Al's Ramblings



Thursday, January 31, 2008

(1/31/2008 08:47:00 PM) - Al

Trevon Hughes appears to be on another level much of the time, but like many of the younger Brewers, he needs to "slow it down" just a bit. I think Hughes might well decide to leave after next season...yes, I think he's that good. I distinctly recall Devin Harris being pretty good in his sophomore season, and then just being almost superhuman when he was a junior.

I see Hughes improving in the same manner.


1/31/2008 08:47:00 PM



(1/31/2008 03:29:00 PM) - Al

Group sales for the Brewers begin this Saturday at 9AM.

Hopefully, they will have a very active day and weeks before tiks are released to the general public.


1/31/2008 03:29:00 PM



(1/31/2008 12:49:00 PM) - Al

According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, a baseball man who had spoken with Mets GM Omar Minaya said the team could end up with both Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse.

Santana's addition alone figures to secure tham a spot as the highest payroll ever for an NL team. Adding Lohse at another $7 million-$9 million per year would just be a drop in the bucket, we suppose. Lohse isn't any better than an of the Mets' starters, assuming the Santana acquisition gets done. However, he can take on a lot of innings, something that can't be said about any of the Mets' non-Santana starters.--Rotoworld


I can't believe a team like the Cardinals or Astros don't have more use for Lohse than the Mets, especially at the numbers mentioned...affordable for all but a handful of clubs.

A healthy Kyle Lohse, as strange as it sounds, is probably a 3 win improvement over a 5th starter, who is usually the 6th or 7th best option, after you factor in injuries and such.


1/31/2008 12:49:00 PM



(1/31/2008 12:45:00 PM) - Al

Phillies signed third baseman Pedro Feliz, who had been with the Giants, to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with an option for 2010.

Between the option and incentives, the deal could be worth as much as $15 million, which is amazing given that Feliz had to settle for a one-year contract last offseason. The Phillies apparently like his tremendous glove and 25-homer pop enough to live with horrendous on-base percentages.--Rotoworld


Those are some huge incentives, and more money than I would have guaranteed as well.

If you factor in his D, Feliz is likely league average or just below, but his age prevents him from projecting nicely also. Maybe the Philly park will give him a bit of a boost, however.


1/31/2008 12:45:00 PM



(1/31/2008 12:38:00 PM) - Al

Interesting column from a gent imbedded with US troops in Iraq.

Read the whole thing, and make your own judgments. I must admit, the mainstream press has all but forgotten about Iraq, and it's nice to read how things are going.


1/31/2008 12:38:00 PM



(1/31/2008 12:23:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Two thoughts.

One, didn't your description on the GOP VP fit Mike Huckabee like a glove?

Two, can you start focusing on the Bucks more? My goodness, the ignorance I see on the message boards every day is getting hard to take. You were mentioning the home/road differential a good month before the TV announcers started, and your factual looks at things sure would be appreciated compared to the "let's fire everyone and blow this team up" crap.

Timothy


Huckabee was not on my mind when I described what McCain should be looking for, but he does fit much of the criteria.

As for the Bucks, they have had the short end of the stick from the schedule makers, as they played more games in January than anyone, and it showed last night. I believe they have a 7 game homestand, almost unheard of in the NBA, and that's where the test will be. If they go 3-4, the season is all but over, and many ignorant things that are being said will not be far from the truth. But, until their home and away games even out, it's all just speculation.


1/31/2008 12:23:00 PM



(1/31/2008 12:07:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers might need to look into another option as far as getting former Milwaukee standouts into the Walk of Fame.

Having no one elected since 2005 kind of makes the whole thing a non-event.


1/31/2008 12:07:00 PM


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

(1/30/2008 08:18:00 PM) - Al

Here's something that I realized in the last couple days and weeks. It's a little different take, I think, than what we're hearing in most of the campaign coverage.

Though I'm just 31, I'm a lifelong Democrat, like my family members before me, but given a choice between McCain and Hillary, I'd be awfully tempted to vote McCain. Given what we know now, and barring any disastrous/scary revelations that might come out during the summer and fall, my guess is my temptation to go with McCain would probably result in a vote for McCain. I just don't like Hillary or what I believe this country would be like with her as president. She's simply far too divisive, and the bitterness that would fill the political climate would cause us to pay a devastating price.

Also, McCain is a guy who I could not be displeased with if he was elected, no matter who the Democratic nominee is. I look at him as someone who – again, barring any surprises – might help people become reacquainted with the terms compromise and middle ground. I'm not sure that's existed to any real extent during my lifetime. It seems like something that might be good for us.

However, I'd vote for anyone besides Mitt Romney. I'd figure out a way to commit vote fraud or something and vote twice for even a Kucinich/Paul ticket. Romney is the candidate that would have me, and I'm guessing several other people "meh" about Hillary to decide to go ahead and vote for anyway.

Before this goes from a quick thought to plodding, I'll just add I'm confused by the GOP's committed base that hates McCain. Wouldn't it be better to have a guy out there who attracts independents and uncommitteds when it looks like the other side could nominate a divisive candidate (Hillary) or also someone who attracts the middle ground (Obama)? Hey, the economy will figure itself out, despite this rough patch, but national security is still a huge concern and Mr. Mormon Hedge Fund is definitely not the expert on that.

Ok, enough. I also can't believe the UW doesn't have baseball, but that's something else entirely.

Jim


I will say this, I promise you Jim is not anywhere near the only one who dislikes Hillary enough to either vote for McCain, or just not bother voting at all if the choice were between two candidates he did not care for.

I do think it would have been interesting to have seen a W vs. Hillary 2004 election, because both had very high negatives. Of course, while many insist W would have little chance if he were up for reelection this year; I believe Ms. Clinton has a very similar negative rating.

And as to not bother with another post, the look on Romney and McCain's faces as Ron Paul goes on and on, babbling about how far from the real world he is, is absolutely priceless. I'm not exactly sure what ridiculous stats were used to let Paul take part in these debates, but he's not just off the beaten path, he's not even on planet Earth.

It's tough not to hearken back to Ross Perot's run, which went fine when he was able to use phrases like "we gotta put the horse back in the barn!", but when people looked deeper, they saw a goofy little fella that reminded them of their Uncle Harry...the crazy ol' member of the family no one ever talked about.

I just looked up Perot's Wikipedia page, and I found this description.

...he adopted specific positions that had been abandoned by both parties — he was nationalistic and isolationist; he was conservative in social policy. He opposed free trade.

That's Ron Paul in a nutshell, pardon the "nut" reference. That kind of simplistic view appeals to a tiny group of people, but it ain't going to get you elected.


1/30/2008 08:18:00 PM



(1/30/2008 07:41:00 PM) - Al

Sign up for CentSports here, and the site will give you one dime (that's 10 US cents for the half-dozen foreign Ramblings' readers) to use to bet on whatever games you would like.

The best part is this...if (who are we kidding, when) you go broke...they will reload your account with another 10 cents. All you need to sign up is an e-mail account and to go to the site.


1/30/2008 07:41:00 PM



(1/30/2008 07:10:00 PM) - Al

I have to agree with TBOB, that the umpires union worded their press release so strangely, you almost have to believe an umpire is a member of the KKK.

If they are not, the union needs to hire someone with an 8th grade education and get a clue.


1/30/2008 07:10:00 PM



(1/30/2008 04:36:00 PM) - Al

While holding the line on ticket prices seems like a good thing, doesn't anyone else have to question keeping extremely popular tickets to the money making sports (football, hockey, and men's basketball) at a price lower than demand would allow?

For me, the mere fact that the university is still without a baseball team is mind-numbingly sad, and if raising the tickets by $2 per event could help defray the expense of adding baseball and a woman's sport (Title 9), I would not hesitate to do so.


1/30/2008 04:36:00 PM



(1/30/2008 04:22:00 PM) - Al

Hey Al,

After reading "Packers' blog" writer Tom Silverstein's article on Randy Moss and why he didn't come to play in GB, I pulled a bonehead move and actually decided to read a fair portion of the comments left by "informed fans". I was so astonished by the backlash at Ted Thompson for not signing him and how that one signing could have "put the Packers in the Super Bowl" or how "this non-move could actually end up costing Favre the title of "Best Ever", and so on and so on.

After the amazing (and I don't use that word loosely) season, one field goal or so from the Super Bowl...are these people for real?!?

I get the feeling that a lot of those folks are Brewers' "fans" as well. Unreal.

James


First of all, I guarantee you a lot of these same complainers were against bringing in the "has been, trouble making, cancer in the locker room" Randy Moss. Second guessing is a popular pastime in all sports, and needless to say, people change their minds well after the results all the time. Unless they made public their disdain of not getting Moss at the time, their comments made well after the fact are meaningless.

Secondly, while I am on record as saying the Packers overachieved by 3-4 wins due to good fortune, good health, and a weak schedule in 2007; their season was a very good one, and it should be celebrated, not belittled by bemoaning the lack of a single move out of the dozens (hundreds?) of those that were made or discussed.


1/30/2008 04:22:00 PM



(1/30/2008 03:44:00 PM) - Al

Those who were hoping to see an election year like we read about in history books, a brokered convention, a compromise candidate...look to be getting more depressed by the moment, as of this second, I think the clear expectation is for a McCain/Clinton runoff in November.

I just looked at the polls available over at RCP and it makes it even more obvious, as all Super Tuesday high population states seem to favor the favorites.

I do think it will be be interesting to see who the running mate choices end up being, as I cannot picture the runner-ups being partnered, as to be honest, they don't seem to like each other all that much.

I do think, however, the VP's could play a large part in finding a winner. Clinton is obviously very disliked by many people. She is almost the anti-McCain, because many folks are not enamored with his politics, but still find him to be a respectable, well-spoken, former POW hero. Because of this, she needs a very likable partner, to smile, crack a few jokes, and maybe convert a few independents.

He isn't extremely well-known, but to me, the list should begin and end with a single name...Evan Bayh. It certainly cannot hurt he has endorsed her and hails from the Midwest, where he could swing a few states, in theory.

Meanwhile, McCain is liked by many, but is old and also not one that will inspire a lot of conservatives to head out to the polls. A youngish, solidly right-of-center (just maybe from the South) VP might be just what the doctor ordered. I honestly do not have a name on the tip of my tongue, but I'm sure the McCain campaign does.

If forced to make a guess today, the name Haley Barbour would likely be at the top of my list, as he has been the RNC chairman as well as a respected governor whose state made it through Katrina under his leadership, and with a fraction of the complaining heard in Louisiana.


1/30/2008 03:44:00 PM



(1/30/2008 02:58:00 PM) - Al

Jeff Cirillo sounds like he's headed to retirement after being told face-to-face by Doug the team has no roster spot available for him.

