Monday, May 14, 2012

Miami Beach

Hola all!

Amy and I have returned to visit Miami Beach this week. Yes, it's still here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Favorite Movie Soundtracks

Cross posted at Sleepy Eyed Whiners

I have spent about 50 hours traveling in my car the last 4 weeks, so when the podcasts dry up, I have been listening to more music than usual.  Driving home today, I put on one of my favorite soundtrack albums, the Batman Forever soundtrack.  That got me thinking, what are some of my other favorite soundtrack albums (I exclude musicals from this, as those aren't really movies with soundtracks, but excuses to make money from the music).  There are several that border on musicals, but, I think those are good enough to stand here, and it's my list, so I'll do as I please.

Here are some of my favorite soundtracks in no particular order (other than the first two, which I listen to all the time), and they really have little to do with the quality of the movies. In fact, I have seen few of the movies.  Also, in compiling this, I realized I have seen very few movies since about 2000, or maybe the music just isn't that good now...

  1. Brokedown Palace (1999) - I like this soundtrack so much that I rented the movie, which had a run of about a week in theaters.  The movie is actually not awful (and starts Claire Dane and Kate Beckinsale as American teenagers jailed for drug crimes in Thailand), but the soundtrack is fabulous.  It opened my eyes to a couple of
  2. Batman Forever (1995) - Ok, the third Batman movie was universally panned, but, it's soundtrack should not be overlooked.  It's full of great music from the mid-90's.  U2, Seal, Mazzy Star, The Devlins, Massive Attack.  Great stuff.
  3. The Blues Brothers  (1980) - This actually falls into the category of music looking for a movie, but, still, it's a classic cult movie, with great lines like  "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses."  The soundtrack isn't all Belushi/Akroyd, it also includes appearances by Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.  
  4. Reality Bites (1994) - The movie has an all star cast of people who would be big stars in the '90s, Ben Stiller, Wynona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Renee Zellweger.  But, the soundtrack is what really shines in this one, made up of great songs from lots of good '90's era bands
  5. Empire Records (1995) - A movie set in a record store ought to have a pretty good soundtrack, and Empire Records doesn't disappoint.  Why does Renee Zellweger keep showing up in these movies?  This movie made nearly zero dollars, and it's not that good, but the soundtrack has always been one of my favorites.  Like Reality Bites, it's a who's who of '90's bands, with tracks from the Gin Blossoms, Better Than Ezra, The Cranberries, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Cracker, and Edwyn Collins great "A Girl Like You."
  6. Star Wars (1977) - Why do Sci-Fi films have good soundtracks?  You got me, but Star Wars eschews the typical soundtrack and actually is a double album with lots of original music, and most of it's listenable.  It'll also remind you of scenes in the movie, which, I guess, is one measure of its greatness.
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - I would get this just to listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra over and over again.  Crazy man!
  8. Tommy (1975) - Come on, Jack Nicholson, Ann Margret, Tina Turner, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and The Who's music?  What's not to love.  If the Overture doesn't get you moving, you're dead.
  9. Purple Rain (1984) - This one borders on a musical, being as it was, a vehicle for Prince to sell albums.  So, it almost doesn't qualify.  But, it was an actual movie, and, the music was Prince at his finest.  Grab your favorite girl and dance all night.
  10. Risky Business (1983) - Tom Cruise's debut also featured a fabulous soundtrack, with a mixture of rock greats (Old Time Rock and Roll), '80's new wave (Mannish Boy, DMSR), and the sultry jazz of Tangerine Dream.  If you were 18 in 1983 (I was) how could you ever forget Rebecca DeMornay and Tom Cruise to Tangerine Dream's "Love On a Real Train?"  The fact is, you can't.
  11. Dirty Dancing (1987) - Like Purple Rain, a soundtrack in search of a movie, sort of.  Unlike Purple Rain, the movie is actually watchable again and again, which has given it sort of cult status.  For the ladies, Patrick Swayze's presence helps.  This movie may have opened a lot of kids of my generation's eyes to some great '60s music that wasn't The Beatles or the Stones.  It mixed in the wonderful "Time of My Life" and "She's Like The Wind" with those oldies. 
  12. Clueless (1995) Returning to our theme of mid-90's movies with great soundtracks, Clueless delivers.
  13. Rocky (1976) - More of a traditional soundtrack, you can follow the movie with it.  Of course, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" is a classic today.
  14. There's Something About Mary (1998) - This one is a matter of taste.  I think we can mostly all agree the movie is a comedy great from the Farrelly brothers, with Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and a cameo by her love interest, Bret Favre.  The soundtrack contains the Jonathan Richman numbers, as well as the awesome "History Repeating," "Is She Really Going Out With Him," and the finale of "Build Me Up, Buttercup."  Come on, if you can't get excited by that, there's no hope.
  15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) - With Risky Business, this movie kind of defined a generation.  Who can ever forget Spicoli's "Eating some pizza and learning about Cuba" line or Phoebe Cates exiting the pool to The Cars "Moving in Stereo."  This soundtrack does for the early '80's what some of these others did for the '90's.
  16. Blow (2001) - The only post 2000 movie on my list.  Not only is a compelling story, but, it's really the only 1 of 2 dramas on the list.  Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Paul Ruebens.  The soundtrack is awesome, eclectic and electric, it's worth the price.
  17. Animal House (1978) I don't think I even need to say it.  The movie is a classic.  The soundtrack, likewise.

