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Suddenly, there's a lot to write about

First, a few links to get us going:

  • Keith Ginter is going to be a Cleveland Indian.  Actually, he'll be an Indian until about March 21st, after which time he'll be a Triple-A Buffalo Bison.  And he'll probably remain one all season long.  I'm afraid Keith had his career year in a Brewer uniform, and nothing he does now will change that.

  • Rollie Fingers is in trouble.  He owes Wisconsin $1.4 million in back taxes.  That could make for quite an interesting scene, if he comes back for the 1982 World Series commemoration at Miller Park this year.  Maybe if he shaves the moustache, no one will recognize him.

  • Here's a very early set of projections for the 2007 season.  For player stats, it uses CHONE, a system I haven't looked too closely at.  The Brewers come out 4th in the Central at 80-82, just a smidge behind the Astros.  I'm more interested in the projections that result from ZiPS, as ZiPS loves our pitching staff.

  • Tomo Ohka is getting some attention, including a potential offer from the Mets.  I was wondering when the Mets would go after another starter--they were in the mix for both Barry Zito and Jeff Suppan, and I don't think they intend to have Oliver Perez in their opening day rotation.

  • Adam McCalvy offers a preview of the catcher position, with a whole lot on Damian Miller's transition to the backup role.  What I like best about our catching this year is that we've got five guys--Miller, Johnny Estrada, JD Closser, Mike Rivera, and Vinny Rottino--who ensure that we won't get a half-season of Chad Moeller-level production.

  • Rich Lederer takes a look at a Bill James creation called Run Element Ratio, which is designed to analyze whether a player is best suited to leadoff or not.  Brady Clark is in the top 15 in baseball among "oughta leadoff" guys, and Estrada is #4 among "never let 'em leadoff" hitters.  Just to clarify: that doesn't mean that Brady is the perfect #1 hitter, or that Estrada is the perfect cleanup hitter.  What it does mean (approximately) is that Brady's value is almost entirely as a leadoff guy, and Estrada's value is almost entirely NOT as a leadoff guy.  In other words, Brady runs and walks but doesn't get extra-base hits; Johnny doesn't walk and doesn't run.

  • Here's my column today at The Hardball Times.  I looked at a few remaining free agents who have the potential to make an impact.  There are a couple of things that are relevant to the Brewers:

    • Two of the top four--Trot Nixon and Cliff Floyd--are lefty outfielders.  Both are better than Geoff Jenkins, and will likely cost less than $7 million next year.  That's still more evidence that Doug Melvin's phone isn't going to ring off the hook with generous offers for Jenkins, and that we'd have to throw in lots of cash if we want to get rid of him.  Frankly, if we have to send, say, $4 million along with Jenkins, I might rather have him.  Essentially, then, he'd be a $3 million player, and at that level he just might be worth taking a chance on.

    • There's one guy on my list who I think the Brewers ought to be negotiating with: Arthur Rhodes.  
      Typically, I wouldn't try to make the case that a 37-year-old lefty reliever coming off an 87 ERA+ is worth signing. But, despite the fluctuating walk rates, Rhodes can still dominate: in his last two seasons, he's averaged a strikeout per inning along with only four homers in about 90 innings. He may not deserve another three-year deal, but he could be a very pleasant surprise if he joins forces with the right pitching coach.

      Check out my article for a nifty table showing his walk rates and ERA+.  More than any pitcher I've looked at before, his success depends largely on preventing walks.  It's possible that he was just too careful in Philly, because more fat pitches turn into homers there than most other parks.  Coming off a 5.32 ERA last year, he should be cheap.  He's a lefty, but more than a LOOGY, which should fulfill all of Gord Ash's dreams without wasting a roster spot on a second Brian Shouse.
What I like best about the topic of that column is that it's a good reminder that the offseason isn't over.  Just because Zito signed doesn't mean that we have to sit around doing nothing but watch NFL playoff games until March.  Instead, we can obsess about adding a second lefty to the pen!