As I have said before, I cannot think of a single thing Jeff does better than Joe Dillon at this point, and Joe can play the OF as well.


1/30/2008 02:58:00 PM



(1/30/2008 09:59:00 AM) - Al

These might be the highest rated new ads ever.


1/30/2008 09:59:00 AM


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

(1/29/2008 08:42:00 PM) - Al

Yes Milwaukee, you may have to continue paying a penny's worth of sales tax for every $10 you spend, perhaps to 2015 instead of 2014.

Yawn.


1/29/2008 08:42:00 PM



(1/29/2008 08:02:00 PM) - Al

I suppose I should at least mention Estrada signing with the Nationals, though there isn't much to say.

I do not know how much of a spat Johnny had with Maddux over the course of the '07 season, but I have to agree with Jeff that I'd sure rather have Estrada for $750K more than Munson will make...if you can never mind that Estrada would have little interest in only getting 40 games to show what he can do.

Estrada was unfortunate enough to both have an off year, probably much of it caused by being banged up, and not having many contending teams in need of a catcher and willing to spend much to upgrade that spot a bit. That said, no one knows how the new DC park will play, but it's safe to say if Estrada can put together numbers near his career marks, he'll sign a very nice deal for 2009 and beyond. It also might be the best thing for both he and LoDuca to split playing time as they get older.


1/29/2008 08:02:00 PM



(1/29/2008 07:41:00 PM) - Al

I'm sorry, but ever since the 2000 Florida debacle, the networks are so painfully slow to call races, it irritates me to no end. I checked with 20% of the vote in, McCain was ahead by 10-11K votes, 1-2%. Now, with 39% of the vote in, McCain is ahead by 26K votes, and they're still calling it "too close to call".

Well, I made the call.:) I'm sure all over the US, mathematicians, and not just amateur ones like me, are saying the same thing.

I bet some of Jason's old actuary friends are shaking their heads as well.

One more quick political thought...does anyone else sense the letdown from the networks with Obama getting blown out? Saturday night, you would have thought Obama had clinched the nomination, the anchors were so excited. Tonight, Clinton easily wins, and it's ho-hum, what a boring election.


1/29/2008 07:41:00 PM



(1/29/2008 07:14:00 PM) - Al

About the only question left is if Rudy throws his support to McCain or not, as it doesn't look like he will still be in the race in 24 hours.

Rudy's "win Florida or else" strategy did not work, but if McCain was not the front runner, he might well be looking like a genius right now. There seems little doubt Rudy supporters also like McCain, and vice versa.

UPDATE: Bill Bennett says the only question is whether or not Rudy endorses McCain now, waits a few days, or waits until McCain is the nominee (possibly waiting to see if Romney is the GOP guy, maybe he would like a post in the cabinet, if Mitt is elected).

UPDATE 2: Might be very, very soon.


1/29/2008 07:14:00 PM



(1/29/2008 07:06:00 PM) - Al

I got done booking my week and came home this afternoon to snowblow the driveway and sidewalk. Our warm weather and rain this morning led to a coat of ice under the freshly fallen snow led to me falling five times while out for about a dozen minutes. We're not talking slips to my knee either, we're talking feet out from under you, landing on your back with your feet still up in the air.


1/29/2008 07:06:00 PM



(1/29/2008 06:38:00 PM) - Al

The players the Twins will receive if the Mets can extend Johan:

Chris Gomez--Not nearly as polished as Ellsbury, but he has a higher ceiling, I'd probably describe him as a poor man's Adam Jones. MIN would probably be best off delaying his free agency by starting him off in AAA and signing a stopgap (Kenny Lofton?) to man CF until the trading deadline.

Phil Humber--Not a high ceiling guy like Phil Hughes, but should be a cheap, solid back o' the rotation starter for years.

Kevin Mulvey--SP, still just 22, and a 2nd round pick in '06, he is probably 20-30 starts at AAA away from being ready. Very nice addition, but again, after being teased with Hughes, Twins' fans are bound to be disappointed.

Deolis Guerra--Young and raw, throws hard.

After looking at it like this, I have to agree with Gleeman, I would have at least expected one more "can't miss" prospect, or perhaps a solid young major leaguer.


1/29/2008 06:38:00 PM



(1/29/2008 06:26:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman thinks the Twins might have had better deals at other points.

I am surprised it is dependent on Santana signing an extension...that seems like one of those "buyer beware" types of things. I will go over the prospects in another post tonight, but I think the Twins did fine, just not overwhelmingly so, like you always hope.

There aren't many teams willing to trade 7 (or more) draft picks for Herschel Walker.:)


1/29/2008 06:26:00 PM



(1/29/2008 02:36:00 PM) - Al

Other than that, Brazil is a fine place to live.


1/29/2008 02:36:00 PM



(1/29/2008 02:23:00 PM) - Al

Buster Olney discusses the Santana sweepstakes, and it may be ending soon. Looks like the Mets are the favorites.


1/29/2008 02:23:00 PM



(1/29/2008 02:20:00 PM) - Al

Steven sends long this NFL Top 10 QB link, which I guess includes a couple Packers.


1/29/2008 02:20:00 PM


Monday, January 28, 2008

(1/28/2008 07:56:00 PM) - Al

Pot, meet kettle.


1/28/2008 07:56:00 PM



(1/28/2008 03:54:00 PM) - Al

By my count, this leaves 8 games that most fans won't be able to see on TV in 2008.

Wow.


1/28/2008 03:54:00 PM



(1/28/2008 03:53:00 PM) - Al

Adam's mailbag is up at the team site.


1/28/2008 03:53:00 PM



(1/28/2008 12:48:00 PM) - Al

A 3 day survival course sounds as dull as I could imagine.


1/28/2008 12:48:00 PM



(1/28/2008 11:03:00 AM) - Al

I have been critical of ESPN on many occasions, but this feature last night was incredibly well done.

If you would like to help with the Kick for Nick campaign, you can check out the local paper here, though they do not look to have any direct links.


1/28/2008 11:03:00 AM



(1/28/2008 10:42:00 AM) - Al

--Warning, cute kid story ahead--

Yesterday, my wife came home from church and as we were enjoying lunch, she was glancing through the Sunday paper ads. She commented that everyone had big screen TV's on sale, which we then had to explain to our son. I said lots of people upgraded this time of year for the Super Bowl. He then asked when the Super Bowl was, and we told him it was a week away.

My son paused and then said the phrase which proves he has indeed, been raised in our house:

Is that the game all the new commercials are on?

Yes it is, son, yes it is.


1/28/2008 10:42:00 AM



(1/28/2008 10:39:00 AM) - Al

Al -

Love the blog and read it often. Although I find myself usually in agreement with you, I have to respectfully disagree on your assumption that Ted Kennedy's endorsement and subsequent campaigning hurts Obama. In the General Election I would definitely agree with you however this is a Democratic primary. Obama relies on independents in these primaries as Hillary still has the edge in rank in file Democrats. The problem is a lot of the upcoming primaries are closed, not allowing independents to cast a vote in the presidential election, therefore he needs rank and file support in order to win. Like it or not Ted Kennedy is still popular with the Democratic rank in file voters. If it wasn't a major coup ask yourself why it is being reported that Bill Clinton was frantically trying to get Kennedy to change his mind prior to the endorsement? Just some food for thought. Keep up the good work.

Brandon


Brandon probably has a point, but I still recall the '04 convention, and the Dems trotting out fossils like Ted Kennedy instead of the fresh faces of the party...it did not help then, and he has not gotten any fresher in the past four years.


1/28/2008 10:39:00 AM


Sunday, January 27, 2008

(1/27/2008 09:09:00 PM) - Al

Sometime Monday, Ramblings will surpass it's 2nd highest monthly hit total, only last month being higher (thanks again MLBTR links).

Hopefully, with the excitement of the season upcoming, we'll soon see even higher readership. Thanks to those who have bookmarked us and check us every day, or in some cases multiple times. If you have suggestions for things you'd like to see, shoot me a e-mail.


1/27/2008 09:09:00 PM



(1/27/2008 08:57:00 PM) - Al

I forgot to mention that in a 5 minute segment on the housing market Saturday morning on one of the investing shows, I learned:

--A 30 year mortgage is now 5.48% on average, extremely low historically.

--A 15 year is under 5, exceptionally low, especially for those looking to refinance.

--Homes on the market is the lowest in years, under 400K for the first time in ages and 9.6 months worth based on sales.

--It's a buyer's market, as many are still making offers for 10-20% below the list price.


I'm far from an expert, on darn near anything, but if I was looking to move into a bigger home, or to another area, I'd be getting pre-approved today, with my intent to start seriously looking at homes come Spring.

I can't believe I'm the only person thinking that. I know nothing about the real estate market, here or elsewhere...but I think come April or May, we may well start to see an uptick in sales, or at the very least, open houses won't be deserted anymore.

You read it here first.


1/27/2008 08:57:00 PM



(1/27/2008 08:49:00 PM) - Al

...Senator Ted Kennedy intends to campaign aggressively with Obama on the Western trip this week, followed by appearances in Northeast...

Heh. That should derail the Obama campaign once and for all.

Why do they keep trotting out despised members with no appeal to Obama's base? Are there really people, except those so far left they hope Nader jumps into the fray, that yearn for a Teddy sighting?


1/27/2008 08:49:00 PM



(1/27/2008 07:49:00 PM) - Al

Whoever said basketball was a game of momentum must have been pleased with themselves if they saw the recap of today's Bucks' game with the Wizards. DC scored the last 11 points in regulation to send the game to OT, then the Bucks ended on a 10-3 run to win by 3.

Mike Redd did not play, as he hurt his knee Friday, and Charlie V did not find the floor either, though I did not see why.

I mentioned before how the Bucks have played a lot more away games than home, and I also noticed that they have played several more games than some other NBA clubs. None of that matters if they fail to win at home and with rest in the second half, but it is a positive sign.


1/27/2008 07:49:00 PM



(1/27/2008 07:47:00 PM) - Al

Geoff Jenkins with a Q&A with a Philly writer, hat tip to Tom H of the JS.


1/27/2008 07:47:00 PM



(1/27/2008 07:06:00 PM) - Al

Adam Jones is flying to Baltimore for a physical on Monday, suggesting the Orioles and Mariners have agreed to an Erik Bedard trade.

Jones said he's been told the deal is done, though he doesn't know who is going with him to Baltimore.--Rotoworld


Jones would be an untouchable if he were on my team, he's got Braun/Prince potential and even more athletic ability. Last year, in his season of 21, he put together close to .400/.600 in 400+ AB's in AAA. Bedard is, of course, a very good pitcher, but I always hesitate to give multiple players for a guy who can be felled by a single elbow, ligament, or shoulder problem.