Upon further review, there are some albums that I left off the list that I believe deserve a mention.  I left these off the list largely because I think they only existed because of the music:
  • The Beatles A Hard Day's Night
  • The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall
  • The Grease Soundtrack - I am not a huge fan of this one, but it really is a musical, anyway.
  • Saturday Night Fever soundtrack - This one probably should have been on my list.
These deserve honorable mention, and might make other people's list.  In fact, some of these should have been on my list, in retrospect, and would have been.
  • The Graduate (1967) - Great soundtrack, and should have been on my list.  Plus, it's one of the rare classic movies. Also features one of the greatest cars ever, the original boattail Alfa Spyder.
  • The Big Chill (1983) - Again, it should have been on the list.  Great movie, and the soundtrack is a walk through fantastic '60s music.
  • American Graffiti (1973) - I think this movie did for it's generation what Risky Business and Fast Times did for mine.  Of course, I don't know anybody in this generation, so I'm just guessing.  
If we added those three to my list, that makes an even 20.  So, I'll claim them.

How about some more honorable mentions:
  • High Fidelity (2000)
  • Juno (2007)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
  • Romeo + Juliett (1996)
  • The Wedding Singer (1998)
  • Footloose (1984)
  • Pretty in Pink (1986)
  • 8 Mile (2002)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • The Sound of Music(1965)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Craziness at our house

The last couple of weeks have been eventful ones for us, so if we haven't been in touch much, I apologize.

Let's see, Thanksgiving weekend, Randell and her boyfriend, Anthony, decided that he was going to buy a dog from some guy in downtown Atlanta.  Since he already had adopted a puppy just weeks earlier and had him at his apartment in school, his parents went nuts (rightfully) and demanded he take the dog back.

Since we're softies, we decided we'd keep the dog until we all decided what to do with him.  Anyway, he's a German Shepherd puppy, about 8 weeks old now, and it is highly likely we are going to keep him.  Daisy is old (14) and Luke needs a big companion, and one with a good disposition, which I am sure out new dog, Oliver, will have.

He and Luke get along well, and Daisy is tired of all of them.
In my other job, I spend a couple days with submarine crews doing workshops of a fashion. This month, I have been to King's Bay and this week, I am supposed to go to Guam for the week, if the Navy can get the travel arrangements made. We will have to see.
Car Mess
Christmas is always a busy and stressful time around here. Amy has a lot of catering gigs to take work, and I am traveling alot this month, and, it's just the Holidays, with decorations, and trees, and trying to plan time for family, etc, etc.

