Al's Ramblings



Sunday, February 29, 2004

(2/29/2004 07:14:00 PM) - Al

I just got an e-mail that said all 81 Cubs' home games are sold out. I'm not sure if the writer meant he was unable to find enough seats together, as several games on the Cubs' web site do have tickets available, though the two I checked did only have single seats left. I did find out the cheapest ticket into Wrigley is $14. If you can sell out almost every ticket before March, simple supply and demand tells you that those seats are worth more than that, I'd say $20 minimum, maybe $25.


2/29/2004 07:14:00 PM


Saturday, February 28, 2004

(2/28/2004 06:50:00 PM) - Al

From the Jim Callis chat on BA's Top 100.

Mike (Milwaukee): Hi Jim - love your work on BA...my question is on the Brewers: We all know Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder seem to be the "real deal", but could you rank these guys in terms of major-league talent - Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, Mike Jones, Ben Hendrickson. THANKS!

Jim Callis: I'd rank those guys in this order: SS Hardy (who's No. 19 on our Top 100), RHP Jones (assuming he's over his elbow problems), OF Hart, RHP Hendrickson. The Brewers are loaded and should be able to surface above .500 and start contending by 2006. I'd put OF/1B Brad Nelson right behind Hardy on the above list, and also watch out for LHPs Manny Parra and Jorge de la Rosa.
The Brewers are just loaded.

Alex, Worcester MA: How do the mets top three (Matsui, Kazmir, Wright) compare to the rest of the National league field? And do you think Kazmir is really an ace with his relatively small size?

Jim Callis: For me, that's the best top three in the NL after the Brewers (Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy). I'd put the Dodgers (Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, Franklin Gutierrez or James Loney) right behind those two.




So, the Crew has the top top three AND the top overall system. That's tough to beat, great depth and a great top three.



2/28/2004 06:50:00 PM


Thursday, February 26, 2004

(2/26/2004 07:14:00 PM) - Al

Checking out tickets over at the Brewers' site, it would appear that the July 5th matinee versus the Cubs is selling much faster than any other game...including Opening Day. That game may well be down to pairs and single tickets pretty soon.


2/26/2004 07:14:00 PM



(2/26/2004 06:01:00 PM) - Al

I commented on it at the time, but allow me to say once more how incredibly ignorant this fuss is about "the foul ball". I still don't think Alou had anything but a minute chance at catching it, and still feel that way after seeing the replay a dozen times the past few days. And, the idea of taking a baseball game, made up of hundreds of pitches, 27 outs a side, and hard hits balls hit right at fielders, while bloopers fall in all the time; down to a single play is simply assinine.

And yes, if Bartman wouldn't have touched it, one of 2-3 others would have, and why am i the only one who seems to see the fan hitting Alou's glove.

If you ever wonder how far off the coverage can be by the mainstream media, we're witnessing it every day. They are going by the motto of "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story", and many of our NASCAR watching, $4 coffee drinking public is just stupidly following along.


2/26/2004 06:01:00 PM


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

(2/25/2004 10:31:00 AM) - Al

The Crank has posted another Win Shares report, that pretty much says the AL Central is horrible.


2/25/2004 10:31:00 AM


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

(2/24/2004 10:43:00 AM) - Al

From a Cardinals message board:

Now if Joe Mauer, Josh Barfield, and Alexis Rios would all off a couple people, we'd have a decent farm system.


Luis looks to be the Cards' 3rd-5th best prospect, as they have a very weak system, FYI.


2/24/2004 10:43:00 AM



(2/24/2004 10:20:00 AM) - Al

Al,

How good a prospect was Luis? He didn't have much velocity last year.

Bradley


To be truthful, Bradley, I don't know. However, I do know this:

1. He's a 24 year-old who who had one of the best AA/AAA campaigns in years in '03.

2. He's a LHP.

3. He was on the 40 man roster.

4. He only made it past a few teams in the NL. Obviously, several teams claimed him, despite a serious, and recent brush with the law.

5. Toby ranks him as a better prospect than such fine youngsters like DeLaRosa, Krynzel, Hendrickson, Ford, and Gwynn.

EDIT: I would have had Luis lower than every one of those guys myself, but in the loaded Brewers system, that's hardly saying he isn't a good prospect. He may well be in SL's top 5.


At worst, I would say Luis will have a couple years in the bigs, barring injury or a brush with the law that doesn't take place in a country that isn't the Dominican, as a reliever. He's unlikely to ever be an ace, but could he be a #2 or #3 starter? Perhaps, though he's more likely to be a bottom of the rotation guy. That said, giving away talent that is capable of contributing is suicide. Heck, Matt Kinney projects with a lower ceiling than Luis, and he's pretty much written into the rotation with ink, not to mention being a righty.


2/24/2004 10:20:00 AM



(2/24/2004 10:12:00 AM) - Al

Al,

A couple reasons for my e-mail. One, loved the line about the JS writers. I scared my coworkers I laughed so loud. Two, wasn't Luis out of options? He's been in the minors a long time, and was never effective until '03, I was thinking he'd have to be a long man, as he'd certainly be claimed.

Jon


Thanks for reading and writing, Jon. Jon is referring to

as the only major paper that covers the Brewers have two beat writers that can barely stay awake long enough to declare their intention to take a nap

which is probably more accurate than we'd like to believe, sadly. Granted, the JS sets the bar incredibly low, as they haven't even bothered putting a wire service recap up of the Martinez story, now 17 hours and counting.

Also, no way Luis doesn't have an option left. He didn't need to be added to the 40 man until at least after 2001, so he has one option left for sure, and maybe two, as it always seems like players have one more option than you'd figure.


2/24/2004 10:12:00 AM



(2/24/2004 08:09:00 AM) - Al

The JS Online still has nothing up on Luis' release, more than 15 hours after it occured.

Wow.


2/24/2004 08:09:00 AM



(2/24/2004 12:18:00 AM) - Al

Al,

This is a VERY nicely done summary of the Brewers offseason and their spring training hopes and such. Something the Journal-Sentinel could easily do, but won't.

Mike



Thanks for the tip, Mike, and be sure to check out Cat's House, listed on the right sidebar.





2/24/2004 12:18:00 AM


Monday, February 23, 2004

(2/23/2004 11:54:00 PM) - Al

Al,

Did you see the junky article that Baseball Prospectus had on the Brewers, I think I will go over the sections and errors:


Ding Dong, The Witch Is... The ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks recently attempted to sell their franchise but found no takers, so don't sound the bell on Bud and Wendy just yet.

Comment: The Bucks were all set to be sold to Michael Jordan's group until Herb Kohl backed out at the last minute.

Hello, My Name Is... The projected Opening Day roster has only two holdovers (Geoff Jenkins and Wes Helms and the rotation also brings back two (Ben Sheets and Wayne Franklin.)

Comment: I am assuming that what they meant here is that the Opening Day starting lineup and rotation only has two holdovers from last years Opening Day lineup and rotation. Obviously Pedsednik is returning as the starting centerfielder at the end of the season and Kinney should have been included in the starting rotation being brought back.

Junior Spivey and Craig Counsell can certainly be an adequate middle infield, but are more valuable to the franchise as trade bait. The Yankees and Twins have already inquired about the services of both, so with the right offer or the right hot streak from a prospect, expect Doug Melvin to start working the phones. It will surprise no one if Geoff Jenkins is moved mid-season, assuming he won't sign cheaply and can remain intact for the first time in three seasons.

Comment: Interesting if true regarding Counsell, but I have to believe that Melvin would have traded Counsell to free up some salary room if there was an actual offer.

The Thing We Do Right Is... The first wave of prospects hit Milwaukee last season, but a full scale invasion could begin by the All-Star Break. Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Corey Hart will have a chance to break camp with the big boys, but will likely head to Huntsville for regular playing time.

Comment: Really, the first wave of prospects hit Milwaukee last year? I guess I missed that wave. Weeks, Hardy, and Hart will be repeating Huntsville too? I guess AAA Indy is going to be pissed.

Where the Brewers lack is on the mound. Only Manny Parra projects as anything more than an average major league pitcher and the top upper level prospect, Luis Martinez, is dealing with control issues of a far different type than most.

Comment: I guess Ben Hendrickson and Mike Jones must project as average or less.

The Projection You'll Want to Ignore Is... Every once in a while, PECOTA spits out a projection that makes Nate Silver wonder if his laptop snuck out and scored something that BALCO doesn't make. Expecting Nick Neugebauer to be a useful pitcher, let alone one with a 10 VORP, is one of those projections. Brooks Kieschnick playing both ways barely rated a 10 VORP. PECOTA is deadly accurate on most players, but the funny ones are worth pointing out as a reminder that we're still occasionally little more than Miss Cleo with a calculator.

Comment: Does this writer even understand how their projection system works? He is comparing a middle reliever/pinch hitter to someone who is probably projected as a starting pitcher. What the writer should have pointed out is that the likelyhood of Nick being healthy and effective is doubtful but he goes and messes it up by trying to compare him to Brooks Kieschnick, who while a great story, is only sticking in the major leagues because he can cover two roster spots adequately.

This was a free article, but if this is content that is supposed to attract subscribers to their service, I will be sticking with Drew and Tom over at the Journal.

Rod



May I say that not only did Rod do a fine job of summarizing the errors, that is quite possibly the worst article BP has ever printed. As a site that was a pioneer, it is sad to see how far the mighty have fallen. Thanks for reading and writing, Rod.