Kudos to BAL, they've added double digit players and probably knocked a couple years off their rebuilding phase just by sending Tejada to HOU and now Bedard to SEA.


1/27/2008 07:06:00 PM



(1/27/2008 12:27:00 PM) - Al

Dave Pinto gets around to running the Brewers' team offense projection, he sees about 5 runs a game. Note that in the "best" lineups, Prince bats 2nd...I don't see that happening.


1/27/2008 12:27:00 PM



(1/27/2008 12:14:00 PM) - Al

Friend of Ramblings Jim links to this Corey Koskie article, which indicates he is feeling better, but still has not played baseball.

Tough to imagine him playing in a few weeks, and quite likely, never again.


1/27/2008 12:14:00 PM



(1/27/2008 11:53:00 AM) - Al

SC blacks

Obama---78
Clinton-19
Edwards-2

SC whites

Clinton-38
Edwards-38
Obama---24

What's that tired old saying about there being two Americas? Well, there are at least a pair of South Carolinas. A couple things I thought or overheard:

--I only watched about 10 minutes of coverage last night, but one pundit said, "Edwards got like 2 black votes in the entire state!" Exaggeration, but not by a whole lot.

--No one seems to want to say the obvious...Edwards came in last in his home state; I could do that, and I'm not even running. Edwards seems to think he can bronze his way to the nomination, and I wish him the best of luck with that.

--It took President Clinton to make the most truthful statement, one I did not hear at all last night...Jesse Jackson, who was never a serious option, won South Carolina...twice. Obama is infinitely times a better candidate than Jackson, but for all intents and purposes, SC goes to any A/A candidate who campaigns heavily there.


1/27/2008 11:53:00 AM



(1/27/2008 11:42:00 AM) - Al

Hey Al,

Been awhile since I sent a note, wanted to commend you on your continued good work, and also to comment on the ridiculousness (?) of Purdue "shocking" UW (as is listed on ESPN's front page). The B'makers have a fine team, with several very talented youngsters who are only going to get better. The fact they beat Bucky at home by 4 is nothing even close to "shocking".

I believe we've gotten to the point where it seems anytime a team loses to another that may be even 1 or 2 games behind is said to be "shocking", just for the sake of saying the word. It wasn't even an upset, in my mind, really. As you and I both agree, winning anywhere on the road is a challenge. If anything it proves two things:

1) Purdue is a fine team

2)UW is also a team that can play hard on the road, despite what the Duke debacle seemed to indicate.

Appalachian beating Michigan was a shock. I guess we (the viewing public) just love to see failure, even a minor one such as this.

BTW- just quickly looked up PU's RPI and prior to tonight they were at 78. Thought they'd be higher, then I saw that they lost to Wofford (146), Mizzu (96), and Iowa State (98), which certainly brought their number down (or up, as it were). Again, they're a pretty good team, as evidenced by their beating Louisville (33) on a neutral floor, beating OSU (28), and losing by just 3 on the road at Clemson (27), and MSU (5). Long winded, sorry, but I still think they're a quality team.

James


Well put, James, I think much of what occurs is just ESPN and others trying to create an upset where one doesn't exist. No story...well, let's make a story.



______________________


1/27/2008 11:42:00 AM


Saturday, January 26, 2008

(1/26/2008 07:51:00 PM) - Al

Tom H talks about the back of the rotation, Mat Gamel, and Damian Miller.


1/26/2008 07:51:00 PM



(1/26/2008 05:34:00 PM) - Al

It's rare a game lives up to the hype, but the Badgers/Boilers game was a very good one today. Seemed like UW lost several loose balls, gave up too many offensive boards, and missed more free throws than you can and still win on the road in the Big 10.

I always do find it funny that every Wisconsin loss now leads to the prerequisite, planned "spontaneous" run onto the floor. While that's a sign of how far the program has come in the past few years, seeing a bunch of kids trespass while dressed alike and chanting in unison only reminds me of 1934 Berlin...I don't recall any such happening ever resulting in something positive.

Act like you've been there before, Tad.

UPDATE: Removed reference to Purdue being a private school, because they are not. My bad.


1/26/2008 05:34:00 PM



(1/26/2008 02:54:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I'm a daily reader and I appreciate your family stories, especially about your son. My boy is 12, and I often am reminded of things he did by reading about your son.

I have a pair of questions for you, firstly, if Obama was 5-7, 210 (I pick those numbers because my jeans have elastic at the waist), would he have a chance?

Two, how do you feel about the proposed rebates? We usually think alike on these matters, and if it looks like big government and smells like big government...

Rollie


Thanks for writing, Rollie, I know we have communicated before, but I think this is the first time I've used one of your notes.

1. Interesting question, as Obama is often described by the press in very friendly terms; handsome, dashing, good-looking, and so on. I will say this, I certainly would not consider Bush 41 or GW as good looking, and they were elected three times. That said, I think it would be more of an uphill battle, as the media have been very hesitant to question him about his background, lack of experience, etc. If he were a plain, chubby fella, I gotta believe those questions would have been asked by now.

2. I'm not a big fan of the rebates, to be honest, but if it benefits me, it's tough to be extremely against them. If forced to do something, in a world that does not understand Econ 101's graphs of "booms and busts" whatsoever, I would have suspended federal gas taxes for 3-6 months (it could be done quickly, say 2/1, and puts money in everyone's pockets, the whole idea), and then went with a smaller $ amount, per household, as the one part of it that bothers me most is $300 for each dependent.

It reeks of redistribution of income to me, and I've never been a fan of a Robin Hood economy. One person on the stock shows this AM said how if $600 was good, $6K would be better, but people say that would create inflation, while in reality, this will too, just 10% as much. I tend to agree.


1/26/2008 02:54:00 PM



(1/26/2008 02:39:00 PM) - Al

The Badgers play Purdue soon in basketball, and many feel the Boilers are a prime upset pick.

Now, I realize the Badgers are ranked and Purdue isn't, but my goodness, the Badgers are a 1-2 point favorite...hardly much of a stretch to be called an "upset".


1/26/2008 02:39:00 PM



(1/26/2008 08:16:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman thinks the Twins took a needless risk by signing two solid, yet at the end of the day, average players for their position, to multi-million dollar, long-term deals.

As I said yesterday, I would have talked to Joe Mauer, who is good enough to be a player you build a franchise around, rather than the two guys the Twins extended.

UPDATE: An e-mailer points out Mauer is signed to a deal through '10.


1/26/2008 08:16:00 AM


Friday, January 25, 2008

(1/25/2008 05:32:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I love your blog and check it everyday. I was at the Bullfrogs dinner in Green Bay where Doug Melvin spoke at.

Melvin didn't have any earth shattering news. Here are some of the things he said.....

- About Carlos V in the bullpen, Melvin said he liked Carlos V in the bullpen, and felt the bullpen took a hit last year when Carlos was pulled out of the bullpen. (what he failed to say was Carlos was struggling badly the second half in the bullpen when he was pulled from the bullpen)

- Bill Hall will not play CF during the first month of the season (Gwynn, Gross and/or Kapler will man CF will Cameron is out the first month)

- said they will wait until the end of the season to determine what to do with Sheets as far as resigning him or letting him go. Mentioned there are other variables to look at such as other players reaching arbitration and their salaries go from $500,000 to $2-$3 million in one year.

- Said Ted Simmons will be able to handle some of the media responsibilities that Yost had.....basically saying when the media wants to hang out in Ned's office before a game, Simmons will be able to pull them out of there and tell them lots of baseball stories.

- Said Kendall will make the pitching staff better because he works with pitchers and calls the game to their strenths....specifically mentioned that Suppan, Capuano and Bush like to work with a catcher so he calls a game to their strenths and the hitter's weaknesses. (I took this to mean that Estrada didn't work well with the pitchers). That Kendall and the pitchers will be watching film of opposing hitters to find weaknesses. Pointed out the A's pitching staff ERA went up a run after Kendall was traded to the Cubs. Kendall is also a hitter who works the count.

- Really likes the bullpen and the hard-throwers in the pen. Pointed out Turnbow was second in the league in Holds last year.

- At least twice he mentioned that fans should come out to watch this special group of young players play, because once they get closer to free agency and reach free agency, he can't guarantee what will happen. Tough decisions will have to be made. (My interpretation....."We can't resign all of these players and will lose some in free agency.")

If I think of any other things, I'll let you know.

Thanks.

Bert


Just what I was looking for, thanks Bert. I think Kendall will certainly be as good as Estrada defensively, and at the very least, his offense will be more OBP based and his p/PA will be about a pitch higher.

I'm a bit surprised at Carlos V in the bullpen, but they also may be looking to limit his inning count a tad, as we forget how young he is. I had kind of penciled in Dave Bush to be the 6th starter, barring a Capuano trade, but we'll have to see how it all shakes out.

At the very least, this might make both Bush and Capuano more valuable in early fantasy league drafts, not to mention negatively affecting Carlos.


1/25/2008 05:32:00 PM



(1/25/2008 05:14:00 PM) - Al

Bill Gates, he of the $35B fortune, says he is unsure if capitalism is the way to go.

Heh. Where do you begin?

The irony here is, of course, that Gates has a never ending $3B annual budget to do whatever he wants to try and defeat famine, disease, poverty...whatever. I think what is happening is simple...Gates feels he's losing the battle, or not making enough progress to feel it is worth it. So, he's blaming "the system", the same system which has made him beyond wealthy.

Poverty.com is one group who is fighting the good fight, and if the day comes they ever achieve their financial goals, I'm sure they too will wonder why it hasn't all come together like they thought.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see religious persecution and selfish motives being suddenly defeated by more rice and clean water.


1/25/2008 05:14:00 PM



(1/25/2008 04:00:00 PM) - Al

Tom H spoke to Damian Miller and reports Damian has turned down work and may retire.

It's always sad when a player wants to play for a certain team and they have to tell him they don't feel he's worth it anymore. It's a shame the Twins have a pair of solid backstops as well, as you'd think that would interest him.

Also, sounds like Dave bush and the Crew will come to a compromise sooner rather than later.


1/25/2008 04:00:00 PM



(1/25/2008 03:55:00 PM) - Al

Morneau and Cuddyer both sign extensions, and a huge one for Justin. No word on Mauer, who I'd rather have the the other two combined.

Once the Santana trade is made, bringing in 3-4 quality youngsters, it will be fun to take a gander at where the Twins are, looking at the next 3-5 years. I will say this...I don't think it looks much better for the Royals or White Sox than it does the Rays or Orioles, short or long-term.


