Al's Ramblings



Saturday, March 31, 2007

(3/31/2007 04:18:00 PM) - Al

After 12 weeks, I'm 58 pounds lighter. I'll celebrate by having an extra teaspoon of low-fat dressing on my salad tonight. Actually, my wife is making a pizza, so I'll probably add a slice to my "big salad" I have most every night at 5PMish.

One thing I think about many days is how most people say that you shouldn't eat late in the day, because your body doesn't metabolize food you eat late, it just sits there. I just figure maybe I'll lose a bit slower, but if I don't eat late, I'll be hungry from 5:30 'til I go to bed. So, I usually eat about 12, 5, and 10. On mornings when I don't sleep in, I might have a nutritional shake at 9 or so.

On a non-related note, I'm listening to Kevin Smith's current podcast and he's so far mentioned:

1. He used to get dropped off at the multiplex at noon or so, and his folks would pick him up at 9. He'd be left without any money for food, and just jump from movie to movie. His folks would do the same thing at the swimming complex, and he was "forced" to eat half-eaten stuff others had thrown out (of course, Kevin's built like me, hence why forced is in quotes).

2. Never had keys to his own house growing up. If he was at a friend's house, he'd have to wait until a parent got home.

Both of those things seem so goofy to me, it's beyond belief.


3/31/2007 04:18:00 PM



(3/31/2007 03:00:00 PM) - Al

Surprised to see St. Louis is playing the day before they open their season, and that the game is at 4:30 Central, meaning the Cards will probably arrive at 11PM or so in SL.

The Brewers exhibition is also tonight at 7, I had assumed it was a day game. They won't be arriving until very late tonight either, with the Fanfest event scheduled for 11AM tomorrow.


3/31/2007 03:00:00 PM



(3/31/2007 01:10:00 PM) - Al

For anyone who is curious, the WNIT women's championship game is today at 2, and is on Fox College Sports Network, which I had never heard of, but we do have on our cable system, as well as Milwaukee and Madison TV. A listing can be found here.

UPDATE: It's now 3PM, and FCS still has on a meaningless women's softball game, which is currently in the 14th inning. Nice programming decision. If only one of the teams would score...oh no, it may never end!!:)

UPDATE 2: After a HR to end the softball game, which had just entered the infinitith inning, FCS proudly played 3 or 4 commercials...then played each one again in the same order. After the 3rd Army commercial, they finally went to the Badgers WNIT game, about 3:15 or thereabouts.


3/31/2007 01:10:00 PM



(3/31/2007 08:57:00 AM) - Al

Late last night, I was flipping channels and saw the Cubs/Mariners game was on WGN. During the couple minutes I watched, I heard them say that the M's do not have a single day off at home this year, that every day off on the schedule they will be flying to another city.

If that's true, it's hard to believe any free agent ever signs there. They also mentioned that their shortest flight is 2.5 hours, but many are of the much longer variety. I know Ken Griffey Jr. said once he was tired of always traveling on his off days.

UPDATE: What a load of crap. It is difficult to believe WGN can utter some profound untruths and not bother correcting it. While it is true SEA wastes several days off flying to the East Coast (including an intercontinental frequent-flyer delight of Seattle to Tampa Bay), they do have the following:

4/15--vs. TEX
4/16--off
4/17--vs. MIN

5/13--vs. NYY
5/14--off
5/15--vs. LAA

6/17--@ HOU (day game)
6/18--off
6/19--vs. PIT

6/27--vs. BOS
6/28--off
6/29--vs. TOR

8/1--vs. LAA
8/2--off
8/3--vs. MIN

8/15--vs. MIN
8/16--off
8/17--vs. CWS

9/23--@ LAA (day game)
9/24--off
9/25--vs. CLE

That's 7 days off that they do not have to travel at all, and it took 90 seconds. Is Bob Brenly really that ignorant?


3/31/2007 08:57:00 AM


Friday, March 30, 2007

(3/30/2007 10:01:00 PM) - Al

Ned Yost can say less in an interview than anyone I know.


3/30/2007 10:01:00 PM



(3/30/2007 08:37:00 PM) - Al

2007 Ramblings Underutilized Talent Team

Catcher--Robby Hammock

Robby just squeezes in at age 29, the RUTT maximum. Has hit well (with the prerequisite "for a catcher") in the minors and is used mainly as a utility guy for the Diamondbacks. By far the thinnest position in RUTT's history, the only others considered were Yorvit Torrealba and JD Closser. Every single nomination received was for Chris Coste, including two that arrived after I mentioned he was too old to be named.:)

First Base--Brad Eldred

Now blocked by Adam LaRoche, Brad needs a change of scenery to unleash his prototypical 1B power. I'd love to see him get 500 AB's and see what he'd do. Lance Niekro was also considered.

Second Base--Jorge Cantu

I'll take him as a middle IF even if he is pretty weak defensively. Considering he has a career SLG of .460 and just turned 25, you'd think TB would find a place for him. Jose Castillo was the runner-up.

Shortstop--Estaban German

Being used as the Royals utility guy, German was a top prospect for years in the A's system, but was eventually let go due to the emergence of frequent RUTT member Marcos Scutaro. Good top of the order guy, nice OBP and speed. Alex Cintron will serve if German is unable to complete his reign.

Third Base--Antonio Perez

Should return strong from an injury shortened 2006, Perez and Scutaro make up the best reserve infield in the game for the A's. 3B is almost as weak as C, as nearly all the reserves are older veterans, only Cubs' Ryan Theriot was considered.

Left Field--Matt Murton

I'd have him starting over Jones and Floyd. I don't know what a guy has to prove for the Cubs to show he's better than veteran mediocrity.

Center Field--Brian Anderson

He did not have a stellar '06, but the idea he'll be platooning with Darin Erstad...oof.

Right Field--Gabe Gross

I don't think he's as good as he showed in '06, but he's a fine athlete and hits the fastball as good as anyone. Still just 27, he might well platoon for a few years before he's done. Missing the OF cut was Joey Gathright (you still can't steal 1B), Jayson Werth, and Jason Dubois.

Designated Hitter--Jeff Baker

Finally out of options in Colorado, he looks to finally stick with the big league club. I hate picking guys who have only succeeded in the thin air of Colorado Springs, but Baker should be playing somewhere.

Thanks to those of you that wrote in and nominated a player or several.


3/30/2007 08:37:00 PM



(3/30/2007 03:00:00 PM) - Al

Baseball is the new football, says CNN.com.


3/30/2007 03:00:00 PM



(3/30/2007 02:32:00 PM) - Al

My son and I are going to enjoy an afternoon of bowling (unless one of us drops a ball on our foot), so I may not be posting RUTT until tonight. Or, the whole projections, preview, and RUTT will be up for most of you by Monday.


3/30/2007 02:32:00 PM



(3/30/2007 11:49:00 AM) - Al

The fellas at HT predict the winners...nice to see the Crew in the top 3 for all but one.


3/30/2007 11:49:00 AM



(3/30/2007 10:49:00 AM) - Al

I have no doubt the Brewers have already chosen their last two spots, and are holding back announcing it in case of injury and/or a waiver wire claim.

Ned, however, seems to delight in not telling the media anything a second before he has to. Needless to say, he does not seem cut out to ever deal with a media throng found in larger markets.


3/30/2007 10:49:00 AM



(3/30/2007 09:33:00 AM) - Al

The RUTT team has been chosen, and will be posted later today. Thanks for all your nominations. Hopefully a couple members of this year's squad will breakout like Dave Ortiz and Morgan Ensberg, two former RUTT alumni who do not stay in touch.

Also, still 2 tickets for Opening Day, standing room, e-mail me if you have interest.


3/30/2007 09:33:00 AM



(3/30/2007 09:29:00 AM) - Al

Ticket sales are up over 10% from last year at this time, the Crew reports.

Buy early and often. I think we'll even see good crowds on April and May weekends this year. It sure would be nice to see some 30K people at a weeknight game before school lets out. You get the feeling it will take an October series or two for that to happen.


3/30/2007 09:29:00 AM



(3/30/2007 09:16:00 AM) - Al

I tell ya folks, take a look at the names over at Rotoworld being mentioned as the 5th starter all over MLB, and you will feel much better about the '07 Crew. I honestly wonder why more teams did not have an interest in adding Elmer Dessens to the back of their rotation, his ceiling isn't much, but he won't give up 7 runs in 3 frames either.

On the same note, the DevilRays continue to be the epitome of a team that simply has no plan. Based on a couple dozen spring AB's, it looks like BJ Upton will open the season at 2B and Jorge Cantu will open at AAA...no, I'm not kidding.

Cantu is not much of a defender, or an OBP man, but I'd be happy to put his power bat at 3B and replace him for defensive purposes in the 7th.


3/30/2007 09:16:00 AM


Thursday, March 29, 2007

(3/29/2007 10:02:00 PM) - Al

If anyone has a need for a pair of standing room only tickets for Opening Day, shoot me an e-mail. Face value, whatever that is, and maybe we can arrange for delivery in the parking lot before the game.


3/29/2007 10:02:00 PM



(3/29/2007 08:58:00 PM) - Al

Adam discusses the final roster, it looks like they have their mind made up, and are just waiting to ensure no one is injured in the last couple games...it seems like they wait until the last minute every year "just in case".

I seem to recall last year knuckleballer Jared Fernandez was in limbo until the final moment as well.


3/29/2007 08:58:00 PM



(3/29/2007 03:34:00 PM) - Al

Grant Balfour did decide to stay with the Brewers rather than being a free agent (though I assume he can "opt out" if not in the bigs at some point), and will start the season at AA Huntsville to work on getting his arm in shape.

I can only imagine the angst this will cause Alabama baseball fans when they don't understand why this Balfour guy is allowed to give up several runs in a couple innings a couple times a week.:)


3/29/2007 03:34:00 PM



(3/29/2007 02:32:00 PM) - Al

ESPN Brewers' preview, ranges from 80-90 wins, with most going with about 84 or so.

For the most part, very kind.


3/29/2007 02:32:00 PM



(3/29/2007 10:33:00 AM) - Al

I wonder if MLB will ever consider opening the season on the final weekend of March, rather than the first Monday of April? Many teams use this last weekend to play exhibition games (the Crew is in Texas for a couple tomorrow night and Saturday) at their own stadium anyway, and it seems to me there are plenty of warm weather sites and domed stadiums that could easily have games with little concern for the weather.

