year after that. Buy early and buy often.


2/25/2006 06:24:00 PM



(2/25/2006 03:05:00 PM) - Eric

The Brewers extended Yost's contract through 2008, with a club option for 2009.


2/25/2006 03:05:00 PM



(2/25/2006 02:39:00 PM) - Eric

Actually, the second group Hardy showed up in was those with the least rate of balls fouled off, not least swings and misses; the way the author led into that table was confusing.

I think that if Hardy hits anything like he did post-ASB last year (.308/.363/.503/.866), then he'll be fine as the #2 hitter. Looking beyond next year, I'd love to see Weeks leading off, sort of in the Rickey Henderson mold; however, depending on what happens with the somewhat-imminent departure of Carlos Lee and the development of Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz, the Brewers may be more inclined to sit Weeks' burdgeoning power in the middle of the order.

For this season, anyway, Hardy's low P/PA may at least help cut down on Brady Clark's disastrous base-stealing attempts.


2/25/2006 02:39:00 PM



(2/25/2006 11:09:00 AM) - Brett

There's an excellent article from a couple days ago up on Baseball Analysts that Dan Fox wrote. It's really all about pitches, who the most patient/least patient hitters are, etc. Check it out.

Anyhow, while reading the article, a name that pops up a couple times is that of J.J. Hardy. He shows up in the least swings at the first pitch, and least swings and misses. However, the thing that stood out to me the most was Hardy's low P/PA (pitches per plate appearance) of only 3.57. League average P/PA is 3.75. This reminded me of a "debate" that went on a while back in which people were trying to decide who should hit second. Most say Hardy should. However, if you couple Clark's low P/PA of 3.55 (as I referenced earlier) with Hardy's also below-average number, I'm not so sure if that's such a great idea. Hardy's never been what I would deem an extremely patient hitter, Huntsville in 2003 was his best, as he coaxed 58 BB in 416 AB. Other than that, he hasn't been particularly choosy. He has this reputation as the "ideal #2 hitter", though I'm not certain why.

Rickie Weeks, on the other hand, averaged a healthy 4.15 P/PA last year. He is known as a choosy hitter, and has displayed that trait every level up the ladder - college included. If you give Hardy and Weeks 650 PA each, Weeks sees an additional 377 pitches. I know that some don't care much for batting order and I don't really, either, but Weeks would likely see at least 80 more PA by hitting in the 2-hole as opposed to the 6th or 7th slot in the order. I don't know, but I think I want the superior hitter, Weeks, getting more PA than the inferior one in Hardy. Granted, it's probably only a couple run difference, but Weeks has the ability to beat his PECOTA projection (.267/.361/.462) this year and make that a little wider. He also has far more speed than Hardy does, which may play into Yost's hands if he decides he is in a "manufacturing" mood.

I think the more important thing here is the P/PA, if Clark wasn't leading off, maybe Hardy could hit second for me. However, I think there could be an awful lot of quick innings if those guys are hitting one and two. Maybe Weeks should leadoff and Hardy should hit second. I have a pretty good feeling that lineup scores more runs than one with Clark up top followed by Hardy while a superior hitter to both is buried hitting 6th or 7th. If the name of the game is scoring runs and avoiding outs, the guy who is best at those things should get more plate appearances than the guy who isn't.

This isn't meant to be a slam on Hardy, but I just don't see what makes him a "prototypical" #2 hitter. Hardy definitely is a better contact hitter, but I don't think the ability to hit grounders to the second baseman (which I think is commonly the criteria needed to become the "classic" number two hitter, along with being able to bunt) warrants knocking a superior hitter down the order.


2/25/2006 11:09:00 AM



(2/25/2006 10:30:00 AM) - Eric

Everyone knows that the Journal-Sentinel, and almost every other newspaper in America, sometimes reprints articles from bigger papers; for instance, the article on the front page of today's Sports section about skier Julia Mancuso, written by Tony Chamberlain from the Boston Globe. What I didn't know, and what you can't see unless you have the print version of the J-S, is that the reprinting paper, in this case at least, rewrites the headline:

"A day for flakes," the paper sneers, with the subheadline, "Mancuso beats snowstorm, her quirky ways to take gold."

Nothing like anonymously deriding a gold medalist in 48-point bold font to brighten up your mundane existence. Honestly, "beats her quirky ways"? Julia Mancuso must have a jilted ex-beau working at the J-S; that's the only way I can explain the venom contained in those headlines.


2/25/2006 10:30:00 AM



(2/25/2006 10:22:00 AM) - Eric

I've used Turbo Tax before and enjoyed its simplicity, but I just wanted to point something out. If you go to the IRS website, they'll link to you several services that allow you to file your federal return online for free, including Turbo Tax. With Turbo Tax, however, you still have to pay to file your state return, while the service I used this year, TaxSlayer, allows you to file both for free.


2/25/2006 10:22:00 AM



(2/25/2006 12:16:00 AM) - Al

Adam on the Brewers' site with news that Mike Adams will begin the campaign in AAA, barring injuries to other contenders. That actually makes sense, as they have generic vets (Justin Lehr, Kane Davis) who are out of options and should really get a chance before Adams.

Also, check out this quote from Ben Hendrickson:

"There were three different ways they were having me throw," Hendrickson said. "By the end of last spring I didn't know what was right and what was wrong."

It's always a bad sign when a player blames "they" for their problems. Ben is 25 years old, and had a 5 ERA in a league where Trent Durrington was an all-star. Gary Glover, who at best is a run-of-the-mill 5th starter, dominated the PCL with a 3 ERA.

Whenever a team has a solid minor league system, lists are made and you see a dozen or so youngsters labeled as very good "prospects", and you have to remind yourself that even though these 12 kids look good, some will get hurt, some will be ineffective, and only about half will make it.

Both Dave Krynzel and Ben Hendrickson may still have pretty good careers. Dave could easily be a reserve speed/defense OF, even though I doubt he'll ever hit a lick. I think Ben's big curveball is best suited for the bullpen, where you can get by with one plus pitch and one decent one setting it up. But when you examine the lists from 2003 and 2004, it's tough not to see the two as what could have beens rather than possible role players with low ceilings.


2/25/2006 12:16:00 AM



(2/25/2006 12:04:00 AM) - Al

The Crew announces that IF Brian Dallimore, who signed a minor league deal, has decided to retire.

Also, Jason Romano was signed to a minor league contract. Jason has decent AAA numbers in over 1000 AB's, about .350/.450...and adds yet another roadblock to Dave Krynzel ever spending a minute in Milwaukee.


2/25/2006 12:04:00 AM


Friday, February 24, 2006

(2/24/2006 08:39:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings of Al:

---I just did my 2005 taxes in less than 2 hours on TurboTax, quite possibly the greatest invention since raspberry pie. If you're using anyone else, or heaven forbid, still using paper returns, do a search for TurboTax and enjoy the rewards of living in the modern world.

---On a related note, I paid 5.00% "real" taxes this year, due to our high property taxes and interest paid. Whenever someone talks about saving me money by having me pay a flat tax of 12-18%, I always chuckle and ignore what else they have to say. I'm all for making taxes easier, but to be honest, it really cannot get any easier than TurboTax. Notice how private enterprise can come up with a way of doing taxes that is incredibly, mind-numbingly easy...and the government struggles to count the votes in Florida. It's no brainteaser, as the government has no incentive to come up with software this good...but private enterprise does...it's called profit.

---Tonight, we went to a place that just opened up in Stevens Point called Golden Corral. It's a buffet style place, and most folks just rave about it. They've only been open about a month or less, and this was our 2nd visit. Thus far at least, they have steak grilling every night, you just request how you would prefer yours be cooked, and they slice you a piece right in front of your eyes. Tonight was seafood night, as you would expect on a Friday, and that led to an even bigger crowd than we've seen prior.

I do not know who designed the layout of the place, but in my unprofessional opinion, it was quite possibly done as a practical joke, and no one realized it. Every single thing is very close to as poorly set-up as I can imagine. It starts just as you arrive (the line often snakes out the doors), as the first person you see asks you what you would like to drink. In our case, my wife requests a soft drink, the person behind the counter fills the glass and sets it on the tray. This continues for each person in your group. In our case, we've already been in contact with an employee 2-3 minutes by the time we even think about paying. I can only imagine how long it takes a party of 10 to get past this point...obviously, this leads to the long line out the door.

Despite how slow it is to get your beverages, the cashier rarely seems to be waiting for you. They ring you up, take your money, and you finally proceed...well, you try. See, the buffet is literally just feet from the register. It's always full of folks in line every which way, with staff rushing past both ways as well. It's a bottleneck worthy of stoplights and/or a traffic cop. You'll be happy to know that the exit door is right in this region as well, so folks in their winter coats are often in the mix.