1/25/2008 03:55:00 PM



(1/25/2008 10:58:00 AM) - Al

Doug Melvin was in Green Bay last night, at a Bullfrogs dinner. If anyone was there and wants to send in a recap, please do.

Only thing I've seen on the message boards is he may have hinted at Carlos V beginning the year in the bullpen, which with the many starters available, is not much of a stretch, though it kind of contradicts what has been said in the past.


1/25/2008 10:58:00 AM



(1/25/2008 10:51:00 AM) - Al

Just to quickly comment on Jason's "data mining" post, I still recall with great fondness several years ago when we were looking to refinance our home in the Cities, as interest rates had fallen. I was talking to an 800 operator I had called, and maybe 30 seconds into our conversation, he said, "Mmm, 740".

I did not know what he was talking about, so I asked him. He quickly explained that 740 was what our current mortgage payment was, and he had marked it down to see how much he could save us each month. Basically, I had given him my social security number, and he had typed it into a computer, and he knew everything about my credit in seconds.

It is literally, very scary.


1/25/2008 10:51:00 AM


Thursday, January 24, 2008

(1/24/2008 08:40:00 PM) - Al

Yesterday morning, the Dow was down about 500 points, and on CNBC, all the "experts" they had on gave advice such as:

We are telling our clients to be in cash right now.

If you like a stock, hang on, in 6-12 months, it will be even cheaper.


Today, it was business as usual, everyone saying all financials are a buy (where were these people yesterday, about 15% ago), and that you should be looking to buy solid stocks "on the dips". I even heard someone use the phrase "dollar cost averaging", for crying out loud.

It's no wonder the average person has no idea what a recession is (as I point out often, the Democratic presidential candidates have now been saying we're in a recession for 6+ months...you'd think they would know the definition), as "the street" simply follows the way the wind is blowing at the very second they are speaking.

By the way, I've owned several regional banks for several months...I was not wrong, I was just "early".:)


1/24/2008 08:40:00 PM



(1/24/2008 03:19:00 PM) - Jason Christopherson

Ramblings Reader John is absolutely right about the credit card company figuring they are not making money on Al. I do market research for a financial institution. We would expect to lose probably $5 per year for carrying that card with no balance. However, we wouldn't necessarily close out a card like that because we are pretty good at cross sales of other products. Plus, as Al pointed out, the cost of acquiring a new customer is far greater than $5. I would assume the profitability varies greatly from financial to financial, though.

Data mining is a part of my daily job and I'm still amazed at the vast amount of information that is available for use. With a couple of clicks I can tell you who is profitable and why they are that way. I can target non-profitable ones and do a campaign for a product the person is most likely to be interested in (based on demographic and survey studies). Targeting is becoming more and more critical because direct mail response rates are dropping fast. Data mining makes for a fascinating work day most of the time, but it is a little bit "Big Brother-ish".


1/24/2008 03:19:00 PM



(1/24/2008 01:06:00 PM) - Al

"Nick, even when Soriano was here, was the most productive player we had because of his on-base percentage," Acta said. "That prolongs innings, prolongs games. It wins games. It's huge.

Read the whole article here. Hat tip to Dave Pinto.

Manny Acta is an OBP believer. What's funny is, how slow this has been to catch on, even though it's all but accepted in MLB front offices.


1/24/2008 01:06:00 PM



(1/24/2008 09:37:00 AM) - Al

Doug Melvin WSSP chat recap:

Feels comfy at every position, if healthy, team is very well put together.

Cameron will make quite a difference, improves entire team. Torres also a very good pickup, he's an impressive arm who got some rest last year. Mentioned Riske and Gagne as well.

Gross, Gwynn, and Kapler will cover CF for the first 25 games, Hart could, but probably won't. Hall will not play CF.

Most roster spots set, only a couple open. Backup catcher is probably the most competitive.

Would prefer a LH in the rotation, but will use the top 5 guys. The Reds are the only team in the division that are lefty heavy, most are balanced.

Will talk to the younger players about long-term deals during Spring.

Alcides Escobar is the top positional prospect, along with Matt Laporta. May not affect Hardy and a long-term discussion, but something to keep in mind. Escobar will be a major league SS at some point. Laporta will be a big leaguer.

Will be a challenge keeping all the young players together in 5 years, without a doubt.

Neither Yost or Melvin spend much time worrying about public perception or criticism.

Simmons will help deflect some of the press coverage, as he likes to talk baseball and is a good interview. Very good baseball mind. Simmons was a big push to get Gagne from his days in SD.


1/24/2008 09:37:00 AM


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

(1/23/2008 08:43:00 PM) - Al

The Cubs and Crew rate about even in the voting in this preview.

The Reds sure are mound challenged, they basically are Harang, Arroyo, and a lot of hope. A guy like Zach Jackson would have a decent chance to make their starting 5.


1/23/2008 08:43:00 PM



(1/23/2008 08:31:00 PM) - Al

Al-

The credit card company probably figures they're not making any money off of you, and won't even if they do renew you, so they're happy to let you go. If you were a profitable customer, they might have made some effort to keep you.

I'm currently listening to the audio version of a book called "Supercrunchers", by Ian Ayres, about data mining. He says credit card issuers, airlines and others do a lot of data analysis to determine who their "good" customers are. Capital One in particular he mentions. If you call to cancel and say you got an offer at a better rate, the customer service rep's computer will tell him, based on your account history, what offers he can make to you. And if he gets you to accept one, he gets a
bonus.

I'm only about halfway through it, but the book has some mention of Wal-Mart, particularly in regard to just-in-time inventory practices. Given your interest in retail you might want to check it out if you haven't seen it already.

Go Brewers! Now that the Packers are done, they're the next thing to
look forward to (I'm not a Badger fan).

John


I think it was the fact we had not used it for so long, John. But, I did still keep it in my wallet, it was kind of my "backup" card, in case mine did not work. I suppose there are costs involved in "dead" accounts, but compared to the money spent recruiting and marketing, it seems like a shortsighted business decision.

My wife thinks we may get a "join now" offer very soon with more free hotel nights. If we do, we'll take 'em, and really wonder about their plans.


1/23/2008 08:31:00 PM



(1/23/2008 07:26:00 PM) - Al

I'm back to almost feeling human again, so the Rambling wife gave me a simple task today...call a credit card and have them waive our annual fee.

This was a card we have not used since 7/06, so there was no incentive at all on our part to pay the fee. After punching 0 to get to a live person, she transferred me to the "rate department", where this conversation took place:

Guy: What can I do for you, Rambling Al?

Al: I need you to waive this annual fee.

Guy: Well, we want to keep you as a customer...I'm sorry, I can't.

Al: You can't?

Guy: No, I'm sorry.

Al: Then I need the account closed.

Guy: Certainly...your account is now closed, is there anything else I can do for you?

Al: Nope.


To say the least, we found that a bit strange, as we haven't paid a fee on a card in a decade. They waived the fee last year, so they either stopped doing it or would not because of the fact we had not used it all of 2007.


1/23/2008 07:26:00 PM



(1/23/2008 02:33:00 PM) - Al

Let's see if people who are "furious" with how much entertainers and athletes make note this little transaction.

UPDATE: I corrected the above to note that NYU is indeed, a private university, despite its name which made me think it was public.


1/23/2008 02:33:00 PM



(1/23/2008 02:17:00 PM) - Al

--Jim Cramer just said on CNBC that the best advice he could give is "just buy any retailer".

--Reports are that long-term value investors, such as pension funds and institutional investors, have been loading up on the blue chips since they opened so far down yesterday morning.

--At a meeting of Chicago economists, there was barely a hint of panic, and plenty of small talk about now being a good time to get in to many stocks.

--With many banks trading at 80% of "book value", the financial sector was up 3-5% this AM, even with the rest of the market down 3%...many veterans said they had never seen such a spread in 20+ years on the street. Many feel banks and home builders, despite tough times ahead, simply have nowhere to go but up, as all the negatives are already being considered and are in the stock price.

Much like the currently depressed real estate market, this is a horrible time to have to get out due to cash flow issues and the like. That said, I have no doubt housing is a fine 50 year investment, and so is the US stock market. Like most, I have no idea about the next 6 months though.

In closing, investors should have no problems. Traders, however, I can only wish the best.


1/23/2008 02:17:00 PM



(1/23/2008 12:15:00 PM) - Al

Often times, it seems, people who have been married for a long time die within a few months of one another. While, they were only married since 2001, sadly it has happened with Tom Poston and Suzanne Pleshette.

Mary Frann also passed away at a relatively young age. I'm sure Mr. Newhart is quite saddened today.


1/23/2008 12:15:00 PM



(1/23/2008 11:49:00 AM) - Al

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he was disappointed that Adam Kennedy skipped the team's annual Winter Warmup fan fest.

"I'm disappointed he's not here," La Russa said. "This is a statement we make to our fans: 'Thanks for coming out,' and he's not here." La Russa made it clear that Kennedy won't have as much margin for error this season if he continues to struggle in the second year of a three-year deal. "In the first three months of the season, his playing time was extensive when he really wasn't productive," La Russa said. "I really gave him the benefit of the doubt a lot, to the detriment of a guy like Aaron Miles."--Rotoworld


I think it may be safe to say LaRussa is off his rocker, once again being critical of a player in the press. One thing about the Melvin/Yost reign that gets lost in the mix at times is the continued respect the braintrust shows their players, and the players, even those who have been released, traded, and so on, show after leaving, with only very minor exceptions.


1/23/2008 11:49:00 AM



(1/23/2008 11:44:00 AM) - Al

Jack Nicholson hints he was aware Ledger was battling personal demons.

The acting veteran, who played the Batman's most famous Joker, said in London last night: "I warned him."


I did not even comment on Heath Ledger's untimely demise, but it is refreshing to see a guy like Jack, with nothing to lose, just say whatever is on his mind.

Does not look like we'll ever know if it was suicide, an overdose, or his body simply being unable to take continued abuse (the autopsy was inconclusive); but as another child loses a father, I hope a few folks take note that drugs simply need not be a part of any lifestyle.


1/23/2008 11:44:00 AM



(1/23/2008 11:26:00 AM) - Al

Friend of Ramblings Jim is going to interview Jon Lucroy over at his website, and invites you to submit a question.

Bookmark him while you are there.


1/23/2008 11:26:00 AM



(1/23/2008 11:15:00 AM) - Al

Abe Nunez is signed to a minor league contract, and is now fine AAA depth in case something happens to an IF.

He may well have an "out", allowing him to become a free agent at some point, but for now, he's a very nice signing. Like most backup infielders, he can't hit a lick, but as a switch-hitter, so he adds the inability to hit from both sides!


