Al's Ramblings



Wednesday, January 31, 2007

(1/31/2007 08:21:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin says the team is exploring signing Bill Hall to a long-term deal before they settle on a one-year version.

Hall hasn't shown much desire to go more than one year at a time, but maybe this offer, which would probably be in the neighborhood of $30M or more if it's for 4 years, is enough to entice him to accept some security over garnering every last dollar.


1/31/2007 08:21:00 PM



(1/31/2007 08:08:00 PM) - Al

Wow, heckuva game from Indiana tonight, and while it's a shame the Badgers lost, it certainly wasn't a surprise. The way the Hoosiers shot the ball in the second half, the UW was lucky to be in it.

It never fails to amaze me how poor the Big Ten officiating is, so consistently. Ticky-tack whistles blow all the time, and even on replay, you don't really see anything, but when Landry slaps a guy on the face as he tries a layup, or Krabbenhoft gets an elbow which opens a gash in his head, um nope, didn't see it.

I gotta think the fans running onto the court after a win is the new wave. The wave went out about 10 minutes after it started 20 years ago, but you'll see an attempt by someone who doesn't care about the game once inn a while. Tonight, the Hoosiers were favored by 1-2 points, and the fans acted as if they were shocked they hung on. Talk about clueless.


1/31/2007 08:08:00 PM



(1/31/2007 04:27:00 PM) - Al

If you're wondering where to watch the Badgers tonight, this link should help.

If you're in the Wausau area and have cable, it'll be channel 231.


1/31/2007 04:27:00 PM



(1/31/2007 12:51:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Sackmann has an interesting article about the difference between "average" and "average for a starter". In most cases, there is about 20-30 OPS points of difference, about 3 runs over the course of a season.

He also gives minor kudos to Craig Counsell, in an albeit, "he's not as bad as I thought" kind of way. I get the feeling that many other fans will feel the same way in September.


1/31/2007 12:51:00 PM



(1/31/2007 10:37:00 AM) - Al

Oil is up to about $58 a barrel, about 15% higher than it was just a while back, when it would appear Jason and myself both correctly called the low, and like clockwork, the 3 oil stocks I said were "screaming buys" are all up about 15% as well.

{And if you'll notice, gasoline at the pump is also up a bit, which would seem to indicate that its price is determined by the market, and not an evil corporate/government conspiracy, but hence, I digress.}

What really irritates me is I had intended on putting some real money (granted, it's less than some spend on dinner) into my Sharebuilder account and buying one or two of these, but my funds remain caught up in the limbo of high finance and international intrigue.


1/31/2007 10:37:00 AM



(1/31/2007 10:21:00 AM) - Al

Blue Jays signed RHP Victor Zambrano to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

That gives the Jays Tomo Ohka, John Thomson, and now Zambrano. They seem to have cornered the market on inexpensive rotation options, especially those returning from injury.


1/31/2007 10:21:00 AM



(1/31/2007 10:16:00 AM) - Al

A reminder, tonight FSN is showing the 1987 Easter Sunday game, which might (wink, wink) involve a memorable comeback. I believe it is directly opposite the Badgers/Hoosiers basketball game, however, so it may involve Tivo or the VCR.


1/31/2007 10:16:00 AM


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

(1/30/2007 07:24:00 PM) - Al

Eric with a fine post at BCB showing tables that would indicate the Crew will have an average or just above average offense in 2007.

And yes, Ramblings will be putting up our projections soon, along with a recap of the "major" systems.


1/30/2007 07:24:00 PM



(1/30/2007 03:27:00 PM) - Al

2 part interview with Billy Beane, link to Part 2, which links to Part 1.

Money quote, on losing in the ALDS

It's just noise that we pretty much ignored anyway.

Beane just goes about building his team, year after year providing a cheap winner, and the Pirates sign Jack Wilson long-term because he's popular with the fans. It's not tough to figure out why some teams win and some don't.


1/30/2007 03:27:00 PM



(1/30/2007 02:12:00 PM) - Al

Marino Salas was removed from the Orioles 40 man roster, and will have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors. His stats appear here, he would seem to be getting better as he develops. He may have a bit of a low ceiling, maybe as a reliever, but he K's a man an inning.

I'm not sure if we have a spot open on the 40 man or not, but if we do, this guy might be worth a flyer.


1/30/2007 02:12:00 PM



(1/30/2007 10:05:00 AM) - Al

Courtesy of Deadspin, check out how incredibly wrong Jay Mariotti has been about Lovie Smith over the years.

It is simply astounding how guys like Jay and Phil Rogers just continue typing out complete crap daily. If you want complete hypocrisy, there is no one better than the mainstream media...the fawning over Peyton Manning this week is all but the exact opposite of what you would have heard a couple months ago, when Indy was struggling.

Watching "analysts" repeat what has already happened, rather than provide any idea of what will occur, is getting more obvious on a daily basis.


1/30/2007 10:05:00 AM



(1/30/2007 09:45:00 AM) - Al

While stung by some of the criticism leveled against him for calling out Jose Castillo, Jack Wilson said he doesn't regret his comments. "Look, I'm harder on myself than anyone," he said. "I'm coming off a bad season. But that doesn't mean I didn't show up at the yard. And you know what? I think we have five or six leaders on this team, and I feel like I've been around long enough at shortstop to be the leader of Jose Castillo. It's my job to break in the second baseman. And it's so frustrating to watch him not be the player that I know he can be."

How does this buffoon find his way to the ballpark each day? That said, if you substitute the words "bad career" for "bad season", the above statement starts to reek of truth.


1/30/2007 09:45:00 AM


Monday, January 29, 2007

(1/29/2007 09:36:00 PM) - Al

Claudio Vargas signs, also at the midpoint of the two sides submitted arby figures.

That would lead you to believe the Crew has midpoint offers on the table to Hall and Estrada as well. You gotta wonder why they have not also agreed to terms.


1/29/2007 09:36:00 PM



(1/29/2007 07:35:00 PM) - Al

I added the 2006 league averages by position to the sidebar, courtesy of BCB, thanks Jeff.


1/29/2007 07:35:00 PM



(1/29/2007 03:56:00 PM) - Al

Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson told the Pittsburgh media that he'd rather have Freddy Sanchez at second than Jose Castillo unless Castillo improves his work ethic.
"Right now, Freddy is my second baseman, in my mind," Wilson said. "He's the guy I can trust to go 100 percent and get the job done. Castillo's got to show me something. You're going to see it in spring training. If he's slimmed down and ready to work, he's going to have a good year. But, if it's the other way around, we're going to have some problems."

We'd be more impressed if Wilson led with his performance rather than his mouth. Castillo, while a huge disappointment defensively last year, has been the superior hitter over the last two years. Both debuted in the majors at 23 and Castillo has had higher OPSs in each of his first three years than Wilson did in his. Wilson is also arguably coming off his worst season defensively, seems to report at a different weight every year and is making far more money than Castillo. Frankly, the Pirates need better from both players. If Wilson wants to lead the way, he could start by driving in more than 35 runs this year.--Rotoworld


Allow me to add that I feel the Pirates would be much better off to put Sanchez at SS, Castillo at 2B, and ship Wilson' sorry self to anyone that would take him...though that list might be tiny. Jack Wilson is, at best, a horrendously overpaid below average SS. He's the epitome of what happens when an organization signs "fan favorites" to long-term deals instead of trying to win.

What's funny is, if you made a list of "clubhouse leaders", Wilson's name would be right up there. If you're not smart enough to shut your mouth about your teammates in the media, I'd say Jack is a leader only in the bizarro world. He's an idiot's idiot who also is a crappy player at this point. I might be inclined to releasing him after this embarrassing misstep, unless I am undervaluing his trade value at this point.


1/29/2007 03:56:00 PM



(1/29/2007 02:49:00 PM) - Al

Adam M devotes his entire mailbag to possible batting orders, which is just about the most boring subject I can imagine, but then again, I'm sure some folks enjoyed it. One fan did agree with mine, though he used Counsell/Graffy at 3B and I had Koskie...I think I'd have to drop the C/G duo to 8th and move everyone else up a notch.

Weeks
Koskie
Hart
Fielder
Hall
Jenkins/Mench
Estrada
Hardy

Of course, if you bat the pitcher 1st or 4th and go out of your way to have a stupid order, it still only affects runs scored by about 5% in computer simulations, so to be honest, any intelligent order means about 1-2% at most.

It's more than likely the most discussed topic in baseball that barely matters.

That said, I doubt Ned will have Hart #3, because he's afraid it will make him nervous, while I would look at as a way to set up Corey for success, as he would seemingly get some good pitches to hit batting before Prince. Also, Koskie is slower than your normal #2 type, but that doesn't really bother me a whole lot. I think Ned's lineup will be the one below:

Weeks
Hart
Fielder
Hall
Jenkins/Mench
Koskie
Estrada
Hardy

If Koskie is unable to go, my guess would be Hardy moves to #2, Hart to #6, and C/G 8th.

FYI, that will likely be my final batting order post of 2007.:)


1/29/2007 02:49:00 PM



(1/29/2007 09:16:00 AM) - Robert R.

The up and down career of former Brewer Glendon Rusch takes a definite down turn as he's sidelined with an arm clot and released by the Cubs. I can't say I was ever really a fan of Rusch and his proclivity for giving up HRs, but I have sympathy for his current situation. Really, I'd advise Rusch to call it a career. He has millions in the bank, he has no Hall of Fame prospects, and there's no use threatening your health and life for a longshot comeback.


1/29/2007 09:16:00 AM



(1/29/2007 09:00:00 AM) - Robert R.

"These being the Words of Marcus Tullius Cicero" is the latest episode of Rome. Episode synopsis here.

Due to budgetary reasons, HBO truncated Rome into two seasons, but the writers and producers seem to have wanted to get to all of their storylines anyways. In that respect, some storylines feel rushed through, particularly involving Pullo and Vorenus, in favor of the big overarching politics. Vorenus's career as crime lord already appears to be over, Pullo is on track to patching up their friendship, and the fate of Vorenus's children appears to be addressed in a hurry. Nothing wrong with any of these plot points, but there's hardly room to let the storylines breath and grow naturally. There's a sense of plot points having to be gone over quickly due to the shortened nature of the show.

That said, at least things are happening. Octavian growing in strength, Brutus and Cassius putting together an army, and Antony being remarkably incapable as an administrator puts everyone on a path towards another civil war, and Vorenus and Pullo "gumping" through history. There's also a cliffhanger of an ending, which is sure to set many more things in motion. Servilla looks to be the big villain of this portion of history and the final outcome is looming.


1/29/2007 09:00:00 AM


Sunday, January 28, 2007

(1/28/2007 02:34:00 PM) - Al

I expected the Badgers to drop either today's game at Iowa or Wednesday's at Indiana, and was surprised to see how rarely Iowa loses at home, only once in their last 29 games, including 8 straight wins versus top 25 teams.

Despite this, the Badgers dominated from start to finish, rarely letting Iowa in the game. The Hawkeyes are in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but they are very athletic, and surely capable of beating anyone on their home court.


1/28/2007 02:34:00 PM



(1/28/2007 01:07:00 PM) - Al

Tom H mentions prospects, arby hearings, and platoons in his Sunday column.

