Brewers Rotation Still Up in the Air?
Since about early March we've been told by GM Doug Melvin, Assistant GM Gord Ash, Manager Ned Yost, Pitching Coach Mike Maddux and pretty much anybody else that is associated with the Milwaukee Brewers that the first three spots in the rotation would be occupied by Ben Sheets, Doug Davis and Victor Santos. Well, things change.
Santos or "el ojo loco" as some like to call him, has been getting absolutely rocked in Spring Training. Opponents are hitting .457 off of him and he has an ERA of 11.25. Couple that with struggling in the second half of the season last year, and it's easy to see why the Brewers brass would be so nervous.
I think most people expected Santos to pitch his way out of the rotation by late-May or so, but for him to do it in Spring Training speaks volumes for not only how poorly he's pitched, but also for the quality and depth of the pitching staff. If Santos falters the Brewers appear to have no reservations about using Wes Obermueller AND Gary Glover in the rotation. Obermueller pitched much better in September last year and has had a great Spring. Glover didn't make many starts for the Crew in 2004 but did show promise when he got an opportunity--he too has looked sharp this spring.
The Brewers will probably only need to use their 5th starter three times in April, so regardless of who is in that slot they will see action out of the pen as well.
Is this too early to put Santos in the pen? I know the ball jumps out of the yard in Arizona, but .457 opponents BA? 37 hits allowed in 20 innings? It's obvious that Santos is really struggling. I know a lot of people aren't proponents of making big decisions in Spring Training. To those people, should the Brewers look to make a move or should they just go with their original plan that they came up with all winter?
Brewers Almost Roster Set
The Milwaukee Brewers finally made the big decisions. They decided to send Dave Krynzel to AAA as well as righties Justin Lehr and Julio Santana. There are 28 players left, but really there is only one spot available. It is reported that Rick Helling and Pat Borders will be sent to AAA Nashville, which leaves 14 position players and 11 pitchers...
Jorge de la Rosa
I'm guessing Tommy Phelps will be the odd man out.
I saw a copy of the roster of players making the trip to Milwaukee for the final exhibition games. I was interested to see that Dave Krynzel, Corey Hart and Ben Hendrickson aren't making the trip. I'm guessing that is because of some conflict with the AAA travel schedule or season, because guys like Tony Gwynn and Kane Johnson are going to be at Miller Park.
Adam Dunn Attempting to Cut-down on Ks
I read this the other day and thought it was worth discussing. Cincinnati monster/slugger Adam Dunn is working on reducing his strikeouts.
"That's the way I handle stuff. I try not to let stuff bother me too much. I'm not going to sit there and harp on it. I try to have fun with everything, the good and the bad."
Punter on 'Roids
I usually could care less about the NFL at this time of the year, but this is absolutely hilarious. Along with two of his teammates, punter Todd Sauerbrun has been accused of taking steroids back in the Carolina Panthers' Super Bowl season in 2002-03.
Okay. His two teammates, offensive linemen Todd Stussie and Jeff Mitchell, I understand. They are offensive lineman, they are paid to be bigger, faster and stronger than the person on the other side of them. But a punter? Are you kidding me? What, so he can kick the ball two yards farther?
What is funny is that Sauerbrun had a reputation as a bad punter in Chicago, but became a Pro Bowler in Carolina...Steroids couldn't have helped that much, could it have? Maybe the steroid problem runs a lot deeper than we all think. When does it come out that tennis players and golfers are on the juice? How long before we hear that a bowler is 'roiding up?
Shouldn't we have suspected something though? How many other punters have the balls to get a barbed-wire tattoo?
It's Not Me!
First off I'd like to apologize for not updating my site the past few days, unfortunately blogger was having technical issues and I couldn't access Against the Grain.
So I stumbled across this article on-line the other day and since then have had a few people email it to me.
1) I have never portrayed an Easter Bunny in my life
2) I am not 18 years of age
3) I do not live in Bay City, Michigan
4) I haven't been beaten up by somebody half my age in at least two months
Thanks for letting me clear things up...Now back to sports.