1/23/2008 11:15:00 AM


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

(1/22/2008 06:39:00 PM) - Al

USA Today had a story about the Bucks today, basically saying it's hard to convince free agents to play in Milwaukee. Rather odd overall, as the Bucks were in the playoffs not too long ago, and obviously, Detroit is just as cold and industrial as Milwaukee is, and they don't have any problems.

The irony here is, the Bucks are halfway through their campaign, and are on a 32 win pace...only a few games from what I would have expected. Also, they have played several more games on the road than at home, so you would expect them to be a few games behind their final pace.

I just noticed they only have one injured player at the moment, and they have two young guys in the D-League, getting playing time, so I'm pretty optimistic about them at this second. Of course, if they don't win their home contests in the 2nd half, the other stuff won't much matter.


1/22/2008 06:39:00 PM



(1/22/2008 06:30:00 PM) - Al

Thank you for the e-mails of concern. I'm a notch better, I'm all the way up to "crappy".

Progress is being made though, that's for sure.


1/22/2008 06:30:00 PM



(1/22/2008 10:05:00 AM) - Al

The Dotel 2y/$11M deal we talked about here is official.

Why teams feel the need to be dishonest about such things is beyond me.


1/22/2008 10:05:00 AM



(1/22/2008 09:58:00 AM) - Al

My wife and I have been thinking, I've had no less than 3 illnesses since Xmas, after not having any for over a year...that's quite a bad streak.

A bit better today, at some point during the night, I stopped coughing for the most part, though it still hurts when I do. And, my voice is once again very rough, which bothers my wife not at all.

At least the Badgers are on ESPN tonight.


1/22/2008 09:58:00 AM


Monday, January 21, 2008

(1/21/2008 09:49:00 AM) - Al

The national media seems to be much more "Favre had a terrible game" than the JS, whose official game story does not even mention the personal fouls which literally gave each team an extra touchdown.


1/21/2008 09:49:00 AM


Sunday, January 20, 2008

(1/20/2008 09:29:00 PM) - Al

A couple thoughts, now that baseball season is here for many readers.:)

---I told my wife, I cannot imagine one person being so ignorant as to get a personal foul after stopping the opposing team on 3rd down, and then to have a player on each team do it is almost beyond the limits of "how stupid can two players in the same stadium be?" You know, it's one thing to get a pass interference or a holding call (which, to be honest, seem to be called with a dice roll, even on the replay, I can't tell), but to give the other club a new possession because you're too selfish to not hit somebody...oof.

---The Giants' lineman that was injured, #69 Rich Seubert, is from our local area, and his family was on the news this past week. His dad said "the seats in Dallas were so high, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said 'Down in front'. I turned around, and it was God." I just thought that was a great line.

---I think the two most criticized people in the NFL over the last year-and-a-half were Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning...there's some irony. I'd also say the most criticized manager in MLB was Terry Francona, who of course was labeled, "Fran-coma" by the spoiled casuals of Chowdah country.

We live in a world where people don't just second guess, but third guess and fourth guess, and by gosh, it's always somebody's fault.

---It'll be somewhat interesting to see how the Green Bay/Milwaukee media spins this, as the offense was pretty much nonexistent other than that one 90 yard pass play. Favre never gets even a tad bit of the blame (as proven here), so we'll have to see how it's written up.

EDIT: I just found this in the game blog:

Mike McCarthy had his worst playcall three plays later -- some ugly wide screen attempt to Ryan Grant on 3rd-and-3 -- that lost 7 yards and forced the Packers to settle for a game-tying field goal.

Apparently, it's the coach's fault when the players don't execute a screen pass properly. And you thought I was kidding.


1/20/2008 09:29:00 PM



(1/20/2008 04:04:00 PM) - Al

As for the health in the Ramblings' household, it's the opposite of yesterday, I feel the worst. Both my wife and I seem to have caught something that first plays havoc with your tummy, then gives you a scratchy throat and makes you cough. I'm just miserable, I keep coughing so much and hard my head hurts. My wife has a calmer version, and the little fella has been fine since being up in the night Friday with "an urgent need" to use the restroom.

By the way, the weather sucks.


1/20/2008 04:04:00 PM



(1/20/2008 02:52:00 PM) - Al

Brewers manager Ned Yost is considering hitting Prince Fielder ahead of Ryan Braun this season, allowing Braun to do more running.

Braun was 15-for-20 stealing bases last year, with 14 of his successes coming from the third spot in the order. A switch makes some sense, though it's not going to matter a whole lot either way, and it's nice to see Yost not going by the book believing that he has to put all of his speed at the top of the order.---Rotoworld


I only mention this because you would almost think that it means the #2 hitter need not be speedy, as they won't be running much either. I have felt it would be Hardy, and this does nothing to change my mind.


1/20/2008 02:52:00 PM



(1/20/2008 02:41:00 PM) - Al

Strange development in the minors, as the Crew has switched middling prospect Hernan Iribarrean to the OF from 2B, according to his agent.

I am not sure if the Brewers see him as a CF or as a utility player, but add another to the plethora of OF talent the Crew has in their top 20 prospects. He is probably comparable to Gabe Gross lite, if he develops.


1/20/2008 02:41:00 PM


Saturday, January 19, 2008

(1/19/2008 07:09:00 PM) - Al

Tom says the Brewers still think Tony Gwynn Jr. has a future with them, and among other things, have opened a camp in the Dominican Republic.

Firstly, Gwynn has been offered up in 2-3 trades, and does not seem to have a future in a Braun/Hart/Laporta OF...never minding the Crew has several solid OF prospects at AA and below. I agree with Doug that he will have a nice major league career, and it could be in MIL...but it probably won't be.

Secondly, I could have sworn they just closed their Dominican camp because it never produced any true prospects. I will have to check back in the archives, but I'm all for looking for talent anywhere and everywhere.

EDIT: Yep, closed an "academy" in late 2003. Hopefully, the $400K budget issue is now gone.


1/19/2008 07:09:00 PM



(1/19/2008 12:11:00 PM) - Al

Speaking of the furnace, I remembered last night to change the filter, which we try and do on the 1st of the month, though by the looks of the old one, it might have been October 1st. We always have the Rambling son change it, because there's no danger and he likes to feel important. I went into supervise, and he took off the cover, yanked the old one out, and set the new one in. It did not go in all the way, sticking out about 3 inches. I told him just to drop it in again, and he did, but it still was the same. I told him I'd fix it, but could not figure out what was keeping the filter from going in all the way.

My wife came up behind me, glanced at it, and said, "Turn it the other way". Sure enough, he had put the rectangle shaped filter in wrong, and I did not catch it.

If the wife wasn't home, I might have had to call a service person.:)


1/19/2008 12:11:00 PM



(1/19/2008 11:45:00 AM) - Al

I just took a trip to the Evil Empire of retail to pick up yet more electrolyte solution, and I was surprised to see so much stuff out designed all but solely to sell for tomorrow's Packers' game...huge displays of cakes, snacks, alcohol, and cured meat products were everywhere.

My wife wrote out a list for me, and we joked it was obvious what I was there for...Lysol, Pedialyte, Sprite, soup, saltines...all I was missing was a placard around me that said "Flu" and an arrow pointing right at my head.

For the second time in three nights, I was awake for an extended period in the night, unable to fall back to sleep. Geez, the furnace runs for ages when it's 17 below. There was one noise that was so loud, I could not believe it was "just the cold" making the house creak, so I got up and wandered, a shivering, very fatigued cocker spaniel following me dutifully; I can only imagine he was hoping the imaginary intruder that would render me unconscious would proceed to give him a couple treats, then scratch his ears.

I walked through the house, finding nothing out of the ordinary, and got back in bed, as I heard Ronnie jump up on his bed, kick at the blanket a few seconds, then let out a big sigh as he lay his head on his pillow. Life is tough, don't ever forget it.


1/19/2008 11:45:00 AM



(1/19/2008 08:54:00 AM) - Al

Al,

Hey, we can argue all day about Shawshank, but Weekend at Bernie's? How many times can a dead guy falling down be funny?

To quote Elaine Benes, "Bernie's dead, uh, how long is this weekend anyway?"

Enjoy the blog a lot, despite your questionable taste.:)

GB



Nothing gets your e-mail on Ramblings quicker than a Seinfeld quote.

I consider Bernie's and Office Space to both be very enjoyable films, I saw both at the theater, and may have been the only one laughing both times. Both built their reputation in the home rental market, and both have now sold tons of cheap DVD's.

My taste may not be high brow, but me and the masses tend to like the same stuff.


1/19/2008 08:54:00 AM



(1/19/2008 08:42:00 AM) - Al

Seth interviewed Twins' pitcher Kevin Slowey...who had 2 walks and 28 K's in 29 September major league innings...went under my radar.

Those are astounding numbers, the Twins' staff might still be top 5 even with a Santana trade.


1/19/2008 08:42:00 AM



(1/19/2008 08:27:00 AM) - Al

Mark Stewart wonders why Northwestern is not better than they are...while I would say I'm often surprised they are as competitive as they are.

Heck, the Badgers were in a similar situation for a decade or two, academics are tougher, no tradition to speak of, facilities are substandard...makes you want to suit up and go play for the Wildcats, doesn't it? In all seriousness, it takes a special kind of 17/18 year-old to take on that challenge, and it would appear they have several of those right now...if they stick around, maybe things will change in Evanston in a couple years.

I recall a young phenom named Rex Walters playing 40 minutes a game every night for a rebuilding Northwestern team, and announcers often said he would turn the program around...he transferred and later played in the NBA, and the program is right where it was then, almost two decades later.

I wish them the best, but it would not surprise me one bit to be having this same cyberchat with myself in 5 or 10 years.


1/19/2008 08:27:00 AM



(1/19/2008 08:01:00 AM) - Al

Looks like it might be another day of ill health in the Ramblings household.

I still feel fine, but I'm the only one. This, my friends, is one nasty bug(s).


1/19/2008 08:01:00 AM


Friday, January 18, 2008

(1/18/2008 09:01:00 PM) - Al

{overheard months ago at or around Fox studios}

Exec: We need some kind of time filler for our Fox sports networks. Ideas?

Guy 1: How about some incredibly bad sports talk show, full of cliches and stupidity?

Exec: We already have that.

Guy 1: Oh.

Guy 2: Maybe a show that looks at the good guys of sports, like Jeff Suppan, instead of rehashing steroid talk that may or may not be true?.

Exec: C'mon, you're not even trying.

Guy 3: Well, y'all, my kin would love a reality type show about rodeo...maybe have 'em win a ranch. Yee-hah.

