Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Support your local brew pub!

So, I was out this past weekend doing my old-man version of a pub crawl. That would be three different bars and then back home to go to bed before midnight. I could talk about the first couple of bars I went to (and the amazing Struise Tsjeeses I had at one) but the one I want to talk about today is the last one, Trinity Brewhouse.

I have been going to Trinity off and on for about ten years now. I used to go just about every week. I was a member of the "Mug Club" they had there. Eventually I tired of the place as I felt that the beer wasn't anything special and I just lost interest in it.

Well, fast forward about five years and I have made a nice transition into full fledged beer dork-dom. I still would stop by Trinity once in a while and felt the beer was OK, but nothing special. I could get much better beers out at the beer bars around. But, then came this past weekend.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. Sean Larkin, the brew master at Trinity, has taken some risks on beers recently and the quality of the brews has jumped WAY up. I am still not so sure about the draught system at the pub. I have heard complaints of carbonation issues. I also always tend to get hangovers there more than other places, maybe something with the system. But, it was never that big of a deal to me all in all. The beer was always what I sort of shrugged about. It was always "eh, whatever". Sean changed that. Where before I would only see the flagship IPA, a red, a pale ale, a lager, and an imperial stout (definitely the best), I now get a whole host of fantastic beers.

I now walk into the pub and see a barrel-aged scotch ale, a barley wine, a dunkel weisse, a kolsch, an imperial red, and maybe even a cascadian dark ale? The beers are bigger, better, and so much more well made. So, yes, the beers are a huge improvement over old standbys they used to have. Hell, even the food has gotten better there.

This past weekend, when I went in, I had the barrel-aged Scotch Ale.... on cask! And oh my, was it ever fantastic. The beer was strong as a good scotch ale should be. The barrel-aging wasn't overly done. It was in Woodford barrels but the bourbon just added a nice subtlety and the beer did the talking. And having it on cask just made it that much better. This is a beer perfectly made for cask.

My wife had the Cascadian Dark Ale that they had there. Yes, here in Rhode Island, we had someone brewing a CDA, and it was really good. Not my favorite style, but a great job with it for sure. We followed that by splitting a pint (mind you, all of these are full pints!) of the Barley wine. Caramely and sweet, it was a great beer. Maybe a pint is too much, but you certainly get your money's worth with it. My bill came to $17 for the three full pints. All beers were not low in alcohol either, so you would expect to pay more. I know their normal lower alcohol pints usually run in the $4 range. So, either way, you get a good deal in my opinion, especially here in New England.

So, yes the beer was excellent. The bartenders are actually good again too! But, while there, I realized what, even more than the beer, that I liked so much about the place. This place is Providence. It is where I live. It welcomes everyone in and keeps them all happy. It is a neighborhood type pub in the middle of a nice sized city. What more could you want?

I am glad to have rediscovered my love for my local brew pub. Do the same with your local brew pubs too. Keep them going, and they will pay you back in more ways than just beer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Top 10 Beers of 2010

Just like last year, I wanted to put together a list of my favorite beers from this past year. These are not in any particular order. They are just my favorite ten beers from the year 2010.

The Bruery Hottenroth - I had enjoyed a Berliner Weissbier style before with the Fritz Briem 1809. But, the Hottenroth just blew me away. It was an amazing beer that I first had on a warm April Saturday. The tart lemony flavor make this one of the most thirst quenching beers I have ever had. This beer was made for the summer. Low in abv (3%) but so much flavor. Just an incredible beer for sure.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler - This is probably the most welcomed beer to my taste this year. As a fall seasonal, I had been unenthused by most Octoberfest beers. Thankfully, Sierra Nevada, in deciding to brew a fall seasonal a bit different from these normal fest beers, did a great job with a relatively simple, excellent drinking beer. Lots of good roasted flavor here with a nice bit of hops, this beer was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you SN for brewing this beauty. I look forward to more of it next year.

Wachussett/Public House Larry DIPA - Normally I am not a fan of American style IPA's. I tend to enjoy DIPA's a bit more however as I feel they create a much better balance than the normal AIPA's. I am generally not a hop head and I don't care for piney flavor in my hops. This had very little pine in the flavor and just a great overall balance. Just a really nice DIPA. Nice and inexpensive too make this a good beer for me.

Berkshire Brewing Lost Sailor IPA (on Nitro!) - Have you ever had an IPA on nitro draught? I had not and this was one heck of an experience. I enjoy the regular Lost Sailor (an English style IPA, good malt, decent hops, great balance), but putting it on nitro just added an incredible creamy feel to the beer that just made it absolutely incredible. BBC does a number of beers for nitro tap and this is one that I see pretty often now here in New England. That is an excellent thing in my opinion and I look forward to having this as a go to beer for many years to come.

Berkshire Brewing Lost Sailor Aged in Cabernet Barrels - Now I know you may think that me putting the same beer on here is sort of silly. Fear not, brothers (and sisters), for this beer is NOTHING like the regular Lost Sailor. It is an IPA in name only. The aging in the cab barrels soured this very nicely and made just an amazing beer. It wasn't seen often (I had mine at Armsby Abbey in Worcester) but it was such a memorable beer for me. And because my wife was there, I had to fight to just get a sip of this beer. BBC should definitely do more beers like this and maybe even bottle a few of them.

Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze - I still can't believe I bought this bottle (let alone find it). Again, this happened at a night at Armsby Abbey. This was the last bottle they had and they charged a ransom for it. My wife needled me enough to get it however. She still owes me to tell you the truth. But, what a beer it was. A great sour beer with amazing flavor. We were with a number of friends and we all tried it. I think it was a big hit, even with them never having really tried sours before. Luckily we ganked the bottle and it sits on our bookshelf proudly. Most expensive bottle of beer I have ever bought (and hopefully stays that way for a long time to come).

Duchesse de Bourgogne - Ah the good Duchesse will now make her appearance. I love a good Flanders style red and this is one of the best of that style. A bit of a vinegary smell comes off of this beer, but the flavor is sweet with bits of sourness. Fruit flavor is front and center on this beer. Cherries mostly with some strawberry and raspberry as well. Just a great beer to have at any time.

Ithaca White Gold - Aside from the gusher that I had at Thanksgiving, this beer was amazing. I had it first time on tap at Track 84 during Providence Craft Beer Week in October. I was floored. I had never had an American Pale Wheat Ale before this. But, what a beer this was. There is just a slight tartness to the beer which goes nicely with the full carbonation (or sometimes TOO much carbonation, grumble grumble grumble). Ithaca does some good worth with their Excelsior series, and this was no exception.

Three Floyds Blackheart IPA - Another English style IPA that I found at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown in DC when I was back home to see the family for Thanksgiving. Somehow, they get Three Floyds there. I don't care how, but they do. And this beer shows me why I want to see 3F distribute more than they do. They are an outstanding brewery from the little I have had of theirs. I want more! This beer is just a super drinkable, nicely hopped, beautifully full flavored IPA that I could sit down to drink with almost any type of meal imaginable.

Founders Imperial Stout (2009 vintage) - This was the beer that I came away from the Open It! weekend with a new respect for. I have gotten to the point where I don't care for stouts too much. This beer though made me think I may just need to find the RIGHT stouts. What a beer. Lots of chocolate and coffee flavors as well as the normal roasted stout flavor. But, add in hints of dark fruit and a smoothness (from only a year of aging!) and this beer is maybe my favorite stout of all time. It is even the type that could be vying for the top spot on my all time beer list. It was that good.

So, there is my list. I would love to hear from others on beers that they just loved this past year. Is there something I need to try? Tell me about it please.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A bit late Thanksgiving beer review

Ok, so over two weeks have gone by since Thanksgiving, but I wasn't around the week after Thanksgiving (still in Maryland visiting the family) and this week I have been catching up here at work for my missed week. So, anyway, here is a quick rundown on the beers we had for Thanksgiving Day.

First, we opened up the Hottenroth from The Bruery. My family eats late (like 5pm or so) so we opened this around 12 or so to get things going. It was just my wife and I at that time. As always, a great beer. With the low abv, this was a nice way to start. Tart as always with lots of nice lemony flavor. Maybe not the best beer for the end of November, but I don't care, it was good.

People started showing up soon after that and we started getting down to some real business. We moved to the Ithaca White Gold. I was really excited for this one. I should have held that excitement. This beer was WAY over-carbonated and a mess in general. It nearly exploded and we lost almost half the bottle down the sink. Just a real mess. And then, to top it off, there was a ridiculous amount of sediment in the beer. Nasty looking dark sandy type of sediment. Yuck! I, being the stingy bastard I am, didn't want to waste it though (hey, I paid good money for that beer!). I had some. It tasted good, at least after I let the sediment settle out a bit. But, with the over-carbonation and all of the sediment, it took time. As I said, still decent flavors, slight tartness with good bready feel, but it was hard to get past the problems we had. Ugh.