I'm beginning to think Doug Melvin may have more of a role in the dugout decisions than has been made public. What Ned says today mirrors what Doug has said all offseason. I wondered that last summer as well, when Ned suddenly went from playing Geoff Jenkins daily to benching him completely, when a platoon seemed to make perfect sense. Remember, Doug is Ned's boss too, and one of the reasons a veteran 3B coach was brought in may well have been to give the team an interim option in case the club performs poorly.

Let's not forget, managers and head coaches are hired to be fired. I doubt Mark A and Doug will show a lot of patience, regardless of whether it makes sense.


1/28/2007 01:07:00 PM


Saturday, January 27, 2007

(1/27/2007 06:48:00 PM) - Al

According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the Rockies would likely get Craig Hansen, Jacoby Ellsbury and another prospect from the Red Sox for Todd Helton if negotations are completed.

Rosenthal says nothing about it, but ESPN's Buster Olney believes Matt Clement would also be involved, helping to even up the salaries for this year. Rosenthal said it's conceivable that Mike Lowell would be included, putting Garrett Atkins at first for the Rockies. However, the Red Sox would more likely have to spin him off separately. No variation of the deal sounds very good for the Red Sox. While the Denver Post and Rosenthal are both saying Helton is owed $90.1 million for six years, it's actually five years. The last $4.3 million is a buyout of his $23 million option for the sixth year. Even if the Rockies ate half of what he was owed, the Red Sox would be paying $45 million for five years to a 33-year-old first baseman whose OPS has dropped 100 points each of the last two years. We don't see why anyone would want to take that on.


Apparently, the lesson of signing aging 1B/LF/RF to extremely long-term contracts has not been learned yet...just ask the Astros.:)

Actually, I think Helton's chances of bouncing back somewhat is pretty high, though admittedly, I had no idea he had fallen off that much the past couple years.


1/27/2007 06:48:00 PM



(1/27/2007 02:50:00 PM) - Al

A joke sent in by Ray, on the timing issue:

After a game where the home team somehow managed to get the ball up court, dribble a couple of times, then drive in for a shot (the clock had said 1.5 seconds remaining, you see), the visiting coach stormed into the home team coach's office asking who in the hell the clock operator was.

"Calm down, I don't want you hurting anybody," the home coach said.

"I don't want to hurt the guy," the visitor said. "I just want him to time the rest of my life."


Heh.

Similar to the one in which a woman tells a friend that if she had six months to live, she'd marry the guy she had a blind date with the night before...because he'd make it seem like 10 years.


1/27/2007 02:50:00 PM


Friday, January 26, 2007

(1/26/2007 03:36:00 PM) - Al

Duke won a close game with some help from the officiating crew and the clock operator last night (see the sidebar at the link)

I watched the end of the game and noticed the error right away, but I don't think the Clemson bench realized it to protest in time. You see things like this all the time in college basketball, timekeepers everywhere seem extremely biased, often being "slow" to stop the clock when it favors their team to be tardy. I've wondered forever why they don't add an extra official to run the clock, to avoid this problem for the most part.

I still remember my high school physics teacher being coerced into running the clock at a girl's game (it paid like $5-10). During the final moments, the coach who had talked him into doing it inadvertently stood directly in front of him, and he missed the foul, the ref's whistle, everything. So, rather than 2 or 3 seconds being left, he let the clock expire. The coach turned around and screamed "What are you doing!?!", and it took a few minutes for the refs to guesstimate how much time should be left.

Now, they do have added coaching boxes to avoid the table being blocked, and with replay, there's simply no excuse not to get this correct in a high profile college game. I think the college game is actually overusing replay, as I hate to see the game delayed several times to check feet on a 3, check shot clock violations, etc. But in the last 10 seconds, take the time you need to get it right, Clemson had no chance to overcome that error.

The only sport who has got it right, seemingly, is tennis, whose replay method is broadcast on the scoreboard as it happens, and takes about 3 seconds. The one thing to note about those replay checks is this...the linesmen are right about 75% of the time when checked, even though the ball is going 90-140 mph, and they are all borderline, as no one checks a "simple" call, you know...3 inches in.

The other night, Martina Hingis stopped play and asked for a challenge, basically giving up the point if she was wrong. She had been standing right at the baseline, and the ball looked to her to have hit "out", as she was swinging to hit it...and she was wrong.

It's a mighty tough job, but those (wink, wink) clock "mistakes" made by someone with a rooting interest are pretty hard to stomach.


1/26/2007 03:36:00 PM



(1/26/2007 02:54:00 PM) - Al

Robert is completely accurate in his guess that DC will be working the phones and picking up a few arms this Spring. If Ben H is ever going to get a 8 week trial as a major league starter, the 2007 Nationals are probably as good a bet as any..

I still think if he has success in the majors, it will be as a middle reliever, when he can come in for an inning, throw fastballs on and off the corners, and for the most part, throw that fine curveball, which for whatever reason, he has managed to never do in his trials as a Brewer, minus an effective long relief appearance once or twice.


1/26/2007 02:54:00 PM



(1/26/2007 11:50:00 AM) - Al

Mike Hunt discusses the upcoming Brewers' season, and since there's not much else going on, I'll comment on some of his statements:

Bill Hall will be the new guy in center once he is paid, Corey Hart will start in one of the corners and someone will have to go in the overcrowded outfield. And it might not be Geoff Jenkins, despite all the drama that accompanied what was basically accepted as Jenkins' final home appearance in a Brewers uniform last season.

I think much of the hub-bub about Jenkins has been overstated a bit. Players get benched, have their roles reduced, sent to the minors, and so on all the time in MLB. It's part of the game, part of the business. It's a crappy part, as I'm sure it wasn't any fun at all for Doug and Ned to tell Geoff the news last year, and I'm sure they had some awkward moments the rest of the season. But, instead of worrying of about the fact Jenkins goes through bad stretches and doesn't hit lefties very well; the truth is, he still hits the vast majority of pitchers (RH's) at an above average rate compared to other corner OF's, and is still able to defend nicely, in either LF or RF.

The Brewers have five outfield openings and six realistic candidates, including the unmovable Brady Clark and his $3.8 million contract. After failing to trade either Jenkins or Kevin Mench, the Brewers' best hope is that another team loses an outfielder to injury this spring.

I don't think Brady is unmovable in the least. He's a near-perfect 4th OF, and despite his lack of extra-base hits in '06, his 3-year norms still put him close to what you'd expect from a league average CF.

Clark--.286/.368/.391, 759 OPS
Ave CF-.271/.337/.422, 759

Gee, I didn't realize it was exactly average, which is ironic.

Speaking of left, hot prospect Ryan Braun, currently a third baseman, could eventually find himself in the outfield corner. The Brewers would rather think about a very young, very powerful infield of the not-so-distant future - Braun, J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder - but all options will be considered to eventually get Braun's bat into the lineup. Don't be surprised to see him up at some point this season.

Well, while you keep hearing he might be moved, the braintrust seems to feel his future is at 3B. Considering Koskie is only signed through this season, and the Graffy/Counsell replacement combo platter is unlikely to even produce league average offense at 3B, Braun seems a natural to slide into 3B in 2008, if not earlier. He'll get every chance to fail or succeed at the hot corner, as the Crew has plenty of OF depth.

As for Corey Koskie, it still isn't clear if he will be able to resume his career anytime soon. If he cannot go, the Brewers will platoon "Graffasell" (or is it "Counsellnino"?) at third. The Brewers now have the luxury of paying a lot of money to veteran infielders Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell because Hardy, Weeks and Fielder make relatively small coin. But that check is coming due soon.

I believe former Ramblings' contributor Eric, now writing at BCB, pointed out that Graffy hits RHP's better than Counsell, so I also doubt it will be a strict platoon, other than Graffy playing versus all LHP's. It might just come down to going with the hot bat many nights.

And here's the cruel duality of Ben Sheets: The Brewers really need him to have that first breakout year this season, but if he does, he's as good as gone. Sheets has two years left on his contract, and the Brewers have to look no further than fellow small market-eer Minnesota for comparative purposes.

With Barry Zito's monster deal establishing the market, the Twins realize they have no hope of affording Johan Santana once his contract expires in two seasons. With one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in baseball history, Sheets only needs to stay healthy and win a lot of games to place himself in the same unattainable neighborhood.


Lots of assumptions here, especially that the Twins won't resign Santana. Given Johan's durability, I'd be a lot more likely to show him the money than Ben. We also have little idea if Ben would accept a discount to stay in Milwaukee...something I feel is very possible, given his small town/down home upbringing, and his connections to the Admirals, Marquette basketball, etc. That said, the Brewers are very unlikely to even discuss an extension until he has a healthy, successful season...and that would be exactly what would put him into that $15-20M stratosphere.

Of course, the Brewers would take it now and worry about it later, because the ship has sailed on the whole promise thing. This is the year when Hardy, Weeks and Sheets have to stay healthy, because there is no Plan B.

I've seen this before, and I feel it's untrue. Counsell's 2007 projections are not that much lower than Hardy's. Granted, JJ's ceiling is much higher, but the depth is there. Ditto for Weeks and Graffy, their past results aren't that far apart, but Rickie is seen as being a strong possibility to "break out". Still, not many teams have reserves who could put up league average numbers if the starter goes down, like the Brewers do.

As for Sheets, I will not compare Carlos V to Ben, but again, few teams have a better 6th starter. The '07 Crew is much more able to withstand injuries than previous versions. Good health is usually a prerequisite to success in MLB, but I feel they're much less likely to be derailed by a DL visit or two.


1/26/2007 11:50:00 AM



(1/26/2007 09:47:00 AM) - Robert R.

The Nationals are inviting 37 pitchers to Spring Training. Apparently out of desperation. The most likely rotation consisting of John Patterson followed by whoeverm makes the team, most likely, Tim Redding, Jerome Williams, Joel Hanrahan, and Brandon Claussen.

Jim Bowden will most likely play "Let's Make a Deal" during Spring Training and I think Ben Hendrickson has a good possibility of ending up there if he shows anything in Spring Training. The returns will be minimal, but a relief pitching prospect with options would be perfectly fine with me.


1/26/2007 09:47:00 AM


Thursday, January 25, 2007

(1/25/2007 10:07:00 PM) - Al

At a Northwoods League team function tonight, Doug said if Corey Koskie is unable to go, it will likely be a Counsell/Graffy platoon or combo, and that it's unlikely Ryan Braun would be considered until later in the season.

Russ at ABB promises to have more on this later tonight.


1/25/2007 10:07:00 PM



(1/25/2007 08:44:00 PM) - Al

At a luncheon for prospective season ticket holders today, Doug Melvin said the team was leaning toward keeping Carlos V as a long reliever in the bullpen, per a message board.

I'm a bit surprised, but once before he did say it would be "tough to go north without him", or something like that.


1/25/2007 08:44:00 PM



(1/25/2007 01:19:00 PM) - Al

Rangers signed RHP Jamey Wright to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Wright gets enough grounders that he can be adequate insurance for the Rangers. He's definitely not someone who should be in the rotation at the start of the year, but if he's needed as a starter for a few weeks at some point, he could keep the team in some games.--Rotoworld


OK, I guess I'll quit campaigning for Wright, though I'll be blunt, how he gets a minor league deal and Ramon Ortiz gets $3M is a mystery of mammoth proportions.