So, Saturday, Amy was going to work a catering event here in town, and less than a mile from her destination, was involved in a head-on collision. Fortunately, she, the other driver and their passenger all walked away. All shaken, and Amy got a decent bump on her knee, but otherwise is fine. Since she was going TO and not from catering, and she was probably going ~30mph and the other car 30-40mph, you can imagine the force of the collision and the resultant state of about $1000 in food in the back of our Murano. Not good. Basically, our Murano emerged as the scene of a major food fight. Since the car is otherwise mangled, we are hoping for a total, so we don't end up with a chicken marsala car.

Some thoughts from the accident victim on this one - wear your seat belt (she was) and you can never prepare for an airbag explosion unless you've been in one. The technology is amazing, as both drivers walked away from this car with just some bruises. Prior to airbags, they would all have been seriously injured. With seatbelts, these are the single most important development in automobile safety. If you don't wear them, do it every time you get in a car, front or back.

Randell's carless, but with me being in Guam for the week, and school out after next week, we don't need the car anyway, but, if we're going to travel over Christmas, it's going to be cramped in the Mustang.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dog News

I know I'm repeating stuff tonight.

As you know, we adopted a new dog, Luke.  He's almost completed puppy training, and he's very smart.  He's also very large.
Because of his size, we decided to finally get a fence installed.  So, these are pictures of it.  I know, lame.

It actually really improves the backyard, because it creates natural boundaries, rather than tailing off into wild areas.  The best thing is it keeps both dogs in, which is the idea!  And lets Luke run around unfettered, which he needs.

The other enjoyment he's been getting is the city of John's Creek recently upgraded the dogpark at our Newtown Park.  Apparently a local resident (who happens to be one of Ran's friend's dad) won a contest through Beneful to upgrade your dog park.  Winning video below:

Anywho, Randell has been taking Luke pretty much daily to the park, and you should see him whenever she grabs his leash and harness and gets ready to go.  He's crazy happy.  So, I'd say, the park is a success for him, and with Daisy being such a sloth, it gives him a chance to play with other big dogs and socialize.  They also have a little fountain that he loves to drink out of and get wet.  All in all, a good deal, especially since it didn't cost us residents any tax dollars.

Airplane Pictures

I thought I'd share a couple of cool shots from a recent trip home from Newport News.

If you ever fly out of Newport News, you usually fly right over what's called the James River Ghost Fleet.  Many of the ships have been moved since Virginians think they are environmental hazards, but, a few remain.  You may need to click the picture in a photo editor and zoom in to see them, but they're down there.  And, yes, this is early enough in flight your electronic equipment is supposed to be off.  Sue me.
On the same flight, I caught this cool sunset:
Looks like the next time I go, I am going to drive, since the fuel prices have caught up to the airlines.  That means an intermediary stop in GSO.  July 7/8, I think.  Not definite yet.

Recent Events and a new car

There have been a few changes around our house lately, some that you might even have a passing interest in hearing about.  Ryan graduated, which is nice.  He's working nearly full time at a local pizza place, making food and deliveries. 

Ryan's girlfriend, Alex, has joined us for the summer.  Ryan's plans are unclear right now.  He intends to work this year and take classes at Perimeter College and get enough credits and improve his grades to transfer to somewhere the next year.  To where, who knows.

Ran got her license, so, if you're on the roads down here, beware.

In other news, if you didn't here, Josh and Matt, the Friday before Memorial Day, the BMW was rear-ended.

It doesn't look like much damage, but, in the real world, apparently that's enough to make a car totaled.  Because I got a decent settlement on it, I started looking at E36's, but, ultimately, settled to not spend more money and settled on another E30, this 87 325i:

The good is that it's 4 doors, and the a/c works, as does most everything else.  It's got a lot of miles (over 200k), but the interior is like new (one rip), and it's passed it's 2011 emissions test, so that's the end of that (next year it's >25, so no testing). It's had a ton of recent work.  And you can tell it looks brand new.
The bad is the mileage, which is really unknown, since the odometer sort of works.  But, hey, after 200,000 miles, who cares.  No rust, it's been in Georgia it's entire life and the Carfax showed nothing but annual emissions tests.

