Al's Ramblings



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

(10/31/2007 06:59:00 PM) - Al

Simply astounding new technology to make tanks "invisible".

Never underestimate what can be done by those who believe in what they can do.


10/31/2007 06:59:00 PM



(10/31/2007 04:29:00 PM) - Al

Ted Simmons conference call recap, available at the team site:

Doug says Jack Z first mentioned him, and it seemed like a good idea. After obtaining permission from the Padres, they talked to Ted, and he said he'd like to do it. He's been all around the game and knows it from all angles. Ted will work well with young players and vets.

Ted says he's excited, everything came about in the past 10 days or so. He'd never been asked about coaching, so he was happy to be considered, and thought he better say yes, or no one would ever ask again. Brewers have a special place in his heart. All about trust, happy to work with Ned, Doug, and Jack. Goes way back with Ned, made it a special job, looking to be his support guy. Role will be to keep game "in front of you", help things from getting jumbled. Good young team, Braun and Fielder especially.

Ned did not think Ted would consider coaching. Would have approached him in the past had they known that. Surprised he wants back into the daily grind, but very happy he does.

Ted mentions Ned's winning with ATL and how he learned from Bobby Cox, one of the best. Really good situation with SD, and it took a near perfect scenario for him to leave.

Ned said Ted taught him to analyze and think deeply about the game, he'd just wanted to go out and play. He'll help all the coaches do their job better.

Rick Braun ignores Ted's "perfect scenario" statement and asks "Why now?" Ted repeats himself, though he adds in he has always had good jobs, and that he interviewed for the Tampa Bay manager's job ages ago, but was not considered.

Ned said he loved working with Dale as bench coach, got along great. Dale had no qualms about moving, said he was happy to go back to 3B if it meant getting Simmons. Dale did a fine job at 3B in '06.

Dale has always been in charge of positioning defense, but Ted also knows the NL very well. Will work as a group as always.

Ted says he will adapt, as he's always done, to being back on the field. Many young guys are now dominating the game, when he was with Cleveland, many young GM's (Dan O'Dowd, Josh Byrnes, Antonelli {just interviewed with SL} were with the team then in other spots. Complimented Theo Epstein as being brilliant. Can't be around the change in the game and say, "I'm an old schooler", you better know what it means to hear stats and new approaches. Used to be 5 guys in the room making decisions, now in SD, there's 15-20 minds, and most are 30 and under. The game has changed, so you have to change with it. Into anything that works. The guys who have not adapted are gone now.

Ned knows what Ted can do. Doesn't worry about being "the boss" of coaches.


10/31/2007 04:29:00 PM



(10/31/2007 04:23:00 PM) - Al

Alex Romero is hitting just .111 in 45 at-bats in the Venezuela after going hitless on Tuesday.

Romero batted .310/.354/.421 at Triple-A Tucson last season. He didn't get a September callup even though he was on the 40-man roster after being claimed off waivers from the Twins in January. The Diamondbacks may bump him soon, as they have plenty of outfield depth without him.--Rotoworld


Romero is still young and has some upside...he'd never sneak through waivers if ARI tried to remove him. He'd be a fine 40 man addition to almost any team.


10/31/2007 04:23:00 PM



(10/31/2007 11:52:00 AM) - Al

Mike Cameron suspended for having a banned supplement in his system. He blames a tainted vitamin or more likely, a protein powder of some sort.

They do mention this was his second positive test, which makes you wonder if it stayed in his system that long, or if he continued to take it.


10/31/2007 11:52:00 AM



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

I would say, without seeing the debate, of course, that Clinton has a huge lead and is a huge favorite because she answers tough questions "professionally".

Edwards and Obama have taken stances that are unpopular, and their stock has fallen. Wondering why Clinton does not do the same would seem akin to a "what color is the sky in your world?" moment.


10/31/2007 10:37:00 AM


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

(10/30/2007 09:59:00 PM) - Al

The Astros have made early contact with free agent center fielders Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand.

"[Assistant GM] David [Gottfried] talked to their agents this afternoon," GM Ed Wade said. "Just general calls that we may have interest. We'll get back and talk at the appropriate time." The Astros really have no idea that Luke Scott had an 855 OPS this year and is at 882 in 663 career at-bats. He could be the bargain acquisition of the winter if Houston goes and signs a center fielder and moves Hunter Pence to right field.--Rotoworld


I must admit, Luke Scott sounds better to me than either Rowand or Hunter, without even considering the money. Pence looked very good in CF to me as well...the Astros continue to meander strangely, playing Biggio at home even though he was far from the best option, Chris Burke going from CF to AAA, Carlos Lee signed to a ridiculous deal, and so on.

Scott may well require a platoon partner, and some of his offense may well be because of his home park, but if Jenkins has plenty of value, Luke Scott has more.

EDIT: His splits show Scott is very good versus RHP, but solid versus LHP as well. And, he has better road numbers than home, shocking.

EDIT2: This shows his defense was passable as well. Strange, though he is older than I thought, he will be 30 this year.


10/30/2007 09:59:00 PM



(10/30/2007 09:18:00 PM) - Al

Congrats to Madison for figuring out how to handle the annual vandalism fest known as a Halloween party. Security was tight, arrests down, and no reports of injuries or damage.

Talk about night and day.


10/30/2007 09:18:00 PM



(10/30/2007 08:54:00 PM) - Al

Adam updates the team site with how Simmons was "courted", Jack Z was the first to mention his name.

I'm sure Doug and Gord will discuss many players with him, if they have not already. Ted probably knows the NL as well as anyone, and another opinion is always useful.


10/30/2007 08:54:00 PM



(10/30/2007 08:24:00 PM) - Al

Cleveland, Detroit, Anaheim, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A., S.D., Arizona, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Milwaukee

The above is the list of teams Curt Schilling says he would play for next year, if his first choice, the Red Sox, fail to sign him.

I just think it's nice for the Crew to be included on lists like this.


10/30/2007 08:24:00 PM



(10/30/2007 07:33:00 PM) - Al

Tom H waxes poetic on Simmons' return...I suppose this should make me like him less.:)

Excellent hire, to be sure. He's probably forgot more than most will ever know.


10/30/2007 07:33:00 PM



(10/30/2007 04:30:00 PM) - Al

My wife and I went to our local Taco Bell today at 2:15, and encountered no lines at all. Dave Pinto visited a couple and found students waiting.


10/30/2007 04:30:00 PM



(10/30/2007 01:59:00 PM) - Al

Ted Simmons returns to the Brewers as their bench coach, with Dale Sveum moving back to 3B.

Simmons is extremely intelligent, but I'm surprised the 58 year-old, who has had some health trouble and worked in the front office of many teams, suddenly wants to put up with the travel and 10-12 hour-a-day grind of an eight month campaign. Maybe he decided he either better do it now or he never would, or maybe he felt the opportunity was there to experience immediate success with the Crew.

For my money, Ted is probably the best player not in the Hall of Fame (compare his lifetime numbers to Gary Carter or Carlton Fisk sometime), due to the incredibly poor job the sportswriters do on an annual basis, not even noticing he was one of the top couple offensive backstops ever...and a solid defensive catcher as well. Sadly, his last few years, many of his skills had eroded, and he seems to be remembered as a very weak defender, which is simply not true.


10/30/2007 01:59:00 PM


Monday, October 29, 2007

(10/29/2007 09:24:00 PM) - Al

The 3B coach will be named soon, but apparently, there are a couple fellas in consideration other than Kremblas and Money.

I've already dedicated more space to this topic than it's worth, so I have nothing more to say.


10/29/2007 09:24:00 PM



(10/29/2007 09:08:00 PM) - Al

Funny but true post on grocery store "deals".

It's ironic though, while many stores make you sign up for some type of card to get sale prices, I just always ask them to scan a card for me and they do. Meanwhile, my wife's keychain is as thick as my black book was in my single days (well, it's as thick as I choose to remember it being). Once in a while I'll forget, and the cashier at some point will go, "Uh, do you have a card?", to which I'll reply "No, could you scan one?".

Of course, the true irony is I could easily go to Wal Mart across town and save even more. But, when you need 3 things, a quick trip to the ovrpriced, often out of stock corner grocer is much easier. Plus, if you, heaven forbid, need to buy a "non-food" item while there, sure you pay a mint for it...

Holy crap, since when is shaving cream $5.99?


...but at least you don't have to walk across the store the size of a small town to get it.


10/29/2007 09:08:00 PM



(10/29/2007 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Tigers acquired shortstop Edgar Renteria from the Braves for RHP Jair Jurrjens and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.

That was remarkably quick. That Renteria is being dealt is no surprise, and it figured that the Tigers would be high on the list of suitors. However, we don't see wht the Braves felt they had to make the move today when better offers could have come later. This simply isn't a great return for a player who was one of the best in the NL last season. Renteria hit .332/.390/.470 in 2007, and he's under control for a very reasonable $20 million over two years (the second year is at Detroit's option). The Tigers did quite well to get him now. It'll certainly head off any Alex Rodriguez speculation.--Rotoworld


First of all, Carlos Guillen is now the first sacker, which makes him a very subpar offensive 1B, while he used to be a very solid SS. I'm not sure what they mean, as Jurrgens is a very good 21 year-old pitching prospect, and Hernandez a solid CF prospect.


10/29/2007 08:42:00 PM



(10/29/2007 08:32:00 PM) - Al

Two phrases that made me laugh today:

My wife just came down from putting our son in bed, and asked:

What channel is ESPN?

Never thought I'd hear that.

This morning, my son, after a long weekend visiting his grandma and grandpa, took about 30 seconds to shut off his alarm, and then, after about a half-second of silence, the alarm started making noise again. Imagine a frustrated, tired 5 year-old saying:

I...turned...you...off!

Turns out, his clock radio had malfunctioned, and in our disposable society (imagine that, throwing stuff away when it's broken, though I suppose a true optimist would point out it is correct twice a day), was replaced by a $4 Wal Mart model. The little knob that goes back and forth to turn the alarm on and off was stuck "on", after apparently going off and then back to on with as much force as he could exert in his state of fatigue.


10/29/2007 08:32:00 PM



(10/29/2007 08:14:00 PM) - Al

Brad Nelson is back on the 40 man.

I did not think he'd be added at all, so this is a surprise. To me, he might be a 1B/LF reserve someday. He is not a real good athlete either, so usually those guys have to hit better than he did to move up.