1/25/2007 01:19:00 PM



(1/25/2007 10:21:00 AM) - Al

Extra Innings, which usually gives you about 10 games a day to choose from during the baseball season, is now only available through Direct TV.

There have been a number of "the sky is falling" pieces written about this in the past few days, and now the other side is being heard. One report said that the concerns about a few apartment dwellers not being able to be able to have access to the southern sky was silly and that "they would fit into this room", which while funny and exaggerated, isn't too far from the truth. Sure, a few people will not be able to get the package, and a few more will refuse to change to Direct, for one reason or another.

Still, I'm sure Direct will promote this very strongly, and it would not surprise me to see more folks with the package than before, if not in '07, then '08. I was also shocked that the Sunday Ticket, the popular NFL package, was also a Direct exclusive. Somehow, I guess, the fact the NFL is exclusive to Direct is fine (let's not even mention the NFL Network fiasco), but MLB being exclusive is an abomination.


1/25/2007 10:21:00 AM



(1/25/2007 09:29:00 AM) - Al

Catching up, Tomo Ohka signs with TOR, for 1y/$1.5M. Needless to say, the Crew wasn't the only team that had lingering questions about his arm. However, in today's market, if Tomo can stay healthy for 10 starts and put up a 4.50ish ERA, it's another fine signing by the Jays.

Kirk Saarloos was traded from the A's to the Reds, for a AA relief prospect. I'd normally question the GM for trading Saarloos and non-tendering Jerome Williams, but Billy Beane has proven himself to know exactly what he's doing, so I'll skip that. Still, other than being very undersized, Saarloos is a nice pickup for the Reds, as either a back of the rotation guy or a reliever.


1/25/2007 09:29:00 AM



(1/25/2007 09:02:00 AM) - Al

My son and I watched the Badgers game together last night, which if you have ever hung around with a 4 year-old, means I answered a question that started with "Why" an infinite number of times. Andrew, once a minute or so, would exclaim, "I hope the Badgers' guys score this time", which sounds innocent enough, but imagine it every possession.

We enjoyed a "camp-in" together after the game, which means we both slept on the family room floor. To cut right to the chase, it means that my back will hurt all day, and that before he went to sleep, I had to try and explain why the dinosaurs went extinct. As someone who is still astounded by a fax machine, I doubt if I was real convincing, even to him.


1/25/2007 09:02:00 AM


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

(1/24/2007 09:55:00 PM) - Robert R.

Catching up, the second episode of season 2 of Rome, entitled "Son of Hades", is airing this week on HBO. A summary of it is here.

If the season premiere was about looking back, the second episode was all about getting plots and subplots moving and is as strong as some of the later episodes of season 1. And, for once, the major storyline was every bit as interesting, if not more interesting, than what Vorenus and Pullo were up to.

Let's see, we got the beginnings of the Antony/Cleopatra relationship, Antony giving Vorenus a mission to take over the underworld in order to help commerce, a foiled assassination plot through the sharp eyes of Octavian, a subplot for Titus the "horse trader", Octavian and Antony coming to blows over Octavian's inheritance, and Servilla and other conspirators lying in the wings waiting for an opportunity to strike. And the final shots, along with Pullo's "The gods don't like that sort of thing." indicate that Vorenus only thinks he's hit bottom. There's no shortage of storylines and potential payoffs this season and they appear to be going after them quickly.


1/24/2007 09:55:00 PM



(1/24/2007 07:38:00 PM) - Al

Tonight's Badgers basketball game is being broadcast on some outlet called MyTV, which is on our cable channel's digital tier, which can only be watched in our family room, as for the most part, the only channel we watch over 100 is Noggin.

What's really pathetic is having to negotiate with your 4 year-old to watch the family room television.


1/24/2007 07:38:00 PM



(1/24/2007 07:16:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Longtime reader, first time writer.

Reading the article on the Brewers' site, Gabe Gross also has an option left. Any chance they keep Mench and Clark as the backups and send Gabe down to play everyday until a team has someone get hurt and will give more for them?

Adam


I had not even considered it, Adam, but I suppose it's possible, though unlikely. I think Gabe's spot is all but cemented from his fine '06, but that's just me.

I think Mench and Clark have plenty of value, as both are projected to be nearly league average at their respective spots. It just crossed my mind today, if a team was going with a starting OF of Mench, Clark, and Gross, I certainly wouldn't be overly impressed, but they would not be an awful group either...and those are our reserves.


1/24/2007 07:16:00 PM



(1/24/2007 05:16:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

I saw you questioning how Laynce Nix could have an
option left, and I think I know why. One of his
options was most definitely used in 2003. In 2004, he
spent the entire year with the Rangers except for a
rehab stint at Frisco in July, so no option was used.
In 2005, he was optioned to Oklahoma on April 3, but
was recalled to Texas on April 20 and spent the rest
of the year with the Rangers. According to the Keith
Law article I referred to a few weeks ago regarding
Sarfate,

"If a player is sent out on one or more optional
assignments during the course of a season, but the
total number of days spent on those assignments is
fewer than twenty, then he's not charged with an
option."

So Nix was only on optional assignment for 18 days in
2005. Therefore, he was not charged with an option.
His second option was used in 2006. It makes you
wonder 1) if the Rangers knew this when they traded
him, and 2) if Doug Melvin has someone on his staff
researching guys around baseball that fall into one of
these wacky "extra option" circumstances. Frankly, it
wouldn't surprise me.

Thanks,
Patrick


Our resident options expert Patrick again checks in with the goods. I looked at Nix's career earlier today, and my guess was he had used 3 or 4 options, and the mere idea he had an option left left me dizzy and drooling.


1/24/2007 05:16:00 PM



(1/24/2007 03:39:00 PM) - Al

Roto Authority agrees with me, and puts the Brewers rotation at #2 in the league.


1/24/2007 03:39:00 PM



(1/24/2007 03:37:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Sackmann with a truthful post about just how great Ben Sheets is...oh to have 32 starts from him in '07.


1/24/2007 03:37:00 PM



(1/24/2007 12:25:00 PM) - Al

Adam's weekly position recap focuses on OF's this week.

One thing of note, apparently Laynce Nix still has an option left, though by looking at his career, that seems impossible. That would seem to clear the way for him to go to AAA, and be there in case of injury or a trade.

I'm surprised Drew Anderson is still on the 40 man. To be polite, his ceiling appears rather low, maybe as a Brady Clark type corner OF, and isn't likely to be more than a 5th OF.

This sure is a key year for Gwynn. If he goes down and puts up a .375 OBP and adds a few doubles, he might be looked at as the '08 CF...and with his defense, I wouldn't be that upset. But as of now, he projects to a well below average hitting CF.

Jenkins sounds as if he is a bit angry, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not the least bit unhappy we have plenty of solid major league caliber OF's, though I still think someone will be moved before April 1st.


1/24/2007 12:25:00 PM


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

(1/23/2007 11:19:00 PM) - Al

I'm going to intro a new feature tonight, and we'll see how often I'm able to update it. I'm calling it, Misconceptions because, surprisingly, it's going to focus on things the casual fan will hear often, and accept as fact, never mind it just isn't true. Of course, some of these things will involve some opinion, but we'll always base it on facts as much as possible.

Misconception #1: The Brewers may open with only 11 pitchers, because they have so many off-days in April.

This is one of those "facts" that get thrown around a lot in the offseason, and many times teams do have a number of days off in April. However, this season, the Crew has 3 days off, and only only 2 after April 6th. Considering that often times pitchers are not "stretched out" and unable to go more than 100 pitches and/or 6 innings until late April or early May, not to mention that the Brewers went with 13 arms for much of 2006, I think it's a very safe bet that the Crew will have at least 12 pitchers go north with the team in '07.


If you have any ideas for this feature, let me know. If nothing else, my call for questions has allowed me to read a few e-mails most days from many of you. Thanks for doing so, and keep it up.


1/23/2007 11:19:00 PM



(1/23/2007 10:55:00 PM) - Al

Glenn live-blogged the SOTU, and many are saying it was excellent. That's hard to believe, I think it may well have been a case of low expectations and a mediocre speech. Maybe I'll catch some of it on C-Span at some point.

The item that got the most play after the transcription came out, the line about less use of renewable fuels, might boost ethanol stocks for a week, but will accomplish little else, unless oil hits $80 again.

Gas is back below $2 a gallon here, and the news says big trucks and SUV's are again flying off the lots. If nothing else, we like our problems to have a quick fix. This one does not, and there's enough coal for about 200 years...and it's CHEAP. I see little headway for solar, wind, and other ideas unless global conflict limits the supply of crude.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that nuclear is now cool? Back when I was young, nimbys used to protest against a plant being built within 100 miles, and wear tails to indicate its dangers...and now, it's a "green" method of energy production. I wonder what will change in the next 25 years in that way?


1/23/2007 10:55:00 PM



(1/23/2007 09:41:00 PM) - Al

Luther Hackmann invited to camp, and thus officially goes to Arizona with the title as "sleeper most likely to win a 25 man roster spot", especially with the news that Dennis Sarfate, who like Hackmann, had a very good winter ball campaign, does have a single option remaining, and can go back to Nashville if need be.


1/23/2007 09:41:00 PM



(1/23/2007 08:24:00 PM) - Al

Brewers' minor league catcher Lou Palmisano's fiance has been chosen to represent the Miami Heat dance squad at the NBA All-Star game. Her name is Katherine, and while I'm certain she's a quality young woman, it's a darn shame she's so unattractive.

Hat tip to Jim at BF.net.


1/23/2007 08:24:00 PM



(1/23/2007 07:29:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention that another "classic" game is tonight, a long-forgotten 22 runs scored game versus the Blue Jays back in '92, when they were chasing the Jays, actually, in late August, 5 games back, I think they said. They must not have telecast the game, as they are using the Toronto TV feed.

As usual, my immediate thought is how small the players look, even muscular guys like Greg Vaughn and John Jaha don't seem a bit more muscular than today's norm. Weight training wasn't nearly as much a part of the game then.

And does Pat Listach ever seem tiny. I met him at a card show in Eau Claire after his Rookie of the Year campaign in '92, and was surprised how small he was, and commented I had a lot of questions about his ability to stay healthy being so undersized to my friend John.

Sadly, I have never been so correct since.

UPDATE: David Wells makes an appearance, about 50 pounds below his playing weight now. And the irony is, back then, he wasn't any good.


1/23/2007 07:29:00 PM



(1/23/2007 10:36:00 AM) - Al

In the Rosenthal interview, Ken says:

As someone who is 5-foot-4, 140 pounds

Not surprisingly, he seems to have a case of "little man's disease", wielding his power as a Hall of Fame voter to proudly say he doesn't really know who took what, but that he will not vote for any player from this era on the first ballot...though he will make exceptions, which, of course, makes little sense and shows no consistency.


1/23/2007 10:36:00 AM



(1/23/2007 09:45:00 AM) - Jason Christopherson

Bizofbaseball.com checks in with a nice little interview with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Rosenthal names the D-backs and Brewers as his potential surprises for the year, because both "play in divisions without dominant clubs, and both possess fairly deep rotations and talented young position players who could progress quickly."