Chat with Jeffrey Sackmann (BrewCrewBall.com)
This is the transcript from a chat I did with the author of BrewBall.com, Jeffrey Sackmann. Just two guys talking some baseball, hope you enjoy it.
Brew Crew Ball: What single player do you think the Brewers 2005 season success rides on?
Against the Grain: I don't know if I would say there is one person. I think that the biggest thing for the team will be the back 3/5 of the rotation. The difference between the first half and the second half in 2004 was how guys like Santos and Capuano gave them quality starts at the back of the rotation. When Cappy got hurt and Santos wore down at the end of the year (obviously with the fact that the offense was brutal) the Brewers fell into a tailspin. Will Santos/Capuano/Obermueller/Glover/Hendrickson be able to hold together the back of the rotation? Those are the player(s) who I think the success of the 2005 season depends mostly upon.
BCB: They are certainly the guys who could turn the Brewers into an 85-win team instead of a 70 or 75-win team. I just hope that if one those guys really isn't doing the job, they only get a few chances to right themselves. Obermueller doesn't deserve another 10-12 start trial. Do you think any of the possible 3/4/5 starters will step up and give us a Doug Davis type surprise?
ATG: I think there is a lot of upside in the back end of the rotation. I agree that Obermueller probably doesn't deserve 10-12 starts to prove he can be a big league starter, but he has good stuff and is still relatively new to pitching, as he was a converted OFer in college. Chris Capuano was solid in the majority of his starts, he just ran into injury problems and then had a few rough outings before he was shut down for the season. Hendrickson looked bad in his big league trial in 2004 and I am somewhat down on him at the moment, but with how dominant his numbers were in AAA it still is possible that he could put together a solid big league campaign if he gets the opportunity.
BCB: I really like Capuano too. Obviously he'll have to cut down on the longballs, but if he stays healthy for the majority of the season, he could be a major contributor. It doesn't hurt that he can actually hit. When I ran my 2005 Diamond Mind simulation, I was struck at how much it hurt the team that Sheets and Davis are basically automatic outs. The difference between somebody hitting .025 and .175 may not be a huge difference in the totals at the end of the year, but it sure has a psychological impact. I wouldn't mind seeing Obermueller get a shot pinch-hitting some, Kieschnick-style, but I suppose one two-way player is enough for one team. What do you think about the way the bullpen has shaped up so far?
ATG: Well if there's anything Doug Melvin has done well as GM of the Brewers it has been to find guys basically off of the scrap heap and put together a solid bullpen. If they break camp with Adams, Bottalico, Capellan, Lehr, Kieschnick, de la Rosa, Wise, and then whoever else--be it Turnbow, Glover, Obermueller, Bennett, etc., I think it will be all right. Mike Adams performed so well in 2004, but will he be able to repeat it as a closer? I'm glad that they added a veteran with closer experience like Bottalico in case Adams doesn't work out. I think it's probably the weakest part of the team, but they do have a lot of options, which may help them get over their lack of experience.
BCB: That's really the test of a small-market team: can they put together a bullpen out of spare parts? When Bob Wickman signs a multi-million-dollar deal, you know the Brewers aren't going to be in the market for any big free-agent bullpen arms, but it seems like every year there's a Danny Kolb somewhere in MLB who breaks out. Sentimentally, I'd love to see Mike Adams be that guy this year, but I'm not sure it'll happen. My sleeper pick for important innings this year is Turnbow. His injury history is pretty scary, but under Maddux's tutelage, he could be positively electric. As could Capellan, for that matter, but I'd hate to see him turned into a reliever when he might make a bigger impact in the rotation in '06 and beyond.
ATG: I'm not so sure Capellan will work as a starting pitcher. I'm worried at his inability to throw any other pitch effectively for a strike. Still he is young and has displayed solid mechanics. With Mike Maddux as his pitching coach maybe Capellan could reach his full potential by developing a solid #2 and #3 pitch. It's nice that he has the potential to "fall back" to being a power arm in the bullpen and potential closer if being a starter doesn't pan out.