So, after making it to your table, they bring you warm rolls, and your plates as well. Of course, most places just keep the plates up by the buffet, but that'd be too easy, of course. Needing a new plate for each trip, and having a 3 year-old, we asked for plates several times.

The way they set up the buffet is "tight", having a U shaped area in which there's barely room for two people back-to-back. The whole thing is just backwards, as there's a open area right by the grill, and that's where the line starts for the steak. However, this is supposed to be the end of the buffet, apparently, as if you go this way, the first item on the buffet is tarter sauce and cocktail sauce.

Tonight, every time either of us went to get food, there was a group of people, not buffet veterans I guess, that was literally just standing there, waiting for the jumbo shrimp to be refilled. Once, according to Mrs. Ramblings, a dozen guests were there, bunched together like hogs at the trough, in the U-shaped area. I'm not sure how these idiots found the restaurant, as they may be the stupidest human beings on the planet. Go sit down and eat, and in 20 minutes, when you go up again, the shrimp will be hot and waiting...trust me.

By the way, they do have plates by the desserts. I do not know how big they are, but look at your palm, and divide by 2, and you'll get a good idea. They are designed for a supermodel's sweets. Now, I understand the idea, the smaller the plate, the less stuff you can get. But, it is so ridiculous, every single person I saw had a regular size plate, all taking a sample of 4-5 different things, and clogging up that area as well. I'm sorry, but when you can't fit a square brownie and a round cookie on a single plate for your son, they're too small.

And yet, I'm not against going back. Simply put, $8 gets you steak, and whatever else you desire. You pay that for a combo meal at Hardee's. Sometimes, a company's negatives just doesn't outweigh what they give you for the price...one look at the world's largest retailer proves that.

---Wow, are the Bucks ever struggling as of late. They've been right in the game all 3 games I've watched this week, but they seem to just not have the "intangibles". They do not mesh well. The offensive players are not good defensive players. Magloire gets fouled all the time, yet can't hit foul shots.

Ironic story, I used to be an affiliate of a company called Dime Betting, I had an ad for them on the sidebar to the right. Apparently, a couple people signed up for sports betting accounts by clicking on the link, so I get a cut of that, and one day I received an e-mail saying I had $75 in my Dime Betting account. Giddily, I went over and tried to withdraw...but was unable to, as DB did not use Neteller, which is an online money moving company, many folks use them to play online poker, for example. So, my money sat there for a while, and one day, some message boards people were saying what a low over/under most sportsbooks had on the Bucks' wins for the year. I checked out DB, and it was somewhere in the 34.5-36 range, I can't recall exactly, but I saw the Bucks as a playoff caliber team, and probably an above .500 team, which would make them good for 44 victories or so. Seeing as how my money was "stuck", I figured I'd never see a better opportunity than this, so I put every penny on the Bucks over (hypothetically, of course).

While it still would appear to be a good bet (the team only has to win 8 or 9 games out of the 27 they have left), it no longer matters. One day, I got an e-mail that said Dime Betting was out of business, and my account had been transferred to 777, The Rock sportsbook. So, I went there and while my $75 is indeed there, my bet (hypothetically) no longer exists. It's like my bookie (hypothetically) got thrown in jail, and I have no way to collect.


2/24/2006 08:39:00 PM



(2/24/2006 11:09:00 AM) - Eric

More good news about Mike Jones.

"Today was the first day I saw loose life out of his arm," said Yost, who stood near home plate for Jones' session. "It was impressive to see. I was really glad to see that life was still there."

Jones said that he is on track to start the season at Class A Brevard County in the Florida State League, where large rosters will allow the team to keep him on a strict pitch count in 2006.


If you look at his stats, he certainly doesn't have the ceiling/stuff of Mark Rogers, but you can never have too many pitching prospects.

Speaking of Mr. Rogers, check out that G/F ratio; lots of groundballs plus a high K/9 usually equals a lot of success--think Carlos Zambrano. There's been some noise from the Brewers' minor league instructors saying that Rogers really started to put it together at the end of last year; if that's the case he might live up to being dubbed the 44th best prospect in all of baseball. Batters hit .238/.376/.385 off him last year, so if he just cuts down the walks, he could be in business.


2/24/2006 11:09:00 AM



(2/24/2006 10:13:00 AM) - Al

I have no inside info, of course, but I see Dana Eveland starting the '06 season in AAA as a starter.


2/24/2006 10:13:00 AM



(2/24/2006 10:09:00 AM) - Al

Hey, I'm a capitalist through and through...and even I'm offended a couple like Scott Posednik and Lisa Dergen feel the need to register for lavish crap.


2/24/2006 10:09:00 AM



(2/24/2006 09:31:00 AM) - Eric

The biggest thing I glean from that SI article is that Eveland is apparently no longer in the running for the fifth starter job:

The fifth spot in the rotation figures to come down to a spring training battle between veteran Rick Helling, who was impressive after a late-season call-up, and Dave Bush, picked up from Toronto in the Lyle Overbay trade.

Dana Eveland will likely be the top lefty out of the pen.

If that is the case, I don't disagree with the decision. Not that I'm comparing the two pitchers at all, but look at Johan Santana. Dominated in the pen for awhile before finally (belatedly, in some Twins fans' eyes) earning a full-time starting gig. Eveland was anything but dominating last year, especially late in the season; let's see if he can perform at all (Ben Hendrickson anyone?) in a less demanding role before handing him a starting job.


2/24/2006 09:31:00 AM



(2/24/2006 09:05:00 AM) - Al

Expectations are high for the first day of single game tickets, and I would expect the 90K record to fall by the wayside easily.


2/24/2006 09:05:00 AM


Thursday, February 23, 2006

(2/23/2006 08:50:00 PM) - Al

The Crank hits two things on the head today:

I have to feel sorry for the other US women's figure skaters, trying to compete for press first with Michelle Kwan and now with Emily Hughes. Maybe it's a New York thing, since Hughes is a local girl, but with her sister having won the last gold medal, she's definitely the media darling. And it's not just that: like her sister, Hughes is approachable, infectiously enthusiastic, and seems normal - she's even built like a normal teenager. Sasha Cohen, by contrast, is frighteningly thin and wound up tight as a drum, and her freakish flexibility (her signature move is standing on one leg with the other one pointing directly skyward, a standing split that few gynmasts could manage, let alone while spinning on ice) only makes her seem more inhuman. And pity the poor third girl on the team, who apparently is quite good but gets completely overlooked.

Emphasis added by me. She looks like Mary Kate (or is it Ashley?) stole her lunch every day. Apparently, she's changed coaches more than Paris Hilton has been prescribed antibiotics.

This morning in Midtown Manhattan I saw a guy apparently commuting to work on a unicycle. I guess now I've officially seen it all. This was the best one since I was in Cambridge, Mass. and saw a bearded academic-looking type (complete with corduroy jacket with patched elbows) riding a bicycle while smoking a pipe.

There was a professor at Eau Claire that biked from home every day, and often rode past us off-campus folks as we walked from the free street parking (in the area commonly known as "The 3rd Ward" in EC). He would ride by on the sidewalk, usually saying "Excuse me" 2-3 seconds too late to do any good. He was a classic nerd; long, unkept beard, wore jackets just as described above, and just to ensure he would never attract a woman, tucked his pants into his socks (I assume for safety's sake, so his pants would not get caught in the chain), yet he often walked around campus like that, still tucked.


2/23/2006 08:50:00 PM



(2/23/2006 07:15:00 PM) - Al

SI with a preview everyone's favorite 'sleeper" team.

Once again, I wonder how many people have to say you're underrated beefore you're not anymore.


2/23/2006 07:15:00 PM



(2/23/2006 10:14:00 AM) - Eric

An article I missed from about a week ago reports on the status of Rickie Weeks, Mike Jones, and Manny Parra. Weeks is "completely recovered" from his thumb injury, Jones is throwing off the mound again after two recent shoulder surgeries, and Parra is still shut down after his shoulder surgery. Despite the fact that multiple shoulder operations sound like the kiss of death for a pitcher, Jones' labrum was reported to be fully intact, so his is about the best-case scenario under the circumstances.

"Tom H," as Al likes to call him in anonymous-mob-witness style, checks in with some notes from camp today, indicating that Jones is still doing well and Parra is still shut down.


2/23/2006 10:14:00 AM



(2/23/2006 09:45:00 AM) - Eric

Another blow to the credibility of the WBC: no Major League umps.

