Al's Ramblings



Sunday, November 30, 2008

(11/30/2008 07:06:00 PM) - Al

Tom H feels Sheets will be offered arby, but Shouse may not be.

I gotta side with Adam, as I don't think Shouse poses much of a risk...at worst, he signs a 1y/$3M deal if he accepts arby. Sheets meanwhile, could get $15M in arby, and given his state of injury, may not be at 100% for some time (or he may be fine, we just do not know).

My money is still on Doug offering all 3 arby, but I would hesitate on Sheets before Shouse.

If you scroll down a bit, right now, 60 of 61 voters feel Ben should be offered arbitration...we'll have to see if Doug was the one "no" vote.:)


11/30/2008 07:06:00 PM



(11/30/2008 06:59:00 PM) - Al

On the CBS news break:

--Holiday sales up 7% this weekend.

--Gas prices are at a several years low of $1.83/gallon.

--The stock market will open tomorrow on a 5 session winning streak.

I tell ya, I'm not sure if we can stand much more of this economy! My goodness, the news could not be much more upbeat.


11/30/2008 06:59:00 PM



(11/30/2008 01:52:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers could soon become suitors for Francisco Rodriguez.--MLBTR, recapping BP

Despite Doug's discussions about improving his rotation first, the Crew keeps getting mentioned as suitors for Fuentes and KRod. Maybe it is just because people think they will have money to spend, but often, where there's smoke, there's fire.

I have said often that if anyone signs KRod to a 5y/$75M deal like he is said to want, they will regret it. However, if we're talking about a Cordero sized, 4y/$43M deal, I can't say I'm against it. All things being equal, I like Fuentes for 3y rather than KRod for 4.


11/30/2008 01:52:00 PM



(11/30/2008 01:09:00 PM) - Al

Should the Brewers offer arbitration to Ben Sheets?
Yes, 2 draft picks are worth the risk
Yes, I hope he accepts; he's a good pitcher
Yes, I can't believe he'd accept
No, not worth the risk of an injury
No, not good enough to pay $12-14M for 2009
What's arbitration?
  
pollcode.com free polls


11/30/2008 01:09:00 PM



(11/30/2008 11:45:00 AM) - Al

Some doubt the Crew might offer Sheets arby...of course, doubts about his health make sense. Remember, most folks were shocked when Doug did not offer Tomo Ohka arby, and TO has not been the same since.

In Doug we trust.

ADDED: Adam discusses this as well, basically saying CC and Shouse will be offered arby, no to Gagne, and the maybe is Sheets. I would have to agree 100%.

Note at the bottom Doug seems very unconcerned about the bullpen, seeing no reason to discuss a deal with a veteran like Mota until others start signing.


11/30/2008 11:45:00 AM



(11/30/2008 11:42:00 AM) - Al

Heh, change or a 3rd term for Bush?


11/30/2008 11:42:00 AM



(11/30/2008 01:32:00 AM) - Al

Another name I keep hearing brought up is Orlando Hudson. OH is a solid 2B, but take a look at his career line...why the sudden success in ARI? Well, a look at his career road numbers makes it pretty obvious...he's a 750 OPS guy masquerading as an elite middle infielder because he plays half his games in the offensive paradise of Arizona.

Any doubters need just to look at his 2008 splits...wow.

Or if you prefer, his '07 splits.

Or his 2006's?

It really makes me shake my head at how many casuals want to pay more for a 2B that simply is extremely unlikely to produce more than Rickie Weeks. If you wish, make the argument Orlando is a better fielder and projects at a level similar to Rickie...but let's not expect him to match his thin air 'Zona numbers.

He's a nice piece to a puzzle, but getting older and more expensive only wins more games in the bizarro world.


11/30/2008 01:32:00 AM



(11/30/2008 01:04:00 AM) - Al

November is going to be the 5th most visited and 4th in page views ever, but that's not bad at all, considering the lack of baseball, a short month, and a long holiday weekend. Up 40% from last year, it is all good, so thanks for visiting.


11/30/2008 01:04:00 AM



(11/30/2008 01:02:00 AM) - Al

Looks like it's time to come in off the ledge, as sales are up 3% on black Friday.

UPDATE: Glenn is as negative as the "real" media, but his point is well taken. However, it should remain clear to retailers that deep discounting is what is bringing in the crowds and bumping up the sales.

I see scary good deals on clothes and especially winter clothing on 12/26, but we do annually. Time will tell if other categories will follow.


11/30/2008 01:02:00 AM



(11/30/2008 12:42:00 AM) - Al

Al, I'm wondering what your take is on this. Over dinner, my wife & I were discussing the Crew and Griffey, Jr.'s name popped up. He should come relatively cheap, bats lefty, can play a couple outfield spots and seems to be resigned to the fact that he's not an everyday player anymore. I assume we'll lose Gabe (Kapler) in FA, so this may help shore up the bench (and consequently offer more nuggets of outfield wisdom for Braunie & Hart). I know the name is sexier than the player at this point, but Doug does like veteran, multi-positional guys.

p.s You've helped change my appreciation for the best game ever invented. Thank you for helping me help others off the ledge this past year.

Shawn


I have mentioned Jim Edmonds as a more realistic option, Shawn. Griffey would indeed fit the same basic needs (though to call him a CF at this point is likely more reminiscent than realistic), but I doubt he would accept less than 100 starts a year. He would be a nice fit as a platoon guy, and of course, in the AL, where he can spell the DH or split time there.

If Cameron is kept, I don't see Doug making a call to Junior's agent.

EDIT: I just checked, and he'll be 39, and has taken a serious step down in production in the past 3 years. He's a mere shell of the HOF player you think of when you hear his name. He's a poor man's Gabe Gross at this point.


11/30/2008 12:42:00 AM



(11/30/2008 12:25:00 AM) - Al

Nice signing by the Royals, almost no risk, and any C that can do anything but swing feebly is worth bringing in.


11/30/2008 12:25:00 AM


Saturday, November 29, 2008

(11/29/2008 02:27:00 PM) - Al

Remember the barrage of stories we saw about how Obama kept getting $20 and $25 contributions from "regular folks". How the billions he raised was almost all from lower and middle class donors?

Much like Bigfoot and women not being grumpy, looks like it was a myth created by his campaign, and of course, lapped up by the old media, with no investigation required.

If it was a movie, no one would believe it.


11/29/2008 02:27:00 PM



(11/29/2008 11:03:00 AM) - Al

Quentin Richardson will play on Saturday despite a bruised forearm.

The Knicks can't afford another injury and it doesn't sound serious, though his shot might be less reliable than usual. With only seven healthy players, the Knicks assistant coaches wound up scrimmaging on Friday.--Rotoworld


It's really tough to figure out how in the world the Knicks can play for a couple weeks with only seven healthy players. What is especially funny is, Stephen Marbury had to dress to give them the league minimum of 8...but he refuses to play anyway. I suppose today one of their injured players will dress to give them 8, but c'mon. How can you not have an injured list of some sort? Imagine what tickets cost in New York City, and how much the TV and radio rights are, it is a very odd to let a team flounder like that.


11/29/2008 11:03:00 AM


Friday, November 28, 2008

(11/28/2008 11:10:00 PM) - Al

The Taj operation is over. The last two terrorists holed up there have been killed.

It takes an Indian police chief to say this without the least bit of guilt. Of course, the only way to get rid of these goons is to eliminate them, but our media has often tried to tell the story that problems can be solved by talking softly, holding hands, and singing folk songs.


11/28/2008 11:10:00 PM



(11/28/2008 07:33:00 PM) - Al

Red Sox acquired RHP Wes Littleton from the Rangers for two players to be named or cash.

A nice pickup for the Red Sox. Littleton hasn't been all that effective since his rookie season in 2006, but he has a 3.69 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 102 1/3 innings as a major leaguer. Outside of Arlington, he has a 2.70 ERA in 53 1/3 innings. When Littleton's sinker is working, he's an outstanding middle reliever. Still, he didn't show the same stuff last season as he did earlier in his career.--Rotoworld


I thought Wes might end up with the Crew, but Theo strikes again.


11/28/2008 07:33:00 PM



(11/28/2008 03:20:00 PM) - Al

The Rambling wife is headed home, but reports that lots and stores are still packed, though not so much it is difficult to shop.


11/28/2008 03:20:00 PM



(11/28/2008 03:17:00 PM) - Al

Trying to project '09 pitching, and Capuano is included, but Parra is not?

Needless to say, that's not going to be very accurate.


11/28/2008 03:17:00 PM



(11/28/2008 12:44:00 PM) - Al

Update below post, and yet another.

.314/.411, 725 OPS, 77 simple runs created--Brewers' 3B production in '08

.313/.402, 705 OPS, 75 src--Mark Teahen, 2008

.332/.421, 753 OPS, 84 src--Teahen, career


Bonus points if anyone can name one, two, or three of the following statlines.

Hint, one is not a player, and two of them are the same player; also, it has to do with improving the Crew in '09.

UPDATE: Matt correctly guesses that one is the 3B for the Crew last year, but incorrectly guesses the others are Gamel's projections or major league equivalent. What are the other two, now that you have a big hint?

UPDATE 2: Mark Teahen's stats from 2008 and his career stats. I never looked into Teahan until tonight, but I don't feel he is the answer at 3B or anywhere else. He had very nice stats in 2006 and 2007, but had BABIP's of .329 and .359 in those years. I wouldn't want to trade players to find out if he is as good as his 2007-2008 seasons. Until somebody can come up with something better than a Hall/Branyan platoon or Branyan retires/seeks a contract elsewhere, that platoon seems the best way to go. If Branyan happens to get hurt, we bring up Gamel. I wouldn't trade players for a marginal upgrade.

Reggie


I think it's a Gamel/RH bat platoon for '09, Hall if he is still with the team. My point was, the calls to bring in Teahen, who had a worse '08 than the Hall/Branyan/Counsell combo, seems very strange. This is similar to the constant "let's replace Weeks with X, who invariably is older, more expensive, and not as productive. When Doug said Gamel projects just as well as many of the 3B on the market, it seems likely he was speaking of Teahen.

After looking at Teahan I would think it compares to many of the left handed suggestions as a replacement for Cameron. Pierre and Dave Roberts being the 2 that come to mind. So far the only left handed player named that seems to make much sense is DeJesus. Every other LHB is either worse than the player they are supposed to replace or a very marginal upgrade probably not worth giving up players for. I think there are alot of people who have left handed batters on the brain. I would prefer not to go with Gamel simply because I think it would be better not to platoon him at this point. I think it would be detrimental because he is likely an everyday player for us in the future.

Reggie


Reggie chimes in again, and I agree fully. I've seen ridiculous names brought up (Pierre being the worst, Roberts close) because they hit for a slightly higher BA than Cameron, as if lowering the CF's OBP, SLG, and defensive ability will be what sparks the team...because the new guy will bat from the left side.

