Al's Ramblings

Monday, December 31, 2007

(12/31/2007 09:20:00 PM) - Al

My wife just informed me that "Xmas" is an acceptable abbreviation for Christmas, because "Chi" equals "X" in Greek, which she learned in Bible class last year.

A more substantial explanation can be found here.

12/31/2007 09:20:00 PM

(12/31/2007 09:03:00 PM) - Al

This is one of the most positive rundowns of Baghdad I've seen in a long time. My local talk radio station mentioned this morning how rarely Iraq is mentioned compared to early in the year, when the violence and unrest levels were much higher. While things are far from superb, it would seem less news is good news.

You are also seeing a huge amount of "rewriting history" from the candidates, as Clinton, Edwards, and Obama have all significantly changed their rhetoric as things have improved of late.

12/31/2007 09:03:00 PM

(12/31/2007 08:37:00 PM) - Al

I just came downstairs after a late supper (I grilled steak, and my wife made a scallops son studied our offerings and had a peanut butter sandwich) and turned on the TV. NBC has some show on about SNL, and despite talking about it for about 5 minutes, never once managed to even casually mention the real reason Norm MacDonald was fired...his boss was Don Ohlmeyer, and Norm kept calling OJ Simpson an evil, despicable, incredibly guilty murderer, and Ohlmeyer was a good friend of OJ's.

It was possibly the most obvious example I've ever seen of ignoring the white elephant in the room.

12/31/2007 08:37:00 PM

(12/31/2007 02:00:00 PM) - Al


I'm a reader of your blog and just wanted to make a comment regarding your liberal use of the word "Xmas" as opposed to Christmas. Don't you feel somewhat conflicted about removing Christ's name from his very own holiday in what I assume is an attempt to cut back on the amount of typing you do? It just seems kind of ironic that in a post discussing churches and such that you omit Christ from your post.



I do it almost solely to save keystrokes, but thanks for writing and asking.

There is also a very small part of me that is probably doing it as an invitation to anyone who does not celebrate the holiday to read my thoughts as well, as I know and have known a few folks over the years that refuse to include "Christ" in a commercial, gift giving day.

As pointed out by Matt, I do give extra caution before making "controversial" posts, though in some aspects, I'm happy to accept it, as I do from some nearly every time I thank and salute the US military for their efforts, knowing I very likely to read the word "babykiller" in at least one e-mail the next day.

12/31/2007 02:00:00 PM

(12/31/2007 01:54:00 PM) - Al


I most often agree with your thoughtful insight and observations on a countless topics.

And I'm sure you tread lightly when you're thinking about doing a post that has religious overtones.

I've got to disagree with your last post though. If church is one of the many other myriad things to do around Christmas, then I'd agree with you. Unfortunately, Christmas letters, Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, and Christmas presents, have just adopted the word Christmas for themselves. Christmas has nothing to do with "good cheer' and "joy" the way that many think of it. In fact, therapists say that the most drug and alcohol use, child and spousal abuse, clinical depression, etc, etc...happen at this time of the year. Why? Because people believe they're supposed to be feeling a certain way, and doing certain things, and if they can't fake it well enough, they snap.

Christmas is really very simple. Celebrating a gift of love from our Creator, a gift we could never deserve, and certainly one we could never afford. That's it. I'd just as soon move our religious celebration to a different date and time (although I have a hunch that the same thing would eventually happen to that date as well). Then people could do all of the things they want to do on December 24th and 25th and not be overburdened by "church stuff."

Just a comment on Joel Osteen. Nice guy. Easy to listen too. I agree with you that promoting good citizenship is a positive thing. I just wish he wouldn't do it under the guise of "church talk." He just solidifies the idea in people's minds that church is about making bad people into good ones. In fact, many churches tend to give that impression too (don't have time to get into that one!)

Thanks for your continued blogging. I really do enjoy it and have been checking it for a few years now.

Happy New Year to the Rambling Clan,


Nicely put by Matt, and a happy 2008 to you as well. I guess if there is to be some "extra" stuff, I'd prefer it be done on the Sunday prior, and I think that's the "modern" thinking on it, at least by unaffiliated churches.

I don't think I even mentioned it, but when I see 7-8 Xmas Eve and Xmas Day services, my first thought is how awful it must be to be a pastor or a pastor's family on those days...and, who can really say that the 8th performance in 30 hours is going to be as good as the 1st?

12/31/2007 01:54:00 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2007

(12/30/2007 08:41:00 PM) - Al

When my wife and I were out looking at Xmas lights Xmas Eve night (Santa once again came while we were out...the odds of this happening annually are darn near infinite!), we noticed one church we drove by had on their sign "No services Xmas Eve or XMas Day. Merry Xmas". This was a non-denominational church, which of course, is the mirror image of what many churches do, often having a ridiculous amount of offerings, including late night, early morning, music only, as well as, possibly, one or two "normal" ones. I was once convinced to attend a midnight mass on Xmas Eve, which, you'll be glad to hear, started almost a half-hour late and went on until just short of 2AM...I hadn't seen so many disgusted faces before, or since that service ended.

I checked the web site of Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen's little venture that seats 16K with nary an empty seat most weeks...they either did not have any extra services or did not bother to list them on their web site. This may be a new trend, but if it is, I applaud it. My wife's group was asked to play in only one service, but she was still gone from 5-7:30 on Xmas Eve, which is a lot to ask, as many people are not blessed, as she is, with a supportive husband who is able to morph into two parents (or, so it seems) when asked to, nor do they necessarily want to give up 2.5 hours on a family day.

Since I'm not likely to mention Osteen again in a separate post, allow me to say he's as likable as any pastor I'm familiar with. I often watch him on ABC Family at 11 Sunday nights, and while his style is often mocked as "religion lite" or "church without God or scriptures", he sure is entertaining and, heaven forbid, preaches about being a solid citizen and doing the right thing.

12/30/2007 08:41:00 PM

(12/30/2007 08:04:00 PM) - Al

The New York Daily News tries and convicts former MLB player Jim Leyritz.

"I have a 5-year-old who cried himself to sleep last night," distraught dad Jordan Veitch, 29, said of his son, Julian. "He has a lot of questions."

"He asked me why Mommy wasn't going to come home..."

I have a 5 year-old son, and that phrase hit pretty close. Leyritz pretty much ruined many, many lives; and to be honest, if guilty, is about as close to wasted oxygen as you can get.

It is difficult to believe that we are several years into the 21st century, and we're still talking about human beings that do not know enough that if you drink, you shouldn't be driving, and vice versa. I mean, seriously, what part of that don't you understand? Is it really too much to ask that someone who is able to stand upright be intelligent enough to understand these two things do not mix?

I think that old Dennis Miller phrase is pretty accurate here:

He should have had a bullet in his brain before he got to the T sound in "I did it".

12/30/2007 08:04:00 PM

(12/30/2007 07:13:00 PM) - Al

Tomorrow night, I will continue my annual tradition of grilling dinner outside on the deck and then playing in an online tournament (which, of course, is also pretty much my life, minus the grilling, but hence, I digress). Today, on our way back from the Rambling Wife's extended family and nuclear family Xmas get togethers, I stopped to pick up steaks. They are currently marinating in a concoction made up of several common ingredients, yet I'm sure at least a couple would surprise you.

My son helped me "beat it up", which because I prefer the tastier round and sirloin cuts, they tend to be a bit on the tough side, which is fine with me, because it will be succulent when I'm done with least, in my world it will.:)

12/30/2007 07:13:00 PM

Friday, December 28, 2007

(12/28/2007 09:57:00 PM) - Al

We have Xmas #3 this weekend, so there won't be many updates from me. Enjoy the final weekend of 2007.

12/28/2007 09:57:00 PM

(12/28/2007 10:31:00 AM) - Al

Wal Mart finally beats Target during the vital shopping season.

I thought WM's ads hinting you could buy more stuff for your money was very well done. My wife stopped in to our local store yesterday, and reported it was as busy as it had been at any point before Xmas. That is probably a combo platter of people redeeming gift cards and many others stocking up on essentials after several days of get togethers.

12/28/2007 10:31:00 AM

(12/28/2007 10:25:00 AM) - Al

Ann Althouse tears apart Today's "coverage" of the assassination.

Remind me never to get on Ann's bad side.

12/28/2007 10:25:00 AM

(12/28/2007 09:55:00 AM) - Al

Remember kids, don't do drugs.

And sadly, this is the first time I have heard Ms. Fishel's name since Boy Met World ended its run. I will provide the link as a public service because she still appears to be quite "talented".

12/28/2007 09:55:00 AM

(12/28/2007 09:29:00 AM) - Al

A year plus before launch, and the MLB Network is still light years ahead of its counterparts.

Hat tip to Dave Pinto.

It's just too bad Mr. Selig doesn't know how to run a business.;)

12/28/2007 09:29:00 AM

Thursday, December 27, 2007

(12/27/2007 09:05:00 PM) - Al

On Xmas night, my wife and I watched our late local news and were then treated to the funniest Two and a Half Men I have ever seen. Not many shows can make incest, adult-themed Xmas carols, and the like entertaining, but 2.5 Men rarely misses.

I find myself comparing it to Seinfeld often, as most shows you watch work so hard at comedy, set-up, set-up, punchline, rinse and repeat. Seinfeld always made it seem effortless, and the characters were imperfect, yet lovable. Several of the minor characters seemed to evolve into favorites of mine as well, and on Men, Berta and Rose are simply hilarious with almost every line they utter.

Rose is so stunning, both in terms of her gorgeous look and her sweetness, it is easy to overlook the fact she is stone cold nuts. Meanwhile, Berta reminds me a lot of Kramer...others try and cut her down, yet she always delivers zingers and while "odd", her "out-of-the-box" ways work well for her.

It is not for the easily offended, but comedy rarely is.

12/27/2007 09:05:00 PM

(12/27/2007 08:43:00 PM) - Al

I almost forgot to mention this nugget of media suckiness I came across while driving home Xmas Eve. My wife and I stopped at the Evil Arches for lunch, mainly to reward my little boy for sitting quietly in the back as we fought terrible road conditions.

This little quote really had me shaking my head:

It was a gift to see UW freshman wide receiver Kyle Jefferson get to his feet and jog to the Camp Randall Stadium sidelines after absorbing an insanely wicked hit against Michigan State in September.