Also, David Dellucci passed on playing for the Italian team. Dellucci was surprisingly good last year--check out his stats. "Ah, but he played for Texas!" you say? Take a closer look at those home/road splits.


2/23/2006 09:45:00 AM


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

(2/22/2006 11:20:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers announce their 2006 promo schedule, 53 of the 81 games have some type of promotion.


2/22/2006 11:20:00 PM



(2/22/2006 04:57:00 PM) - Eric

A couple of relatively amusing baseball articles from the Onion:

Gretzky: 'I Never Bet On Baseball'

Alex Rodriguez Pulls Out Of World Baseball Classic Because Everyone Else Is Doing It

The latter is interesting because it captures the public's opinion of both the WBC and A-Rod, those being "snooze" and "tool," respectively.

Neither, of course, touch this, the greatest Onion baseball article of all time.

"Antonio has been through a lot this season, including some elbow problems and a trip to the DL," manager Jack McKeon said. "But in the end, he just went out there and had a lot of fingers."


2/22/2006 04:57:00 PM



(2/22/2006 10:54:00 AM) - Al

What a joy it is to see 8 true Midwestern folks win the Powerball jackpot.

One of the gents, when asked if he was still working:

Nope. I been retired for 'bout 4 days.

Looks like a couple of the winners immigrated from overseas, the guy who bought the ticket is originally from Vietnam. Truly the land of opportunity.

On my drive to Chicago last Thursday, I stopped in Rockford to fill up on gas. A truck driver ahead of me asked if he could buy lottery tickets for the "$300 million" one. The two ladies working both shook their heads and said that must be the Wisconsin one, as Mega Millions was at $145M. The driver shook his head in the negative and shook his head no, and made a sound like, "aaaaahhh", and walked past me.

I guess $145M isn't even worth winning.:)


2/22/2006 10:54:00 AM


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

(2/21/2006 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Adam goes over how many times Dave Krynzel made stupid decisions...I lost track at 7.

Many folks have said Dave is "just a kid", but the article states he is 24...I know many guys who have families, a business, and a house at 24.

With Nelson Cruz being tried in CF this year, Tony Gwynn Jr. in AAA this season, Corey Hart not doing poorly in CF last year during his callup, and many predicting Ryan Braun will end up in the OF before he gets to the majors; Dave's future in Milwaukee would seem to be a bit murky, to say the least.

That said, I will officially make Krynzel my most likely player to be traded at the deadline, especially if the Crew is in some sort of contention at the end of July. Dave's ceiling may well be as a 5th OF, a PR/defensive sub type, as he has never shown he can hit anything above AA pitching.


2/21/2006 09:14:00 PM



(2/21/2006 06:42:00 PM) - Eric

I stumbled across something I didn't know about Milwaukee's Major League past; I was aware the Orioles had their roots in Milwaukee, but I had no idea that every time I drove west on North Avenue I was driving right past the ghost of an old ballpark.


2/21/2006 06:42:00 PM



(2/21/2006 06:31:00 PM) - Eric

More on Bygone Sports:

This is how they're capitalizing on their trademark. That's it. One lame shirt. Not even any hats.

I think in this case, it's easy to root for the corporate monolith.


2/21/2006 06:31:00 PM



(2/21/2006 03:41:00 PM) - Al

This would seem to be as close to extortion as the press has ever reported.

Money quote:

Neither baseball nor Bygone Sports dispute that the company raised its asking price for the rights from $130,000 to $1.5 million. Bygone Sports also asked for four tickets to the Nationals' opener last season and a $10,000 advertising credit on MLB.com.

Translation: Bygone Sports feels the need to make a huge windfall is worth far more than their respect or trust. If your word or a handshake is not as good as a signed deal, your company isn't worth a penny.


2/21/2006 03:41:00 PM



(2/21/2006 03:17:00 PM) - Al

Al,

First of all, love the blog, great content kept fresh and focused.

I am a curler here in Milwaukee and am glad you are enjoying watching the sport in the olympics. I question your remarks about about the fact that the teams are from Bemidji and wouldn't it be better to just have the best curlers vs. the best team. The fact that they are both from Bemidji is not surprising Minnesota and Wisconsin are the two top curling states by far. With a couple of different shots the teams could have both been Madison based.

The best curlers vs the best team issue is sticky. Great Britain's (essentially Scotland as there is almost no curling in England) used the best curler idea taking 10 of each sex and having a coach pick. The Men are doing fine but it is essentially the same team that was together at last year's worlds and the women started strong then faltered. The problem with this method is the amount of teamwork involved is immense. Each shot requires snap judgements on weight(velocity) and direction. The sweepers, the thrower and skip all work together the entire shot to get the rocks where they need to be. An all-star team would win against most teams but wouldn't beat great teams consistently because it takes hundreds of games to develop the on-ice communication to be great. Not that they couldn't learn that but when you add to that the sheer amount of time you spend with your 3 teammates and personalitites simply cannot clash. You can dislike someone on a baseball team, you've got a 23 man buffer. There's only 4 with curling so you must get along. One thing that may be the U.S.'s Men's team undoing is the aloofness of the skip and the goofiness of the lead. Against most teams it doesn't matter but under the light of the medal round, it might show up in a tough spot.

Thanks for reading, I feel I owe you some words.

Jay



Jay, thanks for the kind words and for writing. I guess I wonder how the "communication" can be so vital, because in the end, someone (I assume the skip or the person making the shot) has the final say anyway, but I will defer to your experience. Thanks for explaining more about the selection of the team.

I guess my feeling is that curling is a skillful event, but I question its Olympic status, as I would bowling, golf, and other things I would call "games". That's not to say that it isn't a good activity, or a great hobby.


2/21/2006 03:17:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:58:00 PM) - Al

Roving minor-league instructor Charlie Greene is working with catchers in the Brewers' camp.

Charlie Greene was one of the best defensive catchers I've ever seen, and you have to be to make the big leagues when you hit like he did.

Greene was so good behind the plate, Bob Wickman insisted he come in when Bob came in to save a game in the 9th inning. Hopefully, Greene can get the Crew's two good catching prospects, Lou Palmisano and Angel Salome, at least up to the mediocre level if they are able to work their way up to the majors.


2/21/2006 02:58:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:54:00 PM) - Al

3K of the 4 packs have been sold, and the field level picnic area is sold out for all 81 games, according to Don Walker of the JS.


2/21/2006 02:54:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:49:00 PM) - Al

Talks continue with Bill Hall on a contract extension.

I would like to see Hall locked up to give him more trade value myself. Right now, and in the future, if things go as we hope, Bill has a lot more value as a SS elsewhere than he does as a super-utility guy for the Crew. And, if Weeks happens to move to the OF, opening a spot for Hall, having his salary set in stone is a positive as well.


2/21/2006 02:49:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:46:00 PM) - Al

Adam's weekly mailbag can be found here as well. Zach Sorenson appears to be the official "sleeper" pick to nake the 25 man, but if the Crew keeps 12 pitchers, I would say the bench is full.

Moeller
Hall
Cirillo
Gross
Hart


2/21/2006 02:46:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:40:00 PM) - Al

Brewers position players are not required to report to camp until Saturday. All but outfielders Nelson Cruz, Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee, and infielders Brian Dallimore and Hernan Iribarren already are there.


Allow me to guess that at least a couple of the Cruz/Lee/Iribarren group will have "visa problems" and report late. That's as predictable as it gets.

Adam has more news from Arizona, including Hart and Hardy adding muscle this offseason, at the official site.


2/21/2006 02:40:00 PM



(2/21/2006 02:03:00 PM) - Al

I got an e-mail today from a Brewers' ticket rep saying they do (kind of) have a 9 game "pick your own" ticket plan. I guess if you are in doubt, the best thing you can do is send them an e-mail and see if they can tailor a package for you.

Also, I got this from a regular reader, it involves a very intense study trying to show whether "clutch" actually exists. As with the study Musings posted last Summer, the answer seems to be "not really".


More than 20 years ago, Pete Palmer contributed what I think was one
of the best statistical analysis efforts ever done. The results were
published in an article entitled "Do Clutch Pitchers Exist?" in SABR's
Spring, 1985 NATIONAL PASTIME. Pete examined the 529 pitchers with at least
150 decisions between 1900-83, accounting for how many runs each pitcher
allowed, how many were scored on his behalf, and what his career won-lost
record "should" have been based on that data. He was searching for "clutch"
pitchers: men who won significantly more games than they should have,
because of some unusual ability to pitch to the score and emerge victorious
in the close games.