2/23/2004 11:54:00 PM



(2/23/2004 09:24:00 PM) - Al

Luis Martinez was waived by the Brewers, according to the club's website. Luis was involved in a shooting in his native Dominican Republic a while back, and while he is not expected to be charged, the Brewers found it best to part ways. Luis was claimed on waivers by St. Louis.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out this move was done for the same reasons as Julio Lugo was released last season by Houston, after being charged with striking his wife in the stadium parking lot. Here is what I wrote about Lugo as things occured.

Julio Lugo found not guilty of assault today. Tell me again why HOU lost a guy with talent for nothing again? Talk about overreacting and letting your emotions dictate your business....

...Julio Lugo is close to signing with Tampa Bay. Lugo was released by the Astros because he was charged with assaulting his wife, and moreso, wasn't good enough for the team to bother keeping in light of a PR disaster. Lugo was offered a deal by the Padres as well, but they were unwilling to give him a 2 year contract. Say what you will, but releasing a player that teams have interest in is always a decision based on emotion, not intelligence. Giving players away for off-field offenses is bad business.



So, today the Crew decided that they did not to have an immature, gun brandishing youngster in the organization. There are several teams that would likely do the exact same thing. The problem with this is, it is very easy to field a team that is full of "good people", but yet it is difficult to field a team of 23 year-olds with talent and the potential to be above average major league players. Melvin did say that the team considered trying to trade Luis, but that it would have been difficult after an incident such as this. He's right.

The Brewers only had two choices, as I see it. They chose option one, but could have just as easily done option two, which would have been to have Luis keep a low profile upon arriving at camp (not difficult, since he speaks little English, I assume), and send him to their minor league site among the first cuts. If they believed Luis was a danger to the organization, they made the right call today. But if they chose to do this for the same reasons the Astros did, they are every bit as incorrect. As I said months ago,

Say what you will, but releasing a player that teams have interest in is always a decision based on emotion, not intelligence. Giving players away for off-field offenses is bad business.

The Brewers gave away a player who may or may not have a decent big league career. They may feel as if they did the right thing...but to be blunt, in all likelihood, it was very short-sighted. No one is going to bash the Cardinals for picking up Martinez, or shall I say, no one is going to that matters. Last April, the Brewers picked up a AAA pitcher named Pasqual Coco, who was released by the Blue Jays after he was accused of stealing. If memory serves, Coco said he had mistakenly grabbed the wrong wallet, or something to that effect. While Luis' "crime" is more serious, the two instances reek of inconsistency. I said in reference to Lugo,

...and moreso, wasn't good enough for the team to bother keeping in light of a PR disaster.


Hardly anyone noticed when the Crew signed Coco, as the only major paper that covers the Brewers have two beat writers that can barely stay awake long enough to declare their intention to take a nap. Coco was a non-issue. Martinez, however, was good enough to make this an actual story.

So, at the end of the day, the Brewers proved themselves to be an extremely righteous organization. I have little doubt that they may well release any player in the same circumstance, even a top prospect or solid big leaguer (I won't give examples, but I'm sure names come to mind). For years, the Brewers have been complimented for having quality people. After the 9/11 terrorist attack, the Brewers' schedule had them visiting several stadiums when the home team had a patriotic ceremony, and without fail, the team stood patiently and at attention. In fact, this fact was mentioned often by the media, as well as the opposing club. My memory is cloudy, but I seem to remember the opponent (maybe Bob Boone, when he managed Cincy?) saying he wished his team would have behaved like that. Also, when Phil Garner was still with the team, he made the Brewers stay in the dugout and watch a stadium closing ceremony after the 162nd game of the season somewhere (Detroit?), a fact that aggravated many players and again, received many compliments from the media and opponent.

It's nice to know the team is a group of "good people". But, a few jerks with talent would be fine with me. Giving away talent for reasons not related to on-field performance does not equal doing everything possible to build a contender. As cited above, quietly sending Luis to AAA and trading him later on would have been a move that would not have resulted in a loss (or as big of a loss) of talent in the system. Last time I checked, that is the #1 priority teams have. Anything that gets in the way of that priority is a weakness.






2/23/2004 09:24:00 PM


Sunday, February 22, 2004

(2/22/2004 11:32:00 AM) - Al

I'll be off to Milwaukee this afternoon for a meeting tomorrow morning. Be back late tomorrow night.


2/22/2004 11:32:00 AM



(2/22/2004 08:24:00 AM) - Al

Jim Bathey, the Brewers' vice president of ticket sales, said the team sold 36,000 tickets Saturday, the first day that single-game seats were made available.

"It was better than we expected," Bathey said.

In fact, the total represented the largest single-day sale since February 2001, when the Brewers sold 48,199 tickets for the inaugural season at Miller Park.--JS, 2/22/04



Hard not to look at this with rose colored glasses, but it could mean several things. One, I think this is the first time Opening Day seats have went on sale with the other games. Two, as I have pointed out in regards to other clubs, many of these folks may have been season ticket holders in the past, and have cut down from 20 to 10 games, or from 40 to 25. We won't know that until they announce what the season ticket sales are for 2004.



2/22/2004 08:24:00 AM



(2/22/2004 08:14:00 AM) - Al

Hi Al,

Just thought I'd send a quick note. I have received a couple of e-mails from former teammates who loved your interview with Coster. Great work again!

Seth


Seth is the man behind Seth Speaks, and he played baseball with Chris Coste, I believe in college. Glad to hear some of his old pals enjoyed the short interview.



2/22/2004 08:14:00 AM


Saturday, February 21, 2004

(2/21/2004 07:54:00 PM) - Al

Boy of Summer has a piece that shows of the rookies that received 250 PA's last season, the Brewers have 3 of the top 4 as far as the ability to take a walk goes.

It's all about baserunners. I feel much better than almost everyone about the Brewers' offense. Some fear the lack of power, but I see a team filled with guys that "won't get out".


2/21/2004 07:54:00 PM



(2/21/2004 03:29:00 PM) - Al

Nice piece on how accurate polls are months before the election, thanks to Crank.

I thinks polls are darn accurate if you start looking at the ones a week or so before the election, as the ones that showed Dean way ahead in Iowa were several weeks before the actual vote. Another poll not mentioned had the first President Bush with a commanding 60-70% approval rating about now in 1992, as if you would have told me then Bill Clinton would be inagurated the following January, I'd have giggled into my Fruit Loops.


2/21/2004 03:29:00 PM



(2/21/2004 01:00:00 PM) - Al

Talkin' Baseball, the Brewers' offseason "hot stove" league show, is on WTMJ (the Brewers' flagship station) right now. News of note:

The batting order, as of today, has Pods leading off and Jenkins batting 4th. While the lineup is pretty well set, Ned says he has "about 50" possible orders in his head.

I'm not a genius, but the rest of the lineup will almost assuredly be:

Pods
Spivey/Ginter
Overbay
Jenkins
Helms
Grieve/Clark/Ginter
Moeller
Counsell/Hall


Ned mentions Adrian Hernandez as a possible rotation member in the same breath as Sheets, Davis, Franklin, Kinney, Capuano, and Wes O.

I think it's official...Adrian is the official "sleeper" to make the staff, either as the 5th starter or long reliever. Considering he K'd over a man an inning in AAA last year, he seems like a good looking longshot.

Constant mention of "depth in the lineup", and how this is a "scrappy team" that will "work their way onto base".

Ned never uses the term OBP, but he describes working the count and how despite the fact the team has less power, he thinks they'll be just fine. He does everything except use the term.

Ned says Lyle Overbay is a heckuva hitter who "will hit .300, hit a lot of doubles and drive in between 80 and 100 runs. He'll pick up a lot of that slack" (from losing Sexson).

That's pretty high expectaions for the guy, though I think he'll be fine as well. I doubt he'll hit .300, but he'll walk a lot, and may well have the highest OBP on the team, .375 or higher.

Ned's only goal for the team is continued improvement, and while he'd like to improve on the 68 wins in '03, he's more concerned with players getting better and such.

Amen.

Jim Bathey, assistant manager of ticket sales, says they've sold 28,000 tickets so far today, the first day of individual game sales. Last year, the team sold 18,000 the first day. 500 people were in line at 9AM this morning, the line finally was gone at 11:30. The most popular season tiks are the 20 game "fan's choice" package, as well as the "terrace reserved buy 2, get 2 free" deal. Cubs tickets are going fast, both at Miller Park and on the internet.

Are there still 500 people who are dumb enough to stand outside rather than use the phone or online ticketing? Geesh. Jim said most of the Cubs' tickets being sold online were going to Northern Illinois buyers, which will bother some, though I'm not sure why.

Reid Nichols, farm director, says Cecil Cooper should have a much brighter year in '04 at Indy, as the first wave of prospects have arrived. Tough balancing act between winning and developing, as Indy has a long tradition. Melvin's people got in late (Nov, '02) and missed most good free agents, so were working from behind all 2003. One year left on contract with them, Brewers love to stay, it's all up to Indy. Should be a good team in AAA, nice mix of vets and youth. Mentioned Durrington, Erickson, Liefer, and Hardy. Mike Jones may start in Indy, but will be patient...but he'll be in Indy soon enough if he's healthy. Ben Hendrickson spoke of highly, groundball pitcher, excellent curve, will be a solid big leaguer someday. Bringing in Jim Rooney, who has experience in kinesiology, hopefully will help young pitchers stay more healthy, as almost every top pitching prospect missed significant time to arm health in 2003. Prince "has a chance" to begin at Huntsville, as does Tony Gwynn Jr, and Weeks will. Weeks is "on more of a fast track", may well arrive for good at the end of 2004. Brad Nelson will open in H-ville, had a tough '03 catching up from injury, and High Desert was a poor atmosphere for him to be in. He'll be fine, and the power will come. Nice OF transition, no weaknesses, compared to Darrell Porter. Closest to the big leagues right now are Weeks, Hardy, and Hendrickson. Enrique Cruz will start at SS in AA Huntsville. Manny Parra may well start the season in AA, if recovered. High Desert is being skipped by many prospects, as it is a unique offensive atmosphere (Jim Powell said "Coors Field like") Because of the Dominican and Venezuela kids being brought to the States, the lower levels are packed, many Beloit guys will be pushed to H-ville, and some older Helena prospects will be pushed to High Desert. Pitchers Tim Bausher, Dennis Sarafate, and Chris Saenz will all get the chance to beging in H-ville. Tom Wilhemson has a great arm, but "is not ready" for AA. Steve Moss spoken of highly, fine athlete. A caller asked about teaching kids the knuckler, Reid says few guys are capable of throwing the knuckleball, organization more likely to change arm angles and such. #1 ranking is deserved, 3 league MVP's unheard of, very proud of the staff.