It also amazes me how people act like if they have heard of a player, or if they were good a half-decade ago, they can easily just step in and play CF every day. I would like either Dave or Juan as a $1.5M reserve OF, but the point is, they are due several times that, and their days of playing 150 games per year are several trips around sun past.


11/28/2008 12:44:00 PM



(11/28/2008 12:26:00 PM) - Al

Theo breaks another "gentleman's agreement", and has a nice young player because of it.

Simply put, he's the best GM in the game. He's a step ahead of everyone else, and in many cases, 3 or 4.


11/28/2008 12:26:00 PM



(11/28/2008 12:21:00 PM) - Al

Bloomberg seems to give out a lot of positives in this Black Friday article...5K people waiting outside Macy's this morning, sales expecterd to be up 1% among same stores open more than a year. My favorite was the guy outside Best Buy, complaining about th economy of course, waiting to buy a big screen TV for himself. Obviously, a necessity.:)

The Rambling wife reports that places are plenty busy, but not overwhelming, and with plenty of registers open, it's a quick checkout.

UPDATE: I made it out about 10, and was able to get a couple things I needed. Shopko had their lines set up like a bank, and it went back to the back of the store and then over, probably about 50 people deep, but I got through it in 10-12 minutes. There and at Walgreen's, people ahead of me complained that something did not ring up properly, and in both places, the customer was incorrect...WG still gave them the ad price, while Shopko did not. FYI, the cashier's name at Shopko was "Kramer"...not sure if it's a nickname or her given name. Amazingly, Seinfeld was around 16-17 years ago, so I guess it is possible.

Crowds were very big, and carts were full...I was at Shopko with a single item, and 90% of the shoppers had a cart as I walked to the back of the line. Parking lots were packed, several people waiting for a spot after letting someone out to go in.

CNBC is discussing that malls seem to be loaded with people, though they are questioning margin and profit. AMEX had issues this AM, so some people were getting "fraud alerts" and having their transactions declined, as people were buying at many different stores, like a person with a stolen card would.

The Dow was up for the 5th day in a row...it seems many are as optimistic as I am that this downtime in the economy will be short, though growth may not be as robust as in the past.


11/28/2008 12:21:00 PM


Thursday, November 27, 2008

(11/27/2008 09:43:00 PM) - Al

I have a couple comments about Rosie's special doing so badly:

1. Middle America despises Rosie.

2. A 1.2? That's less than most cable news shows get.

3. Did I mention most people hate Rosie? You don't go around saying 9/11 was an inside job and then headline a variety show. Simply put, most Americans don't stand for that...of course, the East and West Coast folks that program the networks may be just a tad out of touch...


11/27/2008 09:43:00 PM



(11/27/2008 09:26:00 PM) - Al

The Crew seems to be one of the leaders in their charity work as well, both players and the team.


11/27/2008 09:26:00 PM



(11/27/2008 09:25:00 PM) - Al

The Brewers win an award for their in stadium sales.


11/27/2008 09:25:00 PM



(11/27/2008 07:28:00 PM) - Al

The Rambling wife is going out shopping early tomorrow with her family in the Twin Cities. I spoke to her and she said most were kind of unimpressed with the Black Friday ads, as nothing seems to "stand out".

I just glanced through them, but I have to agree. Even the clothing deals, which don't excite us, seem lackluster.


11/27/2008 07:28:00 PM



(11/27/2008 10:07:00 AM) - Al

MLBTR links to Omar Minaya of the Mets thinking Brian Fuentes asking for $10-11M per for 3 years is "a little high"...heck, I'd say it's a bargain, especially when you consider his secondary numbers make him comparable to KRod, and let's face it, that's less of a commitment than the Brewers offered and the Reds gave Frankie Cordero.


11/27/2008 10:07:00 AM



(11/27/2008 12:01:00 AM) - Al

I know many of you won't check out the blog until Monday after work today, so I am going to post some requested and popular links here and then switch the date to tomorrow so that it has a Thanksgiving header. For Wednesday PM content, please scroll down.

Dr. Schullman's Thanksgiving story. By far the most requested link in Ramblings' history, someone e-mails for this several times a year.

Bobby Warns' tribute page...we should all be very thankful that we have a military full of men and women who are willing to take on evil and kill or be killed. Regardless of how many times I link to it (it's on the sidebar too, mind you), someone always writes to say they watched it for the first time and how well it is done. If you wish, there is a donation area on there for a trust fund for Bobby's daughter, who was born after he gave his life to protect ours. I promise you, no other gift this holiday season will go to a better cause.

Ben Stein wrote this nearly 5 years ago, and it's just as true today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, a true American holiday.


11/27/2008 12:01:00 AM


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

(11/26/2008 11:54:00 PM) - Al

We ate at a Waffle House while on our honeymoon, and we were both terribly disappointed, so this comes as no surprise to me.


11/26/2008 11:54:00 PM



(11/26/2008 11:51:00 PM) - Al

Take a look at this chart that looks at inflation adjusted home values, and how closely it matches nominal home value. It's like a twin.


11/26/2008 11:51:00 PM



(11/26/2008 11:48:00 PM) - Al

Good to see Petsmart is opening at 7AM Friday.

Sometimes, things are just so stupid, the fact itself is funnier than anything I could say about it.

UPDATE:Al,

My question isn't what time Petsmart opens *Friday*, it's what time they open *Thursday*. Turkey's expensive, don't you know?

...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Cam


Heh.


11/26/2008 11:48:00 PM



(11/26/2008 11:00:00 PM) - Al

I buy a Butterball every year. To the likes of me, that counts as a premium turkey.

Glenn's answer to everything seems to be more Merlot. I've never had leg of lamb, so that would be interesting.

If it were up to me, we'd either do a turkey breast or a turkey "loaf", as a turkey is just too much bird, especially since the Rambling wife is not a fan. I also request country gravy annually, but am always outvoted 1-1 (you married guys understand). Alas, it is at the in-laws this year, though I am a bit under the weather, so I don't think I will be attending. The Rambling son stayed home from school Monday with stomach issues, and it seems it has now inflicted me.

I may well be having jello with a fruit juice chaser for my holiday.:)


11/26/2008 11:00:00 PM



(11/26/2008 10:28:00 PM) - Al

I refrained from posting these when I saw 'em, but since Vince and Ben both sent me the link, I guess it's time to post the lovely photos of Trenni's going away party...with Tony W of the JS hanging all over her, exactly as you'd expect.

UPDATE: Josh e-mails to say he doesn't think that is Tony Witrado in the pics that I linked. FYI, I don't know the guy, so I could not tell you.


11/26/2008 10:28:00 PM



(11/26/2008 09:29:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I work for a beverage company and upon recent discussions with fellow managers we have stumbled upon some interesting numbers that bring a different perspective upon our current status. If you compare our sales from the pre-Thanksgiving week one would think we are down 10 to 15% vs. prior years, which we are. But if you take a step back and look at our numbers from last year and compare them to Novembers of years past you'll find that Nov '07 was the 2nd best month for sales in the past 10 years. Nov '08 is actually down around 2 to 5% from a "normal" November.

You can easily draw comparisons to "casual fans" of baseball and the "casual" fan of reading today's headline or the guy looking at the stock ticker day to day.

"Sure Rickie Weeks had a tough week last week, but you compare his season numbers to other 2B he is right in the middle of the pack."

Substitute the economy for Rickie, and last week with the last month and the conversations appear to be eerily similar.

I remember reading somewhere on the interweb (perhaps somewhere I frequent often) that you are never as good as when things are going good, and you are never as bad as when things are going bad (or something similar) but this definitely seems to be holding true in many aspects of our lives right now.

Continue being the voice of reason in our not so reasonable world. And keep up with the excellent reading material.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Scott


I'm telling you Scott, whoever said that about good and bad is a genius.:)

Considering that this is probably the 2nd highest traveled Thanksgiving in US history, that sure isn't being reported, I suppose because it doesn't fit into the "big picture" that is being painted. Much of the economic crunch has been seriously relieved by the decrease in gas prices, at least for many lower and middle class folks who either commute quite a bit or travel for recreation (think many hunters). However, even when Wal Mart reports record sales and profits, it is not because they are simply the most efficient retail machine that has ever sold, but because Bill and Melinda Gates are reduced to shopping there.

I read the other day that while expensive French wine sales are down, the cheap (yet high quality, or at least they claim) California wines are doing big business. My goodness, if it's bad for the French, it has to be good for us, right?

On a related note, it must just kill snobby wine people that bargain vintage commonly called Two Buck Chuck (it's sold for $1.99 in CA) has won awards, when matched against moderate and pricey bottles.


11/26/2008 09:29:00 PM



(11/26/2008 09:21:00 PM) - Al

I'm flipping some this evening, and on The Iron Chef, one of the ingredients was whole duck...head, feathers, feet, the whole carcass. One of the chefs seemed to be a master plucker, and quickly got an entire bird featherless. Another struggled, and was doing a lot of cutting off of the skin to get to the meat. The one who had done so well then started just cutting into a bird (the announcer said this was "Asian style"), literally ripping it apart with his hands, as he tore out some of the prime meat and organs, as the snow white feathers turned red.

Let me tell you, if the folks who were upset about Palin visiting a poultry facility saw it, they may be lying on the floor, knees up to their chin, weeping.

Here I thought they just magically transformed into plastic wrapped, giblet filled packages in the back of the grocery store.:)


11/26/2008 09:21:00 PM



(11/26/2008 06:20:00 PM) - Al

Al,

I'm heading home so I won't be able to wait until the market closes, but did you see the Dow is up almost 20% in the last 4 days? I think that 7500 close will be looked at 5-10 years from now as a "if you would have bought here" threshold.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Benji


America's favorite canine checks in with another fact that's quietly being ignored.

UPDATE: Dow ends up 15.5%, the S&P 18%. I gotta agree with the "if" chart however.


11/26/2008 06:20:00 PM



(11/26/2008 06:09:00 PM) - Al

Doug thinks movement is slow partly because of the economy. Also, he has no idea where he stands on CC.


11/26/2008 06:09:00 PM



(11/26/2008 05:53:00 PM) - Al

It's not a war, it's a humanitarian mission.

So, did Obama oppose helping people when he was against the more successful than ever imagined surge? This leads to all sorts of questions/rewriting of history.


11/26/2008 05:53:00 PM



(11/26/2008 04:58:00 PM) - Al

Al,

If the airports were packed, all we'd see is stories about those poor stranded people who had a flight delayed. AS you say, "If it bleeds it leads", but more truthfully, "Bad news first, good news in the last 90 seconds".

My wife and I often watch The 700 Club, where the good things takes up the majority of the broadcast, and "the bad" usually focuses on famine and disease elsewhere in the world. That gets you refocused quickly, as you realize our struggles involve us buying fewer brand name goodies and maybe only replacing a car every 5 years instead of every 3.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Robert W


Well said, and happy holidays as well.