What Pete found is that most pitchers wound up with about as many
wins as they should have, with variations within the rules of random chance.
In other words, if you win more games than expected, you're lucky, and if
you win fewer, you're unlucky. His conclusion: "clutch pitchers do not
exist."

Pete has updated and fine-tuned his research since then, and
graciously permitted me to share some of the new results. His current study
includes all pitchers with at least 200 starts and 200 decisions between
1876-2005. Using Retrosheet data, he was able to use exact scoring figures,
rather than the estimates used in the 1985 article. Nevertheless, the
results were very similar and produce the same conclusions. Here are some
highlights:

* Of 496 pitchers in the study, 99 (20%) came within ONE WIN of
projection. Only four pitchers were more than 15 wins off projection.

* The two luckiest pitchers were both named Welch: Mickey (+20) and
Bob (+17). The unluckiest, by far, was Red Ruffing (-24).

* Several pitchers might have made the Hall of Fame, or at least
become more serious candidates, had they only matched their projected
records. They include Bert Blyleven (287-250 to 299-238; I think somehow he
would've managed one more victory), Carl Mays (208-126 to 217-117), Jim
McCormick (265-214 to 280-229), and Billy Pierce (211-169 to 218-162). Ed
Cicotte (209-148 to 219-138) would also have improved his credentials,
though he's not eligible.

* On the other hand, Rube Marquard (201-177 to 195-183), Early Wynn
(300-244 to 297-247), Happy Jack Chesbro (198-132 to 187-143), and Smiling
Mickey Welch (307-210 to 287-230) might not be as Happy or Smiling any more,
on the outside of Cooperstown looking in. I don't think as many people
would be touting Jack Morris (254-186 to 243-197) for the Hall, either.


2/21/2006 02:03:00 PM


Monday, February 20, 2006

(2/20/2006 08:22:00 PM) - Al

I have also watched some curling, though I admit I find it strange it's in the Olympics...it seems like a game of recreation, not of gold medals. I'm also shocked that the best players miss so often, just today, the US women gave up 4 points in a single "end", which is similiar to giving up 7-8 runs in a single inning of baseball...it doesn't happen without a complete disaster by the team giving up the points/runs. Unless I missed something, I'm also at a loss that both the men's and women's teams are from Bemidji, MN. I would think the curling federation would want the 4 best curlers they can find, rather than the best "team". While there is some teamwork involved, it's nothing good shotmaking wouldn't beat.

As for the Crew, I do like seeing them be much more aggressive than in year's past, coming up with packages to appeal to the masses. Milwaukee, much like other teams, have had a reputation that you can always get good seats (in many cases, excellent seats) the day of the game...so why buy ahead? Not only does the team get guaranteed sales, as well as more float on the cash, but as time goes on, popular games will sell out, which is good for a couple reasons; it makes fans buy seats to other games, and it gets them in the mindset that they have to buy their tickets early.

This is one area that Mark A has really helped. The Seligs marketing plan was always done on the cheap, in fact, the agency that did the club's ads said they were "paid" mostly in comp tickets that they wined and dined other clients with. I've got a couple mailings already this year, and I usually only attend 5-7 games a season.

The only thing I keep hoping for is a 9 game "pick your own" pack, even if it only meant you could buy a single game of playoff tickets.


2/20/2006 08:22:00 PM



(2/20/2006 04:37:00 PM) - Eric

Speaking of the Brewers' rivalries with Chicago and St. Louis, the Brewers today announced a promotion geared toward evening the crowd out a bit when the Cubs and Cardinals come to town.

"The first 3,000 fans purchasing tickets at the Miller Park box office Saturday will receive a 'Take back Miller Park' T-shirt, a hot dog, Pepsi and chips, courtesy of Klement's Sausage, Pepsi Co., and WTMJ-AM (620) radio. In addition, Miller Brewing Co. and Midwest Airlines have donated items to be raffled during the event."

Though I really don't pay much attention to what the crowd is doing at games, generally reserving standing and shouting for something truly heroic, I do find it disheartening when the crowd at Miller Park is actually cheering for an Albert Pujols homer or a Carlos Zambrano strikeout. Hopefully, this promotion will get the balance to at least 50/50.

It's nice to know that the FO cares not only about people spending money, but about which people are spending that money.


2/20/2006 04:37:00 PM



(2/20/2006 03:59:00 PM) - Jason

I have to admit, I have enjoyed watching the first week-plus of the Winter Olympics. NBC has done a decent job of coverage, explaining the events pretty well and covering those athletes considered to be the "favorites" in their respective sports. They have also employed a number of very good analysts for each sport who have explained in great detail what was good/bad/otherwise about each athletes performance.

Believe it or not, but one sport I have been quite impressed with and have watched whenever I can is curling. I admit, I knew very little about curling before the Olympics, but there is usually a curling match on about the time I am getting up in the morning and when I am getting home in the afternoon...so it has been convienient for me to watch a match when it is on. I am amazed at the astounding level of thought and strategy that goes into a curling match, and now know why it is commonly called "chess on ice". Players often have to think 1-2 shots ahead of where they are in a specific end (or inning) of a match in order to gain the maximum amount of points. Likewise, unlike other sports, curlers have to be good at everything, as all four players of a curling team at some point shoot, sweep, and call shots for their respective clubs. In short, it is the "thinking man's" winter Olympic game.


2/20/2006 03:59:00 PM


Sunday, February 19, 2006

(2/19/2006 07:23:00 PM) - Al

With the Brewers' new rivalries with the Cubs, and the Cardinals one is growing annually, I doubt they have any interest in changing leagues. That said, I don't see contraction as happening, at least I hope not. I do, however, think the owners will use the threat of 50 jobs to induce concessions from the players.

On an unrelated note, Barry Bonds says he's done after the '06 season. I doubt it, unless his knees are a lot worse than we've been told. I also have just assumed Barry would DH a couple years after his SF contract ended. I am in the minority, but I hope he hangs on and finishes with 800+ HR's.


2/19/2006 07:23:00 PM



(2/19/2006 03:58:00 PM) - Eric

Eric here, first-time blogger, long-time reader. Thanks to Al for the chance to contribute to his site.

As my first post, I'll link you guys to an enjoyable, relatively fluffy piece: a prediction of Prince Fielder's career by John Sickels.

As I posted over on Sickels' site, I really don't think it will take Prince until his fourth full year to crack 60 walks. Al also points out another possible flaw:

"The thing I notice is how sinfully low his doubles are, even if he turns into a 275 pound plodder. With his power, I doubt he ever finishes with under 30 2B's, never mind 19 with 35+ HR's."

Al brings up the subject of Prince's weight; notice that Sickels predicts Prince's reign of terror will be over by age 35. Uncoincidentally, Cecil Fielder was also washed up by age 35, due in no small part to his continental girth.

You can find another worrisome take on Prince's weight over at Baseball Prospectus; the article is subscriber-only, but you can read a preview that includes the following:

"What may or may not be surprising is that PECOTA [BP's projection system] also identifies a fair amount of risk in Fielder...Much of that, needless to say, is because of his body type. You’ll see the adverb 'surprisingly' a lot in connection with Fielder ('a surprisingly good athlete,' 'surprisingly nimble around the bag'), but the fact remains that we’re in uncharted territory when it comes to a prospect with this combination of bat and braun [sic]."

His weight is all the more relevant because of the Brewers' position in the NL, i.e. no DH. We'll see how long both his conditioning and knees hold up, because when they go, a trade to the AL will obviously be required. Of course, if the rumblings about contraction turn out to have some substance to them, the Brewers may well find themselves back in the AL.


2/19/2006 03:58:00 PM



(2/19/2006 01:52:00 PM) - Al

The Crank linked to this, and I'm happy to do so as well. It is difficult to comprehend the extreme ignorance of this group, as I find it tough to believe people this stupid manage to find the campus.

It's well known that college students today aren't as educated in our nation's history as they should be, but it's still hard to grasp the mind-bending political correctness just displayed by the University of Washington's student senate at its campus in Seattle.

The issue before the Senate this month was a proposed memorial to World War II combat pilot Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a 1933 engineering graduate of the university, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service commanding the famed "Black Sheep" squadron in the Pacific. The student senate rejected the memorial because "a Marine" is not "an example of the sort of person UW wants to produce."

Digging themselves in deeper, the student opponents of the memorial indicated: "We don't need to honor any more rich white males." Other opponents compared Boyington's actions during World War II with murder.