I just feel it would be nice to open on a weekend, as my Opening Day national holiday initiative has stalled.:)


3/29/2007 10:33:00 AM



(3/29/2007 09:14:00 AM) - Al

Smart money seems to be on Greg Aquino and Vinny Rottino getting the two final spots on the 25 man roster, which we discussed in more detail yesterday.


3/29/2007 09:14:00 AM



(3/29/2007 09:01:00 AM) - Al

Officially, what defines a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth in real Gross Domestic Product. In practice, any period of high rates of unemployment, interest rates, inflation, or other indicator is called a receccion by politicians and media people.

I just heard someone (I think they're running for president) say we'd been in a recession for 3 years (which of course, would be a depression, but let's not let pesky facts get in the way of mindless campaigning), which would have bothered me if I still paid attention to big media. It was just reported that GDP was up 2.5% in the 4th quarter of 2007, so officially, the recession has not begun yet.


3/29/2007 09:01:00 AM


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

(3/28/2007 03:58:00 PM) - Al

Uecker seat auction ends tomorrow, as of now, $16 and $24 are what it will take to buy 1 or 2 tiks.

Part of the proceeds benefit Make A Wish. I have already been outspent, so I will not be attending.


3/28/2007 03:58:00 PM



(3/28/2007 03:39:00 PM) - Al

Peyton Manning's SNL parody of those awful NFL United Way spots is up. Laugh out loud funny, and extremely close to what you'll really see, for the first 30 seconds at least.


3/28/2007 03:39:00 PM



(3/28/2007 02:57:00 PM) - Al

Hi -

I'm a little surprised you didn't mention another reason for the hit increases - or maybe you didn't know about it.

In its baseball preview issue this year, Sports Illustrated listed four non-tradiitonal media Web sites, mostly blogs, for each team (for example, Aaron Gleeman for the Twins.) You were listed along with Brew City Ball and the Brewers' official site (along with somebody else I can't remember offhand) for the Brewers' sites. So you may be getting some hits from that.

Now, if only they'll list Packerama during football season.

Ray B.


I did not know this, as I have not read an SI in years. Thanks for the info, Ray. This would also not show up in the links, as people would be typing it in. Interesting...


3/28/2007 02:57:00 PM



(3/28/2007 01:30:00 PM) - Al

I wanted to take a minute and thank those of you that make Ramblings a daily or regular stop of your internet travels. Our hit count is the highest it has ever been as of this very moment. I would like to also thank Jason and Robert for their wonderful contributions, as well as our pair of guests who have also added content. As a mostly Brewers' blog, if (I mean when!) the team enjoys success in 2007, many more fans should eventually find us, as we all know the bandwagon will most certainly fill up should this edition of the club win 90 games or make the playoffs.

Ramblings is still a very small animal in the zoo of the worldwide web, but that's fine. There are several other sites to check out, and many do a tremendous job (and every one of them looks better).

Here's the plan for the upcoming week...subject to change, but just a rough outline:

FRI------RUTT team announced
SAT/SUN--Individual Brewers projected for 2007
MON------My 2007 W/L predictions, and I hope, Jason & Robert will also post their picks

Let's not forget, while I say Monday, I may well make my picks and post them Sunday evening. Most of you check Ramblings at work, so MON is when most of you will see it.

In closing, thanks for the feedback and continued support.


3/28/2007 01:30:00 PM



(3/28/2007 01:29:00 PM) - Al

Chris over at WSB took a tour of Miller Park the other day and dedicated a special post to the minor sewer issue found at MP a couple weeks ago. He includes pictures to explain the error, and I have to agree with him that it's simply stunning there was only one mistake made, given the maze of pipes.


3/28/2007 01:29:00 PM



(3/28/2007 01:21:00 PM) - Al

Last call to get your RUTT nominations in, be it an entire team or just a player or two. If you wonder about what it takes to qualify, check out the criteria here.

As an FYI, by far the most nominated player thus far is Chris Coste, the career minor leaguer who finally made the majors last year with the Phillies. Chris is in his 30's, and is therefore not eligible, the RUTT cutoff is 29. No problem, as I'd love to include Coste, and I'd much rather you send in your picks even if you're unsure how old a guy is or how much he makes. Reggie Sanders would be a fine choice for RF as well, but he is too costly and in his mid 30's.

Thanks to those who have sent in picks, I think I've got 8-10 so far, and again, I welcome your picks before the end of the day tomorrow. I think we'll post the RUTT '07 edition Friday morning, barring the unforeseen.


3/28/2007 01:21:00 PM



(3/28/2007 12:44:00 PM) - Al

Not a whole lot to talk about today, but I do find it remarkably comforting to see the participants in what appears to be the last two spots on the Crew's 25 man roster. The battles appear to be between Tony Gwynn Jr. and Vinny Rottino for the final position player spot, and Jose Capellan and Greg Aquino for the last spot in the bullpen, assuming there are not any trades or waiver pickups...and with 5 empty spots on the 40 man, I expect to see a couple players claimed, though they may well be Marino Salas types, not major league ready.

If you take a glance on Rotoworld, or other similar sites, you'll see names mentioned for the 5th starter, and even starting spots that are, to be kind, weak. As long as it is true that both Aquino and Capellan have options left, regardless of who makes the team, they will have the loser of that battle and Dennis Sarfate at AAA Nashville, two players that would probably have made the 25 man roster of over half the teams in the bigs, and probably two of the hardest throwers in AAA that can actually find the plate. My only fear is that Jose is not at full strength and hiding an injury of some sort, suffered in winter ball, as he's not even been hitting 90.

On the same line of thinking, I think Tony will hit the majors and stay next year, but would prefer he spend '07 getting 500 PA's and hopefully, dominating the AAA level, making him at least a platoon option in CF for someone. I do think his overall package is tempting (though as Robert often points out, the 25th man makes little difference), as he would be used as a PR, early innings PH, leadoff PH late, and possible defensive replacement (probably just for Mench). Rottino is a nice utility guy, as he's played all 8 spots off the mound, and is decent at 5 of them (all but 2B, SS, CF). He is a nice 3rd catcher, if you'd like to use Estrada as a PH when Damian is catching, or use a PR for one of them. He's also a RH bat, he'd actually be the only one on the bench (other than Miller or the switch-hitting Estrada) when a lefty starts. I would go with Vinny myself, but understand that Gwynn may well see more time if he is chosen.

There are probably players that will hit waivers that will tempt the braintrust as well, a RH slugger that could backup 1B/3B is one thing that comes to my mind, as well as that elusive loogy, although I would expect that piece to be added before the deadline in July, and not be a loogy by definition, but rather a solid reliever who happens to throw LH. Regardless, the quality of the 26th and 27th men make me feel pretty good about the strength of the depth that we've been bragging about all offseason.


3/28/2007 12:44:00 PM



(3/28/2007 12:22:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Sackmann does the Hardball Times Brewers' preview this year. As always, he does solid work, but I feel it's quite a step down from the awesome job that was done last year.:)


3/28/2007 12:22:00 PM



(3/28/2007 09:10:00 AM) - Robert R.

The final episode of Rome "De Parte Vostro (About Your Father)" aired Sunday. Synopsis here.

The dual storylines of the series, major politics and history contrasted against the lives of Pullo and Vorenus, serves the series well to the end. There are no major surprises to the Antony and Cleopatra storyline, although both suicides were handled remarkably well with a twist given to Antony's, but Vorenus and Pullo's stories allowed for tension and surprises.

I don't have much to add to the major political storyline. It's a familiar story that was told well. It was well observed that Octavian is at his most disheartening when he is trying to be charming. Atia gets one final moment to shine in her final scene when she puts Livia in her place. "You are swearing now that some day, some day you will destroy me....Remember: far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go look for them now."

I'll avoid major spoilers for Pullo and Vorenus, but I will say that I was well satisfied at the final outcome. The fact that they remained friends to the end, the possibility that one would have to kill the other in the end remained a threat throughout the series, put as happy and apt an ending on their story as was possible.

For fans of the show, I, Claudius is available on DVD which will continue the story over the next 100 years. It focusses mainly on court intrigue and doesn't have the production values and ordinary man elements of Rome, but exceeds Rome in all other areas. It's well worth checking out and will fill you in on why Tony Soprano's mother was named Livia.

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3/28/2007 09:10:00 AM


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

(3/27/2007 08:58:00 PM) - Al

I have spent the past hour or so online researching and trying to buy ear wash for my dog. I know exactly what size and brand I need. The price range varies from $8.10 to $17.99...and the postage cost varies from $3.99 to $9.55. It's like I'm buying a piece of jewelry no one knows the true value of, so they just throw some random numbers out there. This is exactly why it's so easy just to give up and go down to your vet's office an just pay whatever price they sell it for...even if it is overpriced, you still don't have to pay postage.


3/27/2007 08:58:00 PM



(3/27/2007 08:10:00 PM) - Al

Game 4 of the '82 World Series is this evening on FSN. The Crew fell behind 4-0 early, but I can sense a comeback a brewin'.:)


3/27/2007 08:10:00 PM



(3/27/2007 04:59:00 PM) - Al

The lack of business IQ is out for all to see...the fact is, In Demand and Dish failed to pony up during negotiations, and are now out of luck.

And once again, I think John Kerry is completely out of touch in a capitalist society. He apparently fails to grasp any free market concepts.

Money quote, from Direct:

DirecTV president Chase Carey said that the issue was best left to the market.

"I don't run down to Washington every time we have a contract issue or a programming issue or a cost issue," he said.

DuPuy said that fans who received the out-of-town games on iN Demand or Dish have the option of switching to DirecTV or subscribing to the package on MLB.com.


"This is not a matter of fans being unable to view Major League Baseball's out-of-market games," he said. "It is a matter of not being able to watch those games on a particular system."

Emphasis added.

Carey is a businessman, and he gets it. The others seem to have little clue. The others act like they still don't understand why the Edsel was a failure.


3/27/2007 04:59:00 PM



(3/27/2007 02:58:00 PM) - Al

Ned also announced the badly kept secret of the rotation we all knew ages ago. Ned seems a bit short this spring, as this was obvious to anyone with 5 fingers a month ago.


3/27/2007 02:58:00 PM



(3/27/2007 02:40:00 PM) - Robert R.

Al was likely being kind calling Maxim St. Pierre "roster filler". Pierre is 27 years old and put up a .558 OPS in AAA last year. A bag of balls might have been more useful. Or perhaps there's a deal in the works for Closser. That might explain why Rivera is sticking around as well.

Ben Hendrickson getting traded is no real surprise. He needs a fresh start somewhere and appears to have worn out his welcome with management in Milwaukee.