BCB: I'm not sure either, but I'm worried that the team will rush into a decision. The guy started last year in the Sally League, for crying out loud! All of the sudden, partly because of his breakout 2004, and because of his inclusion in the Kolb trade, he's become (rightly) the top pitching prospect in the organization, and there's an expectation he'll contribute this year. Maybe he will; maybe he's destined to be the Brewers closer from the all-star break this year until 2009. But most pitchers not named Felix Hernandez take a little more time to develop, and I trust the Brewers player development system enough to spend a bit more time with him. Capellan seems to me like the kind of guy who will, one of these days, learn to throw a nasty slider and could rack up 200 K's in a season. Or, I guess, join the pile of injured young arms in the Milwaukee system. That's always the risk when you're trading for pitching prospects.
ATG: It looks like they're leaning towards at least starting out with Capellan on in the bullpen this year. Maybe they're hoping to follow the Minnesota Twins/Johan Santana paradigm of developing a young arm.
BCB: That would be nice. Any comparison to Johan Santana is welcome. I did just read that he was reassigned to AAA to start the season, so we'll have to see what they try to do with him in Nashville.
ATG: What would you like to see be done with Dave Krynzel?
BCB: I haven't seen him play much, so I can really only go on stats. The projections I've seen for him in 2005 aren't all that flattering, and John Sickels told me that he sees Krynzel's ceiling as a 4th outfielder. I tend to agree. I think he'd be a very useful guy off the bench for the Brewers, especially if they go with Cirillo instead of Durrington. Krynzel could be a defensive replacement for Lee and an all-purpose pinch-runner. The Crew has their share of excruciatingly slow guys, so there's room for a speedster on the roster. I don't think they'll do it--Melvin has all but announced that Krynzel will be starting in AAA for the time being--but I'd like to see Krynzel get one or two starts a week to spell Brady or Jenkins and see how he fares.
ATG: I think sending Krynzel to AAA to start 2005 would be a good move. Let him play everyday for at least the first half of the season...Then you can see how Clark is doing in CF (I'm really not all too worried about him) and then if the Brewers have a need for a 4th outfielder let Krynzel fill that role. I have spent some time on Against the Grain talking about Krynzel's ceiling, and I tend to see him as a 4th outfielder. Krynzel has however been one of the youngest players at each level he has played at so far. He has shown an ability to hit for average, draw walks, and run the bases effectively--just inconsistently. There are no questions that his defense is MLB-ready, but will his plate discipline develop? That will be what makes him a Kenny Lofton type player or a Doug Glanville.
BCB: If Krynzel doesn't turn out to be any more than a 4th OF, what do you think the situation will be in CF in 2006 and '07? I don't see Brady Clark as the long-term solution, especially if 2004 turns out to be an anomaly and he returns to his career norms. The Brewers have a lot of possible corner outfielders, but unless Tony Gwynn Jr. really steps up his game, no major prospects for the future of center.
ATG: If Krynzel doesn't pan out then the Brewers are going to be in some trouble. If they have the offense everywhere else on the diamond they might be able to get away with a below-average offensive CF who can field his position. It's always tough to find a CF who can field and hit, but if Krynzel doesn't work out I suppose they could trade some prospects for somebody, draft and develop a player or maybe even sign a free-agent CF not named Jeffrey Hammonds. Also, Nelson Cruz, who was acquired in the Keith Ginter trade supposedly can play CF.
BCB: Supposedly, yes. I don't believe he's considered any more than functional in center, and he'll be playing RF in the Brewers system. It occurred to me as you said that that the Brewers may end up with a glut of 2B prospects. Obviously Weeks is the second baseman of the future, possibly starting as soon as the all-star break this year. That leaves Hernan Iribarren, Steve Sollmann, and Callix Crabbe without a clear path to Milwaukee. I don't know enough about any of those guys to say how well they'd take to learning CF, and I don't know that Sollmann and Crabbe have ceilings any higher than utility guys. But they certainly rank right up there with any of the centerfielders in the system right now.