11/26/2008 04:58:00 PM



(11/26/2008 03:14:00 PM) - Al

Today, I had Yes Dear on TBS on in the background.

Jimmy: Have a cheese fry.

Greg: Mmm, this is good...what kind of cheese is this?

Jimmy: Whiz.

Heh. As a white guy who lives in the Midwest, allow me to say I enjoy Cheese Whiz on many items. That said, this helps to explain why the critics (of which every one lives in New York or LA) absolutely despised Yes Dear.


11/26/2008 03:14:00 PM



(11/26/2008 02:10:00 PM) - Al

Some hyperbole about fewer people traveling this Thanksgiving...estimated to be down a bit this year, but after the biggest travel ever last year, it seems likely this will be the 2nd most heavy travel of any T-giving in history...it's all in the way you report it.

That's why when someone says foreclosures are double of last year, it sounds terrible; but when it is said 96% of all mortgages are current, it does not...so how do you think the dying media usually reports it? There's a reason why they're losing readers every day, my friends.


11/26/2008 02:10:00 PM



(11/26/2008 02:06:00 PM) - Al

An Admirals/Brewers ticket combo...basically a 2 for 1.


11/26/2008 02:06:00 PM



(11/26/2008 02:00:00 PM) - Al

BCB looks at the pitchers in the AFL...except for Jeffress, a low ceiling group, it would appear. Hopefully, we can get a couple relievers out of the group.


11/26/2008 02:00:00 PM



(11/26/2008 01:04:00 PM) - Al

Officers found a half-gallon bottle of vodka on the urine soaked seat"

Drunk driving footage. You could easily make the case for just shooting this buffoon in the head, as Dennis Miller would say, to "cull the herd".


11/26/2008 01:04:00 PM



(11/26/2008 12:50:00 PM) - Al

Haudricourt also notes that Doug Melvin talked to Gabe Kapler but did not make an offer. Melvin may be more focused on lefthanded hitters. It's been suggested that the Red Sox could bring Kapler back.--MLBTR

I'm sure Doug would be thrilled to have Kapler back, but one has to remember Gabe had a very good '08 and is unlikely to match it, but will probably be paid for it. Also, Doug would prefer an OF who bats lefty, though I'm sure a Kapler/lefty OF capable of playing all 3 OF spots would be ideal.


11/26/2008 12:50:00 PM



(11/26/2008 12:44:00 AM) - Al

There are no perfect fits for the right field vacancy, and the Cubs are willing to sacrifice some defense to add that middle of the order lefthanded hitter.--MLBTR

Soriano in LF and they don't mind going after a terrible defensive RF like Raul Ibanez? Robbing Peter to pay Paul doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me...especially with their stellar pitching staff.


11/26/2008 12:44:00 AM



(11/26/2008 12:39:00 AM) - Al

Doug does not commit to offering arby to Sheets, but I can't believe he'd mind having him back for a year. No word on CC, so Doug left a message. Still looking for LH bats, but note that it is never said he wants them as regulars.


11/26/2008 12:39:00 AM


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

(11/25/2008 09:19:00 PM) - Al

This is amusing when one considers the spoken hatred of the coal industry by the office of the president-elect


11/25/2008 09:19:00 PM



(11/25/2008 09:04:00 PM) - Al

My first thought when I saw the little sign on the podium was that he didn't fire the idiot who told him to make a fake seal a few months ago. I understand the idea, Lou Holtz did it to perfection, tell everyone what a disaster you are and how great the opponent is, and then when Notre Dame wins 38-9, shrug your shoulders and feign surprise.

However, it seems far from presidential.


11/25/2008 09:04:00 PM



(11/25/2008 08:48:00 PM) - Al

The Crew signs RJ Swindle to a major league contract, I discussed him here.

Fine signing in very aspect. That guy can pitch. I would say the odds of Shouse returning are suddenly rather slim, unless he is willing to sign a one year deal.


11/25/2008 08:48:00 PM



(11/25/2008 01:49:00 PM) - Al

Dr. Pepper will give you a free bottle of carbonated goodness on Sunday.


11/25/2008 01:49:00 PM



(11/25/2008 12:45:00 PM) - Al

Rickie Weeks is a star compared to most 2nd overall picks, especially middle infielders. Strange perspective and very l-o-n-g, but interesting to see how poorly those 32 picks have fared.


11/25/2008 12:45:00 PM



(11/25/2008 11:41:00 AM) - Al

Some young farmhands got a tour of the famous "tent city" while in Arizona.


11/25/2008 11:41:00 AM



(11/25/2008 10:29:00 AM) - Al

A look at Bill Hall's future...I'd predict him more like his '07 season, right about a 750 OPS, myself.


11/25/2008 10:29:00 AM



(11/25/2008 07:06:00 AM) - Al

I'm on the road today, but some scheduled posts will be popping up during the day...much like this one did.


11/25/2008 07:06:00 AM


Monday, November 24, 2008

(11/24/2008 10:25:00 PM) - Al

BCB reviews the hitting numbers from the AFL...Lo Cain was impressive, and now that Mike Brantley is in CLE, may be the heir apparent, as he and Caleb Gindl would appear to have the highest ceiling of any OF in the system, at least until someone gets moved there.


11/24/2008 10:25:00 PM



(11/24/2008 09:34:00 PM) - Al

The Crew signs Jason Bourgeois to a minor league contract, with the prerequisite non-roster invite almost always given to minor league free agents.

Looks like a nice utility guy, as he can play almost anywhere on the diamond in a pinch. But, as a RH bat, his chances to make the 25 man would appear bleak. He has not played SS for several years, so he would only look to make the team as a backup OF.


11/24/2008 09:34:00 PM



(11/24/2008 09:10:00 PM) - Al

5 unique turkeys you can order...how awful does that vegan turkey look by the way? Oof, I think most everyone I know would gladly take sickness and an early death over eating compressed bean curd with faux "gravy" on it.

Speaking of unusual poultry, I made my whole chicken in the crock pot yesterday...don't be afraid to go very heavy on the spices, as it comes out very plain. I should have layered it with salt, garlic, pepper, and probably rotisserie chicken seasoning as well...I put a few pats of butter under the skin, and should have used half a stick.

However, after 3 hours, it was at 180+, so I should have watched it closer, as the white meat was a bit dry.


11/24/2008 09:10:00 PM



(11/24/2008 08:17:00 PM) - Al

I must admit, I'm astounded at the lack of reporting in Iraq, really ever since things started going well.

It's going to be one of the quietest examples of American infantry muscle in the last 100 years.


11/24/2008 08:17:00 PM



(11/24/2008 06:44:00 PM) - Al

Seth McClung is in the crowd tonight at the Bucks' game in Orlando...allow it to be said his wife or girlfriend can be labeled "very attractive"...shocking, I know.


11/24/2008 06:44:00 PM



(11/24/2008 05:25:00 PM) - Al

Discounts seem a bit more aggressive, but I have not noticed anything that would get me out of bed at 5AM yet...heck, not even close. I talked to some former coworkers of mine today and other than selling one item well below cost on Friday, most of the deals look pedestrian...the same stuff really cheap year after year. Wal Mart's ad came in the mail today and I was impressed...but I might drive over at 10:30 or 11 to see if any of their "all day deals" are still in stock.

Laptops seemed to be $199-299 a couple years ago, and not only did they stop falling, they've risen back up to the $400 range. Maybe someone can tell me why. Most all electronics, in fact, have stagnated badly.

EDIT: This article gives some ideas, but to be honest, they look the same as you'd find almost any Sunday.


11/24/2008 05:25:00 PM



(11/24/2008 05:10:00 PM) - Al

Adam has his weekly mailbag, and rightly tells people not to worry about who the #2 SP is...1-4 all get pretty much the same chances.


11/24/2008 05:10:00 PM



(11/24/2008 12:17:00 PM) - Al

A list of a few Rule 5 targets, it seems easy to imagine the lefty hitting C, Skelton, fitting in on the Brewers, as Jason will likely catch 130-140 games.

EDIT/BUMP: You know, if the Crew keeps Rottino as the backup C, they could literally "hide" Skelton (or any other catcher, for that matter) extremely easily...Rottino can double as a PH/all-around utility guy on days he does not catch, which would leave Skelton's only real purpose as the "last guy off the bench in case Kendall gets hurt", a role Mike Rivera filled admirably in '08.

Casey McGehee has also caught on occasion, and it's possible he could be utilized in this manner as well, in the place of Rottino.


11/24/2008 12:17:00 PM



(11/24/2008 11:52:00 AM) - Al

River Ave Blues thinks Sheets is a better investment than Burnett, and he's right. AJ has been hurt a lot as well, but no one seems hesitant to give him 4 years, while Ben may struggle to get more than 1-2.


11/24/2008 11:52:00 AM



(11/24/2008 10:01:00 AM) - Al

BCB links an unnewsy interview with Ken Macha, sounds like he has chatted with Jaosn Kendall since being hired.


11/24/2008 10:01:00 AM



(11/24/2008 09:53:00 AM) - Al

MN ought to be ashamed of themselves, as they seem to be conducting this recount by the slowest, most inefficient means possible.


11/24/2008 09:53:00 AM


Sunday, November 23, 2008

(11/23/2008 06:58:00 PM) - Al

The Royals are specifically eyeing Sean Marshall and Mike Fontenot as targets while discussing a trade for Mark Teahen with the Chicago Cubs.---MLBTR

I hope they do not mean both for Teahen...maybe they should throw in Felix Pie as well to get the immortal Mark Teahen...who might be a utility guy for the Royals if he's not deqalt.


11/23/2008 06:58:00 PM



(11/23/2008 06:00:00 PM) - Al

MLBTR discusses the Brewers in regards to Sabathia, Sheets, and signing a top closer.


11/23/2008 06:00:00 PM



(11/23/2008 03:07:00 PM) - Al

Who will W pardon?

The ones I'd look forward to is the border agents. Note that he has been "miserly", so the number will probably be tiny compared to others.


11/23/2008 03:07:00 PM



(11/23/2008 02:39:00 PM) - Al

The Rambling wife mentioned this to me last night...Michaels Arts and Crafts is open Thanksgiving evening this year. By the looks of the message board, they are staffing by volunteer only, however, if one has to wonder if not enough folks want to work...

I realize that some people; policemen, firefighters, security guards, movie theaters and convenience store folks to name a few, work holidays and nothing can be changed...you need gas, you need public safety, people go to the movies, and so on. But, KMart started the Thanksgiving thing, and experienced such success with it they declared bankruptcy a few years later. When I was with Toys R Us in the early 90's, they tested it, and decided it was not worth the small amount of business they did, and did mention the poor message it sent to their associates, having to work that day.