3/27/2007 02:40:00 PM



(3/27/2007 02:21:00 PM) - Al

Geez, you go to the store across town to stock up the freezer in your garage with 50 cent Banquet meals (Andrew likes the fish sticks and chicken tenders), and all heck break loose.

Mike Rivera feels his best chance back to the big leagues is with MIL, which I find strange. He may well have a "handshake" agreement with doug that he would be dealt if another club promises him a major league roster spot. Grant Balfour also taken off, he has not decided whether or not to take his free agency...he needs work in the minors to get his arm back in shape, so we'll see whether or not he chooses to stay or go elsewhere.

Also, Ben H traded to the Royals for roster filler. I do have to wonder if this was agreed to before or after Rivera chose to stay, but regardless, it's done now. He should have every opportunity for a major league job with KC, but first, he'll have to not suck in AAA, which is his norm when a spot is up for grabs.


3/27/2007 02:21:00 PM



(3/27/2007 10:22:00 AM) - Al

As I said briefly last night, we took a drive down to Milwaukee for a quick 36 hour visit. The main two things we did was a Bucks' game Sunday and lunch (and ticket buying) Monday. Some notes and thoughts:

I have never been to a Bucks' game before, and neither has my son. I was very surprised at what a good view we had of the action, as we chose to sit in the $10, upper level seats. The players did not look small at all, and the court was right there in front of us. It was nice having a view of the entire court rather than just what the TV offers.

Wow, that 4th level is steep. If a person would lose their balance and fall forward, they'd land about 4 rows forward, and several feet lower.

The atmosphere was much more upbeat than at Miller Park, perhaps because of the constant loud music.

The game just flew by, it lasted about 2:15, and it seemed like maybe 90 minutes. My son never once said, "Maybe we should just go home", which he does no later than the bottom of the first at a baseball game.

Even though the outcome was never in doubt after midway through the 2nd quarter, the crowd was never unhappy. 3 pointers in the final minutes with the Bucks down 30 were cheered as loudly as they were in the 1st quarter.

After the game, as we fought to get back on 43 to go to our hotel, I saw a huge area of vacant land, which seemed out of place in downtown Milwaukee, and several abandoned buildings within 2-3 blocks of the Bradley Center. And you know at some point in the next couple years, the city will claim there is absolutely nowhere to put a new arena.

Wow, is the new interchange huge. You feel very, very small when you're driving under supports and such that must weigh tons. The piles of dirt and rocks must be 3-4 stories high too.

We had a free night at Sleep Inn, but to find one with a indoor pool, we had to drive to Mukwonago, about 25 miles from the BC. It is always astounding to me to see farms just a few miles from the city, though back when they were purchased, they were probably seemingly nowhere near Milwaukee. My friend Dave who I worked with at the pizza place back in the early 90's used to say how when he was growing up, in Baldwin (19 miles from the MN/WI border), when they'd drive to the Twin Cities, they used to get excited when they'd see the 3M building, because it meant they were "almost there". Now (or really, back in the 90's), you've been in the Cities for about 15 minutes when you can see 3M. Of course, today, Hudson (and maybe River Falls) is actually part of the St. Paul/Mpls real estate market. The world is getting smaller.

It sure is a lot harder to eat healthy while on the road. After having a meal replacement shake and bar each day for breakfast, I had Subway for a late lunch Sunday, and then went to a local family place called Market Square Sunday night. I didn't do badly, but was told by my wife that the broasted chicken was fried, and I thought broasted meant something similar to "roasted" because, well, they sound alike.:)

Monday, after swimming, we exchanged our seats from last year's final game for seats to games in April, bought seats for early May for my son and I's "boy's weekend", and bought parking passes for all 3 games. We were surprised they not only had 3 ticket windows open, but that there was a steady stream of buyers. When we left an hour later, they had 4 open, with 2-3 folks in each line. I guess Milwaukee folks still choose to buy at the stadium to avoid the minor charges you pay online or by phone.

It was our first visit to TGIFriday's at Miller Park, and we all really enjoyed it. I had a plethora of healthy choices, as they had many chicken entrees, as well as the menu stating they'd switch out any burger with ground turkey. I got chicken breasts grilled with onions, and my wife got chicken with cheese and potatoes, both were outstanding. My son chose the mac and cheese with fries, and then for $1.49, got a huge sundae that would cost $5 at Dairy Queen. I convinced him to give some of it to his mom, as lots of ice cream is tough on his tummy. Of course, the view of Miller Park was beautiful. The grass looked near perfect, as it rarely does. They were working on many things, fixing the clock in RF, power washing the seats and concrete in the terrace level, putting up new signs (93.7 FM is apparently a big sponsor this year), and so on. All the staff was exceptionally friendly, and there was a line to be seated by noon. I also was surprised to see waitstaff taking pictures of people and such...after all, the restaurant has been open 6 years now. Later, I will try to add a couple pics of our little 4 year-old question machine. It was a sunny, near-perfect day, and many people commented Opening Day was a week too late.

Just a quick mention, we stopped at the Petsmart in Madison hoping to buy ear wash for our dog at Banfield (which used to be Vetsmart), and they were closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I think it's safe to say they aren't doing very well.


3/27/2007 10:22:00 AM



(3/27/2007 10:09:00 AM) - Al

Computer simulations are now coming out regularly:

The Hardball Times

Replacement Level

Both of the above have the "average" result of the Brewers right around .500, though many of these use projections that predict innings and AB's, which are of course, impossible to guess with any accuracy. If Sheets pitches 200 innings, the Crew is likely to win several more games than if he pitches 50. Most of these systems use variables that mean some years (they usually run 1000+ "seasons" to simulate) Ben will he 100% healthy, and some that have him missing the entire season, so when you combine all of them, Ben probably has about 125-150 innings pitched. That alone makes quite a difference.


3/27/2007 10:09:00 AM



(3/27/2007 09:20:00 AM) - Al

At this stage, Francisco Cordero, Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise, Brian Shouse, Villanueva and Dessens are set in the bullpen. If Yost keeps only 11 pitchers, that's it. If he keeps 12, the final spot will go to Jose Capellan or Greg Aquino, both of whom have minor-league options, or non-roster invitee Chris Spurling (3.34 spring ERA).--JS

I did not think Aquino had an option, so that is surprising. Of greater concern than Capellan's results may well be his lack of velocity, he was throwing 89 the other day per Bob and Jim on the radio (per message boards). Spurling has an "out" that allows him to be a free agent, mid-May if memory serves.


3/27/2007 09:20:00 AM


Monday, March 26, 2007

(3/26/2007 11:23:00 PM) - Robert R.

It's a sign of growing older when people who entertained you as a child start dieing. It hit home for me again today when I learned that comic book artist Marshall Rogers died over the weekend. At the too young age of 57.



Some of you out there may know him for his work on Mr. Miracle, G.I. Joe, Silver Surfer, or Dr. Strange. But he's undoubtedly most famous for his work in the 1970s on Batman in a much celebrated run on Detective Comics. He worked on Batman for around a dozen stories or so but made so much impact that he was regarded as one of the definitive Batman artists of all time and there were healthy debates about who was better out of Marshall Rogers, Neal Adams and Jim Aparo. Toss in Norm Breyfogle in the 90s and you have a list of the four most important Batman artists of the last 40 years.



Marshall Rogers's artwork and the stories he worked on were a definite influence on Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 and more prominently in the animated Batman series of the early to mid-1990s. It's not exagerrating to claim that noone drew Batman's cape as well as he did. Rogers was trained to be an architect and turned those skills into drawing some of the definitive cityscapes for Gotham City. He was a strong storyteller, rendered characters distinctly, was a master of graphic design and page layout, and was able to handle scenes of mood, action, mystery, and romance with equal strength.



Some images.






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3/26/2007 11:23:00 PM



(3/26/2007 09:11:00 PM) - Al

"We've lost jobs in recent years. We've seen a lot of folks go to Arizona, New Mexico," he said. "People retire, but they'd like to be able to continue to follow their team."--John Kerry, on Direct's exclusive (at the moment) Extra Innings deal

I think it's safe to say, first of all, that the mere fact John Kerry dislikes this deal will make many folks to reconsider and think it's a fine arrangement.:)

The irony here is twofold...Kerry has allowed his state to lose jobs and now freely admits it, but gosh darn it, the fist slams on the desk when the free market makes a business decision...the fact he's trying to change the incorrect thing here pretty much says it all to me.

Secondly, they can still follow their team, get a dish and shut up. What a boatload of whiners. Unless you're truly one of the unfortunate few who have a tree or tall building in the way, this remains a decision of capitalism. I learned a long time ago to trust the markets, and I've seen nothing to change my mind.


3/26/2007 09:11:00 PM



(3/26/2007 07:49:00 PM) - Al

In Adam's recap of the trade, he mentions Carlos V is still expected to make the team, which would seemingly mean the Crew has an extra reliever. Rather than ponder this too much, it's much easier to wait and see, I suppose.


3/26/2007 07:49:00 PM



(3/26/2007 07:06:00 PM) - Al

FYI, none of the three teams or so Doug Melvin felt might have a catching need would make a deal, so a father of a Brewers' farmhand has reported the Brewers have asked waivers on Mike Rivera, per message boards. There's probably at least a 50/50 chance of him being claimed, and I assume Mike has the right to become a free agent if he is not claimed, which he will surely take should he make it through.

I'd say the odds of Mike playing another game in the Brewers' system are slim.


3/26/2007 07:06:00 PM



(3/26/2007 06:56:00 PM) - Al

Thanks to Robert for the Brady Clark news. My family and myself were on our way back from a quick trip to Milwaukee for a Bucks game and a trip to the Miller Park TGIFriday's, and for those of you that know my son, an all important session of hotel pool swimming.

I have to agree with Robert, a minor rearranging of useful, veteran spare parts. I'm of the opinion Elmer (by far the youngest person I know named Elmer, by the way) will take Carlos V's spot in the bullpen and allow him to go down to Nashville and pitch 6 innings or more every 5th day, rather than spot (and hopefully, sporadic) work in the major league bullpen.

I sure will miss Brady though. A bit of an everyman who made it to the big leagues solely on hard work and overachieving at every level, and who has stayed by being a solid on-base guy and defender. I wish him the best of luck. I haven't taken the time to look over the Dodgers' OF situation, but I will go out on a safe ledge and say Brady will play a lot more than you think he would, being an afterthought on the 25 man.