The way Jefferson's spindly body seemed to pinwheel violently in 100 directions after the helmet-on-helmet hit, I thought he was, at best, unconscious, and, at worst, a quadriplegic. He showed me a lot that day.

Is Baggot saying that if Jefferson had not got up, had he never walked again, he would have proven he was a weakling or a girlie man? I assume not, but it is a perfect example of a "real" journalist writing something so cliched and unintelligible as to render it meaningless.

12/27/2007 08:43:00 PM

(12/27/2007 08:29:00 PM) - Al

Houston television station KRIV-TV is reporting that the Astros and Darin Erstad have agreed to terms.

Astros GM Ed Wade just wants as many options as possible and doesn't seem to care how the pieces fit. It showed when be brought in two switch-hitting infielders both better from the left side of the plate in Kaz Matsui and Geoff Blum and it's illustrated again here with the addition of a second left-handed-hitting center fielder. Erstad can still play pretty good defense when healthy, but that's not an issue to center or right for the Astros and we don't see Carlos Lee coming out of games for a defensive replacement. What they really needed was a right-handed hitter to start over Michael Bourn versus southpaws. Erstad isn't that player, and with one decent offensive season in the last seven, he's not even a quality insurance policy in case Bourn plays himself out of a job.--Rotoworld

Erstad is a player that can indeed give you a nice glove, but so can Dave Krynzel, and neither one of them can hit a lick. I feel worse for Cecil Cooper every time HOU makes a move.

12/27/2007 08:29:00 PM

(12/27/2007 07:21:00 PM) - Al

Posts have been sporadic because of the lack of happenings, and due to my lackluster health, as this cold has wrecked havoc on me. The last cold I had was in 10/06, and it dragged on forever, finally ending in a trip to the doc where I was prescribed no less than 3 drugs. Since then, I've been feeling pretty good, but goodness, when it hits me, it knocks me down.

I do yearn for my younger days, when I would catch a cold on Friday and be over it by Sunday or Monday, except for a lingering voice problem, which often continued on for a few more days.

Yesterday, I had a previous commitment, so I went ahead with it. I took my cold meds and drank a lot of liquids, in addition to a caffeine tablet, so for the most part, I was almost normal, even though I was driving during what has become my afternoon nap time. Mapquest told me I should take exit 91, and about at mile 120, I felt the urge to stop and use the bathroom. I figured I'd "tough it out", but by exit 99, I was in pain, and then had to wait for a good minute outside the one stall restroom, which was an agonizing wait. I guess 2 bottles of water and the known diuretic were too much to overcome.

So, I'll continue onward and hopefully kick this thing soon.

12/27/2007 07:21:00 PM

(12/27/2007 07:19:00 PM) - Al

I've heard this exact same thing echoed by women of all ages and sizes, though this is brilliant. Hat tip to Glenn.

The link does contain some adult language, FYI.

12/27/2007 07:19:00 PM

(12/27/2007 10:17:00 AM) - Al

I saw this on the news last night, and my first thought?

Gee, it's true the networks have nothing to put on the air Saturday nights. I guess upsets do happen, but the Pats are double digit favorites and the Giants have nothing to play for.

12/27/2007 10:17:00 AM

(12/27/2007 09:53:00 AM) - Al

According to this article, every team in MLB has sold more tickets than they had last year at this time. Bud Selig is quoted as saying the sport will sell 80M seats, yet another new record.

As I've said before, it's the most under reported renaissance ever.

Thanks to Dave Pinto for the link.

12/27/2007 09:53:00 AM

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

(12/26/2007 07:10:00 PM) - Al

Mark Prior is guaranteed only $1 million under the terms of his deal with the Padres.

He can make an additional $4.5 million in incentives. Prior could have done substantially better in a two-year deal, but he wanted the chance to go back on the market next winter.

Refreshing to see a player have confidence in himself and take less, and also have the intelligence to choose to play in Petco, an extreme pitcher's park.

If he has any kind of 2008, he might well get Silva type money. And if anyone thinks a club's memory will not be that short, take a gander at how Silva performed in '06.

12/26/2007 07:10:00 PM

(12/26/2007 10:01:00 AM) - Al

The animal apparently escaped its enclosure, killing one and wounding two others.

The same tiger chewed off part of a zookeeper's arm a year ago.

You know, I have to believe the arm thing maybe should have been looked at as a warning sign.

12/26/2007 10:01:00 AM

(12/26/2007 09:50:00 AM) - Al

Courtesy of Glenn, an argument for raising taxes on alcohol.

Very good points made. I was unaware and surprised that taxes have not been raised on booze since '92, as it's a very easy target.

I like the "even addiction follows supply and demand", paraphrasing, of course. The market has a grasp on the public that no one can even imagine. It just works, much to the disgust of the socialist.

12/26/2007 09:50:00 AM

(12/26/2007 09:23:00 AM) - Al


Love your blog, I read it daily.

Question for you, how do stores identify the money they take in from gift cards but are not used? We used to have a little family restaurant, and we of course would just include that in sales for the day. I suppose it could throw off food costs and inventory if on a big scale, but we found as many as 15-20% of gift certificates were never used.


Neal, thanks for writing, and for the kind words. I think the unused gift cars probably gets filed under something like "unearned income", which is where interest and such is placed.

I have read that restaurants do profit the most from gift cards not being used, as most people buy a gift card to a store they think the giftee would like, but often just buy a restaurant gift card to wherever the buyer enjoys going. I think steak houses have the largest unused rate, as many people only go there on a "special night", rather than when hungry.

12/26/2007 09:23:00 AM

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

(12/25/2007 09:35:00 PM) - Al

Retail spending up 3.6%, according to Mastercard.

I might have expected about 5% due to the extended shopping season, but it's far from bad as well.

We forgot to buy a paper today to check out the 12/26 sales, but I would expect this final week of the year to be huge, as many people will still be buying a gift or two (many families are celebrating this coming weekend) and also using their gift cards, which is becoming more and more key to how retailers judge a successful season, as an accounting loophole does not allow them to credit sales until the gift card is redeemed, rather than the proper time, when it is sold.

With more and more people buying gift cards, losing any stigma once attached, any increase at all in pre-holiday sales should be applauded.

12/25/2007 09:35:00 PM

(12/25/2007 08:35:00 PM) - Al

Courtesy of MLBTR, this piece tries to show us that Josh Towers is as good as Carlos Silva. I admire the attempt, as it is certainly the road less traveled, but it's basically an anti-money speech, as in, "Hey, look at the team I can build for $50M a year", because, to be blunt, no one will remember what the author said in a week, when he will again second guess a move.

One thing that is sort of easy to figure out by looking at the math is just how much teams are paying for guys like Suppan and Silva. That also pushes up the price of Lohse and Vargas, which also increases the worth of true bottom-of-the-rotation guys, such as a Mark Redman, who would have signed a minor league deal just a year or two ago, but instead got $1M guaranteed after a 2007 campaign in which he had a 5ish the minors, and a 7.50+ ERA in the bigs.

I have said many times in the past couple years I would lean toward taking position players and college arms with draft picks in the first 5-7 rounds, and then throw a lot of HS pitchers against the wall after that. However, even with the extraordinary rate of burnout from underclassman arms, when you look at how a decent arm with little success can net you a Josh Hamilton, I think we're right back at the boring yet effective "take the best player available" credo.

12/25/2007 08:35:00 PM

(12/25/2007 08:10:00 PM) - Al

Claudio Vargas, if he was blessed enough to have a couple more years of service time, would be signing a deal for probably about 75-90% of the bijillions Kyle Lohse will get in the next week or two.

So, why do I keep seeing on message boards Claudio should have been non-tendered? Seriously. I know many people posting are beyond incompetent, but c'mon? He's a healthy, under 30 guy who put together a very nice 2007 for the Crew, minus one outing in August when he should have owned up to an injury pre-start. We are currently living in a world where any SP who can give you 5+ frames every 5th day and have a 5ish ERA is going to be a very, very rich man.

You can disagree with that all you want, but that doesn't make it any less true.

12/25/2007 08:10:00 PM

(12/25/2007 08:01:00 PM) - Al

I saw an article about college students voting on the evening news tonight as well.

The thing that always irritates me an iota is that there is really nothing stopping them from voting in both Iowa as well as their home state. There's also nothing stopping them from voting absentee at home and again at college in the November, '08 election. Obviously, this is not a keep me up at night dilemma, but it is painful how simple this avenue of cheating is.

12/25/2007 08:01:00 PM

(12/25/2007 08:25:00 AM) - Al

As is probably expected, I won't be posting a whole lot the next couple days, due to the holiday and a terrible cold. I have not had a cold since November of 2006, so I guess the severity of this one is making up for it.

I still yearn for the days of Actifed, which as far as I can tell, is gone forever, due to a subculture that insists they can create a delicious recreational drug by mixing cold meds with household cleaning products.

12/25/2007 08:25:00 AM

(12/25/2007 12:01:00 AM) - Al

All right, now that I have calmed down from the 5 hour drive home, which should take 3, allow me to take a few moments to wish all Ramblings' readers a very Merry Christmas.

I would like to especially thank all members of the armed forces, both past and present, for their service. We are extremely blessed to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world, and that would not be the case if not for the men and women who have and had defended and protected our allies, interests, and freedoms.

Merry Christmas.

UPDATE: An e-mailer sends along this link from the Fred '08 campaign. I honestly do not know a thing he stands for, but the "card" is very well done, and I'll second it.

12/25/2007 12:01:00 AM

Monday, December 24, 2007

(12/24/2007 02:53:00 PM) - Al

Allow me to say that the Wisconsin DOT's road conditions list is, to be quick and to the point, full of crap.

We just drove back from SW WI to near Wausau, and the idea that I39 is the same as Hwy 14 is possibly one of the funniest things I have ever saw. I39 was bare, except for maybe 100 yards of roadway which was perfect in one lane and only fair in the other. Meanwhile, most of 14 looked like the "road crew" was made up of a guy named Vic and his 1979 Chevy S10 pickup with a plow attached.