Reid Nichols sounds like he understands all aspects of the game. If the Crew turns the corner, he will be mentioned as a GM prospect.

Wes Helms was unaware of Corey Hart switching positions so as not to be blocked. Feels he will continue to improve, sees himself as a .280 hitter with power. Worked on stamina and endurance this offseason, try to be quicker, "strong enough". Sees himself hitting 5th, behind Jenkins.

Wes is a true Southern man, speaks only of hard work, family, and in a barely intelligible accent.

Ben Hendrickson tries to emulate Darryl Kile's curveball. Tries to be a sinkerball pitcher.

Oh, to be 23 with a live arm.


2/21/2004 01:00:00 PM


Friday, February 20, 2004

(2/20/2004 10:49:00 PM) - Al

I looked through most every question on this quiz, and there seems to be no more regional term in our nation than "bubbler", which for those who are unaware, is what folks in SE Wisconsin call a water/drinking fountain. The block of red in the Milwaukee area is simply astounding.


2/20/2004 10:49:00 PM



(2/20/2004 03:58:00 PM) - Al

A Q & A with Twins' president, Jerry Bell, which discusses the proposed new ballpark (and no, it's not just you, it is all but a carbon copy of Miller Park), which unlike previous ignorant barebones attempts to save money, includes a retractable roof. Note the thinly veiled attempt to say how nice it is not having to put up with the former governor's repeated statements that the government shouldn't be building stadiums for the public to enjoy themselves in.

We can tax the bejeebers out of the public and toss it at museums, ballets, and anything that can be referred to as "the arts" while keeping a straight face, but a sports stadium...no way. Minneapolis once proudly moved a dumpy old theater (I'm sorry, a "historic" dumpy old theater) to save it from corporate develoment (you know, jobs and such), at a price tag several times more than a brand new non-rodent infested theater would have cost.

It would appear Governor Pawlenty believes in spending public money to benefit...the public, just like Mayor (and now Senator) Norm Coleman did, when he built the Excel Center to bring the NHL back to the Twin Cities. The mere fact that the late Paul Wellstone is rolling over in his grave at the mere mention of spending millions on a ballpark is icing on the cake.:)


2/20/2004 03:58:00 PM



(2/20/2004 03:32:00 PM) - Al

I haven't seen this much fuzzy math outside of a pork laden government bill.

Comparing how much they would have spent on 3 players (Boone, Soriano, Drew Henson) compared to ARod, so, how many ways is that wrong?

1. Boone got hurt playing basketball, which he is contractually not supposed to do. The Yankees could have voided his deal had they traded for ARod, or not.

2. Drew Henson walked away from his huge deal the Yankees stupidly signed him to, because he knew he was never going to be even a mediocre MLB 3B. NY signed him based solely on potential, and Henson would have left regardless of whether or not the Yankees traded for ARod.

3. Soriano played 2B, a spot that the Yankees now have no one that I can cordially call "OK". Enrique Wilson is nothing more than a utility IF at best, and in no way can ARod play 2B & 3B at the same time. Hence, bringing Soriano into this is misleading and incorrect.

Yes, the Yankees sold $2.3 million more in tickets than they did last year in the same week. Of course, is that just from the constant media attention (free press)? It seems quite possible to me that they sold a lot of tiks to weekend games this Summer which would have sold out anyway. Now, will some folks sitting without tickets now buy April and May weekday games, because of this? Perhaps. And, early ratings should be higher because of the vast free advertising the Yankees have received in the papers, which may lead to higher revenues, as the Yankees own their own cable network.

But, pretending ARod has paid for himself is not just hilarious, it's simply not true.


2/20/2004 03:32:00 PM



(2/20/2004 03:16:00 PM) - Al

David Pinto writes about an article which asks "what if all teams did things the Beane/saber way".

Actually, BP wrote about this a while back also. They discussed how mediocre vets would no longer find anyone to pay them as if they're still good. How some teams would still be willing to trade experience for youth, dependent on their place in the success cycle. That good AAA players (Jason Lane) would be making $350K in the bigs and crappy old players who were never much good in their prime (Orlando Merced, Brian Hunter) would be in AAA fighting for a chance to return, rather than handed million dollar contracts because "the manager feels comfortable with them".

We're getting closer every day, as there are now 5 teams run openly by statistical info, rather than "the same way it's always been", and probably 5-10 more who focus more on the numbers than they let on (you can't tell me Doug Melvin just happened to put together an OBP laden club, warts and all). In a decade, it seems pretty likely you'll be able to name the "old fashioned" GM's like we do the "young guns" now, as there will just be a couple left.


2/20/2004 03:16:00 PM


Thursday, February 19, 2004

(2/19/2004 07:11:00 PM) - Al

Since the site is likely to get hit with a bit more traffic than usual, due to the Coste interview, I thought this would be a good time to mention a site that is doing excellent work for the deserving.

Any Soldier does what we are unable to do safely due to terrorism, send the troops items that will make their lives easier. The website gives you lists of what is needed, how to package it, and how to get it to military personel in the Middle East. I will be adding it to the links on the right side as well. This would be a wonderful ongoing project for youth groups, churches, or any civic minded individuals or organizations to take part in.

In other news related to the links on your right, due to overwhelming public outcry, the Department of Defense started paying for flights home for soldiers on R & R on January 1st, 2004. Therefore, Operation Hero Miles, while still in effect, is now only used for soldiers returning on emergency leave, which for whatever reason, is not paid. Because of the amount of stockpiled frequent flyer miles, many airlines have stopped accepting donations.


2/19/2004 07:11:00 PM



(2/19/2004 05:01:00 PM) - Al

Ramblings is proud to present an interview with Chris Coste, who is currently a member of the Brewers. Chris signed a minor league deal with the Crew this offseason, and has produced outstanding offensive numbers, especially for a catcher, at the AAA level. Many of us were openly hoping Chris would be Chad Moeller's reserve, but as of now, it would appear his best chance to make the major league team is as an all-around utility player, the 25th man, so to speak.

Chris has written about his experiences in independent and affiliated minor league ball, and also maintains a very good web site.

We first contacted Chris soon after he was signed by the Crew, and he was in Mexico playing winter ball at the time. As he prepares to leave for Arizona with a spring training invite, Chris was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.


Al:Thanks for taking time out of your preparation, Chris. What prompted you to sign with the Brewers? Without getting into specific numbers, opportunity, money, etc?


Chris: I had a rough 2003 season with a major injury at the beginning of the season. I missed over three months of the season and never really got back on track. It was the first bad season of my 9-year career, and accordingly, not many teams were willing to take a chance on a guy that would be 31 at the beginning of the season, was coming off an injury plagued season, and had no big league experience. Eventually the Brewers called and decided to give me a shot. I was really excited about this opportunity because they seem like an organization that give guys chances, especially players like myself. Also, they are a National League team, which is a good fit for me because I can hit and play several positions.

Al: Your minor league offensive stats are outstanding for a catcher, why do you feel you haven't got a chance in the big leagues?

Chris: This is the million dollar question!!!!!!! My only thought is that I did not break into organized professional baseball until the age of 27. Also, I believe that playing other positions has also hurt me a little bit…this seems strange, but let me explain: I am primarily a catcher but I can also play first and third base as well as anyone. So in the past, the Indians organization decided to carry other catchers and let me play everywhere. Rather than keep the other less talented catchers on the bench, they played me elsewhere and let the other catchers catch. In addition, I have always hit well, so the idea is that since I can hit and play a lot of positions, I can’t possibly be a good defensive catcher, which is
ridiculously far from the truth. I can catch the ball as well as anyone, I block the ball very well, and my arm strength is above average. And more importantly, the pitchers have always loved throwing to me on every team I have ever been on. Lastly, the Indians were always comfortable with what they had, and since they started losing in 2002, Chris Coste was the least of their worries!

Al: Be as blunt as possible: How much difference does a catcher make to a pitching staff, as far as game calling, framing pitches, blocking balls in the dirt, etc?

Chris: Let’s face it, the pitcher is the most important player on the field at all times. For some pitchers it really doesn’t matter who is catching, but for others, it is very important. The pitcher has to have confidence that the catcher knows what he is doing and also that he can block a curve ball in the dirt with a runner on 3rd base. The catcher does not have to do anything spectacular, he just has to do his job, and that is catch the ball and make it look easy. What I mean by that is this: If the catcher makes it look easy, then it appears as if the pitcher is around the strike zone which makes it easier for the umpire to call strikes on a more consistent basis.

Al: Tell me about your approach at the plate, do you take a lot of pitches, look for a pitch to drive, jump on a fastball, what?