"I am absolutely bewildered that the Student Senate voted down the resolution," Brent Ludeman, the president of the UW College Republicans, told me. He noted that despite the deficiencies of the UW History Department, the complete ignorance of Boyington's history and reputation by the student body was hard to fathom. After all, "Black Sheep Squadron," a 1970s television show portraying Colonel Boyington's heroism as a pilot and Japanese prisoner of war, still airs frequently on the History Channel. Apparently, though, it's an unusual UW student who'd be willing to learn any U.S. history even if it's spoonfed to him by TV.

As for the sin of honoring a rich white male, Mr. Ludeman points out that Boyington (who died in 1988) was neither rich nor white. He happened to be a Sioux Indian, who wound up raising his three children as a single parent. "Colonel Boyington is luckily not around to see how ignorant students at his alma mater can be today," says Kirby Wilbur, a morning talk show host at Seattle's KVI Radio. Perhaps the trustees and alumni of the school will now help educate them.



The leaders of tomorrow, huh?

Oof.


2/19/2006 01:52:00 PM



(2/19/2006 01:08:00 PM) - Al

Minor league guru John Sickles rates the top 20 of the Crew...his comment that they have many players he views as "prospects" he did not have room for says a lot about the vast depth the system offers, as names like Krynzel and Gwynn didn't even make his list.

Hat tip to Eric for the link, and allow me to welcome him as a contributor to Ramblings. Eric has been helping us out with Brewers' news for a long time, and now he'll be able to do it directly.


2/19/2006 01:08:00 PM



(2/19/2006 11:57:00 AM) - Al

Tom H checks in with a generic article he might have written the day after last season ended, then added the names of the acquired players. Talk about phoning it in.


2/19/2006 11:57:00 AM



(2/19/2006 11:51:00 AM) - Al

Drew's notes include no new additions to the Walk of Fame, and Brad Nelson has lost some weight.


2/19/2006 11:51:00 AM


Thursday, February 16, 2006

(2/16/2006 12:30:00 AM) - Al

Well, I guess I'll be headed to the Chicago area tomorrow for a meeting...kind of a poor day for the entire state to be hit by a monster snow storm, huh?

I'll be unlikely to add any new content until late Friday or Saturday.


2/16/2006 12:30:00 AM



(2/16/2006 12:06:00 AM) - Al

If only this was what really happened. Very funny though.


2/16/2006 12:06:00 AM


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

(2/15/2006 11:56:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching the Badgers game on PBS right now, Jason.

You just cannot say enough about the job Bo Ryan has done with this team, though I am in the minority when I say I think losing the two reserves has been overstated by most. Losing them hurt, as it made Bronson and Gullickson members of the rotation, but Gullickson has been incredibly solid, and Bronson has showed he can contribute a few minutes as well.

This is just such a young team, with little outside shooting, and for that matter, little offense besides Taylor and Tucker...but as has been the case with buckets in Madison the past decade...the sum of the parts always seems far greater than the individual talent.


2/15/2006 11:56:00 PM



(2/15/2006 11:35:00 PM) - Jason

Very nice come-from-behind win for Wisconsin earlier tonight, against a very good Ohio State team. The Badgers trailed by 9 at half and did not look good at all, but came out like gangbusters at the start of the second half and just simply outplayed OSU on both ends of the floor to earn the hard-fought victory.

After a midseason "lull", which not coincidentally fell during the same time key bench players Greg Stiemsma and Marcus Landry were declared ineligible for the rest of the season, UW looks to have fully recovered and regained the form that made them a top-15 team earlier in the season.

Bo Ryan has clearly laid the success or failure of this team at the feet of Alando Tucker and Brian Butch, and has probably told both of them that. UW's recent surge is due mostly to the outstanding play of those two, and Brian Butch looks like he is finally finding out just how good he can be. Tucker had 27 points and 16 rebounds tonight, and Butch had 17 points and nailed 3 3-pointers.

If I recall correctly, tonights victory gives Wisconsin 8 wins over top-50 RPI ranked opponents...thats about as impressive of a NCAA tourney resume as you will find for any team not currently ranked in either Top 25 poll. Right now, I do think UW falls in that 25-30 category in the rankings, but as I have said here before, this team has plenty of room to improve, as many of the key players on this team are underclassmen.


2/15/2006 11:35:00 PM



(2/15/2006 10:10:00 PM) - Al

Tomo Ohka avoids arby, 1y/$4.5M.

I'm still wondering how we got him for Spivey, myself.


2/15/2006 10:10:00 PM


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

(2/14/2006 08:23:00 PM) - Al

We visited Appleton today, as we were referred there by our local vet. About 2 weeks ago, we noticed our cocker spaniel Ronnie had a "cloudy" eye. They tested and diagnosed he had glaucoma. So, he was prescribed drops and we made an appointment with an opthamoligist.

Luckily for us, the visit today was the best case scenario. The specialist could not find anything wrong with our pooch's eyes at all, he guessed a simple operator error when giving the original glaucoma test had led to a high reading. He even showed us how if you hold Ron's head still by pushing pressure above his eye, his "12" reading turned into a "28" in seconds. Even the cloudy look is gone, probably caused by a minor infection or injury, and taken care of quickly by one of the drops, a combo antibiotic/steroid.

As is usually the case, we visited Toys R Us while there...I had forgotten what a ghost town it is there in February. I spent several years with TRU and have seen them slowly lose their way for the past decade, though some of it is just bad luck...as kids don't play with "toys" the way they once did, many moving onto video games and such at 10-12. Granted, there was nothing stopping Toys from seeing this and making necessary changes...those who have worked there are chuckling right now, trust me.:) This is the company who hired a consulting firm, listened to them say that Toys did everything ineffectively, even saying that when corporate sent down direction to do something that would take an hour, it took stores 10. After this news, Toys said they would completely change what they did and how they did it...and they did. A few months later, they fired the consultants, and continued down the path of losing market share.

So, today's visit was like no other...kind of a Big Lots feel to it. I am a fan of Big Lots, by the way, as they are probably the best closeout retailer in existence. But, because of the nature of the business, they tend to have a lot of empty shelves, often entire aisles/counters. Toys looked to have entire sections of emptiness, and many others were obviously "faked" or "flexed" with whatever big merch they could find just to fill space.

The failed final decisions of their days as a public company were prominant as well, the old picture studio was now used for fixtures, and clearance merch "displayed" in carts, another room up front was being used as a break room I guess. My wife and I also both mentioned that this was one of the stores they did a huge remodel on just a couple summers ago, which cost several millions of dollars, and they've literally tore it to shreds in no time.

Supposedly, the investors who purchased TRU and took it private are probably more interested in the real estate than anything else...I have seen nothing to show me otherwise. How quickly you can go from a top ten retailer to a memory.


2/14/2006 08:23:00 PM



(2/14/2006 07:41:00 PM) - Al

Drew Olson had a chat today. Not much to report, though this is not a newsy time of the year, to say the least.


2/14/2006 07:41:00 PM


Monday, February 13, 2006

(2/13/2006 11:19:00 PM) - Al

Jay Leno has Tom Green working for him in Italy...it is literally the first time I have seen or heard from Green, the least funny human being in the history of time, since he divorced Drew Barrymore (or vice versa, which I would think is the far more likely scenario).


2/13/2006 11:19:00 PM



(2/13/2006 11:01:00 PM) - Al

I've received more suggestions about my RUTT choices now than I got before I posted my picks.

My decision to go with Sean Burroughs at 3B seems to be the most questioned, and with good reason...he simply had a very poor 2005. However, Sean is still just 25, and even though he is not my classic "walks-a-lot" type of hitter, but he is a young man who hit about .285 every year until '05, and had a solid OBP as well. Power develops later for most individuals, and I have to imagine Sean developed his slap-hitting style in part because he was rushed to the majors. I guess time will tell.

I originally had Freddy Sanchez at 3B with Estaban German at 2B, but made the switch as I was typing it up. I just thought that Burroughs' ceiling was incredibly high, and how upset I would be if Sean did indeed return to form.


2/13/2006 11:01:00 PM



(2/13/2006 10:53:00 PM) - Al

Adam with his weekly mailbag. Kudos to the best voice we have among all Brewers' reporters...including those who work for the big city daily.


2/13/2006 10:53:00 PM



(2/13/2006 10:37:00 PM) - Al

Actually Jason, I worry more about Teddy Kennedy when he's sober.

Personally, I can't believe the irony that he sits on the judicial committee. It's like they put me in charge of making sure no one eats any pie before the auction.


2/13/2006 10:37:00 PM



(2/13/2006 01:16:00 PM) - Jason

The media in this country never ceases to amaze me.

The uproar today among media journalists is that they were not IMMEDIATELY notified of VP Cheney's hunting accident where he accidentally shot a man. The incident happened on Saturday, but was not reported until Sunday.