Apparently, Richland, Sauk, and Iowa county residents don't pay any taxes, as those roads looked identical to the township roads I navigated growing up going from our house to the "home farm". You know the roads are bad when you look off at the county roads that meet up with a state highway and the county roads appear to have both less snow and a plethora of sand/salt. Any salt applied to the highways must have come from those little fast food packets (given begrudgingly) Vic had stored in his cupholder between the front seats.

Of course, the minute we hit Dane county, the roads were perfection, either from a competent snow removal team or maybe the precipitation path followed county lines...I'll let you be the judge.

Rant over.

12/24/2007 02:53:00 PM

(12/24/2007 10:04:00 AM) - Robert R.

New movie review:


One of the best movies of the year, animated or otherwise. Persepolis, named after the ancient capital of the Persian Empire which now only exists as ruins, is based on the autobiographical graphic novel of Marjane Satrapi which details her life and coming of age during the Islamic Revolution in Iran when she was 8, her rebellious teenage years under the Islamic Fundamentalists, her being shipped to Europe for her own protection, her return to Iran, and her final resolution of where she best fits in/can survive. She's a woman that loves her country and family, but also loves western music, particularly punk, dancing, and speaking her mind and finds that it's a particularly dangerous proposition under the fundamentalists to be herself. And yet she doesn't really fit in in Europe either.

Based on a series of graphic novels, partially inspired by Maus, the animated movie is heavily influenced by her artwork. It's principally relatively simple black and white, with color framing sequences, but it also manages to use every animation and cinematic tool at its disposal and you'd hardly be aware of its graphic novel roots without previous knowledge. And although it could have been heavy going, it's leavened with a healthy dose of humor, there's a Rocky III homage sequence in the film among other things, and the fact that Satrapi does not view herself as any sort of saint. Quite the opposite in a lot of cases. We probably spend an equal amount of time on her romance misadventures as we do with her encounters with the Islamic Fundamentalists. It's an adult movie, but it's an even handed one that understands the difference between being preachy and being entertaining with a point to make and solidly hits the latter target.

It's worth pointing out that it's refreshing to see animation turned to a more adult subject for a change. Especially since I can't imagine anyone ever being able to overcome the hurdles to make this live action. Beyond even being able to shoot scenes in Tehran, a multi-continent shoot over a couple of decades timespan with war scenes and a young, Persian, female lead doesn't really make any sense on a budget vs. potential return level. Animation is able to neatly sidestep all those obstacles while preserving Satrapi's art style. It's an ideal adaptation.

Persepolis opens in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow and will follow a standard art house release pattern, likely opening in Milwaukee in February. You can view the trailer here.

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12/24/2007 10:04:00 AM

Sunday, December 23, 2007

(12/23/2007 09:00:00 PM) - Al

Thought I'd add in a mention to all the retail workers, the end at the end of the tunnel is plainly in sight. I stopped by an old workplace of mine to deliver Xmas cards and one person mentioned they closed tonight at 11, and then had to be there at 6 tomorrow morning. When you add in their half-hour or so travel time, that type of turnaround ought to be against some sort of employment law or code...and it probably is, to be honest.

I can honestly say in my time in management I never once did anything like that to anyone...except myself. Obviously, messing with other people's lives is not a prerequisite to succeeding in business...but it helps.

We delayed some of our travel today due to the snow, and I hope most of you remained safe and careful this weekend.

12/23/2007 09:00:00 PM

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(12/22/2007 10:35:00 PM) - Al

Tom H rehashes previous writings in an underwhelming Sunday column. Tom has actually done a decent job for the most part this offseason, and through his blog has also managed to put some of the blame for his lackluster efforts on the editing, which seems like it is much more concerned with column inches than full disclosure.

I have hoped for a Kenny Lofton addition since October, so I would be more than fine with him, as he has been by far the most mentioned of late...funny Tom would mention him twice despite Doug's lukewarm non-denial ("I have not spoke with his agent since the winter meetings")...I always look at a quote like that and think to myself, you know, I wonder if he told Gord Ash to call Lofton's agent a few hours ago and touch base.

I think Doug is off on his annual vacation to a tropical destination, but I am sure he checks in and sees what is up once or twice a day. I'm sure they have a final date in mind, so that Braun can concentrate on either LF or 3B, but that may well be 2/1 or so. Until then, they'll keep searching under rocks, seeing who pops up.

12/22/2007 10:35:00 PM

(12/22/2007 10:21:00 PM) - Al

If you're a (Bill) James believer, get this: He projects Hamilton to hit .305/.382/.598 in 410 at-bats in 2008, with 31 home runs and 71 RBI (which I suppose was based on him leading off for a National League team, a role that has to depress RBI projections a bit).

And this: James projects only seven players to have a higher OPS than Hamilton in 2008 -- Barry Bonds, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Cabrera. Among those whom James projects Hamilton to out-OPS: Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, Adam Dunn, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, Grady Sizemore.

And Hafner.

By now you might be asking yourself the same question that dogs me about this trade: Why is Cincinnati doing this?

We all know the promise that Volquez has. But the bottom line, from a Reds standpoint, is they're trading a potential star who makes the league minimum and is under club control for five more years in exchange for a pitcher who is 3-11, 7.20 in the big leagues. Does that make sense?--Newburg Report

You can read Jamey's whole review of the Josh Hamilton trade here, but I'll say this...if Josh stays off the drugs, I think Texas might have simply stone cold robbed one of the best young players and one of the highest ceiling guys in the sport.

I don't consider Volquez to be nearly as good as either Yo or Carlos V, and despite his high obvious potential, I'm not going to be impressed by a 4.50 ERA in a September tiny sample.

12/22/2007 10:21:00 PM

(12/22/2007 09:19:00 AM) - Al

When most every LF/3B candidate is mentioned, it is almost without fail that I hear from at least one fan who asks me "Is that player really better than a Gabe Gross/Joe Dillon platoon?"

Of course, Gross would get the majority of the PA's in any platoon type set-up, and Gabe has performed at a very competent level during his time in the majors. He has yet to establish himself as an everyday player (and likely never will, as thus far, has not hit LHP's at all), but when you look at Gross' stats and 2008 projections compared to Geoff Jenkins, Kenny Lofton, and Hank Blalock, for example, they are pretty close, especially when you know Gabe will make about $500K this season.

Much of how you feel about Gross is also likely dependent on your views overall, on such things as a "proven closer" or whether RBI's mean anything. As far as I can tell, having a proven closer just means you are paying someone for being used in the 9th inning in the past, and RBI's are directly related to the amount of men on base when you are hitting. To me, both those things and 50 cents will buy you a paper, but to many, there is some sort of magical "skill set" that makes you an RBI man or a closer.

Over the past few years, I've seen Dan Kolb transform into a "proven closer", as has Bob Wickman, as has Derrick Turnbow, and amazingly, Frankie Cordero went from being "washed up" to being worth $46M in the span of about 220 games. I've also seen a guy like Tony Batista, who failed to get on base 30% of the time, get paid a lot of money to do so, because he often hit in the middle of the order and was a "run producer", even though common sense proved otherwise.

I certainly would not feel like LF was a weak spot in Gross gets a majority of the starts out there, as he'll likely finish with better numbers than several guys making big money. But to be realistic, he'd likely be an ok starter, yet I know he'd be a very good reserve.

12/22/2007 09:19:00 AM

(12/22/2007 09:11:00 AM) - Al

At some point today, Ramblings will set a record for hits in a month, on this, just the 22nd day of the month. Thank you winter meetings, adding a few relievers, and that link from Tim at MLBTR...not to mention the fine contributions from Robert and Jason, and most of all, to you for continuing to type in that URL or to click on your favorites.

12/22/2007 09:11:00 AM

Friday, December 21, 2007

(12/21/2007 02:14:00 PM) - Al

I will be enjoying an early Xmas much of the next couple days, so posts will be light.

Have a happy early holiday, and an enjoyable winter solstice.

12/21/2007 02:14:00 PM

Thursday, December 20, 2007

(12/20/2007 07:47:00 PM) - Al

Allow me to say I am all but positive that almost any single male would love to have the "bad luck" associated with dating Jessica Simpson.

And, in the immortal words of Kelly Bundy...she's stupid too (though to be honest, simple is probably a better description than stupid...she's just a singer who was shielded from such things as book learnin' and such).

12/20/2007 07:47:00 PM

(12/20/2007 07:14:00 PM) - Al

Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo plans to drop out of the race during an announcement Thursday afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa, GOP sources close to the campaign have told FOX News. He plans to endorse Mitt Romney.

I have two here...

1. Who is Tom Tancredo?

2. Well, there's a half-dozen more votes for Mitt!

I guarantee you I'll darn near tie with Tancredo, and I'm not even running.

12/20/2007 07:14:00 PM

(12/20/2007 04:49:00 PM) - Al

Phillies signed outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who had been with the Brewers, to a two-year, $13 million contract with a mutual vesting option for 2010.

We just have to face it that we live in an era in which even 33-year-old platoon corner outfielders coming off back-to-back mediocre seasons get multiyear deals. It only takes one out of 30 GMs to think a player is worth it. Jenkins isn't a terrible signing. He still covers a fair amount of ground in the outfield, and he complements Jayson Werth well in a platoon situation. Plus, with where the Phillies are, the extra win he might provide over Brad Wilkerson could make all of the difference in the NL East. He just would have been a much better gamble for one year. The Phillies figure to hit him sixth, putting him right behind three guys with the potential for .400 OBPs in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. Sure, two of them are extraordinarily slow, but that could still leave him with a mess of RBI opportunities and give him more fantasy value than he's had since 2005.--Rotoworld

I assume Geoff just took the most guaranteed money, and he might well put up very nice numbers playing half his games in a bandbox, but I wonder why he did not just accept a one year deal or less cash to play with the Padres, where he'd be able to spend several days off at home in Arizona with his young child, not to mention one more away series per year. To me, it's all Monopoly money at this point for Jenkins, but I suppose $5M or $6.5M does make a difference to some. Needless to say, I'm sure he did not make his choice based on the quality of the home fans.:)

Best of luck to Geoff.

12/20/2007 04:49:00 PM

(12/20/2007 04:33:00 PM) - Al

The Crew signed Gabe Kapler, probably as an OF reserve, as Gabe's days of being an everyday player are long past. Kapler is a good defender, can play all three OF spots, and who always hit LHP's very well (.340/.468), by the way, so I suppose he could be considered a platoon option with say, Kenny Lofton. He may well be looked at as the poor man's (franchise's) Kevin Mench.