1/23/2007 09:45:00 AM



(1/23/2007 09:04:00 AM) - Al

While watching the news on TV yesterday, I learned a pair of things:

1. Childhood obesity is a huge problem (no pun intended) in the United States.

2. Many school districts (including the Wausau area ones) have started giving children a mid-morning snack, because they found the youngsters were getting drowsy and needed a "boost".


I don't have anything more to add, as I'm having trouble seeing the screen due to the thick cloud of irony.


1/23/2007 09:04:00 AM


Monday, January 22, 2007

(1/22/2007 07:52:00 PM) - Al

Someone at You Tube set a bunch of Erin Andrews' pics to music.

I, of course, enjoyed it for the artistic merits.


1/22/2007 07:52:00 PM



(1/22/2007 04:36:00 PM) - Al

You can rate the best GM's in MLB here.

Doug is suffering from small market syndrome, so help him out. You only have to rank 5 guys, so it only takes a minute.


1/22/2007 04:36:00 PM



(1/22/2007 04:15:00 PM) - Al

If you may allow me one more thought about oil and oil stocks...

Today, oil fell to $51.13, a drop of almost $1 a barrel, and every oil stock I'm watching went up.

I think many are seeing this just like myself, oil stocks are really cheap, and are a screaming buy right now.

PCZ

PDC

VLO


1/22/2007 04:15:00 PM



(1/22/2007 01:26:00 PM) - Al

I'm watching Dennis Miller's latest HBO special, and as I often do, I agree 100% with him on global warming and whether it exists. I don't disbelieve, but I have many doubts. As Miller says, the entire argument is based on the temp going up a degree or two over the past century, and we both wonder if they had a reliable measuring system in 1907. As Miller puts it:

They were still (going to the bathroom) in the woods yet we're supposed to believe they had a stranglehold on the Fahrenheit at the Earth's magma.

Ezekial, put the candlewick down the gopher hole, we need to lay down the empirical baseline for future generations, hurry up, you gotta go churn some butter, and I'm due at the doc's for a leechin'.

Do you suppose that during the dust bowl they blamed global warming, or did they just say, "You know, it hasn't rained in a while"?

I remember, when I was young...I remember the sun was hot...it was really hot.


1/22/2007 01:26:00 PM



(1/22/2007 12:44:00 PM) - Al

The Colts have been installed as a 7 point favorites over the Bears in Super Bowl insert Roman numeral here.

I was expecting about 4-5, but I think most folks feel like I do...the Colts might well win 41-7, but the Bears could win 20-16.


1/22/2007 12:44:00 PM



(1/22/2007 12:40:00 PM) - Al

Former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie, who suffered a concussion July 5 diving for a ball with the Brewers and didn't play again after that, said he is very hopeful of playing out the final year of his contract with Milwaukee. "I've been doing a lot of rehabilitating of late and I'm starting to feel a lot better," said Koskie, who still resides here.--Star Tribune

I wish that would have been said a couple months ago, but that sounds positive.


1/22/2007 12:40:00 PM



(1/22/2007 12:13:00 PM) - Al

Maybe my guess that Doug Davis had an arm problem isn't so far-fetched.


1/22/2007 12:13:00 PM



(1/22/2007 11:45:00 AM) - Al

To recap: The Twins handed $3.1 million to a horrible pitcher rather than trust one of the talented young pitchers they've developed, chose to protect a 33-year-old third-string catcher over a 23-year-old outfield prospect, and then lost that outfield prospect for nothing when another team smartly claimed him off waivers. If the above series of moves and decisions doesn't shine a bright light on the Twins' organizational weakness, I don't know what will.--Aaron Gleeman

You can read the whole post here.

I don't think signing Ramon Ortiz to a $3.1M deal for 2007 was "that" bad, though I'm not sure why they wouldn't have signed Jamey Wright or Bruce Chen to a $1M contract if they felt they needed an "innings-eater" who could be counted on for a 5.50ish ERA.

If nothing else, the Twins prove to me just how good the Brewers' rotation is, though I would have to say San Diego's is better now that they've added David Wells. They have an outstanding ace in Johan Santana, but everything else is a question mark. Carlos Silva is coming off a bad year; Boof Bonser has had his ups and downs like you'd expect from a young pitcher; Matt Garza is as good a prospect as you'll likely find, but will be protected and will also experience inconsistency. After that, you have Ortiz, Sid Ponson, and some other youngsters that aren't as heralded as Garza.

As shown by Jeff Sackmann's research, a guy who can give you 200 innings of 5.50 ball does have some value, as he will likely save the Twins from trotting out a replacement-level guy who would be lucky to keep his ERA under 6.

I think for most of us, the problem here is that we can well recall the day when $3M bought you a pitcher whose upside was more than 200 below average frames of work.


1/22/2007 11:45:00 AM


Sunday, January 21, 2007

(1/21/2007 10:25:00 PM) - Al

Jerry Crasnick looks at possible replacements for Bud Selig when he decides to step down.


1/21/2007 10:25:00 PM



(1/21/2007 09:18:00 PM) - Al

I'm glad for Manning and Grossman, as well as for Dungy and Smith, two fine assistants who had to wait their turn several times to be head coaches.

I'm also happy I won't have to listen to cliche-ridden buffoons spew superlatives about Tom Brady for two weeks. He's a fine, fine QB, mind you, but put him on the Texans, and they'll still suck.


1/21/2007 09:18:00 PM



(1/21/2007 06:29:00 PM) - Robert R.

I've been behind and haven't commented on the new season of Rome yet. I was surprised that they picked up seconds after the events of the finale and followed two funerals, Caesar and Niobe. They certainly didn't make it easy for new viewers to jump in. And I don't think it was nearly as effective as some the episodes of the latter half of last season.

Stuff that worked: Pullo and Vorenus's relationship. Max Pirkis as Octavian. And off-screen fight scene that created a palpable sense of tension. "And you, mother." Vorenus reaching his lowest point ever.

Stuff that didn't work: Having Marc Antony's eulogy offscreen. Sure it's a cliche' but that's the dramatic climax of the Caesar portion of the episode. It's like leaving light saber duels out of Star Wars. Attia was a bore this episode as well. Really, the whole Caesar storyline tread very little new ground and did it in a manner that seemed like they were afraid to engage the material.

Still, second episode is tonight and the conflicts are set for this season. There are two main conflicts, Antony & Octavian vs. Cassius & Brutus and, ultimately, Antony & Cleopatra vs. Octavian. There's no shortage of available drama.


1/21/2007 06:29:00 PM



(1/21/2007 12:00:00 PM) - Al

The Badger women are on FSN again today. Just when you think the ladies game is going mainstream, take a glance at the Northwestern stands...I've seen family reunions at the park with better attendance.


1/21/2007 12:00:00 PM



(1/21/2007 11:56:00 AM) - Al

I'm waiting on a couple tournaments to start, and I've already heard far too much about Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman. I have no opinion on the games, but will be rooting for the above QB's and their teams, because I would love it if one of them would win and shut everybody up.

One point that is usually forgotten is that Tony Dungy and the Colts may well have won it last year if Dungy's son had not committed suicide late in the season. That alone makes me have a rooting interest for the Colts.


1/21/2007 11:56:00 AM



(1/21/2007 11:15:00 AM) - Al

Tom H wonders who will be the 4th and 5th starters...he obviously has not seen any of the projection systems that puts Bush ahead of all but Sheets. If they do end up skipping someone, I've little doubt it will be Vargas.

Alos, Doug doesn't seem very upset about losing Doug Davis.


1/21/2007 11:15:00 AM


Saturday, January 20, 2007

(1/20/2007 05:08:00 PM) - Al

Writing on a variety of topics...

...I guess I underestimated the Badgers, though it could have been anyone's game right up until about 15 seconds left. I believe it was Rick Majerus doing color, and I was shocked to hear him say that if you watch the Badgers practice, Trevon Hughes is the best player on the court. That would bode well for the future. Great to see Stiemsma have a nice shooting game today as well, as his playing time has consisted of a couple fouls and back to the bench of late.

...During the game today, and over the course of watching a movie (and then the commentary) yesterday, I managed to play in a couple poker freerolls, and I am on some sort of a roll, if I do say so myself. Here's my results:

7th of 314
18th of 1254
26th of 1818
74th of 531

I rarely play in tourneys other than to use my frequent player points to enter these, which often don't pay much, or just "pay" a seat in a future tournament, like my 7th place finish got me.

After starting in early '04 with $25 (hypothetically), I had never withdrawn from my bankroll, but last year, I decided to take out $150 a month to double the principal we were paying on our mortgage. Along with my Netflix movie, yesterday in the mail we received our mortgage statement for the year...which shows we paid $3656 in principal last year, so that's $1856 other than my additional contribution. That's almost criminal, but it's exactly what happens when you are in year 5 of a 30 year plan. However, I knocked out Year 6 with the extra payments, and I'm proud to say we're up to (drumroll, please) $163 on principal each month.

Again, I'm not sure if that's good or just incredibly sad. We do, however, have to increase my "extra" payment to $175 in order to keep up (hypothetically).

...Much like my baseball writing hero, I have also decided to drop a few pounds. Today was the two week anniversary of the plan's start, and thus far I have dropped 12 pounds, which is actually quite good, especially considering I sprained or slightly pulled a muscle in my leg a few days ago and had to take a few days off from my exercise plan. Much like Sir Gleeman, who is now almost 100 pounds lighter than when he started, I could lose a lot of weight and still weigh too much. However, lighter is still better than not lighter.

The only "key" I can really say is that it's been almost exclusively chicken and fish for me. One of my favorite dishes to prepare is a chicken stir-fry, which done my way, is 2-3 cut up chicken tenders fried up using only Pam and garlic (much like the ever perky Rachael Ray, I put onions and garlic in everything), then adding a good amount of broccoli and onions, my favorite two veggies. You end up with a huge bowl, often more than I can eat, for about 300 calories.

The only other thing I've cut out is milk, as I usually just drink water and diet beverages anyway. However, a couple times I've allowed myself a couple cookies and an 8 ounce serving of milk for a snack, and I'm shocked at how small an actual "serving" of milk is. It turns out the beverage holders we normally use are somewhere in the 24 ounce range, which adds up quick.

Time will tell how long I'm able to keep this up, but so far, so good. Much like Aaron, I'm sure this is boring to the vast majority of you, so I will keep the updates to a minimum.

...So, while flipping today, I came across a host and a couple of talking heads discussing Hillary Clinton, and the Republican gal was saying how she never takes a side on anything, and she is constantly checking the polls to see which way to lean, and so on. All I could think of was, "Isn't that a near-perfect description of about eight years in office by her husband"? Let's face it, while I recall Reagan, Bush the older, and W as knowing, for the most part, exactly what they wanted to accomplish, I also would guess Clinton was more popular than any of them, save the Gipper perhaps. Hillary is doing exactly what you'd expect the frontrunner to do. Say what you will, but she's a calculating, intelligent woman. I have a few doubts about her likability factor, as I know many people, both men and women, that simply can't stand her, but that will only come up if she's up against a teddy bear, which I doubt.

...I say this annually, but if you're not using Turbotax, I pity you. They guide you through everything, and for much less than a tax guy.


1/20/2007 05:08:00 PM



(1/20/2007 01:21:00 PM) - Al

Tony G signs at the midpoint as well.