.317/.470? Getting out 68% of the time in a league where Grant Balfour is unhittable does not scream "prospect" to me. Maybe, because of his youth and draft status, the Crew knew he would be a popular minor league free agent, so they feel they can package him and get some value.


10/29/2007 08:14:00 PM



(10/29/2007 08:05:00 PM) - Al

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 2006 first-round pick Jeremy Jeffress failed a team-administered drug test, meaning he's not subject to a league suspension.

Jeffress, who will begin next year serving a 50-game league suspension for using a "drug of abuse," would have had to sit out another 100 games for failing a league drug test. Now it's unclear what steps the Brewers will take. The team likely would have preferred to handle this without the media's knowledge.--Rotoworld


Firstly, pardon me while I introduce you to Jeremy, lord of the idiots.

I can't believe the Crew would penalize him with anywhere near the time that he would have got had it been an "official" drug test, as he is already losing valuable experience and innings. That said, he may be on the short list of available prospects. I can't imagine anyone dumb enough to get caught twice in a few months has the intelligence to succeed as a major league pitcher anyway.


10/29/2007 08:05:00 PM



(10/29/2007 07:33:00 PM) - Al

Tom H does a pretty good job mentioning the possibilities with LF.

Jenkins is unlikely to return, unless he accepts a fraction of what he'll get on the open market. Gwynn would not be a horrible option, as Hall, Junior, and Hart would probably be a plus defensive OF, but there's little doubt Gwynn would be quite an offensive dropoff from the Jenkins/Mench platoon. I have profiled some possible fill-ins, and of course, Barry Bonds is still available, though unlikely considering Doug said he was not thinking of bringing in Bob Wickman, who must be considered a saint compared to Barry.


10/29/2007 07:33:00 PM


Sunday, October 28, 2007

(10/28/2007 04:42:00 PM) - Al

Today's google ad above Ramblings is Poverty.com, an organization whose stated goal is to end all hunger related deaths ASAP, by getting nations to donate 0.7% of their income earned to world hunger.

Certainly a worthy cause and a unique way of going about it. I would feel much better if the United Nations was not mentioned, as any info from them is likely a couple decades behind and incorrect anyway. If I were to be given that task, which seems insurmountable at first glance, I'd work more with business. It seems strange they are only focusing on government, many of which are horribly ineffective, and in some cases corrupt.


10/28/2007 04:42:00 PM



(10/28/2007 03:33:00 PM) - Al

I don't think I ever mentioned Mike Jones signing a minor league deal with the Crew.

It's good to have a former #1 pick still in the system, but the odds of the oft-injured pitcher ever making an impact seems minimal at best.


10/28/2007 03:33:00 PM



(10/28/2007 03:14:00 PM) - Al

Mat Gamel went 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and a walk Saturday for North Shore of the Hawaiian Winter League.

Gamel is batting .333/.440/.609 with five homers in 69 at-bats in Hawaii. Only Mariners prospect Michael Wilson has a better OPS in the four-team league. Defense remains a problem for the 22-year-old Gamel, and he might end up as a long-term left fielder. Considering that he's behind Matt Laporta there and it's possible Ryan Braun will also require an outfield switch at some point, Gamel could end up being trade bait for Milwaukee.---Rotoworld


I always enjoy it when people make long-term assumptions based on a kid in A ball. However, the bat plays, and as long as Gamel keeps hitting, they'll find a spot for him somewhere.


10/28/2007 03:14:00 PM



(10/28/2007 01:17:00 PM) - Al

As the title suggests:

---I picked a poor time to do some biking today, as I was stuck watching the NFL for most of my hour. A couple years ago, I recall either the NFL or the networks saying they were trying to eliminate the "double breaks", or something like that they called it. That's basically a score, then a commercial break, followed by the kickoff, and then another break. I guess that did not work, because every single score on both early games were followed by a "double break".

---As pointed out by an e-mailer however, the World Series games are progressing along at a pace that could only be matched by an ex-girlfriend telling you your faults as you sit in the dental chair getting major work done. I know they make the between innings breaks longer, but they really seem to drag, though much of that might be because of the Buck/McCarver cliche fest when the ads are over.

---I know one of the other football leagues, the WFL I believe, eliminated the extra point and went with an "action point". I have seriously wondered why that never took off, as the XP has to be the dullest play in all of sports. I wonder why a choice of 1 point from the 1 yard-line or 2 points from the 2 (or 2.5) yard-line would not be much better in a dozen ways.

---I wonder why exactly casual fans of sports always feel the need to label one player as "the goat" and seemingly the only reason a team is not swimming along unbeaten. Last year, Rex Grossman was much maligned, and this year, he was replaced by Brian Griese, who at best, has been inconsistent. So, now the blame has shifted to Cedric Benson, who in the game today, has usually had to break a tackle or two just to get back to the line of scrimmage. I think it's kind of funny that no one has even put forth the possibility that, just maybe, the offense isn't that talented.

---By the way, this is also why Johnny Estrada was much criticized last year...it being easier than understanding that a group of young players that is still getting better is probably not going to win 90 games yet.

Estrada 2007---
Estrada career-

Oh yeah, that's mind-boggling.

---So tell me, how exactly does State Farm decide which of their agents are attractive enough to be on their TV ads? That must be an awkward e-mail to send out.

---I'm not much into predicting success of movies (though I knew Grindhouse would be a bomb, though that was so obvious, many Amish saw it coming), but allow me to say that Bee Movie is going to be HUGE.

---Nothing could possibly be any more boring or pointless than the media attention Stephen Colbert is getting for his pretend presidential run. Along with the real estate "meltdown" (even though 97.4% of mortgages are current and 98.9% are labeled healthy), we'd be much better off if neither were ever talked about again.

---Despite the fact corn and grain prices are at record highs (thanks tax breaks for ethanol), cereal prices seem to be cheaper than ever...near weekly stores in my area run 6/$10 promos, and I've even seen some 8/$10 sales as well. Maybe someone can explain that to me, as 5-10 years ago, 4/$10 was considered prime stock-up time.

---On the subject of mystery, a while back some readers explained the volleyball shorts quandry, and I now have another related to the bump/set/spike sport...why does nearly every match end 3-0? Our local sports often lists about a dozen scores on a weeknight, and without fail, all of them; or all but one will end 3 games to zero. Even the regionals and sectionals usually end this way.

---I went to Dollar Tree this AM (my son does enjoy the Little Debbie snacks) after my unfortunate tourney exit, and felt it was worthy of a mention...every single item $1 (though a few are 2/$1, I guess), and it's just remarkable the good deals you can find. In one example, I picked up some cinnamon graham crackers (also for my son) at the grocery store and paid $2.49 for the store brand, and then found the same size box for $1 at DT. Rice cakes (a tasty snack for me on my plan) were also similar to that. Now sure, some items at DT are smaller (the Doritos' bags are about half the size, for example), but how wrong can you go for $1?

I wish they had itty-bitty bottles of Visine or another eye drop, as I find it difficult to be able to find my 0.65 ounce of bottle I bought a couple years ago for $5-8 to combat my allergies, which are bothering me this weekend. I'd put one in my car, one by the computer, one on the coffee table, etc.

---The only negative of going to DT is their ridiculous lack of being able to pay with your Visa card. I pulled out my debit card, thought for a sec, and punched in my pin with a hope and a prayer, as I doubt if I've used it in this calendar year. The cashier asked if I had a 10% off coupon, which I did not, and punched it in for me (she was probably interested in me, or at least I tell myself many 19 year-olds are), making it a 90 cent store today.


10/28/2007 01:17:00 PM



(10/28/2007 10:37:00 AM) - Al

The only reason I'm online this AM is because I had another freeroll, and in the 3rd hand of the tourney, I was all-in with AA vs. AK.

And yes, I did manage to take that 87% advantage and lose to a flush on the river, thanks for asking.


10/28/2007 10:37:00 AM



(10/28/2007 10:34:00 AM) - Al

Good friend of Ramblings Michael e-mails this clip of a last second ending in a D3 college football game.

At least one, or maybe two players on the defense looked to be injured, which certainly did not help them.


10/28/2007 10:34:00 AM


Saturday, October 27, 2007

(10/27/2007 09:06:00 PM) - Al

I just heard "this is a must win" for the first time.

Apparently, I dreamed that whole Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit thing...it sure seemed real at the time.


10/27/2007 09:06:00 PM



(10/27/2007 08:51:00 PM) - Al

Fox's graphic, per Josh Fogg:

If heart equaled talent, he'd be in the Hall of Fame.

I paraphrased, as I was biking and flipping when the cliche twins (yes, I'm talking to you Buck and McCarver) proudly uttered that nonsense.

Heart and 50 cents will buy you a paper. All we ever hear is how little effort Manny Ramierez gives, and he's a superstar. I yearn for the day someone actually hires knowledgeable folks like Rob Neyer and begins to actually report on the game.


10/27/2007 08:51:00 PM



(10/27/2007 01:31:00 PM) - Al

For many online poker players, the biggest day of the week is Sunday afternoon, when all the major sites have their big tournaments, usually with $150-500 buy-ins and $500K+ first place prizes.

Then, for the rest of us, we have Saturday, when many sites offer freerolls for their players that play enough to compile enough "points" to qualify. My 2nd one just started, and if I'm still alive at 2:15, I'll be 4 tabling it, all on the company dime (or my rake, depending what kind of mood I'm in).

Moving onto another topic, months ago, my weight loss reached 73 pounds, and as often happens, I slacked off a bit, both on exercise and watching what I ate. As of today, I'm about 20 pounds heavier than I was at my lightest, so I've decided it's time to get back into the swing of things. With this rededication, my main emphasis will be on exercise, and back into high-protein, low calorie eating, though I'm not fanatical about it. It occurred to me just the other day that I haven't had a salad in ages, and I used to have several a week as a meal.

With luck, I will be able to have success again.


10/27/2007 01:31:00 PM



(10/27/2007 10:53:00 AM) - Al

All fan giveaways at Miller Park are scheduled for these days:

April 6 (vs. SF)
June 1 (vs. HOU)
June 22 (vs. BAL)
July 6 (vs. PIT)
Aug 24 (vs. PIT)
Sep 7 (vs. SD)

I assume these will be bobbleheads, which are rumored to include Prince, JJ, Corey, and Ryan.