This story is an example of how the national media has totally melted down in this country. Instead of actually REPORTING the news, the media feels that THEY are the news.

Its newsworthy that the VP was involved in a hunting accident. However, the other person involved was not seriously injured, and neither was the VP. Was it really THAT important that the media be informed? Is it really such a bad thing that the story was not put out until Sunday morning, by the family of the person hurt?

I seem to recall a certain Senator from Massachusetts a few years ago driving off a bridge into a river, but he didnt notify police until the next day. Oh yeah, the lady riding with him died too. I wonder how mad the news media was after that? Not much, I'll bet.


2/13/2006 01:16:00 PM


Sunday, February 12, 2006

(2/12/2006 02:51:00 PM) - Al

2006 Ramblings Underutilized Talent Team

C--Gerald Laird

Laird is 26, and is said to be a very good defensive catcher. While he has had limited time in the big leagues, he has prospered versus AAA arms, to a .356/.482 clip. With a projected dropoff to .320/.405, that is still better than Joe Mediocre Catcher did.

Laird--.320/.405, 725 OPS, 130 OXS
Ave C--.318/.389, 707, 124

1B--Hee Seop Choi

Proof that OBP is still not respected by many in the majors. Choi has had a fine career and is just hitting his peak at 27...and will watch as the Dodgers run a SS out to play 1B. The pain, I can't stand the pain. Choi will never be a superstar, but he's a solid choice to play 1B, and may well still be getting better.

Choi, career--.349/.437, 787, 153
Ave 1B--------.357/.471, 828, 168

2B--Freddy Sanchez

Much like his DP partner, Sanchez is coming off his best campaign (.336/.400), and will be rewarded by being a top utility guy. A former top prospect for the Red Sox, just consider it like picking up a $750 puppy at the shelter a couple years later. At 28, his ceiling is limited, but he'd be a nice addition to many teams.

Sanchez, career--.322/.377, 699, 121
Average 2B, '05--.337/.412, 749, 139


SS---Bill Hall

To quote Ramblings' contributor Robert, when he nominated Mr. Hall, "there isn't another answer to this". While many gave up on Hall, any SS that can be potentially not suck on offense deserves every chance. Still just 26, Bill would likely be a top ten SS playing daily. May never shine as brightly as former RUTT member David Ortiz, but he'll sign at least one huge contract in his career.

3B---Sean Burroughs

Going off on my own here, as no one mentioned Sean. Sean is a good OBP man, and though he has never hit for much power, that often develops later, especially in players rushed to the majors. His career numbers are not spectacular, but this is more of a "hunch" pick than most, as I expect him to improve.

Burroughs--.340/.360, 700, 122
Ave 3B-----.338/.432, 770, 146

LF---Matt Diaz

I had never heard of Diaz, but after being nominated by a pair of e-mails, Diaz is a perfect fit for RUTT. 28 and a bit weak in the field, the guy can flat out hit, posting a spectacular .386/.577 in AAA, again, in the offense happy PCL. However, it wasn't too long ago Jason Lane graced the RUTT team and many told me he was just a 4A player. I'd project him as a .340/.465 guy...plenty good enough to contribute.

Diaz---.340/.465, 805, 158
Ave LF-.344/.443, 787, 152

CF---Lew Ford

Allow me to say that like Ortiz, when the Twins place a player on RUTT, I just don't get it. Lew Ford is every bit as good as Torri Hunter offensively, yet the Twinkies choose to pay Torri $10M rather than have Ford play CF for $500K. And yes, he is that much better than the average CF, and that .363 OBP is in the big leagues.

Ford---.363/.424, 787, 154
Ave CF-.337/.422, 759, 142

RF---Jayson Werth

Werth is likely to suffer with the Dodgers' switch from Moneyball to throwing money at big names. Jayson is a solid platoon guy, and would do fine playing daily.

Werth--.330/.420, 750, 139
Ave RF-.344/.448, 792, 154

DH---Jason Dubois

Talk about bad luck, being a young offensive player, and being traded to the Indians, a team loaded with them. Astounding AAA numbers of .389/.627 in a non-fluke 400+ AB's, I'd project him to be a .335/.480 contributor. What's especially funny is how weak the Cubs' corner OF looks to be, and that they gave him up, probably because he's far too young and can't handle the heat good enough for Dusty Baker.


2/12/2006 02:51:00 PM


Saturday, February 11, 2006

(2/11/2006 03:30:00 PM) - Al

Sure the milk is sour, but if I put it back in the fridge, maybe tomorrow it will be OK.

You gotta feel sorry for fans of the Raiders, as Mr. Davis apears to be as lost as I am at the salad bar.


2/11/2006 03:30:00 PM


Friday, February 10, 2006

(2/10/2006 10:58:00 AM) - Al

The Onion with a proper send up of the "woe is me, our poorly run business was devastated by Wal Mart" article.

I'm telling ya, capitalism and the quest for profits are only fads. Someday, proper respect will be shown for doing something mediocre for long stretches of time.


2/10/2006 10:58:00 AM



(2/10/2006 10:11:00 AM) - Al

Phil Rogers was asked to pick "breakout" players for 2006, so he picks guys who have already broke out, including AL batting champ Mike Young, and Mets' 3B Dave Wright, who posted a 912 OPS last year.

Maybe he didn't understand the question, huh?

Actually, JJ Hardy would be as good a candidate as I could imagine, as his horrible first two months led him to finish with a 711 OPS. As you can see by the sidebar, if JJ improves on his production at all after late May, an 800-825 OPS would be no surprise at all, and a huge shock to most outside the Upper Midwest.

UPDATE: I just noticed the average SS had a 726 OPS in 2005, and JJ's was 711, despite a crappy beginning. That shows how low the bar is set for SS's, and why the potential is there for JJ to be a far above average player for the next 10+ years.


2/10/2006 10:11:00 AM



(2/10/2006 09:52:00 AM) - Al

Congrats to friend of Ramblings Aaron Gleeman, who can now be found on USA Today, the online version at least. As a loyal USAT reader, that's about as high of an honor as you can get in the newspaper world.


2/10/2006 09:52:00 AM


Thursday, February 09, 2006

(2/09/2006 01:51:00 PM) - Brett

I don't know how enthused I am about the Brady Clark deal. And, like Al, I've been a big fan of Brady for quite a while.

I'm not saying he's going to fall on his face, but that decline in his walk rate, from 1 BB/6.7 AB in 2004 to 1 BB/ 12.7 AB in 2005, and his decline in P/PA from 4.10 in 2004 to 3.55 in 2005 is discouraging. I'm not much of a fan of batting average, but I think in Clark's case it's useful for context:

2004: .280/.385/.397
2005: .306/.372/.426

His IsoOB (I guess that's what I call it, just AVG - OBP) dropped from .105 to .066. Granted, his SLG went up, probably just due to a bunch of singles. This is where I start to get worried - Brady is 33 come April and doesn't really have a ton of speed in the big scheme of things. Maybe if his legs start to go on him, those singles become less frequent, and if he doesn't regain his patient ways and go back to drawing a decent amount of free passes, he could struggle.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this is an awful contract, the money isn't that much, and like Al said, his trade value shouldn't take a significant hit. There's not anyone banging down the door as of yet at the position, unless Cruz proves he can hold it down. He'll likely never be a below-average player during this contract, but I think there is reason to be just a little bit worried.


2/09/2006 01:51:00 PM


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

(2/08/2006 11:44:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching the replay of the Badgers basketball win tonight as I wind down from work with 3 tables of online poker. In the background, I saw ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews, who for those who don't watch much of the sports network, is exactly what you'd expect a sideline reporter to be; blonde, mid 20's, looks like she just stepped off the beach volleyball court.

The other night I was flipping channels and came upon Bo Ryan's show on FSN. One clip showed Andrews walking next to Bo as he came out of the tunnel, asking him questions. The host made a joke about no one looking at Bo, and Ryan said she was asking him questions, and then admitted he had forgotten the original question the host had asked.

Good win for the Badgers tonight, though it shouldn't be a surprise at home. Saturday the team travels to Penn State, who has been outstanding at home. That would be a huge win for Bucky. Just amazing to look at the box score and seeing Tanner Bronson and Kevin Gullickson playing almost 40 minutes combined...60 days ago, they were so far down the bench, they barely had a seat. There's a lesson about persistence there somewhere, and also how unfair it is that these kids get recruited at age 17 and 18, and many are simply nowhere near their full maturity (many guys don't reach full height until age 21-22, for example). Gullickson was not recruited by a single "top-tier" D1, even though now that seems illogical.