1/20/2007 01:21:00 PM



(1/20/2007 12:52:00 PM) - Al

I was surprised to see the Badgers are a point or two favorite today at Illinois. They struggled mightily at Northwestern, and then had a tough time at home vs. a Purdue team that is far from a top club. I guess the linemakers cannot have the #2 team in the country as underdogs though, as all the tourists will happily bet them with no clue as to how the team is playing.

The Badgers are on ESPN today, by the way.


1/20/2007 12:52:00 PM


Friday, January 19, 2007

(1/19/2007 07:40:00 PM) - Al

One of the great advantages to having Netflix is that you get an unlimited amount of movies for the same price...for the most part, my wife and I are famous for keeping films for a couple weeks, especially during baseball season, so we have often not received our money's worth. So, over the past few weeks, as I have been on sabbatical and pondering a career change, I have been trying to right that wrong.

Today in the mail came Jackass 2, which I admit, I'm not proud of, but to be honest, I'm not here to impress anyone. Allow me to say that while it is crude, immature, and often disgusting, it is laugh out loud funny. While there are some folks that would manage not to find it humorous, they are few and far between.

You know something is funny when you can see a mile away what's going to happen, but the result still makes you laugh.


1/19/2007 07:40:00 PM



(1/19/2007 11:28:00 AM) - Al

Just came across this while searching for other things:

Mench vs. LHP---.379/.590, 969 OPS
Jenkins vs. RHP-.366/.511, 877
Ave. LF/RF------.344/.446, 790

While not all of there AB's will come versus the opposite hand, at the very least, the potential is there for some outstanding production, without a doubt, if this platoon comes to fruition.


1/19/2007 11:28:00 AM



(1/19/2007 10:24:00 AM) - Al

Hi Al,

I just wanted to comment on something you wrote about in your blog. You indicated that Corey Hart is a serviceable replacement for Carlos Lee. However, I always thought Hart was replacing Geoff Jenkins. Either way you look at it, we went into the 2006 season thinking that we had two nice hitters as our corner outfielders. But heading into 2007, it seems like Jenkins is still a big question mark. I am a huge Corey Hart fan and I think he will do well, but what about the other corner outfield spot? We need to replace two corner outfielders, not just one.

I agree that the improvement from Hardy, Weeks, Hart, and Fielder will help the team overall, but isn't it a fair question to ask whether we still need another big bat? I do agree that if the Brewers are in contention, they could probably add a nice corner outfielder at the trade deadline.

Let's hope that's the case.

Ajay


I think we're just debating perspective, Ajay, but it's a slow time of year, so what the heck.

From everything Doug says, unless a CF is involved in a deal involving Jenkins or Mench, Hall will open in CF and Hart one of the corner spots. That leaves some combo of Jenkins/Mench/Clark/Gross at the other spot, and Doug has never even mentioned Gabe since the '06 season ended, to my knowledge, and has barely brought up Brady. I have been of the belief Mench would be dealt and Clark would pick up the 30-40 starts opposite Jenks, but the current company line is Mench will get those AB's.

So, to be understood, the reason I'm considering Hart as Lee's replacement is because Lee is gone, and Jenkins is not. Many of us are excited to see a platoon of Mench and Jenkins, as both simply hit the bejeebers out of the ball pitched by the opposite hand. For those who believe in the selfish aspect of the game, both players are playing for pay, and in Geoff's case, quite possibly his final contract.

It's too early to be overly concerned about '08, but if you're going to need to pick up a role player to play somewhere, my first choice would be corner OF. Heck, Trot Nixon just signed for $3M, and he's a very nice player, when healthy.


1/19/2007 10:24:00 AM



(1/19/2007 09:48:00 AM) - Al

BCB continues going over the projected numbers, today going over the reserves. Other than suggesting a AA kid who has never played SS be considered for a utility position on a contending team (to be honest, maybe he has played some SS, but for the most part, if you play 2B in the minors, there's a reason for that, not to mention I don't even consider him a prospect), it's a nice read.

UPDATE: Though the point is Counsell's offensive projections are rather low, not that Crabbe is a serious consideration.

I especially notice that Gwynn is not forecast to improve much, I sure hope they are incorrect on that. Even a .330/.380 line would be somewhat acceptable with his defensive skills.


1/19/2007 09:48:00 AM



(1/19/2007 09:28:00 AM) - Al

For the first time I can recall, apparently Doug spoke publicly of a Jenkins/Mench platoon...even saying he felt it was a positive step that Mark A allowed the team to offer arby to Mench, and pay a platoon guy (meaning the RH half of a platoon, I assume, as they get fewer AB's) $3.4M.

Again, Doug may be posturing, and listening/making offers for Geoff and/or Kevin as I type. However, by keeping them both, it gives the Crew an extremely solid 5 deep OF, and a possible AAA group of Nix, Gwynn, and Rottino, though Nix would have to agree to stay with the organization, as he'll be a free agent if he doesn't end up on the 25 man. It would also leave Brady Clark out of the mix, though his stats indicate he's still an average CF, you would think he'd have plenty of value.


1/19/2007 09:28:00 AM


Thursday, January 18, 2007

(1/18/2007 09:14:00 PM) - Al

Doug Davis signs an extension with the D'Backs, 3 years, $20M, supposedly.

As pointed out in the link, Doug has similar career numbers to Ted Lilly, who signed for a guaranteed $40M. I feel this means one of two things...

...Doug would rather have the security, and if so, I certainly cannot blame him.

--or--

...Doug's subpar 2006 is directly related to him not being 100% because of injury, and Doug wanted to cash in before telling anyone about it.

If you hear Davis complain of "tightness" during camp, it's very probable we have the latter.


1/18/2007 09:14:00 PM



(1/18/2007 12:28:00 PM) - Al

How was the agreement reached so quickly? Capuano said it had something to do with the fact Milwaukee paid him $450,000 last season, more than $100,000 above the Major League minimum. It was a bonus for Capuano's 18-12 breakthrough season in 2005. "They went out of their way to reward me for a nice year, and that meant a lot," Capuano said.

I still laugh to myself when I remember the first year of Miller Park, the Brewers opened and closed the roof after each game, unless there were high winds, of course. I believe it cost the Brewers $5 every time they did this, or maybe $25, but it was some incredibly small cost. One particular tight-fisted message board person stated that the Brewers needed to save money wherever possible, and they should not waste money on such frivolous expenditures.

Needless to say, I think the above would show that sometimes it's a fine idea to keep people happy, regardless of minor expenses. And yes, the Brewers are in a land where $100K is "minor".


1/18/2007 12:28:00 PM



(1/18/2007 11:23:00 AM) - Al

Oil is barely over the magical $50 a barrel threshold, and the stocks I liked a while back seem to have reached a floor of sorts, as they just refuse to go down, despite the oil price falling like Lindsey Lohan walking out of a club at 4AM.


1/18/2007 11:23:00 AM



(1/18/2007 09:58:00 AM) - Al

Almost 2 years ago (where does the time go?), I commented on Super Size Me, the fiction piece passed off as a serious documentary years ago. That same day, I received a couple e-mails from folks who had seen the movie, both passing it off as a silly fluff piece, not designed to be realistic or factual, but to get media attention.

So, last night, MSNBC telecast Super Size Me, and I watched all but the first 10 minutes or so of it. To be honest, this was so transparent, I'm having trouble believing folks took it seriously. I never saw mentioned in any of the articles that almost all the weight he gained was in the first two weeks...and after he stopped drinking the huge soft drink at every meal, and substituted it with water, he barely put on anything. I can just see this clown weighing in at 185, doing the 30 day trial, drinking only water and sugar-free pop, and ending the month at...188, and having no one have the slightest interest in the film. So, he did what he had to do to get the desired result...and that's exactly why no one should have even cared.

Of course, I'm not defending how gosh darn healthy McDonald's food is, but to be honest, who cares? If I open a little shop next door to the golden arches and serve nothing but fresh fruits and veggies, how long will I last? Please. McDonald's only goals are to serve food that tastes good and to make money. From everything that I see, they do that very, very well.

The irony is, McDonald's is thriving, their stock price has tripled in the past few years, and Spurlock...has all but fallen off the face of the Earth. Heh.

FYI, this is another post of mine that brings into question the director's "facts", which are impossible to take seriously.


1/18/2007 09:58:00 AM



(1/18/2007 09:41:00 AM) - Al

BCB goes over the Brewers' offense per the projections...note Corey Hart is projected higher than Bill Hall.

Yes, that is the same Corey Hart who has been mythical traded half-a-dozen times by the casual fans.


1/18/2007 09:41:00 AM


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

(1/17/2007 03:55:00 PM) - Al

A couple notes to faithful readers who were wondering...

Among the quirks that have popped up in recent times, on Blogger.

...Archives no longer on sidebar.

...When you link a specific post, it either does not work, or you have to scroll down a lot to view it.

...Changes in the sidebar do not show up, despite edits in the template.

If you've noticed any other problems, however minor, please let me know. Blogger is free, and recently I had to "upgrade", which I believe is when many of these troubles began. My attempts to tell them of issues have thus far gone unanswered, but I assume it's far from just me.


1/17/2007 03:55:00 PM



(1/17/2007 03:42:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Sackmann looks at SP's again, and among other things, spits out this little tidbit...the average team got 22 starts from someone not considered among the top 6 starting pitchers. This especially makes me chuckle because many casual fans see the addition of Suppan as an opportunity to trade Carlos V...which would leave about 25-30% of the starts up in the air...and suddenly, we're right back in 2006.

So, while most any civilized fan would agree the Crew is strong 1-6, perhaps as good as any NL team, #7 & even #8 will make about 15% of the starts. This may be even more reason to celebrate Yo G and Zach J's decent Pecota projections, but it does leave me hoping Doug finds that "Helling type" for the back of the bullpen he has mentioned a few times...I think Bruce Chen and Jamey Wright are still available.


1/17/2007 03:42:00 PM



(1/17/2007 03:31:00 PM) - Al

One continued thing you see on message boards and from what I hear, radio talk shows, is that the "Brewers need to add another big bat to replace Carlos Lee". To a point, that might be true, if you expect the Crew to have a top 5 offense in the NL in 2007.

But, if you're just looking to replace Lee's spot in the lineup, I think it's safe to say we already have, Pecota projections to follow:

Carlos Lee---.296/.359/.530
Corey Hart---.288/.353/.517

That's about as close to a statistical tie as you can get, especially considering the system is giving Lee credit for playing 81 games at Minute Maid Park. Considering Corey will make about a jillion dollars less than Carlos in 2007, this is about as silly of a point as you can make.


1/17/2007 03:31:00 PM



(1/17/2007 03:26:00 PM) - Al

Adam continues previewing the 2007 team, as he talks about the middle infielders, specifically JJ and Rickie, who both seem to be working out full-time and are close to full health.

A 10% increase from one or two of these two youngsters is probably a mathematical probability, given their ages and success thus far, but will still help the '07 offense immensely.


1/17/2007 03:26:00 PM



(1/17/2007 03:00:00 PM) - Al

Always fun to read, this link will take you to a story about 3 Ohio State students who traveled to the Fiesta Bowl, and 2 of which ended up sneaking in.

I know there's on fella who sneaks into the Super Bowl every year, and I'm always surprised how "easy" it seems to be.