I'd say it reeks of desperation, and I have to wonder how exactly three hours of good sales (assuming the herds flock to them) will have any effect on a company already open 362 days a year. ..it seems minimal to nonexistent. It also makes it tough to simply let that business go next year, hence, an evil cycle. I am not one to tell folks to "boycott" such things, as it is up to the individual to make such calls for themselves, but I will say it seems kind of sad so many plans, shoppers and employees, will be changing their plans for such a minor blip.


11/23/2008 02:39:00 PM



(11/23/2008 02:03:00 PM) - Al

Expect a return to norm for Dave Bush next year?

Time will tell, but I seem to recall several formulas suggesting he had pitched in bad luck prior to last year.


11/23/2008 02:03:00 PM



(11/23/2008 01:29:00 PM) - Al

So, if delaying the raise in taxes on successful folks will help rid the downtrodden economy quicker, why would you ever raise them once things get going again?

You can drive a truck through that hole in reasoning.


11/23/2008 01:29:00 PM


Saturday, November 22, 2008

(11/22/2008 09:48:00 PM) - Al

Jimmy Kimmel goes to an African-American barbershop to ask what he can joke about and what he can't. It's very well done, but I promise you, we'll never hear anything a fraction as bad as what has gone on the last 8 years.


11/22/2008 09:48:00 PM



(11/22/2008 04:44:00 PM) - Al

Sources told the Kyodo News that the Cubs, Mets, Brewers and Padres have displayed interest in free agent Ken Takahashi.

Takahashi is expected to sign with a U.S. team, though he may have to settle for a minor league contract. The 39-year-old lefty was 8-5 with a 3.50 ERA for the Carp last season.--Rotoworld


Sounds like he'd be a lefty specialist here in the US. If anyone offers him guaranteed money, he'll probably sign there. He's probably looking at a 1y/$600-750K deal.


11/22/2008 04:44:00 PM



(11/22/2008 02:34:00 PM) - Al

I remember when the Bucks played Oklahoma City, I saw the introductions and I said to myself, "They'll be lucky to win 15 games".

Looks like PJ pays the price.


11/22/2008 02:34:00 PM



(11/22/2008 02:15:00 PM) - Al

An article about former AAA manager Frank Kremblas, which was written in Spanish and then translated, so it reads awkwardly (however, it still reads better than most all my stuff).

It's easy to see some hints about why Doug let him look elsewhere. Doug did not want Dale having guys bunt and such all summer long, and I'm sure he did not care to see the backup catcher running "because Frank had a hunch".


11/22/2008 02:15:00 PM



(11/22/2008 01:43:00 PM) - Al

Minor league free agent John Van Benschoten informed the Pirates Friday that he is going to seek a roster spot with another organization.

After eight disappointing years, the former first-round pick will try his luck with another club. Van Benschoten has always had success in the minors (he went 7-4 with a 3.92 ERA at Triple-A in '08), but basically falls apart once promoted.--Rotoworld


This is exactly the type of guy who ends up with a six figure signing bonus and/or a 40 man spot as a minor league FA...former first round pick, very good AAA stats, and a 5-1 K/BB ratio in the bigs, even though he has struggled immensely.

14 HR's allowed in 90 major league innings
14 HR's allowed in 600+ minor league innings

If he can avoid the long ball, he could step right into someone's rotation next year...especially a team with deep fences, like SD or SEA. See if Jack Z is paying attention.:)

If he does create enough interest, yet still signs a minor league deal, another team might snap him up in the Rule 5 draft.


11/22/2008 01:43:00 PM



(11/22/2008 11:06:00 AM) - Al

Here are four possible trading partners for the Red Sox if they sign free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira and need to move third baseman Mike Lowell: The Dodgers, who could lose Casey Blake in free agency; the White Sox, who currently project the unproven Josh Fields at third base; the Tigers, who could move Brandon Inge back to catcher; and the Brewers, who would need to trade third baseman Bill Hall. The Red Sox would need to be creative. Lowell, who turns 35 on Feb. 24, is expected to make a full recovery from hip surgery, but is owed $25 million over the next two seasons--Ken Rosenthal

Unless the Red Sox agree to pay over his salary, I can't see Doug having any interest at all in Lowell.

I find it strange that Theo correctly offered Lowell a 2 year deal, but then matched the 3 year offer he got from PHIL. Overpaying just because one of your peers does is not a smart way to do business.


11/22/2008 11:06:00 AM



(11/22/2008 10:54:00 AM) - Al

Glenn is questioning the validity of harrassment training...it's all just common sense. I had two different companies give us an all day seminar, and both were over the top, beyond belief really. Of course, whenever HR does anything, it's bound to be a joke, but hence, I digress.


11/22/2008 10:54:00 AM



(11/22/2008 12:33:00 AM) - Al

Al,

Where is Mike Wilkinson playing this year, I do not see him on his Greek team roster.

Vic


Google says he is in Russia, pro league.

I hope he wears layers.


11/22/2008 12:33:00 AM



(11/22/2008 12:16:00 AM) - Al

Clinton made a deal to be VP in '12...I never thought of that, but it makes sense.


11/22/2008 12:16:00 AM


Friday, November 21, 2008

(11/21/2008 11:22:00 PM) - Al







I have noticed in the past how similar Checkers, President Nixon's famous dog that is now remembered for the "Checkers speech", looked like our dog Ronnie. Sadly, I don't have a pic of Ron at that angle, but trust me, it's eerie.


11/21/2008 11:22:00 PM



(11/21/2008 11:12:00 PM) - Al

Favorite law prof of Ramblings Ann calls it the way she sees it...as I always say, people have every right not to eat meat, poultry, and so on, and are very likely healthier for it. Just quit trying to convert the rest of us, and yes, an animal has to be killed, we're aware of that nugget of information.

I choose not to hunt, but always root for the hunters to remove those insurance claims just waiting to happen.

On a related subject, I bought a whole chicken when they were on sale a few months ago, and the Rambling wife came across a recipe on how to make it in the crock pot...it's defrosting now, I'll let you know how it turns out.

UPDATE/BUMP: I bet these guys have never cleaned a fish. Heh.

With the gun deer season starting tomorrow, the Eastern media is looking especially upper-class and elitist tonight. You can almost see them shopping this weekend for their organic wheat germ (keeps 'em regular, you know) and tofurkey for their Thanksgiving dinner, wearing a matching scarf and hat, of course.

UPDATE 2: An e-mailer asks if they think all the turkeys just happen to die of old age a couple weeks before the holiday. I'd call them out of touch, but I wouldn't want to offend people who are out of touch and not so ignorant.


11/21/2008 11:12:00 PM



(11/21/2008 10:59:00 PM) - Al

It's probably not worth a separate post, but I do find it ironic that all the "proper" folks say to defrost your huge turkey in the fridge...even though it takes forever and literally takes up a huge part of an appliance that is usually far from roomy for a family.

Even one of the celeb foodies on The Food Network said last year to thaw it out in the sink...and when asked, scoffed at the germaphobes and said, "People have been doing it that way forever".

Of course, what's really funny is that they insist you thaw it in the fridge and still insist you cook the living s*** out of it.


11/21/2008 10:59:00 PM



(11/21/2008 09:59:00 PM) - Al

I keep forgetting to discuss that before the election, MTV had some sort of marathon on, and I watched a few episodes, though I cannot recall the show, which probably tells you that it was late, not much was on, and I was able to sleep in, so staying up 'til 2 0r 3 was not an issue. The reason for this subject is between each show, they were promoting the release of Pink's new CD, and was either playing a video of her, excerpts from an interview, or both.

To make it somewhat current, some of the interview questions were somewhat politically related, if you use your imagination. She talked about voting, how her mom felt about things, and why it was important to vote. Of course, all I could think of was how funny it was anyone cared what Pink thought about voting and for that matter, anything.

A few years ago, Pink was the musical guest on SNL, though all that was talked about was her behavior at the after party. I recall reading how one of the male cast members said he was "embarrassed" (but, not enough to leave, mind you:) for Pink, as the singer was still drinking and dancing at 5AM...often topless and on the bar, which is just cliched enough to be especially sad.

Of course, not once when I read that did I think to myself, "Hmmm, I wonder how Pink feels about a given political issue"? Years later, I found out.:)


11/21/2008 09:59:00 PM



(11/21/2008 09:58:00 PM) - Al

Hope, sure. Change...not so much.


11/21/2008 09:58:00 PM



(11/21/2008 08:02:00 PM) - Al

No news is...no news.

I'm sure Doug would like to know, but the uncertainty is part of the game when you are in the mix for the top free agent. Note that it seems no other SP will sign until CC sets the top of the market. That will effectively delay much of the trade talk as well


11/21/2008 08:02:00 PM



(11/21/2008 03:22:00 PM) - Al

Al,

There's a discussion going on about the futures of Hernan Iribarren and Vinny Rottino, and I was wondering what you would say. I am a big fan of Hernan, though he struggled last year, his first at AAA.

Cheers, and keep rambling my friend.


JB


I like them both for what they are, which at the moment is depth. The reason I like them is due to their versatility...HI can play 2B/OF, and Vinny has played 8 positions in the minors, and could probably be looked at as a respectable backup at C/1B/3B/LF/RF, and in a pinch, would be ok, for a game or two(with limited range), at 2B/SS.

That said, both are probably best suited for AAA, and to be used as depth there. Hernan's inability to play SS makes him unable to be a reserve INF, so his niche will have to be as an OF who can play 2B. Vinny is very appealing as an all-around utility guy because he can swing a bat decently and also catch, meaning he's a near perfect choice to be a 25th man...of course, over the course of 162, the final reserve is probably not even worth half a win.

If I were a GM of a team with a limited payroll, I'd be happy to have a bench full of guys like those two, however, it's easy to see a major dropoff if one of your starting eight goes down and misses extended time. If your payroll is $40M, you do not have room to pay a quality reserve $2-3M, so your ability to withstand an injury or two is greatly diminished.

Simply put, Hernan and Vinny can easily give a team 20 starts to spell the regulars and 100 PH/defensive appearances, but I'd hate to see either suddenly be depended on to start 4-5 times a week while Joe Regular is on the DL.


11/21/2008 03:22:00 PM



(11/21/2008 02:58:00 PM) - Al

Will today's 500 point gain in the Dow get half the publicity of yesterday's 400 point loss?

No, no it will not. Part of that is due to the weekend coming up, but most of it has to do with the desire to be negative. You're seeing much of that in the way the increase in home sales is being reported..."Sales rise, due to foreclosures". Of course, in my world, those foreclosures are doing exactly what they are supposed to do...set the market price. Supply is up, prices are down...and many folks are snapping them up, in many cases, lowering their monthly mortgage payment and moving into a nicer house.

It doesn't take a genius to see a lot of undervalued companies (and homes) out there. In both cases, I have no idea if you'll come out ahead if you look a year or two into the future, but as long as your outlook is 5+ years, I remain very bullish.