ATG: Which Brewer do you think is least likely to enjoy as much success in 2005 as they did last season?
BCB: It feels to great to say this, but I don't see anybody taking a big dive. I can't see Santos performing up to his first half last year, nor do I think Overbay will improve much on last year's numbers. And it's reasonable to think that Brady Clark might regress a bit. The only real risk I see is an injury to someone like Damian Miller, Geoff Jenkins, or--fingers crossed here--Ben Sheets. Short of a breakout from Corey Hart, there's no real protection if one of the corner OFs goes down for any length of time, and if Miller gets hurt, well, I'm sure Pat Borders is a great guy and a wonderful clubhouse presence. What do you think?
ATG: I hope the Brewers don't need Pat Borders to do anything but be Crash Davis to some minor league pitchers...I agree that I don't see anybody falling off the face of the Earth, but I'm most nervous about Doug Davis. He was one of the top 20 pitchers in MLB according to Baseball Prospectus' Value Over Replacement Player. I don't think he'll have an ERA over 5.00 or anything, but I have a feeling he'll end up with an ERA around 4.15. Really though, there aren't many Brewers who had success in 2004, so this is a very limited category.
BCB: I suppose the one thing that may prove the saving grace of Milwaukee's pitchers not named Ben Sheets is the NL Central. Pittsburgh is hardly a run scoring machine; Cincinnati is a couple of likely injuries away from a mediocre offense; and Houston could have Jose Vizcaino, Willy Tavares, and Brad Ausmus in the same starting lineup. The Cubs and Cards will do their part to send some ERAs into the stratosphere, but with the unbalanced schedule, there'll be a heck of a lot of games against below-average offenses. Getting right to the heart of the matter, do you think this is Milwaukee's year to get out of the basement?
ATG: I think so. The interesting thing about the NL Central is the division between the "have's" (STL, CHC, HOU) and the "have-nots" (PIT, CIN, MIL). All three of the "have-nots" got better this off-season, while two of the top-tier teams got worse (CHC and HOU). I think St. Louis will win the division, and pretty much the other five teams in this division could finish anywhere from 2nd to 6th.
BCB: Yeah, it's odd to say this a year after everyone picked the Cards for third, but I can't really foresee a scenario in which St. Louis doesn't win the division. Probably by a lot. I find it hard to pick the Cubs below third, because even with one or two of their starting pitchers hurt, they still have one of the best rotations in baseball. But the Brewers could well sneak into third place. I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick Pittsburgh for last. They've earned it.
ATG: Who is somebody on the Brewers that you just love to watch play? I know the obvious guy is Ben Sheets, but is there anybody on the club that might not have the best numbers but you just like to watch play? My guy has been Brady Clark for a few years now. He was undrafted, doubted every way up the professional baseball latter and now has finally won a starting job. I know my love of guys who play hard sometimes opens me up to criticism from other more SABR-minded bloggers, but I like watching guys compete. I'm not saying give Clark a 5-year 50 million dollar deal, just I like to watch guys give it their all day in and day out.
BCB: Brady's a great story. As are a lot of guys on the Brewers. Spivey came from nothing; guys like Branyan and Davis bounced around the minors for what seems like forever...a team of cast-offs can make for great feature writing. But my favorite guy, beyond all question, is Brooks Kieschnick. Branyan has taken over the role of "Brewer most likely to smash your windshield by hitting home run 700 feet out of Miller Park," but Brooks can still mash, and he's turned into a very useful cog in the bullpen. I wish Yost would be even a bit more creative in utilizing him. When I managed my DMB simulation, I found myself relying on him as a 4th OF more than anyone else. He may be subpar in the field, but man, can that guy hit. And if the game goes extras, he can warm up quick and pitch the 14th, 15th, and 16th innings for you!