After that, my wife opened up the Rodenbach Grand Cru. I was busy working on the white gold so had very little of the Rodenbach. This was a beer EVERYONE that tasted loved. My sister, my cousin, my mom even! So, I barely got any of that even after I had finished the white gold. Oh well, I know the beer and know it is good.

It was then time to sit down for dinner. We opened two bottle with dinner, Saison DuPont and Lost Abbey Judgement Day. Saison Dupont is always good of course, but I felt like it may have been slightly light struck. I got a bit of that green bottle smell. My wife insists that that was just the barnyardy goodness of the beer, but I am still not so sure. Well, this still went great with dinner for sure. The Judgement Day may not have been a good choice however. I think the beer was just too heavy for the normal Thanksgiving meal. It just disappointed a bit. Good, but not as good as I remembered it being on tap. No one really enjoyed the Judgement Day, but the Saison definitely received good reviews.

Finally, after dinner, we pulled out that '06 DFH Fort. This was good. Still a bit boozy though, even after four years! But, the booze was way smoother than it could have been. I enjoyed it a lot as an after dinner / desert type drink. Quality quality beer with lots of that great raspberry flavor. Very few tried this one as well unfortunately. A few, and they liked it, but they didn't want much. Guess they couldn't handle the 18% abv of the beer.

So, the day in beer had its ups and downs. I am still pissed off about the White Gold, but hey, it happens I supposed. I am more upset that Ithaca allowed that much carbonation into the beer. Definitely something they need to work on. But, I had a good day of good beer. A LOT of good beer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Open it, looking back

So, the Open it! weekend has come and gone (well past as today is Thursday now). I wanted to put a quick blurb about what I ended up drinking as there was some very nice beers opened.

First we started with Friday night's beer of choice. This was a recently purchased bottle of Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious. This was a very fruity tripel. An interesting take on the tripel for sure, but to be honest, not my favorite. Nowhere near as good as my favorites such as La Fin Du Monde and Tripel Karmeliet. But, a nice beer still. Following this, Just Beer's Gosnold's Hope (aka 1602 Porter) became the beer of choice. This was one of the more interesting beers I have ever had. It was slightly soured porter. Weird I know, but really really good. My wife drank most of this one as she is in heaven when it comes to sour beers. But, anyway, the Gosnold's Hope was a really nice roasty and sour porter. No way else I can really describe it. Just good though.

Second night started with me opening a 2009 Founder's Imperial Stout. Oh my. This is how stouts should be! I have gotten over imperial stouts of late, but this made me realize how much I can really really enjoy them. Fantastic beer with notes of chocolate and coffee like any good IS. But, there was an added undertone of dark fruit which I don't think I have ever had in a stout before. Absolutely heavenly.

So while I was enjoying my stout, my wife opened up a Pretty Things Confounded Mr. Sisyphus. This is a nicely aged belgian pale ale (aged in our beer "cellar"). Lots of flavor in this one like every Pretty Things beer (they are so good). A quality beer all in all. Don't remember too much about it, but it was good. Just not as good as the stout.

Overall, a very nice Open it! weekend. I look forward to next year's edition. Until then though, I will just need to open it myself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, A Day of Beer

So, this year, my wife and I decided that we were going to forego the normal wine drinking on Thanksgiving day at my parent's house. Since it has been nearly two years since we really started to get into beer, we felt it was time to see what we could do to try to open up my (conservative) family to something new. Gasp!

To start, I should say something about the Thanksgiving meal that we have. My mom makes the meal and it is pretty standard fare. Turkey, mashed potatoes, corn (out of a can!), stuffing, boiled carrots, green beans, cranberry sauce (again out of a can), and rolls (yup, you guessed it, out of a can). Needless to say, my mom is NOT adventurous or interesting in her choices for the Thanksgiving meal. Hell, the turkey isn't even brined. We tried to convince her to do that before and let me tell you we barely had gotten one sentence in before she shot it down. So, we have lots of uninteresting meal components with little flavor. Ok, that should make things easier as you can pretty much go with any beer. We do have appetizers but they aren't particularly interesting either. Basic cheddar cheese and crackers, peanuts, veggies and dip, and cocktail shrimp. I like the shrimp but they aren't interesting or anything. So flavors for food all around are blah.

Ok, onto what we are going to "match" with this completely and totally uninteresting food.

Beer #1 - The Bruery Hottenroth

We are starting off with one of our favorites, this very pleasant berliner weisse. This is a summer seasonal for The Bruery, but we managed to get the last few around last week for just this event (and because we love the beer so much). This is light and airy as well as being very low in abv to start the day. This should pair nicely with the light fair to start and, as I said, the low alcohol keeps you from getting too toasted too early.

Beer #2 - Ithaca White Gold

A different style to follow with this American pale wheat ale from Ithaca. This is one of my favorite beers I tried this year. I loved the nice tartness and good carbonation. It is a big step up in alcohol but well worth it for the flavor you get with this beer. It is definitely tart but has a nice body with the wheat used in it. Planning to also have this with the many different appetizers that will be out.

Beer #3 - Rodenbach Grand Cru

Oh, now we have a nice good one to go with dinner. Flanders Red Ales are some of my absolutely favorite types of beer. Yes, we have a lot of more sour/tart styles here, but we have a more wine drinking family so I think that this is the best way to go with them (without pulling out a hardcore gueuze or american wild ale). The fruit flavors with the slight sourness should go nicely with the dinner meal.

Beer #4 - Saison Dupont

For this beer, we are planning on going with a classic. Saison Dupont is just a fantastic beer all around and goes with so many different foods. However, I feel it was made for roasted fowl, such as our turkey. The rustic flavors will go well with the meal. Plus, we sort of had some tasting of this last Thanksgiving on a limited basis with my family and this beer went over well. If it works once, try it again.

Beer #5 - Lost Abbey Judgement Day

Now we are looking to push them a bit with this big strong 10.5%abv quad from Lost Abbey. The heavy sweetness and dark fruit flavors should do well towards the end of the meal. People so often think dark beer means Guiness and we are looking to break that thought with this beer.

Beer #6 - 2006 vintage Dogfish Head Fort

Possibly the piece de resistance right here. We came across this randomly at one of our local craft beer stores in Providence a couple of weeks ago and snatched it up. We think it was leftover from the BeervanaFest back in October that didn't get used. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Fort is a nice beer, but very harsh with that 18%abv. The aging on this should smooth it out considerably and make it extremely drinkable. I think that this may end up replacing the after dinner cordials that the family usually drinks. I am very excited to open this one.

So, there you have it. Not sure if we are going to get to all of these beers, but that is our goal. So, hope you are having some nice beers with your Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Open it

Passing this along via the idea of Mark Dredge from Pencil and Spoon (and reinforced by Jay from A Beer in Hand).

December 3rd through 5th, Open it! Yes, pull out that beer you have been saving and open it up and drink it on the weekend between the 3rd and 5th of December. Have a bottle of wine instead? Open it! Just do it, talk about it, enjoy it, and drink it. If you want to write about it, do that too! Just make sure you go and open it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recent MLB Moves

Just wanted to put some quick thoughts out there on the recent flury of early off-season baseball moves.

Let's start with the move that sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres for Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. I love this deal for the Padres. Yeah, they had plenty of OF's already, but Maybin could be exactly what they really need out there. He is a speedy, rangy CF'r that they need in that outfield. He appears to be competent in the outfield (although tough to be sure without a larger sample size). If he can manage to get that K% down a bit, his speed will shine through and you could be looking at a really special player. Webb is a nice looking player as a reliever. Mujica is ok, but is prone to the long ball (not to mention he is arb eligible this year). So, I think the Marlins sold low on Maybin. They didn't get completely fleeced or anything but I like the Pads in this move.

Next one I wanted to hit on was the Uggla to the Braves for Infante and Mike Dunn. Either the Marlins know something we don't about Uggla, or they made another losing move here. Uggla is good, not great, but a nice bat for the Braves for sure. They can move him around there and start the season at 3B with Prado at 2B. When Chipper is ready to come back, they could even move him over to 1B (where they always seem to need help). Infante was ok, but he isn't anything really special. Dunn looks like a solid reliever. But, infielders that can hit 30 HRs don't just grow on trees anymore. Solid move for Braves.

Ok, now on to the John Buck to the Marlins for 3 years and 18 million. Seriously? They may not have gotten killed on the first two deals, but is Buck really worth this? Seems like a big time overpay in my book. Maybe there was that much interest in Buck, but could it really have been that much? I just don't get it. And I keep reading that he is a great handler of pitching staffs. Well, if that is the case, sign Brad Ausmus for a league minimum and go with that. Buck has a better stick, but he will not have an OBP over .300 next year, count on it. That will be ugly.