10/27/2007 10:53:00 AM


Friday, October 26, 2007

(10/26/2007 09:37:00 PM) - Al

Here's the updated list of 2008 free agents...I'll have to add this to the sidebar as well. Very weak class, and Linebrink stands out as the best RH set-up man by far.


10/26/2007 09:37:00 PM



(10/26/2007 09:22:00 PM) - Al

I would compare this to John Hinkley Jr. getting out of the asylum, getting a job down at the hardware store, and then calling Jodie Foster and asking her out.

Dusty, isn't it enough you left these guys in games until their arms all but fell off? Leave 'em alone, my friend.


10/26/2007 09:22:00 PM



(10/26/2007 02:22:00 PM) - Al

Nothing like a link from Aaron Gleeman to boost visits. Thanks for reading, bookmark us while you are here.


10/26/2007 02:22:00 PM



(10/26/2007 02:01:00 PM) - Al

Mike e-mails us to ask whether or not MYP and Rookie of the Year votes have to be be in before the playoffs start. I'm almost certain they do, however, Mike Hunt votes for Cy Young and doesn't seem to realize it, which seems odd.

I feel Prince should be an overwhelming choice for MVP, but feel the ROY voting could go either way, as Troy T played a more difficult defensive spot and played it very well.


10/26/2007 02:01:00 PM



(10/26/2007 08:32:00 AM) - Jason Christopherson

From the San Jose Mercury News:

There goes our five bucks, because we had Jeremy Shockey in the NFL Player Most Likely To Cause An International Incident In London pool.

The winner is Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, who proudly showed off the benefits of a University of Florida football education. According to the Palm Beach Post, Crowder expressed surprise Tuesday that people in England speak English.


Also:

"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries. I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that.

"I know London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That's the closest thing I know to London. He's black, so I'm sure he's not from London. I'm sure that's a coincidental name."

A poll on the paper's Web site is asking whether Crowder was kidding or serious. Just to keep our faith in humanity and the educational system, we voted "kidding."

Nice to see that Florida scholarship didn't go to waste.


10/26/2007 08:32:00 AM


Thursday, October 25, 2007

(10/25/2007 11:12:00 PM) - Al

2+2 thread in which they asked for pics of your ugly girlfriend.

Do not click on the above if you are easily offended.


10/25/2007 11:12:00 PM



(10/25/2007 10:16:00 PM) - Al

Doug Melvin was on a Milwaukee radio show earlier today. Highlights:

---Will go to Colorado to World Series, should be a few GM's there. Have called all 29 other teams to ask who may be available and what their plans are.

---Infield is set, "not going to be touched". Catching will be looked at. Corey Hart is set in RF, LF will be looked at, hope Bill Hall comes back strong.

---Have 8 starting pitchers, many teams will be looking at them. That is probably where a trade will happen if one occurs.

---Cordero is a main focus, but he will almost certainly file for free agency.

---Yo knows how to pitch, might be an ace in the future.

---Carlos V still has to prove he can maintain his performance as a SP over 162 games, but he is solid.

---Capuano has dropped from a #2 down in the rotation.

---Only 2 SP's had 30 starts, and the bullpen wore down. When Yo and Carlos had to join the rotation, that weakened the middle relief immensely.

---Geoff Jenkins all but certain not to have his option picked up, unless another team wants to trade for him.

---Johnny Estrada was hurt, but still the best option. Much discussion about how much stolen bases really hurt you, San Diego allowed over 200, and they still won plenty.

---Probably will look outside the organization for a LF, need a good OBP man, and an athletic player preferably. Strikeouts not that big of a deal. Team in general needs to improve OBP and walks. Never had a 100 BB player in the history of the franchise. Estrada hit .380 when he puts the first ball in play, so some guys can have success at it. Bill Hall will always be aggressive. Gabe Gross was very selective early, but when he played more, he swung earlier in the count more.


Sounds like Hart and the IF are the future, with Hall close to that...but not quite as secure. No chance of a Gross/Dillon platoon, it would appear they are looked at as reserves.


10/25/2007 10:16:00 PM



(10/25/2007 09:40:00 PM) - Al

President Clinton gets so upset with a 9/11 conspiracy nut, you'd think he was still in office on that fateful day.

I have no patience at all for such stupidity, but getting upset at those fools is like blaming your dog for drinking out of the toilet when his bowl's empty...the ignorant always do or say something foolish. Seriously, the mere idea the government could pull off something this massive with any type of success is ridiculous...they have trouble delivering the mail and paying senior citizen's medical bills without constant errors.


10/25/2007 09:40:00 PM



(10/25/2007 09:28:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers have another scout find a better job with another team.

I'm sure Mark A will spend the coin necessary to replace the fella with a solid baseball man, but you hate to see Jack Z's top voices being replaced.


10/25/2007 09:28:00 PM



(10/25/2007 09:21:00 PM) - Al

Allow me to say, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the 3 guys the Yankees interviewed.

Girardi seems like an easy choice, as I don't even think the others were worthy of an interview. However, given the high pitch counts he let the Marlins' pitchers compile, I would hesitate to let him be Phil Hughes' boss.

Heck, if he were still alive, Billy Martin would be a more inspired choice.


10/25/2007 09:21:00 PM



(10/25/2007 09:16:00 PM) - Al

Yost is apparently just considering the top two managers in the farm system, Kremblas and Money, for the open coaching spot.

It would seem safe to assume the "loser" will be managing in Nashville next season.


10/25/2007 09:16:00 PM



(10/25/2007 08:56:00 PM) - Al

Recondite Baseball posts that the Brewers' rotation had the best FIP from their #5 spot as any NL team (FIP is fielding independent pitching, basically measuring all pitchers on only on what they control).

That would seem to put my contention that the bottom of the rotation pitched pretty well, though maybe not as well as expected, or pitched as long as hoped.


10/25/2007 08:56:00 PM



(10/25/2007 08:20:00 PM) - Al

Al,

First time emailer here although I have read your blog daily since 2004 when I found a link from baseball reference and I just want to tell you how much i enjoy your blog.

What do you think about picking up Mark Loretta, and Kenny Lofton? Melvin said he was interested in "professional hitters" and both would fit that bill. Loretta would take Graffanino's role while Lofton would take Jenkins's role of a platoon mate in left. Lofton could bridge the gap to LaPorta in 2009. I like both guys as they get on base: Loretta .352 and Lofton .367.

I have noticed on message boards that Brewers fans seem to want the big "sexy" free agent like A-Rod, Rowand, Abreu, Posada, etc. I feel we have our big bats in place but what we really need is players to get on base in front of them. That is why I would like to pick these two guys up. I was just wondering what you thought on this.

I also see that there are two Japanese pitchers that are considering a move to MLB next year. Hiroki Kuroda, Masahide Kobayashi are their names. What would be the chance that the Brewers could pick one up for bullpen help?

Josh


Thanks for the kind words, Josh. First of all, the braintrust has said they do not even scout in Japan, due to the money involved in signings, as well as the fact most Asian players prefer to play on a coast, and in a city with a significant Asian-American population. Until I hear differently, I'll assume that is still the case. In addition, given Doug's preference for "big" pitchers with good velocity, I'd say Japanese pitchers would be a longshot.

That said, supposedly, the Brewers came close to acquiring Boston lefty Hideki Okajima, in a deal last July or August that would have sent Jermaine Dye to BOS and Derrick Turnbow to the White Sox, in a rumor I never understood from the Red Sox point of view...Dye supposedly even got a playing time "promise" in order for him to give his ok. So, if that was true, it'd be Doug has nothing against pitchers from Japan, he just knows he cannot compete for them, for the most part.

As for Lofton and Loretta, I like them both, and I'm sure the Crew does too, as you noted, both fit the "professional hitter" mold very well. However, Lo can be a utility IF for any team, his salary notwithstanding. So unless he has a special spot in his heart for Milwaukee (and he may), I'd say those odds are quite long. I'm all for it, as he'd be an outstanding PH and reserve.

Lofton's name came up during our roundtable, and I think despite his lack of power, he'd be a nice stopgap in LF, probably a near perfect fit in the #2 spot in the batting order as well. I would think Lofton would want to play for a contender, and would probably be willing to sign a one year deal. I can see many clubs having Lofton as a "fallback" option as they go after Hunter, Jones, and the other veteran CF who is a FA whose name has slipped my mind. So, should the Crew feel the same way, they should go after him very strongly as soon as they are allowed to do so. I am not sure if Lofton will be offered arby, but if he does not require any compensation, I'd go out on a limb and say he might be at the top of Doug's non-reliever wish list.


10/25/2007 08:20:00 PM



(10/25/2007 07:54:00 PM) - Al

Braves designated RHP Chad Paronto for assignment.

Paronto was a fixture in the Atlanta pen for a year and a half, but the team sent him down to make room for Ron Mahay on July 31 and never gave him a recall. He had a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 innings when demoted, though that came with a 1.64 WHIP. He should be quite popular if he clears waivers and becomes a minor league free agent. That he's arbitration eligible will likely prevent him from being claimed.--Rotoworld


It would not shock me if the Brewers claimed Paronto, or even better, signed him as a minor league free agent, if for nothing else, he has the size Melvin has liked in the past. Rotoworld is correct, he might get six figures and/or a 40 man spot as a minor league FA, as a dozen or more teams will make bids. His ceiling isn't all that high, and he's 31, but he'll spend some time in the bigs next year.


10/25/2007 07:54:00 PM



(10/25/2007 07:48:00 PM) - Al

Ben Stein shares a few of his many wisdoms with the common man.

Stein is an absolute joy of a man, and I agree with almost everything he says.


10/25/2007 07:48:00 PM



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

Very timely piece on a disease that afflicts only the casual fan.

It's funny, because it's true.

Hat tip to Dave Pinto.


10/25/2007 07:10:00 PM



(10/25/2007 06:57:00 PM) - Al

Nice piece on Matt Laporta, who looks more like the Opening Day LF in 2009 every day, regardless of how unlikely that seemed just 4.5 months ago when drafted.

Hat tip to Brew Crew Ball.


10/25/2007 06:57:00 PM



(10/25/2007 09:23:00 AM) - Al

Cardinals released LHP Mike Maroth.

Maroth was 0-5 with a 10.66 ERA in seven starts and seven relief appearances after coming over from Detroit. He had one more year of arbitration left after making $2.95 million in 2007, but he'll become a free agent now. There will be several teams interested in him as a fifth starter.--Rotoworld


Maroth is a perfect buy low, sell high choice, as he was very solid until last year. It's funny, a guy with a 7ish ERA is said to have several suitors, but some suggested the Crew non-tender Capuano, who would probably incite a bidding war of several teams and $7-8M a season if he were a free agent.