The other bad is that it's an automatic.  That's bad because it's slow, and boring, but it's good, because everyone here can drive it.  That's also bad.  The other bad is they installed a new exhaust before I took it, and disconnected the battery, and the original BMW radio needs its code to get it alive.  Of course, the 1 key on the pad isn't working, so the code can't be entered.  That's good, because it stinks anyway, so I'm getting one I can use my iPhone with.

So, I apologize to Matt and Josh for allowing some jackleg to rear-end me, but, I came out ahead on the deal.

Hope everyone's Father's Day was fun, and glad everyone's safely home.  The Braves will be in Seattle next week - anyone going?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Well, by now, I think everyone who traveled to the Old Country for Matt and Annabelle and Josh and Marketa's weddings, are back in the States.

Welcome home, and those of us who couldn't make it are glad you came home safely, and wish best of luck to the newly married, and the re-wed.  Thanks to Mr. Jack for archiving it here, and sharing pictures.  We enjoyed them all.

Maybe it was a mistake that those of us who stayed behind did so, since every man left behind either visited the doctor or made a hospital visit.  Hopefully, we're all well now.

Again, congrats to all, and I'm glad you made it home safely.

For Matt, don't think you're off the hook, we'll be over there before you leave.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Iris part deux

These are in the side.

Iris's in bloom

Some of my iris's have finally bloomed. Thanks mom!

Pictures 4

Pictures 3

More office

Computer Room Redo

One if many pictures of our redone office.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Car

In other new additions this year,our Pathfinder finally decided it was going to start costing real money to maintain as it aged. Faced with about $1500 to replace a catalytic converter (it has two), and knowing these models have a transmission issue that is catastrophic, I decided to replace the gas eating behemoth for a less used,smaller car. So, the Pathfinder is gone and is replaced by this 2004 Nissan Murano. We lost the nav system (who needs it), the entertainment system, and the third row of seats. We gained 5 mpg, 50k miles and all wheel drive. We also lost all the dents and scrapes.

We get to keep the leather, sunroof, heated seats and all that stuff we liked in the old car.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Graduation and addition

Haven't posted in a while, but wanted to pass a couple of bits of news..

1. Ryan completed his graduation requirements and is now a high school graduate, completing early at Independence High School.  No future plans yet, but he's thinking about a job, then maybe do something...
2. Our newest friend is Luke.
He's a mx of some sort.  No one really knows.  Lab/Terrier of some kind?

Don't know.  He's going to be big.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in Georgia!

I'll post some pictures later, but, we are on day 2 of the greatest winter snow Atlanta has seen in a hundred years.  Areas of town got from 3-7 inches.  Here in Alpharetta, we got about 5 inches.  That's the most I've ever seen here.  We're clearly not equipped to handle it, though, as the interstates have been variously shut down in spots since Sunday evening.

I was in Norfolk this weekend, scheduled to return yesterday, but changed my flights to return Sunday, ahead of the storm.  Normally, a trip on US Air means I will spend the night somewhere involuntarily, but, this time, the travel Gods were with me.

I had changed to leave Charlotte on an 8:25pm flight to Atlanta, arriving around 9:15, about the time the snow was supposed to start.  There was a 6pm flight that I hoped to get on, but with my scheduled 4:00pm Newport News departure, I doubted I'd get on it.

Fortunately, although my flight left Newport News about 45 minutes late for Charlotte, that 6pm flight was delayed and I happened to pass by it on my way to my later flight's gate.  Lucky for me, another guy had the same thought, got a seat, and I got the last seat!  So, I arrived in Atlanta and had my bag and was in my car heading home by 8:15.  Unfortunately, the snow had started and at the airport, it was snow and sleet.