ATG: Well the Brewers are very staunch in their belief that Kiesch is a pitcher who happens to pinch hit. It would be nice if he was able to play a little LF or RF here and there, but with his injury last year I doubt that happening anytime soon.
BCB: Who's your pick as the sleeper, maybe along the lines of 2004 Mike Adams, who'll have the biggest impact this year?
ATG: I think Matt Wise could be that guy. I could see him getting a few starts as well as being a reliable arm in the pen.
BCB: I would love to see Matt Wise be that guy. I don't think it'll happen, but he could be a decent #5 starter. More realistic is that he could be useful in a role like Justin Duchscherer's in Oakland, and if he puts up numbers like Duke's, I'll be thrilled. I know somebody--maybe Turnbow, maybe Julio Santana--will essentially replace Vizcaino as the set-up man, but I'm pretty sure it won't be any of the current contenders, like Bottalico or Lehr. If that guy is solid, he's my pick for 2005 sleeper. One last thing. Win total for 2005?
ATG: I want to say 81. Believe me, I want to...I just can't. I'm going to go with 76-86. Your prediction, and then I have one last question for you...
BCB: I want to say 81, too. I'll be a shade more optimistic and say 78-84.
ATG: Give me your predictions for team Most Valuable Player, MVPNNBS (Most Valuable Pitcher not named Ben Sheets), and Russell Branyan's season totals given 500 at-bats.
BCB: Team MVP: Carlos Lee, but not by much. If Junior Spivey is healthy and still on the team in September, he might make a claim, too. MVPNNBS: I'll be boring and say Doug Davis. If he gives us 30 starts in the general vicinity of last year's numbers, he'll be one of the best #2 starters in baseball--again. Branyan: .250 avg, 35 HRs, roughly 95 RBIs. And count me in the camp that really, really wants him to get those 500 at-bats. And your predictions for those three?
ATG: Well, this probably isn't the best to spark interest in my opinions, but I have the same players selected. I think Carlos Lee will step in and put up something similar to a .295/.360/.535 line with 35+ bombs. He's my MVP. I know I said that I'm worried about Davis, but still I think he should log a lot of innings and keep an ERA around 4.15. Branyan with 500 at-bats: .230/.325/.495, 33 HR, 85 RBI. And 200 strikeouts
BCB: I'll take the under on 200 K's, but not by much. Thanks for doing this Bryan, I enjoyed it.
ATG: Absolutely, it was a good time. Good luck with your blog and everything, lets do this again in the future.
Brewers on TV
After all of the excitement of the NCAA Tournament and eating free food for Easter, it was time for the main event: Brewers Spring Training baseball!
A few observations...
...Despite giving up a "hella" amount of runs (as they would say in Nor Cal), I thought that Mike Adams looked like he was throwing the ball a little harder than last year. I haven't read anywhere if his velocity has improved, but to me it was noticeable. Until tonight Adams had not allowed a run in the spring.
...Seeing Jeff Cirillo starting at third for the Brewers made me wonder if I was watching a game on ESPN Classic. Then I soon realized that the Brewers haven't had an ESPN Classic-worthy game since the Ronald Reagan administration.
...I'm really saddened that the Brewers designated Brooks Kieschnick for reassignment. The Journal reported that he's likely to accept a demotion to AAA Nashville if it comes to that. I'm sure some team somewhere would like to have Kiesch as the 12th pitcher/pinch hitter he was with the Brewers.
...Watching Dave Krynzel, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder hit in a row was awesome. Krynzel has a beautiful swing and lines a base hit to the opposite field, Weeks beats out an infield single (although he was called out) and Fielder draws a walk, speaking of which...
...Why the hell was R.A. Dickey throwing Prince Fielder change-ups 2-1 and 3-1? I know Prince has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, but as a pitcher who has been to the Show, how are you not challenging a guy who has never had a MLB at-bat? How is that for respect though. Wow.