Bottom-of-the-rotation starters have gained value as quickly as the top guys...even more perhaps, as the top guys are never moved, for the most part.


10/25/2007 09:23:00 AM



(10/25/2007 09:06:00 AM) - Al

I find it strange that no one has even mentioned, except in passing, the complete lack of looting, outrage, and in general, mayhem that has taken place in California due to the wildfires. I see Gov. Ahhnold making sure that the various shelters have enough formula and diapers, and as of yet, not a single photo of a few dozen buses sitting unused, or no "whoa is me, send money" pleas.

If this continues, every state should be required to have a similar plan in place by the end of the year, or else forfeit any right to federal disaster aid. Throwing tax money to an obviously unprepared city and state government is just like tossing it out in the wind.

I still hear that areas of New Orleans are abandoned, and all I can think is, rightly so. Who would be stupid enough to buy, knock down, and then build a home in an area that will, no doubt, flood again, be it next week, next decade, or in 50 years? Heck, I'm surprised 60-70% of the residents have returned, to be honest, given the crime rate and lack of any plan to prevent a recurrence, other than hope.


10/25/2007 09:06:00 AM


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

(10/24/2007 05:03:00 PM) - Robert R.

I'm going along with Al in picking the Red Sox to beat the Rockies, although I don't think it will be easy. Six games.

It really comes down to two main reasons. The AL was the superior league this year and Josh Beckett. The Rockies have a deep and underrated pitching staff, but they don't have someone that can match up with Beckett and I think that's going to be the decisive factor.


10/24/2007 05:03:00 PM



(10/24/2007 03:18:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings' fave law prof links to this info I have not seen elsewhere, but granted, have not looked for either.


10/24/2007 03:18:00 PM



(10/24/2007 09:50:00 AM) - Al

Just thought I should mention I think Boston will easily win the Series, in 5 games.

Of course, anything could happen in what amounts to a week of baseball.


10/24/2007 09:50:00 AM


Monday, October 22, 2007

(10/22/2007 12:01:00 AM) - Al

All right, we have the largest group ever, Ramblings' contributors Robert and Jason, as well as former roundtable participants Ben, Greg, and JR, along with Carl, who is making his debut as a panelist. As I always say somewhat jokingly, however true, that this is always a very popular feature here at Ramblings because I usually say less than the others; therefore, let's get started.

ROUNDTABLE, END OF 2007 EDITION

AL: All right fellas, the 25 and 40 man rosters only, how good is this team and their potential?

CARL: The sky is the limit. Raw talent is there. Now with good health, discipline, and a little luck for good measure, this team is on the verge of greatness.

GREG: The offensive potential of this team is pretty much off the charts.

Prince and Braun are historic talents, and Weeks has the potential to join them at that level. Hart and Hardy would be cornerstones of another team's homegrown talent. Most of the Brewers' regulars have defensive holes, but they're likely to improve with experience, and the tradeoff, while not cost-free, is worthwhile.

Pitching is the critical variable. I thought the 2007 rotation would be better than it was. The defense had something to do with the letdown, but Capuano's and Bush's struggles weren't all about bad defense. Once again, however, I'm optimistic about next year's rotation. Capuano and Parra figure to compete for the #5 spot behind Sheets, Gallardo, Suppan, and Villanueva, with Bush probably still around behind them. Any of those projected #5 -#7 guys looks like a much better bet to succeed than Vargas. In fact, any of them could pitch like a #3.

So, no surprise, the biggest variable is the bullpen. I think a lot of people sometimes fail to appreciate what an inexact science bullpen construction is. Getting near-guarantees of quality relief work is very difficult and expensive, Scott Linebrink is probably a 90th percentile sure thing, and Scott Linebrink comes with question marks. Does our present roster have a championship-caliber bullpen in it? Probably not; it's the one area where I don't see a whole lot of obviously untapped potential. Could we win with the bullpen arms we have on the roster? Conceivably, if we either resign or luck into a closer candidate and if the other elements of the team perform at very high levels (no serious rotation injuries, defensive shortcomings cauterized, offense up to potential).

ROBERT: I think the final record was pretty indicative of the 25 man roster's talent. Right now, about an 85 win team, give or take. Lots of power, but kind of erratic plate discipline. Some promising starting pitching and a thin bullpen. Fixing the bullpen and infield defense are the major issues facing the team and the former looks more manageable at the moment.

After the many graduations from the farm system to the 25 man roster plus a couple of trades, the 40 man roster is looking a little thin at the moment. Especially in regards to upper level pitching depth. The injury histories of Mike Jones and Mark Rogers contribute greatly to that problem. And the Brewers really haven't developed many relief candidates. I expect Melvin is going to be busy seeking minor league free agents to fill that void.

JASON: I think the 25 man is extremely solid. The tweaks that will be needed in the bullpen can hopefully be fixed without a lot of trouble. While I'm not happy with the pitching depth in the minors, there should be enough talented position players that will draw interest from other teams for a possible trade. I would expect payroll to increase as well (thanks to the record-breaking attendance--nice job everyone!), so solidifying via free agency is certainly possible as well.

I want to see Pena, Bray, Dillard, and probably Palmisano added to the 40 man. The Linebrink trade (combined with the injuries and graduations Robert mentioned) have left the Brewers seriously shallow in minor league pitching depth. Granted, the starting rotation on the big club could be one of the deepest in the league. You just can't have too much pitching, though, and I think Pena, Bray, and Dillard are all risks to be lost in Rule 5. Palmisano was exposed to it last year but I think the decent year he put together this year might make a developing team take a flyer on him.

BEN: As a comparison, the Brewers remind me a bit of the Indians from the mid-90s. Offensively, they have an outstanding nucleus of young position players. Throw in a couple of young pitchers who they hope can develop (and stay healthy), and there's a lot to be optimistic about. There should be playoff games played in Milwaukee over the next 4-6 years. Once you're in the playoffs, anything can happen.

JR: Al said it best when he mentioned that the team is only six wins behind Colorado -- one win per month -- and seven wins behind the best record in the National League. And that's after a season I think everyone feels could have been a lot better, especially because the starting pitching struggled in spots. You can call the 2006 team snakebitten by injuries, but that's still a 12-win improvement thanks largely to the acclimation of "the kids" and breakout seasons from Fielder, Hardy and Braun. The pitching depth remains intact, the team has identified areas in which it can improve, and I'm not sure there are indications that a bevy of other National League teams are dramatically better than where the Brewers are now. It's a lofty prospect, but assuming only minimal dropoff (or improvement) from Fielder, Hardy and Braun plus a full strength Rickie Weeks and a revived Bill Hall, this team's lineup is as dangerous as any in the league.

AL: I have little doubt this is the most talented roster since at least 1992, and given the overall youth and potential many on the roster have, I think you can compare them favorably to 1982, as that was a team past their peak with no ceiling at all. This is a group that probably overachieved a bit, given many of their best players are 23-25.

Ok then, let me hear your overall feelings about 2007, and your goals and expectations for 2008.

BEN: They did about what everyone expected. Going in, I think most fans hoped for between 80-85 wins. That's exactly where they ended up. Some of the players outperformed expectations (Fielder, Hardy, Braun, etc.), and some of the players underachieved (Hall, Estrada, Capuano, etc). I am glad they jumped the 82-win hurdle for the first time since Molitor was let go.

I think the 24-10 mark is deceptive, and raised expectations artificially. Of the first 34 games, only 9 games were against winning teams. The Brewers went 2-1 against the Dodgers, and split 3-3 with the Cubs. Considering that 9 of the 16 teams in the NL finished over .500, in was a bit of an aberration to play that many bad teams to start the season. Of course, when the year started, the fans didn't know which opponents were going to be good.

"World Series or Bust" starts in 2008. That doesn't mean that anything less is automatically a disappointment, so much as it is a recognition that the proverbial "window of opportunity" for the Milwaukee Brewers just opened up.

JR: I'm disappointed if only because the team could not have asked more offensively from Fielder and Braun (I mean, can we really expect THAT every year moving forward?) and still fell short in a division that was ripe for the taking. Then again, if the Brewers are in any other division in baseball, this season does not come down to the wire and the winning season becomes the focal point much earlier in September. I feel like this is a team that can push 90 wins in 2008, but there's no doubt in my mind that Capuano, Hall and infield defense will need to be better than they were this time around for that to happen.

CARL: I was thrilled like most fans were with the fast start. Although they cooled off, you still had to feel good later as the lead in the division became 8-1/2 games. Then came August, and the frustration level became almost suicidal as my brother in-law's team, the Cubs, closed in eventually took over the lead. As we closed in on the faltering Cubs, the Padres put an end to it, but then we helped do the same, helping the Rockies get in over the Padres. So I'm proud to root for Colorado in the post season, as a consolation prize.

In 2008 if we finish ahead of the Cubs; the division should be ours. Last year at this time we wouldn't have picked the Cubs for 2007, so I guess that is what $300 million will do for you! Still, I feel confident in 2008, the Brew Crew will seal the division.

ROBERT: This is kind of a half full or half empty situation. They won more games than they had in 15 years and almost made the playoffs. They also squandered a big lead and had a disappointing second half. Baseball Prospectus had the Brewers projected at 85 wins before the season, so they either met expectations or were slightly disappointing.

2008 should be playoffs or bust.

GREG: Everyone feels mixed about 2007. On balance, a lot more things went right than wrong. The team played itself into serious contention, something that hadn't happened in years, and then lost a tough pennant race. On balance, that's what usually happens to a pretty good team. Pitching and defensive shortcomings, some individual disappointments, unfortunate, but hard to get worked up about.

However, all of the blown three, four, and five run leads are hard not to get worked up about. That doesn't happen. I still don't know exactly what to make of it. I put some blame on Yost, but that's an easy direction in which to get carried away. It's just hard to explain. But if the team's negatives had stayed within the normal range...if we hadn't coughed up so many big leads...we would have won the division.

For 2008, I expect a division title. I can't see, at this point, how anything less than that could be considered more than a disappointment.

The Cubs are a good team, but they have big holes. Nobody else (pending offseason changes) should worry us.