3/26/2007 06:56:00 PM



(3/26/2007 03:16:00 PM) - Robert R.

XMRadio Schedule for the Brewers this week.

3/30 Brewers @ Rangers, 6:05 pm CT, XM 185
3/31 Brewers @ Rangers, 6:05 pm CT, XM 185

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3/26/2007 03:16:00 PM



(3/26/2007 03:09:00 PM) - Robert R.

The outfield logjam finally clears a bit as the Brewers trade Brady Clark for Elmer Dessens. And likely save a little money in the process. Dessens is nothing special, but he is a durable veteran with a career ERA+ at 102. Baseball Prospectus projects Dessens to put up about a 4.63 ERA in a neutral park.

Nothing sexy. Just a trade of a useful veteran for another useful veteran at a position of greater need. And it potentially muddies the bullpen picture for who is kept and who is sent to AAA.

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3/26/2007 03:09:00 PM


Sunday, March 25, 2007

(3/25/2007 09:40:00 PM) - Al

This afternoon, the JS said Laynce Nix would open the year on the DL or on a rehab assignment, but the Sunday report says Nix appears close to returning.

I don't know at all, but at least I have the excuse that I'm not there.:)


3/25/2007 09:40:00 PM



(3/25/2007 09:49:00 AM) - Al

Commissioner Bud Selig stopped by Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday and said business is booming.

"There isn't a club that I talk to that doesn't tell me business is up," Selig said. "I think that's wonderful. I'm very proud of that. We set a new [attendance] record for three straight years and I believe this will be our fourth straight."

Selig said he keeps a chart of historical attendance information on the right side of his desktop. Whenever he is in a bad mood, he steals a glance.

"We're at numbers now that no one could ever have dreamed of, five years ago, 10 years ago," Selig said. "In the so-called golden era of baseball -- '51, '52, '53 -- the best average was 1.3 million per team. By 1953, when the Braves came to Milwaukee, they were down to 899,000 per team. So here, now all our games are on television and we're averaging 2.535 [million per team], and it will be better this year."

In 2006, 76,043,902 fans attended Major League games. The Brewers drew 2,335,643 fans, eclipsing the two-million mark for their third straight year and the fifth time in club history.


Ah yes, but can you imagine what attendance would be if the game had a good commish?

Heh.


3/25/2007 09:49:00 AM



(3/25/2007 09:26:00 AM) - Al

I have a busy day planned, so there will be no further updates until tonight or tomorrow morning.

Yesterday, Zach Jackson was the only "name" that among the Brewers sent to minor league camp.

Also yesterday, my son and myself went for a 90 minute hike in the still some snow on the ground trails in the high elevation (2K feet above sea level) of Rib Mountain State Park. Many times when we were walking downhill, these were our choices of what to walk on:

1. Wet smooth rocks
2. Ice
3. Hard, packed down snow, which is as slippery as ice.

Andrew usually went first, because he's a much better leader than I am, which he repeated to me several times. He just sort of glides on the top, and even when he falls, does so gracefully and without a sound. Meanwhile, I had my dog on a leash in one hand, who tends to pull you along because he's so excited about all the new smells. Every step was a stress filled fright.

People were still skiing and snowboarding on Granite Peak, literally 10 yards from where you pay to enter the state park (if someone would have been taking money, that is), and all were dressed in parkas and looked the same as if it were 10 below zero. In the little picnic area in the park, many teens were wearing polo shirts and shorts.

After about an hour, I told Andrew we'd take a break and sit on the rocks for a bit. It wasn't that physically tiring (especially for me, down 53 pounds in 11 weeks), but mentally it was, as the trail is often just a few feet from a 10-30 foot dropoff, and neither my son or my dog have an ounce of fear. So, we sat for about 5 minutes, and about 60 seconds later, Andrew saw some more rocks ahead of us, and said, "Daddy, there are more rocks up there, if you need to rest again".

Thanks, son.


3/25/2007 09:26:00 AM


Saturday, March 24, 2007

(3/24/2007 03:28:00 PM) - Al

Yet another reason why I would not have given noted flake Barry Zito $126M. He's just too nutty for me, though a heckuva pitcher.

Barry, you know, most people just eat what tastes good, and they get along fine. Say what you want, but no preservatives in your food ain't going to do a thing for ya if your shoulder or elbow "pops" one day on the mound.


3/24/2007 03:28:00 PM



(3/24/2007 03:15:00 PM) - Al

Reason 42,124 to not pay attention to spring training statistics:

Right-hander Greg Aquino, acquired from Arizona in the Johnny Estrada/Doug Davis trade, supposedly had a leg up on a bullpen job after making 42 appearances last season with the Diamondbacks (2-0, 4.47). But Aquino has not looked sharp this spring (7.11 ERA, .394 opponents' batting average).--JS

Of course, after two scoreless frames in last night's game, Greg now has a 4.32 ERA. Whenever getting 6 batters out can cut your ERA nearly in half, I think it's safe to say those numbers are simply flawed.


3/24/2007 03:15:00 PM



(3/24/2007 10:57:00 AM) - Al

I had not planned to attend Opening Day this year, and I still probably won't, but I will be making a bid here, if for nothing else to drive up the amount that will go to one of Bob Uecker's (and mine as well) favorite charities.

So, if you would still love to attend the opener, but do not have tickets in hand, check out the link and make a bid. You even get Uecker nesting dolls!!


3/24/2007 10:57:00 AM



(3/24/2007 10:32:00 AM) - Al

My son and I will be off to the park soon, so allow me to fill your needs with this lengthy preview by Ramblings' reader Josh, in which he compares to the Brewers to the Cubs, position by position.

A big thanks to Josh to sending it in, and if you would like to contribute a piece to Ramblings, e-mail it to me. Also, keep your RUTT nominations coming in, I will be putting that together late next week, along with my Brewers' projections for 2007.

With no further adieu, thanks again Josh. I just proofed it again and I think Josh has indeed been reading Ramblings a long time, much of it even sounds like me.

2007 Brewers/Cubs comparison

# 1 Starter...Ben Sheets v. Carlos Zambrano.



This has the potential to be a terrific matchup. Sheets is the true X-Factor for the Brewers in 2007. Although his win totals have never been eye-catching, true baseball fans are aware that wins and losses are perhaps the 3rd or 4th most telling stat when it comes to evaluation of a starting pitcher. And Sheets' peripheral stats are truly remarkable. Consider the following...



Over the last three years, two of those he spent battling nagging injuries, Sheets has compiled 521 strikeouts, while walking just 68 in 499.6 innings. That's a 7.6/1 ratio, amongst the best in baseball. Sheets compiled an ERA of 3.13 over that time frame, once again amongst the best in the game. Although Sheets has picked up the dreaded Prior-like "injury-prone" status, Sheets missed a total of 3 starts over his first four full seasons (throwing well over 200 innings in three of them), and still managed to pitch over 250 innings over the course of the last two seasons. And by all accounts, this spring is the healthiest Sheets has felt since 2002.

Sheets put up some amazing numbers last year, despite the nagging injuries that limited him to 17 starts. Jeff Sackman’s brilliant article on Hardball Times pointed this out that in 106 innings of work last year, he posted 11 walks, while striking out 106 batters. No other pitcher has EVER thrown 50 more innings in a season while striking out a batter per inning, and walking fewer than on per 9. Incredible stuff. If you want a taste of what Ben can do over the course of a full season, refer to 2004, his last fully healthy campaign: He had a stellar ERA of 2.70, struck out 264 batters in 237 innings, and walked just 32, an 8.3-1 K/BB ratio. If the Brewers can coax 200 innings out of Sheets' golden right arm, Milwaukee has a terrific chance at a breakout season.

Zambrano is no slouch himself. Like Sheets, he is a two-time All-Star. Also like Sheets, his best season came in 2004, when he posted an ERA of 2.75 and a WHIP (Walks and hit per innings pitched) of 1.2. Unlike Sheets, Zambrano's durability can't be questioned. He's pitched at least 200 innings (these days the barometer for a workhouse starter) for the last four consecutive years, and his bulldog manor on the mound has served him well for the most part. One thing that might be of concern to Z is that, while his K/9 ratio was a career high 8.8, his BB/9 ratio also marked his highest total since becoming a full-time starter in 2003 at 4.8. Basically, both of those numbers mean he throws a ton of pitches per start. It will be interesting to see if those numbers, combined with the ridiculous mis-use of the pitching staff that characterized the Dusty Baker Era in Chicago, has an effect on Z. Certainly, this is a guy that is a legitimate ace, and looks to have another big year in 2007.


# 2 Starter...Jeff Suppan v. Ted Lilly.

The Brewers are paying Suppan 42 million over 4 years to do what he's done the last eight years...pitch at least 188 innings, provide a better than league average ERA, be a mentor to younger pitchers, and be a stabilizing force. $10.5/year might sound like a steep price, especially for the Brewers, but it was the going rate for those types in the offseason, and Brewers brass felt strongly enough about the rest of the team to invest in Suppan. His remarkable durability and postseason experience (he was the MVP of the '06 NLCS) make him a pretty decent # 2 starter, but certainly his stuff won't blow anyone away. His numbers over the past three years, in almost every category, are basically the same. He is 32 years old, which is a concern with any pitcher. However, because he is not, nor has he ever been, a flamethrower, age issues shouldn't effect him all that much.

The Cubs, meanwhile, shelled out basically the same deal for Lilly (4 years, 40 million). Lilly is a year younger, has never pitched 200 innings, has pitched never won a post-season game, and has a career ERA of 4.60. On the plus side, he's a lefty, had a terrific year in 2004, and pitched in baseball's toughest division over the last three years. While it would be hard to argue that Lilly is worth the $10/year he got, he should provide decent dependability to the rotation.

# 3 Starter ...Chris Capuano v. Jason Marquis

Over the last two years, Capuano has proven to be a dependable starter that shows flashes of brilliance. An All-Star in 2006, the lefty has pitched 440 innings over the last two years, has one of the best pickoff moves in all of baseball, and has a combined ERA of just under 4 for the last two seasons. Cappy made huge strides last season in improving his K/BB ratio. While maintaining his strikeout rate (176 in '05, 174 in '06), Cappy allowed just 47 walks in '06, as compared to 91 in the year prior. He has started 69 games over the past two seasons, and was 7th in the National League in innings pitched in 2006. He finished 6th in the NL in BB/9, with 1.91.