Final move I wanted to comment on is the one that just happened a couple of hours ago. The Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit to a 3 yr/$16.5mil deal. Ok, are they smoking something? He is a freaking middle reliever! Small sample sizes here people. No way is he good as his numbers showed this year. Yes, I think he IS good though. Just not 3/16.5 good. NO middle reliever (and very few relievers in general) is really worth that kind of money. A gross overpay by the Tigers and one they will grow to regret. He could still be very solid and it would be an overpay.

So, is this how the rest of the off-season will work out? Jeez, it is ugly so far. Interesting for sure, but ugly. We will have to see.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Seasonals or Fail Seasonals

I am going to write on a point I have been thinking about a lot over the past month or so. It may be something that a lot of other people out there disagree with. Maybe there are more of you out there thinking like me. Whatever, it does not matter in the grand scheme of things.

So, here is my thesis statement: Octoberfest beers are overrated!

It seems like every podunk brewery out there puts out an octoberfest beer and more often than not, they are complete crap. Ok ok, maybe not crap, but they are mediocre at best. I am tired of the same malty, unimaginitive amber marzen style lager that is just like anyone of a hundred other styles out there. I know the marzen style is a style that is easy to drink and in general is not going to be bad. But, man, it certainly doesn't stand out.

Don't get me wrong, there are some good ones out there that I come across, but for the most part I find that if you have had one, you have had them all. I want tasty, unique, interesting beers and I am finding that so many of these marzens are just.... well.... boring! Where is the craft in this craft beer? Maybe these are difficult style to create. I don't know. I am not a home-brewer and can't speak to that. It is just the lack of difference that leaves me wanting something different.

I think that is one reason I was so happy when I saw that Sierra Nevada put out a different type of seasonal this year. They made a nice, flavorful "Autumn Brown Ale" with their Tumbler. I loved it. I drank a lot of it. And I drank that because I just was not interested in having any of the marzens. I don't think it was exceptional or great, but it was solid and different (for a seasonal). It made me happy.

I am hoping that more brewers will start becoming more creative with their seasonals. Why can't a fall seasonal be as wide-ranging as a summer seasonal. There you get lagers, pale ales, hefeweizens (another rant for another time), or even IPA's. Why are so many seasonals in the fall Octoberfests? The germans are great, don't get me wrong, but think outside the box people. The American craft beer movement is known for its innovative and creative takes on beers. This is the one area that I haven't seen that. I want it. I hope that someone maybe someday reads this and does something to shake things up. As innovators, I expect nothing less from you guys. Go for it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Update on Food/Beer

Just have a quick update on food/beer since I posted about it yesterday. Opened up a Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous last night. Generally not a fan of Stone beers, but had this around for a while and decided to go for it. Again, for the third night in a row, had something spicy. This time Jambalaya. Figured that Stone... hops... spicy... that will work!

Yeah.... it didn't. The Sublimely Self Righteous has decent hops, don't get me wrong (90 IBUs), but the alcohol clocked in at 8.7%, which I think is where issues occurred. Just didn't work too well together. The beer itself packed a wallop alright, which I didn't expect because, like I said, it was sitting around a while. The hops probably mellowed a bit from that, but were still pretty strong. Thankfully, for me, they were not the normal piney hop profile that stone uses. Now, that is odd, because looking at BA reviews, piney is a definite part of the profile. I am wondering if that again is from the aging I had on the beer (I think I ended up picking this up over a year ago, maybe longer?).

But, getting back to the pairing, the beer was definitely in your face with the alcohol and I think that that just didn't work too well. Maybe going to have to try something on the opposite end of bitter sometime. Maybe a nice Hefe with spicy food next time around (I could use a break tonight from the spices).

Anyway, I will be hopefully updating this more and more as I find good and bad combinations out there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beer and food, who'd of thunk it!

So, I recently read the book "He said beer, she said wine" by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old. Those of you who don't know Sam, he is the owner and founder of Dogfish Head craft beers. He has long been a proponent of beer and food pairing (fyi Marnie is a wine sommelier and wine/food pairing expert). I think he, along with Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn, have done wonders for beer and food pairing.

Having said that, I had never really done too much thinking about what food paired up well with beers. I just drank what I liked regardless of what I was eating. In general, I still think that this is NOT a bad policy.

However, the other night really changed things for me. I was having some leftovers for dinner. In this case I was having dirty rice, spicy and flavorful. At the time I was drinking a Magic Hat HI.P.A. from their fall mix back. Basically I was just drinking it to get it finished as I am not a fan of west-coast styled IPA's. I don't generally like high hops and especially don't care for piney hops. So, without trying, I paired this IPA with a nice spicy dish.

Well, I'll be damned! That worked out really well. The hops did a great job of melding the flavors together and cleansing the pallet. The spices did a great job in toning down the hops. I was really digging this beer at the time. So, the next night, I again was having spicier fare (this time a southwest corn chowder my wife made... oh so good!). I went with the HI.P.A. again and was again rewarded. It matched so well.

So, now I have decided that it is time to really work to find out what I can do with pairing my beer and food. It is a journey I am really excited to try and look forward to documenting some of the things I find as I go right here.

PS - The Magic Hat HI.P.A. is a decent, not great west coast style IPA. I think it is pretty good for the style, but the style isn't my favorite. However, Magic Hat, never really the strongest craft brewery out there, does have a decent drinking beer for those that like nice hops. I recommend at least trying it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ageless Wonder

I was reading a blog post today by Rob Neyer from ESPN about Joba Chamberlain and he mentioned in passing Mariano Rivera. So, as I am wont to do, went and looked at his player card for the year. Another good year from Mo, no surprise. Then I thought to myself, let me look again at his career. I went to his Baseball Reference page.

I must say, it never ceases to amaze me exactly how GOOD Rivera has been during his career. Every single time I look over his career, I stop and just stare at the numbers and my mouth falls open a little bit. This guy is a man among boys, even at the age of 40. It just is unreal. He has logged over 1100 innings in his career with an ERA of 2.21! Think about that. That is like a starter going five good years of 220IP per year with that average ERA. For perspective, Pedro Martinez, during his stretch from 1997 through 2003 (cherry picking a bit, but that was really his peak) averaged a 2.20 ERA. That is often times considered about the best stretch for a starter of all time. Pedro's ERA+ is about a 220 or so, so about 120% better than league average (that is just a quick average in my head fyi from looking at the numbers). Rivera, has a career ERA+ of 205 (105% better than league average). So, I had Pedro's peak part of his career (1408 IP) and Rivera's FULL career (1100+ IP) and they are close, ridiculously close if you really stop and think about it. One guy, from the age of 25 through the age of 40, has had comparable ERA+ for possibly the greatest stretch of a pitcher OF ALL TIME! Stop and think about that for a second. Mo has been incredible. He still is incredible. There is absolutely no sign that he will STOP being incredible. Lot's of cherry picking and stuff here as I said, but really, all you need to do is just go to that link I furnished above and just look at his numbers. Just look. That is all. This guy is ridiculous.

I am suitably impressed. And I don't need to remind you all that I am a Red Sox fan. Eat your heart out Pap, you ain't EVER going to be Mo.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Odds and Ends

Ok, just sort of some random pieces Gammons style if you will.
- MLB All-Star game is tonight. I plan on watching it, but do I really care about it? No. Not at all. There is just really nothing else on to watch.
- Cisco Brewing Company, you make some nice beers, and you Cherry Woods was a very nice sour beer, but selling it for 23.99/750ml is a bit on the high side, don't you think? I can get a 16oz at Rose Alley in New Bedford for $8 or so.
- Speaking of Rose Alley, what a GREAT place to get some great beers at good prices. The upstairs has a lot of solid micros which are a bit more common, but the downstairs has your Belgians and super specialty beers. I highly recommend going. Food is pretty decent as well with good prices.
- East Ave Cafe in Pawtucket now has 81 lines for beers. That means you may be able to get 30 good beers there, however, most will be at a high price. The place isn't cheap.
- BBC continues to impress me each and every time I have one of their beers. Had a Steel Rail Pale Ale last night and loved it. The Lost Sailer IPA is good and on nitro is heavenly. Never had an IPA on nitro and this was just a great one in that regard.
- Strasburg has been pretty nice so far hasn't he? Would have been messed up if he had made the all-star team though.
- Sour beers tend to be very nice to drink when it is hot outside. I have had a bunch lately and have started to enjoy them more and more, especially Flanders Red styles.
- Speaking of Flanders Red, had a VERY nice Jolly Pumpkin La Roja. It is classified on BA as an American Wild Ale, but it really seems like a Flanders Red. Another good beer from Jolly Pumpkin.
- My fantasy teams are hurting me. It is tough when I have to count on Jon Garland for production (even if he is having a very good year which I had thought he would).
- Just picked up, or should I say had handed down, an iphone. It is an older one, 2nd gen I think, but it is nice to actually be in the world of internet on the go if I need it.
- Is it bad that when I picked up some bread last week and saw that it was dark wheat, that I immediately thought "ooo, a dunkel weiss!"?
- Red Sox need a relief pitcher in a bad way. I think Scott Downs from the Blue Jays is the perfect guy. Ok, Theo, go and get him!

