• I’ve listened to many analyst say that Luis Castillo is the best of the 2Bs available at the deadline. And I love John Kruk’s use of the term, “moxie.”
  • Jim Bowden and Billy Beane continue to prove they drive hard bargains as neither made a trade.
  • Minaya kept his chips as none of his Blue Chip prospects went anywhere. Bowden wanted probably two of them for Cordero. Beane probably asked for Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey just to take the call.
  • Ed Colemen, in his WFAN blog, made a good point that the Mets too often try to “float players through the roster” while they are hurt as they did with Carlos Beltran. It left them exteremly short handed in that game against the Nats when Randolph was forced to use two pitchers-El Duque to run and Tom Glavine to hit. I agree. They cannot do the same thing with LoDuca either but I’m sure Pauly’s fighting them on it. Good thing thre Mets also have trimmed the roster to 11 pitchers-especially since Randolph never uses Aaron Sele.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 31, 2007

Metsblog is following this closely and its indicated that Phil Humber is the player being offered. Matt believes that the second prospect comes from a lst that includes Kevin Mulvey and Mike Carp.

As Humber has been held from his start this afternoon, its obvious he’s part of discussions and some team wants him for an ML start this week. Cordero will be an excellent set-up man for Wagner this season and has already shown he can pitch in New York by his lights out performances at Shea.

His acquisition gives the Mets that “perception” gain they need to match what the Braves are doing.

I really don’t think this is all Minaya is doing, though. With the Mets hurting for centerfielders, he might be looking to add one. Brad Wilkerson has been mentioned from Texas. I’ve been wondering whether or not the Mets might be interested in getting Reggie Sanders to upgrade against left handed pitching.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 31, 2007

Good point by Rill Roggio.

 

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 31, 2007

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, one of the most respected voices on the Democrat side of the aisle has suggested that his party should wait for General Petraus report and that a favorble report could split the Democrats.

 

 

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party’s efforts to press for a timetable to end the war.

Clyburn, in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.

Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.

While living in South Carolina I had the opportunity to observe Clyburn’s rise on the national stage. He’s a pragmatic and respected lawmaker and has good realtions with republicans.

With the NY Times article by the two Brookings Institute fellows, this statement by Clyburn shows the tide is turning among Democrats as to future operations in Iraq. For the Democrats, it means the hard left is losing to the middle. A good report by Petraus will bring back some wavering republican Senators.

Al Queda reads our newspapers, so this is not good news to them. They were praying for continued American political disputes. The Brookings report yesterday recommended military operations continue into 2008, and Al Queda and Iran are worried that they can sustain themselves that long.

They were hopeful that US political pressure was would prompt withdrawl or at the very least a draw down of forces with the Iraqi Army taking over. This is most likely to prompt more abandonment of Iraq by Al Queda forces. Along with their brutalities and  their murder of Iraqi citizens with bombs, their stealth escape from the area lessens their credibility. And with their safe haven in Pakistan being squeezed, there’s not many places for them to go.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 31, 2007

NRO’s blogging from Iraq continues from W.Thomas Smith. Here’s his most recent entry:

 

AL QAIMWhen referring to whether or not the new breed of Marine was as tough as those who had served in the Old Corps (and what is or is not the Old Corps depends upon one’s frame of reference), the legendary Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller once said,  “Old breed. New breed. There’s not a damn bit of difference as long as it’s the Marine breed!”
At o’dark thirty this morning,  I flew in with a grizzled old Marine master sergeant, who looked as if he had stepped straight out of central casting: Between 55 and 60-years-old. Tall. Lean. Jut-jawed, craggy features,  and sporting a shaved head. He carried his gear and rifle as if he were still a 19-year-old lance corporal.
He told me he had joined the Corps in 1968. Got out after Vietnam. Then came in as a Reservist. He’s in Iraq now (been to Afghanistan).  I mentioned to him that the Marines I see operating out here today are every bit as tough as the young men I went through boot camp with in 1983.
“Oh, hell yes, ” he exclaimed. “They’re the same as the ones I came in with in 1968. Marines are Marines: They always have been. If anything, they have one up on us in that they’re all computer whizzes today on top of that toughness.”
***
On another note, I spoke with some Marines earlier in Al Asad about rules of engagement (ROE). They told me there was this always-conscious low-grade concern among many Marines in combat today whenever they prepare to fire at the enemy. “Whenever I raise my weapon, sir, I sometimes wonder if I will fry [be punished] for this, ” one said.
This concern, which — in my opinion — could easily morph into a second of hesitation, could also easily result in Marines and soldiers being killed. 

Also, the comment itself — “I sometimes wonder if I will fry” — are hardly the words or fears of what many on the Left would say are “cold blooded killers.”

There is so much more to this story, and I will be talking with Marines about ROE in greater depth over the coming days.
***

This morning,  I was briefed by and then had lunch with my host out here on the ends of the earth, Lt. Col. Jason Bohm, the task force commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines (Task Force 1/4).