...Did anybody see Corey Hart in the outfield? What a circus. He dropped a fly ball but luckily was able to throw out a runner at second base, then he over-ran a fly ball down the right field line that was scored a base hit but should have been an error. I know he's relatively new to playing the outfield, but come on. He looked like some 45 year-old bar league softball guy. Rickie Weeks also misplayed a pop up. It was like watching a bad little league team play. Absolutely embarrassing.
...All and all it was nice to see some of the young guys play, even if it wasn't all pretty. Those are my comments on the game tonight, so now on to some other stuff.
So I'm watching Major League on ESPN Classic right now. What a great movie. Major League II: What an average movie, Major League III: What an abortion. I love how on the Reel Classics on ESPN Classic Bert Reynolds has those little transition pieces where he discusses certain aspects of the movie. He's always doing something "cool" like shooting pool or standing behind a bar with a towel on his shoulder. I don't know why, but I think it would be better if Reynolds was doing daily housework like washing the dishes or cleaning out the gutters. I'm not sure why I'm laughing at the visual of Bert Reynolds doing housework.
I like the fact that Major League is pretty accurate as far as the baseball goes. I remember when I worked on the set of Mr. 3000 being amazed at how inaccurate the statistics were. "Pennebaker", the number three hitter, at one point in the season had 40 some homeruns and only 60 runs scored. Another time the scoreboard said that Pennebaker as the number three hitter was leading off the bottom of the second, and it was 0-0. It is impossible for this to happen without scoring a run. What's more amazing about this stuff is that the movie people actually hire a "baseball guy" to come up with the statistics and everything. I mean, this dude gets paid to come up with statistics and the numbers make no sense. I don't know if those two scenarios I just discussed were actually shown in the movie (since I've never seen it), but I just thought I'd talk about it because it was on my mind and I have nothing of importance to discuss right now.
I did a chat with Jeffrey Sackmann of BrewCrewBall.com. I should have that up here tomorrow, but if you're dying to know what we talked about you can read it on his site.
Hendrickson Part Deux
Yesterday I wrote about Ben Hendrickson, and it elicited a lot of responses from all of you. I thought I would hit that topic again today, because there are a few other things I want to get to.
The title "why does he suck" was an exaggeration, but I do think there is some cause for concern. Yes, 46 innings last year, yes Spring Training isn't all that important. I realize these things, but I just can't help the fact that I am worried about him being a starting pitcher. Maybe it's twelve losing seasons in a row, maybe it's the fact that the Brewers seem to have an endless line of tall righties that never develop, I don't know.
Somebody posted that they should let Hendrickson work in relief to cut his teeth in the big leagues. That might not be a bad idea, especially this year with the Brewers having a lot of questions in the bullpen.
Personally I have lowered my ceiling for Hendrickson. When he was in the minors many people were saying he was a "front-line starter". When he first got called up that changed to "middle of the rotation guy". Now I'm hoping for him to be a decent fourth or fifth starter. He has the potential to exceed my expectations, and he still is very young. Ned Yost said something a few days ago about Hendrickson--something to the tune of "well he has to start showing some results". I think he's absolutely right.
Ben Hendrickson: Why Does He Suck?
Milwaukee Brewers' righty Ben Hendrickson absolutely dominated AAA last season. He finally got his shot in the big leagues last season and pitched very poorly. He showed a few flashes of adequacy in September, but all and all Hendrickson couldn't get it done in the big leagues.
The Brewers organization wanted to give Hendrickson a spot in the big league rotation. He has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Given this opportunity and an open competition for the rotation, what did Hendrickson do? Well, he has an ERA of 12.00 in Spring Training and is going to get beaten out by Chris Capuano and either Wes Obermueller or Gary Glover.
So what has gone wrong? Hendrickson doesn't throw hard. He is consistently about 85-88 with his fastball. What that means is he has to hit spots to get big league hitters out. He hasn't done that. Major League hitters aren't going to miss a 88 mph belt high fastball like a minor league hitter might. Not only is Hendrickson missing his spots, he's often missing the strike zone completely. That causes a lot of 2-0, 3-1 counts. When Hendrickson is behind in the count he's not going to get anybody to chase his plus curveball.