Chris: I really don’t walk very much. I like the first pitch and it doesn’t matter if it is a fastball or an off-speed pitch. In fact, my hitting style is what has given me the success I that have enjoyed over my career. I have always been known as a first ball, fast ball hitter. This is true but what people don’t realize is that after the first pitch I change my approach a little. I know that they think I am a fastball hitter, but honestly I have made a living by hitting off-speed pitches with two strikes. When the pitchers in the past figured that out and started throwing me fastballs with two strikes were the times when I struggled a little bit.

Al: You have written a couple books about your minor league experiences. How great is it to be paid to play baseball?

Chris: I am amazed everyday that I get paid to play baseball. I have never made a lot of money in the game, but now that I have spent a few years in AAA, I have made enough to be able to keep doing it. My only fear is the knowledge that it can end any given day. It is probably this fear that has motivated me to work harder and harder each year. Life in the minor leagues is not always easy, especially with a family, but it is still a great way to make a living, and
when you are in AAA, you are only one step away from “Baseball Heaven.”

Al: How long do you plan on playing the game? Any thought of moving out from behind the plate? Coaching?

Chris: I will play baseball until they take the uniform off my back. It is what I have always done, it is what I have always wanted to do, and it is really the only thing I know. I love catching and I really think it is the most fun position on the field, and I will catch until my body tells me to stop. Also, I think I would make a good coach or manager some day because I am a good communicator and I have played every position on the field at a professional level…even pitcher.

Al: Tell me who is the teammate you've respected the most, and who have you played with in the past couple years that will be stars in the bigs in a few years.

Chris: I am incredibly lucky to have been in the Indians organization for three years. I have met so many quality people that I have a great deal of respect for. They have always done a good job of signing solid AAA players as well as solid characters.

I have a lot of respect for Charles Nagy. I had the opportunity to catch him a lot in AAA Buffalo and also in extended spring training when he and I were both rehabbing arm surgeries. He had enough money to retire and be happy but he kept playing because he loved the game and loved the competition, even though he had almost no cartilage in his entire arm and had lots of pain after each pitch. He also worked incredibly hard and was a true gamer!!

I also have a lot of respect for Jody Gerut of the Indians and he is also someone that will be a star for many years to come. He has a lot of respect for the game, works as hard as anyone, and is an incredibly solid player, and more importantly, he is an incredibly solid person.

Al: Finally, I feel the difference between a solid AAA veteran and a career major league utility man (for instance, Marcos Scutaro and Joe McEwing) is minimal at best, and is probably nonexistant. What's your feeling on this? Is it often a matter of opportunity and/or having a hot spring training, or is there a subtle difference?

Chris: Typically, major league utility players are guys that have a lot of experience and broke into the big league at a relatively young age. Denny Hocking and Jeff Reboulet are good examples. They were in the right place at the right time early in their careers and got experience at a young age. As a result, their managers were comfortable having them around. This is the same for backup catchers…they don’t have to be great, they just can’t mess up. If they just do their job adequately they are set forever. There are lots of catchers and utility men in the big leagues that would be
marginal AAA players, but they will always have a job in the big leagues because they have experience and their managers are comfortable having them around.

Al: Thanks again, and best of luck in 2004 and beyond.







2/19/2004 05:01:00 PM


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

(2/18/2004 03:32:00 PM) - Al

I can't believe I'm the only one seriously questioning the Cubs' pretending Greg Maddux is still an elite starting pitcher. The guy is a 5 or 6 inning man at this point, and his effectiveness has been on a downslide for several years.

1998--251 IP, 2.22 ERA
1999--219, 3.57
2000--249, 3.00
2001--233, 3.05
2002--199, 2.62
2003--218, 3.96

Greg turns 38 in April. Paying Greg $8 mil per is almost exactly what he was worth...in '98-'00. It isn't coincidence that he's retiring 3 fewer hitters per start, and that he gave up almost 4 runs per 9 innings pitched in 2003. And, the Cubs will be fortunate to get even that much out of him in 2004, never mind '05 and '06, his seasons of 39 and 40. Not to mention, with the way Baker overuses his rotation, Greg will be lucky to have a completely healthy year.

Greg's still a good pitcher, but he's in serious decline. The Cubs overpaid and don't seem to realize he's a decade past his peak.


2/18/2004 03:32:00 PM


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

(2/17/2004 05:56:00 PM) - Al

Rob Neyer discusses that he feels DePod will have huge success in LA, hardly without a doubt.

Me too.


2/17/2004 05:56:00 PM


Monday, February 16, 2004

(2/16/2004 10:48:00 PM) - Al

If you look around the 'net tonight, many folks are saying the same thing I hinted at, the Yankees are better today with ARod, but only by a couple wins. And also, someone pointed out the fact that Soriano is a much better hitter away from Yankee Stadium:

Home--.305/.466, 771 OPS
Away--.346/.543, 889 OPS

With about 1000 AB's both home and away, this is a lot more than a coincidence. Soriano was being hurt by the park, and should be a solid pick to improve just getting away from there. ARod, also a RH hitter (granted, he has power to all fields), will probably be hurt some as well, though not as much.

And just about everyone is in complete agreement...why would NY even consider moving a Gold Glove SS so...ugh, Derek Jeter has to play SS every day.


2/16/2004 10:48:00 PM



(2/16/2004 04:41:00 PM) - Al

Aaron Gleeman waxes poetic (well, kind of) about how truly pathetic it is ARod, the greatest SS of his generation, is going to have to move to 3B because the Yankees are afraid of hurting Derek Jeter's feelings if they ask him to switch positions.

It's sad because it's true.


2/16/2004 04:41:00 PM


Sunday, February 15, 2004

(2/15/2004 08:26:00 PM) - Al

Reports today seem to indicate that Contreras isn't part of this trade. TEX is still responsible for $67 million, meaning they'd rather pay $9.5 mil a year not to have ARod than $25 mil to have him. If that isn't a lesson in how devastating a huge contract like that is to a club's payroll, I'm not sure what is.

I had to chuckle at Peter Gammons mentioning in passing tonight that "the Yankees may win 120 games". Please. They looked to win about 95-100 a couple weeks ago, before Boone's knee exploded. At the moment, they would seem to have replaced Boone/Soriano with ARod and...Enrique Wilson maybe? ARod's good enough to make that a net gain, but certainly not by a whole lot. And I admit, I chuckle every time I hear about all of the Yankees' talent...and Kenny Lofton is said in the same breath as Sheffield and Giambi. Kenny turns 37 in May, and is pretty much a mediocre CF at this stage of his career. Few players are healthier in their late 30's either.


2/15/2004 08:26:00 PM



(2/15/2004 08:16:00 PM) - Al

Overheard today in a retail establishment:

Yeah, the Daytona 500 is on today, then the NBA all-star game is on tonight. Yep, no rest for the wicked today.

I'll watch some of the game tonight, but why the interest in cars going around in circles...like they do every single week? And planning your life around an exhibition game?


2/15/2004 08:16:00 PM



(2/15/2004 06:58:00 PM) - Al

The Bucks make a trade, and a big one at that, picking up Keith Van Horn for Tim Thomas and Joel Pryzbilla. I may be the only person who thinks so, but I think Joel could still be a nice 25-30 minutes per game center. That said, if this is a Thomas for Van Horn trade, we did good.


2/15/2004 06:58:00 PM


Saturday, February 14, 2004

(2/14/2004 07:07:00 PM) - Al

Supposedly, the Yankees are close to acquiring ARod from TEX for Soriano and Contreras.

By far the most intersting detail to me is NY plans to move ARod, a top defensive SS, to 3B; while leaving Derek Jeter, a very poor defensive SS, at SS. I know ARod's bat is good enough to make up for this, but it's just so amazingly ignorant, it verifies my long held belief that George does indeed make personnell decisions.

Also, low OBP Soriano and a Cuban pitcher who is probably several years older than listed for the best player in the game...and TEX is going to throw in cash? Seems to me they're pretty much giving Arod away. I have been predicting for a couple years folks would just stop pitching to the swing at everything 2B, and his '03 falloff would seem to indicate that. Jose is not even close to being worth $8 mil per, and why teams keep throwing real money at these elderly Cubans is beyond me.


2/14/2004 07:07:00 PM


Friday, February 13, 2004

(2/13/2004 11:16:00 PM) - Al

21-0...Bo Ryan's record at home in Big Ten play, which is a school record for consecutive home conference wins.

I was aware of the winning streak, but did not know Bo had never lost a single conference game at home. Astounding.


2/13/2004 11:16:00 PM


Thursday, February 12, 2004

(2/12/2004 11:19:00 PM) - Al

I received an e-mail from a person who has supplied truthful information in the past, who said in part:

No charges are expected to be filed against Luis (Martinez) anytime soon.

Not sure if that means Luis will be able to travel to the US for spring training or not.


2/12/2004 11:19:00 PM



(2/12/2004 11:15:00 PM) - Al

By far the busiest day in the new counter's history, with over 500 visits to the site. I hope many of you that visited for the first or second time bookmarked it. As I said after the first edition of the roundtable, I'm a bit offended that everyone seems to just love Ramblings when it's not my words.:)

I plan on having the roundtable being a 4x a year feature; spring training, opening day, all-star break, and after the season. Thanks again to the panelists, who did an outstanding job.


2/12/2004 11:15:00 PM



(2/12/2004 11:46:00 AM) - Al

Drudge with breaking news on Kerry...true or not, I don't know, but the "facts", especially of Dean now remaining in the race do make sense. Time will tell.


2/12/2004 11:46:00 AM



(2/12/2004 10:39:00 AM) - Al

Rob Neyer makes fun of a bizarre preseason magazine article which would seem to predict that the standings will remain stagnant for the next five seasons.