Suffice to say, I made it.

Pictures of the snow to follow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More on Oliver

Okay folks.  I suppose sharing pics of the dog but no real info on him was a bit unfair.  Here he is. SAM_0388.JPG (image/jpeg) 318K Oliver has had quite the life.  He was born in 2003 and has just recently turned seven in August, which is middle aged for Greyhounds.  I've been wanting to get a dog and have always felt that adopting a dog from some sort of trust or a pound would be the best thing to do as there are tons of them out there.  Greyhounds seemed a good choice because they're pretty lazy sleeping up to 18 hours a day and ones for adoption generally come fully potty trained. 

Oliver originally raced in Great Yarmouth.  After racing for 3 years he was dumped on the Retired Greyhound Trust in Yarmouth.  The RTG homed him with a very elderly man who he did fine with until there was an incident where a Jack Russell got in his chili and he didn't know how to react and bit it fairly badly.  The police were convinced by the RTG to not put him to sleep if they removed him from the area so he was sent to the Suffolk RTG.  It was at this point that his name was changed from his former racing name, Dicky Doo Daa, to Oliver where he lived quite happily next to another Greyhound named Twist.  Due to the incident in his past he was overlooked by many potential adopters because there are plenty of other dogs that haven't had any incidents before. 

When we( Annabel and I) went to check out dogs at the Suffolk RTG I had pretty much decided we were going to get a black one or one that had been there the longest.  Black Greyhounds are the least adopted for a reason that I can't seem to figure out because they look amazing and all have really nice coats.  A lot of people also apparently just go and decided one day they want a dog and adopt.  We decided to go for several weekends and walk as many as we could to try to get to know them so we could decide on the correct one.  After we walked Oliver we knew he was the one for us and had been there for quite some time. SAM_0283.JPG (image/jpeg) 297K We went back for 4 weekends and continued walking him so he would get to know us.  Took him for a few rides and he instinctively jumped right into the Land Rover without hesitation so I knew he definitely was the one.  He's the most affectionate dog ever and is incredibly polite.  He won't beg you for your food but he's always thankful when he gets it.  Loves to eat seafood.  Is super excited to see you when you get home and likes giving hugs.  Which I haven't been able to get a picture of yet, but he'll politely bring his front paws up to your shoulders and bury his head into your chest while standing on his hind legs. 

So Oliver was brought to the new place and has fit in very well.  I'm living in a small village north of Bury St Edmunds now.  It's near tons of open space and loads of fields and paths and national forest area.  He's getting used to doing normal dog things like chewing on smoked pig ears.  I walk him in the mornings before work and when I get home.  When I'm not able to Annabel does it and everything works out fine.  He's had zero problems since we've had him though he does get excited when he sees other dogs and wants to say hello and smell them. SAM_0448.JPG (image/jpeg) 270K

Testing pictures.

Just testing pictures cause I never did this before and think it'll be easier than linking to my photo albums. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Who let the dogs out?

Hello.  Easiest way to introduce you all to Oliver.  He's a retired racing greyhound.  Incredibly loving.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun Dog Tricks

If I'd have known a dog could be trained to do ALL this, I might not have had kids...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Twitter, Facebook, Blogs: Isn't the Internet Great??

These days, there are really 3 major means of social networking, and, if you're not using them all, you're likely missing something.  You may think whatever you're missing is no big deal, and it may not be a big deal to you at all, but, if you're going to be connected, you need to be using one of these networks, and probably all of them.

If you're reading this, you're already a reader of blogs and a fan of blogging.  Keep it up.  To make your blogging more productive, I suggest you look into using an RSS Reader, such as Google Reader.  RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication, and basically, since blogs are structured formats, with each post being date/time stamped, it means they can be sorted into a hierarchical format and displayed in a reader.  There are many RSS readers (one is included as part of Internet Explorer and in Outlook), but my favorite is Google's Reader.  I prefer it because it works within the browser, and the settings follow you to any computer you use.  All you need is a google account, which you already have if you're a gmail user, but it's easy to sign up and use all of google's products.  You also have one if you're a Picasa user (for sharing pictures).  Now, you may not agree with Google's founders politics (they're morons), but, their technology is great.  With an RSS Reader, you don't have to go to 400 websites to troll for news, you'll find it all aggregated, right there.  Try it.