I wanted Lofton to be a one year stopgap as a LF (his name also came up in the roundtable), so I am happy to see Doug asking about him. If they are looking at him for the OF, personally, I hope it's as a LF with Hall and Braun staying where they are, as I feel both will improve markedly in '08 (I just saw a stat that said Bill was a plus defender in the 2nd half of 2007, after struggling early, and I would tend to agree).

It could well be Braun simply surprised the braintrust by being so open to a move to the OF, so they checked the available 3B first and now, have gone back to looking for an OF.

12/20/2007 04:33:00 PM

(12/20/2007 12:40:00 PM) - Robert R.

Rumors are that the Brewers are apparently interested in Kenny Lofton. Seems to make some sense, good OBP, left-handed hitter, who probably would sign a one year deal. Nobody has really regretted signing Lofton yet, although he is getting up there in years.

I don't know if the Brewers would move Hall to third and Braun to leftfield, insert Lofton in a leftfield platoon and leave Hall and Braun where they are, or simply use Lofton as a reserve and send Gwynn elsewhere or to AAA, but they have options.

12/20/2007 12:40:00 PM

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

(12/19/2007 07:26:00 PM) - Al

Silva signs with SEA, 4y/$44M.

My goodness. Silva's career numbers are not bad at all, you could even call them solid, but it's tough to look at 2006 and see a contract like that just a single year later.

I thought I might have suggested we "buy low" on Silva after his horrible '06, I'll have to check.

UPDATE: Nope, at least not at Ramblings.

12/19/2007 07:26:00 PM

(12/19/2007 07:21:00 PM) - Al

KC, solidly on their way to spending a lot of money to win 75 games, sign Ron Mahay to a 2y/$8M deal. This could make Jimmy Gobble available, though I doubt the Crew would add another reliever, unless one is swapped out as part of a package.

12/19/2007 07:21:00 PM

(12/19/2007 07:19:00 PM) - Al

Mark A bobblehead for sale on Ebay.

I think it's safe to say my wife would not pay $100 for one of me (likely, not $10) and that's what it is selling for with a day left to go.

12/19/2007 07:19:00 PM

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

(12/18/2007 07:54:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

The Cubs signing Fukudome reminds me a bit of your Carlos Lee vs. Corey Hart post. After all, if Fukudome is projected to be a league average outfielder turning 30, why wouldn't the Cubs just play Matt Murton, an outfielder that is only twenty-five and hits better than league average already, rather than paying a guy $12 million dollars as he passes his peak?


I got this last week, and saved it as a draft and just thought about it now. I do admit, if Fukudome projects as a 800 OPS guy...Murton is probably a cheaper, very similar option, though not as good a defender.

I'd still love to see the Brewers end up with Murton, but the prospects of that seem very bleak.

12/18/2007 07:54:00 PM

(12/18/2007 07:52:00 PM) - Al

I have to admit, my Sunday post basically calling the vast majority of NFL people complete buffoons didn't exactly take a hit with this little tale.

I'm sorry, but if the person you feel is the most wrongly imprisoned is Mike Vick, you are perhaps the stupidest person that has ever lived.

12/18/2007 07:52:00 PM

(12/18/2007 03:14:00 PM) - Al

I think they should put in the paper when Amy Winehouse goes an entire day without getting arrested.

Amy, it's 9PM, time to get up and get read your rights...

What an incredible waste of oxygen and such. Maybe we should start a pool as to which day we are treated to the obligatory "she was a musical genius, yet a troubled soul" obit.

12/18/2007 03:14:00 PM

(12/18/2007 03:07:00 PM) - Al

Mets signed RHP Matt Wise, who had been with the Brewers, to a one-year contract.

The Brewers liked Guillermo Mota better, so they traded for him last month and then non-tendered Wise last week. Our guess is that Wise is the more effective pitcher next season, and the Mets are probably getting him for less than half the $3.2 million Mota was due to make. He'll work in middle relief.--Rotoworld

Good luck to Matt in New York. He certainly did not sign where he expects to be the main set-up guy or anything like that.

12/18/2007 03:07:00 PM

(12/18/2007 03:02:00 PM) - Al


One thing that has been really bugging me about this whole Mitchell Report thing is all the HGH allegations and how the media is pretty much presenting HGH and steroids as one and the same as a PED.

Allow me to present you two links that question the actual enhancement ability of HGH:

Link 1

Link 2

Rob Neyer's insider blog today presented another doctor's opinion and actual scientific evidence that HGH does not possess any known performance enhancing abilities.

Here is the relevant snippet from the article Neyer gleaned from a medical site:

HGH has some definite and proven medical benefits. It is currently approved medically in the United States for two primary indications, short stature in children and growth hormone deficiency in adults. All of these HGH benefits, however, are in individuals with growth hormone deficiency. In people with normal GH levels, HGH does not improve athletic performance in terms of muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. In fact, several placebo-controlled studies have been negative.

A 4-week, double-blind Swedish study using 2 doses of HGH and placebo found no differences in subjects exercising on a bicycle in terms of power output and oxygen uptake. In another study, a single injection of HGH increased plasma lactate and reduced exercise performance.

In addition to the lack of effectiveness for enhancing athletic performance, HGH has a downside. It can cause dose-related side effects including diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, fluid retention, joint stiffness, muscle pain, and high blood pressure.

It turns out that, like Paul Bunyan, the athletic benefits of HGH is a myth.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Griffing, Professor of Medicine at St. Louis University and Editor in Chief of Internal Medicine for eMedicine.

As you know, I am a dairy farmer. Growth hormone is a pretty controversial topic in the dairy industry also. HGH has a bovine equivalant commonly known as BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone). We've been using BGH for approximately 13 years now. The reason we use BGH isn't to make our cows bigger and stronger. A cow not supplemented with BGH will have her milk production peak at around 100-120 days after calving. Supplementing her with BGH will simply extend this peak. If it added more muscle mass, I'd think that people that grow cattle for beef would be using it, but you don't see that.

The only real issue I see with HGH use in baseball is players using it without a valid prescription. Declaring that HGH compromises the integrity of the game is not based on sound scientific fact. Many people counter my arguments by saying that if HGH didn't work, why do players use it? To them I respond, have baseball players ever been known to be the smartest people on earth?


I'll let Jon's well written piece stand alone. Thanks for the legwork and for thinking of us.

12/18/2007 03:02:00 PM

(12/18/2007 02:58:00 PM) - Al

SEA and Carlos Silva are close to a 4y/$44M deal.

For those of you keeping track, I just saw someone suggest we extend Sheets at $12M per...heh. If mediocrity like Silva can get $11M per, the price of Santana has got to be pushing $30M, so Sheets would seem to be a $20M man, even if he is only good for 150 frames a season.

12/18/2007 02:58:00 PM

Monday, December 17, 2007

(12/17/2007 03:37:00 PM) - Al

I tell you what, if I wasn't talking to my agent, I sure would not have kept the putz around to collect 5% of the contract I negotiated because he was too busy negotiating with teams I didn't want to play for.

12/17/2007 03:37:00 PM

(12/17/2007 03:17:00 PM) - Al

It'll be interesting to see what spin is put on Leno and Conan returning, as many have been critical of Ellen, Carson Daly, and others who have, heavens, chosen to work without union scribes.

I, as almost always is the case, think it is every person's right to decide what is right for them. The union is looking out for "the big picture", but every individual has every right to represent themselves, even in this, a union which is required to be joined when you write a script. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that such "forced membership" is not going to lead to a very loyal following.

The splits have already been formed and the union seems rather weak, to say the least. I might just accept what I can get at this point to keep the entire union from crumbling, which might just be a couple months away.

12/17/2007 03:17:00 PM

(12/17/2007 02:59:00 PM) - Al

Robert and I have both mentioned that much of the concern about falling movie attendance is based on the many non-movie goers who attended Mel Gibson's Christ film a few years ago and skewed the numbers for ages.

I think I've seen the movie industry declared "dead", or at least "on its death bed" since the day Beta debuted. It's always puzzling to me when something that takes about a kijillion dollars is always labeled a failure.

I think the problem is almost certainly related to a lack of quality at the multiplex. I just watched Superbad on DVD over the weekend and was very wasn't very funny, and certainly not a fraction as touching as the American Pie series it was compared to. All 3 of the Pies had characters that were crude, but they cared about each other and were certainly infinitely more likable than anyone in Superbad.

I think it also says something that a generic family cartoon, which looked like any other straight-to-DVD release, did blockbuster business. People are just starved for not a classic, but anything that even resembles a film for the family. You don't have to look past the terribly bad run the anti-war films have had to see the public is just looking desperately to be entertained and not preached to.

12/17/2007 02:59:00 PM

(12/17/2007 02:51:00 PM) - Al

This comes from a Cape Cod League weblog, asking why the Brewers do not bring back Jeff Cirillo.

I always liked Jeff, but at this point, Joe Dillon does everything Jeff does, and does it better...and does several more things. Cirillo is kind of like a Kevin Mench Lite at 3B...he simply mashes LHP, and fields adequately as well. He can give Prince a day off at 1B versus a tough LH, and can play 2B in a pinch. Dillon also can play the OF and even SS if pressed, so there is certainly no reason to want Cirillo to replace Joe.

The truth is, Cirillo barely hits replacement level vs. RHP anymore. The only way I see him contributing to the '08 Crew is if Dillon is part of a LF platoon.

12/17/2007 02:51:00 PM

(12/17/2007 11:26:00 AM) - Al

If the Brewers chose to take offers on Ben Sheets, what sort of bounty could they expect in return? Is his value higher than Haren and Bedard? - Andy

Sheets' value is much less than Haren and Bedard. For one thing you only get one year of him as opposed to three of Haren and two of Bedard. He's also more expensive in '08 than those guys, and the biggest health risk of the three. I think he could net two or three B type prospects, but the Brewers are best served hanging on to him.---MLBTR

Sheets is not even worth half of what Haren brought the A's, and one must remember that if Doug would deal him, he would only want major league ready players, not kids in A ball.