1/17/2007 03:00:00 PM



(1/17/2007 12:07:00 PM) - Al

BCB goes over the projections of the Brewers' starting staff. Suppan's ERA seems far too high, in my opinion, but all the rest seem realistic, Bush's may be too optimistic, but his secondary stats were off the charts in '06. Note how solid both Zach Jackson's and Yo Gallardo's numbers are, by the way.

FYI, Ramblings will be having its massive projection post sometime next week, minus the fancy charts, of course.:) I planned on including the 3 systems included at BCB plus our own, Shandler's and probably the 3 year averages of each position, for comparison's sake.


1/17/2007 12:07:00 PM



(1/17/2007 11:15:00 AM) - Al

After entering the off-season with four free-agent starting pitchers, the defending World Series champions could escape relatively unscathed if they re-sign Weaver to their desired two-year deal. But even then, their rotation might not be as good as the Brewers'.

The team's biggest and best move was granting right-hander Chris Carpenter a five-year, $63.5 million extension. Closer Adam Wainwright is expected to join fellow righty Anthony Reyes in the rotation, and lefty Mark Mulder could be back at mid-season. The Cardinals added two other free agents, Kip Wells and Ryan Franklin, to provide depth.--Ken Rosenthal, Fox


Carpenter, Wainwright, Reyes, Weaver and Mulder is not a bad group, mind you, but given Mulder's horrible 2006 and the fact he is injured; while Wainwright has not proven he can pitch more than an inning or two successfully, and Weaver was both horrible and released during parts of '06...Wells is a pretty solid #6 SP mind you, very few teams can trot out an experienced vet with a 5ish ERA as a reserve.

I cannot possibly say, however, that group is as good as the Brewers top 5 or even top 6. It takes a lot more for Rosenthal to say that, as the national media automatically figures the defending champs will be solid, damn the proof.


1/17/2007 11:15:00 AM


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

(1/16/2007 09:17:00 PM) - Al

Arby numbers are in this Adam M article, most of them are quite a bit apart, between $700K and $1.2M...they usually end up meeting in the middle, or just a tad below the midpoint.


1/16/2007 09:17:00 PM



(1/16/2007 07:31:00 PM) - Al

The new mailbag edition is here.

When I look at a baseball team, I tend to think of how they'll do in terms of how many runs above or below average they are at various positions. If you're looking to improve the team, it pays just as much to trade for an average SS if you have an awful one as it would to replace your average RF with an all-star, but the former trade could
be an easier one to make. What position(s) do you think the Brewers are weakest at?

Which ones do you think would be the easiest to upgrade?

SSM


I'd look to upgrade the relief corps first. Other than that, with the Brewers' combo platter of youth, growth, and talent, I would look for minor league depth, especially at the AA and AAA levels, as most of the Brewers' youngsters are either close to being ready or in A ball or below.

If Koskie is not able to go, 3B becomes the gorilla in the room, and I might check to see if the Royals might be willing to part with Mark Teahen, as Alex Gordon is all but ready.

Could you break down the argument that Suppan is Doug Davis but for more money?

Well, both are innings eaters and durable, so I suppose it's a decent comparison. That said, I'd rather have Suppan, as would nearly all serious fans, if for nothing else, his "go right after them" mentality allows him to go longer in games.

I know you like the show Mad Money. I can’t get past some of Cramer’s ridiculous antics to see if his advice is any good. Could you give your thoughts on his performance and if he is any better than most straight business shows?

If you don't want to watch Jim, you can read about his picks here. Jim's fun to watch, but his investing only focuses on what the stock will do, not how good the company is, will be, etc. Overall, I'd say he's as good as anybody, and a lot more enjoyable. He makes stocks cool, so that alone is a good thing. I really like Fast Money, which is now on CNBC every night at 7 Central.

Any key things we need to be watching for in Spring Training? I hope to make a visit this year and want to know where to look.

This team should be all but set going into Arizona, except perhaps a bullpen spot. I'd say Luther Hackman, who has had a great winter ball campaign, would be the sleeper to watch.

I think we need a MR any thoughts on that?

I'd like to package Mench with a current reliever (Wise maybe) for an upgrade in the bullpen, maybe that loogy we keep discussing.

Will the Brewers sign Sheets when his contract is up in 2 years? Impossible to predict, I know, because his health. If he's in good health, and pitches how he's capable of, a) does the Crew resign him, and b) for how much?

Sheets will not be signed before next offseason, and likely not until at least midway through the '08 season. If Ben doesn't throw 200 innings, the question is moot. If he does and has success, the Crew has little chance to resign him unless he takes a significant discount...which he may do, especially if the team is winning.

I'd say it's unlikely, as if healthy, he may command $20M per. If he is not healthy, he will not be chased by the Crew.

Which current or past MLB players do you think are most similar to what Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, and Rickie Weeks will eventually become?

Braun profiles to be a .400 OBP and a near .600 SLG in his prime...needless to say, there aren't many major leaguers that hit like that. I'm tempted to say Albert Pujols, but that's probably pie-in-the-sky. I'll go with Jeff Bagwell.

Corey Hart...maybe Cliff Floyd, though we hope for better health.

JJ Hardy...Jay Bell maybe a bit low to aim for, but he is probably pretty close to what JJ will be this year...Alan Trammell might be a nice possibility to hope for if health cooperates.

Rickie Weeks...both Gary Sheffield and Paul Molitor are often mentioned, based on bat speed and athletic ability. Needless to say, either of those would be plenty acceptable with me.

Should the Brewers try to develop Rickie Weeks as a high average/high speed type of hitter (like Paul Molitor)...or should they try to develop him more into a slugger who bats in the middle of the order? I am still confused about what exactly he is supposed to be. He was a batting champ and stolen base king as a college player, but he also can hit for power too.

I think he'll end up being a #3-6 guy. He'll be a 40 doubles, 25 homers guy in his prime. He's done what he's done being a dead red hitter, so when he starts hitting breaking stuff in the strike zone, watch out.

Do you think the Brewers still need to go out and find another big bat to replace Carlos Lee? How do you think the Brewers will rank in terms of runs scored?

I think they could be anywhere from 5th on down...I'd say 8th if I had to pick a number. In a perfect world, yes, they need to replace him. In reality, the improvement of Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, and Hart will replace some of his production, Jenkins/Mench returning to career norms will replace some, and so on. If the Crew is in the race in late July or August, a corner OF would be a relatively easy 30-60 day rental.

How many wins do you predict the Brewers will have this year (assuming the team remains reasonably healthy)? What are your predictions for the standings in the NL Central?

I'm saying 85-93 wins as of this second. I have little doubt last year's team would have won 85 had they had perfect health, and the '07 version is a few games better, no doubt. I don't see any team in the Central that's better...the Cards won 83 and are worse, though they had health issues as well.


1/16/2007 07:31:00 PM



(1/16/2007 12:58:00 PM) - Al

Kevin Mench avoids arby, signs a one-year deal.


1/16/2007 12:58:00 PM


Monday, January 15, 2007

(1/15/2007 08:38:00 PM) - Al

So, I just went to MLB.com and got a list of reserve infielders the Crew might consider if Corey Koskie is uanble to recover from his noggin problems.

Oh, the horror.

Yes indeed, it's a short list, and it's not a very good list, to be truthful. Here are the six names I'd consider, and to be honest, 3 or 4 of them could probably be had on a minor league contract.

Ronnie Belliard
Vinny Castilla
David Bell
Mark Bellhorn
Lou Merloni
Jose Vizcaino

Oof.

Belly is by far the best player on the list, as he could play 2B or 3B (he did tell the Yankees he'd play 3B, as rumor had it the Yankees were shopping ARod). Bell is an older guy who is a nice role player. Castilla hasn't hit outside of Coors for many years, but I think he's a solid defender and has some pop. Bellhorn used to be a nice utility guy, good OBP, real good power for a middle IF, but that was several years ago as well. Merloni is just a backup 2B/SS who probably would not be a bit better than a score of AAA vets, and Jose V would seem to pretty much just be a guy who can play all four spots on the infield, as he's never hit to speak of.

Considering the Brewers have Vinny Rottino, I see no use for Jose or Vinny. I wouldn't mind Merloni on a AAA deal, nor would I mind giving almost any veteran big leaguer a minor league deal. If Mark Bellhorn wants to play in 2007 and would accept a minor league deal, he might be almost perfect, a solid switch-hitting vet. The only thing I see is he may well ask for a deal which would allow him to request his release if he sees little chance of getting called up, usually around May 15th-June 15th...needless to say, I'd give him that.

Bell did a nice job, and he seems like a what you see is what you get type. He'd be better than a half-dozen 3B, and would be very good defensively. Given the fact he's also a "known" (rather than an unknown), I would have to think he'd be the choice the Brewers go to if they decide to pick somebody up.

That leaves Belly, who had his worst season with the Brewers back in '02, has had 4 decent or better campaigns since. Ronnie was set up for failure perfectly by the previous braintrust (pun intended), and he obliged. I'm not sure if Doug really got to know him at all or not, or if that would matter in this, what he has stated to be a year of contention.

At the end of the day, I think either Bell or Belly would be nice additions, if they're available when and if Corey is put on the shelf. That said, I don't find either to be far above Vinny Rottino, especially considering that Vinny has the added bonus of smacking LHP's (at least in AAA) and being able to play anywhere on the diamond.

Allow me to also say that I'm more concerned about Koskie than I was before I looked at who is still available.


1/15/2007 08:38:00 PM



(1/15/2007 08:21:00 PM) - Al

Adam's weekly mailbag is here, and lots of folks are wondering if Hall will end up at 3B if Koskie cannot go...actually, I am too.

No interest in signing an IF FA right now, says Gord Ash, but that could change quickly, in my view, especially considering how fragile 3/4th's of the projected IF has been.


1/15/2007 08:21:00 PM



(1/15/2007 04:26:00 PM) - Al

Recently, Ramblings was lucky enough to receive its first guest submission, a 2007 season preview from our friend, Troy S. You can read it in its entirety below. Anyone else interested in voicing their opinion, either e-mail me the piece or the idea, and we'll go from there.



I felt the dog days of winter deserved an in depth preview of the 2007 Milwaukee Brewers. This will quite simply be an in depth breakdown of each position on the roster and than a player breakdown and what may and may not happen between now and April 2ND, 2007.

Outfield- This is the biggest position of questions. There were a lot of questions expected to be answered between November and now and hardly any have been. The Brewers wanted to acquire a new center fielder this off season but just missed on Dave Roberts and were unable to get one via trade. This much is known. Unless an injury or something goofy happens Corey Hart and Bill Hall are virtual locks to start. At what position who knows. Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench were both expected to be traded and neither has been. With the market going up so dramatically having Jenkins for 7 million a year suddenly doesn't seem so outrageous. In fact he would probably get that much were he on the open market. Same is true for Mench and Brady Clark who are around 3 million a year. That said keeping all these guys seems highly unlikely. Tony Gwynn Jr, Gabe Gross, and Laynce Nix all fit in prominently. That leaves 8 guys for 5 open roster spots. Nix and Gwynn are the only candidates for a trip to AAA. Gross, Hall, and Hart seem like the only virtual locks at this point.