The next thing you need to look into is Facebook.  Like AOL of old, Facebook is the destination site on the Internet for connecting with your old and new friends.  I use Facebook mostly for connecting with old friends and an occasional snarky post, but, mostly, I just try to see what people are up to.  For interest, I started myself to keep tabs on my kids.  A requirement of their use of it was that I had to be their friend, so I could see what they were up to.  It's expanded somewhat.  If you join Facebook, you'll be able to connect with me, but, you'll be surprised with all the groups that exist there, how quickly people you knew from your past will find you.  I don't use Facebook that much for politics, but, it can be used for that as well.

Finally, there is Twitter.  I love Twitter.  The kids are not in to Twitter.  That makes it more appealing to me.  Basically, I described it to the youngest as "Facebook without the fluff, and you have to learn to speak in 140 words or less."  With the increasing use of URL shorteners like, though, Twitter is a way to quickly link people to articles of interest, and to stay even more connected to anyone.  Because it's near instantaneous, you can sometimes engage in short conversations with people who you would normally not have anything to do with, like the Braves AJC beat writer, or CBS's White House correspondent.  It's like having a real time feed of your RSS Reader.  In fact, that's really what I do online - watch my Twitter feed and scroll through my RSS reader for interesting stuff.  Most bloggers these days link their blogs to their Twitter feed, so, once they post something, if you're following them on Twitter, you'll see it, with a link.  In fact, this post, once posted, will show up in my Twitter feed - the title, with a link.

So, I encourage you all to create twitter accounts and then follow some people you find interesting.  Here are some recommendations:

  • HumanEvents - Get a twitter feed of Human Events articles
  • rsmccain -Robert Stacy McCain
  • BigJournalism - Breitbart's Big Journalism site
  • DanRiehl - conservative blogger
  • RichLowry
  • ByronYork
  • AoSHQ -Ace Of Spades
  • politico 
  • krauthammer
  • ajcbraves - Dave O'Brien, Braves beat reporter
  • ESPN_ACC - Heather Dinich - covers the ACC for ESPN
  • RedState - a feed of Red State's home page posts
  • NROcorner - A feed of NR's Corner posts
  • greggutfeld - Come on, you don't know who Greg Gutfeld is?  You should.
  • ThadMcCotter - Michigan congressman, and rock music lover
  • Buster_ESPN -Buster Olney, ESPN baseball reporter
  • SarahPalinUSA
  • newsbusters - twitter feed of newsbusters blog posts
  • LegInsurrection - twitter feed of LI's blog
  • sistertoldjah - she's an NC based conservative blogger.  Prolific
  • jaketapper - ABC's WH correspondent
  • gatewaypundit - Jim Hoft's twitter account
  • KarlRove
Those are just a few.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Braves Outfield Options

I have discussed Nate McLouth previously in depth and I believe the Braves will give McLouth every opportunity to win the CF job next spring.  My opinion is he's a left fielder masquerading with CF speed, but, given the market for center fielders (Colby Rasmus is really the only potential candidate we hear mentioned in trades), my guess is CF is McLouth's job to lose, so, the Braves are looking for an everyday, power bat for LF, preferably right-handed.  With McLouth, you will have Freeman, Heyward, McCann as lefties, and the Braves are going to need a right hander who can fill the 4 or 5 spot in the order. has the skinny on 2011 free agents and I posted on the 2011 class here.  Looking at other trade possibilities, let's look at the 2012 class, and see who might be trade bait.  The top 2012 outfielders are going to be (and here we'll look at all OF positions):