The beautiful thing that Beane realized is he had a valuable property whose value was as high as ever...3 years before free agency, signed to a reasonable contract, very effective history, no checkered past of health concerns. Tomorrow, Haren might get hurt while working out, and be worth a fraction of that. When you're rebuilding, you need a plethora of young talent. Beane did that brilliantly.

12/17/2007 11:26:00 AM

(12/17/2007 08:48:00 AM) - Robert R.

Remember all those articles about the death of the box office? Just maybe it had to do with filmmakers making movies that people looking for entertainment just didn't want to see. I Am Legend almost made $80 million this weekend and cemented Will Smith as the #1 box office draw on the planet. He's come a long way from making joke rap songs. Add in that Alvin and the Chipmunks, despite looking awful to me, made $45 million this weekend.

12/17/2007 08:48:00 AM

Sunday, December 16, 2007

(12/16/2007 07:30:00 PM) - Al

Eli reports the Crew is waiting for the losers of the Carlos Silva/Kyle Lohse sweepstakes...who would have ever thought that would be a phrase?

12/16/2007 07:30:00 PM

(12/16/2007 05:20:00 PM) - Al

I asked yesterday if the soaps were still new, and I have learned that many are being written by non-union writers (using outlines previously done) and some have made "deals" rather than stay on strike.

Thanks to those that replied.

12/16/2007 05:20:00 PM

(12/16/2007 04:30:00 PM) - Al

I have had the TV onto football today as I have spent much of the past couple hours online in a tournament, as sadly, there is no good marathon on Discovery, A&E, or TLC. So, thus far I've seen:

1. Unsportsmanlike conduct on the Rams' coaching staff.

2. Unsportsmanlike conduct on a Rams' defender for throwing the ball.

3. Unsportsmanlike conduct on an Eagles' bench player for running into an official.

Also, an Eagles' player made an interception, and decided to come out of the end zone, and after making several Cowboys miss, was tackled at the 8 and fumbled the ball back to DAL.

Honestly, I doubt if I could work in that league for more than a couple days...the ignorance level would simply overwhelm me by Day 3.

12/16/2007 04:30:00 PM

(12/16/2007 08:54:00 AM) - Al

Nice piece on Joba and his dad.

Hat tip to Dave Pinto.

12/16/2007 08:54:00 AM

(12/16/2007 08:43:00 AM) - Al

I know this would appeal to almost everyone who visits, but I doubt the pricetag is affordable to hardly any.

There's one of Braun here as well.

12/16/2007 08:43:00 AM

Saturday, December 15, 2007

(12/15/2007 02:14:00 PM) - Al

Two quick questions:

1. Just wondering if any of Ramblings' readers are medical workers, or maybe their spouse or sibling is. If you are, shoot me an e-mail.

2. Are the daytime dramas still new? If they are, how many of these did they have made ahead?

12/15/2007 02:14:00 PM

(12/15/2007 10:37:00 AM) - Al

Jim Edmonds to SD, for just a prospect. How the mighty have fallen.

12/15/2007 10:37:00 AM

Friday, December 14, 2007

(12/14/2007 09:13:00 PM) - Al

I don't know much about the Clippers, but this reeks of a release for "non-basketball reasons".

I really enjoyed watching Patterson play last year, as he often played the power forward spot very much undersized. I know he's had a few personal issues, but he's certainly better than most anyone's 15th man.

12/14/2007 09:13:00 PM

(12/14/2007 07:53:00 PM) - Al

ARI also sent Jose Valverde packing, seemingly trading a "proven closer" for 3 good players. I don't see Jose any better than Chad Qualls, and I've always been a fan of Chris Burke, so I feel the D'Backs got the edge on this one as well.

That said, if the Astros end up getting 2 draft picks, that evens it up quite a bit. Since it's a long way down the road, however, it's tough to count on them at all.

12/14/2007 07:53:00 PM

(12/14/2007 07:49:00 PM) - Al

ARI sends a half-dozen prospects to OAK for Dan Haren...the fearless rebuilding of the A's has begun. I'll let MLBTR go over this one, slightly newsworthy is Dana Eveland heads to the A's, as does Chris Carter, the slugging 1B that ARI picked up from the White Sox. We'll probably get a chance to see what Dana does now, as I assume Beane will let him sink or swim.

I will say what I always say in deals like this...that sure is a lot to give up for 3 seasons completely dependent on the healthy right elbow and shoulder of a single pitcher.

12/14/2007 07:49:00 PM

(12/14/2007 04:05:00 PM) - Al

Looks like Letterman, Leno, and so on will be back soon after the holidays, as they look to come back together to avoid, heaven forbid, peer pressure.

It's been so long people have forgotten that Carson did shows during the last strike. With no negotiations even taking place, and writers seemingly arguing about a penny or two a DVD, I certainly don't see much of a issue. I do have to believe that in a couple years, there will be articles written about how the network numbers never came back post-strike.

Personally, I'm shocked it is not written in their contracts that the late-night hosts "must go on" regardless, as the Ellen show has been required to do.

The article mentions that Kimmel has done nicely in reruns, as I assume many are watching fresh Nightlines and then "it's new to me" Jimmy. I admit, when I have watched him (it's on very late here), Jimmy has always been very funny, and his work on The Man Show and even Win Ben Stein's Money is very funny, albeit rather "mature".

12/14/2007 04:05:00 PM

(12/14/2007 03:58:00 PM) - Al

Reliever Akinori Otsuka hit the free agent market on Wednesday; he turns 36 in January. With a career ERA of 2.44 in 232 innings, it's surprising the Rangers chose to non-tender him. Otsuka earned $3MM in 2007, and even with a raise he'd have been a decent play on a one-year deal.

Unless, of course, the Rangers believes something is still wrong with Otsuka's elbow. I think that has to be the case, despite a trickle of positive reports recently. The Phillies are the latest team to express interest in Otsuka.---MLBTR

I just told an e-mailer this morning I assumed Otsuka would miss much of 2008 after surgery, but I guess he has chosen to forego the knife and hope his body holds up. He's a fine risk to take for a one year contract, but I wouldn't give him a penny for year two until he stays healthy for this coming campaign.

I would guess he'll end up with the Red Sox or another larger market team who can better afford to take a $4M risk and not get anything from it.

12/14/2007 03:58:00 PM

(12/14/2007 03:45:00 PM) - Al

Greg Aquino claimed on waivers by the Orioles, who appear to be building a bullpen by throwing a bunch of hard throwers against a wall and seeing what sticks. Many would argue that is a cheap way of building an efficient 'pen, though it's probably not realistic for a contender to do.

Aquino was a lot better than people seem to recall, he had very nice secondary numbers. As Doug points out in the link, the Crew did not expect him to make the 25 man, so at some point, he'd have to clear waivers, so they tried it now, possibly hoping the $500K/176K split deal he signed might scare off an especially frugal club, but all that is known is the Orioles picked him up.

At the very least, he seems like a good bet to be a generic middle reliever, and he has two plus pitches, if he can control them.

12/14/2007 03:45:00 PM

Thursday, December 13, 2007

(12/13/2007 07:41:00 PM) - Al


I have spent some time wondering if Braun was really that bad in the field last year as well. I have heard some call him "historically bad".

So, let's take a look at the revised zone rating The Hardball Times uses. Braun comes in last at 3B, which I can see. To figure it out, I took the total number of runs scored and divided it by the total number of total bases. According to that, each base is .33 runs. Since I do not know if Braun's missed plays resulted in a single or a double, I split the difference, and went with .5 runs.

Pedro Feliz is pretty much understood to be the best defensive 3B in MLB, and going by my .5 number, he was about 40 plays ahead of "average", about 20 runs, a number you used once as well. Using the same criteria, Braun is also about 40 plays under "average", which would equal about 20 runs. I'd say Ryan was about -20 defensively below average. Where folks are getting numbers higher than that would seem to be exaggeration.


Jon's e-mail gave me a headache, but seems mathematically sound. I'm a little dizzy now, so I'm letting it stand on its own merits.

12/13/2007 07:41:00 PM

(12/13/2007 02:45:00 PM) - Al

The JS has some reports on Gagne in their blog, which as Tom H points out, if he ever took HGH, he still may be, as MLB has no test for it, even now.

12/13/2007 02:45:00 PM

(12/13/2007 02:36:00 PM) - Al

What do you make of this comment in the Mitchell report referring to Gagne? Interesting what the scout has to say.


When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné's possible use of steroids. In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, "Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?"

The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded, Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues.
Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff . . . Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did . . . Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne.

In order to provide Gagné with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he declined.

No offense to George Mitchell, who did his best, but this shows how useless the entire investigation was, as it was able to only to bring forward various forms of heresay, half-truths, and gossip, like the above. MLB is now at its most popular state ever, and testing is now in place. The past is a bit of an unknown, but as I have said from Day 1, unless time travel is invented, it is not a concern of mine what may have or might have happened ages ago.

To answer DJ's question, I think Theo and others think Gagne was a user. Whether he was, we'll probably never know.

12/13/2007 02:36:00 PM

(12/13/2007 01:09:00 PM) - Al

Brilliantly written piece comparing "fast food places" to local diners, and needless to say, one is attacked as evil by the ignorant mass media, and the other is celebrated by The Food Network. Yet, not many family owned "dives" have healthy options such as salads and apples.

You know why there are no vegan chains? Because they would not be profitable.

It's capitalism, my friends, welcome to the jungle.

12/13/2007 01:09:00 PM

(12/13/2007 12:35:00 PM) - Al

Twins agreed to terms with shortstop Adam Everett, who had been with the Astros, on a one-year contract.

The Twins never seemed sold on the idea of Nick Punto as a shortstop, though it's certainly a lot less ludicrous than playing him regularly at third base. Everett will prove to be an upgrade, but if it means Punto is going to log a lot of time at second or third, it wouldn't put any additional wins on the board for the Twins.--Rotoworld

I am chuckling to myself often today, as one, I am waiting for the inevitable Gleeman explosion, albeit, probably not a big one, as Everett is a fine defender. I will say I bet Everett is aided by the turf at the Dome to not suck as much at the plate as you'd think, but it's tough to know, as he's barely had any AB's on turf in his NL career.