Bohm is a deadly serious Marine officer who prays openly, stops to chat and shake the hands and pat the shoulders of his junior-most riflemen (even when no one is watching), and is generally so comfortable with his men — almost as if they were his sons — that it bolsters a battalion-wide sense of confidence that I’ve seen reflected in the faces and conversations of every single Marine, sailor, and detached soldier I’ve met under his command.
In Bohm’s command operations center we had coffee while poring over the most detailed regional map of Al Anbar I’ve ever seen: Listing every hill, ridgeline, draw, finger, road, river, and U.S. Marine battle position (BP) and combat outpost in the Al Qaim sector. The BP’s are all named for famous Marine expeditions and battles, like Beirut,  Hue City, Tarawa, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Saipan, and Belleau Wood.
Over lunch,  Lt. Col. Bohm, his artillery officer — 1st Lt. Jason Grim (who has served as my escort here at Al Qaim) — and I chatted about everything from Iraq to Bohm’s area of operations to mutual friends we know in the Corps to where-we-were-when, and a little USMC history. This guy knows his stuff.
I depart on an infantry operation within hours. Will be offline for about two days.
Semper Fi.
How can anyone doubt that these men can’t win. I can’t tell you how offensive I find it for people like Harry Reid to say they’ve already lost. By the way, where’s Harry been lately?

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 30, 2007

Its going to get fluid now.

The cost was not high to acquire Castillo in a minor league OF and Drew Butera, the son of former Twins catcher Sal Butera.

Obviously, the Mets will get an everyday player that can bat second behind Reyes. He’s a very good fielder as well with proven post season experience. I can feel for Ruben Gotay as he seemed to be coming into his own, but this is an upgrade.

This marks my first theory sure to go wrong of the day. More to come.

Minaya still has his chips, btw.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 30, 2007

This morning when Buster Olney announced on ESPN that the Braves had acquired Mark Teixeira from the Rangers, he asked the rhetorical question of whether or not the Mets will “answer back.”

True enough, the Braves have acquired a significant player-one who should be a cornerstone of their franchise for some time to come. A local boy, too, having played at Georgia Tech. He’ll bat in the middle of their order for the rest of the season and for years to come. His acquisition will soften the departure of Andruw Jones this off-season to free agency.

Its not likely the Mets will make such a deal within the next 24 hours unless Omar and another GM have something they’ve been successful at keeping under their hat. So the “answer back” question will become part of the reality for the rest of the season for Minaya. Perhaps a deal will be consumated that brings another 2B and/or an arm for the bullpen. He may feel more pressure to do so now as Minaya, more so than some previous GMs is in touch with subtleties as perceptions.

Recall that Minaya was willing to give what the Red Sox wanted for Manny Ramirez two seasons ago and said that he couldn’t show his face in the clubhouse if he had not done everything he could to help the club.

So with an aging an battered team facing two more long, hot months in a race against two hungry and re-tolled teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta, one should ask what are the Mets thinking? Omar and the Wilpons know that the roster is indeed older with many players while still in their prime, but on the backside of their careers.

So this means its win now, and it makes it even money that Omar will commit some of his chips prior to tomorrow afternoon. And the strong rumor that the Braves are about to acquire Octavio Dotel, the pressure may have increased even more.

I see that Metsblog is thinking along with me in that a dance partner might be Billy Beane and the A’s. But Lastings Milledge won’t be traded without a ML outfielder in return. Niether will Fernando Martinez. And I don’t think think that Minaya is interested in Joe Blanton, its Dan Haren.

I think that Minaya will give up young arms along with Carlos Gomez to get Haren. Luis Castillo and Juan Rincon are not enough of an upgrade to commit value. Maybe this is where the Twins become involved, although I don’t think Beane has any interest in acquiring Tori Hunter. Does Minaya?

Perhaps Minaya will hold out for Haren and settle for Blanton at the deadline. But Blanton for a different package.

I nothing transpires, it means that the Mets believe their best trade is to await the return of Pedro Martinez. With the namers o the players being tossed around, save Haren, they may be correct.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 30, 2007

The LA Times has a story today (H/T Real Clear Politics) about Senator Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Tata, a firm from India which employs 7900 in the US on work visas. Senator Clinton has in the past been critical of high-tech jobs that are outsourced.

In 2002, Clinton took a group of Indian business executives on a tour of the region and to a meeting with administrators from the state university in Buffalo. The group included Tata Consultancy Services, an information technology consulting firm that is part of Tata Group, a conglomerate with interests in electricity, steel, aviation, cars and hotels.

At the time, Tata Consultancy had two offices in the state — both in New York City to service Wall Street clients.

But a year after the tour, the company flew Clinton to join its chief executive, S. Ramadorai, in Buffalo for an announcement: It would open an office there.