Exec: Let's think about this...no one watches rodeo, even if it involves Jewel being seen barely dressed. I can't name a single rodeo guy, not do I care to learn one...brilliant idea. BRILLIANT!


1/18/2008 09:01:00 PM



(1/18/2008 07:52:00 PM) - Al

Being an eternal optimist, I just hope this is true.

It certainly is not getting much press.


1/18/2008 07:52:00 PM



(1/18/2008 06:58:00 PM) - Al

JJ Hardy and David Bush each submit $3M numbers, while the Brewers counter.

Oh, to be a "loser" in that game.


1/18/2008 06:58:00 PM



(1/18/2008 04:06:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Dropping you a line to let you know you, me, and Mo Williams all had the flu the same day. I actually left the Bucks' game at halftime, I was so sick, never thought I would do that.

In my office, there are 12 people in my department, and this week, 2 people worked all 5 days. I missed my first time in 3 years, my boss thought I was joking when I called in Thursday, as 4 had been gone Wednesday, and we all said she'd be all alone Thursday.

Just a mention, I never really got Shawshank either, but in college, 2 of my roommates watched it all the time. They would say it was good versus evil, and how the warden's death was symbolic. I also think the hole not being found in 2 decades is ridiculously over the top.

I'm really tired, hope we feel better after the weekend. Normally, I'd jump all over you for your Packers comment, but right now, I don't think I'd go either. We ordered in today, because no one would go get lunch, we all said it was too cold.

Cheers,

Paul


Paul is the only person who agrees with me on Shawshank thus far. I am hoping Robert chips in, as he is vastly more into movies (especially serious films, hey, I loved Weekend at Bernie's) than myself. Hope you're feeling better Paul, I'm thirsty all the time and did not get up last night to pee, so I'm still dehydrated.


1/18/2008 04:06:00 PM



(1/18/2008 03:41:00 PM) - Al

UPDATE: MLB.com is saying this is not true, at least for now.

The White Sox have agreed to terms with Octavio Dotel on a two-year contract worth $11 million.

We have a new challenger for worst contract of the offseason. Dotel is a quality reliever, when healthy, but he has thrown a grand total of 56 frames in the past three seasons .

The Sox might have a very good bullpen, with Jenks, Dotel, and Linebrink; but that leaves a lot of innings to fill.


1/18/2008 03:41:00 PM



(1/18/2008 02:43:00 PM) - Al

Why the Reds have any interest in Drew Anderson is now as much a mystery to me as why he was on the 40 man roster.

No offense to Drew, who obviously, is a much better player than you and I, and I could certainly imagine him spending a year or two in the bigs as a 5th OF...but I can't see much more than that, and guys with a limited ceiling such as that are available on the waiver wire and as minor league free agents all the time (where have you gone, Dave Krynzel?). Actually, looking at Krynzel's numbers, he appears to be a perfect match, as he could not hit a lick either.

He is about to enter his season of 27, and he's got a .330ish OBP in AAA, over a not so small sample of 400+ AB's. He's a decent glove and a lefty bat, but again, I just described Krynzel.

However, we are forced to realize that despite opinions otherwise, Doug knew Drew had value (albeit, limited) and kept him on the 40 man for that reason. In Doug we trust.


1/18/2008 02:43:00 PM



(1/18/2008 12:51:00 PM) - Al

Patrick compiles a poll of who the most talented prospects are in the Brewers' system. Not a lot of surprises, though Zach Jackson should certainly be in the top 15, if not 10. Not a lot of respect for the LH, but he could have contributed as a reliever or #5 guy on many major league staffs.

Patrick notes that 6 of the top 20 are OF's, and considering many feel a future combo of Braun/Hart/LaPorta will man those 3 spots in some order for the next 3-4 years, and solid depth of Gross and Gwynn; if the Crew makes a deadline deal this year, it will almost certainly include an OF.


1/18/2008 12:51:00 PM



(1/18/2008 12:14:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I don't see a whole lot of difference between the Dotel and Gagne deals. Dotel has pitched 56 innings in the past three seasons while Gagne has pitched a grand total of 67 in the same time frame. Dotel also had an excellent strikeout rate last season, 41 K in 30 2/3 IP. I consider both to be very big health risks, probably giving Gagne the slight edge in health since Dotel did have some more problems last season if I recall healthwise.

The overall money is basically the same it's just that Dotel has one extra year. Dotel at $5.5 million annually isn't a bad deal at all if you ask me. It's not like it's a four year deal or even a three year deal. You'll probably disagree but I think Linebrink's contract is worse than Dotel's. Linebrink's strikeout rate has declined in each of the last three seasons with last year's decline being fairly significant. The move from an extreme pitcher's park to a neutral park to a hitter's park will also not be as kind to Linebrink. He may be fine next year on the surface, but I'm pretty bearish on Linebrink moving forward.

Either way, if somebody would have told me that a 2 year $11 million contract was the worst contract handed out in the offseason, I'd have thought General Managers as a group had suddenly gotten smarter. If Dotel's is a candidate for worst contract of the offseason, I'd also have to put Gagne's in pretty much the same boat. As it is, I don't think either are bad contracts because they just aren't that long.

Jon


Jon with a contrarian viewpoint.

1. Gagne was healthy last season, after coming back from injury previously. Dotel has been hurt each of the past three campaigns.

2. I agree the $5.5M annually is not "huge", though it's a big amount for a set-up man. However, he has not pitched a full season since 2004, so being healthy for the upcoming year as well as the next seems, at best, a poor bet.

3. Linebrink has been one of the best middle relievers in the game the past few years, and the only thing keeping him from being a closer is opportunity. He may not be dominant, but he has always been effective and healthy. History is not always doomed to repeat itself, but it is usually a sign of things to come. There's little doubt the Sox gave him an extra year or two, but the market is what it is.

I would agree with Jon that Dotel's is not "that bad", because it will only be an issue through 2009. Still, considering a couple years ago, Dotel would have had to take a minor league contract, and even last year, I can't imagine anyone giving him more than a 1y/$2M deal so he could "prove himself" and then sign a big bucks contract for '09 and beyond.

I'm sure Doug talked to Dotel, and would have been happy to have had him as a stopgap, but had no intention of giving more than a single year.


1/18/2008 12:14:00 PM



(1/18/2008 10:35:00 AM) - Al

Am I the only person who would not consider going to the Packers' game because of the weather? I remember the days when I always took my dog for a walk each day, and those 15-20 minutes were sometimes unbearable. 3 hours?

Nope.


1/18/2008 10:35:00 AM



(1/18/2008 10:31:00 AM) - Al

Breaking into programming to show the president making a statement about the economy and a stimulus package?

If there's a group of people more out of touch than network news, you'll have to let me know.

Of course, considering these are people that can discuss gas prices for several minutes without once mentioning supply and demand, or the lack of refineries being built the past few decades, why am I surprised?


1/18/2008 10:31:00 AM



(1/18/2008 10:18:00 AM) - Al

Doug has no interest in Pedro Feliz, nor anything on the table with TEX, per the JS.

Tom also shows he can count to 12, as he knows the amount of arms in camp is well more than that, so a deal before April 1st is very likely.


1/18/2008 10:18:00 AM



(1/18/2008 09:29:00 AM) - Al

I keep hearing how the Rays are going to work their way to the top of the AL East, and I look at that with a great deal of skepticism.

So, now they sign Carlos Pena, who had a fantastic 2007, to a 3y/$24M deal. Pena is certainly not a horrible 1B, as evidenced by his career numbers, but if the Rays expect '07 production out of him, they will likely be sadly mistaken.

Plus, I really don't understand giving a guy with 4+ years of service time a 3 year deal...the Rays gained a single year of his service, but at the risk of millions.


1/18/2008 09:29:00 AM



(1/18/2008 09:26:00 AM) - Al

Capuano also avoids arbitration, signs for $3.75M.


1/18/2008 09:26:00 AM



(1/18/2008 09:00:00 AM) - Al

If you are by your TV, ESPN2 has a 5 set classic with Andy Roddick, live from Down Under, where it is 2AM.

As with evening matches at the US Open, the best tennis tends to be played late at night.


1/18/2008 09:00:00 AM



(1/18/2008 08:48:00 AM) - Al

i think we need a lottery for the cubbs games so cubbs fans can't get in.

The above comment is on the JS blog, and if you can ignore the fact he is unable to spell "Cubs" correctly, apparently, he feels Cubs' fans are not advanced enough to enter such a lottery.

As I have said often, whenever you see a Cubs/Cards affair, it's often about 50/50 or maybe 60/40 there as well. Expecting any differently in Milwaukee is simply foolish.


1/18/2008 08:48:00 AM


Thursday, January 17, 2008

(1/17/2008 09:54:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers announce a lottery for Opening Day, and reports 9 packs and season ticket renewal rates are very, very high.


1/17/2008 09:54:00 PM



(1/17/2008 09:34:00 PM) - Al

One of the nicest things about Netflix is it allows you to watch films you have heard good things about, but never have seen. The Shawshank Redemption never appealed to me at all because it's a film about a prison (a men's prison, for that matter), and to me, most all prison movies are rather dull and formulaic.

So, not much on tonight, so I popped in this DVD that many rank as an all-time classic. So I ask you, readers of Ramblings...why is this considered a film for the ages? Its use of prison cliches; such as "the hole", having one inmate that can magically sneak anything into the facility, prisoners being smarter than the guards/warden...it was just off-the-charts. I did not know if I was watching a prison movie or a parody of prison movies.

And then, spoiler alert, for those like me who have never bothered watching it until now...the ridiculous notion that a prisoner would be kept in the same cell for 20 years, and never once would a single guard bother to look behind a poster on the wall to, you know, check for a man-sized hole?

Hey, I know sometimes you have to suspend your reality meter in order to enjoy a good movie. One of my favorites, Forrest Gump, is filled with coincidence after coincidence, bordering on lunacy. But, while silly, you can imagine a simple man being a part of history in the way Forrest was...and once you buy it once and enjoy it, you can continue to do so.

I even went to the Wikipedia page, and they list some religious connections as well, which while I don't really see, I can kind of understand. There's also some "good guys wrongly imprisoned seeing corruption and ending up happy in the end" goodness about it. I didn't dislike it by any means, but overall, it kind of lost me. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was expecting more than a dot-to-dot inmate movie with an outlandish escape.

If anyone cares to tell me why you enjoyed it and/or you feel its place in the top 100 films of all-time is deserved, shoot me a line.


1/17/2008 09:34:00 PM



(1/17/2008 08:15:00 PM) - Al

The finest commish in the history of sport decides to continue on until 2012.

I am a bit torn here, because I am a firm believer in enjoying your retirement, and not working until you are 78. However, I agree with his belief that the game will be even stronger in '12.