11/21/2008 02:58:00 PM



(11/21/2008 02:45:00 PM) - Al

Brent Brewer launched a pair of solo homers Thursday for the Javelinas of the AFL.

Brewer went 9-for-30 with three homers, three doubles and two steals in the AFL. He ended up at .236/.307/.334 for two A-ball teams last season, but he's still just 20 years old and he doesn't lack for tools. Unfortunately, there's not much chance of him staying at shortstop when he has J.J. Hardy and Alcides Escobar ahead of him.--Rotoworld


Lots of folks have called Brewer a bust, bu that's at least a couple years away. He's only 20, so even if he repeats high A and goes up a level a season, he'll be in the bigs at 24. As with those who did not understand why the Tribe made the obvious choice in Mike Brantley, age at a level is just as important as production at a level. Many 20 year-olds are still in college, or in rookie ball. The fact is, Brent is extremely athletic, who did not embarrass himself in a league full of 22-24 year-olds.

If memory serves, he also improved as the season went along, even though he moved up a level...that's a sure sign of a young player who is putting it all together. Position should not be an issue, if he can hit, he can play any of seven positions...that's why so many SS's get drafted, it's where the best players play.


11/21/2008 02:45:00 PM



(11/21/2008 02:18:00 PM) - Al

Who would have guessed that signing a low OBP head case to a long-term deal would cause problems?

He'd be a lot easier to put up with if he wasn't getting out 70% of the time.


11/21/2008 02:18:00 PM



(11/21/2008 12:18:00 PM) - Al

CC is in no hurry to sign, and is not talking...which makes sense, as I can't imagine he's a big workout guy, so he's very unlikely to get hurt in the meantime.


11/21/2008 12:18:00 PM



(11/21/2008 10:33:00 AM) - Al

Dave Pinto discusses pitchers' defense, and has the Brewers at the bottom, as both Sheets and Bush rank very low, with Suppan very good.

I can recall Jeff making several nice plays, but cannot say Ben or Dave struggled. Do you?


11/21/2008 10:33:00 AM



(11/21/2008 07:16:00 AM) - Al

Aaron's link report is full of goodness, as per usual.


11/21/2008 07:16:00 AM



(11/21/2008 12:55:00 AM) - Al

Hope, change, and...whoa, slow down!

May we live in interesting times. I just can't wait for him to start paying my mortgage and gas bills, as that's just more I spend on pie and pudding pops.


11/21/2008 12:55:00 AM



(11/21/2008 12:07:00 AM) - Al

Rangers designated RHP Wes Littleton and RHP Kameron Loe for assignment.

Loe will have to clear waivers before he can be sold to a Japanese team. Littleton had a 1.73 ERA in 33 relief appearances for the Rangers in 2006, but he hasn't been the same pitcher since. If he gets his sinker diving like it used to, he could be an extremely valuable middle reliever. He might clear waivers, though.--Rotoworld


Wouldn't be surprised to see Littleton claimed by the Brewers, solely because they have several 40 man spots open. Wes also was decent in '07, allows few HR's, which would fit into Miller Park nicely. He's a bit of a "niche" pitcher, while Doug is fond of hard throwers. He's also a former 4th round pick, so if nothing else, he's been highly thought of for ages.

If nothing else, he'd be a good guy to claim, put on the 40, and then try and sneak through waivers later on.


11/21/2008 12:07:00 AM


Thursday, November 20, 2008

(11/20/2008 10:59:00 PM) - Al

From B.P.---making Weeks their center fielder

Why do people think he will be a CF?

Am I missing something?

Ed



I don't get it either. Here's what I see with Rickie...he used to be pretty weak with the glove. Now, after a few years, he has worked his way up to being "just" below average...he now also makes a few really good plays to go along with a few too many errors and lingering issues (mostly, he struggles to turn the DP smoothly).

What really frustrates me is many of the names the casuals throw out are in no way as good as Weeks...they are not as good now, and they do not project anywhere near as well...and to be sure, none of them have anywhere near the breakout potential of Rickie (he's .369/.421, 790 OPS for the 2nd half in his career, so he certainly has been very good at times).

The only name I've seen mentioned that is in his league is Kelly Johnson of ATL, or if JJ agrees to move to 2B. Otherwise, I don't see 2B as being improved in '09 or beyond if Rickie is not there. Is it possible to weaken 2B some and still be a better overall team? Possible, but not probable.


11/20/2008 10:59:00 PM



(11/20/2008 08:47:00 PM) - Al

Baseball Prospectus takes a look at the NL Central...though they seem to be saying the Crew will offer Escobar in trade, which I find unlikely, to say the least. If Alcides was deemed as untouchable in the Sabathia trade, in which they gave up two phenomenal prospects in Laporta and Brantley, I don't see him being offered for anyone.


11/20/2008 08:47:00 PM



(11/20/2008 04:13:00 PM) - Al

An e-mailer sends in this poll, I guess to see what the media focused on during the election...no one knows Biden plagurized a speech, or that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress...but they do know Palin's daughter is pregnant...yet hardly anyone could recall Obama said he had been to 57 states, nor that he said his policies would bankrupt the coal industry and raise electricity costs.


11/20/2008 04:13:00 PM



(11/20/2008 04:04:00 PM) - Al

I'm sure most everyone has seen this, but how pathetic. The Franken team is challenging the ballot because "it might have an X in it". Of course, I mark all those stupid circles on applications with an X, because it's quicker and easier, and no one seems to mind.

That's just painful. Obviously, one name is marked, and Coleman should get the vote. Anyone who questions that is quite apparently not out to get the count right, but to squirm their way to a victory.


11/20/2008 04:04:00 PM



(11/20/2008 03:52:00 PM) - Al

Free agent Jerome Williams allowed one run and one hit over eight innings Wednesday for Mayaguez of the PRWL.

Williams was perfect outside of a Rob Cosby homer, striking out five and walking none while facing 25 batters. The former Giants prospect has a 2.45 ERA in three starts in Puerto Rico. He also had some success for Triple-A Las Vegas in the second half of the season, so there could be significant interest in him as a minor league free agent this winter.--Rotoworld


I had Williams as a sought after minor league free agent last year, and if he ever gets and stays healthy, he should at least be a decent bullpen guy. He used to throw hard, but not sure how the years have affected his velocity. He was almost as good as Matt Cain when he was 22 and 23.


11/20/2008 03:52:00 PM



(11/20/2008 03:41:00 PM) - Al

NYT still has interest in Cameron, per JS linking to others.


11/20/2008 03:41:00 PM



(11/20/2008 03:37:00 PM) - Al

MLBTR updates us on CC...does not sound like Sabathia is in any rush, and to be honest, there's not much hurry, as the offers may well go up.


11/20/2008 03:37:00 PM



(11/20/2008 11:15:00 AM) - Al

So, last night, I tried the crock pot (for you those of you from outside the Midwest, I meant slow cooker) turkey recipe I linked to yesterday. A couple thoughts:

1. Turkey breast has gone up about 75% in price since last time I checked. Even "turkey loaf", which I buy frequently all year round, is up 50% or more. Thanks ethanol, you rock.

2. A couple trips around the sun ago, a store had a crock pot on sale in its Black Friday ad. It was fancier than ours because it had a "warm" mode (after 4,6,8, or 10 hours of cooking, it stops cooking and just warms the food until you shut it off. I would often set it before I left for work, especially if the Rambling wife was off to visit the Rambling in-laws for the weekend, and I'd get home to an overcooked piece of roast beef.

I asked for this crock pot and a large charcoal grill for Xmas, as I felt I had plenty of ties, socks, and soaps shaped like footballs and planets (you had to be careful with Saturn, but hence, I digress). I was rewarded with both. I love my grill, and I hate this crock pot.

It simply runs too hot. You can cook stuff quicker in there than an oven, and that's not the idea. Even on low, the lid, despite being coated with the same stuff that protects the space shuttle on reentry, is usually too hot to touch. It also rattles often, as the liquid inside is always boiling, which causes the moisture to condense, which causes the lid to move, and it makes an irritating rattle. I'm afraid to leave the thing on when I leave the house, as it's like leaving a 400 degree fire on the counter.

I was forced to use the shiny, new "reserve" crock pot because our old beat-up first string one was being washed, as we had used it to make baked beans over the weekend. You know how it says 7-8 hours in the recipe? Ha, 160 degrees after 3.5 in ours, though it requires a nuclear technician to be on duty and a team in hazmat suits on standby to be legal in 48 states (and the District of Columbia).

3. Did I mention how hot in runs? The windows in the kitchen were all fogged up. I think you could market this thing as a space heater/food prep appliance combo.

4. I keep expecting an infomercial to show up on TV talking about my special "ultrafast megacompact supercooker", which would of course star the lady who looks like Mrs. Constanza, saying things like, "How long does it take to cook a frozen steak?", and then when the answers range from 3 hours to a day and a half, she says "20 minutes", and the all-Caucasian studio audience stands and cheers as if they were just told it's an open bar until close.

By the way, the turkey was very good, but as you know, you really can't mess up turkey...unless you just cook it too long.


11/20/2008 11:15:00 AM


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(11/19/2008 11:20:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Why wasn't Lorenzo Cain added to the 40 man? He seems like a 5 tool type that could be chosen and hidden as a reserve OF in the majors.

Lawrence


Lawrence, one thing to keep in mind is this...whenever someone says someone is out of options or needs to be protected on the 40 man, unless that person is Doug Melvin or Gord Ash, you can assume they are incorrect.

If Cain needed to be protected, he would have been.

The guys who were added are here.

UPDATE: Cain was drafted in 2004, but did not play until '05. He does not need to be on the 40 until next year.


11/19/2008 11:20:00 PM



(11/19/2008 08:38:00 PM) - Al

I've said it on nearly every dip, but it bears repeating...the entire market is loaded with bargains right now...many quality stocks, for companies that will be around long after all of us are gone, are selling at 4-7 times projected earnings...and earnings tend to be very conservative in this climate.

Personally, I'd load up on high dividend utilities and "best in breed" companies flush with cash, as they will probably look to buy up some cheap competitors next year. CNBC mentioned a couple times today that many feel this is a referendum on the Obama tax proposals...many folks are selling stocks they have held long-term, several years, and paying the taxes, because they feel they will be going up as early as next year. Those sellers are simply tilting the market downward.


11/19/2008 08:38:00 PM



(11/19/2008 08:30:00 PM) - Al

I'm not sure what exactly the life history of his grandparents has to do with it, but SEA names a new manager.


11/19/2008 08:30:00 PM



(11/19/2008 07:51:00 PM) - Al

There seems to be "some dialog" between the Giants and Brewers regarding Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy. However, Schulman notes that teams across the league, the Brewers included, are hesitant to give up everyday players in exchange for anything but top-tier pitching.---MLBTR

Since Matt Cain has been deemed as untouchable, it's tough to come up with a match...unless you think the Crew has some interest in Barry Zito (I might, if the Giants pay the majority of his contract).