That is all for now. I won't promise to update this blog more often. That is an exercise in futility, but I am hopeful.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza

Been meaning to put this review up for a couple of weeks, but haven't really had the chance to sit down and write it up. Had the notes all put together, but now here we go.

A couple of months back, my friend from Cleveland sent me a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza. This was recently voted as the #1 Belgian Strong Blonde Ale on the NY Times tasting. Surprised me when I heard that but made me want to try it for sure. So anyway, Dave (my friend) sent me the bottle and it took me a while to sit around and really get the time to do a nice tasting with this beer. This is actually a Biere de Garde from what I can see. ABV is 8%. IBU's.... no clue. The bottle was a 750ml bottle, batch 467 on the bottle.

The beer poured a cloudy golden color into my Duvel tulip glass. You cannot see through it at all. Lots of fluffy white head that fades away in about five minutes or so. It leaves lots of spidery lacing on the glass when the head fades however.

First sniff is spicy and citrusy. Seems to have a lot of peppery smells coming off of the beer. First taste and my initial thought was bitterness with a LOT of green apple flavor. It took me a while to realize as I was drinking the beer that this was not in fact bitterness, but was instead the sour apple flavor which sort of hit me in a way that made me think bitter. Definitely not the case though. The sour apple flavor though is very pronounced. The carbonation is nice there like a good Belgian should have. The carbonation has a nice tingle on my lips. The body ends up being pretty decent too. The beer itself is rather light but the carbonation adds enough to make it a nice body.

The alcohol, even at 8%, is not super pronounced but it definitely there making this a little less drinkable (at least as far as that is concerned). There is a bit of hops bitterness that comes out more as it warms up as well. Also as it warms up there is a definite lemony flavor that comes out.

Overall, I would say that this beer is very good, but not as good as I would have expected. Being voted a #1 Belgian style beer makes me think it would be amazing. But, I don't think it quite hit that mark. The apple flavor in this beer just sort of overwhelmed anything else that was there. If you like apple, this is the beer for you. If not, you may want to steer clear. Jolly Pumpkin does make excellent beers and this is a good one. I would give this a three out of five stars on my tough grading system. I would definitely have it again, but I wouldn't have it too too often.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kid Wonder?

Ok, so it has been a while since I have talked about my beloved game of baseball (an April like the Sox had takes a while to get over, not to mention my fantasy teams tanking so far). Well, it is time to go back to it and what better topic of discussion than the one that is on nearly everyone's tongue, Stephen Strasburg. It was announced the other day (hat tip to MLBTradeRumors) that Strasburg will be debuting in the majors on June 8th against the Pirates. My guess is, this will be the highest rated Nationals/Pirates game of all time. Just a guess, but one I feel pretty confident on betting the house on. Someone has to pick this game up right? MLB Network at the very least. ESPN quite likely. Fox? Probably not which is just as good since I have had enough of Buck and McCarver until I am forced to listen to them during the next Saturday Yankees/Red Sox game.

Anyway, Strasburg will be up, he will be pitching, the flashbulbs will be popping. And you know what? I don't think Stevie is going to disappoint. Sure, he won't go more than five innings (and at that point, you will see a Grand Canyon like dip in the numbers) but it will be an amazing five innings. I do not expect him to get shelled as we are talking about the Pirates here, McCutcheon notwithstanding. But my oh my, this kid has dominated the minors so thoroughly that there is no reason he can't dominate the next rank of the minors.... I mean the Pirates. And he will truly be special to watch. He won't post eye-popping numbers all in all this season (aside from K/9 which will be pretty sick), but he will be good and he will be a must see. I am going to be watching it. I am sure lots of people will be. Pay attention everyone. This is going to be special.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What a list

Ok, just a quick note here. Came across this list of the "best" beers for calories and crap. I am a fan of healthy foods and things. In fact, my wife and I have been working hard at that, eating better, going to the gym a lot. We are doing really well with it as well. But, let me ask you this: If you can have only a couple of beers, why the hell do you want to have MGD 64's? Stupid articles like this only showcase one thing, calories. They take ZERO account of taste or flavor. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine is #40 on this stupid list. Really? Seriously? Well, no shit! It's a freaking barleywine. It isn't SUPPOSED to be good for you. And if anyone can drink more than one of those at a time, I will be impressed (or more likely not).

Anyway, my rant is complete. I hate lists like this when it comes to beer products. We KNOW alcoholic drinks aren't good for us. That is the point to some degree. They are things we enjoy once in a while, like chocolate cake.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trinity White Electric American Imperial Stout

So, I was at The Avery, a GREAT bar here in Providence Thursday night and JR, the owner of the bar, had a new beer in from Trinity Brewhouse. Trinity is a decent brewpub here in PVD that can be good at times (but also misses the mark once in a while). It has definitely improved recently from what I have seen.

Anyway, so JR had just received this new beer from them. In fact, he at first thought it was a porter. He had just tapped it and didn't know anything about the beer. He tasted it though and immediately got on his phone to figure out what the deal on the beer was. We found it was actually an American Imperial Stout. 9& alcohol with 100 IBUs. It was made with coffee from White Electric coffee here in PVD. So, local ingredients all around and that makes me happy.

So, on to the review. First thing I noticed with the pour is that there was no head at all. I mean none. It was really dark and opaque. Hard to say if you could see through it at all because The Avery is really dark inside anyway. But, the beer just looked super thick and inky. Almost looked like syrup.

Smell that was coming off this was a TON of coffee. I mean, it was an amazingly strong and robust coffee scent. One of the strongest smells of the beans I have ever smelled on a beer.

The taste however was much lower on the coffee flavor, which was a good thing I think. That much flavor in the taste as well as the smell may have been a bit too much. Lots of good malt flavors on it as well. The hops were not super pronounced either. If this was 100 IBU's I will eat my shoe. I am doubting that all in all. The alcohol was definitely present like a good imperial stout. Had a very nice bite, but still maintained a fantastic smoothness and ease of drinking. In fact, it was dangerously drinkable. It was so smooth and continues to smooth out even more as it warms up.

Just a really really solid beer. Trinity has a hit on this one for sure. It was really strong, but easy to drink. This is a must for any person who likes coffee stouts (if you are in the area of course). I will give it four out of five stars. Good job to Trinity on this.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

PBS Brings the LoLs

I love this comic. Just too funny.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fantasy Team, Take 1

Ok, so I have three fantasy baseball teams this year. Two of them are multi-year keeper leagues and the third may end up being that way (hoping so). Anyway, so I wanted to put my fantasy drafted teams up here to talk about. Let's start with the ADA one (American Drinkers Association). This was a forum draft in the yahoo group that we have. Give's more time to think than a live draft and works out well, but we have to start REAL early to get it done. Let's start with my keepers from last year (complicated system, not going to get into it exactly):

1. 1B - Miguel Cabrera
2. C - Chris Iannetta
3. LF/CF - Jayson Werth
4. SP - Zack Greinke
5. SP - John Lackey
6. RF - Justin Upton
7. 2B/3B - Ian Stewart
8. SP/RP - Phil Hughes

Oh yeah, positions we have are C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, Util, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, P, P, Bench x 10, DL x 2.

So, from my keepers, I get solid production at first in Cabrera. My early round picks last year from whence I get to pick this group were not too great, thus Cabrera was the best of what was there. Iannetta is someone I really like for the long term. Werth just adds a lot of all-around value. Greinke was a steal for me last year and a must keep. Lackey is solid and if his spring is any indication, set for a big a year. Upton was the steal of all steals in round 19 last year. Stewart I think could also have a big year with nice position flexibility. Hughes has potential.