1/17/2008 08:15:00 PM



(1/17/2008 07:11:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers and Claudio Vargas agree to a 1y/$3.6M contract to avoid arby.

Seems like a fair deal for both sides. Also, there are very few teams that cannot afford Vargas as an improvement to their rotation. Not sure if Claudio will be the SP moved, but one likely will be, at some point, barring injury.


1/17/2008 07:11:00 PM



(1/17/2008 04:39:00 PM) - Al

Friend of Ramblings (and frequent roundtable contributor) Ben sends along this link of Mark A's political cash given.

As I hinted at, many give to more than once candidate for a variety of reasons.


1/17/2008 04:39:00 PM



(1/17/2008 10:49:00 AM) - Al

Don Walker reports Mark A has donated $4600 to the Clinton campaign and that he is a "Clinton supporter", but he should know many rich guys donate to every candidate, just to "get an ear" with them later on.


1/17/2008 10:49:00 AM



(1/17/2008 10:27:00 AM) - Al

24 hours later, my illness seems to have subsided enough that I can do something other than complain about the pain.

Without your health, life is not very much fun.


1/17/2008 10:27:00 AM


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

(1/16/2008 10:44:00 AM) - Al

Joe Sheehan usually is a fine writer, unless he's using Bud Selig as a subject, when he flies off the loop of credibility. He mentions a couple Brewers and I would agree with almost all of his picks for breakout seasons.

Of course, picking good, but not great, players who are not yet 27 is a pretty safe bet when making such a list.


1/16/2008 10:44:00 AM



(1/16/2008 10:32:00 AM) - Al

Per reports I have heard in stomach bug territory, the Cubs are about to announce a Jon Lieber signing.

I like Lieber, as he's kind of Suppan lite, though much older than Jeff. As a #4/5 starter 15-20 times, he's a nice addition to any team. His perfect role would be as a long man who can step in when an injury strikes. However, I assume the Cubs plan on him being in the rotation, which means it's unlikely he'll still be pitching in July.

UPDATE: Rosenthal reports he has signed and been promised a rotation spot.


1/16/2008 10:32:00 AM



(1/16/2008 09:04:00 AM) - Al

The joys of parenting.

I will be working a half-day today, as I'm home with my son until my wife gets home from her morning gig. The Ramblings son feels fine, but his body is playing tricks on him, making school a tricky proposition.

Sadly, today I am also suffering from stomach cramps and hoping other effects do not hit.

The wife, in addition to her M/W/F AM job, subs at the local school district when needed on T/T. She was talking to a fellow sub yesterday, who also volunteers in her son's class for an hour once a week. When you go into a school, you have to "sign in" at the office, and in that little over an hour one day last week, 18 kids had went home sick.

I know once or twice I have heard schools closing down for a couple days just to "air out" the school and to sanitize it, due to lots of sickness. It may not have hit that level yet, but it's the season for illness.


1/16/2008 09:04:00 AM



(1/16/2008 08:57:00 AM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman discusses the Cameron/Hunter similarity that I touched on here.

In the same post, he also mentions how the Twins "went cheap" last year in the draft, going with lesser talent that agreed to sign inexpensively. The Brewers have 7 choices in the top 110 or so, and if they gave them all "slot value", could easily spend $5-7M just on those few picks alone.

We'll have to see how the Crew decides to go about it.


1/16/2008 08:57:00 AM


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

(1/15/2008 08:01:00 PM) - Al

The chat transcript from Mark, Doug, and Ned is now up on the team website.


1/15/2008 08:01:00 PM



(1/15/2008 06:54:00 PM) - Al

I will link to the chat link as soon as I can find it, but the one thing that I noticed was Mark saying there will be 150 games televised in 2008, which basically means if it is not a weekday afternoon affair, it is on the air.

I believe he said they would all be on FSN.


1/15/2008 06:54:00 PM



(1/15/2008 05:28:00 PM) - Al

I forget what they called this in economics class, I seem to remember the phrase "snob demand", but it pretty much only works with liquor and very hard-to-find items...basically, you will sell more of something the lower you price it...except for luxury goods, which some will actually seek out the higher priced due to supposed higher quality.

I know the "Two Buck Chuck" wine popular in California has won many taste tests over moderately priced wines...which really frustrates the makers of those spendier wines.


1/15/2008 05:28:00 PM



(1/15/2008 05:03:00 PM) - Al

Jack Z and Gord promoted to VP's, which I assume is designed to keep them in the organization unless they are offered a GM job elsewhere.


1/15/2008 05:03:00 PM



(1/15/2008 05:01:00 PM) - Al

Mark, Doug, and Ned will be having a live chat at the Brewers' site in about 15 minutes. You can ask your questions ahead of time if you wish.


1/15/2008 05:01:00 PM


Monday, January 14, 2008

(1/14/2008 11:03:00 PM) - Al

The official recap of the Cameron intro, and look how many young players will be at the winter warm-up event. That's an impressive amount of the core.


1/14/2008 11:03:00 PM



(1/14/2008 08:18:00 PM) - Al

One of the negatives about living in a small market is the fact that many of our TV reporters leave for "bigger markets" all the time. Growing up watching Madison TV, this was also the case, as people would leave for Atlanta, or Columbus, and maybe even Des Moines. However, in the past couple weeks, our market has lost two of my favorite (re: prettiest) gals to...Fargo and the Quad Cities. I mean, seriously, can you imagine "moving up" to Fargo, ND?


1/14/2008 08:18:00 PM



(1/14/2008 07:56:00 PM) - Al

This article suggests the Brewers improved themselves by 40 runs on defense with the Cameron signing. That's the same range I've been thinking as well, maybe on the high end.


1/14/2008 07:56:00 PM



(1/14/2008 06:23:00 PM) - Al

Mike Cameron press conference recap:

Doug says they were pretty picky in the players they discussed, but they wanted a good defensive player who could help the team win. Have heard from many people, including Bruce Froemming, who have told them what a good move it is.

Mike says he hopes to help out where ever he can, leadership included. Names off many young players he is impressed with, hopes he can help the kids out like some vets did for him.

If he is not hitting, he feels he can help the team with his legs, or his glove, or even his mind. Lou Pinella called him "the Swiss army knife", because he could do so many things.

Agreement came together quickly, the Crew kept getting nowhere looking for a LH hitter, and once Cameron's name came up, they called Ted Simmons and asked about him, and Ted said, "If you can get him, get it done". He takes a lot of pitches, over 4 per PA, which only Weeks did. Kendall also works the count, something they looked for.

Mike says the city reminds him of Seattle, never seen it much until today, just has stayed at the Pfister.

Ned says he could not find anyone who would say anything except what a great guy Mike was. Feels the team is much improved now on defense and the bullpen is now loaded with power arms. Feels good about the '08 club.

Does not know why he tested positive, feels it must have been a tainted supplement. Feels bad for his family, tougher on them.

Mike does not seem to have a grasp of names, forgot Dave Collins, a coach in CIN, and Josh Barfield, a teammate of his in SD.

Ned not concerned about being RH heavy, "it is what it is". Looks like a good offensive team.

Adding Mike makes the team more athletic, Mike was 15 for 22 going 1B to 3B on singles, Doug said they had guys who were 1-17 and 5-23. Adds speed and aggressiveness.

Loves to hit at Miller Park, anything better than Petco.

Doug feels good about the team, still has 8 starting pitchers that will compete for spots. Carlos pitched so well in September, he has an edge for a spot. He was so good in the bullpen too, but he deserves a chance to start.

Both Ryan and Bill were notified prior to the announcement, and both are set.

Ned said the bullpen has room for "one more" and again bragged what a group of hard throwing RH's he has. Said Gagne will close, then mentioned Riske, Turnbow, Torres, and Mota; and then the southpaw Brian Shouse.


1/14/2008 06:23:00 PM



(1/14/2008 05:12:00 PM) - Al

Unable to connect to the press conference, tried both Firefox and IE. Will recap later on tonight.


1/14/2008 05:12:00 PM



(1/14/2008 02:42:00 PM) - Al

actually they usually put the clods in RF, as there are fewer left handed batters,which equals less chance a ball comes to that side...

i guess in the majors a star hitter will choose his side of the outfield, and LF seems most glamerous, maybe?--comment to JS blog



The pain, I can't stand the pain.

Obviously this person thinks little league, slow-pitch softball, and the major leagues are the same thing.

{This is actually the case with people who argue loudly how bad strikeouts are for a team, but hence, I digress.}

It's so hard to take talk radio or message boards remotely seriously when you know this kind of thinking is not just out there, but prevalent.


1/14/2008 02:42:00 PM



(1/14/2008 02:23:00 PM) - Al

UPDATE: Bumped to the top due to incoming linkage.

This is an early look at how the Crew looks to match up offensively to the rest of the NL, looking at careers, 3 year splits, and BP's Marcel system, which is basically just math, with more emphasis placed on recent results.

Kendall

career--.375/.394, 769 OPS, 148 OXS, 67 simple runs created
2005-7--.340/.325, 665 OPS, 111 OXS, 50 src
3y away-.354/.341, 695 OPS, 121 OXS, 54 src
Marcel--.330/.330, 660 OPS, 109 OXS, 49 src
2007 NL-.318/.394, 712 OPS, 125 OXS, 56 src

This is a case where Jason's career numbers are all but useless, as what he did a decade ago is really not relevant to what he will do in '08. However, I don't think the Marcel system takes any kind of park factor into consideration, and his road numbers sure look like he was hurt by the A's stadium. Given the minute difference between his road splits the past three years and the average NL C in 2007, it seems pretty easy to just say Kendall's expected offense is "average", or a +0.

Fielder

career--.369/.546, 915 OPS, 201 OXS, 121 src
Marcel--.380/.550, 930 OPS, 209 OXS, 125 src
2007 NL-.365/.481, 846 OPS, 176 OXS, 105 src

Prince's career and 3y numbers are the same, of course. His '08 projection is pretty conservative compared to his 2007 campaign, but I feel a +20 runs is fair.

Weeks

career--.357/.410, 767 OPS, 146 OXS, 88 src
Marcel--.360/.430, 790 OPS, 155 OXS, 93 src
2007 NL-.339/.416, 755 OPS, 141 OXS, 85 src

It never fails to amaze me that even though most of us feel Rickie has never hit his stride, he still is above average for his position. I'm going to give him a +10, and I will probably project him even higher myself.

