Archive for the ‘Gerald Laird’ Category

Catching the worst option they could

December 15, 2008

The Rangers had a surfeit at catcher, if you listened to anyone worth listening to.  They were going to deal some of them, and get some big-time pitching prospects in here, guys who were going to jump into a major league role right away.  The top four (Laird, Saltalamacchia, Teagarden and Ramirez) were all mentioned in different ways.

Of those, Salty was the one talked about most, and Ramirez hardly at all.  Jamey Newberg had Salty on the way out the door, Boston bound, and we were going to get Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden in return.  We’d be pretty happy with either of those guys, right?  Either one would step into our rotation plans, probably as a 5th starter in 2009 but you’d expect them to be a 2 or 3 by 2011, the earliest the Rangers are likely to contend.

So what did the Rangers actually do?  They traded Gerald Laird to Detroit for nothing.  To be more precise, a 25 year old still struggling to get out of A ball (= No Prospect), and a 17 or 18 year old who has a thousand mile per hour fastball but is a crapshoot.

Yeah, genius work.  Much of the value of the catchers was in Salty, and if you consider that Teagarden is the one for the future, then it wouldn’t matter if you deal Salty or Laird, except for the fact that you get a much better return on Salty than on Laird.

So we presumably go into 2009 with Salty and Teagarden as our two catchers, two guys who have little experience at the job.  Yeah, they can learn on the job, but who are they going to learn from?  My ideal situation would have been to trade Salty for one of those Boston guys, and let Teagarden learn from Laird for a year or two before turning into our catcher of the future.  As it is, Salty hasn’t shown much of anything either with the bat or behind the plate, and may be destined to be yet another prospect who turned into a pumpkin at the big league level.

My biggest fear hasn’t been realized (yet):  that they will bring in a veteran to help the young guys.  You know, an Einar Diaz, Sandy Alomar, Rod Barajas, someone whose only job is to block young players from getting playing time.  It’s fine to have them as a teacher, but you don’t deal someone who could do that and then go get another one at twice the price.

This is the same brain trust that has them talking about bringing in Randy Johnson.  I defy you to find a more bone-headed move that the Rangers could make.  RJ would take a lot of money, and would bring back 300 wins (he’s at 295 now), so would get a lot of publicity.  But it would be Sammy Sosa publicity, where nobody around here really cares, because we know he did it all with another team.  It would be a publicity stunt to try and get the local fans interested, and God knows they’re going to have to do a lot to get the Texas fans interested in 2009.

My favorite line about Johnson was in the Dallas Morning News.  Nolan Ryan was quoted as saying he’d be a great teacher for the young pitchers we have coming through.  But then, Johnson’s agent said that he was a good teacher if the young guys asked him about things.  Not that he’ll be volunteering anything, but if some snot-nosed 20 year old comes up to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and asks him for help, he will offer it.  Yeah, that’ll happen.

And they bring back Mark Connor, to a minor league role?  Did they forget how he was destroying young pitchers?

Seeing Sabathia and Burnett sign with the Yankees was very demoralizing.  The Rangers are left with Ben Sheets, hoping he’ll take a home town discount (except then there’s the story that he’s trying to sell his house in Dallas!).  Not a good long-term bet.  And I don’t think the Rangers should be signing anyone long-term, they should be concentrating on getting the kids in short-term.  Once we see the upswing in the team’s chances (and I said 2011 above), then you look for a free agent or two who can help put the team over the top.  Every dollar spent on top level free agents right now is a wasted one.  On bottom level ones too, for that matter.  Recognize the team isn’t going to win, and go with the kids, don’t bring in roster filler who are taking their time away.

Rangers Review: Catcher

October 4, 2007

Maybe Buck Showalter was right. For years, Gerald Laird sat on the bench as backup catcher, first to Einar Diaz then to Rod Barajas. His early promise had him compared to Pudge Rodriguez, but he never got (or took) the chances he was given. Each time he seemed to be ready to make the step up, some injury would intervene, and for the longest time it looked like Showalter had decided that Laird could never be the starter. But finally, in 2007, Showalter was gone and Laird was anointed the number one, with Chris Stewart as his backup, meaning that Laird would get the lion’s share of the playing time.