Marquis was signed to a 3-year, 21 million dollar deal despite being so terrible for the Cardinals in 2006 that they left him off their playoff roster. Marquis finished 2006 with a an ERA of 6.02 and struck out just 96 while walking 75. The Cubs have to hope that Larry Rothschild can bring back the Marquis that pitched over 200 innings in both 2004 and 2005, while compiling an ERA of around 4.23. Not stellar numbers, but at least enough to take some pressure off the bullpen and give your team a chance to win the game. Marquis' whip last season was over 1.5.

# 4 Starter...Dave Bush v. Rich Hill

Bush is an interesting story for the Brewers. He went to Wake Forest as a catcher, and was later converted to a lights-out college closer. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2nd round, and quickly rose through the ranks and made his MLB debut in 2004 with Toronto. He had a decent rookie season in 2005, starting 25 games in the tough AL East, and compiled an ERA of 4.49. He was traded to the Brewers as part of the Lyle Overbay deal, and was very dependable in 2006. He pitched 210 innings, and his peripheral numbers were much better than his 4.41 ERA would indicate, possibly meaning he simply pitched in a lot of bad luck. His WHIP of 1.13 was good for 4th best in the National League, and he walked just 1.63 batters per 9 innings, good for 4th in the NL as well. He led the entire National League in K/BB ratio, tying Roy Oswalt with 4.37-1 ratio (Had Sheets pitched enough innings, he would've won in a landslide). For these reasons, I believe that Bush is a strong candidate for a breakout year in 2007, much like the one that Capuano experienced in 2005.

Hill is a pretty decent prospect for the Cubs that has always done well in the minors, but had a horrific big league stint in 2005. Last season appeared to be much the same as after 10 outings, he was carrying an ugly 6.44 ERA. However, Hill put his big, sweeping curveball to work for him down the stretch and ended up with an ERA of 4.17. It appeared as though he had things figured out, so 2007 will be a crucial year for Hill to make the leap. Who is the real Rich Hill? The guy that struggled through his first 20 outings or so, or the one that had terrific success in his last 7 outings in 2007?

#5 Starter...Claudio Vargas v. Wade Miller

Vargas, acquired in the Doug Davis-Johnny Estrada deal, is a fairly league average pitcher that has the ability to pitch a gem from time to time. However, despite his relative success last year, I am a bit skeptical at his abilities. He had a nice home/road split, which in this case means he wasn't very good in the hitter-friendly environs of BankOne Park, but was very decent (4.12 ERA) away from Arizona. I'll take a wait and see approach. He's 29, so it's not like he's going to get a lot better here quickly.

Wade Miller

I project Miller to win the 5th spot, but could easily be wrong, as Guzman and others are challenging. Miller in an interesting project. From 2002-2004, he averaged 184 innings, and compiled a solid 3.57 ERA for the Astros. However, in the three years since he has started merely 36 games, including 5 for the Cubs in late-season duty last year. Since his injury, his K/BB ratio has been atrocious, as he has walked 109 batters while striking out 158 in 199 innings. Last season, he walked 18 and struck out 20 for the Cubs, posting a pretty terrible 1.7 WHIP. While Miller was once a solid pitcher, he's 30 now, and coming off a serious injury. If he somehow returns to form, he will be a nice #5.

6th starter/Long Man/AAA Depth...Carlos Villanueva v. Angel Guzman

Villanueva is one of the pleasant surprises to come out of the Brewers farm system in the past few seasons. Acquired from the Giants for Wayne Franklin in 2003, Villanueva was a little-known rookie ball pitcher with average velocity and a slight frame. Whatever the Brewers brass saw in him, their faith was rewarded as Carlos steadily rose up the system, posting a 3.24 ERA in his minor league career. Villanueva was called up from AA last season after a string of terrible outings by higher touted prospects in the stead of Sheets and Tomo Ohka, who went down simultaneously with serious arm injuries. His 2006 starting debut came against Cincinnati in a very tough ballpark to pitch. He threw six scoreless innings. He ended his 2006 campaign by allowing two runs in 8.1 innings against the Cardinals, who at the time were still fighting for their playoff lives. In between, he strung together several strong outings that belied not only his tender age of 22. Carlos has a terrific changeup, great mound presence, and simply knows how to pitch.

Guzman is a very highly regarded prospect for the Cubs that has seen little major league success. His only stint in the show came in 2006, and like much of the rest of the Cubs staff, was summarily lit up like Clark Grizwald’s Christmas tree. He ended the season with a 7.39 ERA that was actually much worse (9.28 ERA) as a starter. He has solid stuff according to most accounts, but is also advancing in age for a prospect, as he turned 25 in December. His minor league numbers are beyond reproach, as he has compiled an ERA of 2.83 over 7 seasons in the Cubs minor league system. 20027 will be a put up or shut up kind of season for Guzman.

Middle Relief…Turnbow, Wise, Capellan, Shouse v. Eyre, Howry, Novoa, Wood, Ohman

The keys to the Brewers bullpen lay in the hands of Derrick Turnbow. The former Angel castoff took Milwaukee by storm in 2005, posting a terrific 1.74 ERA and franchise record-tying 39 saves. He started out ’06 in the same fashion, recording saves in the team’s first four games of the season to set a MLB record. On June 29, Turnbow had 23 saves and an ERA of 3.28 on the season. That’s when the wheels came off, and Turnbow came unglued. The rest of his season was a nightmare, and his problems appeared to be almost totally mental. He was still throwing 97, but couldn’t locate his breaking pitches, and the fastball then became predictable, and hittable. This spring, Turnbow has been terrific. If he can return to his pre-breakdown stage, the Brewers can play a lot of 7-inning games this season. If not, another reliable setup man will have to emerge. Matt Wise has been a steady presence in the bullpen for the last three years with his nasty changeup. Injuries limited him to 40 games last season, and his health will be a key to the ’06 pen. Big things are expected out of Jose Capellan, who was 2nd on the club in appearances last season with 61. Another flamethrower, Capellan has lacked consistency, typical of young relievers. Some in the Brewers organization believe that he can become a dominant closer. Brian Shouse is the lefty specialist who came trotting in 59 times out of the pen last year, and held lefties to a .238 average.

The Cubs middle relief was a high point last season, as high dollar contracts doled out to the likes of Bobby Howry (3.17 ERA) and Scott Eyre (3.38) paid off nicely. Other bullpen stalwarts included Will Ohman (4.13 ERA, 78G) and Roberto Novoa (4.26 ERA, 66G), both of whom will be integral parts of the 2007 pen. Neil Cotts has had one decent season, 2005, but posted a WHIP of 1.63 last season, and a 5.17 ERA The X factor for Chicago could be former wunderkid Kerry Wood, who is currently down with an arm ailment. Shocking, I know. No one has ever questioned the stuff of Wood, whose two-pitch repertoire could play very well out of the pen. Should Wood be able to pitch 40-50 times this season, the middle relief could very well be a huge strength for the Cubs.

Closer…Cordero v. Dempster

Francisco “Coco” Cordero was acquired in the Carlos Lee deal, and basically single-handedly kept the Brewers season from completely going in the toilet. He was incredible upon entering the National League for the first time in an 8-year career, 7 of which were spent with the Rangers. He was unscored upon in his first 13.2 innings with the Crew, allowing just 7 hits in that timeframe. He finished 16-18 in save opportunities, and solidified the bullpen down the stretch. Cordero has absolutely nasty stuff, and was terrific, save April of 2006, for the Rangers, 86 games over the course of 2004-2005. Coco is one of the elite closers in the game, and should serve the Brewers well in 2007.

Dempster, a converted starter, had a nightmare 2006. He went 1-9 with a 4.80 ERA and nine saves. Because, save Wood, the Cubs don’t have another candidate for closer, Dempster will at least start the season with the job. He did the job in 2005, saving 33 games while compiling a 3.13 ERA.

Misc. Bullpen comments…

A bullpen’s best friend is a starting rotation that can consistently get deep into games. In this way, the Brewers figure to have a large edge, particularly as the season wears on, and the bullpens wear out. Although there are question marks in the middle of Milwaukee’s pen, if they can keep games in the hands of their top 4 relievers before Cordero, they should be fine.

Catcher…Estrada v. Barrett

In their only trade of the offseason, the Brewers sought to upgrade their catching position that has been a weak spot in the lineup since David Nilsson hit .309 with 21 home runs in 1999, making the All-Star team in the process. Estrada is a guy that is known more for his offense than his defense, but his arm should be adequate for what his bat can provide. He had a terrific 2004 for the Braves, hitting .314 with 9 HR before regressing into a .261 season in 2005, featuring just 4 long balls. He bounced back in 2006 with the Diamondbacks, hitting .302 with a career high 11 home runs. The issue with Estrada is that he doesn’t draw a lot of walks (just 13 in 2006). So when his batting average goes, so too goes his OBP down the tunes. However, at age 31, he shouldn’t be in a quick decline, and hopefully finish somewhere around that .300 mark. He certainly has people taking note of his hitting skills in Arizona, as he is still hovering around the .450 mark just less than two weeks before the season starts.

Barrett has been remarkably consistent in his three years with the Cubs, hitting exactly 16 home runs each season, and always batting between .275 and .307. While his walk rate is better than Estrada, he also doesn’t meet the 1 BB/10 AB standard preferred by OBP mavens. He’s the same age as Estrada roughly, and shouldn’t decline too much in 2007.

1st Base…Fielder vs. Lee

A position of strength for both teams to be sure. Fielder had a terrific rookie campaign, shaking off an 0-11 start with 27 home runs, and a solid .830 OPS (on-base plus slugging, the preferred offensive metric for most statheads). Seeing that he’s only 23 years old, and 2006 was his first full season of action, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that he won’t exceed his 2006 numbers. His ceiling is virtually unlimited, and he could easily turn into one of the game’s top sluggers. He was very durable last year, playing 157 games, and was better defensively than most expected.

Derrek Lee’s absence from the Cubs lineup was a major contributing factor to their garbage 2006 season. He hit well when he was in the lineup, though not up to the silly numbers he put up in 2005. In that season, his OPS was an astounding 1.080, good for first in the majors. Last season, he regressed back to .842, which was more near his career norms. I certainly think Lee’s a good hitter, but it’s also just as clear when looking at his career stats that the 2005 season was an outlier, and should be treated as such. Still, most teams would kill to have him in their lineup every day, and his defense is simply stellar at the bag.