Anyway, on to the rest of my picks from here on out:

9. SS Jimmy Rollins - I jumped at the chance to pick up the top SS available. Not sure how he wasn't kept to be honest.
10. LF Matt Holliday - A great pickup here as well in my opinion.
11. 2B Brandon Phillips - May end up being another great pick. I like his game all around too.
12. 1B Lance Berkman - I wanted another slugger to fill out my UTIL spots and Berkman fell a bit. But, with his current injury, this may not be the best pick.
13. RP Huston Street - I HATE picking closers this early, but there was a run and I wanted someone at least. His hurting in spring is hurting me now.
14. CF Torii Hunter - Fell a bit and I can never understand why. This guy is consistent every year. I love this pick.
15. C Mike Napoli - If this guy is ever the true full time catcher, he will be a star.
16. 3B Adrian Beltre - God, I hope this wasn't hometown bias on this pick.
17. RP Leo Nunez - Good value here. Would have preferred to start my closer picking here.
18. SP Mark Buehrle - Maybe a bit of a reach. Probably could have waited a couple of rounds for him.
19. RF Ryan Ludwick - Potential for a strong rebound. Good chance in the 19th round.
20. SS Steven Drew - Good backup with potential upside as well.
21. SP Johnny Cueto - This guy is just solid. Hoping he really breaks out this year.
22. RP JP Howell - This pick looked much better three weeks ago.
23. SP Colby Lewis - Gambling on Colby, but at this point, worth the shot.
24. RP Latroy Hawkins - Holds ARE a category in my league.
25. LF/1B Kyle Blanks - More of a long-term project but someone I really like.
26. SP Jon Garland - Pitching in San Diego? Heck yeah, I'll take me some Garland.
27. SP Bronson Arroyo - Nice pick up this late for some good upside especially with his 2nd half last year.
28. SP Chris Tillman - He'll be up before too long.
29. LF Michael Taylor - Same that can be said for Tillman.
30. SP Oliver Perez - I still remember how good he was in Pittsburgh. I mean, seriously, this was the 30th round.

Ok, so there we have it. I am pretty solid with hitting and a little behind on pitching, but I think I can make it work. I finished 2nd in the league last year, so I am back to win it this year. I have multiple players positioned all over the place. Nice depth all in all. If the pitching can hold out, this will be a very strong team I think and I will again be near the top. Lots of upside on this team as well I think.

Next time I will post my other major team that was done in a live draft.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Joe Mauer Deal

So, the Twins finally got done the Joe Mauer deal. It is going for 8 years and 184 million. I think that that is more than reasonable for him actually. They DID spend a ton of money on him, but he is the hometown kid and the PR backlash would have been HUGE if they had let him go (to say nothing if they had let him go to Boston or New York). This was a great move by them all in all.

So, the question remains though, how will he last through this contract? How long will he catch? Will he make up the value on it? Again, pointing alone to the PR nightmare they would have had if he had left, it almost seems like they have already made their money back. But, looking at it in baseball terms, the best I can come up with is... eh.... maybe? I hope so for their sake. His closest comparables through age 26 are Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Dickey was excellent through his age 32 season. Given today's advanced medical abilities and the DH (ie less stress on the body), I think we could say he would have added on a couple years to that age 32. That bodes well all in all for Mauer. Next comp is Yogi. Yogi was solid through his age 36 season, but he wasn't all that great. Again, it could be worse that Berra. Two hall of famers to start off with. Next comparable? Uh-oh, Jason Kendall. Kendall basically tanked after his age 26 season and has been mediocre to poor since then. Bad news there. Next up is Mickey Cochrane. Another HOF'r and nice career. Like Dickey, he went through age 32.

So, in my completely unscientific look at this through statistical comparison done by someone else.... yeah, it doesn't look too bad. Morneau is signed through 2013 to play first, so Mauer has to stay behind the plate until the end of his age 30 season at least. That doesn't look like it should be too much of an issue. He could move to 1B at that time. And before then, he can DH some as well as catch. I think that he will age well with this contract, injuries notwithstanding. Of course, you can't predict those. But, as I said, I think the Twins have already won on this deal.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Going with a Founders Backwoods Bastard tonight. I had a Goose Island Sophie earlier tonight and next time I have one, I may review that one. But, for tonight, the Backwoods Bastard it is!

So, this pours with very little head. Even with a heavy pour, I had one finger of head that faded within a couple of minutes or so. As it pours it just LOOKS heavy. It pours a dark amber, almost brown. Mahogany is probably a better description for it.

Smell is almost entirely bourbon and vanilla. Fantastic smell coming off of this one. Just great. I love bourbon so this just is great for me. The base of the beer is a 10% ABV scotch ale. Obviously aging it in bourbon barrels imparts the strong flavors. Did I mention that it smells awesome?

Lacing left is pretty strong. I usually don't see that on a scotch ale. Flavor is very mellow all in all, very easy to drink. Dangerously easy to drink considering the strength of it as well. There actually is a bit of bitterness which surprised me as I drank it. That actually works nicely with it as it just adds a slightly different element to the beer. Alcohol is very well hidden on that, but you can tell it is there in the background. That again works well. That seems to be the theme with this one. Lots of elements working together in harmony, with none being too powerful. The driving force on this beer is still the bourbon though. As that is what I believe the brewers were aiming for, then I salute them.

As it warms up, sweetness comes out more and more. I think that if it gets too warm, that sweetness may end up being a problem, but for now, it is doing nicely. It makes this beer one that probably shouldn't be kept too long. With the abv that is dangerous, but oh so worth it in my opinion.

I give this beer a five out of five stars. I absolutely love it. It is one of my favorites.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flying Dog Raging Bitch

Ok, so I had a Flying Dog Raging Bitch tonight. This is a Belgian Style IPA with an 8.3% ABV. I opened this tonight and poured it into a pint glass. There were about 2 fingers of head on the beer. The head stayed a while and when it faded it left some nice lacing.

Sidebar -> I don't know why the lacing needs to stay or not on beer. Doesn't seem to me like it has any practical purpose. Whatever. Back to the review.

First hit on this was hops (which is to be expected on an IPA). My problem is that this is supposed to be a Belgian style IPA. I get nothing belgian out of this beer. It is just a basic American style IPA. And to me, it doesn't balance well. Maybe THAT is the Belgian yeast. Not sure. All I know is that I am not all that happy with this beer. The hop presence is very apparent and I am not a big hop head at all, so that may be some of my underlying prejudice. Oh, who am I kidding. Yes, that is a big part of this. But, even beyond that, it just isn't doing much for me. Beer Advocate gives this an A- for some reason. I couldn't disagree more. Oh well. Flying Dog missed on this one I think.

I will give this a 2 out 5 on my grading list.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Analyzing the Red Sox, 2010 Preview, Part IV

Ok, so we have looked at all the aspects of the Red Sox team. So, let's put it all toghether. First off, the defense will be phenomenal in my opinion. It is saying something with Scutaro may be your worst defensive player (catcher aside). Next, starting pitching is as deep as anyones with quality all through it. That will be really really good. Bullpen is probably a slight step down from last season, but still pretty good. And if Papelbon is back to normal, the bullpen has the chance to be even better. Offense, well, it could be about what it was last year. Maybe a BIT worse. A full year of V-Mart will help a ton though. No Bay will hurt a lot in the same way however.

So, what will come of it? Will the Sox catch the Yanks? I doubt it. That team has too much firepower. The only way that could happen is if the Yanks get old all around the diamond quickly. Now, that isn't really a jest either as they have some definite age on that team. What will happen to them if Mo shits the bed and father time finally catches up to them? Bad news then. What if Pettite gets hit at the same time. What if *gasp* Jeter suddenly shows his age. It isn't likely, but it is possible with that team. I don't think it will happen though. So, I think the Sox finish behind the Yanks. Now, what about the Rays? Hmmm.... good question. They should give the Sox a good battle. I think the Sox match up better than they have in the past with them though, head to head. Fewer baserunners means fewer chances to steal. That is what killed the Red Sox the past two seasons. I think now, the Sox have the upper hand on the Rays. This will most likely lead to a wild card birth. I don't see anyone in the AL that can challenge the AL East in that regard. So, figure on the Wild Card and possibly another date with the Yanks in the ALCS. Another classic battle. And I think that the Sox can beat them. I imagine it will be a loss to them however. No matter what, it should be a great season to watch.

I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Analyzing the Red Sox, 2010 Preview, Part III

Ok, here is Part III of my Red Sox 2010 Preview, position by position. Today, we are going to look at the pitching staff. Time to get this going.