Also, watching some folks over at various Brewers' boards stumble and underestimate Everett's defensive value, after overestimating Braun's liabilities all offseason, is absolutely hilarious. From what I can tell, as the story goes, Adam is the best defensive SS in MLB and he's worth about 20 runs saved, while Braun is the worst defensive 3B in MLB, and that's about 70 negative runs. Heh. Let's also just ignore the little factual nugget that 3B gets about 40% of the chances that SS does. My goodness, 3B barely have 2 chances a game, and often, Braun handled his flawlessly.

It is very funny how people overreact to this or that when the hometown team is mentioned. I got an e-mail the other day asking how Braun has gotten worse since the end of the season, and I actually had wondered the same thing. My goodness, I read a while back that Capuano and Vargas should be non-tendered, while in reality, each is just about the equal of Carlos Silva, who will likely sign a 4y/$40M contract this offseason.

UPDATE: FYI, Jeff Sackmann estimates Braun's defense will be about -30 runs for 2008, which I might feel is a tad high, but is at least grounded in intelligence, so I think it is safe to go with that number. As a guideline, I would probably say 15-20 myself, but as always with defensive metrics, it's all just an estimate.

12/13/2007 12:35:00 PM

(12/13/2007 09:56:00 AM) - Al

As you would expect, ticket sales are up, with season ticket renewals at about 90% thus far.

12/13/2007 09:56:00 AM

(12/13/2007 09:46:00 AM) - Al

Here's the official list of non-tendered players...several solid role players, and a few arms as well. If the Brewers did not already have 15-17 candidates for the dozen pitching spots, I'd be all over Brendan Donnelly. Oddly enough, despite the catching shortage, both Olivio and Estrada are now free agents, and both will likely catch 100+ games somewhere.

The Mitchell Report is released today and rumor has it several Yankees are on it, though as with the entire thing, many just by heresay, like Roger Clemens being mentioned by Jason Grimsley.

12/13/2007 09:46:00 AM

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(12/12/2007 07:58:00 PM) - Al

I'm surprised it is still so cold in Oklahoma, as I would guessed 40-45. 33 is mighty chilly to not have any heat, that's for sure. I still recall Ben Stein correctly saying you should always have a few hundred dollars in cash for just such emergencies...though it should be noted Nightline reported last night thousands of beds were available and going unused at shelters.

I shudder to see the pic at the link with a guy using his gas stove to heat his kitchen...that's just a disaster waiting to happen.

12/12/2007 07:58:00 PM

(12/12/2007 07:46:00 PM) - Al

I have a hard time believing Adam Everett had no value and had to be non-tendered.

HOU just seems like a franchise with little direction and no plan at all. Given Tejada's decline the past few years and Everett's superior defense, I do not think the Astros improved themselves by more than a game or two, and gave up several very talented youngsters.

12/12/2007 07:46:00 PM

(12/12/2007 07:30:00 PM) - Al

So, I am hoping I'm back to "normal" now, after suffering for 2.5 days with stomach cramps, which I now think has been caused by lactose intolerance, a malady I have not suffered from before, but I think I've developed.

Monday, I awoke feeling terrible, but felt obligated to go to work, as I was working with a new person. I suffered through the day, not eating at all, and feeling a little better. I ate supper Monday night and felt better, as was often the case, full stomach versus empty stomach. I woke up feeling bad Tuesday as well, but felt better as the day wore on. Looking back, it seems like a 5 minute CSI episode:

Sunday night, my wife came home from a craft club with homemade brownies, which by law, you must eat with a glass of milk. Monday, I had an ice cream sandwich after the late local news. Last evening, I had a glass of milk with my granola bar after supper. It seems strange this has happened all at once, but of course, I barely drink milk anymore, as I tend to drink nothing but no calorie drinks. I have probably only had ice cream a dozen times this calendar year as well.

I am just hoping this is the case, as it is relatively minor and can be controlled. It affects people differently, but in many cases, ice cream and milk are the two main culprits, as cheese is a wild card, some have no trouble, some are bothered quite a bit by it. It was scary doing an online search, because ulcers kept popping up over and over. Those cannot be fun.

12/12/2007 07:30:00 PM

(12/12/2007 07:10:00 PM) - Al

Brewers agreed to terms with RHP Seth McClung on a one-year, $750,000 contract.

The Brewers could have kept Matt Wise for roughly what they're paying both McClung and Greg Aquino, but it looks like GM Doug Melvin wants to take his chances with harder throwers next year. McClung gave up nine runs -- five earned -- in 12 innings after joining the Brewers in August. He'll contend for a bullpen spot in spring training.--Rotoworld

RW seems fixated on Wise, but I really like McClung myself, especially at that price. Barring injury, I'm pretty sure Seth will open the 2008 season on the 25 man roster, as there's no way he'd clear waivers, throwing 97 consistently.

Brewers agreed to terms with RHP Greg Aquino on a one-year, $500,000 contract.

Aquino avoids being non-tendered by agreeing to a split contract that would pay him $176,000 in the minors. We're surprised he didn't prefer to take his chances elsewhere, as he's going to be a long shot to make the Brewers. At least he did get a nice minor league salary in the package.--Rotoworld

I agree, Aquino could have done better elsewhere, especially if you consider making a 25 man roster. A team like the Pirates should just collect guys like Aquino like bottlecaps and hope a few produce and are worth more than they should be at the deadline. I assume he's out of options, but teams often are full in late March when he'll likely be sent down.

12/12/2007 07:10:00 PM

(12/12/2007 01:08:00 PM) - Al

December 2007 hits have surpassed December 2006...and yes, it is just the 12th.

Thanks for making Ramblings a stop on your tour of the web.

12/12/2007 01:08:00 PM

(12/12/2007 01:03:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al, nice work on the blog...I love reading about baseball in the offseason, you are providing a great service!

Something I would be interested in your opinion on:

Why no Jason Bay talk regarding Milwaukee? The Brewers and the Pirates seem to be on pretty good terms (except for the Brewers inability to win in Pittsburgh), they have done deals in the past (most recently Torres) and Pittsburgh seems to be shopping him heavily.

Too expensive maybe?

Anyway, thanks again!


I will link to this rumor as to Bay, and yes, the Padres are supposedly going to give up a ton for Bay. It would appear Doug is looking for a 3B right now, as there have been no OF rumors at all.

12/12/2007 01:03:00 PM

(12/12/2007 01:00:00 PM) - Al

The Astros acquire Miguel Tejada for several solid, young players.

I gotta agree with MLBTR here, the Astros overpaid for a year or two of mediocrity.

12/12/2007 01:00:00 PM

(12/12/2007 10:53:00 AM) - Al

The Padres will non-tender Morgan Ensberg, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Ensberg struggled in 2007, but showed good pop in limited playing time after joining the Padres at midseason and is a career .265/.366/.476 hitter. Ensberg had a 945 OPS in 2005 and a 849 OPS in 2006, and once non-tendered he could be targeted by teams like the Twins that need short-term third base help.--Rotoworld

I'd be all over Ensberg normally, but he was awful last year, and is rumored to be on Mitchell's list which will be released tomorrow.

12/12/2007 10:53:00 AM

(12/12/2007 10:38:00 AM) - Al

Fukudome signs with the Cubs. He apparently took less cash than offered by the Rangers and maybe the White Sox, apparently he wanted to play for the more "known" team.

He would seemingly compare pretty well to a poor man's Hideki Matsui, as Dave Pinto does a nice job of comparing here. I'd probably project him at .350/.450, which means he's a near average corner OF offensively, but is said to be excellent defensively. $12M for league average seems a bit steep, but I suppose it's the cost of doing business...and, the Cubs did not have to give up a player and they sell tickets fast and furious, so I s'pose they could overpay.

I might say this puts the Cubs right back up to even with the Brewers as of right now. That said, I expect the Brewers to improve themselves when they deal an excess SP or two.

12/12/2007 10:38:00 AM

(12/12/2007 09:24:00 AM) - Al

Doug discusses his plans to rebuild the bullpen, which basically involved overpaying a bit for 2008 to avoid committing money to 2009 and beyond, and not losing any of the young core.

Mike Hunt says given the money spent and talent acquired, the Crew did nicely.

12/12/2007 09:24:00 AM

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

(12/11/2007 03:29:00 PM) - Al

Matt Wise DFA'd.

As is often the case, this is the best thing that could have happened for Matt, as his numbers are better than almost any reliever on the market. He will have many suitors, and might end up making a good chunk of cash.

Doug has always preferred big, stocky, hard-throwing RH relievers, and Matt did not fit that mold, to say the least. He also struggled going more than one inning and on back-to-back days. All the negatives were overlooked, however, because Wise really was effective.

After his struggles at the end of last year, and the plethora of new relief arms brought in, he was deemed expendable. Sadly, his value was very low due to his work late last season. But, he will probably have double digit teams calling him, and several will make offers.

Best of luck to Matt, who was a solid waiver wire pickup by Doug ages ago.

12/11/2007 03:29:00 PM

(12/11/2007 03:26:00 PM) - Al

There was a time that SCD was required reading for most everyone I knew. I reiterate Jason's words of sorrow, and my thoughts are also with the family.

12/11/2007 03:26:00 PM

(12/11/2007 09:27:00 AM) - Jason Christopherson

I've been collecting baseball cards since I was a six year old kid in 1977. Obviously, a lot of things have changed in the hobby over the last thirty years but one thing had held constant: Larry Fritsch. Larry was a pioneer in the card industry--possibly the first full-time card dealer. His catalog was looked upon by my brother and I probably more than a Sears Wish Book (well, the younger crowd will have to trust me--at the time the Sears Wish Book was HUGE!). We would scape together a $5 or $10 order as often as we could, and it would always arrive very quickly--often with a little hand written thank you note from Larry. He treated us with the same respect and courtesy that he treated folks that would drop $1000 at a time.

Larry passed away on Saturday at the way-too-young age of 71. Sports Collectors Daily ran a short story here here, the first of what will sure to be many remembering the hobby icon.

My condolences to the Fritsch family.

12/11/2007 09:27:00 AM

Monday, December 10, 2007

(12/10/2007 08:31:00 PM) - Al

Tom mentions Sal Torres has put aside his retirement talk for now, and that he's "getting vibes" on Hank Blalock, which would match the Rangers' need for pitching with the Brewers' surplus.