JASON: I'm very pleased with the 2007 season as a whole. It was admittedly easy to get caught up in the thoughts of playoffs based on the early season play. It was just as easy to be crushed later on. When you step back and look at the big picture, though, you can see this is probably right where they should be. This is a baby step, for sure, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.

I agree with everyone else as far as 2008 goes--even another baby step should be enough to get the Brewers to the playoffs in the weak NL Central.

AL: It's well noted I considered the 24-10 start a fluke, or a small sample, whichever you prefer. Odd things happen in 6 weeks that balance out in six months. Still, the consensus is one I'll hang my hat on as well...we continued to see growth from many young players, and the team won just about as many games as we expected them to. Nothing wrong with that.

So, what is your feelings on Ned Yost?

CARL: Nobody gets a team as prepared to open the season as Yost. He is also great for developing youth, getting kids to "play the game right". However, his strategy, or lack of it, during the 25 man roster months especially, drives me crazy. In September he does use his bench. The rest of the year, his biggest concern is to have players on the bench should the game go 28 innings! His handling of Jenkins in 2006, playing him every day, then benching him entirely, ruined my confidence in him!

This year tension boiled over in the dugout and Yost seems to have caused it. In August, as the team floundered, and tension grew thick; I couldn't help but think that Ned was adding to it instead of diffusing it. He did redeem himself somewhat though, when Braun stood at home plate, after drilling a HR. I hope his ability to reign in young players does not change.

GREG: Here's my bottom line on the Yost debate: I just don't see a compelling argument for keeping him around.

I think Yost's stoutest supporters and harshest critics both tend to overplay their hands. He does some important things well. His players seem to respect him; he doesn't wreck his starting pitchers; he has gotten better at getting young players to flourish. At the same time, he has some serious problems. His in-game strategic errors have been well documented, and they're serious, but I'm not ready to say they're decisive. More problematic is his pronounced tendency to wear down his
relievers early in the year, which sets up a lot of the strategic problems he encounters.

The overall record is mixed, but the thing is, I don't see evidence that he has gotten better at his job. He's been around for a while, and he is what he is. I haven't heard a serious argument that he elevated the team's play. This is an up-and-coming contending team. We can compete for good managerial candidates. Yost's years of steady but not improving performance, his somewhat mundane positives, and his pronounced negatives, for me, add up to less than a compelling case for retention. I'm not passionate about firing him, but I think firing him is the most obvious outcome of a dispassionate analysis.

That said, letting him start the season on a short leash does no good whatsoever. Again, we know what we have in him; indecision is indefensible. I think he should go, but I'd rather see the team commit to him for the season (insofar as any team every commits to any manager).

ROBERT: I don't know if we have adequate information to fully evaluate Yost. We don't see how he works with players and manages the clubhouse. You know, basic "leader of men" stuff. He seems to do pretty well as a talent evaluator and his roster usually makes sense.

Tactically, he leaves me scratching my head more often than I'd like. Whether it was "chasing the hot hand" and throwing out the platoon plan early in the season with Mench or favoring Gwynn over Gross to an unhealthy extent, batting Estrada 5th, or being tied so closely to the closer orthodoxy that he let games get away late without ever bringing in his best relief pitcher. Cordero ended up pitching less innings than Turnbow this year and I'd have loved to have reversed their innings pitched numbers. And there were a couple of games that I was honestly angry at Yost, Mench facing a wild Dempster in a high leverage game, for example. Of course, there are plenty of games when he managed the team well, but there were enough games that stood out, especially late in the season, that I'm not exactly confident in his ability to make the right choice in a key situation.

Yost deserves a lot of credit for taking over the team when it was a complete disaster and getting it to the verge of the playoffs. I'm not yet convinced that he's the right manager to get the team to take the next step.

BEN: I think he's in the upper half of current MLB managers. That's not exactly overwhelming praise, but also not condemnation. I think he has done a good job sticking to the long term plan, and not abusing Gallardo and Villanueva down the stretch, when they were both pitching extremely well.

It's easy to criticize the manager when one of his decisions doesn't work...but that doesn't mean it was a bad decision.


JR: He's such a grump. I can't decide if this has been a progression or if it's something that has always been there and just hard to find, but Yost can be a sour individual who has lied about injuries and seems offended when anyone challenges his perceptions. Obviously, he takes an excess of undue criticism, and reading Philadelphia fans' heated dislike for Charlie Manuel DURING the postseason affirms in my mind that every skipper gets similar treatment. People challenge his fierce loyalty to players, but I still think that's a necessary aspect of any organization. I worry about his track record in the second half of baseball seasons, perhaps indicative of bullpen mismanagement, but I range from ambivalent on his role to mostly feeling he's still the right guy for the job. I just wish he would cheer up.

JASON: I have a hard time being a fan of Yost. While I despise the machine-like approach to managing that LaRussa takes, I also don't like going to the other far extreme by just making decisions based on "the feel of the game". Worse, I don't like Ned bashing fans who express their differing, and many times logical, opinion.

If the Brewers do not make the playoffs in 2008, I think Ned's job will be in serious jeopardy. With one of the highest (if not THE highest) payrolls in team history and a ton of young and extremely talented players, the bar will be set very high for Ned. You can't really argue that he has taken a team from the dregs to a team on the brink of greatness. How much of that Ned is responsible for versus how much Doug, Gord, and Jack had to do with it is the million dollar question.

AL: I don't think Ned gets nearly enough credit for the way he has handled his young pitching staff, almost never letting any pitcher go more than 115 pitches, and never once having a game where someone like Yo or Carlos is left out there for 134 pitches, a situation that occurs a few times a year with most teams, as supporters of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior will tell you.

He also has done a brilliant job of supporting and developing his young position players, never putting them in a position to fail. He goes with the hot hand at times, but always returns to his main guys.

As far as his "strategery", I think Ben said it very well, good moves work, bad moves do not...however, he set up his players for success. I giggle at how the brilliant bullpen management of Bob Melvin suddenly faltered when, you know, his relief corps actually gave up a run.

Doug said it best during his end-of-the-season press conference, much of the trouble with the bullpen getting to the 8th inning was a result of the rotation failing to be effective in the 6th and 7th, which led to the middle relievers being used almost every night. That taxes your relievers, and also leads to your less effective guys being used more often with the game still close.

So then, your thoughts on Doug Melvin?

GREG: I still feel generally very positive about Melvin. He appears to recognize the different posture his team now is in, and he has shifted his approach accordingly. I didn't like the Carlos Lee deal when he made it, but that deal now stands as evidence that Melvin understands the transition from rebuilding to completing a contender. He identified a hole he needed to fill...closer...at the right moment, and he decisively used tradeable assets to fill that hole. I don't fault him for the Estrada trade; it turned out poorly, but it reflects a similar,
sound thought process: we have a gaping hole at catcher; let's figure out what expendable assets we can use to get the best catcher we can.

I hated the Linebrink trade, and there I think DM made a miscalculation about what he was getting that way too many of us could see from day one, but there was at least a solid case to make for the trade.

Obviously the stakes are higher now. I can't fault DM's efforts at bullpen construction last offseason, and I think the 'pen's problems were much more Yost's fault than Melvin's, but if next year's 'pen keeps this team out of the playoffs, DM will appropriately face much more harsh scrutiny. Fair or not, he needs to produce results.

CARL: Because of what Doug Melvin got for guys he had to move like Carlos Lee; Richie Sexson, I too have adapted Al's phrase "In Doug we trust".

{Editor's note: I do not believe this has yet been trademarked, but I don't think I was the first to say it.

This year my "faith in Doug" took a hit. It would have taken a lot of guts to fire Ned Yost while the team was still in first place, but sometime in August it was the move to make. Most managerial changes infuse immediate energy in the team. It wouldn't have taken much, as it turned out, to beat the Cubs out for the division title. Don Money as an interim, could have been another Harvey Kuehn success story. Also, the trade I totally agreed with, blew up in Doug's face. We were sure Scott Linebrink would nail down the division. It didn't happen; he wasn't as good as Joe Thatcher, just one of 3 young pitchers traded to San Diego. I guess anybody can make one bad trade, but my biggest concern is that Doug may never dismiss Ned, no matter the quagmire!

ROBERT: The fact that the Brewers are a young team with a good farm system and no real bad contracts speaks well for Melvin. I think the LaPorta pick is going to look awfully smart in a few years. Overall, I'm happy with Melvin.

That said, it wasn't Melvin's best year. There were two major trades and the Brewers arguably came up short on both of them.

2007 VORPs

Davis 28.6, Eveland -4.5

Vargas 8.6, Estrada 7.7 (not counting defense which probably hurts), Aquino 0.2

Thatcher 7.6

Linebrink 2.2

Net for Brewers -13 runs (probably more if you factor in Estrada's defense).

Bad trading may have cost the Brewers as many games as questionable tactical choices by Yost. Granted, the Brewers needed a catcher and bullpen help, but overall they didn't extract equal value from those trades, let alone get value that favored them. Couple that with a bullpen plan that didn't work out and I think it's fair to say that Melvin has had better years.

BEN: I don't think he gave Ned Yost a lot to work with in the Brewers bullpen. That said, in a trade environment with few relievers changing teams, he picked up one of the better available arms in Linebrink. I don't think that the Brewers stay in contention until the final week of the season without that pickup.

Is it fair to say that Arizona got the better of the Doug Davis trade?

JR: At the end of his tenure in Milwaukee, he certainly won't be remembered as a flawless general manager, but he's going to be remembered fondly. No moves made during the season or last offseason have made me feel any less strongly about his importance to the club. It might be hard to see Doug Davis serving as the No. 2 pitcher on an NLCS team, the way it was when Scott Podsednik led off for a World Series champion, but both of those trades were beneficial, even if the other team got something valuable as well.

JASON: Big fan of DM since Day 1. I actually liked the trade for Estrada. I remember reading that the Brewers acquired Linebrink and was extremely pleased. But when I saw who the Brewers gave up for him my jaw dropped. I believe Doug gave up way too much, but it remains to be seen what the Brewers can do with the supplemental pick should they not re-sign Linebrink. If he is re-signed, the Brewers probably have a solid if unspectacular closer.

The minor league system is stacked for the most part and the stream of young talent should continue for many years.

AL: I have been a huge Melvin supporter from the get go, and I have not changed my mind one iota. Doug always has depth, and has done a fine job of adding bench veterans now that the team is contending. He realizes much of the improvement in 2008 will come from how the young players grow, and keeps a steady, long-term view. He added Linebrink and tried to add Eric Gagne as well...even his Ray King find showed he was doing what he could. I do not dislike the Linebrink trade at all, either they'll sign Scott, or get a pair of draft picks for him. And while Davis pitched better than Vargas, the Brewers upgraded their C spot to about average.