SP1 - Jon Lester

So, yes, I put Lester at the #1 starter spot. Not Beckett. Lester. Lester, unbeknownst to the general public of Red Sox nation, made HUGE strides last season. His ERA though wasn't nearly as pretty as the season before so no one really noticed it (or at least didn't notice it as much). A big fear going into last season that Lester was going to experience the Verducci affect. What that means is that a pitcher who pitches many more innings than he had previously is ripe for an injury the next season. Lester overcame that and actually was much better. The main reason was strikeouts. Lester improved his K/9 from 6.50 to 9.96!!! That is a HUGE jump. Thus, his strikeouts went from 152 to 225! His walk rate stayed the same in this as well. And he still pitched over 200 innings. With all of these increases, the reason his ERA didn't get much better was that his BABIP jumped up nearly 25 points, especially early in the year. With the improved defense of the Red Sox, I expect that BABIP to drop back down to about the .300 level if not even lower. If that does happen, we could see a Cy Young season out of Lester. Will he keep his K rate at 9.96? I am not sure. That was a really big jump. But, even if it drops a bit to say 8.5 or so, that is still fantastic. He doesn't give up many homeruns, induces groundballs, and gets strikeouts. That is a recipe for awesome! Projections don't like him as much as I do though. They are projecting Lester at around a 3.65 ERA with 175 K's in 190 IP or so. I think he will be over the 200 IP mark again and his K's should approach that as well. I also believe his ERA will end up in the low 3.00's, maybe even lower. He will really benefit from this fantastic defense behind him. He truly will be the ace of the staff.

SP2 - Josh Beckett

Beckett had a strong season last year aside from about a three to four week stretch in August. I expect the same from him this year in his walk season. Maybe the Sox will re-sign him before the season starts. Seems like there has been a push from both sides to do that lately. It would be best if that happened, for both teams. Beckett is made for Boston and he thrives in this kind of place. His durability issues that he had with the Marlins are, for the most part, in the past now. He is a horse. Projections are showing him in the 3.75 area for ERA. That is reasonable, but again, like with Lester, I think he can do better. His BABIP was about where it should be last year at .302. I think he can hold or better that with the defense behind him. If Beckett follows the pattern he has mostly built in Boston of having a high percentage of ground balls, then this is likely to happen. His problem last year was his HR/FB%, which jumped up to 12.8%, second highest of his career (behind only the awful 2006 season). If that drops to his career average around 10%, then Beckett could be in for a very nice year indeed. Possibly low 3.00's ERA for him as well, lots of K's, lots of IP's. Ok, maybe looking at this, there is an argument to make Lester the SP1. That is fine. I will stick with what I have though.

SP3 - John Lackey

The parade of J's continues. Lackey figures to be a great #3 pitcher for this team. While he may not be a true ace, he is definitely a great pitcher. The projections are showing him to be in the upper 3.00's for ERA. I think that that is about where he will finish to be honest. He has had solid BABIPs the past few seasons, so there isn't too much luck involved there. Basically, Lackey will be a super solid starter for this team. The only question is his health. He has been injured parts of the last two seasons. However, before that, he had been a true workhorse. He doesn't NEED to be that in Boston, but it would be great if he was. His K rate has been a bit lower the past few seasons, settling into the low 7's range. That will work. There really isn't anything flashy about Lackey. He is what he is and what he is a very good pitcher. There really isn't much more I can say about him.

SP4 - Daisuke Matsuzaka

Now begins the frustration. Daisuke is penciled into the rotation in the #4 spot in the order. However, it is looking more and more likely that he will start the year on the DL. That is sounding more and more like 2009 and that is not what is wanted by anyone. 2009 was a lost season for Daisuke. He needs to get healthy and get out on the mound. When he gets there, who knows what will happen though. He nibbles to no end. He does not give in and challenge hitters. With the defense behind him, that will be a mistake. But, in all honesty, I don't believe he will change. When he is on the mound, it will be another "hurts to watch" game. I will probably take those games to catch up on beer news or something. It just pains me to watch his games. Strangely enough though, Daisuke, in addition to walking guys last season, gave up a ton of HR's and base hits. The basehits should drop significantly this season. The HR's, well, he needs to make sure that that goes down. Daisuke is a flyball pitcher and if he gives up homeruns at 12% of flyballs, that is bad news indeed. He has to get the ball on the ground more. Again, I don't expect that to really happen. It is going to be another painful year watching him (if he ever gets in the game). But, in the end, he will show decent numbers. I expect him to finish in the low 4.00's in ERA with double digit wins and a collective reaching for the rolaids by Red Sox Nation.

SP5 - Clay Buchholz

I have Clay here instead of Wakefield as I believe in the end, Clay will be in the rotation all season somehow. He just has too much talent not to be. Clay has turned into a ground ball machine on the mound and I think that that is the best thing he could ever have done. Last season, he had a 53.8 GB%. That is ridiculous and exactly the sort of thing that more pitchers need to do. He K rate of 6.65, while not great, is good enough with that amount of groundballs. Clay has the potential on this team to be simply fantastic. Projections are all over the board for him. The average out at about 4.20 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. I think he can do better than that for sure. If he stays healthy, I could see IP in the range of 180 or so. That wouldn't be bad as he pitched over 190 between minors and majors last season. I also feel like he can have an ERA under 4.00 with all those ground balls. Maybe wishful thinking, but if he does that, everyone in New England will be jumping for joy.


Right now, here are the people projected in there: Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, Daniel Bard, and Manny Delcarmen. There is also Boof Bonser, Michael Bowden, and Tim Wakefield to fit in there in the last spot. I imagine Bowden goes down to AAA to start the season and gets his head back on straight again. Bonser starts as the long man in the pen. Wakefield I imagine goes to the rotation for Daisuke, at least for the beginning. Maybe Wake ends up starting most of the year and gives the team a real good problem to have. The rest of the pen is alright, but not as good as last year. Oki and Bard are very solid set up men for Paps (who I expect to be very good this year). RaRamo seems to be hit or miss most of the time, but he should end up being solid. MDC.... jeez, I don't know. He also needs to get his head on straight. If not, then it may be time to move him to another team. Overall, the pen is good, but not great. Losing Wagner and Saito hurts. It really does. But, the emergence of Bard (and hopefully the continued advancement) has really solidified things there. Oki will do his thing and hopefully not drop off too much. I don't expect him to be as good as he has been, and should continue his gradual drop off. But, that drop off isn't enough that he won't be solid still. And if something happens, the Sox will find someone to plug in there, either through the minors or trade.

That ends part III of the Red Sox Preview. I will wrap it all up in Part IV next time out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Analyzing the Red Sox, 2010 Preview, Part II

Ok, here is Part II of my Red Sox 2010 Preview, position by position. Today, we are going to look at the outfield, DH, and bench. So, let's get it going.

LF - Jacoby Ellsbury

So, Ellsbury moved from center to right this year to supposedly give him less wear and tear on his body. Yeah, probably this is more likely in that Ellsbury just had a very poor year defensively in center last year. Now, this is generally assumed to be correct. UZR shows him as being poor in center, but excellent in left (albeit in a very small sample size). I am of the belief that instincts can come to you better the more you play if you work at it. So, I think Ells would have been much better this year defensively. However, Cameron IS a great defensive center fielder already. Can't really complain about that in truth. But make no mistake, this was done more for defensive purposes than anything else. Anyways, his defense should definitely be a nice step up from Jason Bay, who really has no defensive instincts whatsoever. So, that won't be an issue. Offensively, projections have him hitting about where he was last year, maybe a shade higher. It comes down to about a .360/.415/.775 line or so. I like the uptick on his OBP and tend to agree with that. I also think he may just have a slight bump in his SLG from that .415 number. Just natural increase as he gets older. BABIP looks fine for him. He generally has a high BABIP which makes sense with his speed. I don't see that changing too much. So, maybe more of a .360/.425/.785 line is where I am pegging him. That would be an extremely good lead off hitter when you add in his speed. It should be a solid year for him. And maybe, just maybe, he really breaks out and goes nuts. I can see that happening (but am not predicting it as I don't like to do that).

CF - Mike Cameron

Lots of variation among the projections Mike Cameron. Bill James and Marcel have him in the .760 OPS area, while CHONE thinks he is going to age and age hard. I tend to believe that he will end up more lilke the former projections. I see a .325/.430/.755 line from Cameron this year. Lots of K's, a few walks, some homeruns. But, the guy IS 37 years old. You can't ignore that. Oh while we are talking about projections, the "Fans" projection on fangraphs has him showing at .336/.461/.797. That is funny. I don't see that happening. I would LOVE for it to happen, but I find it unlikely. Anyway, the offense isn't what bought a two-year deal for Cameron. That would be his defense. Why that gets a two-year deal for a 37-year-old is beyond me, but hey, they can afford it. He will make his money with that glove and I will be happy about that.

RF - JD Drew

Oh, the man that radio talk shows love to hate and internet web sites love to love. Drew had a really, really good year last year. I mean, seriously good year. Look really close at the numbers. A .392/.522/.914 line is fantastic for a right fielder with really good defense and baserunning. He played in 137 games as well which is good enough for me as well. He is what he is and what he is a good baseball player. So, how will he do this year? That is the question. Projections, much like Cameron are across the board. None are bad, but all are varying degrees of good. It averages out to a .375/.465/.840 line. If Drew stays healthy for the majority of the season (that would be 130 games or so), then this is a good line to me. I think he could hit better than this in fact. He has the ability. When he has been healthy he has almost always been better than that actually. Therefore, I think he will be in the range of a .380/.480/.860 line. Probably a few less RBI than last year. Probably a few less HRs. Basically we will get another quality JD Drew season. Can you ask for anything more?