I discussed Hank here, as his splits are awe-inducing, off-the-charts. To be honest, they are so odd I'm not even sure what to think of them anymore. The ballpark in Arlington has been almost exactly neutral the past couple seasons, and his home/away splits remain really strange. Maybe he is just that uncomfortable on the road, I don't know.

EDIT: I just read Blalock was drafted by the Doug Melvin regime of the Rangers. That would seemingly make this a much more likely scenario. Given the fact he also hits LH, which Doug has mentioned often, and the tidbit that TEX could use some rotation almost seems like it makes too much sense not to happen.

UPDATE: The Crew almost made Gwynn a Ranger twice last July, once for Otsuka and once for Gagne...this makes too much sense.

UPDATE 2: I almost forgot, Gerald Laird has also been mentioned as a target, by Robert as well as many who knew the Crew wanted to upgrade at C.

I just took a look at the Rangers depth chart, I think the Brewers have a minimum of 8 pitchers (and maybe 9) that could easily fit into the Rangers' rotation.

12/10/2007 08:31:00 PM

(12/10/2007 08:09:00 PM) - Al

Gagne passes his physical, and is officially in the fold.

Tom H thinks Wise may be removed from the 40 man to make room, and I would tend to agree. If he is DFA'd, I would certainly think he could easily be dealt, as he'll be cheap.

Of course, Mike Rivera or Drew Anderson could easily be removed as well.

12/10/2007 08:09:00 PM

(12/10/2007 04:40:00 PM) - Al

Dayn Perry thinks the Crew is the best in a weak NL Central, and I would agree. I do wonder if he would have had them there before Gagne and Torres were added.

12/10/2007 04:40:00 PM

(12/10/2007 04:18:00 PM) - Al

Gleeman with a nice piece that Dave Eckstein is so overrated by those who like gritty little overachievers, he is actually underrated by many.

David is a nice player, because he plays SS and actually gets on base at a decent clip. All the other stuff about "doing the little things", well, that and 50 cents will get you a paper. Eckstein does plenty of "big things" at a good clip, and that's where his value is.

12/10/2007 04:18:00 PM

(12/10/2007 04:08:00 PM) - Al

Glenn points out that video game manufacturers have figured out what is apparently beyond the folks that make movies.

12/10/2007 04:08:00 PM

(12/10/2007 03:58:00 PM) - Al

HGH has very limited benefits, according to this at least.

Hat tip to Dave Pinto.

I would say that most of the supposed benefit from HGH is the ability to build more endurance and recover from fatigue and/or injury faster. While that may have some residual effect, after all, it is sometimes prescribed after surgery and such, it certainly does not help you hit a ball or run faster, though it might help you train longer and harder to help you do that...though the research does not even seem to back that up.

12/10/2007 03:58:00 PM

(12/10/2007 03:16:00 PM) - Al

Kevin Mench DFA'd to make room for Sal Torres.

I may be in the minority, but I'm sure Kevin will find a spot on a MLB roster and probably contribute more than expected. At the very least, he destroys LHP and at best, he's probably an average or thereabouts corner OF. I would compare Mench's production versus RHP last year to exactly what you'd normally get when you take a guy used to playing a majority of the time and have him face lefties only, with a sporadic PH appearance and a once a month start versus RHP.

I would not hesitate to sign him to a deal and run him out there most every day, and I would think I'd get near league average production out of him. He'd be a nice player for a team who had a guy who could use a half-season at AAA. He'd have some minimal value at the deadline, or you could use him to spell the youngster against the toughest pitcher you're going to face each series.

Of course, Mench is entering a prime "danger zone" for corner OF's who are not exactly prime athletes, as I discussed here, in my "let Corey Hart replace Carlos Lee" post, which I never fail to hesitate to link to, because it makes me look pretty darn smart.

That's probably why no team expressed an interest in trading for Mench, as he isn't a $4M risk, which is likely what he'd get in arby. However, for $1.5-2.5M, he's a pretty small risk, as at the very least, he'll be a lefty killer for the next several years. And, any player who might well contribute at a league average clip for that kind of money, in today's salary structure, is a win/win.

Mench career--.326/.465, 791 OPS
Mench vs. RHP-.310/.420, 730
Mench vs. LHP-.361/.563, 924

Assuming he would play 75% of his time facing RHP as an everyday player, that would put him at:

Mench projected------.323/.456
League average LF/RF-.344/.445

That is almost identical to his career norms. If you'd run him out there and rest him once a week, versus a RHP, you'd likely get a small improvement, and he'd be very close to a league average corner OF. For a short-term risk at the money he'll probably end up with, he may well turn out to be a bargain for '08, at least.

Mench is a good example of the type of players you usually end up being non-tendered, relatively low ceiling, but certainly very serviceable options. As with almost any 1B/OF, hopefully he'll lean toward an AL team without an everyday DH.

12/10/2007 03:16:00 PM

Sunday, December 09, 2007

(12/09/2007 03:19:00 PM) - Jason Christopherson

As one of the lucky recipients of the Rambling Family Christmas Letter for several years, I say "Write, Al, write!"

I love the Gagne signing. Admittedly, my mouth was left agape when I first saw the $10M, but as has already been mentioned--one year isn't a whole lot of risk. Especially when it's someone else's ten million dollars to spend. And considering the Brewers could have been locked in for four years at slightly more money per year for Cordero and, well, did I mention I love the Gagne signing?

I will be surprised if there aren't more deals in the hopper, though. In fact, I wonder if DM, by showing patience and a poker face, is making a perfect play for Rolen, whose value slips every time LaRussa opens his mouth.

12/09/2007 03:19:00 PM

(12/09/2007 10:55:00 AM) - Al

Posts will probably be light from me today, as I have to write the family Xmas letter.

12/09/2007 10:55:00 AM

(12/09/2007 10:50:00 AM) - Al

As Robert mentioned, all the trading pieces are still in place. They'll still be at least a couple trades made, as they can't carry 15 pitchers to open next season.

I still am looking for a possible upgrade in the rotation (Bush or Vargas and a prospect for a veteran, durable SP) and another trade that brings a 3B/LF into the picture.

12/09/2007 10:50:00 AM

(12/09/2007 09:45:00 AM) - Robert R.

Even considering that there are no sure things in the Brewers bullpen, other than Riske and maybe Shouse, I have to say that I think the signings and trades have left the Brewers in a good position for the coming season (and to sell season ticket packages to pay for people like Gagne).

What's most impressive to me is that Melvin really didn't have to dig into his available talent to assemble this group. I'd have thought that at least some of Vargas, Capuano, Bush, Jackson, Gwynn, Escobar, and maybe Gamel would have to be moved. Instead, we're left with the biggest question mark of whether to go with a Gross/Dillon platoon or to pursue trade options. I'm guessing the latter, but it's obvious now that the Brewers aren't going to have to sacrifice long term goals for the short term.

12/09/2007 09:45:00 AM

(12/09/2007 12:57:00 AM) - Al

Gagne's deal is indeed for $10M, one year.

Well more than I guessed, but that's why Eric turned down arby, he knew he had a better deal elsewhere. If he's healthy, it's a nice signing. That's the risk you take as long as you're spending Mark A's money.

12/09/2007 12:57:00 AM

Saturday, December 08, 2007

(12/08/2007 09:51:00 PM) - Al

I have nothing to say about the wedding discussed here...but take a look at the caption under the top picture...I'm glad they explained to me that Lucy was on the right.:)

12/08/2007 09:51:00 PM

(12/08/2007 08:36:00 PM) - Al

Tom's Sunday column includes that soon, the calls for starting pitchers will begin.

Toward the bottom is a note that Rickie and Bill are taking some kids on a day trip to Kansas City next Saturday to visit the Negro League museum. That'd be something even for most adult fans to experience.

12/08/2007 08:36:00 PM

(12/08/2007 07:40:00 PM) - Al

GM Doug Melvin confirmed that there was a deal in place. The Brewers didn't want to go to two years, so they'll pay a premium to bring him in for one season. If he turns in a quality year as the team's closer, that means he'd bring back two draft picks next winter, just like Francisco Cordero did. If not, well, then Melvin will know he was right to stick to one year.--Rotoworld

RW basically says what we all year contracts have very limited downside. However, guys like Cordero are able to get 3-5 year deals, so while Gagne could easily be his equal in 2008, his injury history makes him more of a risk. Hence, why Eric got one year, and Frankie got 4.

There's little doubt you can make the argument, however, that $10M guaranteed to Gagne is less of a risk than $46M to Cordero.

12/08/2007 07:40:00 PM

(12/08/2007 06:35:00 PM) - Al

Eli wonders about a Turnbow trade, and I do as well. I'm sure plenty of teams asked about him, but Doug obviously could not even consider it until he added more bodies.

I will say this for sure...I would say the Crew has about 18-20 realistic options to make the staff right now. The braintrust is not done, I promise you. There are more trades to come.

12/08/2007 06:35:00 PM

(12/08/2007 06:28:00 PM) - Al

Tom H reports that sources are saying the Crew may have paid as much as $10M for Gagne, but the key was they are only on the hook for a single year.

Tom and I agree, that's more than we thought. That said, Gagne is entitled to as much as he can get. Sounds like the only hold up was a 2 year deal, and once TEX fell out of the bidding, the Gagne camp came right back to the Brewers.

It must be all done pending a physical, as Doug never says a word until an agreement is reached, except to dot the I's and cross the T's.

12/08/2007 06:28:00 PM

(12/08/2007 02:20:00 PM) - Al

I guess it's safe to say that if Gagne does sign with the Crew, he'll be getting his own he won't want to stay at the Pfister.

12/08/2007 02:20:00 PM

(12/08/2007 02:11:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers continue to go out of their way to field a group of high character guys, as shown with Jeff Suppan's signing last year.

12/08/2007 02:11:00 PM

(12/08/2007 01:41:00 PM) - Al

Yahoo is reporting the Crew is indeed close to a one year deal with Gagne.

Gagne had a few bad games for the Red Sox, but he was outstanding with the Rangers, and good overall. Actually, his career is positively stellar.

If you glance at his game log from his time in Boston, it looks like he had 3 bad games out of 20, and allowed runs in 7 of 20. I think he just fatigued, as you might expect from a guy coming back from surgery and time off.