When Hendrickson was called up last year I remember talking to my dad about him. He said something like "he is their top pitching prospect?". I remember saying "but he's young", "he dominated AAA", "he's only 23" and after seeing him pitch once or twice he said "he'll never stick in the rotation". As crazy as that sounded a few months ago, it really is starting to look like it could be true. Hendrickson is still too young to give up on completely, but I would guess that most people have readjusted their expectations for him.
I'll pose the question to all of you: Why does Hendrickson suck?
Barry Bonds decided that he was going to be the victim in an interview on Tuesday. He spoke in a soft tone and appeared despondent, often saying that he was "tired" both physically and mentally.
I'm so tired of Bonds blaming the media for everything. The media didn't tell a mistress that he took steroids (allegedly). The media didn't injure his knee. The media didn't create the BALCO mess. These things are on Barry Bonds, and for him to sit in front of a camera and pretend that this is all everybody else's fault is ridiculous.
Bonds said that he might not be back until mid-season or even 2006. Some feel that Bonds might retire after this. Bonds seemed guaranteed to break Hank Aaron's 755 mark, but now for the first time in quite some time there is doubt. I don't wish harm upon Bonds, but I think it's the best thing for baseball if Aaron's record stays. Maybe subconsciously (or consciously) Bonds feels the same way.
Don't Worry, I Didn't Forget About You
Good Monday to you all, wherever you may be. I am sorry for my inconsistent blogging as of late. I have been on the road for baseball, school has been getting somewhat hectic and I also have been working a lot at Miller Park in preparation for the 2005 season.
I'm happy to say after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament that I have all of the teams in the Sweet 16. I don't know what everybody else is talking about, I picked UWM, NC State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Utah to go to the Sweet 16...Ha ha yeah right.
Does any team have an easier road to the elite 8 than the Badgers? Northern Iowa (11), Bucknell (14) , now they face NC State (10).
The Brewers are reportedly close to signing Ben Sheets to a multi-year deal. It should be announced within the week. The Brewers made a few roster moves on Friday, lefty Rigo Beltran was released, infielder and Wisconsin-native Matt Erickson along with catcher Julio Mosquera were returned to minor league camp. Pitcher Sam Narron and outfielder and top 10 prospect Nelson Cruz were optioned to Triple-A Nashville and lefty Andy Pratt was outrighted to Nashville.
Things should be pretty exciting at Miller Park this year. The Brewers have bought a brand-new digital replay system, which means they will be able to show more replays and be more creative with how they show them. Also, as I write this the team is installing a new marquee along the freeway. It will be in color and play video as well. The new ownership has all ready made some big investments in the franchise, now let's hope the product on the field will be as good as everything else that surrounds it.
MLB Hearings, NCAA Tourney Day 1
The Congressional hearings regarding steroids in Major League Baseball are currently underway. Having star players and future Hall of Famers testifying about whether or not they are junkies and cheaters is about as bad as it can get for Major League Baseball. Spring training is going on and the steroid controversy has not slowed down at all. The one thing Major League Baseball has going for it is that the NCAA Tournament is starting and it's St. Patrick's Day, so hopefully for MLB's sake, people will be too distracted and too drunk to notice Major League Baseball's latest scandal.
As I'm typing this a commercial for the fast-food restaurant Sonic just came on. These commercials are on all the time, but has anybody ever seen a Sonic? I've seen them twice. Once in Florida and once in Texas. I'm pretty sure there aren't any in Wisconsin, so why are there commercials for it? Does this bother anybody else?
Also I'd like to send my sympathies to everybody who came down with the flu, or who had their grandfather pass away, or who's car wouldn't start today. Enjoy the tournament. I think every year from when I was in 7th grade until I graduated from high school I skipped class the first two days of the tournament. It was funny because I had to lay the ground work early in the week for my illness. I'd start telling my teachers I didn't feel good on Tuesday or Wednesday. When I was younger I had to pretend at home to--once I got older and my parents realized I was going to stay home and watch the tournament no matter what. At least that way I could enjoy the games at home without fake coughing every few minutes.