DH - David Ortiz

Now comes the real challenge of the lineup. Papi had an awful first two months last year as has been very well documented. We all know it. The question remains, will he have that same issue this year? Will it last all year? Is he done? These are the questions that the Red Sox season really hinge upon. If Papi is good and hitting strong (and he doesn't need to be Herculean as he was in the past), then this Sox team should make some serious noise. If he doesn't, then playoffs are a real long shot in this tough division. Projections show Papi at about .365/.490/.855. If those numbers actualize, then watch out American League. That will be the start to a really strong season for this Red Sox team. I tend to think he will hit this with a bit more platooning (Mike Lowell, can you hear me now?). Give him more time off against lefties and put in a nice righty who can kill lefties (Yup, still paging Mike Lowell) and this will be a ridiculous position. I think that that is what will end up happening in truth. I do not think Papi is done. But, I know he isn't superman anymore. He is an aging power hitter who will have one more nice year.


Ok, the bench should be interesting. Bill Hall, Jason Varitek, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Lowell comprise the bench for now. This could all change if Lowell is traded. At that point, maybe someone is signed off of free agency? I can't imagine that they will call someone up from the minors. I believe the intent is to put Lowrie at Pawtucket to start the year where he can play full time. But, anyway, back to the talk of the projected bench (as I do not think that they will end up trading Lowell right away if at all). This is a very solid bench. It is a bit of a problem that Hermida isn't a right handed bat, but he is definitely a decent to potentially very good hitter. If anyone gets hurt, he is more than capable of handling the full time role. Hall is a great back-up for all around, especially if he can handle shortstop. That really is the question. He hasn't played there in three years or so, but if he can play that position, the Sox are good. Hall also is the guy who hit 30 HR's three seasons ago. He has potential to hit the ball VERY well. Varitek, as I outlined a bit in the catcher position, should get some decent time behind the plate. I expect maybe 60 starts for him there. That will keep him fresh and his bat should stay in play nicely. Lowell, well, if he is on this team, it is a good thing in my opinion. He may not be too happy, but I cannot imagine he would make too big of a stink about it. That just doesn't seem like him. I hope it isn't. If it is, well, then that IS a problem. But, for now, it has to be hoped that he can handle 300 ABs or so this year because I think that that is about where he will finish between filling in at 3B, 1B, DH, and pinch-hitting. So, all in all a pretty nice bench. One of the strongest the team has had in a while in truth. Not much speed, but during the regular season, a bat is preferred over the speed. That can be found towards the end of the season (see Dave Roberts).

Ok, that finishes up part II of the preview. Part III will include the pitching staff, starters as well as bullpen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Analyzing the Red Sox, 2010 Preview, Part I

Ok, it’s springtime (at least in theory, meteorological theory of course) and with that comes the start of baseball season. Spring training games have just begun and most teams have a pretty good idea of what their team is looking at heading into the start of the season. The Red Sox have their lineup pretty good to go. There are some changes that could be made, specifically to the bench (see Lowell, Mike). So, I figured I would go position by position to see where the Sox stand and how they look for this year. Maybe give some rough estimations of where I think they will finish statistically as well. Here is part 1, the infield.

So here goes:

C – Victor Martinez

Ok, I am expecting probably 100 games behind the dish from V-Mart with some time at 1B and DH scattered in there as well. Figure maybe 130-140 games total. That is pretty decent all in all for a catcher, especially if Tito wants to keep him nice and rested as the season goes along. Projections are showing him to be about a .365/.455/.820 guy all in all (that would be OBP/SLG/OPS for those of you who aren’t as stat minded as me). As a catcher’s numbers, those are great. But, do not believe that V-Mart is the next coming of Johnny Bench. Do not expect huge power numbers from him. That has never been his game. But, he could easily knock in 100 or more hitting third on this team where I imagine he will be slotted. I think he will be around the projection numbers with about 20 HRs and 100 RBI. I’m not going out on a limb with that I know, but I think it will work out that way. Varitek will actually put up nice numbers as well backing him up and facing mainly lefties. I can see him going .350/.450/.800 in limited duty. That would make for a very nice catching situation offensively. Defensively…. well, let’s not get into opponents stealing. That is scary.

1B – Kevin Youkilis

Projections are a bit scattered on him with the usually conservative MARCEL showing a much higher value than Bill James projection. Surprising. They are averaging out at about .390/.495/.895 for him. I see him possibly being a bit down from there, maybe a .380/.490/.870 season for him, 25 HRs, 100 RBI or so. It will be a strong season from the cleanup hitter all in all. I think he has peaked. I truly do. I think a few more really solid seasons though isn’t unreasonable. But he is on the wrong side of 30 now, so it makes sense and he doesn’t exactly have a skill set that looks to age too greatly. He is what he is and what he is, is valued nicely with a solid contract, great defense at third, and versatility to play third as well. V-Mart will have some time at 1B, maybe Lowell too. But, Youk should be there most of the time and that is what you want.

2B – Dustin Pedroia

If you looked quickly at his numbers from ’09 as compared to ’08, you would have thought that Pedroia really slid down after his MVP ’08. In truth, there is a LOT to like from last season. For one thing, his BB rate shot up over 50% from the season before. I don’t expect that to hold, but I think there was definite improvement there. Add to that he was very unlucky last year as opposed to years prior, with his BABIP taking a dive from the .330 range to under .300. I would expect him to have that BABIP jump back up to at least the .315-.320 range. That will boost his batting average up as well, and with the increase in walks, his OBP also. His ISO should remain about the same (a bit north of .150) which means with the increase in batting average, his SLG% will go up as well. This all adds up to a nicer looking season than last year. Projections have Pedroia at .835 OPS. I think he can do better than that and get closer to an .850 with a nice .385 OBP. Hopefully he returns to his super successful stealing ways of ’08 as well, because 20 for 28 (that he had last year) just isn’t that great of a percentage. Strong defense as always though and no Polanco to steal a gold glove, means it could be Pedroia’s to lose.

3B – Adrian Beltre

There is no possible way Beltre can hit as bad as he did last year right? He isn’t THAT bad now, is he? Well, I don’t think so. Projections feel the same way. They are looking at him to be about a .320/.430/.750 or so, maybe a bit higher. This would come with a bit less than 20 HRs. Call me optimistic, but I think he can and will do better than this (come on fantasy pick, don’t fail me now). I think he will like Fenway a lot this year. Maybe he can hit 40 2Bs while playing for the Sox. If that is the case, we could see a definite upward trend in that SLG%. Add a few more HRs (also I think possible), and we may see something along the lines of a .325/.475/.800 line from Beltre. I think that that is very reasonable actually. He had a .784 OPS in Seattle two seasons ago, and Fenway is a MUCH better hitting field than Safeco. So, I think he will surprise people to say the least. We all KNOW his defense is going to be good. He could be another gold glover at the hot corner. Yeah, this infield defense is going to be something special to watch I think.

SS – Marco Scutaro

So, is Marco the stopgap at short until Iglesias learns to hit? I hope so. I think he can be. I wouldn’t look for him to match last season’s career year, but I think he can be solid. Almost all of the projections have him rating out with similar OPS, although CHONE goes higher on the OBP than MARCEL and Bill James (while they go a bit higher on the SLG). It is averaging out at about a .350/.380/.730 line. Not unreasonable in truth. I think that that actually could be a really good number. With a solid OBP like that, he will have some great value at the bottom of the lineup. His defense is again solid appearing. Not great. But, it should be at least decent. With the other guys around him, that is all that the Sox need. And for the deal that they got him for, this was a very nice signing in my opinion.

I will follow with the outfield, DH, and bench on the next post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Post super bowl beer buzz

Yeah, ok, the Super Bowl is over and done with. Good. As @jumblejim said afterwards, “That was fun. When does baseball start?” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, it is Feb 9th and Johnny Damon still doesn’t have a home. Way to go Boras. Turning down the 2/$14 deal from the Yanks was really stupid in hind-sight. I think a lot of people thought it was a bad idea then though. That is Damon’s problem though. Whatever. I am not a fan of him (and no it isn’t because he spurned the Sox for the Yanks offer…. I just don’t care for the guy or his defense). But, he will get some team a great deal for a relatively cheap amount as long as that team’s owner doesn’t go all Minaya on him or something.