2/08/2006 11:44:00 PM



(2/08/2006 09:42:00 PM) - Al

Brady Clark skips arby, and ends up signing a 2 year deal worth $7M, $3.2M for 2006, $3.8M for 2007.

I, like Jason below, was very surprised a compromise wasn't reached before today on the 2006 portion, as the midpoint was so close.

I was a Brady Clark fan before it was cool to be one, as he's always got on base at a decent clip. The only way you can real down about the signing is if you expect him to fall on his face in '06, and if you do, you haven't been paying attention, as while Clark had a very good '05, he really didn't outperform his career norms by much.

career---.361/.404, 765 OPS, 146 OXS
2005-----.372/.426, 798 OPS, 158 OXS

Take away a 5-5 day, Brady matched his career numbers in 2005. Expecting him to fall apart is simply silly.

Brady should continue producing at an average or more likely above average rate the next couple years. Locking him in at $3.8M should only help his trade value if a youngster makes a case that they are ready to take over, as no contender would blink an eye at paying a starting OF that. Because he played so long in the minors without getting a chance, Brady won't become a free agent until he's 35, so this might well be his "big" contract.

UPDATE: I'm surprised it took tons of negotiating, working until 2AM, to find an acceptable number in the middle of a $500K difference.


2/08/2006 09:42:00 PM



(2/08/2006 11:27:00 AM) - Jason

Brady Clark's arbitration hearing is today. Published reports indicate the club and Clark are $500K off; Clark wants $3.5 million, the club is offering $3 million.

Im kinda suprised that this little of a difference wasnt settled before the hearing. Frankly, Im the most surprised that the club didnt just pony up the extra $500K to meet Brady's demands, since he was one of the best players on the team last year.

One thing it does show is that, while the club is raising payroll, they are still looking out to be as frugal as possible. Im glad that the Brewers do have the "$500K is $500K" approach, because it shows that Melvin and Co. have very good financial discipline. The $500K the Brewers might save in the Clark arby hearings could go to some free agent the Brewers pick up this spring.

I think Brady will win his hearing, simply because the numbers show he was one of the best players on the team last year. But I'm glad to see the Brewers not budging either.


2/08/2006 11:27:00 AM



(2/08/2006 10:03:00 AM) - Al

DC approves the latest stadium lease...we'll see how they can delay things next time.

Money quote:

After initially rejecting the lease 8-5 Tuesday night, council members returned to session an hour later, attached the cap and then voted to approve the legislation 9-4.

Heh. I think that pretty much sums up this group's cluelessness.


2/08/2006 10:03:00 AM


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

(2/07/2006 07:46:00 PM) - Al

Many are comparing the King funeral/political rally to the Paul Wellstone funeral/rally back in '02. The O'Henry ending was, of course, that the Dems, who were 2-5 points ahead in the polls when Senator Wellstone died, replaced him with the Gopher State's favorite son, Walter Mondale...and was thrashed in the election by then St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman (granted, Norm is a former Dem who is a very moderate Republican).

My wife and I were living apart at the time, she was still in the Twin Cities with my son, dog, and our unsold house, I had moved to Wausau a couple months ahead of them. I did not hear about it at all, but my wife heard nothing but on the local news. The two things I still recall are the outrage by many at the event, which is still looked at by many as why Mondale lost...by a lot, if memory serves.

The other thing I remember is that the governor, Jesse Ventura, had the guts to walk out of the funeral. Many other anonymous folks did as well, but I still shake my head that Ventura would. Granted, he never ran again, but what a gutsy move.


2/07/2006 07:46:00 PM



(2/07/2006 07:29:00 PM) - Al

Someone predicts a "mini Ice Age", but I found this interesting.

Money quote:

The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period occurred between 1645 and 1705. The resulting period, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in the Netherlands frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said.

First of all, I've never heard of this Little Ice Age before. Secondly, while I have no idea if the "greenhouse effect" is reality or not, I do have trouble getting too worked up about a single degree's difference in the average temperature...for one reason, I doubt if the official measuring devices they were using in 1900 were very precise, to say the least. Growing up, I know the thermometer in the house was often 5 degrees off from the one on the barn...so I have difficulty making world energy policy changes based on a single degree from a turn-o'-the-century contraption.


2/07/2006 07:29:00 PM



(2/07/2006 03:26:00 PM) - Al

Al,

When is Major League Baseball allowed to contract two teams?

I thought it was coming up soon and there are two obvious candidates that are free of stadium deals (Florida and Minnesota).

The Brewers would probably end up being switched back to the American League.

Rod


The CBA that says contraction cannot take place expires after the 2006 season, but it can be extended (and probably will be). I would be shocked if contraction occured, at least in the next decade or so, because it is a bargaining chip the teams can use, as 50 jobs to the player's union is a huge loss. I feel that Las Vegas and Portland are both just a stadium away from being major league ready (ironically, the same thing Miami and Mpls/St. Paul lack:).

I think we'll see 32 MLB teams before we see 28. Time will tell.


2/07/2006 03:26:00 PM



(2/07/2006 09:12:00 AM) - Al

I guess the Twin Cities are finally going to have to get serious about a new stadium...about a decade after it was obvious they needed one.

Having lived in the Cities, it is astounding how the money is always found for everything except a new ballpark (or 2-3, which is actually what they need).


2/07/2006 09:12:00 AM



(2/07/2006 09:00:00 AM) - Al

A discovery thought sounds like fiction...many animals and flowers never known to exist are in the jungles of Indonesia.


2/07/2006 09:00:00 AM


Monday, February 06, 2006

(2/06/2006 07:07:00 PM) - Al

The Milwaukee Business Journal reports the Crew sold over 100K tickets over the weekend, the first time group tiks were available. The new picnic area sold out for 51 of the 81 games, and the Dew Deck sold out for 44 of the 81 games.

The team needs to work on creating a couple new group areas, as they are obviously a huge hit with the fans. All the early indications are that attendance will be far above the 2005 figure, despite fewer Cubs' games and no Yankees' series.


2/06/2006 07:07:00 PM



(2/06/2006 01:29:00 PM) - Al

Adam M with this weeks mailbag, mostly discusses the arby cases of Clark and Ohka.


2/06/2006 01:29:00 PM



(2/06/2006 01:18:00 PM) - Al

ESPN.com picks the Brewers as a surprise team in 2006.

The national media is noticing.


2/06/2006 01:18:00 PM



(2/06/2006 12:59:00 PM) - Robert R.

"Oh, someone is shooting at us. We must go."

That was director Werner Herzog's response to a recent event when a crazed fan started shooting at him with an air rifle. Now, it probably wasn't life threatening at all, but I don't think I'd react that calmly.

This happened in close proximity with Herzog helping Joaquin Phoenix out of a car wreck.

He could have had the trifecta for the month if the Academy had chosen "Grizzly Man" for a well deserved Academy Award nomination. Discovery is showing it now and it's well worth seeing.


2/06/2006 12:59:00 PM


Sunday, February 05, 2006

(2/05/2006 07:07:00 PM) - Al

UPDATE 2: I was a bit disappointed with the MacGyver ad. That and he looked so old I had to do a double take to make sure it was him. Yes, I know we're all getting older, but Mac seems to have double-dipped his chips.

UPDATE: The 2nd Ameriquest ad was excellent as well.

I picked the Steelers both to win and cover, as I had two poker bonuses this week which required you to pick a team as part of your bonus code. If the Steelers do win, I actually get a larger bonus on one of the sites.

As part of it, Paradise Poker gave everyone a free $10 in a sportsbook account and required you to make a bet on the Super Bowl coin flip, heads or tails. I called my son in, explained it to him, and asked him what he would choose, and he looked at me as if I had 4 faces and said, "Tails", as if the answer was obvious.

It did land tails by the way.

Other thoughts from the big night of ads:

---When they were discussing the upcoming commercials, a commentator on Fox News said, "And, Jessica Simpson has an ad...for something or other." That is not an unattractive woman. Her soon to be ex-husband is dating a former Miss Kentucky, and it must be sad to be seeing a beauty pageant winer and still be thinking to yourself how far you've fallen.

---It wouldn't be a larger home field advantage if the Lions would have made the Super Bowl, though as John Madden correctly pointed out, the Steelers' fans seemed to be very quiet.

---The Adam Sandler movie called Click, in which he's able to control life with a remote control, looks hilarious.