  1. Jose Bautista - After hitting 54 homers and 124 RBI's in an amazing 2010 (he never hit more than 16 in 7 previous seasons), Bautista's stock has skyrocketed. He's arbitration eligible and whether the Blue Jays are in a trading mood, probably depends on what he gets in this arbitration year.  He's a righty who could regress back to a middling power guy.  
  2. Josh Willingham - made $4.6M this year, and is arb eligible.  Hit 16 homers in only 370 AB's for Washington.  He has a great eye, with an OBP of .383 in 2010, career .367.  Again, Washington may be building around Willingham and some of their other good young players and be unwillinging to move him.  But, I could see a Lowe or Jurrjens for Willingham trade being done. Nationals get (in the case of Lowe) a seasoned vet for their young staff, and Braves get a needed RH power bat at a decent price.  The Nats have indicated a willingness to go after Cliff Lee, but they can't afford Lee.  Would they settle for Lowe?
  3. David DeJesus - Is a relatively weak powered left fielder.  He can play center, but, he's essentially McLouth, slightly better defensively.  Will make $6M in 2011.  I don't think he's a good fit, certainly not as the LF beside McLouth.
  4. Cody Ross - Now, we've seen what Ross can do in the playoffs, and he is a guy the Braves tried hard to get this year and lost out to the Giants.  He's arbitration eligible in 2011 and made $4.5M in 2010.  Don't know what the Giants may do with Ross.  They don't need pitching, and if the Braves had any good hitters to trade, they'd be keeping them anyway.  I don't think we're likely to see the Braves and Giants making any trades.
  5. Michael Cuddyer - Twins former first round pick is having arthroscopic surgery in the off-season.  His numbers have been all over the place in the bigs, mostly good.  He's signed through 2011 and will make $10M next year.  He's honestly not worth that kind of money unless he returns to 2009 form.
  6. Ryan Ludwick - struggled after the mid-season trade to SD.  He's got good power but strikes out A LOT.  Just an average outfielder.Made $5.5M in 2010, arbitration eligible in 2011.  Again SD doesn't need pitching, so not a good candidate for trade with Atlanta.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Braves Player Round Up - Nate McLouth

In the off-season, I am going to review some of the Braves question marks, and discuss the pros and cons of these players.  I'll largely use Baseball and my own personal observations of players, but, I'll try to use stats where available.

The first player I will analyze, because he creates such strong feelings among Braves fans, is Nate McLouth.

McLouth was aquired in a 2009 trade with the Pirates that saw pitching prospect Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Gorkys Hernandez.  Only Morton really had any major league potential, and has failed to live up to it.  McLouth was coming off an All-Star season with the Pirates in 2008.  Of course, if not for the requirement that each team have an All-Star, McLouth's credentials were debatable. His 2008 season numbers were good, however, .276/.356/.853 and he led the league with 46 doubles, and he had a WAR of 4.6.  He seemed poised for stardom when he signed a large contract with Pittsburgh (3 years with a 4th year team option) after that 2008 season, so the 2009 trade appeared to observers to be a typical Pirate salary dump. He also battled some injury problems in 2009 which saw McLouth's numbers slip, and he had long periods with the Braves, as I started observing him, where he was awful.  A streaky, pull-hitting, 100+ strikeout lead-off hitter often down in counts with a poor caught stealing percentage indicated some potential problems with McLouth in 2009.

McLouth is owed $6.5M by the Braves in 2011.

While 2009 could be called a normal year for Nate, you need only look at the details of his at-bats to see something happened in 2010 to lower his average by 60 points and make him functionally useless.