11/19/2008 07:51:00 PM



(11/19/2008 01:49:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Just wanted to echo your thoughts on the auto industry bailout with fear and need being the greatest motivators. In my really lean days, I could take $20 and get enough gas in the car to get to and from work and also feed myself for an entire week. Sometimes I felt like surely this would be the week I fell over the cliff. Nope, figured it out every time. Why should it be different for anyone else?

Anyway, still checking in daily during the off-season. Even though our politics differ, the blog stays a must-read for me, and at the very least, you give me new things to think about and consider.

Jim



CNBC and the committee itself is ripping them for flying in on and having no plans to sell their private planes. Fiscal responsibility begins with spending money wisely at home, and you get the feeling every penny they get will just delay the inevitable...paying union members a premium and retired folks BILLIONS of dollars every week will have to be changed, or eventually, be it this year or a decade from now, they're going away.

Jim, thanks for continuing to read and for the kind words.


11/19/2008 01:49:00 PM



(11/19/2008 01:46:00 PM) - Al

Jon sends this along, Somalia is reaping the financial rewards of not doing anything about the "pirates".

Can't way for them to do anything about it, just like Darfur, a never ending issue that just leads to finger pointing.


11/19/2008 01:46:00 PM



(11/19/2008 01:41:00 PM) - Al

With all the deals on turkey breast this time of year, I'll have to try this soon. Sounds really good, and exceedingly simple.


11/19/2008 01:41:00 PM



(11/19/2008 12:49:00 PM) - Al

Coco Crisp to the Royals, another very capable reliever leaves KC.

The Royals certainly have far too many OF's now, Teahen and Dejesus may both end up elesewhere.


11/19/2008 12:49:00 PM



(11/19/2008 12:41:00 PM) - Al

The JS says the Giants may be prepping a bid for CC, while MLBTR thinks the Dodgers already have.

I wish he'd go to the AL for selfish reasons, but I think the Crew gets a higher pick if LA gets him, so I guess I'll root for them as my top NL team.


11/19/2008 12:41:00 PM



(11/19/2008 12:39:00 PM) - Al

Mitt Romney says a bailout would ruin the automakers, and I agree with every word.

Change does not come quickly when money is being given to you, the best motivators are fear and need.


11/19/2008 12:39:00 PM



(11/19/2008 08:31:00 AM) - Al

Heh.

If only the automakers would spend as much time figuring out how to make better cars and getting out of those union dinosaur contracts as they do embarrassing themselves.


11/19/2008 08:31:00 AM


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

(11/18/2008 11:36:00 PM) - Al

Cubs are after Teahen? To be honest, I think I'd rather have Pie for the minimum than Teahen for what he'll get paid.

If the Royals could get both Fontenot and Pie, that'd be an outstanding deal for them.

UPDATE/BUMP: Dave Dejesus' name is now involved as well, though only in a denial. DD would be a much better fit than Teahen, though I think Pie will outperform him once someone just leaves him alone and plays him every day.


11/18/2008 11:36:00 PM



(11/18/2008 10:47:00 PM) - Al

Nightline just did a piece on this investor, who is making a fortune on real estate...because he gets it.

Even he said, "I don't know why banks and Fannie Mae don't do this".

Neither do I. I assume they think it is too tough to make money, so they sell the houses to guys like this...homes that were listed for $110K last year (I assume often with windows broken and graffiti covered) are sold to Barnes for $2000.


11/18/2008 10:47:00 PM



(11/18/2008 08:57:00 PM) - Al

The Marcel projections, which involve no thinking or thought process at all, 100% math, are now on the player pages at Fangraphs.


11/18/2008 08:57:00 PM



(11/18/2008 07:27:00 PM) - Al

Gas is at $1.99 throughout Wausau today...I have to imagine the small towns in the area are 5-10 cents less, as per usual.

I blame W.


11/18/2008 07:27:00 PM



(11/18/2008 07:26:00 PM) - Al

The Badgers are on the Big Ten network again at 7:30, FYI.


11/18/2008 07:26:00 PM



(11/18/2008 06:56:00 PM) - Al

45 minutes for roast turkey? Despite this, most folks will still overcook the living crap out of their bird, because of senseless fears about illness.

The other night, Emeril was on, and he said to pull poultry out of the oven when it hits 150 degrees. After the crowd murmuring began, he said, "I know, you're saying, I've heard 180. Maybe 190. Well let me tell you a couple things. It will keep cooking, and if you check again in 15 minutes, it'll probably say 160-170. If you let it go to 190, it's gonna be 210 by the time you carve it. You wanna know a little secret? Nothing tastes good at 210."

Common sense would tell you since water boils away at 212, 210 is going to be criminally dry.

I recall one of the main problems on the Butterball hotline each year is people calling and saying "the pop-out thing hasn't popped out yet"...and upon double checking, the turkey did not come equipped with such a device.

If you don't own a meat thermometer, buy one next time you're out...it has saved us tons of "too done" meat, and also, you don't need to cut stuff open to see if it is done...the Rambling wife got tired of always eating that piece.:)


11/18/2008 06:56:00 PM



(11/18/2008 06:48:00 PM) - Al

You get the feeling the US will have to take the lead on this, as once again, the UN simply ignores the events where they should be taking the lead.

Because of increased insurance, consumers everywhere will be the ones paying the price. Too bad someone doesn't take a "no one gets off the boat alive" stance...I have to figure that would eliminate all but the most daring and professional "pirates" immediately.


11/18/2008 06:48:00 PM



(11/18/2008 06:41:00 PM) - Al

Dempster signs 4y/$52M...probably a bit of a hometown discount, as Ryan has stated he is happy in Chicago. That's a very good top 4 of the rotation, though it is doubtful they will age well and healthily.


11/18/2008 06:41:00 PM



(11/18/2008 05:26:00 PM) - Al

There seems to be more and more stuff out questioning global warming, and/or, it's getting more play in the press.


11/18/2008 05:26:00 PM


Monday, November 17, 2008

(11/17/2008 11:46:00 PM) - Al

Sometimes, I'm just floored by folks undervaluing the players on the Crew. I just read on a fan site that Nick Punto should be brought in to replace Craig Counsell because he is so much better.

Counsell, 2006-8:.334/.323, 657 OPS
Punto, 2006-2008:.327/.337, 664

The pain, I can't stand the pain!!!!

Punto did have a heckuva 2008, but he didn't even get on base 30% of the time previously.

I'm still hoping for a Counsell return myself, but to think Punto is an upgrade is about as casual as one can be.


11/17/2008 11:46:00 PM



(11/17/2008 08:18:00 PM) - Al

The rumor on Furcal has gone from 4y/$40M to 3y/$39M in a matter of hours.

$13M per for years 31-33 of a SS who isn't that much above average?

Jeepers.


11/17/2008 08:18:00 PM



(11/17/2008 07:43:00 PM) - Al

I voted Fielder higher than Braun because Fielder had a much better September when the Brewers were clawing to get in the playoffs. Braun was ailing, as we discovered, and did have the homer that put the Brewers in the playoffs, but I just felt Fielder did more down the stretch.--Tom H, JS

Heh. Of course, the award should be given to who had the best season. What's especially funny is that you would think any simpleton would figure out games in April and May mean just as much as they do in September...especially when the team made the playoffs by a single game.


11/17/2008 07:43:00 PM



(11/17/2008 07:29:00 PM) - Al

I told the Rambling wife when we were watching the game that Garnett would be suspended for throwing a punch, so I did not understand why he was not ejected. What's really sad about this is, the refs watched the replay and still missed the flagrant on Bogut and the swing by Garnett.

Seriously, one has to wonder how 3 guys can look at it on replay and not even come close to the league's decision truly makes you wonder how you can remotely expect them to get a charge/block call right with 10 seconds left that easily could decide the game.


11/17/2008 07:29:00 PM



(11/17/2008 05:28:00 PM) - Al

Braun finishes 3rd in NL MVP, he may well have been the runner-up had he stayed healthy. CC 6th, Prince 20th.


11/17/2008 05:28:00 PM



(11/17/2008 05:23:00 PM) - Al

BCB reviews the prospects who played in Hawaii.

My brief recap...Caleb Gindl is a very good, maybe even top 5 prospect. The others look to be far lower ceiling, reserve/bullpen types.


11/17/2008 05:23:00 PM



(11/17/2008 05:11:00 PM) - Al

Raffy Furcal is rumored to be getting an offer close to 4y/$40M. He'll be 31 next year, and has a career line of .352/.412, 764 OPS, 146 OXS .

Right now, JJ is 26, and has career numbers of .329/.446, 775 OPS, 147 OXS. Needless to say, if he stays healthy and effective, Hardy is going to break the bank after 2010, when he will be a FA at 28. I have spoken of signing him long-term and having him agree to play 2B or 3B, but the reality is, not only is JJ unlikely to want that, paying a 2B or 3B $10-12M a year to be "good" does not make a lot of sense to me.


11/17/2008 05:11:00 PM



(11/17/2008 05:08:00 PM) - Al

It sure is tough for me to look at a decent reliever getting $4M per as a "bargain", but I guess market is market. I have more of a problem with the 2 years than I do the $4M, I guess.


11/17/2008 05:08:00 PM



(11/17/2008 10:57:00 AM) - Al

Adam is joining the Gamel at 3B bandwagon, and also sees Dillard as being in the bullpen in '09.


11/17/2008 10:57:00 AM



(11/17/2008 10:33:00 AM) - Al

CNBC is reporting the SEC is charging Mark Cuban with insider trading.

If he had a chance to buy the Cubs before, he doesn't now.


11/17/2008 10:33:00 AM



(11/17/2008 10:25:00 AM) - Al

However, it also means that he'll be cheap and Gagne quietly had a 20-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio from July 1 on while allowing zero runs in 24 of 30 games. He's a shell of his old self, but look closely and he still has more upside than anyone in his price range. Offer: One year, $3 million plus incentives.--AG.com

Gleeman also notices Eric's ceiling. Add in his friendly projection from Bill James, Gagne is going to get a lot more attention than I would have guessed a couple weeks ago.


11/17/2008 10:25:00 AM



(11/17/2008 10:06:00 AM) - Al

Fangraphs takes a look at Corey Hart's penchant for swinging at a lot of early pitches, and how he seems to be regressing.


11/17/2008 10:06:00 AM


Sunday, November 16, 2008

(11/16/2008 07:52:00 PM) - Al

I bet she clings to her religion too.

Glenn and Ken might have just unknowingly created the next Allison Stokke.


11/16/2008 07:52:00 PM



(11/16/2008 07:34:00 PM) - Al

One name to keep in mind until the Crew adds a closer...JJ Putz is 6-5, 250, and is due to make $5M in '09 ($8.6M option for '10). Perhaps more importantly, Jack Z is now running SEA, and I promise you he knows better than to have a "closer" on a team that lost 100 games last year, and may be projected to lose 90+ in '09 as well.