2/12/2004 10:39:00 AM



(2/12/2004 01:04:00 AM) - Al

I would once again like to mention how nice it was for so many people to send an e-mail regarding my father's death last week. I cleared out my inbox mistakenly this evening, so I will not be responding to them individually, but thanks for taking the time. It was very much appreciated, thanks again.


2/12/2004 01:04:00 AM


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

(2/11/2004 10:20:00 PM) - Al

Welcome to the 2nd Ramblings' Roundtable, this time it's the Spring Training edition.

Our panelists include Robert, frequent Ramblings' contributor; Jason, who helps out with The Daily Brew and writes his own weblog; and previous roundtable participants Greg, Ben, and myself.

Al: Limit your response to this one, as we could discuss this all day:) What do you think of the Sexson trade at this point?

Robert: My reaction at this point is that it's an o.k. deal, but there are still dominoes that have to fall. Capuano and De la Rosa are the keys to the deal, IMO, and are the only players likely to be on the next good Brewers team. Overbay could be a pretty good first baseman in the meantime, and if so could be flipped for something to help the next good team, when Fielder is ready. Those three are the players that I feel best about. Moeller could be anywhere from above average to a bust as a regular starter. Lots of risk. Spivey was unnecessary but has some value. Hopefully he's flipped for something of more value than a right-handed middle reliever at some point. Counsell's just sunk salary. I'm generally of the opinion that whoever gets the best player in a multi-player deal wins, but the Brewers did get value back.

Jason: At first I absolutely hated it because, being the Brewer fan that I am, the Brewers really didn't get a true, top-level player for Sexson, one of the top power hitters in the game. However, after taking a step back and analyzing it from a journalistic point of view, the trade at least has a chance of being a good one for the Brewers. Lets face it - the team had a number of holes to fill this off-season, and with the lack of funds available to fill them, it was clear that Doug Melvin needed to use this trade to address some holes. And to be brutally honest, he did a decent job. Other than Pudge or Javy Lopez, was there a better catcher on the FA market (especially for the minimum, which is what he will make in '04) than Chad Moeller? You could argue there wasn't. I don't have a problem giving Lyle Overbay a shot, but I think the odds are better that he will be disappointing rather than good. If Junior Spivey can put up decent numbers, he will be a nice commodity come the trade deadline - middle infielders who can hit are always something other teams will look for. Taking on Craig Counsell's contract was something the Brewers had to do to make this deal, but if it allows JJ Hardy to spend all year in AAA and not start his arby clock, paying a bit extra for Counsell will be okay. People are saying mostly good about Jorge de la Rosa, and with the lack of pitching prospects in the Brewers system, he could prove a valuable addition. I think the key to the deal is Chris Capuano. He makes the minimum for the next three years, so if he can establish himself as a good starting pitcher, it will save the Brewers lots of money down the road.

Greg: I like it a lot. I don't inherently like "quantity" trades, but I didn't see any blue-chip prospects out there for the taking. De la Rosa is now one of our better pitching prospects. Capuano could be one of our better starters. Overbay has a chance to be a good first baseman, and we'll be okay for two years if he doesn't utterly stink. Moeller is an upgrade at catcher. Spivey is useful trade bait. Counsell is ballast. All told, that's good return for one year of Richie Sexson.

Ben: I'm not overwhelmed by the deal, so much as I am resigned to the fact that the Brewers weren't going to re-sign Richie, and felt this was the best deal available. Overbay was a well-though of prospect not too long ago; he and Moeller are exactly the types of position players the Brewers should have been looking to pick up. Capuano's numbers look good, but I'd like to actually see him pitch before I get too excited about him; the same holds true for De la Rosa. Counsell is a relatively easy sell in Milwaukee, because he's a local guy, and because it means I won't have to see Bill Hall kick grounders at shortstop. And, for a guy who was added into the deal to even out salaries, Spivey is quite a talented 'throw in.'

Al: Well, my thoughts on this subject are pretty well known, but as time goes on, a couple more...I'm surprised no one even mentions the loss of Shane Nance. He's a cheap LH RP who had a 1.50 ERA at AAA last year, certainly not a guy that we should have held back and risk this trade falling through, but exactly the type of player we should be looking to acquire, not deal. Other than that, and the fact that as of today, we still have Junior Spivey, who simply isn't as good as Keith Ginter; this was a fantastic deal for Doug Melvin. Sure we had to take Craig Counsell's huge salary he got for being gritty, but that's the nature of the business in baseball today. Let's not forget, the Marlins traded Derek Lee (Richie's statistical twin) and got just the youngish 1b and a decent Capuano type pitching prospect. Doug picked up Spivey, Moeller, and DLR (how often are Top 100 pitching prospects dealt, by the way?) also.

Other than "the trade", the biggest signing of the offseason was Ben Grieve, a former top hitter plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness since leaving OAK. What's your feeling on this signing?

Robert: It's basically a no risk deal. Grieve's played enough that I don't think even getting away from Tampa is going to help him that much. Still, there's reason to think he can be average or maybe slightly better offensively, although his defense worries me. I'd like a better backup for the corner outfield, but there are plenty of teams with worse situations and more money committed.

Jason: A solid signing. Is Ben Grieve as good now as he was in his days with OAK? Probably not. But his production will be a big factor in determining what kind of year Geoff Jenkins has, which in turn may effect what kind of talent the Brewers might receive when the time is right to trade Jenkins. No one has doubted that Grieve knows how to get on base...perhaps all he needs now is to get his swing back on track and gain some confidence in himself after some bad years. One thing the Brewers do have a good record on over the last few years is "reclamation projects". I would argue that if Grieve has a good spring and establishes himself as being healthy and having all the pieces back in place, the Brewers should try to extend his deal for at least a year.

Greg: It's exactly the kind of signing the Brewers should be making -- a low-risk reclamation project at a position of need. If he gets hurt we aren't out much in money or opportunity costs; if he stays healthy he has a chance to be very valuable.

Ben: What's not to like about the deal? If he returns to his Rookie-of-the Year form, he's a great pickup. If not, then the Brewers still have Brady Clark to fall back on. Other than the slight to Clark (who was acquired out of similar circumstances last year, and won't give up his starting spot without a fight) and some minor concerns about Grieve's defense, I can't think of much to complain about.

Al: I echo Greg and Ben, this is just what we need to do more of. Grieve is still plenty young, and even in the past three "icky" seasons, he still gets on base at a 35% rate, something Jenkins likely won't do. He's a perfect platoon partner with Clark, and signed a cheap, non-guaranteed deal. If you dislike this transaction, dare I say you're either stupid or brain-numbingly negative.

Other noteworthy events or non-events, as you see it?

Robert: The biggest non-event was the Brewers not signing a starting pitcher. I'd feel a lot better about the team if they were going into the season with a $33 million payroll plus Miguel Batista. Adrian Hernandez is the only signing that I see with some upside. Bennett can't hit, but that doesn't make him much different than the majority of backup catchers. Travis Phelps is just another middle reliever.

Al: I agree, and I'm surprised this gets so little attention. Doug is on record as saying he chased almost every SP I mentioned in the first roundtable, Cory Lidle, Miguel Batista, and Kelvim Escobar, all veteran innings-eaters that keep the ball in the park. Insert any of them into the mix, and the starting 5 is suddenly pretty decent, at least in potential and proximity to mediocrity. I'm confident of 3 pitchers from the group of Kinney, Obermueller, Davis, Capuano, Hernandez, and Franklin being healthy and not sucky. I'm not nearly as sure of 4 from that group being OK.

Jason: You could argue that the team needs another starter, but its just a fact that the Brewers don't have the money, and I think it's kinda refreshing that the team is not just throwing money at mediocre players like Jamey Wright and Glendon Rusch out of desperation for adding another arm. Now, when the prospects start coming, perhaps this next off-season the Brewers will have to spend to get an arm or two...but there really isn't a reason to do it now.

Greg: I'm glad we didn't sign a scrub SP. If we weren't going to play in the Kelvim Escobar market, we definitely didn't need the Kenny Rogerses of the world. We need to figure out which of the ten or so starter candidates we have can do the job and spend money to improve when we know what will constitute improvement. Two weeks ago I would have said the Jenkins nontrade was significant, but that seems up in the air. I was disappointed in the second year of the Helms deal, because I think he just had his best year, but with Hart apparently off 3B, Wes' warm body may be worth a bit more in 2005. I don't get paying money for Gary Bennett with Coste on hand, but it's a minor issue (what isn't for the 2004 Brewers?). I love Hernandez and Travis Phelps; either one could be closing in Milwaukee by June.

Al: I like Rogers, but I see your point, Greg.

Ben: Rather than attempt to extol the virtues of a veteran catcher like Bennett, I'll say that Spivey still being on the roster is noteworthy. Melvin's posture immediately following the trade seemed to suggest that Junior was little more than trade bait. The Brewers already have a younger, cheaper second baseman in Keith Ginter; I had kind of expected him to be somewhere else before the season started. Yet, as pitchers and catchers report , and he's still a Brewer. Is there another deadline deal in the works, or is Doug Melvin looking to make a package deal? The Wes Helms contract extension is also of note; he makes almost as much in two years as Adrian Beltre does for 2004. As much as I'm sure it pained Doug Melvin to actually have someone under contract for 2005, it's not a bad deal, since he'd get at least that much in arbitration.

Al: Many top minor league free agents were brought in, who are your favorites and why?

Robert: Mark Johnson, simply because Bennett could be so bad offensively that it's nice to have an option. Scott Sheldon, because another middle infield option is a good idea with questions surrounding Counsell and Hall and there being no need to start Hardy's arbitration and free agency clocks.