Otherwise, not much really going on in baseball news. Red Sox appear set. Yankees are set. Now it is just going to see what happens with spring training about to start (9 days baby!).

So, on to much more interesting stuff currently: beer! I have had some really interesting ones lately and figured I would give a quick run-down on them here.

First, lets start with Sam Adams Noble Pils. Apparently there is a real media blitz by SA for this beer. I have seen nada on advertising for it myself. Maybe that is because I live here in New England and SA doesn’t really need to do much selling up here. But, I had some at a pub a few weeks ago and thought it was decent but wanted to try some more. Well, my wife picked me up a bomber of it the other day and I had it this past weekend. I decided I really liked it! It seemed nicely hopped and good bitterness to it. Gets better the more you drink as well. I would give it a 4 on the 1-5 scale.

Last night, went to Doherty’s East Ave Pub in Pawtucket. Decent bar, good food, ok beer selection, but not cheap. Anyway, had a few different beers there (ok more than a few) with my wife. First one up was the Olde Burnside Ten Penny Ale. This was a Scottish Ale and I liked it. Malty but not overly so like most Scottish ales. Good body on it too. I would give that a 3 as well.

Then went with Allagash Odyssey. This was a Belgian style strong dark ale. Oak-aged at 10% as well. Well, it was good, but to be honest I was a little disappointed. I love BSDA’s usually and this just had too much oaking for me to really get behind. Maybe it just was not my style. I would give that a 3 all in all because it still was good.

I had a Zywiec Pilsner from Poland. Not bad. Not great though. Surprised me as I was expecting more bitterness to it and there really wasn’t much. It had much more of a malt flavor, which sort of was odd on a pilsener. There was nothing special on this one though. I would give it a 2.

Finally, I just tasted a Xingu from Brazil. This was a schwarzbier style which I found odd coming out of Brazil? But, it was really intriguing to me. The beer had a syrupy consistency which may be good for a single, but I could not have had more than that. But, it was good enough that I would have rated it a 3 or so just because it intrigued me so much.

The last one to talk about was the Brooklyn Black Ops which I had with my wife this weekend. Wow. That was awesome. It was young as we just picked it up last week. We already had one that we are aging and we decided to open this bad boy up to see how it was now. Oh my was my initial thought. The bourbon barrel aging on the stout was very noticeable and added good flavor to it. The stout (which is just the Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout they normally sell) was aged in the barrels for fourth months. This toned down the normal burn on the BCS and made it really drinkable already. With aging, this is going to incredible. Lots of chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla flavors were found in this beer. I loved it and will put this in my exclusive 5 category.

It will be interesting to see what is happening going forward with beer, but this was not a bad past week or so I have had (beer wise at least).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Sunday

Brett Favre lost.... that is all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You can't be serious....

Lane Kiffin. Yup. You. What the hell did you just do? You had one year at a HUGE football school like Tennessee (yes their stadium holds over 100,000 people!!!) to go back to USC. Granted, USC is a good gig, don't get me wrong. But, seriously, you could have been a GOD in Knoxville. They revere college football down there (They like it in LA, but basketball is king there). I mean this is SEC FOOTBALL!!! There is very little that can even come close to touching that. But, the bright lights are calling to you I suppose. I hope the lights fall off their scaffolding and smash you into that lovely LA pavement. If you are trying to become Bobby Petrino, you are well on your way. Good luck with that one. He is nearly as scummy. Except he actually stays places a bit longer than a year.

I feel awful for Vols fans. And this is coming from the guy who is a Hokie and is still overjoyed how VT just whipped up on your team in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (did I mention how much I love Chick-Fil-A?). You have just made an enemy out of an entire state. Way to go. That takes talent. You had such a good thing going there in Knoxville. You had good classes coming in, a great stadium to play in, and a conference that looked like it may be getting a bit easier to control on your side with Meyer maybe being out of things. But you go to the west coast and need to take a run at the Pac-10. Guess what? The Pac-10 SUCKS compared to the SEC. Nowhere near as good. Hell, at this time, the Mountain West may be a better conference (probably not but still). I will say I think it is getting better but it still will never be the SEC. Nothing is. You will regret this for sure.

I remember I used to really love USC. As a kid, watching the games on tv, that was the college I wanted to go to. I wanted to be a Trojan. I continued liking them as I got older. Always sort of wanted to pull for them. Then they got really good with Pete Carroll. Hey, even better. Fun team to watch with lots of talent. Awesome. Now, I won't be watching any of their games unless it is to pray that they lose. Can anyone say go Oregon?!? I hope you fall flat out there Kiffin. You will get what is coming to you I guess, one way or the other.

Tennessee fans, you deserved better. Good luck in getting that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Green Bay / Arizona, Chapman, et al.

So, wow! What a game yesterday afternoon between Green Bay and Arizona. That was just one of the single most entertaining games I have sat around and watched in ages..... and I really don't get into pro football too much. It was just back and forth and just fun. Great plays by both teams. No defense but those offenses were just so good that I wonder how much was D and how much was just that the QB's and receivers were just that good. But a game for the ages as far as I am concerned. Dramatic and all. Went to overtime even! Just lots of fun to watch. Good job guys. Yeah the Pats game.... ugly. Whatever. Would have been nice if they had won, but I am not invested in them. Now if VT had lost like that, I would be wreck after watching it. I probably would not have made it through the game as I would have sick to my stomach.

So, Aroldis Chapman was signed to a five-year, $25 million deal. I am really surprised the Red Sox didn't get more into this. Apparently they had backed out a while back and never got back in. Not really at least. But the Reds? Really? That team just seems to have a lot of organizational issues. Can they afford to do something like this? I don't know. I don't think so. They have so much money tied up right now that it just seems like a scary move on their end. It could pay off, but I wouldn't put money on it. Big market teams can handle burning $25 million without an issue. But, a team from Cincinnati has to be smarter than that. They must be REAL sure he is the guy. I hope for their sake he is.

Haven't had too much to say about beer lately. I have a ton of things to drink right now. I still have the Great Lakes Christmas (which is growing on me), a ton of Clipper City Marz-hon, a Lancaster mix-pack, and a lot of nicer beers. I am almost through my Christmas gift from my wife of the Unibroue mix packs. I really prefer the dark pack over the light pack. And it isn't just due to the higher alcohol beers. Every single one of the dark pack has been great. I still have one more to try from there and I am sure I will love it. I have one of the light pack as well, but the only one I really have enjoyed from that pack was the Blanche de Chambly. That was a really nice wit beer all in all. But, the Ephemere and Chambly Noire were definitely nothing special. Maybe I will do an actual review on the last one I have left from the dark pack (Maudite is the one I believe). Yeah, that will work. Hopefully I will get it done this week.

Oh yeah, great comic here for all of the physics nuts out there (like me!). Going to start reading this one regularly along with LICD and LFG.

Friday, January 8, 2010

It is 8:41am on a Friday......

...... is it too early to have a beer? I am dreaming about one right now. I am going to have to put some Small Craft Warning Uber Pils in the fridge for this weekend. That is some REALLY good stuff.

Also, still have some Clipper City Marz-hons (from Cherie's real cheap stock up, 2.99/6-pack!). Dunno. Gonna have to have some good stuff. Of course I got like four hours of sleep last night.

Stayed up late reading and couldn't fall asleep after that. Currently reading The Blind Side (yup, the one the movie was based on). While I am not sure of how the movie will be for my taste, Michael Lewis is just an AWESOME writer. Moneyball is one of my all time favorite books. And not just because it looks at sabermetrics in baseball (one of my favorite things to read about, yea Bill James!) but because Lewis is just that damn good of a writer. This book has the same style as Moneyball and Lewis tells a story so well. Just a great writer in my opinion.

Oh yeah, Roll Tide. Way to go. You deserved it unsurprisingly.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holliday deal will kill the Cardinals

Matt Holliday just signed a 7-year deal with the Cardinals for 120 million according to reports. The first thing that comes to my mind is: What the hell are they thinking?!? I know that they are supposed to be using the Holliday deal to influence Albert to stay in StL but seriously, do you really want to overpay this guy to keep him there to spend another 20+ mill/year on Albert? You are going to have almost 40 million per season (at least!) tied up in two players. And St. Louis is supposed to be a mid level team. And the worst part.... it is SEVEN FREAKIN YEARS!!!!! Is Holliday the kind of player you want to do that for? Albert, you do that and more. Don't get me wrong. But Holliday? He is good, but not THAT good.

I just think that this is a deal that will end up killing the Cardinals down the road. I mean really tank them for like a decade or something. It is just so much money tied up in a player who just isn't worth it. Barry Zito, your deal is looking better and better everyday. Ok, maybe not going that far, but wow. Just wow. Boras, you had the team, and you used them. You used them hard. And it is their own damn fault.