I can't say I know much about what SEA needs, but Jarrod Washburn is also available, and has a friendly projection. Washburn has a better ERA on the road the past two years, despite pitching in Safeco.


11/16/2008 07:34:00 PM



(11/16/2008 07:23:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Doesn't it scare you that they may well be planning on handing the 3B job to Gamel?

Bradley


Not as long as they have Hall and quite possibly, another proven entity (Branyan? Lamb? Hinske?) there just in case. Now, if the utility IF's on April 1st are Escobar and Durham, and Gamel is starting at 3B; then, needless to say, I'd be plenty concerned.

Doug knows better than that though, so I think it'll be fine.

In Doug we trust.


11/16/2008 07:23:00 PM



(11/16/2008 07:05:00 PM) - Al

I just thought to look up Brian Roberts' projection for next year, as many fans insist he'd be an upgrade over Weeks. I have long argued he either would be very slight or none at all, and the James' guess bears that out, giving him a 778 OPS, compared to 799 for Weeks. As I mentioned yesterday when I looked at Fangraphs, most of the names I've heard most often (Grudz, Durham) do not even come close to Rickie.

However, not to toot my own horn, but the one player I have yearned for, even though he plays 2B, is Kelly Johnson...who projects out even better than Rickie.

Toot, toot.


11/16/2008 07:05:00 PM



(11/16/2008 05:52:00 PM) - Al

Long Beach State did look mighty tough today, but they played BYU tough a couple nights ago as well. Hopefully, some depth will emerge, as the bench looked only a couple deep today.

Still it sure is nice to see some sports in the Badgers' programs don't run away from good non-conference competition...gee, I wonder how the, ahem, Cal-Poly game will go this coming weekend?


11/16/2008 05:52:00 PM



(11/16/2008 04:56:00 PM) - Jason

You dont want to be playing your best basketball in November, nobody will disupte that. But the fact that Wisconsin is pushed to the limit at home by a team that was 6-25 last year speaks volumes to how much work UW needs to to before the Big 10 season begins.

Dont get me wrong, I like close, competitive basketball games in the non-conference. But not from teams like Long Beach St.


11/16/2008 04:56:00 PM



(11/16/2008 03:00:00 PM) - Al

The Badgers are playing Long Beach State on the Big Ten Network right now in men's basketball. Thanks to Charter, I can now watch them at home, rather than going to a sports bar where, heaven forbid, the waitresses may be wearing suggestive attire...which I could barely tolerate.


11/16/2008 03:00:00 PM



(11/16/2008 02:52:00 PM) - Al

Al,

How many more runs do you see the offense scoring if they hit Bill James' predictions? Is it enough to make up for CC and Ben leaving?

Henry the Hammer


I don't know, that's a lot of work for me to figure out. Maybe I should get me an intern...

Actually, BCB estimated an increase to 4.97 runs a game, up from 4.63...so that's be about 7-8% more runs, or about 55 more scored. That seems rather optimistic, but so do James' projections. That's assuming the starters remain healthy too, of course.


11/16/2008 02:52:00 PM



(11/16/2008 02:48:00 PM) - Al

Al,

What are the odds that Gamel starts the season in the bigs next year? I know it's VERY early, but I still see him starting in the minors next year. Follow Braun's footsteps to a tee. Let him him start in AAA and bring him up after 2 months if he deserves it. I can see the Brewers signing Counsel to a 1 year deal and move him into a coaching position the year after. Also, what's the latest on Mike Lamb? Will/Could he be back next year?

Thanks
Dan


I would have agreed with you up until a couple weeks ago, but with Doug mentioning Gamel as a possibility, then asking aloud who would be better (such as Lamb and other similar players), and then seeing James' projection (it seems likely the in-house stat guy has given Doug a positive review as well, or the quote would not have been said). Hall is there if Mat needs seasoning, as is McGehee.

In my mind, Gamel is the 3B until we are told otherwise.


11/16/2008 02:48:00 PM



(11/16/2008 01:41:00 PM) - Jason

Something that I forgot to mention because of all the hot stove activity...

With basketball season now underway, let me mention that the WIAC conference is, bar-none, the best small-school college basketball conference in the nation, either in Div. II or Div. III. In case you didnt notice, UW-Whitewater gave the Badgers all they wanted for 30 minutes earlier this week, and last weekend UW-Platteville knocked off perennial "bracket buster" Bradley. In their house.

If you live near any of these schools (Platteville, Whitewater, LaCrosse, River Falls, Superior, Stevens Point, Stout, Eau Claire), be sure to check out the conference basketball action. Quite simply, its some of the best basketball you will see all winter.


11/16/2008 01:41:00 PM



(11/16/2008 12:47:00 PM) - Al

Meanwhile, if they put the Yellowbook.com "tattoo removal" ad on a continuous loop on a channel somewhere, I think I'd throw away my remote.

It is astounding that a few years ago, we would have no idea who the model was in that ad, and now it takes about 10 seconds on Google to find she's a former Miss Mexico World named Blanca Soto who quite obviously was a huge winner in the genetic lottery...and appears to be very "talented".


11/16/2008 12:47:00 PM



(11/16/2008 11:34:00 AM) - Al

CC is under peer pressure to take the money and run.

Of course, he has every right to do so, or sign for far less if he chooses. If you wonder why unions have a fraction of the power they once did, look no further than stuff like this. People blessed to live in a nation where they have incredible wealth and freedom do not take kindly to some pencil pusher telling them to give that up for the betterment of others.

Of course, if he doesn't sign with MIL, I hope he does end up in the AL.


11/16/2008 11:34:00 AM



(11/16/2008 10:37:00 AM) - Al

On Monday nights, I enjoy watching both Little People, Big World and 17 and Counting. Both are reality shows that as we all know, have many scripted (suggested?) story lines, because honestly, none of us would sit and watch everyday life that involved people sitting around watching TV and burping.

However, allow me to say that Jon and Kate Plus 8, while always having been all but unwatchable, has not just jumped the shark, but I think I can safely say is only a dream sequence away from being off-the-charts, historically bad.

Honestly, I have only seen bits and pieces, but while it once a show about a cute couple with 8 kids, it has become a bit of an infomercial, going from one sponsored vacation to the next. Currently, the drool infested clan is somewhere (Hawaii?) watching with pretend awe as (stop me if you've seen this before) Jon and Kate are having a second wedding! With the kids as part of the wedding party! Wow! I'm currently ready to overdose on the whole package...and I've only seen the ads on TLC as I watch other stuff.

I'm telling you, they're in-laws living next door away (or maybe an actor being brought in to replace one of their children) from their lives turning into a sitcom, a very unfunny, unbearable sitcom.


11/16/2008 10:37:00 AM



(11/16/2008 10:28:00 AM) - Al

The Rambling wife informs me the local paper has a huge article about gun sales "booming" since the election, as well as ammo.

Since this is hunting prep as well, some of the increase can be attributed to that, I s'pose...but that also means a lot of folks are buying weapons this time of year anyway, making the huge increase even more impressive.

My goodness, for the old media to put guns on the front page, you know this is overwhelming.


11/16/2008 10:28:00 AM



(11/16/2008 10:18:00 AM) - Al

Nice recap of 5 myths about the past election we continue to see treated as fact.

I haven't heard anyone else say it, so I will now...if the GOP candidate would have come out strongly against the "rescue plan", they may not have won, but they would have set up the party nicely for '12, as it is currently a perfect example of government in action...

1. Panic.

2. Pass a bill.

3. Watch as bill gets stuck in mundane clutter of government inefficiency.

4. Wonder why this bill, which was vital mind you, isn't really working...but still, the free market is dealing with the problem.

House sales were up last month...because prices have fallen. Supply and demand is accomplishing, at no cost, what intervention is struggling to do, despite billions being spent.

You want proof small government is a better option? Watch big government stumble around for a while.


11/16/2008 10:18:00 AM



(11/16/2008 09:57:00 AM) - Al

KRod's agent tries to defend the drop in velocity.

Other than his saves, KRod's numbers got worse across the board last year, and especially in the past few years. I doubt he's injured, but he is far less effective than he was as a hard throwing youngster, meaning he is probably just suffering from aging and throwing the ball as hard as he can 3-4 days most weeks.

He's a very good closer, don't get me wrong, but he isn't worth a penny more than Wagner or Rivera. I much prefer Fuentes, based on their past. It's also worth noting that I believe I heard not a single one of KRod's saves were more than 3 outs, meaning he's been babied immensely...I'd be afraid to see his results being asked to pitch like Torres did for the Crew last year...come into tie games, pitch 2 innings, get a 5 out save, and so on.


11/16/2008 09:57:00 AM



(11/16/2008 09:41:00 AM) - Al

This is why I never got upset about some folks in New Orleans not getting help for a couple days...in the US, we really don't know what "suffering" means.


11/16/2008 09:41:00 AM



(11/16/2008 01:42:00 AM) - Al

I would love to see Loretta as well, but he has many suitors, including some teams who want him to start at 2B. I don't see Cruz being a target of Melvin's...Doug loves "big" guys who throw hard and throw strikes...Juan is thin and lanky and throws a lot of ball ones...and ball fours. I would guess Cruz gets big money as well, which Doug has said he does not want to spend on a reliever.

Garland is possible, but I feel Doug will look at trades, especially a veteran with only a year or two left on his contract. One name we might hear brought up is Javier Vazquez, a SP who fits the veteran description, and who is supposedly in the sizable doghouse of Ozzie Guillen. Kevin Millwood is another older guy who may be considered. Jason Jennings is a nice out of the box thought, especially if he's willing to sign a AAA deal.


11/16/2008 01:42:00 AM


Saturday, November 15, 2008

(11/15/2008 11:41:00 PM) - Jason

To add on to Al's thoughts regarding 3B, I dont think Melvin goes out to try and sign a one-year stop-gap type, simply because there arent really any out there that would sign for one year that would be any marked improvement over Gamel, especially if the projections are even close to accurate. Casey Blake wants a multi-year deal, and Im sure a guy like Eric Hinske would as well. Ditto for a guy like Joe Crede. The Brewers may indeed treat Gamel like they treated Ryan Braun when he first came up to the bigs...play him at 3B and take the good (bat) with the bad (glove), and hope that the production with the bat trumps any deficiencies with the glove until the opportunity arises to move Gamel to a different position, whether that be at 1B when/if Prince Fielder is traded or RF when Corey Hart is finally moved to CF, where he probably will be when Mike Cameron's time with the club is up.

One guy that I wouldnt be shocked to see given a call is Mark Loretta. Yes, he is a RH bat, but he can play every infield spot, simply knows how to hit and how to get on base, and is the ultimate team player. On top of that, he has had nothing but good things to say about Milwaukee. He obviously is gonna try and latch on to a team that will give him a shot to play everyday, but should that not happen, I think the Brewers could do a lot worse.