Jason: I guess the one signing that might help the Brewers the most is Adrian Hernandez, simply because he would have the best chance of making the team. I think the Matt Erickson signing is an underrated signing, because he has excellent on-base skills - in fact, it wouldn't shock me to see him beat out Bill Hall for the other IF reserve spot opposite Keith Ginter.

Greg: Chris Magruder is only 26, fills a need, and looks like a hitter. Hernandez strikes guys out, which is the best thing you can say about a young pitching suspect. Matt Wise too -- if he's healthy, he joins the cadre of bodies between Milwaukee and Indy who deserve a look in long relief and maybe even an emergency starting audition. Speaking of which, let us not forget Ben Ford. I don't know where Matt Erickson fits in the middle infield logjam, but he deserves a chance to hit in the majors; he looks like the best candidate in this group for Pods-hood. Trent Durrington is a dark horse to watch -- he plays third and draws walks. I'd like to see more power in this mix, but wouldn't we all?

Ben: You touched on him before, but I really liked the Adrian Hernandez signing. 103 Ks in 101 innings of work in AAA last year. His biggest flaw was not being able to unseat Mussina, Clemens, Wells, Pettite, or Weaver / Contreras; I think most guys would have the same problem.

Outside of Hernandez, Chris Magruder has a good chance to make the team as the fifth outfielder. He's got the kind of numbers that project favorably as a 'surprise' type guy.

Al: Let's see...Coste is a catcher that can hit, as well as play 1B and 3B, Hernandez is a dandy SP, Erickson hits well and plays all 4 IF spots, Magruder is very deserving of a shot, Jon Nunnally is older, but is better than most OF reserves, Brian Bowles is a real find as AAA depth in middle relief. Kudos to Doug for being aggressive and spending some money to add some depth at Indy to go along with the prospects.

OK, complete change of subject...Geoff Jenkins...with the team come September 1st?

Robert: I can't see it unless he's injured. Hart moving to the outfield is a pretty clear signal of the organization's direction.

Jason: Nope. Hey, I think it's great that both sides are talking about a possible agreement, but I think to any level-headed fan its obvious he isn't going to be with the team, especially if he puts up all-star caliber numbers again. I suppose its possible talks would heat up, especially if Dave Krynzel struggles again this year in the minors, but with the uncertainty surrounding the sale of the team right now, I highly doubt Jenkins signs a long-term deal with the Brewers.

Greg: Not a chance -- unless the team's competitive and/or financial prospects improve a lot faster than we have any reason to expect. Some contender will pay him a higher premium over his actual value than the Brewers can afford.

Ben: Probably not. If Geoff's looking to break the bank, he's really picked the wrong market to try to do it. He's not going to get a deal for as much money as his last one, as he hasn't played a full season since he signed the contract.

Al: I'm much more optimistic, I'd say it's 50/50. I agree with Melvin that Geoff is likely to feel more loyalty to the organization, as it's the only one he's ever known. Geoff watched some AFL games in the hot sun with Gord Ash and others, he flew into Milwaukee for the fanfest. Those seem like silly choices for a player counting his days until the July 31st deadline. His market value would seem to be that of $5-7 million a year. With his incredibly poor luck in staying healthy, I can't see him getting much more than that from anyone. I'm not sure if I'd look to make him the franchise cornerstone, but I think Doug might.

Ben: For someone who'll be on the wrong side of 30 when his next contract runs its course, I don't think Doug Melvin is ready to overpay to keep the guy. If he actually wants to stay, however, I think some sort of deal could be reached. It would be nice to keep one All Star caliber position player, after all.

Al: Overall, what's your feeling on "the state of the team" right now, compared to LY.

Robert: While the minor league part of the organization is in very good shape, I see nothing but questions about the major league roster. Can Podsednik sustain his rookie level? Can Grieve bounce back? Can Jenkins stay healthy? Is any starter other than Sheets going to be league average? Can Counsell play SS at anything approaching an acceptable level? Are the defensive downgrades to the team going to affect the development of the pitchers? What's the odds of getting positive answers to most of the questions? Why wasn't more done to shake up the starting rotation? This really is a team of stopgaps and question marks with only a few exceptions. There's some upside to the team, but it certainly looks to me that the Brewers are going to be in the race for worst in the NL again, with Colorado, Pittsburgh and Cincinatti being the primary competition. The organization is probably going in the right direction, but I very much doubt there will be more than a player or two from this opening day roster that's on the next good team. They've shuffled things around, but they've still got a bad team.

Jason: I would have to say that the team is in worse shape than last year, just because of all the uncertainty around it. The team is for sale, the dirty laundry in the front office is now officially public...there just isn't a lot of good news coming out of the club right now. Yes, its good to have a solid minor league system, but until it produces results at the big league level, it really doesn't mean a whole lot. Simply put, the Brewers have done a lot of talking for a lot of years now, but it hasn't produced squat. It's now coming back to bit the franchise.

Greg: The team is for sale, which is a huge relief. The minor league system took another leap forward. We have very little dead salary at the major league level and a lot of guys ready to compete for jobs. I'm all about sacrificing 2004 and building for '05 and beyond; by that metric, I couldn't have asked for much better than this.

Ben: I'd have describe my feelings on this year's team as "unsettled." Last year, I had a stronger sense of what to expect fro m most of the players. Most of the players with lengthy track records--EY, Sexson, Clayton, Hammonds, Vander Wal, Perez, even Glendon Rusch--aren't here anymore. While that's not exactly a bad thing for most of those players, it's hard to have much confidence or expectations for their replacements. If Podsednik struggles, for instance, will there be someone else in the lineup capable of picking up the slack? I'm not even sure who's going to bat cleanup for this team yet. Things like this were generally more defined going into last season....or at least seem that way in retrospect.

Al: This is a best case scenario for me, as almost everything I wished for in April, 2003 has happened...heck, if Spivey would be dealt for a veteran pitcher, it'd be perfect. The minor league system is even better than I thought, and the fact Rickie Weeks "fell" to the 2nd pick still astounds me. If memory serves, not a single prospect has been even discussed in trade talks. We have no long-term contracts, only Helms is signed past this season. While we don't talk about OBP being vital, every single spot in the lineup has above average OBP potential. We continue to build our bullpens cheaply. Other than the fact we missed out on a SP and Keith Ginter isn't projected as a regular at this moment, things are good. 2004 will not be a season we discuss in a decade, but the road is paved, and the future looks bright.

Again, a complete 180, thoughts on Selig's annoucement of the sale.

Robert: Given the lease is supposedly "iron clad", it can't be anything but good news for fans of the team. It's clear that the Seligs were years behind the times in running the team. And they're still trying to duplicate other teams plans instead of forging their own. The path of this organization has been forged by going the traditional route and can directly be traced back to the hiring of Sal Bando, a traditional "baseball man", to be GM without any real qualifications. Contrast that with the A's hiring Sandy Alderson and then Billy Beane. I hope that the Brewers' new owner will be someone younger that's open to new ideas. I also hope that the new owner will value competence more highly than friendships and relations.

Jason: In the overall future of the franchise, its a positive...but right now, a lot of people who are rejoicing that the Selig's are going to be gong just don't realize how hard it is going to be to sell this team. The LA Dodgers, a storied franchise in a prime location with a strong fan base, took forever to sell. If the franchise stays in limbo for a couple of years waiting for a buyer(s), it could hurt the team on the field when the likes of Hardy, Weeks and Fielder are coming up. As far as the Seligs go, I will always have a soft spot for them because baseball probably wouldn't be in Milwaukee without them...and neither would Miller Park. It's just too bad that most people will remember the Seligs for the last few years rather than the whole picture in its entirety.

Greg: Thank you, Lord. Sometimes change is too easy to wish for, but other times things really can only get better.

Ben: It's the day that Brewer fans have either been waiting for, or never actually thought would happen. I've always had some sense of respect for Bud Selig, as the driving force behind bringing baseball back to Milwaukee. But baseball isn't in the same economic strata that it was when he helped buy the Seattle Pilots. So long as the new ownership group (assuming there will be one) keeps the ticket prices reasonable, and keeps moving the team towards respectability, then so be it.

Note to those readers with public school educations like Al: strata: One of a number of layers, levels, or divisions in an organized system..."a complex poem with many strata of meaning".

Al: I'm torn on the topic, as Bud Selig is the only reason there is baseball in Milwaukee, and the idea of Miller Park existing without Bud in the picture is hilarious. As I said a while back, be careful what you wish for. I'll be the first to say the Seligs were/are not the best owners in the game. However, many of the people labeled as "poor owners" are simply suffering from their situation, as Pohlad, Bud, and other small markets are routinely picked on. I'm all for a Mark Cuban, deep pockets type flying in, spending oodles of cash while unconcerned about ever making a dime, etc. I don't see that happening, and at the end of the day, we all knew the Seligs were dedicated to the city and state first. I doubt if the next owners will have that on their resume.

Finally, last question, what would your game plan be if you were GM...minor league system probably ranked #1, lack of long-term contracts, etc.

Robert: Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. Doug Melvin's #1 priority has to be to get an ace starter into the rotation. I fully expect the Brewers #1 draft pick to be a college pitcher. Unfortunately, I don't know how you get one in the meantime other than through the draft. Assuming Fielder and Weeks are untouchable, if you can't get an ace for Sexson, who are you going to get one for? They have to keep doing the things they've been doing that have built up the farm system. They have to keep having productive drafts. And they have to find some diamonds in the rough.They also have to see if they can fill some organizational holes. Third base and catcher have to be priorities after pitching. Beyond that, it's time to come up with a long term strategy beyond finding prospects. They have prospects, now they have to figure out how to get them to the major league level in enough numbers to eventually make them a contender. Not rushing Hardy up would be a good early sign.