Bill Hall- Hall made dramatic rise as a potential superstar last year. Although his defense improved ten fold at shortstop as the season went on the decision to move him to the OF was made. It was probably the right decision. Hall is very capable of being a solid everyday SS. However, it's way to soon to give up on JJ Hardy and with SS being his home it made sense to move Hall and find him one, permanent home. At this point it appears he may be our opening day CF. The team would much prefer him in LF and it would be a much easier transition for him. However at this point he seems the most likely candidate on the current roster to start at CF barring a trade. He isn't a burner by any means but he'll have a plus arm in the OF and seems fully capable of becoming at the very least a solid defensive OF. Although LF would suit him much better. He still has plenty of room for improvement offensively even after a breakout year. He took an .650 OPS (On base percentage plus slugging percentage) in 2004 to .898 in 2006. The 39 doubles and 35 HR's are numbers to gush over. However his 2.6 strikeout to walk ratio needs to improve. If he can cut his K's 10% and move up his walks 10% his numbers could continue to rise even more. The main reason he walked as many times as he did was there was a point in the season he had no protection in the lineup at all and teams were blatantly pitching around him. Pitch selection has improved a ton from 2004 to 2006 but this is still where he needs to improve the most to be a complete hitter. Although he has a remarkable knack for heroics late in games his strikeout problems makes him a less than ideal situational hitter. If he is going to be a 3rd or 4th hitter he needs to have the ability to hit the sacrifice fly or ground ball to the right side when needed. Still the sky is the limit and this guy is on his way to becoming a 20 million plus per year player in 2009 when he becomes a free agent. We may look to extend him in spring but if he wasn't interested last year I highly doubt he will be this year.

Corey Hart- Showed last season in his 237 at bats that he's ready for an everyday job in the big leagues. Unless he has a disastrous spring or something unexpected happens he will get his wish. He has played all 3 OF spots with the Brewers but in an ideal world he'd play RF with Hall in LF and someone else in CF. If Hall is the CF that means that Jenkins or a Jenkins/Mench platoon would probably come to play in RF so Hart in turn would than be the LF. He has the ability's to be an average to slightly above average OF. He seems to produce as a hitter. Not unlike a lot of young hitters he needs to improve his walks and cut down on his strikeouts. But he has surprising pop and hasn't yet seem to have filled into his thin body. At 24 he has become a very solid prospect. He also has deceptive speed for a 6'6 guy and is capable of stealing 20 or more bases in 2007. I expect that he is capable of some decent power numbers as well. Will have to give him a full season and see if he develops into a solid OF.

Geoff Jenkins- Jenkins struggled again most of last year. He has struggled to put together a full solid season for a few years now. He has however shown glimpse of the old Geoff Jenkins, the one that had a club record .588 slugging percentage in 2000. I think he is truly hungry after being benched last year and will be determined to come back strong. Playing for a contract never hurts either. Of course there is no guarantee what so ever that he will be a Brewer by opening day. At this point the club may be best inclined to keep him. Struggle as he may he still hit nearly .300 against rightys, had several clutch hits in late innings, and as always played well above average RF. He could be more than serviceable in a platoon role and offer leadership to a young team. Plus you never know he could have a Jermaine Dye like bad few years than come back as strong as ever. He physically seems to still have the skills.

Gabe Gross- Gross had a very nice year playing mostly off the bench for the Crew in 06'. I think he may have found a niche as a pinch-hitter/occasional starter for years to come. He has an excellent eye and a lot of pop in his bat. He is capable at all 3 OF spots. He looks like he may be the ideal 4th OF. He's probably not in the mix for an everyday job but he is a virtual lock to make the 25 man roster. Capable of filling in for a few weeks as an everyday player if one of the OF's went down with a minor injury that put him out for a short time. He hasn't shown he can hit lefty's at all but I don't think he will be asked too anyway.

Laynce Nix- An intriguing prospect that at one time was probably a Top 5 prospect in all of MLB. He certainly is nowhere near that status now but his skill set is there. Probably will end up in AAA to start the season. Not out of the realm of possibility's that if he were to have a great spring he could open as the everyday CF, but its unlikely. Hes very fast and strong. Would be one of the better defensive CF the Brewers have had in many years but I guess that really isn't saying a whole lot. Has very good power. However he doesn't walk at all and strikeouts out way too much. Probably wouldn't hit for much of an average and in turn would have dreadful on base percentage. If he somehow could make huge strides in this area he could become a good player. The biggest concern with Nix is he has never shown the ability to stay healthy.

Brady Clark- Clark proved last year that he's not an everyday player. I think he is a solid 4th OF and a very good 5th OF. He maximizes his talent but he isn't a player with the raw tools of most guys in the big leagues. With so many OF's and a 3 million dollar contract it would be nice if we could trade him before the beginning of the season. Will work a count and take walks and because he stands on top of the plate does get hit a lot. Can play all 3 OF spots but has proven last 2 years he's a below average CF. Has a weak arm and because he lacks speed plays shockingly deep for a CF allowing a lot of balls that would be outs on most teams to fall harmlessly in front of him for singles. But off the bench he would serve a purpose and you could count on him to give you a quality at bat late in games or when a bunt is needed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr.- Gwynn got some time at the big league level last year. Like Nix if he were to totally dazzle in spring he would have a shot at being the opening day starter in CF. However he probably belongs in AAA getting some seasoning. He's an OK defensive OF and has the speed to steal some bases. Physically he's limited and although he has made strides the last 2 years I don't really see him as an everyday player in the big leagues. If he can become a Dave Roberts type pest at the top of the order would be the only way I could see him punching that ticket.

Kevin Mench- Doug Melvin seems to truly believe that Mench pushed himself too hard after the trade for Carlos Lee last July. Melvin seems to think that Mench could come back and have a solid season. I was never very sold on Mench in the 1st place and would strongly prefer to see him traded before the start of the season. He is an underrated and very good defensive OF. He hit very poorly for the Crew in 06' and really I've never looked at him as much more than a bottom of the heap MLB starter. He's OK at everything but not great at anything as a hitter. If he does make the club he will probably platoon with Jenkins in RF or if Hart were to have a horrid spring he could possibly win the everyday job in LF. He does hit lefty's OK so a Mench/Jenkins platoon may not be as bad as some people are making it out to be.

Infield- Before the recent revelation that Corey Koskie still may not be over his concussion problems it looked as if the infield was the one thing that was set in stone for the 07' Crew. Assuming he can get over that problem Koskie at 3b, Hardy at SS, Rickie Weeks at 2B, and Prince Fielder at 1st base will be the starting infield on opening day. Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell will be the backups. One possibility if it were determined that Koskie was gone for the year would be moving Hall to 3B and helping solve the logjam in the OF. But I think the Brewers feel strongly about putting Hall in the OF and keeping him there. Vinny Rottino could also be a possibility at 3B. As could stud prospect Ryan Braun who made great strides last year.

Corey Koskie- If Koskie can overcome his mysterious post concussion syndrome he would be a nice fit for this ball club. He's a pro's pro by all means. He's a solid defensive 3B. He works the count well and is fully capable of drawing walks and hitting with a reasonable amount of power. But much like Nix his biggest issue is staying healthy. The recent reports that he still hasn't been approved for baseball activities has to worry the Brewers brass.

JJ Hardy- Hardy too has the injury issue after missing almost all of 2004 and 2006 seasons. In late 2005 and early 2006 he proved he can be a very good big leaguer. Defensively he may not have the range of a Bill Hall but he seems to always make the routine play and is adept and turning the double play. He's certainly an above average defender. As a hitter he has surprising power and seemed to be rapidly improving. He will take a walk and doesn't strikeout much. I believe the only thing holding him back is health.

Rickie Weeks- Weeks has all the tools to be an all-star player and probably was the biggest prospect in the history of the Brewers organization. 2 years ago I believed he would be competing for MVP's by 2008. I certainly would have to scale that down now after seeing him play the last 2 seasons. However it takes some players longer than others to develop and he still very well may end up being a franchise player. Defensively he was beyond awful for most of the 1st half. But before the wrist injury that sidelined him for the latter third of the 06' season he had seemed to make rapid improvement. The last month he played he actually played well defensively. Many see him as an OF someday and that very well may end up being the case. His hands seem a little stiff and that is one thing that is more natural than acquired. He did a decent job as a lead-off hitter last year. Ideally I think right now he's a number 6 or 7 hitter but unless another player is acquired he's the most likely candidate to lead off again in 07'. He will take a walk and is good at working a count but strikes out way too much for a lead-off hitter. He has power but it hasn't shown in bunches at the big league level yet. One day he hopefully will develop into a number 3 hitter. This is a huge year in finding out what kind of big leaguer he's going to become. Hopefully it's the break out year were all hoping for in Milwaukee.

Prince Fielder- Fielder had a very good rookie season for the Brewers in 06'. Phenomenal really for a 21 year old power hitter. Power hitter's tend to take a little longer to develop. Although throughout the course of the year Fielder proved he's much more than a power hitter and a truly just a good hitter. He's more than capable of hitting .300 and he's not afraid to go the other way. To be this advanced at this age it's scary how good he could be. Defensively he worked hard and did improve but he's probably never going to be much more than a below average to average 1st baseman. He could cut down on his strikeouts and walk more but I think that will come with experience. His minor league numbers showed he didn't strike out hardly at all.

Tony Graffanino- Graffanino is another pro's pro. He will be the primary backup at 2b and 1B. He's also capable at 3B and even SS in a jam. If Koskie ends up not being able to play a Counsell/Graffanino platoon at 3B would likely than go into effect. Defensively he's solid and although lacks range and arm seems to make all the routine plays. He's a solid hitter that won't provide dazzling numbers but is a very solid situational hitter. He's capable of starting for some teams so to have him as a backup shows just how much deeper the 07' Brewers will be.

Craig Counsell- Counsell re-signed with the Crew this off season and will be the primary backup at 3B and SS and is fully capable of playing 2B. Much like Graffanino he doesn't have great range or arm, but doesn't seem to ever make a mistake on the routine ball. As a hitter he's a big pest and works the count to no end. He has no power and won't hit for a high average but he'll walk so much he still will have a solid OBP. A very solid backup who again has started for much of his career.

Vinny Rottino- Rottino could end up getting a shot at 3B if Koskie is unable to play. He seems like a solid hitter but has no real position. But he's capable of playing really anywhere on the diamond including catcher. That jack of all trades could prove him a useful asset. More than likely he will be at AAA this season though.

Ryan Braun- Braun has become the Brewers top position prospect. He did very well in the Arizona Fall League and although most people expected his arrival to the bigs in 08' or 09' he's on a fast track to moving that date up. Its not out of the realm of possibilities he could end up being the starting 3rd baseman on opening day. Ideally he'll get at least another half year in the minors. He has all the tools and could be a great big league hitter in all facets of the game. His defense although improving is still very bad and probably would be what would keep him off the roster more than anything. He was a SS in college and seems to have all the tools to be an above average defensive 3rd baseman. With some guys that just takes time.

Catcher- Johnny Estrada was acquired in the Doug Davis trade and will take over the everyday catching duties from Damian Miller. Miller showed last year that age was beginning to catch up with him so a trade made sense. Mike Rivera, JD Closser, and even Vinny Rottino could end up factoring in the Brewers catching situation in 07' if there are some injuries.