Hardy

career--.321/.429, 750 OPS, 138 OXS, 83 src
Marcel--.330/.440, 770 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 src
2007 NL-.322/.391, 713 OPS, 126 OXS, 76 src

I don't think Marcel gives JJ enough credit for his horrible 2005 start, and subsequent recovery...I would not be at all surprised to see both Hardy and Weeks with an 800 OPS in '08. That said, I'll make him a +10 for now.

Hall

career--.320/.467, 787 OPS, 149 OXS, 90 src
2005-7--.335/.495, 830 OPS, 166 OXS, 99 src
Marcel--.340/.480, 820 OPS, 163 OXS, 98 src
2007 NL-.334/.427, 761 OPS, 143 OXS, 86 src

I have to wonder what the 3B average would be without Braun's dominance, I would think he singlehandedly raised the 3B bar a few runs. Considering Hall is coming off a down year, I'm going to make him a +10 as well, and hope for more.

Braun

career--.370/.634, 1004 OPS, 235 OXS, 141 src (golly)
Marcel--.370/.580, 950 OPS, 215 OXS, 129 src
2007 NL-.358/.478, 836 OPS, 171 OXS, 103 src

My goodness, how dominating was his rookie campaign? Even though Marcel takes off a bunch of his SLG without giving him any OBP points (to me, fewer extra-base hits would probably mean they are throwing him a lot of breaking balls in the dirt, which I would assume would lead to more walks), he's still +25 on the offensive side of the ball.

Cameron

career--.341/.445, 786 OPS, 152 OXS, 91 src
2005-7--.342/.461, 803 OPS, 158 OXS, 95 src
3y road-.351/.469, 820 OPS, 165 OXS, 99 src
Marcel--.330/.440, 770 OPS, 145 OXS, 87 src
2007 NL-.340/.414, 754 OPS, 141 OXS, 84 src

Marcel appears to simply estimate low when the player is 35, as they came up with similar results for Kendall. I am going to make Mike +5, as he could easily be anywhere from 0-15, and it's also a bit different having only 137 games to judge him by. Still, his SLG, playing half his games in pitcher's parks, is impressive.

Hart

career--.340/.506, 846 OPS, 172 OXS, 103 src
Marcel--.350/.500, 850 OPS, 175 OXS, 105 src
2007 NL-.344/.442, 786 OPS, 152 OXS, 91 src

Marcel again barely raises a player nearing his mythical peak...and in this case, after a breakout 2007, the projection is so low it is almost offensive to common sense. I am not going to hesitate to make Corey +15, and I promise you, my projection will be higher than Marcel.

I'm going to list the bench as a group before making comment:

Gabe Gross

career--.343/.410, 753 OPS, 141 OXS
2005-7--.351/.437, 788 OPS, 153 OXS
Marcel--.350/.440, 790 OPS, 154 OXS
2007 LF-.358/.478, 836 OPS, 171 OXS
2007 CF-.340/.414, 754 OPS, 141 OXS

Joe Dillon

career--.333/.429, 762 OPS, 143 OXS
Marcel--.340/.430, 770 OPS, 146 OXS
2007 3B-.334/.427, 761 OPS, 143 OXS

Craig Counsell

career--.343/.347, 690 OPS, 119 OXS
2005-7--.337/.351, 688 OPS, 118 OXS
2007 SS-.322/.391, 713 OPS, 126 OXS

Eric Munson

career--.289/.394, 683 OPS, 114 OXS
2005-7--.294/.344, 638 OPS, 101 OXS
Marcel--.310/.390, 700 OPS, 121 OXS
2007 C--.318/.394, 712 OPS, 125 OPS


I'm not going to bother with the final spot, as I would assume it will be either Gabe Kapler or Tony Gwynn Jr, and needless to say, they will not garner much playing time, at least after the first 25 games. However, I am impressed that both Gross and Dillon grade out very nicely and could be seen as potential starters easily for some teams, Even Counsell and Munson, neither what I would call offensive weapons, grade out close to what their defense first positions average out at. I will take the easy way out here and say the bench is about average, and a +0.

That would put the starters at +95, with the bench at 0. Last year, the Brewers starters played about 82% of the time, which seems about normal. Since I took the easy way out, 18% of 0 remains 0, and 82% of 95 is 78, so I think it's probably safe to project the Brewers at about 78 runs above the NL "average". Last year, the Crew finished 38 runs above average.

UPDATE: Last year, the NL average was 763, so 78 above would be 841 runs, which would have finished 3rd, behind two teams that play in launching pads, the Phillies and Rockies.

If this team can stay as healthy as the '07 version, they should score about 40 runs more than last year. Considering the defense should also be either average or above average, compared to below average in '07, it is easy to see that even if the pitching remains the same, this should be an improved version in 2008.

If you believe many of the under 27 players will tend to improve more than Marcel thinks they will (as it actually has many regressing), it is very easy to be optimistic for the upcoming campaign.


1/14/2008 02:23:00 PM



(1/14/2008 02:02:00 PM) - Al

The only reason I am linking to this Chelsea Clinton (who has turned into a lovely young woman, after being awkward for much of her dad's time in the White House) piece is the way they refer to almost everyone by their year of graduation.

Must be a stuck-up school thing, as the UW-Eau Claire paper never did this.


1/14/2008 02:02:00 PM



(1/14/2008 01:55:00 PM) - Al

If I can get the media to work, I will be live-blogging the Cameron press conference at 4 or 5PM.


1/14/2008 01:55:00 PM



(1/14/2008 01:35:00 PM) - Al

Laporta invited to camp, and Tom thinks that it is very possible we'll see a Laporta/Hart/Braun OF at some point in 2009 or 2010.

I would tend to agree, or at the very least, that is the master plan as of this second.


1/14/2008 01:35:00 PM



(1/14/2008 10:52:00 AM) - Al

As expected, Cameron passes his physical, and will have a press conference late this afternoon.


1/14/2008 10:52:00 AM


Sunday, January 13, 2008

(1/13/2008 10:06:00 PM) - Al

Brad Wilkerson seems to me to be a name that still might be on the radar screen, as he is unlikely to get a starting spot anywhere else, and he can play 1B and all 3 OF spots. Just a thought before going off to sleepyland.


1/13/2008 10:06:00 PM



(1/13/2008 09:30:00 PM) - Al

The JS mentions how well Cameron has performed at NL Central venues of late.

A small sample to be sure, but again, it shows how he does hit nicely out of pitcher's parks he has called home.


1/13/2008 09:30:00 PM



(1/13/2008 08:28:00 PM) - Al

The pitchers in 2008, based on the projections of the Marcels:

Sheets---3.93
Suppan---4.62
Gallardo-3.76
Villy----3.97

Capuano--4.53
Bush-----4.55
Vargas---4.95

Parra----4.11


Gagne----4.24
Riske----3.87
Turnbow--4.36
Shouse---4.33
Torres---4.35
Mota-----4.80

McClung--5.11
Stetter--4.33


Well, that was yawn inducing. I misread Carlos' ERA as 3.79 last night, but if the Crew can get 100 starts from a trio of sub 4 ERA rotation members, I'll be plenty happy.


1/13/2008 08:28:00 PM



(1/13/2008 02:44:00 PM) - Al

76% Rudy Giuliani
74% John McCain
66%Mitt Romney
64%Mike Huckabee
60% Fred Thompson
53% Hillary Clinton
53% Bill Richardson
52% Chris Dodd
50% Barack Obama
50% Joe Biden
49% John Edwards
48% Tom Tancredo
40% Ron Paul
39% Dennis Kucinich
39% Mike Gravel



Obviously, this is a mistake, as I don't think I'd agree with Ron Paul if he said the world was round. You can take the quiz by clicking on the link below.

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz


1/13/2008 02:44:00 PM



(1/13/2008 02:19:00 PM) - Al

Like almost everyone, I expected TV viewing to go down quite a bit as soon as they ran out of new shows...so, what happens if ratings do not fall?

Of course, it is early, as many shows still have new episodes. But, I would have to imagine if reality and midseason replacements (as well as a few cable shows the networks are stealing) fare nearly as well as the regular programming, there will be no incentive to negotiate.


1/13/2008 02:19:00 PM



(1/13/2008 12:08:00 PM) - Al

Later today, I will be looking at the Marcels for the Brewers' staff...I was surprised to see Ben Sheets had the 3rd highest projected ERA in the expected rotation...if that's the case, I expect a successful 2008.


1/13/2008 12:08:00 PM



(1/13/2008 11:26:00 AM) - Al

Al,

First time writer here, just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate a long post using skills and studying to determine an estimate of how many runs the Brewers should score. Usually, any time stuff like that is written, it's a columnist using outdated factors, such as clutch hitting and putting the ball in play. It was nice sitting down on a snowy night and actually, with some degree of certainty, seeing that the Brewers are probably a very solid run producing team.

Two ramblings of my own for you. One, if OXS is about 98% accurate (and whenever you have shown the numbers, it seems to be), why is this not a more commonly used statistic? Two, you and I both know that a player that steals 20 bases without being caught adds to the run production, is this so uncommon it just doesn't matter?

Cheers,

Gerry


Gerry, thanks for the e-mail and for the kind words.

OXS is extremely accurate, yet is not used because most people don't understand it. Heck, many folks don't get OBP and SLG, so a component combining the two loses almost everyone. Anytime a formula like this "works", not using it is beyond ridiculous. This year, it was exactly 98%, which is the highest I can recall.

As for the SB question, your example is true and very rare. The success rate on steals is about 65-70%, and has been for a very long time. The break-even rate is supposedly about 67%, so overall, trying to steal a base leads to about +0 overall. Other factors, such as strikeouts, taking an extra base, being gritty and scrappy, and so on, while not meaningless, are pretty darn close. Many teams, such as the Twins, are often said to be "good at the little things", while teams like the Red Sox just smack the ball around, make the routine plays, and pitch nicely...they do the big things well, and I think their record speaks for itself.


1/13/2008 11:26:00 AM



(1/13/2008 10:53:00 AM) - Al

Less than 25% of Americans now own a gun, and 10% own 3/4th's of them, according to this piece.

Way back at the pizza place in Eau Claire, a co-worker said once he did not see any reason for anyone to own a handgun, as if you did want a gun for hunting or to protect your family, a large rifle would do nicely. I have never really heard that theory disproved in the 15 years since.

I did a report ages ago and I know a gun in the house is many times more likely to kill a member of the household than an intruder. That fact alone is one reason for the decline in ownership.


1/13/2008 10:53:00 AM


Saturday, January 12, 2008

(1/12/2008 08:55:00 PM) - Al

This is also the way I used to do my chemistry labs in college...I'd come up with the answer I needed, and then I'd make sure all the numbers used matched up with the answer.

Of course, my fibs were never quoted as fact by many newscasters and journalists either.


1/12/2008 08:55:00 PM


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