Jason: Continue to keep a sharp eye on the minor league system, and do what you can on the big league diamond while being fiscally responsible. The Brewers right now have no choice but continue to build from within. I would shop both Spivey and Jenkins heavily, especially as contenders suffer injuries or holes develop on other teams that need filling. In essense, just continue to be patient, even though the pressure is probably overwhelming to do something quick and big.

Greg: Figure out who on the present major league and AAA teams has a chance to contribute to our next good team, particularly from the large but (so far) undistinguished cadre of rotation candidates. Draft a top college pitcher. (Lose lots of games this year and draft another top college pitcher in 2005.) Shop for youngish FAs who will take what they're worth to you in 2005 and youngish trade bait with upside. Trade any veteran who can bring serious return in prospects, and don't be afraid to deal mid-level prospects for need. Plan to move prospects through the system methodically, but don't be afraid to promote guys who do very well so that we have some studs competing for jobs in a year.

Ben: No contracts longer than three years, which is almost a given considering insurance companies general unwillingness to assume that kind of risk in the Post-Albert Belle-era.

* Keep the focus on the minor leaguers, especially minor league scouting. The Brewers still have a few years of drafting at the top of the rounds to take advantage of, after all.

* My last one is more of an idea that I've been kicking around in my head for awhile. (I'm trying to remember if I mentioned this during the previous round table; if I did, bear with me....or just edit this out.) Find a way to hire ex-Brewer Tom Candiotti as a roving minor league instructor / consultant. His job? Teach young pitchers how to throw the knuckleball, of course. I can't say with certainty just how many young guys would take to learning the pitch, and I fully expect that a majority of them would be unsuccessful with it (most minor league pitchers don't make the big leagues, after all). The pitchers who do take to it, however, would be able to throw a ball that experienced major leaguers have difficulty hitting, and one that doesn't tax the arm like a 90 mph fastball.

Generally, the knuckleball is looked at as a gimmick, or a last resort for soft throwers. If a "plus-arm" pitcher could work the knuckleball into his repetoire, he suddenly gives the opposing hitter a much wider range of velocity to prepare for, helping to throw off the hitter's timing. It doesn't have to be Candiotti--any instructor who knows how to teach the knuckler would do--but it's an experiment I still think has merit. Most pitchers have to develop a third or fourth pitch in order to be successful at the major league level; usually, that means learning a change up....but why not a knuckleball? Until some team puts this idea to use, however, it will remain at the level of a thought experiment.

Al: I'd make OBP the top priority of the minors, like the A's have. No one gets promoted unless they walk once every 10 AB's. Spend top dollar on the best amateurs available each June. The goal of the team should be to be a player development machine. I'd add a coach or two to each minor league team. I'd look to add a team in the low minors, if possible. Have a year round training facility in Arizona, with the highest level of equipment and staff it with quality trainers, coaches, and instructors. Encourage English classes, as well as other college courses for those who choose to take advantage of the facility. Supply a bus for every minor league team that is excellence on wheels...it will breed loyalty to the organization, and may well be a "tiebreaker" when going after top minor league free agents (if nothing else, it helps make up for the fact few players look to sign with MIL because few players come out of the area). All these items wouldn't cost as much as one player at the MLB minimum, if spread out over 10 years.

As far as other changes, the only thing I would do is whatever I could to be the most positive organization ever known. There is a negative air that hangs over the team, which won't go away until the wins start to come. A simple generic slogan on the letterhead, perhaps "Expect victory" would have no effect on wins and losses (though some may disagree), it may well change the way the team is viewed by some media, as well as some fans. Many season ticket holders would likely wet their pants with excitement upon seeing such a brash mention of winning on their correspondence. You could put in on tickets, paint it on the walls, etc. I mean, all you have to do is mention it to Ned Yost, and he'd work it into his already cliche filled media rants.

And, I can't tell you how nice it was not have to hear one word about "limited payroll" or "spending more money" during our discussion. Intelligent fans know that you can rebuild inexpensively. It's just a shame the simpleminded Milwaukee media is clueless. I'll be the first to say it'd be nice to have a money making machine, but reality suggests that now is not the time to try and buy some wins.

Thanks again to the participants for doing another awesome job. Look for an Opening Day edition of the roundtable in early April.



2/11/2004 10:20:00 PM



(2/11/2004 09:54:00 PM) - Al

Jim Callis officially ranks the Brewers #1 in Ask BA this week.


2/11/2004 09:54:00 PM



(2/11/2004 09:52:00 PM) - Al

Paul DePodesta, the most famous assistant GM of our time, has been named the GM of the Dodgers. Finally, an NL team will be run by someone who is unafraid to embrace OBP and the stathead way of building a club. Looking at the overall mediocrity of the NL West and the fact LA has a top 5 minor league system, it isn't difficult to see the Dodgers having a long run of success starting in either '04 or '05.


2/11/2004 09:52:00 PM



(2/11/2004 10:50:00 AM) - Al

As long as I feel OK after work tonight, I will be putting the 2nd Ramblings Roundtable online. It takes quite a while to simply transfer all of it, me being a slow typist and all.


2/11/2004 10:50:00 AM


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

(2/10/2004 10:30:00 AM) - Al

BP with a free interview with Theo Epstein, GM of the BoSox.

Theo just seems to be one step ahead of every other GM. Maybe that's more because he's so well spoken and educated (meanwhile, Billy Beane can't utter a sentence without cursing) compared to "baseball men".

The funny thing is, folks forget that last year, Theo picked up Kevin Millar while every other team in MLB allowed him to pass uncontested through waivers, as he had signed to go to Japan. Theo thinks out of the box, and while he has a ton of payroll money, most of his best moves are of the cheap variety.


2/10/2004 10:30:00 AM


Monday, February 09, 2004

(2/09/2004 11:18:00 PM) - Al

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings feels that the IRod signing is "paying dividends" already, as in the first three days of single game sales, they have sold in the neighborhood of $450-500K worth of tickets...more than last year, though the article really doesn't say how much more.

IRod is making $10 million this year, remember. Add in below average, past their peak examples of mediocrity such as Nando Vina, Rondell White, and Jason Johnson, the Tigers are paying those 4 fellas about $20 million all by themselves. They'll win more than they did in 2003, but they are building the classic Dean Taylor way...spending on major league payroll busily chasing that 65th win. Hopefully, in a few years, the Tigers will be ready to make a run...and the above mentioned stopgaps will be long gone, and DET won't have a thing to show for that money, except cashed checks.

I guess the way to financial success is to spend $20 mil, add a few wins, and then reap mid-six figures in ticket sales. It simply amazes me folks simply do not understand the math. IRod may well add a few victories, but in Motown, they will be meaningless, unlike if he would have signed with a 90 win club. He will have to increase attendance AT LEAST 400K for the Tigers not to lose money on just IRod alone. And I promise you, the other three aren't bringing in more than a couple dozen folks from the suburbs the whole year.

That money should have been spent on dumping Higginson's salary, scouting and development, and signing the absolute best amatuers available this June. Now, by signing some cheap free agents and chasing the best minor league veteran free agents, they may have lost 110 games rather than 102, but the money spent would still be paying benefits down the road.

They might as well be using 50's and 100's to check the direction of the wind.



2/09/2004 11:18:00 PM



(2/09/2004 10:58:00 PM) - Al

Rebuilt Devil Rays set sights on 70 win season---headline on ESPN MLB section


Can anyone put into words how pathetic that sentence is on so many levels? The '03 Crew almost won 70 games, and if they didn't have a stellar farm system, they'd be several years away from contention. The idea of TB "building" a team that has a "goal" of winning 70 times is nothing if not sad.


2/09/2004 10:58:00 PM



(2/09/2004 01:48:00 PM) - Al

Jody Gerut of CLE has admitted he tore his rotator cuff late last season, and chose to rehab it rather than have surgery. A couple thoughts:

1. Gerut was supposedly the player Doug Melvin wanted in the proposed Junior Spivey trade to the Tribe. You gotta wonder if we still would have had the same interest after that had been found in the physical, or if the Indians told Doug that.

2. One has to question why Jody would dream of making this public. Obviously, this would seem to make it "open season" on baserunners challenging his damaged arm, and quite possibly, force him to make many more stressful throws.


2/09/2004 01:48:00 PM


Sunday, February 08, 2004

(2/08/2004 08:59:00 AM) - Al

Brewers' SP Luis Martinez is wanted for questioning regarding a shooting in the Dominican Republic. Two things come to my mind:

1. Hopefully, this is a issue of mistaken identity...imagine how many guys are names Luis Martinez in the DR.

2. It never fails to astound me how many players return to their homeland, regardless of how crime ridden it is.


2/08/2004 08:59:00 AM



(2/08/2004 08:56:00 AM) - Al

I took a sick day yesterday. As of now, the entire family has had the illness, so hopefully it has run its course.


2/08/2004 08:56:00 AM


Friday, February 06, 2004

(2/06/2004 09:03:00 PM) - Al

Article penned by the A's assistant GM, Paul DePodesta, here, written at some time during the '03 campaign. Good read.


2/06/2004 09:03:00 PM



(2/06/2004 08:56:00 PM) - Al

Once again, I'd like to thank those folks who e-mailed a message of sympathy. The last few days have been all around crappy, as both my son and wife have been sick as well. Kudos to the WI road departments however, as we didn't encounter a single road with a flake of snow on it in our 200+ mile drive home this afternoon, after heavy snows last night.