So, put yourself in Doug's shoes (even if you have to wear a couple pairs of socks:)...what changes do you expect to see made this offseason? How will the rotation, bullpen, LF, and C look next April?

JR: If the team is willing to take a flier on Eric Munson, dropping Mike Jones off the 40-man, that tells me they're probably going to have Estrada as the starter behind the plate. The depth at that position is limited, and if Munson has enough value for the team to give up on (admittedly, a lost cause anyway) a sleeper pitching possibility, then Estrada is probably the best thing going.

Chris Capuano will be back in the rotation, and I think MJS beat writer Tom Haudricourt has done a good job in his Brewers blog outlining his remaining value. If Capuano has a Carlos Silva type rebound, he'll be plenty good as a starter. Sheets, Gallardo, Villaneuva and Suppan will likely have the other spots, with Bush and/or Vargas traded or relocated to closer. No surprises there. Left field? I honestly have no idea, and it's likely to be an outcome we haven't even considered. I don't think it will be Geoff Jenkins/Kevin Mench, Gabe Gross/Joe Dillon or a free agent signing.

BEN: It's almost easier to start by saying who won't be the starter in LF. I don't think that the players are currently on the Brewers' roster...so not Gwynn and not Gross. Of the available free agents, I think that Bobby Abreu is closest to the professional hitter that Doug Melvin said he'd be looking for, but back-to-back seasons under 20 HR is cause for concern. I do think that the Brewers will end up with a veteran presence in the outfield, but a trade is probably more realistic.

I think Johnny Estrada probably comes back next season. He wasn't exactly at his best this season, but I think that he was playing through injuries most of the time.

{Editor's note: Ben answered this before Sunday's JS article that detailed Estrada's aches and pains in 2007.}

Damian Miller would have to take a pay cut in order to stay around and even then, his offensive numbers left quite a bit to be desired. Mike Rivera is a possibility, but if the Brewers' brain trust thought he was the guy for the job, he'd have been given more of an opportunity in 2007.

I'd still love to pry Kelly Shoppach away from his current team (Cleveland) in a trade, but I say that every year.

The rotation will see some new faces from the start of 2007, namely Carlos Villanueva and Yovanni Gallardo. Sheets and Suppan are givens, so that leaves (injuries notwithstanding) one spot for Vargas, Bush, and Capuano. Of the three, only one of them has an 18-win season, so Capuano it is. I think Vargas will be dealt, and Dave Bush goes to the bullpen.

Speaking of which, the bullpen is due for a serious overhaul. I hope that the Brewers resign Linebrink and Cordero, but my guess is they'll be lucky to retain one. Turnbow simply isn't reliable enough to be a closer anymore; I'd like it if he wasn't the 8th inning set-up man anymore, but Doug Melvin hasn't shown a track record of bullpen depth. I think Matt Wise should be able to get out of his own head over the course of the off-season, but the prospect of arbitration may prove too costly.

CARL: Jenkins will not be back; I doubt if Linebrink will. They will try hard to sign Cordero but how much money will it take? They need to work on the bullpen the most. Both starters and set-up men failed equally in getting Cordero opportunities late in the season. Now that we have acquired Eric Munson, maybe that's a sign Estrada will also be moved. Gabe Gross could be better than Geoff as part of a platoon. Capuano is such a good athlete, we have to get him straightened out and back into the rotation.

ROBERT: I expect the 2008 team to look very similar to the 2007 team that was fielded on a regular basis in September. Maybe two starters will be traded, most likely Bush and Vargas, and the rotation will consist of some combination of Sheets, Gallardo, Suppan, Villanueva, Capuano, and Parra (most likely in that order). I'd also expect Gwynn Jr. and upper level players like Zach Jackson, Alcides Escobar, and Hernan Irribarren to be shopped heavily. And perhaps Turnbow in a change of scenery deal, although I think the Brewers would be better off holding on to him and just switching him to a less critical role with a reduced workload. I expect the team to be more active in the trade market than in free agency as it's doubtful that they want to give up a draft choice after so many players have graduated from the farm system.

Your guess is as good as mine for what they get in return, but I expect bullpen to be the primary target. I do expect one of Linebrink or Cordero to come back, probably Cordero even if it's more than I'd want to pay.

LF and C are areas that I think the Brewers would like to upgrade, but where they're not going to reach for guys that aren't obviously better than a Gross/Dillon platoon or Estrada. I think it's a lot likelier that they'll upgrade LF than C. I don't know what the Brewers will do at backup catcher, although I expect that Miller would have to take quite a pay cut if he wants to come back.

JASON: I don't see Melvin ponying up the money necessary to retain Cordero. I think the effort will be there, but CoCo will be heading somewhere else next season. Linebrink would be a downgrade at closer but I think he's the best bet right now. While he won't command Cordero money, he will be expensive and I think Melvin really likes the idea of having that additional pick or two. I'd put the chances of signing Cordero at 25% and Linebrink at 50%. Both? 1%.

I love Joe Dillon's approach to the game (insert requisite mention of small sample here). I think the temptation will be there, though, to upgrade a Dillon/Gross left field platoon through free agency or trade. I haven't studied just who might be available to fit the bill, though.

Gwynn is extremely good trade bait, in my opinion, based on name alone. Throw in talented but blocked position prospects like Robert mentioned and I think we'll see some teams interested in giving up bullpen help.

I'm not sure what to think of bringing in Munson. Maybe it just means the end of the line for Miller (which is sad for me--I played against him in high school so he's one of my favorites).

I would like to see a rotation of Sheets, Gallardo, Suppan, Villy, and Parra. Capuano would fill a long relief role or start if Parra struggles or has injury issues. If neither Linebrink nor Cordero are re-signed, I honestly have no idea who would be a good candidate to close. McClung has done it before, but was terrible. Bush is one of those guys who is very good but only if he can get out of the first inning he pitches--probably not the best guy to have closing out games. Vargas? Not likely, even if he isn't traded.

GREG: A Hall trade seems to be in the offing. However, I don't like trading young, cheap players who are coming off down seasons. There's no way Hall nets bullpen help that's reliable enough to justify the sacrifice. The only plausible, desirable scenario I can imagine for trading him is if someone offers a promising young C who's blocked.

I think the organization sees LaPorta as the opening day LF in 2009, so I don't see them making a big splash at that position. They like Gross better as a reserve, and I can understand anyone's lack of excitement about Grosskins. A splashy but unhelpful signing of an overpriced veteran seems likely here. Somebody like...well, like Geoff Jenkins.

The rotation, as mentioned above, is largely set. We'll definitely see a range of new bullpen arms, probably including at least one major trade acquisition and a bunch of stabs in the dark. Who those guys will be, I have no idea. Cordero is gone; Linebrink is probably gone but could return if no other closer candidate emerges. I can't say I'm confident in him in that role.

The organization will desperately try to upgrade at C. The thing is, Estrada was a defensible move in that direction, given the dearth of options, and he cratered. Finding a real C would be a trick worthy of Melvin's best deals. But for a C, or bullpen guys, what do we have to trade? Most of our minor leaguers haven't matured as prospects; Claudio Vargas will bring something but not a lot.

AL: I have to agree that I see Vargas being moved as well, and Mench is also likely to be traded. While those are not going to get you a high profile Frankie Cordero clone, I can see them adding quality bullpen depth. I don't think there's a chance Cappy doesn't begin the campaign in someone's rotation, as he'll be making $5M or so, and long relievers make closer to 10% of that. I think he's the 5th starter, with Bush in the bullpen, and Parra either in the 'pen or AAA.

I also hope either Linebrink or Cordero is brought back as the closer, though Frankie might well get a 3y/$45M contract, with Scott not making even half that, he seems a lot more likely.

I'd say it's almost certain Estrada returns as the C.

As for LF, I side with Greg that the braintrust sees Laporta as the LF of the very near future, so a stopgap LF is all that's needed, and I would have no problem with a Gross/Dillon platoon, especially if that saved enough money to add another solid reliever. If they struggled, it'd be easy to add a capable LF bat in June or July.

So, changing gears here...Braun and Fielder...how good are these 2 guys? Also, choose the player you feel is most likely to be mentioned in the same breath as them in 2-3 years?

CARL: Fielder & Braun are already superstars. Braun needs to cut down on his swing with 2 strikes and be more selective. He has good power and could be even better if he can stay in the strike zone. Of course he needs to work on his fielding but that should improve. He has a strong arm and good speed too. Prince just needs to keep his cool, while staying healthy and he's in the Hall of Fame.

Corey Hart is still improving but I think Rickie Weeks is the MAN to WATCH! He is so athletic, has improved a lot on defense, took a lot of walks, and late in the season hit with power. His speed and strong arm are always there but some of those HRs were tape measure also. His bat is quick, now if he can just stay on the ball.

ROBERT: Fielder is a legitimate MVP candidate and one of the young stars of baseball. And he should get better. He's hard working and driven. He probably won't get much better defensively, mainly due to his stature, but if he can settle in to being slightly below average you certainly can live with that. He's a star regardless.

Given his K:BB rate it wouldn't surprise me if there's a bit of regression in Braun's future. But he still should settle in to being one of the best hitting third basemen in baseball. The question is his defense. If he's going to cost the Brewers 20 runs defensively a season, they should just move him to LF. He certainly has the tools to improve, but given the window for the Brewers contending they probably can't be that tolerant of continued struggles. It probably wouldn't be that bad an idea to give Braun some reps in LF in Spring Training.

Weeks is the easy guy to mention, but I really like Corey Hart who really doesn't have any holes in his game. Hits for power, hits for average, runs well, throws well, and is at least average defensively. I'm not convinced that when you factor in defense he's not already better than Braun. Yovanni Gallardo probably also needs to be mentioned as a rising young star.

JASON: I think we are seeing the peak in Prince Fielder right now. It's not necessarily a bad thing--I think he can maintain this or a similar level for his remaining Brewer years so that it is more of a plateau than a peak. He will also probably perform very well for a year or two after he is gone (assuming he is not re-signed, of course), but I just can't see Prince's ability slowly decreasing. Whether it's injury or weight issues, Prince seems like the type that will hit a wall. For Prince's sake, I hope I'm wrong. He's a wonderful young man with MVP potential for years to come.