If you glance at his splits, he was fine on back-to-back days, but actually struggled on a single day's rest. That would tell me he was healthy, and just wore down as the season wore on, look at his month-to-month numbers.

If this is for the numbers I would expect, $5-6M for a single season, I won't complain a bit. They'd be paying Gagne, Riske, and Torres (assuming he reports) about the same as the Red will be paying Cordero.

That's why many of us use the "in Doug we trust" phrase with little hesitation.

12/08/2007 01:41:00 PM

(12/08/2007 01:35:00 PM) - Al

Tom H thinks that the Brewers are the favorite to sign Gagne by process of elimination, and I might agree. As Tom said, Doug has never dismissed the idea of Gagne, like he has with nearly every other player associated with the Crew.

Of course, Eric may well decide to take another offer from a team to work in the 8th inning, though if that's what he wanted, you would have presumed he would have just accepted arby with the Red Sox.

12/08/2007 01:35:00 PM

(12/08/2007 07:43:00 AM) - Al


Nice job with the Vorpagel video, we are friends of her family.

Wanted to share this with you. While I do not share your disdain for Halloween, my wife does, ever since we went to a get together in 2004, in which some college kids came dressed as US soldiers. One was "bloodied", but another had a piece of paper taped to their shirt that said "I love to shoot Irak kids". Needless to say, the costume wearers were smug little (fools), and were quickly escorted out.

My brother-in-law, I should mention, is an 8 year Marine, who is currently on his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq. My wife has refused to have anything to do with Halloween since, and is also now 100% for public lynching.

I would be quicker to condemn that age group than Halloween supporters. They often have good ideas, but they do not censor themselves like they should. That's also why the 18-25 crowd is responsible for almost all the assaults on police officers...they have not matured enough yet to know better.


Bradley is a friend of Ramblings who has written before, and who is a police officer, by the way and he is also a former military man. A huge debt of gratitude to your brother-in-law as well, sir.

Other than that, I will allow his words to stand alone. Thanks for writing.

12/08/2007 07:43:00 AM

(12/08/2007 01:04:00 AM) - Al

Eric Gagne declines arby, so as of right now, I don't think there's a single team that has any interest in him, publicly at least.

12/08/2007 01:04:00 AM

(12/08/2007 12:32:00 AM) - Al

Apparently, Sal Torres is as unhappy being traded from Pittsburgh as Des Mason was being traded from Milwaukee. Sometimes, you just can't believe what happens.

That said, Torres seems like a good guy at heart, as he has his family's best interests, and as Doug mentioned, sometimes emotion plays a large part in what guys say right after they are dealt.

He sure seems to be loyal to the organization he publicly feuded with last year, or maybe to the city would be more accurate.

12/08/2007 12:32:00 AM

Friday, December 07, 2007

(12/07/2007 09:51:00 PM) - Al

If I was single and say, 15 years younger...yeah, she'd be way out of my league.

Too bad the public will never hear of her, but we are treated to misbehavior of young women on a nightly basis.

On a related note, this story was on our local news a couple weeks ago, also about a young military gal.

12/07/2007 09:51:00 PM

(12/07/2007 08:55:00 PM) - Al

Is it just me, or does it seem like all adults that celebrate Halloween are complete morons? I mentioned the poker player who thought dead kids was hilarious, and now a pair of Penn State students (one of which can be heard on this video describing himself as "so popular") felt the need to dress up as Virginia Tech murder victims.


I recall years ago thinking how nice it would be that people who feel the need to throw away cash on costumes would just donate it to groups that, you know, help little kids grow up not to be complete idiots.

12/07/2007 08:55:00 PM

(12/07/2007 08:38:00 PM) - Al

I heard George Lopez rip Amy Winehouse on the radio today, and while rude, was truthful.

12/07/2007 08:38:00 PM

(12/07/2007 08:35:00 PM) - Al

By my count, if Doug is done stockpiling relievers, Gagne has no teams after him, unless he accepts arby.

If he'll take a one year contract and to be a closer, he might still end up in MIL.

12/07/2007 08:35:00 PM

(12/07/2007 06:46:00 PM) - Al

The Crew picks up Sal Torres from the Pirates. If that name sounds familiar, it's because I've mentioned him oodles of times right here.

most recent

winter meetings preview

early November

July 4th

Torres was superb for 3 years until '07, when he was injured and got into some disagreements about his desire and rehab, which the former management in Pittsburgh chose to argue in the mass media.

Doug hints that this will be the last of his bullpen additions, and I would agree, unless he is able to find someone available as part of a package or on waivers.

Right now, I would say the 7 leaders would be Turnbow, Riske, Mota, Torres, Shouse, McClung, and Parra; with any number of other possibilities as well, including whichever starter(s) remain and do not make the rotation (Bush, Cappy, Vargas), Aquino, Stetter, Wise, and so on. That's about a dozen realistic options, so admittedly, I'm pretty comfy finding seven that will do the job.

That said, I'd still be happy to take Jon Broxton off the Dodgers' hands.:)

12/07/2007 06:46:00 PM

Thursday, December 06, 2007

(12/06/2007 04:26:00 PM) - Al

The only MIL related rumors have Kevin Mench being a likely non-tender, and still having interest in Eric Gagne, despite Doug's public statement that Derrick is the closer and that Gagne is rumored to be accepting arby from BOS.

I would think Eric would prefer a one year closer's role with someone and then try to break the bank in 2008. Maybe he'd prefer it, but is unwilling to take $3-5M less, as he'll get monopoly money in arby.

12/06/2007 04:26:00 PM

(12/06/2007 03:57:00 PM) - Al


I am really high on the possibility of getting Kemp, Ethier and Broxton from the Dodgers. Not only would that trio be relatively cheap, but they are all major league ready. So here would be my proposed deal: Sheets, Hall, Alcides Escobar and Brad Nelson for Kemp, Ethier and Broxton. We would have a lineup that is solid at every
position, Corey Hart would be the second oldest position player at the ripe old age of 26 (followed closely by Hardy, Ethier and Weeks) and would have traded away two of our largest contracts, freeing up money to sign some of these youngsters to long term deals. And our closer position is filled for the next several seasons. The downside is that we give up a pitcher who is a legitimate ace and a versatile young hitter, but you have to trade talent to get talent. Kemp and Broxton are definitely talent and I think Ethier is an above-average player.

Your thoughts?



Steve Stone said on Chicago radio today that a proposed deal was a pair of OF's, probably Kemp and Ethier, to the Crew for Sheets. He said that was not enough for Ben. I'd take it happily. How about you, am I underestimating what Sheets is worth right now?


Peter was the first of many who sent me this, as I'm sure it's hit talk radio and the message boards heavily. To take the easy way out, Ben is worth whatever Doug can get for him. Kemp and Ethier are both very good young players, especially Kemp, who is about as good as you can be and not be a household name. Tell you what, I'd rather have Kemp than Ellsbury, and I love the Jacoby. Broxton is constantly said to be "untouchable", and perhaps he is, but that won't stop Doug from eyeing him and trying to find a way to get him included.

As for Craig's proposal, allow me to say Brad Nelson may well clear waivers, so while he has a sliver of value (he might well have been a very popular minor league free agent had he not been added to the 40 man), his inclusion does not do much for anyone. Escobar is a very good defensive SS and is still very young, and is rated only behind Laporta and Parra for those in the know; so adding him may well make it a "fair" trade...however, if LA is not giving up Broxton, it's all pie-in-the-sky.

I skimmed the boards and Juan Pierre was included in some proposals, almost as a salary dump type of thing, they usually had Pierre and Andy LaRoche in place of Kemp or Ethier. Pierre is a well below average offensive LF, and his arm makes him a liability in CF. However, Juan runs extremely well and has had a good OBP much of his career, so I would not call him not worth having, by any means.

I read someone say by adding the two OF's and moving Hart to CF, it'd be a young version of the Tigers, and that's probably a bit of a stretch as well, though potentially, I could imagine a 1000 run season from that group, but not in '08. No doubt, it would weaken the rotation, as going from Ben's projected 3.50 ERA to a 5ish one in 32 starts would probably add 35-40 runs to the opponents run total. However, it'd be an exciting young team full of offense with nary an offensive weak link, other than their youth and the catching, which is a weak link unless you have one of the 4-5 backstops that can actually hit.

I could easily be talked into it, I'll say that. I do not think we're getting Broxton though, and neither is anyone else, short of the Twins dealing them Santana and Nathan.

12/06/2007 03:57:00 PM

(12/06/2007 10:34:00 AM) - Al

UPDATE: In response to several e-mailers, I know Tom H is reporting he was taken by the Mariners, but Baseball America says he was chosen by the Padres. Doug is wishing him the best of luck elsewhere, so SD may easily be able to keep him by throwing a AAA player our way. With Rickie in the bigs and Hernan Iribarren at Nashville, the Brewers need for a 2B is rather minor, to say the least.

The Brewers did not select anyone in the Rule 5 draft, and lost Callix Crabbe, a 2B who has played some OF.

I assume Callix will be returned or a minor deal made. If he could play SS, he'd be a nice pickup by the Padres, but he'd also be on the Crew's 40 if he had that ability. As is, he's pretty much AAA depth.

12/06/2007 10:34:00 AM

(12/06/2007 10:12:00 AM) - Al

The JS debates reports that the Crew has talked about Sheets with the Dodgers, for a pair of OF's I have talked about.

However, this is quite possibly related to the Andruw Jones signing, and no talks have transpired yet. LA may have asked about Sheets and Hall at some point before, but said they had to fill CF first. Now that they have done that, maybe the teams have the ammo to sit down and chat.

Here's the USA Today paragraph:

The Milwaukee Brewers are talking to the Los Angeles Dodgers about a deal that would send starter Ben Sheets and outfielder Bill Hall to Los Angeles for outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, according to a high-ranking L.A. official.

Kemp is an uber-prospect, and both would be super cheap for years, but that still seems a bit light. That said, I felt a proposal that added Jon Broxton was slanted to the Crew, that's why I liked it.:)

That said, this is the type of deal I had hoped Doug would try to accomplish. Tad Iguchi would not make me mad, but other avenues need to be looked at first, including adding solid, young players who will be inexpensive for years, allowing the team to spend elsewhere, or pick up some payroll in trade.

12/06/2007 10:12:00 AM

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