2/06/2004 08:56:00 PM



(2/06/2004 06:12:00 PM) - Al

Hmmm...

1. The Brewers put up an article on their site about Junior Spivey that mentions trade rumors to OAK or LA.

2. The Brewers control content on their web site.

Obviously, the Crew could have easily told the writer to delete that sentence, but they did not. One gets the feeling Spivey may never wear a Milwaukee uniform, especially not one during the regular season.


2/06/2004 06:12:00 PM



(2/06/2004 11:29:00 AM) - Al

Baseball Primer put up their awards to vote on, but for some reason, Aaron's Baseball Blog, by far the best weblog available today, was not nominated. The funny thing is, it finished 2nd last year, and Aaron has written for Primer.

I guess we're voting for the 2nd best.


2/06/2004 11:29:00 AM


Thursday, February 05, 2004

(2/05/2004 06:02:00 PM) - Al

My other "favorite" groundball pitcher signed with the Mets today. Pooh.


2/05/2004 06:02:00 PM


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

(2/04/2004 09:55:00 PM) - Al

Hi Al,

Do the "writers" at the JS have a vendetta to settle with the Brewers, or what? Here we are knee deep in the hot stove and all you read is stuff about the sale and related topics.

No info on the new players, no spring training info..It's all negative all the time. Especially Don Walker. I went to the event last week at Brookfield Square and it was great and a success! But Mr Walker seems to be there to say "dont forget about all the bad stuff I told you about"!

Tired of it.. tired of seeing off putting headlines like "Brewers are a low end franchise" it's like they wont be happy until they kill every spark of interest in the team.

Thanks for you time.. I like your blog a lot.

John



Thanks for reading and writing, John. A couple times I have been reading one of the few articles about the Crew and seen a throwaway line very biased and out of place, but no one has ever written to me about it (I did mention Tom H's incredibly ignorant buffoonery in his Kapler/Grieve blurb). I also believe they have gone out of their way to be negative, and to say the coverage has been sparse (other than the Sexson trade, proposed audit, and sale announcement) is the understatement of the century.

Without a doubt, Tom and Drew have set the bar even lower we're used to seeing, and let's face it, the JS has always needed a shovel in order to put the bar in position. It has been a miserable offseason, and with the young team and talented farm system, an optimistic view is not just common sense, it's good for all. The funny thing is, I assume the brothers inept are doing this in order to better connect with the casual fan, but they are doing it at a time when even Joe Casual will soon learn that Baseball America has ranked the Crew's prospects as the best in the land.

Without a doubt, the worst in the business. Drew is so simple he can't even keep his mind on baseball for a chat, while Tom spent a good portion of his last one telling us how much he knew...and how dare we challenge that? I don't think Tom has ever seen Weeks or Fielder play an inning, despite them being just down the road last season in Beloit, if he has, he never reported about it. Too "busy", I guess.

And as I've said numerous times, the astounding detail lost in all this is we have two beat writers, and together, they can't do the job of one. We could literally have a guy with the team all season, and the other travelling around, focusing on the minors, the draft, etc. But, we have one who sits in the office watching the game on TV, and one who puts more effort into plucking his nose hairs.

Gee, can you tell the JS is a daily without a competitor?


2/04/2004 09:55:00 PM



(2/04/2004 01:41:00 PM) - Al

It's official, Corey Hart is now an OF. This was scooped by an insider a few days ago on Brewerfan.net, and now even Tom H is aware of it.


2/04/2004 01:41:00 PM



(2/04/2004 10:48:00 AM) - Al

So, anyone else tired of Howard Dean? The man spends the better part of two years in Iowa, raises $50 million, and comes in 3rd. Goes to New Hampshire and comes in 2nd. His Deanheads start collecting cans to pay bills, changes campaign managers, and doesn't try in any Super Tuesday states (and oddly enough, fares no worse than in the states he DID attempt to win).

He said last night that Michiagn and Washington are the "key states" (note to Iowa and NH: you are only key if the candidate does not suck there) and that he will win the nomination in the end by ending up with the majority of the delegates.

Unless Howie has a complex formula that has him, as the 3rd place finisher, edging past the two fellas who beat him in nearly every single state, he's as much of a joke as Sharpton and the guy whose last name starts with K.

Kerry looks like the victor, and if a scandal breaks, Edwards is in position to pick up the pieces. Even Wesley Clark, who walks both sides of the line as if he's wearing Shaq's shoes would seem a more convincing choice...at least he's won ONE state.


Stick a fork in the Doc boys, he's done.


2/04/2004 10:48:00 AM



(2/04/2004 10:27:00 AM) - Al

I forgot to link this from Aaron Gleeman's Monday posting, in which a "real writer" (term used loosely, like with JS scribes) claims the book Moneyball was indeed written by Billy Beane.

I don't know how these clods turn on a computer.


2/04/2004 10:27:00 AM



(2/04/2004 10:24:00 AM) - Al

Seth continues his Gleeman-length series on fantasy players over at Seth Speaks.

Goos stuff, but have a beverage handy. If you have a laptop and recently decided a block of cheese would make a nice snack before bed, maybe you could read part of it as you wait for nature to take it's course in your company restroom.

It is that long, but good.


2/04/2004 10:24:00 AM



(2/04/2004 10:20:00 AM) - Al

The Raindrops with charts showing IF defense. While I doubt a stat that shows Doug M of the Twins to only be mediocre, it's worth mentioning that Lyle Overbay was the top 1B by far.

And, common sense to Tim McCarver, note how awful Derek Jeter is. Quit bothering to say otherwise, please.


2/04/2004 10:20:00 AM



(2/04/2004 10:15:00 AM) - Al

An outstanding article about the obvious; batting average is worthless. I have stopped even mentioning it, as it's only purpose that I could see was to stay with the traditional BA/OBP/SLG format, as I never used it for anything, and likely won't in the future. Dare I say the next time I use BA as a topic will be when someone is in the race to hit .400, and it seemed silly to continue putting up a meaningless number time after time.

Seriously, when OBP x SLG (OXS) is a 97-98% predictor of runs scored, it's very difficult bothering with any other digits.


2/04/2004 10:15:00 AM


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

(2/03/2004 09:20:00 PM) - Al

Many thanks to those who have e-mailed their sympathies. They are much appreciated.


2/03/2004 09:20:00 PM



(2/03/2004 08:44:00 PM) - Al

The Yankees would do well to bring Lamb in rather than trying to chase down someone far past their prime.---Ramblings, 1/31/04

And the Yankees agree, picking up Mike Lamb from TEX for a minor leaguer. I've seen a couple comments that Mike is a poor defender, but his offensive production is almost exactly that of a mediocre 3B. I'm not sure if NY sees him as a platoon partner for Enrique Wilson or as 1B/3B utility, but they saw value in a decent player while others were too arrogant to think a guy who gets on base at a good clip could help them because he's not polished at "the hot corner". Trouble is...he isn't that bad a 3B, according to zone rating at least.

ZR is a way of measuring how many balls hit in a fielder's "zone" he turns into outs. Some say this stat is "foolhardy", while others call it "incredinbly foolhardy". But, at the end of the day, it passes my test as the best defensive stat we currently have, because it measures how many outs a player makes. Therefore, range helps, errors hurt, and a good arm helps. My core belief is simple...if it's not accurate, players will finish 1st one year, then 24th the next. But, whenever I look up the numbers, I find excellent defenders (Torri Hunter, Mike Cameron) at the top of the list, while the overrated end up average (Andruw Jones) or the worst in MLB (Derek Jeter).

So, the last year Lamb played 3B consistently was 2001, and he made a lot of errors, which led to a poor fielding percentage. However, it gives him no credit for good range or a strong arm, so fielding percentage, while not worthless, is a very simplistic measure of one's fielding ability. Lamb's ZR was .758, which means he turned 75.8% of balls hit in his "zone" into outs. Let's look at others who finished just above or below him:

Adrian Beltre---.764
Aaron Boone---.764
Phil Nevin-------.756
Joe Randa------.750
S. Hillenbrand--.748
A. Ramirez------.745
Troy Glaus------.742
Cal Ripken Jr.--.731

Let's see, that's one first ballot Hall of Famer, 2 bonafide superstars, and 5 other solid everyday 3B who managed to turn fewer balls into outs that were hit in their vicinity. Seriously, Ripken barely had more range than the screen they put in front of the batting practice pitcher, but was above criticism because he rarely made a miscue. Glaus and Ramirez are often lauded for their solid D, while Randa, like nearly every Caucasian who plays on the infield dirt, is often called "scrappy" (a wise man once said that whenever you hear that word to describe a player, you can almost without fail remove the first letter to give you a more accurate description, and I find that to be the case almost 100% of the time), which would lead you to believe he isn't terrible.

Tell ya what, I wish I had a bunch of "poor defenders" like Lamb, who apparently has the range and/or arm strength to make up for his errors. What's funny is, everyone complains about how much the Yankees spend, yet they picked up this inexpensive, average 3B because other teams were falling over backwards because their nose was stuck up in the air so far to avoid him.

Money helps immensely, and it gives you a much larger margin for error. But, looking at what a player "can do" rather than his one flaw is every bit as vital...and free.



2/03/2004 08:44:00 PM



(2/03/2004 12:24:00 AM) - Al

After three days without a post (due to nothing striking my fancy), I am just writing this to announce updates will be infrequent or nonexistent the rest of the week, as my father passed away late Monday night.

Updates will resume later this week or thereabouts. Thanks for checking in.


2/03/2004 12:24:00 AM


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