No idea why, but I also see Braun regressing a little next season as he either learns a new position or focuses more on defense. I also see him coming back stronger than ever in subsequent years. He could be a major contender to Prince for MVP races as well. The sky is the limit for Braun. Despite his fantastic play now, I think he still has the potential to put the complete package together.

Corey Hart is a fantastic player who unfortunately gets lost in the hype behind the other kids. He should be mentioned in the same breath NOW.

GREG: They're better than all but an elite handful of hitters their age in all of baseball history. They're the kind of players who give rise not to possibilities but to expectations of pennants. Maybe Braun could come back to Earth a little, but he could just as easily improve, especially if he jacks his walk rate.

Weeks is the guy who could join them at that level. In a season that most people seem to regard as a disappointment, Weeks walked (and, typically, got plunked) at a skyrocketing rate; rediscovered and really amped up his power stroke; and was one of the best baserunners in the league. The only thing he didn't do offensively was hit for average. I've argued that he's an elite leadoff man if he hits .270, and I'm confident he'll do that.

JR: Both are going to endure cold streaks, and we saw that in 2007. Their youth makes it very hard not to believe that we're not seeing an unfinished product, even if some small measure of sophomore slump is in Braun's future. I still haven't given up on the idea that Rickie Weeks can become a player of their magnitude, though I found that assertion challenged this year. I think the coaching staff will agree.

BEN: Considering Prince is an MVP candidate, I think we all know his potential. Braun has All-Star potential, but I don't think he gets MVP consideration unless he can become a complete player at 3B.

I don't know if he's in that league, but Corey Hart is the Brewers' player who comes closest to that level of production in a few years. He does a little bit of everything.

AL: Well, I'm shocked there was not a single mention of Hardy or Carlos V, and only an afterthought of Yo. I have been on the Weeks' bandwagon since I saw his plate discipline when he was in the Midwest League playoffs in Appleton, and I remain a proud member. Kudos to Greg for mentioning how solid his offensive contributions were in what many felt was a "down" season. Hart broke out in '07, showing he is a true 5 tool talent who, as Ben stated, would be hyped beyond belief in many organizations. Hardy was a bit inconsistent, but was steady at SS and overall far above average for a middle infielder.

I'll tell you what though, the long-term success is probably more dependent on Carlos and Yo stepping up to replace Ben Sheets as the #1 SP than any of the rest.

And finally, your out of the box idea that the braintrust will NOT do, but if you were in charge, you would try. Could be a player, a ticket promotion, an idea for the stadium, whatever.

CARL: How about air conditioning Miller Park? It's such a beautiful place, but when it rains in hot weather it can be very sultry. Comfort is everything in entertainment so what would it cost?

AL: I'm surprised Mark hasn't already done this, as he is all about improving the fan experience. For those of you who are unaware, Miller Park is set up for AC, but it would have to be installed.

ROBERT: Out of the box? Hmm, how about roaming vendors in the parking lots before games selling things like ice, beer, soda, charcoal, sausages, condiments, etc. Tailgate fixings, basically, especially for those that forgot a thing or two. That seems like something that's worth a trial for a weekend or two during the summer.

GREG: These are smart people, and we're no longer in the rebuilding zone where wild stabs in the dark make much strategic sense.

Maybe I'd burn this year's first-round pick (or one of them, if we end up with comps) on a guy who could immediately step into the MLB bullpen. I'd sure think hard about whether Dave Bush can close, although I don't think that's a novel idea anymore.

JASON: I'd like to see established bloggers get press credentials, at least on a limited basis at first. Even the best beat writers can fall into a pattern and may not ask questions that the fans want to know. I have no idea what "established" would mean, but anything that puts the team closer to the fans is okay in my book.

Also, good call on the A/C, Carl. I'm sure the people sitting next to me would agree.

JR: It's not out of the box, but I'm really against the team re-signing Francisco Cordero. I understand there is comfort in having a solid, proven arm at the back of the bullpen, but the team has had success manufacturing closers before (Turnbow, Kolb), and there's no reason to think it can't be done again (Bush? Linebrink? Vargas?), for much cheaper than what Cordero will command. Furthermore, there is some debate on whether or not Cordero is a top five closer in baseball, and in my mind, he'd have to be to spend a ton of money on him.

I know the team has tried several creative measures in selling tickets, especially with season ticket packages, but I think it would be workable to extend marquee price tickets to bobblehead days and the final day of the season.

BEN: Kenny Lofton. It's hard to imagine a 41-year old leadoff hitter, but a .350-.360 OBP at the top of the order would keep the tables set for Fielder and Braun.

AL: Well, AC and Lofton were both on my mind when I thought up this question, so I think those are sound. Robert's idea is mind-boggling in its simple, yet highly functional design. I think you guys outdid yourself.

I will throw out a pair of others...I think you'll hear Ben Sheets' name brought up in trade rumors, though it may just be other teams asking about his availability.

And with the popularity of the Angels/Indians series, I'd try some sort of "all seats the same price" promotion...I believe the cheapest ticket is $8 this year (excluding the Uecker seats, of course), so I guess I'd probably fill up Miller Park for 3 games in mid-April with that.


Thanks for joining us, the roundtable should return in late March, 2008. A big thank you to the participants.


10/22/2007 12:01:00 AM


Sunday, October 21, 2007

(10/21/2007 09:42:00 PM) - Al

Great job tonight by Westbrook!--Fox announcing team

The game sure is easy when you can second and third guess. Both Buck and McCarver said they would have taken him out in the 2nd or 3rd inning. It always amazes me how panicky everyone gets in a Game 7. A blopper and a ground ball through the hole, hey, a change is needed...not a better pitcher mind you, just a different one.


10/21/2007 09:42:00 PM



(10/21/2007 09:12:00 PM) - Al

A recap of all that is good with baseball can be found at Maury Brown's site.

As you would expect, it's a long read.


10/21/2007 09:12:00 PM



(10/21/2007 11:00:00 AM) - Al

Misc. thoughts...

...Sorry to hear of Max McGee's passing. I always enjoyed both he and Jim Irwin when I would drive back to Eau Claire after visiting home for the weekend when I was in college. Max was a perfect example of a natural announcer, always unaware of injuries and other happenings, but very entertaining and fun to listen to.

...My son and I had a "camp-in" Friday night, which is not nearly as painful for me as it used to be, as now I just sleep on the air bed that guests use when they visit. We made smores last time, but this time, he told me he wanted cinnamon graham crackers, with marshmallows on the side, and chocolate on the side. From what I can tell, he was unhappy with the mess they made all gooey and melted together, and admittedly, it was much cleaner this way.

We watched Man vs. Wild together, and then something else, before going to bed and chatting for a while, which is always by far my favorite part of the camp-in. He told me all about school, including the tidbit that {name withheld} is the favorite girl in his class. When I asked why, he replied, "She never talks, she's very quiet."

Sounds like a dreamgirl to me.

We always have to keep our dog off the air bed, because his toenails could damage it. Back when we got Ronnie, 7.5 years ago now, my wife said she did not want to be on the bed, so we trained him not to jump on them, by nudging him off if he jumped up, and sure enough, soon, he stopped. One night I was on the phone for half-an-hour or so and told him he could lay next to me, and he's been a bed dog ever since, though he sleeps in "his bed", which resembles our old papazan chair. So, the first time he jumped onto the air bed, I told him no and pointed down, and he jumped off right away. Andrew looked at me and said, "You know, he'd never even think of jumping up there if you wouldn't have let him that one time. Why did you do that?"

He's only 5 mind you, so I believe that entire quote can be attributed to his mom and his good memory.

...Last January, Aaron Gleeman echoed my thoughts that the Gophers replacing Glen Mason, while somewhat understandable, seemed to forget what a black hole the program had been before his arrival, and that it was somewhat ironic the fan base had now grown tired of consistently winning and going to a bowl game, kind of a victim of the very success Mason had created.

The defeat also made official what had become obvious: The Gophers (1-7) can't qualify for a bowl game. They will be home for the holidays for the first time since 2001.--Star Tribune

Right now, I bet 7 or 8 wins and a late December bowl game looks pretty appealing to Gopher nation.

{Welcome to those of you visiting for the first time via Aaron's Friday link-o-rama. While you are here, please go to the home page and check out our current posts.}

...Flipping channels this AM (after stumbling onto the last 15 minutes of the Holy Grail pairing on Trading Spaces of Amy Wynn and Genevieve), I found the Badgers' women volleyball match, on ESPN2. Apparently, the team is ranked #8 in the country, and they are top 3 in attendance as well. Who knew?


10/21/2007 11:00:00 AM



(10/21/2007 10:44:00 AM) - Al

For those of you patiently waiting, the Ramblings' postseason roundtable should be up tomorrow morning. By far the most enjoyable has been the responses to a never before asked question, "an out of the box" thought that you doubt the Brewers will try, but you feel they should...without exception, every single participant put forth a very well thought out idea, including two I've had.


10/21/2007 10:44:00 AM



(10/21/2007 10:14:00 AM) - Al

Estrada sounds like he played through an awful lot of pain in '07, as his elbow and hammy limited him much of the season.

Some do not like the fact the Brewers do not disclose injuries, which confuses many folks who don't really pay attention (many complaints were spoken about Hart being "benched" during May, when in reality, he was used sparingly to give his wrist time to heal), but in reality, they do whatever they can to get a slight advantage. As hinted in the article, some teams did not even notice Estrada's difficulty, or they would allowed more bases with little chance to record an out.

We'll talk about it more on the roundtable, but I sure don't see many options out there that are better than Estrada for '08. I think many folks forget that players are not machines, and they are often playing at far less than 100%.


10/21/2007 10:14:00 AM


Saturday, October 20, 2007

(10/20/2007 08:23:00 AM) - Al

A long but very interesting article about long commutes, hat tip to Aaron Gleeman, who has many others in his weekly linkfest.


10/20/2007 08:23:00 AM


Friday, October 19, 2007

(10/19/2007 11:36:00 PM) - Al

Those folks who continue to criticize Bud Selig...and they are very quiet these days, need to read this article and simply admit they were incorrect.

The game has never been in better shape, and is in the midst of a decade-long renaissance.


10/19/2007 11:36:00 PM



(10/19/2007 01:56:00 PM) - Al

I'm all for all for alternative energy...as long as it isn't going to affect my view.

My disgust level is now off-the-charts.