2nd base…Weeks vs. DeRosa

Firmly entrenched as the Brewers leadoff hitter, this is a big year in the career of the talented Mr. Weeks. One of the highest touted prospects in baseball, Weeks tore through the minor leagues and made his debut in June of 2005. He got off to a solid start before injuring his thumb and sputtered down the stretch. 2006 was much of the same, as he missed the last 62 games with a wrist injury. It appears to be mostly healed, though in a troubling statement Weeks recently indicated that it still wasn’t 100%, merely good enough to play with. Weeks needs a healthy campaign for the Brewers to excel in 2007. He should steal well over 20 bases, hit at least 15 home runs, and hit around .280 with a decent OBP in 2007. Weeks still has the ceiling to be one of the top offensive 2nd baseman in baseball, but ’07 is a year to prove his mettle. Defensively, he was a disaster for the first 50 games, and nothing less than stellar his final 45 or so. His range is terrific, but he sometimes struggles with routine plays.

Mark DeRosa was signed by the Cubs in the offseason after spending two seasons with the Texas Rangers. In the offensive haven that is the Ballpark at Arlington, Derosa put up a solid .813 OPS, but spent just 26 games at 2nd base. A versatile player who has played all over the diamond in his career, he will stay at 2nd for the Cubs. Before last season, DeRosa had never played more than 108 games in a season, never hit more than 8 home runs, or driven in more than 31 runs. He has no speed to speak of, and is average defensively. Still, if he can put up similar numbers to last season (unlikely since about 70% of his AB’s came against LHP, against whom he hit .342) the Cubs might have a really solid right side of the infield.

SS…Hardy v. Izturis

Much like Ricky Weeks, JJ Hardy has lots to prove as the Brewers SS. A 2nd round pick with silky smooth defensive abilities, Hardy saw his 2006 campaign cut short with an ankle injury that felled him on May 16. He had a very slow start to his major league career, hitting just .180 in the first half of his rookie campaign. However, the Brewers’ patience was rewarded when JJ bounced back with a .308 batting average in the 2nd half. He also has a surprising power stroke, hitting 14 homers in 159 career games. A realistic total year for Hardy would be around .270, 12-15 homers, and a solid year defensively. His plate discipline is acceptable, but as a potential #2 hitter in the lineup, more patience would be helpful.

Cesar Izturis was acquired in the Greg Maddox deal from the Dodgers last season, and there is no doubting his defensive acumen. The 2004 Gold Glove Award Winner sees has seen his share of problems as the plate, however. Besides a breakout year in 2004 when he was a National League All-Star and compiled a .711 .OPS, his highest season stands at just .624. That’s thanks mostly to his complete lack of plate discipline. Last season, he drew just 12 walks, and he’s never even came close to the 1BB/10 AB standard. It also doesn’t help that he doesn’t have any power at all, as Hardy (14) has more homers in 159 games that Izturis does (11) in over 650 games. The Cubs obviously feel that they are strong enough elsewhere offensively to overcome his deficiencies.

3B…Graffanino v. Ramirez

This is the one position in which the Brewers are obviously weak offensively. Their best laid plans went to waste once it became apparent that Corey Koskie might never play again after suffering a concussion last summer. At the very least, he’ll be out the first month or so, which left the Brewers with an interesting dilemma at 3rd base. They gave stud prospect Ryan Braun a look, and his bat wowed, while his glove woahed, which is why he’ll be spending opening day 2007 in a Nashville Sounds uniform instead of facing Derek Lowe and the Dodgers. The 26th best prospect in the game according to Baseball America, Braun will hone his defensive skills on a lesser stage, but look for him to be up by June 1 at the latest. A positive about him starting in AAA (where he has yet to have an AB) is that the Brewers will gain a whole additional year of Braun’s services, as long as he is in the minors until late April. He will now be Brewers property until 2012, which will take him up to right around his prime. It’s certainly looking ahead a long way, but getting to bide your time another year before having to pay big bucks could be crucial. In the meantime, the hot corner will be manned by Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell. Hopefully heavy on Graffanino. Graffy was solid after being acquired by the Crew last season, putting up a .750 OPS. However, he simply doesn’t have any power, and that’s a big negative when you’re talking about a corner infield spot. The positives are that he will be more than adequate defensively, hits righties about the same as lefties, and will hopefully be in this spot for just a few months maximum. Counsell is a weak hitting middle infielder who has had pretty decent on-base skills. At this stage of his career, Counsell should start about 40 games, and be a defensive replacement if he plays other than that. I will be extremely disappointed if Yost chooses to do a straight platoon, as Counsell hit lefties about the same as righties, around .255 last season.

Ramirez, meanwhile, is one of the Cubs’ greatest assets. They resigned him to a long-term deal over the winter, a just reward for the guy that has averaged 35 home runs and 105 RBI over the past three seasons, and has played solid defense at the hot corner. His OPS has declined over the past two seasons, but at over .900 all three years, he’s still doing just fine. At 29, he’s still got plenty of good years left, and should be a staple in the Cubs lineup for years to come.

LF…Jenkins v. Murton

The Brewers figure to give Geoff Jeknins the lions share of AB’s in left this season, though there has been plenty of noise about a platoon with lefty-masher Kevin Mench. After playing in left all his career, Jenks moved to right for two years to accommodate Carlos Lee. He was one of the game’s premier defensive LF’s for a long time, and although it appeared his defense slipped in the past couple of years, he should be fine out there. The question is weather he can hit LHP. The answer last year at least was a definitive no. He hit a paltry .133 against them last year, well down from his career mark of .244. He continued to mash against righties, hitting .306 with 15 of his 17 home runs. His season overall last year was disappointing. He limped into September hitting just .250 with 10 home runs, and for the first time in his career, he was benched. When injuries to other outfielders forced him back into the lineup, he excelled, hitting .409 with 7 homers in the season’s final month of action. Jenkins is also in the final year of a contract, and has been killing the ball against all pitchers in spring training thus far. It will be very interesting to see if Yost indeed does use Mench often against LHP. For his career, Mench is hitting .303 against lefties with a very healthy .930 OPS. After coming over from the Rangers in the Carlos Lee deal, Mench, a butcher defensively, struggled mightily, hitting just .230 with one home run in 130 Milwaukee AB’s. Seeing as though he hit 51 home runs in the two years prior in Texas, it’s clear that Mench has some value, particularly against LHP. Strictly going by the numbers (Mench career .930 OPS v. LHP, Jenkins .892 career OPS v. RHP), a platoon makes a lot of sense. However, both of these players have expressed reservations about doing that, which could lead to decreased productivity. One of the biggest choices Yost will have is how to make up his lineup card against LHP. In the past, he has been hesitant to bench or platoon veterans, but all spring long the talk has been platoon. I guess we’ll find out, starting April 2.

Speaking of platoon, the Cubs might go that route as well, though I think it’s silly to take any AB’s away from Matt Murton to give to the aging Cliff Floyd. Murton last season put up solid numbers, hitting .292 with 13 home runs, showing decent plate discipline and putting put a .803 OPS. He hit righties almost as well as lefties (.782 vs. .870) and got stronger as the year went on (last three months over .300). He’s just 25 years old, is decent defensively, and is a player on the rise. Floyd, meanwhile, is 34 years old, bad in the outfield, and had just a .731 OPS last season with the Mets. He hit just .179 against lefties for a putrid .631 OPS, while he fashioned a decent .765 OPS against lefties. I don’t know why they signed him, unless it’s simply for depth on the bench. If that turns out to be the case, and Murton starts 130-plus games, then it’s not a bad signing. If they split the AB’s…not good.

CF…Hall v. Soriano.

Let’s compare some numbers, shall we?

Player A: .270 BA, .345 OBP, .898 OPS, 27 years old

Player B: .277 BA, .351 OBP, .911 OPS, 31 years old

If you had to guess, which player would have just signed a 4-year, 34 million dollar deal, and which player signed an 8-year, 136 million dollar contract, what would you say? Certainly most astute baseball followers would never say give the money to player B, especially when you consider that his normal position (LF) is a spot where you need those kind of numbers simply to stay afloat, right?

Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, Player A is Bill Hall, and Player B is Alfonso Soriano. Soriano got the money, Bill Hall simply the production.

Hall is a pretty good story. A 6th round pick out of high school, Hall climbed the ladder pretty quickly and reached the big leagues (well before he was ready) by age 22. He stuck for good in 2004, but he was still without a position when he entered camp in 2005. He bounced around the diamond, playing 66 games at SS, 59 at 3B, and 23 at 2B. He did this while making a huge jump in his offensive game. His OPS jumped from .650 to .837, and his home run total from 9 to 17. He made another quantum leap in 2006, jumping from .837 to .898, and from 17 to 35 home runs. In another positive development, Hall went from walking 39 times to 63 and seems to have made plate discipline a priority in his game. His defense might be interesting to start out with, but Hall’s athleticism makes him a solid candidate for a CF spot.

Soriano, meanwhile, is coming off a good season which saw him mash 46 home run for the Washington Nationals. Plate discipline is neither a strength nor a focus for Soriano, as despite being the only formidable hitter in the Nats lineup, he walked just 67 times in 647 AB’s. That total represented almost double his previous career high. So perhaps he’s getting the hang of it. Or, perhaps he was just pitched around so much with that bad lineup that he couldn’t help himself. He also strikes out a ton, including a career-high 160 times last season. He was among the league’s worst 2nd basemen defensively with the Yankees and Rangers, and then made 11 errors in LF last season. He has not played a game in center field in his entire career. He has good speed, as evidenced by his 41 steals (he was also caught 17 times, too high of a number) last season, but it remains to be seen weather he can play a passable CF or not. And the contract is just ridiculous. I realize that Wrigley Field is a money-making machine, but do they honestly believe that this guy is going to be worth 17 million for more than a year or two? Studies have shown that the prime of a player’s career is between 27-30. He’s now 31. He will be 39 when his contract expires. He plays a position, or at least WILL play a position that makes offense a premium (remember that the Cubs tried to get a CF so he wouldn’t have to play out there). Overall, a silly deal, but there’s also no question that he represents a significant upgrade for the 2007 Cubs.

RF…Hart v. Jones

Corey Hart has flat-out hit where ever he has gone. In seven minor league seasons, he hit .299, compiled an .855 OPS, and hit 86 home runs. The former 11th round draft pick was the MVP of the Southern League in 2003, and stole 131 bases. He was switched all around the diamond before settling in the outfield. Last season, Hart hit .283 with nine home runs in 82 games, positing an .798 OPS. I believe that given 500 AB’s, Hart could easily put up a .280, 20 HR, 80 RBI year, with an .830ish OPS and at least 15 steals. He’s got a lot of ability, is just 25, and should only get better as the years go by.