Dont forget about Mike Lamb, either. Its easy to forget that he had quite a few big hits for this club in September, and wasnt really given a shot to play the field anywhere. He can play either corner spot, and hits LH.

If the Brewers are going to spend money in the off-season, they need to do it on the mound. The depth of both the SP and RP in this year's free agent class is the best in a long time. And many would be in the Brewers price range. In most years, a guy like Jon Garland is a top 3 FA starting pitcher...this year, he is in the second half of the top 10, and can be easily attainable for Milwaukee if they so desire. Oliver Perez will drive people crazy with his walks, but simply put has the best stuff of any LHP out there other than CC. Braden Looper was solid last year for the Cardinals, and is a fit in the back of the rotation and provides good insurance. Mark Hendrickson has Wisconsin ties, formerly playing semi-pro ball in LaCrosse, and is a decent 1 or 2 year type of guy. A good risk/reward candidate could be Jason Jennings, who has had injury problems his last two seasons but has talent and can probably be had cheaply. Or there's a pitcher like Jack Cassel, who was completely mismanaged and given away this offseason by the Houston Astros after putting up a 7-1 record, a 1.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP at AAA last year. He's only 28.

In the pen, I would personally start my list with a guy I have liked for a long time: Juan Cruz. If the Brewers dont want to go after one of the "big ticket" closers, they need to go after Cruz and go hard. Cruz will be highly sought after once the big 4 of K-Rod, Fuentes, Wood, and Hoffman are signed. Cruz simply has closer stuff but has not been given the opportunity to close games on a consistent basis yet. He could be had for set-up guy money if the Brewers act quickly enough. Another guy that could be high on the list is David Weathers, who is versatile enough to pitch in middle, late, or closing relief, and has a history with Milwaukee.

There are a number of candidates that the Brewers can get, throw against the wall, and see what sticks. Kevin Correia put up a nice 2006-07 for SF pitching mostly out of the pen, but struggled last year when forced to be in the rotation half the year. He belongs in the pen and could be very productive there. Franklyn German is one of those big, hard-throwing types that Doug Melvin likes. He has warts, as he walks too many guys, but most bullpen guys who arent closers do have warts...its why they are in the pen in the first place. Brad Hennessey, another pitcher whom the Giants gave up on way too early because he had a bad 2008, saved 19 games in 2007 and also has been decent in a starting role. Justin Lehr, who once was considered a up-and-coming pitcher in Oakland, posted a 2.41 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in Cincy's AAA affiliate in 2008. Guys like these arent household names, but household names typically dont make up good bullpens. Building a good pen comes down to using the pitchers you have in the best situations, and giving them opportunities to succeed. Just ask guys like Seth McClung or Todd Coffey.


11/15/2008 11:41:00 PM



(11/15/2008 11:39:00 PM) - Al

So many guns are being purchased, even the JS felt the need to report on it.


11/15/2008 11:39:00 PM



(11/15/2008 09:38:00 PM) - Al

I was just considering if Doug is looking to improve 3B at all, or if he is at peace with Gamel and a RH bat splitting time there in '09. Certainly, it is pointless to try and improve the offense if Mat is even close to his James projection.

Note he often has said he is looking for a LH bat, but he never specifically mentions 3B.

I also wonder if Mcgehee was picked up solely to "protect" Gamel, as he is a solid glove man, just in case Hall is traded.


11/15/2008 09:38:00 PM



(11/15/2008 08:37:00 PM) - Jason

In today's news, one funny tidbit: the Yankees sold P Darrell Rasner to a Japan club for $1 million. If the reports are accurate about the Yankees offer to CC Sabathia, that $1 million would pay for a grand total of 0.7% off CC's reported contract offer.

Who says the economy is bad?

FA Tracker updated with the days events. Everybody out there seems to be waiting on two things:

1) Where CC will sign, and
2) Where the Padres will trade Jake Peavy

Once one of those two dominoes fall, expect a flurry of activity.


11/15/2008 08:37:00 PM



(11/15/2008 04:15:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Your analysis of the Bill James' projection is exactly the reason I check in to your site. When I was a young boy, one of my friends got Packer Report delivered to his home, and I always loved going over there and getting extra coverage that the newspaper simply did not print.

Great work, and I appreciate it. Keep it up.

Doc


Thanks for the kind words, Doc.


11/15/2008 04:15:00 PM



(11/15/2008 03:53:00 PM) - Al

Florida is concentrating on pitching, speed, and defense...just like the Rays, they say.

Of course, the problem with that is, almost all the emphasis is on one side of the ball...preventing runs. Speed may help you score a few more over the course of a season, but for the most part, offense is OBP x SLG to a 98% level of accuracy.

Speed without OBP is like pie without sugar...destined to fail.


11/15/2008 03:53:00 PM



(11/15/2008 03:41:00 PM) - Al

Free agent Bob Howry is open to the possibility of signing with the Giants.

Howry opened his career in the Giants organization before being traded, along with Keith Foulke, to the White Sox in a nine-player deal 11 years ago. "Howry does have some interest in returning to the Giants," agent Craig Landis said. "It may be a possibility. It is too early to tell." Howry is a Type A free agent, but it seems unlikely that the Cubs will offer him arbitration and risk having him come back at $4 million-$5 million next year.--Rotoworld


I'd put Howry near the top of my list if the Cubs do not offer him arby. He's been as consistent as Riske, and is a big bodied, hard thrower, just like Melvin prefers.


11/15/2008 03:41:00 PM



(11/15/2008 03:23:00 PM) - Al

You can bail out the big 3 all you want, eventually, they will need to declare bankruptcy to get out from under the horrible decisions of the past. There's a reason why unions are on life support, and the one industry still utilizing unions heavily is all but bankrupt.

They were an important part of the industrial revolution, and making it safe to work in a factory setting, but time has passed them by. Denying it is hearkening back to the days of one screen, family owned movie theaters and carbonated beverages coming in returnable bottles.


11/15/2008 03:23:00 PM



(11/15/2008 03:18:00 PM) - Al

Any doubt there's bargains to be had in the stock market? These 11 are all trading for less than they have in cash.


11/15/2008 03:18:00 PM



(11/15/2008 01:00:00 PM) - Al

Bill James has his projections up for 2009, and there is almost nothing but positives as far as the Brewers are concerned. Almost every single player's numbers are improved from their actual 2008 campaign. Also, the kids that project to begin '09 at AAA have friendly guesses as well, especially Mat Gamel, whose '09 is prognosticated to be better than anyone other than Braun or Fielder. If Doug is getting numbers even remotely similar from his in-house guy, I can see why he has little to no interest in acquiring a stopgap at the hot corner.

Another prediction worth mentioning...Sheets 3.38 ERA, Sabathia 3.39 ERA...granted, he has CC throwing about 55 more frames.

Fielder--.379/.545, 926 OPS...Prince has a career OPS of 903, and put up an 879 last season. Like almost every single member of the team, his '09 projection is about 5% higher than his actual '08 production.

Weeks--.364/.435, 799...I'm an unabashed fan of Weeks, though I'm the first to admit I'm surprised he has not "broken out" for an entire season like I had hoped. However, many of his detractors point to his BA and K's...both as meaningless as his middle name. What's especially humorous to me is every time a possible replacement is brought up, that player's numbers simply aren't as god as what Weeks has actually done, never mind his ceiling. After a 740 OPS in his career and a 758 OPS last year, a nice jump is hoped for by James.

Hardy--.336/.462, 798...it's just hard to believe that JJ is projected just below Rickie. Projected just above his career marks, and actually below last year, one of the very few projected lower.

Gamel--.364/.482, 846...just look at how high this kid is projected, it's a head shaker. I can only hope James nails this one. The way Doug floated his name a while back, it seems likely Mat is penciled in as the '09 3B, and his lefty bat does seem to fit in with what the team needs.

Braun--.364/.620, 984...monster, but still, probably very close to where he was when he injured his rib muscle in August. 44 homers, by the way. Just lower than his '07 numbers.

Cameron--.325/.434, 759...788 career, 808 LY, if Mike plays half his games in Miller Park, I would say he destroys his projection.

Hart--.336/.496, 832...September struggles were forgotten, nice projection given his 759 in '08 and 808 career.

Kendall--.343/.330, 673...well lower than his career, but actually a bit higher than his 651 OPS in '08. I think anyone would take that OBP out of the #8 spot.


Hall--.311/.431, 742...down from his 771 career, but up from his 689 (689?!) OPS in '08. Just taking a look at the way things look to be set up as of this minute, Bill, big salary and all, is probably going to platoon at 3B and back up the middle IF spots.

Kapler--.333/.418, 751...I'm afraid BOS is going to make an offer Gabe can't refuse, but since Bill has him returning to earth, I'm not going to overreact. Just below his career, and nowhere near his 838 OPS last year.

Branyan--.340/.492, 832...I'm tempted to keep Branyan around as depth for Gamel, a reserve for LF/RF/1B, and as the power bat off the bench.

Escobar--.328/.385, 713...this is an Alcides kind projection, only a couple wins behind Hardy offensively, using the rule of 10.

Salome--.349/.477, 826...oh, to have a catcher hit like this, it'd be worth 2.5 wins over Kendall, though I'm sure he'd give it up behind the plate. Let's hope Charlie Greene, former outstanding defensive catcher and current minor league instructor, can work with this youngster and get him up to decent by 2010.

I think Doug will mostly be shopping for proven vets who can start for extended periods if needed, especially where they do not have anyone at AAA ready to step in. If Branyan is not brought back, I look for Menasha native Eric Hinske to get a call. If not Kapler, another 4th OF will be needed, probably with a LH bat...Jim Edmonds might be a fit, Scott Posednik as well. I still hope Craig Counsell comes back at a reduced rate, Jerry Hairston Jr. might be a fit as an all-around utility guy.


Gallardo--3.61 ERA
Parra--3.95
Bush--3.99
Suppan--4.70
McClung--4.69

Villanueva--3.85
Riske--3.95
Stetter--3.20


Gagne--3.11
Mota--3.86
Shouse--3.77

Gagne is projected much better than most of the FA closers who will sign for $8-12M per. He may well get a shot to close, from a bargain hunting team.

Coffey was not projected, by the way. I would expect the nine guys above (the 8 plus Coffey) to be on the opening day roster, barring injury of course, and Tim Dillard probably has his foot in the door as well. That leaves two spots left, plus 3+ for depth purposes (one of those spots I've already given to DiFelice in my mind). If they can add an SP and a RP that are better than what they currently have, I think the top 12 looks solid; good but not great (I especially doubt many teams will run out 3 SP's projected under 4). I think either Shouse or Mota will return (heck, Gagne is possible as well).

Doug is looking for complimentary pieces, not stars. Odds are, those guys won't be talking a lot until several of the main difference makers start signing.


11/15/2008 01:00:00 PM


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