10/19/2007 01:56:00 PM


Thursday, October 18, 2007

(10/18/2007 12:07:00 PM) - Al

We've already heard a lot of Bill Hall to the White Sox rumors, and here's one from a suburban Chicago paper as well.

I have nothing against Garland, but the fact he only has a single year left on his deal, compared to 3 for Hall, makes a swap like that unlikely.


10/18/2007 12:07:00 PM



(10/18/2007 09:26:00 AM) - Al

A quick update on what's to come at Ramblings:

I will be reviewing my preseason projections soon.

We'll be looking at the 2007 version of RUTT and seeing how it did.

And, next Monday, or maybe even earlier, the postseason roundtable should be up. This is always a very popular feature of Ramblings, as it minimizes my contributions.


10/18/2007 09:26:00 AM



(10/18/2007 09:20:00 AM) - Al

Friend of Ramblings Jeff Sackmann doesn't think the Crew should resign Geoff Jenkins, and agrees with myself that Gabe Gross can probably put up similar numbers for about 10% of the cost, and the money used to improve the club elsewhere.

Jeff does put a positive spin on Geoff's defense, which is often overlooked. He uses zone rating as well, like any intelligent baseball scribe today.


10/18/2007 09:20:00 AM



(10/18/2007 09:08:00 AM) - Al

Anyone thinking Chris Capuano should be non-tendered because of his off-season need not look any further than Carlos Silva to see how wrong they are. Silva had an off-year in '06, compiling a near 6 ERA, and came back in '07 with a 4.19, in the AL no less. He'll be cashing in with a $10-12M per season deal as one of the most attractive free agents on the market.

It's funny, people act as if a pitcher with a 4.20 carer ERA should have a line that looks like this:

4.25
4.10
4.35
4.10

That's just not realistic. We have no idea if Silva or Capuano may have been less than 100% in their down seasons, nor does everything always balance out in 30 starts.

If you do take a look at Silva's career stats, take a gander at Capuano's as well...Chris' are much better, especially in the secondary numbers.


10/18/2007 09:08:00 AM



(10/18/2007 12:42:00 AM) - Al

I find it ironic that it took a judge to find the ridiculous, antiquated minimum gasoline mark-up law unconstitutional, rather than the legislature doing whatever it can to keep prices for their constituents as low as they can.

I truly cannot imagine anyone but an extreme socialist defending artificially high prices. The free market is an amazing example of efficiency. Those who wish to pretend it isn't would seemingly still wonder what happened to the USSR economy.


10/18/2007 12:42:00 AM



(10/18/2007 12:18:00 AM) - Al

Don Walker tries to make the fact the Brewers took in about $15M more is balanced out by the fact they will get $3M less in revenue sharing money.

He fails.

I think Don has been sipping the negative kool-aid.


10/18/2007 12:18:00 AM


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

(10/17/2007 06:56:00 PM) - Al

Tom H with a simple man's critique of the Rockies and Brewers...oof.

Let's go through this "analysis" line by line.

Just got back from covering the NLCS, and after watching the impressive Colorado Rockies I've come to this conclusion: the Brewers have a lot of work to do to rank among the elite teams in the league.

First of all, in no way is COL an "elite" club, they won 89 games during the regular season, a half-dozen more than the Crew...not a tiny number, but it's really one a month.

The Rockies are far superior to the Brewers in defense and pitching, especially in the bullpen. The Rockies, who made only 68 errors while setting a major league record for fielding, continually robbed Arizona of hits with defensive gems. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, in particular, is a sensational defensive player and I understand why many think he will top the Brewers' Ryan Braun for rookie of the year.

The Brewers committed 109 errors, tying for 12th in the NL. Three of their infielders -- first baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Rickie Weeks and Braun at third -- are below-average fielders and you have to wonder how good the Brewers can be defensively as a team with that alignment.


I will not argue with the assertion that the Rockies are probably quite a bit better than the Crew defensively. However, using errors as the criteria to measure team defense is simplistic at best, and just plain silly by an informed baseball writer. The Crew did make 41 more errors, almost exactly one more every four games, and that most certainly gave their opponents more baserunners and more bases than the Rockies did. Fielder, Weeks, and Braun are also above average offensive players, and I certainly would not exchange them for their Rockies' position counterparts.

With the exception of Brian Fuentes' eighth-inning problems in Game 4, Colorado's bullpen completely stymied the Diamondbacks. Unlike the Brewers, Colorado doesn't blow leads because it has several reliable relief pitchers to turn to.

Thank goodness the Rockies did not lose four consecutive games on walk-off hits, or Tom would look very foolish...oh, that's right, they did. The Rockies actually blew more saves than the Crew, 29 vs. 20, and while I'm the first to admit blown saves is a bit of a flawed stat, it does make Tom's statement seem unresearched, which I'm sure it was. COL's bullpen ERA was 3.85, while the Brewers' was 4.15, so over 162 games, that is a gap of about 16 runs, which is 1.5 wins using the Rule of 10 (this is assuming the bullpen pitches about 3 innings a game). So, Tom's point seems to be true, though he stated it oddly.

Young starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales are impressive but the Brewers have a pair of nice young starters, also, in Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva.

Obviously, the JS does not use an editor on the blog, as this was a wasted paragraph.

Offensively, the Rockies are much better at working the count and getting on base than the Brewers. Colorado drew 622 walks and had an on-base percentage of .354. Milwaukee drew only 501 walks with an on-base percentage of .329.

Tom uses OBP, so kudos to him, as he often wastes his time using BA. However, using OBP and walks as the sole measure of an offense is like using a nice smile as the only factor to determine if a girl is pretty...it's a good place to start, but hardly the only one. I mean, wouldn't runs scored be a fine measure of offensive production?

Now, COL scored 59 more runs than the Crew, granted they had one more game as well, but 5.28-4.94 is still a sizable advantage. However, when you figure in the fact they play in Coors Field, which has a park factor of 107 (meaning it is 7% above average), while the Crew plays in Miller Park (park factor of 100, 3 years running), meaning the same team should score 3.5% more if they played 81 times in Coors. COL scored 6.9% more runs than the Crew, and while the other 81 were not played in identical conditions, I think it's safe to figure the difference is minimal. So, Tom is likely correct, the Rockies probably had a slightly better offense, but could have showed why that is.

It is funny, however, to see that the Rockies grounded into 28 more double plays, and K'd more than the Crew as well...so much for that little ball crap.

So, the Brewers need to improve in several areas to match the likes of the Rockies. On defense and in the bullpen, Colorado is far superior. And their hitters do a much better job of getting on base and not relying so much on home runs.

It was impossible not to notice those differences.


What's funny here is, Tom magically comes to these conclusions while watching a hot Rockies' team. However, there is more than one way to win games. The Red Sox and Yankees both simply outscored many opponents during the course of the year, as did the Phillies. As I often say, why it matters how you score your runs seems like incredibly poor science to myself.

His basic premise, to be blunt, is both poorly written, but accurate. It's not at all unlikely the Crew might improve 60 runs offensively next year, if their youth continues to progress at the rate you'd expect from many sub 27 year-olds. Would that leave the Rockies still better at catching the ball? Without a doubt. The bullpen difference is pretty minimal, as relievers' totals are, by definition, small samples, 60-75 innings. A bad outing or two, regardless of importance, can affect an ERA a great deal. As noted above, COL had a bad bullpen in several games, but overall was better.


10/17/2007 06:56:00 PM


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

(10/16/2007 09:13:00 PM) - Al

This Arizona article mentions that Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin might be available this offseason, and maybe even Chad Tracy, though he had knee surgery. In theory, any might fit into the Crew's plans.

Tell you what, if you can find me a way to add Tracy at 3B, I'll even let Braun move to LF without mentioning how I hate moving him to the right on the defensive spectrum at age 23. Heck, Tracy hits almost as good as Braun, though I cannot imagine a package getting him without including either Yo or Villy's name into the mix.


10/16/2007 09:13:00 PM



(10/16/2007 07:04:00 PM) - Al

This may be the most lukewarm reception I've ever seen from a GM after picking up a player on waivers. Doug pretty much said, "Catching is so weak, Munson isn't that bad."


10/16/2007 07:04:00 PM


Monday, October 15, 2007

(10/15/2007 08:16:00 PM) - Al

MSNBC with a very positive article regarding Iraq. I think it's ironic they mention that suicide bombings are way down...I would imagine the recruiting aspect is getting mighty difficult.

I have no idea what this means in the long-term, but it sure is nice seeing fewer casualties.


10/15/2007 08:16:00 PM



(10/15/2007 01:54:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers claimed Eric Munson off waivers from the Astros and DFA Mike Jones.

Munson is a former first round pick who seems like a generic enough backup catcher type, but certainly not much more than that. I would say a similar player would be available as a minor league free agent soon, though the Crew may try and slip him through waivers again and sign him to a minor league deal.

Mike Jones never stayed healthy long enough to show what he could do. I would think he has a pretty good chance of being claimed, on his hard throwing reputation alone.


10/15/2007 01:54:00 PM


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

The Ramblings' manifesto can be found here.



Outdoor Fire Pits USA Outdoor Fire Pits USA was developed out of the years of enjoyment we experienced sitting by the fire.

Like many of you, we have experienced the peace and tranquility of a campfire, the stories and jokes shared with friends and family, as well as treats like s'mores, hot dogs, and other fire roasted cravings that bring us joy.

We have made it a point to find the best outdoor fire pit selection and offer it at the best price possible so we all can continue to experience the good times and create lasting memories.

For 5% off your order, enter RAMBLINGS as the coupon code when you check out!

Cable TV providers

Watch Brewers games all across the country on your computer or iPad with Clearwire

Batting Cages


Red Sox tickets

Fenway Park tickets


blog advertising is good for you


E-MAIL Al
If you would like to advertise on Ramblings, pen a guest article, or have a media request, please e-mail this to Al.

E-MAIL Robert

2012-13 offseason links, 40 man, 2013 payroll, FA SP's

BASEBALL SITES

Searching for Misfit Toys
Looking for undervalued, usually inexpensive MLB players.

MLB Trade Rumors

Brew Beat

Aaron Gleeman

MLB Trade Rumors

2012 stats by position


OTHER SITES

Any Soldier
Website that gives info on how to send comfort to our military overseas

Tribute to Robert Warns II
Never forget the sacrifice of our military, and why we enjoy the freedoms we have.

June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014