Jacque Jones had a pretty solid season last year, despite his bashing of the Wrigley Field faithful. Jones posted an .833 OPS last season, hitting 27 home runs on the season. He plays a very mediocre right field, making the Cubs defense in the outfield pretty terrible. He has very little plate discipline, striking out 116 times while walking only 35. Jones hit only .234 against lefties last season.

Bench…Counsell, Mench, Miller, Gross, Clark v. Floyd, Theriot, Blanco, Ward, Pagan

The Brewers’ depth in 2007 is one thing that sets them apart from years past. They have a solid backup infielder in Counsell, one of the game’s premier backup catchers in Damian Miller, and a stable of outfielders that, depth-wise, has to be among the best in baseball. Gabe Gross was solid off the bench in 2006, finishing with an OPS of .908 against righties. Brady Clark is a seasoned pro that can play any of the three outfield positions, and get on base at a decent clip. There still is a decent chance of a trade being made with one of the outfielders, most likely Mench, but they have the depth to lose of those guys.

The Cubs counter with Daryle Ward, who can’t play defense or hit lefties but is a solid option as a PH against righties. Ryan Theriot hit well in a brief stint in 2007, and could be given a long look at 2nd base if DeRosa struggles. Henry Blanco is the definition of the good-field, bad-hit catcher, who actually didn’t do too badly at the plate last season, hitting .266 with seven homers. Angel Pagan is reserve outfielder that could make the team, while Ronny Cedeno has a chance at a backup infielders spot.

Summary…The NL Central is wide open this year. You could make a solid argument that any of four teams could win the division. Conversely, you could also come up with a laundry list of reasons that any one of those teams could end up under .500. I believe that this will be the Brewers best year since 1992…however, I’m just not quite ready to predict a division title, as people from Baseball America (Brewers 1st, Cubs 5th) and the Chicago Tribune (Phil Rogers) have done lately. I think the Cardinals will see their manager sober up and their pitching stabilize, and win the division with an 89-73 mark. I see the Brewers just a few games back at 85-77, while the Cubs languish around .500, and end up 80-82. It should be a fun summer of baseball.


3/24/2007 10:32:00 AM



(3/24/2007 10:25:00 AM) - Al

Notes on the bullpen, and the makeup of the roster, can be found here. Still considering only 11 pitchers, at least according to Ned. With so few days off in April, that seemed unlikely to me. Maybe the quality of the rotation is a deciding factor, as the top 4 seem unlikely to have a 2 or 3 inning outing.


3/24/2007 10:25:00 AM


Friday, March 23, 2007

(3/23/2007 09:38:00 PM) - Al

Unless something especially newsworthy happens tomorrow, I believe I'll take advantage of the good weather and take the little fella to our local state park to wander the trails.

If you wish, I can start a pool of how many times I hear the phrase, "Hurry up, Daddy", usually said in a disgusted tone of voice.


3/23/2007 09:38:00 PM



(3/23/2007 08:37:00 PM) - Al

Al – Regarding Bon Jovi at Country Jam, there is a clear connection: Jennifer Nettles. Who says you can’t go home?

Todd


I did think of that, but I can't believe Bon Jovi is suddenly considered country or country rock because of that one song. However, I do think many country music fans really enjoy Bon Jovi...heck, they have appeal to folks anywhere from 15-50.


3/23/2007 08:37:00 PM



(3/23/2007 08:25:00 PM) - Al

Craig Biggio, like many players, fails to see the forest for the trees. He is not allowed to wear a pin on his cap that promotes a charity that helps young cancer victims. This isn't because anyone doesn't like the group. It's because no one wants to police this crap, and no one wants to be responsible for the legal issues that would soon follow if someone chose to wear a pin that promoted a controversial viewpoint.


3/23/2007 08:25:00 PM



(3/23/2007 02:25:00 PM) - Al

The idea for the network was first proposed in 1988 by commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who hoped to launch it in 1990. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday, DuPuy said the network likely would televise games during spring training and the regular season, contests from other professional or amateur baseball leagues, and highlights shows.---nbcsports.com

I always liked Ueberroth, but the owners hated him, so his commish time was brief.:) This was written about The Baseball Network that MLB is making be available to most all subscribers, and is why Direct has Extra Innings and the others do not. One thing I would push for is for the new channel to broadcast a day game every single day of the season, and it would be the only entity to be able to do so (of course, with the exception of ESPN's Wednesday day games last year and Fox's Game of the Week Saturdays, day baseball is rarely broadcast anyway, with the exception of the Cubs on WGN...and i believe they have scaled back). Usually there are games on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays anyway, so while some teams would not be thrilled moving games to the day, others would be more receptive (I see Fridays as being a tough sell).


3/23/2007 02:25:00 PM



(3/23/2007 01:06:00 PM) - Al

I rarely link to anything that could be considered offensive, or not safe for work, but I will make an exception for The Short Version of Jay and Silent Bob.

Don't say I didn't warn you though.

Speaking of Kevin Smith, his blog indicates he is currently on Optifast (the popular all-liquid diet Oprah used to shed her weight ages ago, for the first time) for the third time, or at least he was, he has not mentioned it in a while. One week, while just drinking 6 shakes a day, he only lost 1.5 pounds, and was a tad unhappy about it. Still, he lost 22 pounds the first 4 weeks, so he was also off to a good start.


3/23/2007 01:06:00 PM



(3/23/2007 12:20:00 PM) - Al

The Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers are in active discussions looking for a backup catcher. That's funny, the Brewers are trying to trade Mike Rivera...


3/23/2007 12:20:00 PM



(3/23/2007 11:27:00 AM) - Al

I don't think they could report home sales any clumsier than they do. Sales were down 1% from last February, but this is actually a measure of how many homes "closed" in February, meaning that most of the homes actually "sold" in December or January, which was unseasonably warm, which is hard to remember because it was so cold last month.

Of course, if you read the first paragraph, you'll see home sales were "up 3.7%", which is compared to January, which means you're comparing apples to oranges. Goodness, sales in January are always "up" I would imagine, as I'm sure very few homes are closed the week between Xmas and New Year's.


3/23/2007 11:27:00 AM



(3/23/2007 10:04:00 AM) - Al

My wife and I heard a promo for "the biggest concert of the Summer", and was shocked to hear it was for Bon Jovi, my favorite band, but whose popularity probably peaked 15 years ago. Imagine our surprise when we heard that they were appearing at Country Jam, a festival held in Eau Claire yearly.

The lines between country and "pop rock" or "pop metal", whatever it is that Bon Jovi is known for, is a bit blurry, but it sure is odd to see them on the same bill with pure country artists.

I just checked and tickets for a day are $59, plus various fees of course. I can honestly say I've never heard of a single performer appearing on Saturday except Jon and the boys, though Reba is appearing Thursday. She was there back in the early 90's when I lived in EC and was busy delivering pizza. I recall the huge rush we enjoyed post-Reba, mainly to hotels. I am almost sure that one of the drivers reported he had made a delivery to some of her "underlings" as well.


3/23/2007 10:04:00 AM



(3/23/2007 09:31:00 AM) - Al

Please, continue to send in those RUTT nominations. I've received a couple so far, and I know in previous seasons my begging has resulted in about a dozen submissions. Please, if you are unsure about what a player makes, or if he qualifies, send it in anyway and voice your concerns.

At the very least, our team of reserves will be better than the Nationals (Christian Guzman is starting AND batting 2nd? C'mon.)...there are more than a few people suggesting they will lose 20 more games than any other NL team...and I can't say I disagree.


3/23/2007 09:31:00 AM



(3/23/2007 09:17:00 AM) - Al

Very nice piece over at The Hardball Times about Bud Selig's abilities to build a consensus and get things done.


3/23/2007 09:17:00 AM


Thursday, March 22, 2007

(3/22/2007 08:19:00 PM) - Al

Adam goes over some of the new features of Miller Park. Mark A has done a fine job of spending money to make money.


3/22/2007 08:19:00 PM



(3/22/2007 06:51:00 PM) - Al

Dave Krynzel, who hit just .231/.314/.359 in Triple-A last year, appears likely to make the Diamondbacks thanks to the injury to Jeff DaVanon and his .364/.450/.576 line in 33 at-bats. He's also helped by being out of options, though that may not save him if DaVanon is ready to return in mid-April.

I wish Dave all the luck in the world, as he will surely need it. He's proven he is a subpar AAA hitter, but he still could have a decent future as a 5th OF, as for the most part, many teams just have a guy in that spot that can play all 3 OF spots decently, and run well. Dave can do that, but he can't hit a lick.

The only advice I can give to Dave? Rent, don't buy.


3/22/2007 06:51:00 PM



(3/22/2007 03:34:00 PM) - Al

On the TV broadcast, Doug Melvin just said the Brewers may open the year with 5 IF's and 6 OF's. He also mentioned Laynce Nix as a possibility, but that because of his injury he may open on the DL.


3/22/2007 03:34:00 PM



(3/22/2007 03:03:00 PM) - Al

Tubby Smith will be the next head coach of the Gophers. Quite a signing, I'd say even better than Tony Bennett, which I've suggested a few times.

That said, with the Iowa job now open, maybe Bennett will end up there.


3/22/2007 03:03:00 PM



(3/22/2007 11:13:00 AM) - Al

Once again, I am soliciting advice for the nearly annual Ramblings Underutilized Talent Team (RUTT). You can take a gander at previous years at the links below:

2003
2004
2006

As always, RUTT players must meet the following criteria; not be expected to start at the beginning of 2007 (or be unsigned, since we're doing it later this year, that should not be much of an issue), be 29 or younger, make less than the major league average salary (for ease of execution, we'll say $2.5M), and not be considered a "prospect" anymore. The latter is a bit hazy, but I'll try to sum it up with Brewers.

Tony Gwynn Jr. is still a prospect, as he is young and has had limited MLB experience. He is not eligible for RUTT.

Gabe Gross is not a prospect, as he has had quite a bit of time in the majors and is not yet a starter. He would be eligible for RUTT.

Laynce Nix is not a prospect, ditto to Gross.

Corey Hart is not eligible for RUTT, because he's projected to start.

Ryan Braun is still a prospect, and is not eligible for RUTT.

JD Closser is no longer considered a prospect, as he has now cleared waivers. He would be eligible for RUTT.