Johnny Estrada- Estrada is an above average major league catcher. This isn't saying all that much as there aren't a lot of quality catchers in MLB. He did hit .300 last year and knocked in 71 runs. His ability to switch hit will also come in handy. He doesn't walk at all so it is imperative that he does hit for a high average. He has a little bit of pop and is an average defensive catcher. If Brewers fans are expecting him to be a key kog in the Brewers lineup I think they may be a bit disappointed. But he can help the team and may hit well into the number 7 spot in the batting order. Although he never walks he doesn't strike out hardly at all either which is something that is needed on this roster.

Damian Miller- Miller after a very torrid start to 06' cooled off and than was injured most of the 2nd half. He's at least an adequate MLB catcher but at 37 he may not have a whole lot left in the tank. Subbing for Estrada 1-2 days a week may be just what he needs to stay healthy and perform at a high level. He's an average defensive catcher and usually gives you a good at bat. He lacks power but again at this position you usually don't expect much.

Mike Rivera- With Miller being hurt most of the 2nd half last year Rivera got this shot to play. He did an admirable job and proved that he's a worthy MLB backup backstop. I don't think the Brewers will feel a need to carry 3 catchers so he will start the season in AAA barring any injuries. Again average defensively and an OK bat from the catcher spot.

JD Closser- Another guy with big league experience to provide depth. Possible either him or Rivera will be moved in spring to a club looking for a 2nd or 3rd string catcher. He's 4th on the depth chart coming into 2007 no doubt.


Relief Pitching- This was probably our biggest weakness last year. The Brewers were dead last in the NL with a bullpen ERA of 5.00. Turnbow had a disastrous year and nobody else with the exception of Francisco Cordero had any type of consistency. Cordero was nearly flawless as the closer after coming over in a trade from Texas and will be playing for a new contract in 08'. Cordero is set in stone as the Brewers closer this year but other than that the bullpen will have to define who fits in where in spring training and at the start of the season. I would like to see another veteran added to compete for a spot before spring training. You can only hope that all the competition for spots will lead to a solid bullpen.

Francisco Cordero- Cordero overcame a slow start with Texas last year and pitched nearly perfect baseball for the Brewers. He's locked in as the closer and there is no reason to think that he won't have a great year. With a 98 mph fastball and devastating slider he has all the goods to deliver. He could cut down on his walks some but seems to know how to get out a jam. He's been there and done that and the NL still hasn't seen him that much. I expect a great season from him but closers are a fickle bunch and really you never know.

Derrick Turnbow- Turnbow was an all-star in 06' but had a disastrous 2nd half. Whatever could be bad was. His walk ratio was horrible as was his HR ratio. He seemed to lose all his confidence and couldn't catch a break to boot. Ned Yost lost all faith in him after July and he was basically relegated to mop-up duty. Still he was not injured and didn't lose that 100 mph fastball. It was simply a matter of a control issue. Something that Turnbow has struggled with his whole baseball life.You simply can't be behind in the count all the time and have success at the big league level. When he can get his breaking ball over he can be dominant. But that is a very big if. I don't think the club can come in with too much expectations for him. However, if he could return to his 05' form he would form a great duo with Cordero in the 8th and 9th innings. Mike Maddux seems to work wonders for guys and hopefully he can get Turnbow turned back in the right direction.

Brian Shouse- Shouse did an admirable job for the Brewers in 06'. Ideally he's simply a situational lefty but too many times last year the Brewers were forced to use him for a full inning. I would expect much less of that this year. He will be the Brewers man in late inning situations to come in and get a lefty or two in the lineup out. Not much more should or will be expected of him. However it's a very important role and could play a big role in how well the Brewers bullpen does in 07'.

Greg Aquino- Aquino was acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Doug Davis trade. He has a plus arm and the potential to become an 8th inning setup guy. He even had 16 saves in 04' as a rookie. Hopefully Maddux can work some magic with him because he seems to have the talent to be a solid setup guy. Like most guys in the bullpen he could fall anywhere from 8th inning guy to not even making the team. The competition is just wide open.

Grant Balfour- Balfour was an off season waiver wire pickup and is a long shot to make the roster. But it's another arm to compete in the bullpen. He has missed the last 2 seasons with injuries. He used too anyway have a power arm but had control issues. Again hopefully Maddux can find another diamond in the rough with this guy.

Jose Capellan- Capellan did a solid job in his 1st full season as a big leaguer last year. He seems to be the kind of guy that may never be dominant but can fit well into any bullpen. He's versatile enough to pitch 2 or 3 innings or just come in to get 1 guy. Seemed to get much better control last season and a little bit of confidence in his slider. Should be a lock to make the 25 man roster on opening day.

Carlos Villanueva- Villanueva did an excellent job for the Brewers last season. He gave them some quality starts and did a nice job in long relif as well. An ERA of 3.69 and absolutely dazzling WHIP (Walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.01 were certainly numbers that the Brewers wouldn't have expected. He doesn't have overpowering stuff but really seems to know how to pitch. In past season's if a Brewer had had a season like this he would come in as the number 3 starter at worst. It speaks volumes to our starting depth that he probably won't make the rotation out of spring. Sooner or later an injury will occur and he seems more then ready to fill in. This is so important as last year showed that once Ohka and Sheets went down we just didn't have the depth to be able to overcome that. There isn't a better number 6 starter in baseball by any means. Since we don't really have a long relief guy on the team he could make the club in that facet. I hope and think he will start at AAA as he needs to be pitching every 5th day and getting experience.

Zach Jackson- At this point probably our 7th starter and he did an OK job last year when he was forced into a starting role for a while. Barring multiple injuries he will begin the year at AAA. He wasn't ready yet last year but still showed remarkable poise and seems to be a true gamer. He lacks overpowering stuff and must pitch to spots to be successful. He has a chance to one day be a back of the end rotation type guy.

Ben Hendrickson- I mention him only because he's out of options. I see no way he could make the ball club even though there is an opening in long relief. He's had a few chances and failed miserably. Then he goes down to AAA and dominates. I think he's just a AAAA pitcher that will never make it in the big leagues.

Dennis Sarfate- Sarfate got a little experience with the big club last September. He has a reasonable shot to make the roster. A lot remains to be seen with him but again he could fall anywhere from not making the team to being one of the top setup men.

Chris Spurling- Spurling did a decent job for the Tigers in 05' and had some time with both the Tigers and Brewers in 06'. He was signed to a minor league contract but again fits in as one of many vying for a spot. Has a solid arm and will certainly have a reasonable chance of making the team out of spring.

Matt Wise- Wise seems the most likely to become the 8th inning guy as he has served this purpose before for the Brewers. He's had some problems with consistency but for the most part has been solid. He has a devastating change-up but needs to have his control on to get big league hitters out. Health is always a concern with him, too.

Luis Pena/Vince Perkins/Tim Dillard/Corey Thurman/Luther Hackman- Some more non roster invitees that have an outside shot at making the club and may provide depth at AAA.

Yovani Gallardo- I think I would be re missed if I failed to mention Gallardo. I think it's highly unlikely he would make the roster out of spring but he may get a shot in 07'. He's by far the Brewers brightest pitching prospect and put up sick numbers at A and AA ball last year. In today's game it's not all that uncommon for players such as this to come straight to the big leagues without that much high level minor league experience. The Brewers would prefer to give him at least another half season in the minors probably more. But he may pitch himself into the rotation at one point. 2 years down the road could be an absolute force to be reckoned with.

Starting Pitching- I think this is the best staff we've had in well over a decade. You could make the argument this is the best staff in the NL. Top to bottom it very well may be. A recent Sporting News had them as the 5th best rotation in the NL. I've seen them as high as 2nd. Ben Sheets health is the key once again though. If you take away that top gun that certainly hurts the rotation a lot. Having more depth in the rotation is very important though. Adding Suppan was a great way to top off a very solid rotation. We can go 1-5 and feel we have a good shot to win everyday. Not a lot of clubs can say that. Starting pitching is usually what gets you to to the playoffs so how this rotation pans out will be the key to another 75 win season or an 95 win surge to the top of the NL Central.

Ben Sheets- A true ace. Dominant curve ball and fastball. Doesn't walk anyone at all unless he's pitching around them and is a strikeout pitcher. Health is the only real issue. If he can be 100% for a whole season he's Cy Young worthy as he displayed in 04'. Pitches a lot of innings and has basically no weaknesses. Somewhat susceptible to the long ball but because there is usually no one on base this really doesn't tend to hurt him very much. Horrid hitter who needs at the very least to be able to bunt. His health is probably the single biggest component to where the Brewers finish in the 07' standings.

Chris Capuano- Capuano tailed off quite a bit in the 2nd half after an all-star 1st half. Will probably enter the season as our # 2 starter although I really feel he's probably our 4th best. He's not a dominant type pitcher but will give you a lot of innings and quality starts. Almost always keeps you in the game. Good defensively and a solid hitter as well. Has shown the last 2 years to be very durable after some injury issues prior to that in his career.

Jeff Suppan- Suppan is the definition of an innings eater. He's always pitched very well in Milwaukee and seems genuinely happy to be here. You can pencil him in for 32+ starts every year. Like Capuano he's not a dominant type pitcher but will always keep you in the game. He doesn't strike many guys out relying on his defense quite a bit. That could be a bit scary as the Brewers D in 06' wasn't good at all. As his NLCS MVP showed last season he seems to have a knack for pitching well in the big games. OK hitter and fielder.

Dave Bush- Bush in my opinion is one of the most likely pitchers in 07' to have a breakout year. His final ERA of 4.41 won't dazzle anyone but really he pitched much better than that. I feel he's our 2nd best starter. His WHIP was 1.14 which was 4th in the NL for starting pitchers that qualified. He pitched into some bad luck and also had some problems being yo-yo'd as the 5th starter. He was asked to skip starts or come back on short rest or make spot appearances in the bullpen and these were where most of his poor performances came. He showed he can pitch a lot of innings and at times be dominant. I believe he took a no-hitter into the 6th inning on 3 different occasions. He had 1 shutout and flirted with several others. He has a good bat as a former college catcher and is a good athlete on the mound. I anticipate him having a breakout year in 07'.

Claudio Vargas- Vargas won 12 games last season. Not many teams can say that about their 5th starter. He did have a rather high ERA but he stayed healthy and pitched a lot of innings. His ERA was also partly inflated by playing in the high altitude in Phoenix. He goes from the Diamondbacks number 2 starter to our 5th starter. He won't dominate but by all means should normally keep you in games and is an way above average 5th starter. OK hitter and defender.

Overall I think this is the best chance the Brewers have had at being a playoff team in over 20 years. This is their best team in a long time and probably more importantly the NL Central is wide open and frankly not very good. 83 games won this division last year and it very may well again in 07'. If the barrage of injuries that happened last season happen again we probably can't do much. But if we stay relatively healthy winning 90 games is by no means a reach.

I'm clearly biased but I feel the Brewers are the favorites to win this division. ESPN's Jim Callis recently picked the Brewers to win the Central and Buster Olney and Steve Phillips has hinted they may do the same. So I'm not alone in this thought. My biggest area of concern is both defense and the bullpen, two very underrated aspects of winning at the big league level. But the future is certainly bright in Milwaukee. How exactly this roster shapes up by April 2nd who knows, but I'll be very excited to be at Miller Park that day.


1/15/2007 04:26:00 PM


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