Tata also signed a memorandum of understanding with a university research center to pursue discoveries in genetics, drugs and other areas. In a news release, Tata said that deal “will eventually lead to opportunities for training, recruitment and job creation in Buffalo.”

“There was a sense of excitement on the part of the community, ” said Anthony M. Masiello, Buffalo’s mayor at the time, “to have a company like Tata that would not traditionally look at coming to western New York.”

But soon the company faded from public view, said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, an economic development group in which Tata was initially active. “They told us their business strategy had changed, ” he said. “The reality is that the number of people that Tata is employing here now doesn’t seem to be significant.”
Local officials and observers have spoken out that Tata never really came through:

At the University at Buffalo, Bruce A. Holm, director of a research center pursuing projects with Tata, conceded that the partnership had not played out as hoped. But he said that progress was still possible.

Tata officials say the company has hired 50 people from the Buffalo area in the last four years but most have left or have been transferred to other locations. They say the Buffalo operations remain important to the company and a part of the civic life of the city.

But critics say that Tata has done more to undercut workers in upstate New York than it has helped — and that Clinton is wrong to argue that exposing U.S. workers to competition from foreign workers is helping both groups.

Since Tata arrived in Buffalo, “the reality is that it probably created many more jobs for workers overseas and displaced lots of American workers, ” said Ronil Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of outsourcing.

Even a political ally of hers is critical of Tata  in a report:

A report released by two senators said that Tata was one of the biggest users of foreign-worker visas in the United States, employing more than 7, 900 visa recipients last year. The large number of visas suggests that companies are circumventing laws designed to protect American workers, Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in their report.

Clinton and many other lawmakers have called for cracking down on visa abuse. At the same time, she has backed an increase in the number of foreigners admitted to the U.S. each year under the main type of visa for high-tech workers. The cap is 65, 000 each year; companies are seeking 115, 000.

The story then reveals a familiar Clinton end game by pandering to a specific group for political purposes.

And her campaign continues to telegraph — sometimes in front of Indian American audiences — that she sees benefits to a globalized world.

Three weeks ago, her husband drew applause at a conference of 14, 000 Indian Americans in Washington as he extolled the benefits of “open borders, easy travel, easy immigration.” He said the outsourcing debate bothered him because it failed to acknowledge the contributions of Indians who settled in the U.S. The same day, he headlined a fundraiser at the conference for his wife’s campaign.

The LA Times story is particularly damning as its even quotes AFL-CIO officials highly critical of both the Clintons and Tata.

Its the repeat of a lesson already learned by opponents and allies alike of the Clintons. The Indian-American group is a highly paid block that the Clinton’s can count of for both cash and votes.

What is a concern-and the Clintons have given reason to be concerned-is that the relationship is ripe for potential fraud. The 7900 Tata employees here on foreign worker visas can easily be manipulated for not only contributions, but also for votes. Can foreigners here of work visas vote? I am not sure. But Grouops as ACORN are around for just these purposes.

The Clinton  playbook if they get caught is to deny any knowledge and return the money. Nevermind they’ve already used the cash flow an illegal contribution might have generated. They’ll just repay the money from a contribution they get from someone else later.

Think Johnny Chan and all that Chinese money the Clintons got prior to the 1994 election. They got away with it. They might be trying again, and while doing so are slapping the face of the American workers they eloquently say they so desperately want to protect.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 30, 2007

In a surprising source that is the NY Times comes a column from members of the liberal Bkookings Institute. The two writers, both early war critics, have changed their minds and now say this:

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After what was seen by the writers as lots of mistakes going on, they described a far different picture:

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

Thye speak to a clear evolution of the Iraqi forces both in effectiveness and cohessiveness:

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

Speaking of General Petraus’ tactics:

The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave.

They then are fair in wrapping it up but leave a message for the naysayers:

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 30, 2007

A wonderful human being, Bill Robinson was passed away. Robinson was Dodgers Minor League Hitting Coordinator.

Gary Carter playfully started calling him Uncle Bill in 1985 and it stuck.

Bill was a real gentleman and a very kind man, the second coach from the 1986 Mets to have passed within the year. Vern Hoscheit also passed on earlier this season.

UPDATE: Marty Noble does a great job remembering Bill. Noble is the deam of Mets beat guys and has been covering the Mets for almost 30 years.

I have to correct something Marty says though. The dry witted Robinson liked to be called the “Hitting Instructor”. According to Robinson batting was a position, while hitting was what you were going to do.

Nice to here HoJo reintroduced Uncle Bill’s low two.

After the 1986 WS win, the Mets brought us all back to NY the day before we went to the White House to meet President Reagan. We went to MSG the night before and a fan outside saw Robinson and asked for a low two. Pleased to no end, the always gracious Robinson complied.

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This post was written by bobsikes on July 29, 2007