So, we will be putting together a RUTT offensive lineup, and I'll include a DH as well. If you click on the link above, you will see I picked Sean Burroughs as my 2006 3B, which I will kindly label "a miss". However, the untold story is this, I had another 3B written up (I actually thought it was Freddy Sanchez, but I see I put him at 2B), but I changed my mind and went with Sean, who had a bad year...at AAA.

Oops.

Previous members of the team have been Bobby Kielty, Craig Wilson, David Ortiz (yes, that one), Marco Scutaro, Morgan Ensberg, Ronnie Belliard, Jason Lane, Mike Cuddyear, Freddy Sanchez, and Bill Hall...proof that even though you're not a starter now, you may still have an outstanding career. There's a morale about not turning up your nose at a player another team has given up on as well, as most of the above are not still with their original organization.

If you would like to nominate an entire team, or just a player or two, please e-mail me.


3/22/2007 11:13:00 AM



(3/22/2007 09:51:00 AM) - Al

Baseball America picks the Brewers in the NL Central.


3/22/2007 09:51:00 AM



(3/22/2007 08:49:00 AM) - Al

On a tip from Brewers' blogging compatriot Jeff Sackmann, I added A Player To Be Named Later to my Netflix queue a while back, and sent it back a couple days ago. It's a documentary about the 2002 Indy Indians AAA club, and focuses on Marco Scutaro, Kyle Peterson, Micah Franklin, and Brad Tyler. I was and remain a big Scooter fan, as I was apparently the only person who felt he would be a fine reserve IF.

There are a few Brewers you have actually heard of with appearances in the film, Allen Levrault and Alex Sanchez being two of them. It's also interesting to see how decisions are made. Former veteran signing Jason McDonald is released a couple days after skipping treatment on his hamstring. When the filmmakers discuss it with Jmac, he says he had "personal stuff to do" before the end of spring training, like picking up dry cleaning and such. Former Brewers' farm director Greg Riddoch is shown having a serious talk with him, and afterwards, Jason says, "I won't do that again". As it turns out, at least not with the Brewers.

If nothing else, while the story about the veteran minor leaguers was interesting, it was a eye-opener seeing that just a few years ago, the Crew's AAA club was almost all low-ceiling vets, while now almost the entire rotation will be made up of true prospects. There's also the prerequisite story about a nutty fan baking cookies and such for the players, who is seemingly oblivious to the fact the Indians exist solely to develop players for the Brewers (at that time, now the Pirates, I believe).


3/22/2007 08:49:00 AM



(3/22/2007 08:21:00 AM) - Al

--John Edwards and his wife have announced a press conference for later this morning, speculation says he may be dropping out of the race and/or there may be an update about her health.

I think it's safe to say no one ever calls a press conference to say everything is fine and going smoothly.

--We had out first thunderstorm of the year last night. During Frasier, which follows our local news, we had a real house rattler, and was followed by our dog running around barking and whining, looking for the culprit. He then came back to the sofa and laid down next to me, as I, of course, am able to protect him from Mother Nature.

--FSN has on another Brewers' scrimmage (I'm sorry, exhibition game) today at 3. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

--The fine folks at Allis Chalmers rung the bell on the NYSE this morning. While most of us know them as a tractor maker, I guess they are now called Allis Chalmers Energy, ticker ALY. I glanced at their website and it seems like they sold all divisions in 1988 after asking for bankruptcy protection, and have now reorganized itself into a mostly oil and gas drilling company. Who would have guessed?


3/22/2007 08:21:00 AM



(3/22/2007 08:07:00 AM) - Al

Phil Rogers talks about Jeff Suppan and I believe picks the Brewers to win the division.


3/22/2007 08:07:00 AM


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

(3/21/2007 11:47:00 PM) - Al

Last night, our local pet store had a vet clinic, it's mainly an immunization thing, not designed for sick animals and the like. Because they do not charge for the office visit, you save about $25-30. I took our four-legged member of the family, Ronnie, to get his shots and heartworm medicine for the upcoming trip around the sun.

As is usually the case, the line was about a dozen deep when I arrived 15 minutes prior to the start time. I know my wife drew the short straw last year and called to say she was going to wait, but it'd be a while. Random thoughts and tidbits I overheard:

--Not a single person asked if Ronnie, a black and white cocker spaniel, was a springer spaniel puppy, which used to be a common, every few minute query. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks Ron is looking old.

--At least a third of the dogs had muzzles on the entire time. If i didn't trust my dog not to bite someone, I'm not sure I'd keep him, and if I did, I think I'd make an appointment and avoid the public.

--Ronnie whined the entire time, about an hour. A dog two ahead of us, a German Sheppard with a muzzle, growled or barked at him a minimum of 175 times, about once every 15 seconds. Why no, that did not get old at all.

--Every single person asked before petting Ronnie. We used to take him to Petsmart in the Twin Cities every week or two when we lived there, and hardly anyone ever asked.

--I could barely function last evening, as my neck, shoulders, and back were all excruciatingly sore, I guess from standing on the hard beyond belief concrete for that long. My old store had concrete in the back room, and once in a while we'd redo something back there, and my feet would get sore, but never my whole body. I suppose it's from standing, and not walking. I have never heard of places that have concrete floors having more injuries or missed days because of it, so maybe you adjust, but the difference is off-the-charts.

--My favorite moment was when the lady in front of me saw someone she knew, who said she was there to replace her Iams dog food (even though she fed the "dry", which has not been recalled, she said, "You just never know") and she said that the associates had recommended she "switch to Science Digest brand". I am sure she meant Science Diet, but I have chuckled at that many times in the past 24+ hours.

--The vets could not find a vein in Ronnie's front leg to take the blood sample, so she had to use a string-like thing to pull tightly around his other leg to find a vein. I told Ronnie if he would stop shooting drugs we wouldn't have this problem. Apparently, no one found this the least bit amusing other than me.

--My wife's uncle and myself were talking a couple years ago about how dogs used to exist on the farm, as they had free reign and never got any shots or anything. Ronnie had so many problems the first year we had him we ended up buying Vetsmart protection for him, which meant we paid $12 a month, and all we had to pay for was the medicines, as his shots were free, as were the office visits. I guess what happened is if the farm dog was limping or rubbing his ear, they figured it would go away, and it did, one way or another.

--With the lyme disease test they do, it shows up with a green dot if they have it. Both Ronnie and the dog ahead of him have had vaccines for it, but both showed up with a faint green color. They told us to watch him closely to see if he had any symptoms, and if he did, they would treat him, but for now, they were not going to. I asked what the symptoms were, and they said the main thing was that they will start acting very lethargic. I asked how I was supposed to gauge a dog's lethargicness level that sleeps 22-23 hours a day. The lady said he'd probably stop eating as well. I said no problem, I'd notice that. In 7 years, Ronnie has never missed a meal, and has always looked up at us for more the second he was done.

--The lady behind me said early on that what really slows the line down is when people bring in sick dogs or have them do extra stuff. Others around us looked on in horror and said they thought this was only for shots, and the lady said, well, if someone brings in an ill animal, they had to check it over. So, when she got to the table, as I was paying, she proudly asked the vet to do "pre-surgical exam" so she could have her little puppy spayed at their office the following week. I guess it would be silly to do a pre-surgical exam, you know, just prior to the actual surgery.

--You have to pay the vets, not the store, and if you used a credit card, they actually brought out one of those imprint machines where you slide it over the card and make a carbon copy of it (I had not seen one of them used since about 1996, and I have worked in retail the entire time), and then they had to call it in. Since a credit card transaction took about 5 minutes, for everyone's ease of execution, I paid with the check I keep in my wallet.

{Our dog kennel/groomer doesn't take plastic, so I try to keep one in there for them or someone else who astoundingly does not take Visa in 2007. We have been fortunate enough to pay off our cards monthly since 1998, so that does not matter.}

When I arrived home, I was chided by my wife, who said I should have paid with the card to get the "points", which earns us free hotel stays, well, eventually. I believe this is what they mean when they use the term, "can't win situation".

--Finally, after being on his best behavior for almost the entire visit, as the automatic door opened to let us out of the store, Ronnie lifted his leg on the door and let the world know exactly how he felt about the previous hour. Somehow, it was a fitting end.


3/21/2007 11:47:00 PM



(3/21/2007 11:33:00 PM) - Al

If you're interested in the Twins at all, Aaron Gleeman discusses them on BP radio, and is extremely knowledgeable. He also reports the stadium delay, some silly thing about the land, is past, and the Twins just announced they still plan to open up in April, 2010.

Aaron also says they'll miss not having a roof, which I totally agree with. The nature of MN politics is they'd much rather do something halfway than do it right, as they need to save the money to move old buildings in Mpls from one place to another...and you think I'm kidding.


3/21/2007 11:33:00 PM



(3/21/2007 08:13:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers have been a one-stop shopping outlet all spring for teams in the outfield market. But one club that has been speaking with them says they've pulled back their efforts to deal Clark, Mench or Jenkins until Laynce Nix recovers from an oblique injury. … The Brewers also are telling teams they're holding onto Turnbow. But one NL executive says: "I'd trade him right now -- while he's throwing strikes."---Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

Odd to hear about Nix causing any delays, as he hasn't been projected to make the 25 man at all.


3/21/2007 08:13:00 PM



(3/21/2007 02:39:00 PM) - Al

JD Closser made it through waivers and is now Brewers' property that is safely at AAA Nashville. I'm pretty biased, but by my count, that gives the Brewers an above average starting catcher, the best reserve C in the game, and a top 5 AAA catcher...not to mention Mike Rivera, who will likely be dealt soon, or claimed on waivers.

Pretty tricky move by Doug, asking waivers on the slightly lesser of the two extra reserves, if you go by spring numbers and 2006 major league stats. Any team that is patiently waiting for the Crew to waive Rivera may have passed on Closser now, but not later.

To quote that TV ad, "Brilliant!!"


3/21/2007 02:39:00 PM



(3/21/2007 01:55:00 PM) - Al

Don't look now, but the Dow is within a couple good days of record territory.

The "sale" we had a while back looks to be over.


3/21/2007 01:55:00 PM



(3/21/2007 01:19:00 PM) - Robert R.

Somebody is going to have to explain to me the Vinny Rottino infatuation. Yeah, he's versatile, but Baseball Prospectus has him projected at (BA/OBP/SLG) .259 /.308/.383 for a .691 OPS. He basically hits like a backup catcher at multiple positions, he doesn't really have much defensive value, and he runs o.k. but Counsell is still likely more valuable on the bases. How much is versatility really worth, considering that in most games a 3 man bench is more than sufficient?


3/21/2007 01:19:00 PM


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