The Three Kinds of People That Fill-Out a Bracket
NCAA Tournament madness is upon us. I thought I'd breakdown the different kinds of people who fill out a bracket. Which category do you fall into?
Upset Guy is the one who out-thinks himself. He invariable ends up with Utah State, Vermont, Louisiana-Lafayette and Minnesota all in the Final Four. When his entire Final Four is eliminated after the first weekend he feels compelled to blast people who "took the easy way out" by selecting top seeds to advance past the first weekend. Upset Guy doesn't mind having his bracket be a mess almost every year, because the one year he hits it right he'll never let you forget about it. I'm sure some of you know an Upset Guy who had Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida in the Final Four back in 2000 and hasn't shut up about it since.
This amateur bracketologist shares a few of the same characteristics with Upset Guy. Like Upset Guy, Obsessed Guy thinks way too hard about who is going to win and inevitably talks himself into having a crazy final four, just like Upset Guy. Instead of his Final Four being laden with ten or higher seeds, he has a lot of #3 or #4 seeds because he analyzes the RPI and remembers every upset during the regular season. This is the guy who fills out four brackets in every pool he's in, because he can foresee so many different possibilities and he doesn't want to be left with out a bracket to pay attention to as the tournament progresses.
This is the person who knows NOTHING about college basketball, but usually is the type of person who wins. Since the same teams always go far in the tournament, this is the person who takes the obvious powers (North Carolina, Duke, UCONN, Michigan St, Arizona, etc.) to go far in the tournament. This role is also filled by the secretary in the office who picks teams based on who has the best looking uniform. Fresh off of her sweep of the NFL pool, the secretary has won the NCAA office pool five of the last seven years.
...Some of you may be thinking "Bryan, which one of these people are you?". Well, I'd say I fall somewhere in between Upset Guy and Obsessed Guy. I haven't shut up about the 2003 NCAA Tournament when I had Marquette and Syracuse in the Final Four, but still I always play about three brackets in a pool.
I am going to be out of town so this site won't be updated until Monday March 14th. If you really want to read my stuff I suggest going back through the archives and memorizing my takes from the past 10 months or so. Also, I've added a few new links so I reccommend checking out the new ones as well as the other links that are on my site.
I know that some people feel that steroids should be legalized in baseball for a variety of reasons (mainly that it's going to be difficult to stop them from infiltrating the game and perhaps we can learn more about the drug from more research on it). David Pinto of Baseball Musings, the Bill Walsh of blogs, is one of the people who feel this way.
I really couldn't disagree with this notion anymore. The problem with players taking steroids is that others are then pressured into taking the drug in order to keep up. Eventually this will all filter down to college and high school. Do we really want .220 hitters in high school juicing because they think it's there way to the Big Leagues?
There is an idea that if steroids are done in moderation it can be helpful--and maybe that can happen. But what happens when everybody is on a "moderate" amount of steroids? Then players are going to feel the pressure to be even bigger and stronger, so they'll up their dosage...Then you have a bunch of 'roid monster freaks with giant heads running around and engaging in a race to see who can be baseball's Lyle Alzado.
Do we really want Major League Baseball (or any other professional sport) to become a test of who has the best doctors and who has the best designer steroid? When I played junior college baseball in Southern California there were guys we knew took steroids and many players that were suspected of it. It has trickled down to the high schools in America as well. Like I said, do we want kids who have no shot at playing professional baseball taking a potentially harmful substance because they think it'll turn their .220 batting average into a 40 HR swing in the Show? Do high school kids need to take anything that'll make their voices crack more or give them even more acne?
I think we can all agree that the testing in MLB isn't strong enough. Two things could be done to dramatically change the effectiveness of the testing: 1) Test for masking agents. If a player has a masking agent in his system, treat it just as a steroid (similar to the NCAA) and 2) allow blood sample testing for things like Human Growth Hormones.