---I don't even know what it's called, since it hasn't been advertised today, but Harrison Ford has a movie coming out in which he has to fight a bunch of guys 40 years younger than him, and his daughter is about 4...um, isn't Ford like 68 years old? I wouldn't bet on Harry being able to take on his girlfriend Calista Flockhart in a fight, even though she weighs in at 79 pounds.

---The Bud Light ads have all been funny, the guys on the roof, the "magic fridge", and the office scavenger hunt.

---I feel sorry for the beautiful women who had to dress like lettuce, tomatoes, and so on for the Burger King thing.

---Sierra Mist with Kathy Griffin in the airport as security was cute, though I don't think I'd be doing humor bits involving the subject. As Carson used to say, "It's been 125 years, and you still can't do a Lincoln joke".

---The Fed Ex caveman ad was priceless, the best so far. After the one fella says Fed Ex isn't around yet, the other guy stating, "Not my problem", got a huge laugh natonwide, I promise you.

---Ameriquest Mortgage, with the heart paddles, ranks a very close 2nd. I get the feeling no one will recall waht that one was for.

---Diet Pepsi using Diet Coke as a stunt double...heh.


2/05/2006 07:07:00 PM



(2/05/2006 03:41:00 PM) - Robert R.

With the opening of Spring Training just a couple of weeks away, I'm expecting things to be pretty quiet for the Brewers. There may be a move before the end of Spring Training, but right now, I think the Brewers are content to find out what they have.

I suppose someone on this site should make a prediction for the Super Bowl. I'm actually expecting a good game as I think both teams are evenly matched. I'll take Pittsburg to win, 27 to 24, with Seattle covering. I think Seattle is underrated and I'd definitely bet on them to at least cover.


2/05/2006 03:41:00 PM


Saturday, February 04, 2006

(2/04/2006 08:00:00 PM) - Al

Tom H's column from tomorrow says Rickie Weeks is doing well and Corey Hart has earned a big league spot, and will play OF and 1B, as well as a recap of BA's top ten kids in the system.


2/04/2006 08:00:00 PM



(2/04/2006 12:50:00 PM) - Al

It occured to me today that while I projected the offensive output of the '05 Crew, we never looked at how myself and the others did. I'll have to right that wrong.

I will be reprinting what I wrote then (3-5-05) in italics, and todya's comment will be in regular font.

I am republishing my projections, and adding those from CBS Sportsline.com. The CBS estimates seem very optimistic, but I thought I would add them and maybe a random comment or two.

Projections and a brief discussion about each player who will seemingly be spending some quality time in MIL in 2005...AR is my prediction, and BP is Baseball Prospectus, CBS is CBS Sportsline.com.

Damian Miller
AR---.320/.405
BP---.320/.386
CBS--.334/.395

I round off everything to a 0 or 5, while BP does not, first of all. Still, extremely similiar. And, they should be, as he's a known quantity, 35 with a ton of PA's over the years. Almost identical to an average MLB C.


Actual line was .340/.413, so he outdid what all of us had thought.


Chad Moeller
AR---.310/.375
BP---.311/.381
CBS--.319/.396

Almost the same as Miller. You almost forget how bad Chad was in '04, as it's almost painful to even glance at those stats from a year ago. Difficult to imagine him not bouncing back.


.257/.367 cannot be considered much of a bounceback, can it? I'm happy I had lower than the others, but we all missed.

Lyle Overbay
AR---.385/.440
BP---.356/.442
CBS--.392/.500

I see Lyle's fall in the second half and I'm impressed with his plate discipline, despite his disappointing overall production. I see him getting on base a lot. CBS is very bullish on Lyle in '05, to say the least.


.367/.449, a near hit by the BP boys.

Junior Spivey
AR---.350/.430
BP---.343/.432
CBS--.369/.465

Junior is a very consistent player, with a career season thrown in for good measure. Those numbers look solid for a team looking for a 2B at the deadline, don't they? CBS again looking on with rose colored glasses.


.315/.378, in a season marred by injury and moving to a tough place to hit. Pretty much a miss by all.

JJ Hardy
AR---.335/.385
BP---.328/.407
CBS--.363/.467

I still hope Hardy spends at least 45-60 days in Nashville, but it's looking more doubtful on a daily basis. Still, two of the above puts him right at the MLB average as a rookie, with plenty of room to grow. CBS has him in the Rookie of the Year battle if he gets enough AB's...heck, he's projected higher than both Jeter and Renteria are.


JJ finished at .327/.384, and a pat on the back to myself. I do hope CBS fired the chimpanzee they had doing this.

Bill Hall
AR---.315/.410
BP---.301/.389
CBS--.303/.434

I tell ya, this is the last time I predict Hall to improve. And yes, I have said that before.


No one came close to predicting Hall's .342/.495 campaign. To be honest, I thought I was being optimistic.

Wes Helms
AR---.330/.410
BP---.322/.422
CBS--.333/.440

One of Doug Melvin's lone errors was giving this guy almost $3M for '05 after he was a mediocre 3B in '03. He is what he is, and I don't think he was never nearly 100% after he returned from the DL. Best case scenario, Helms produces enough to make him worthwhile to a contender as a 1B/3B/DH from the right side.


Wes did well in limited duty, .356/.458. Much of this can probably be attributed to his AB's being mostly against LHP's.

Russ Branyan
AR---.330/.480
BP---.361/.502
CBS--.351/.524

I did my calculations tonight, long after looking at BP's about a month ago. When I was guessing (I'm sorry, calculating) Russ, I did recall friendly BP numbers, but even now, I'm having a tough time. Those are simply astounding for a guy who has never been a full-time player in the bigs. If you were to ask me to give you a quick and dirty estimate for ARod in 5 seconds, I'd just go with a simple .400/.500; well, that's better than Russ, but not by a whole lot. I hope they're right, but I see him matching his career numbers for the most part. CBS has him as the equivalent of Aubrey Huff, which I think we'd all settle for.


.378/.490, simply a fine year by Russ. BP's optimism came true.

Carlos Lee
AR---.345/.480
BP---.356/.499
CBS--.359/.509

About a 4-4 game away from identical.


Carlos had a down 2nd half, and finished at .324/.488. I'll take a mini-win.:)

Brady Clark
AR---.355/.410
BP---.331/.366
CBS--.373/.447

Funny thing is, I see Brady as a guy I feel is as likely as anyone to blow my numbers away. BP seemed to look at his last two years as a fluke, which seems strange. CBS looks for a repeat of Clark's 2nd half of last year.


.372/.426...you won't see BP bragging about this one, simply a horrible attempt. CBS edges myself.

Geoff Jenkins
AR---.340/.485
BP---.341/.480
CBS--.356/.519

All went with safe career type numbers, though he'll probably be +/-10% of them. CBS again the highest.


.349/.508; yep, right within expectations.

Dave Krynzel
AR---.320/.360
BP---.316/.367
CBS--.344/.364

Dave should play every day in AAA for at least half the campaign, barring injury to Clark. He's several years from his peak, and if you wonder who those numbers resemble, think back to how painful it was to watch Podsednik play in '04. The more I think about him, Rick Manning seems to be a fine comparison, at least until the youngster adds some muscle.


No, I don't know how Dave ended up on here.

Rickie Weeks
AR---.340/.400
BP---.356/.409
CBS--.381/.425

I honestly can't believe how highly BP put Rickie, as I think we both have him higher in both than he was in AA last year. Let's hope we see him about August 1st, after plugging a hole or two in a Spivey trade, with Weeks putting up a near .400 OBP for the Sounds.


Rickie did me proud, as I only was incorrect on when he made his debut. .333/.394 is not bad at all for a rookie middle IF, and many of us can see a Hall-like spike in '06.

And just for giggles, CBS put Prince Fielder at .388/.569. Wowsers. For perspective, in Richie Sexson's best season, he put up a line of .379/.578. Should Prince manage to do that in his first 2-3 seasons, I think he'd be considered a huge success.

Overall, BP is higher on the offense than I, though not by much. If the starting eight stays healthy, BP sees almost every spot as average or better (with the exception of CF, with both Geoff and Lyle just slightly less than mediocre). Considering the Crew's offense was near the bottom in '04, an 8th/9th best offense would be a substantial upgrade. CBS has the Crew as an offensive powerhouse, though they look to be high on most all players.


Overall, I would say it was all but a dead heat between BP and Ramblings, and CBS didn't miss by much, even though they were far too high on almost everyone.


2/04/2006 12:50:00 PM


Whatever strikes me as interesting, and serious Milwaukee Brewers thoughts. If you are a believer in respecting OBP, throwing strikes, and keeping the ball in the park, you may have found the place you've been searching for. I believe in low taxes, small government, and am not afraid to be labeled patriotic.

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.



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