What happened was:

  • Nate struck out looking in 44% of his strikeouts.  This is up significantly from his career average of 34%.  If you watched Nate this season, you can recall many times screaming at the TV, "How could you take that pitch!?!?!?!?!?"
  • Surprisingly, Nate saw more 2-0 and 3-1 counts than he historically saw, and well above the league average (could this be a product of the Braves philosophy of working pitchers deeper into the count?). As you would expect, Nate was at his best on these counts, hitting .500 on 2-0 pitches, and .333 on 3-0.  Nate's real problem is if you could get 2 strikes on him in 2010, he was nearly a dead-lock cinch to make an out, hitting .152 with 2 strikes. Nate's other issue - first pitches.  In 28 at bats where he put the ball into play on the first pitch, he hit .071.  Seriously, Nate, you're better off taking the first pitch in 2010, but, this was one of the things Nate came to Atlanta notorious for - swinging at first pitches, and 2010 was an aberration.  He's a career .299 first pitch hitter.
  • McLouth didn't get many AB's against lefties this year, but he was woeful against them, hitting .135.  Nate was similarly awful in road games, hitting just .134
  • As a baserunner, McLouth's caught stealing percentage declined from about 90% in Pittsburgh to roughly 78% in Atlanta.   Not good.
I think you get the picture of Nate hitting in 2010.  Horrible, with lots of aberrations from his norm.

  • Nate was a Gold Glove outfielder in 2008 with Pittsburgh.  Did he deserve it?  In a word, no.  While he only made one error, he only had 5 assists, and his sabermetric ratings are those of a below-average outfielder.
  • That is much more consistent with the Nate McLouth I observed in Atlanta.  I'd call him an indifferent fielder, frequently fielding fly balls with runners on 3rd and less than 2 outs and not even attempting a throw.  I know Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson called him on this on more than one occasion.  In fact, I vividly remember a game where with a runner on 3rd, McLouth called off Jason Heyward who was setting up to make a throw home, and McLouth didn't even make the throw.  He lost balls in lights on more than one occasion, and generally played a rotten CF.
What will the Braves do?  I don't know any major league club who is going to be willing to take on McLouth.  Given the money the Braves have to pay him in 2011, they will have to eat a significant portion of his salary to get anyone to take him.  Given that, I expect McLouth to get every opportunity in spring training to prove that he's regained the form that made him an all-star in Pittsburgh.  If he can't, and if he's willing to start the year in AAA Gwinnett (as he was gracious enough to spend time there in 2010, I don't know option status) he could be the highest paid minor leaguer, or seek his release.  Given the money involved, I don't expect to see him leave the Braves organization in 2011.  

CFB Wrap-up: 10/16

An interesting day in the college football world.

Let's get the home teams first.  Georgia Tech manhandled an inferior Middle Tennessee State team 42-14, Georgia whipped a woeful Vandy 49-0, and UNC took out 30 years of frustration at UVA and one year of frustration with agents beating the Wahoo's 44-10.

So, that handles the locals.  The big news is this was a great day for TCU and Boise State.  Ohio State proved why they're a perennial disappointment, losing to Wisconsin, and Texas told Nebraska to go F themselves as they leave the Big 12 for the Big Nothing sending 2 potential national title contenders to the garbage dump.

So, who can spoil the non-BCS schools' party?

  1. Auburn beat Arkansas in a defense optional game, 65-43 to stay undefeated, and putting them on a collision course with...
  2. LSU, who handled McNeese State to remain unbeaten, despite Les Miles' best efforts.
  3. Michigan State dispatched Illinois, but, I don't expect to see them in the BCS contenders.
  4. Oklahoma killed Iowa State.
  5. Utah and Nevada won, but they have to face TCU and Boise St, so, don't expect them to make it undefeated.
  6. Oregon was idle, and the number 2 team still has some tough Pac-10 games to play.
The first BCS rankings are out tomorrow, and everyone agrees Boise St will be number 1 in those rankings.  Everyone also agrees that they will drop as their strength-of-schedule component declines.  Oregon will benefit, assuming they can remain undefeated.

But, we're faced with the spectacle of the first BCS number one winning out, and ending up, perhaps 3rd in the BCS standings, because, if LSU or Auburn win out, they will almost certainly end up 1 or 2, and if Oklahoma wins out, so would they.  

Wow!  Great season ahead.