And he struggled from day one, never got the bat going, fielded okay, and threw pretty well, but at last Jon Daniels appeared to give up, trading for not one but two catchers in an attempt to improve the position both now and in the future. First Daniels got Adam Melhuse to be the backup, and when he didn’t work out, they went and traded at the deadline, picking up Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the Teixeira trade. At first the reports were that Laird was still the starter, and they wanted to look at Salty at first base as well as catcher, but as time went on Salty played more and more catcher, and in September as injuries hit Laird, Salty was the starter and yet another catcher, Guillermo Quiroz, came up and got in a few games as backup. By the end of the year there were persistent rumors that Laird would be on his way out over the winter, with the Cubs listed as one likely destination.

Gerald Laird summary: Laird couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat in 2007, and in the early part of the season he struggled to get his average up and over .200. As time went on he hit better, a little, and ended up managing to get his average to .224 for the year. He was very successful at bunting for a hit though, at one point he had as many bunt hits as all other catchers in the majors combined. His bunting was always good, and his speed was always good, but he just couldn’t swing away successfully. By the end of the season he was ranked among the worst hitters in the league, for people with enough qualifying at-bats, ending with a miserable 62 OPS+. You get the feeling that if there had been a decent backup, Laird would have lost time much sooner. His arm took the opposite route though, starting out the season very well, throwing out enough runners that they began to not try and run on him, but as time went on he slipped more and more, ultimately ending up with a good but not great success rate of 39.8% of runners thrown out. In addition, with the disaster that was the pitching staff early in the season, he wasn’t seen as doing much to help that (of course, Pudge had the same reputation in Texas, but when he went to Florida they raved about his handling of the pitching staff). As time went on, the pitching got better, which is worrying since Laird was playing less and less, and my feeling was that he wore down at the end of the year, having been in more games than he ever had before, but even so he was still only middle of the pack of the regular catchers around the league.

Chris Stewart summary: Stewart was acquired from Chicago in the winter, with the intent he would challenge for the backup job. He won it in spring training, and then sat on the bench for most of the first couple of months, starting just four games in April and six games in May, then one game in June before being sent down on June 9. Didn’t do much when he was able to play, but with Laird being given every opportunity, Stewart didn’t have any chances to get into a rhythm. Finally the Rangers got Melhuse, and sent Stewart back to the minors, where he split playing time with Quiroz in Oklahoma and performed just about the same as he had in Texas.

Adam Melhuse summary: Came over from Oakland in a bizarre deal for cash. Bizarre because he had been worthless for Oakland for years, but somehow Ron Washington liked him and convinced Daniels to trade for him. Once he got to Texas, he had limited playing time at catcher, although slightly more than Stewart had, and ended up playing a few games at third (which tells you how desperate the Rangers were at third, too). In late August the Rangers finally released him, when they realized that he wasn’t going to get to do anything, and he went back to Oakland again, this time in the minors. He was a gamble for a backup, but an unnecessary one, and if anything provided evidence that Ron Washington would prefer someone he knew over someone with ability. The Rangers would have been better off sticking with Stewart, they would have saved the cash they sent to Oakland and gotten the same production.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia summary: Top of the prospect pile in Atlanta, he had grown up as a catcher but when he was brought up to Atlanta earlier this year he played some first base too, to try and fill the hole they had there and to get him into the lineup. They finally decided they needed Teixeira’s bat, and were willing to give up Salty (plus others), so the Rangers got another catcher, or another first baseman. He played both positions, and as time went on played more and more catcher. He says his preferred position is catcher, and it shows: when playing first, his OPS was .582, when playing catcher it was .876 (but with small sample sizes for both). He did not show a good arm, throwing out just 17.8% of baserunners who tried to steal on him, and that is probably his biggest concern. If he doesn’t have the arm to catch, does he have the bat to play first? Of course, Piazza wasn’t a good catcher either, but his bat more than carried him, and if Salty can have a career like that we won’t worry about how many runners he throws out.

Guillermo Quiroz summary: Cups of coffee with other teams in the last few years, and the Rangers signed him to be the AAA catcher just in case of an emergency. Spent most of the year there, without a great bat, but was brought up for a few games in September. Has backup written all over him, although like Stewart is just 25, so could make something of himself one day.

Minor leagues summary: Nothing much happened at AAA, with Quiroz and Stewart sharing most of the time with Miguel Ojeda, none of whom showed much with the bat. But once you go down the system, you realize that the Rangers are pretty well stocked with catchers. Salomon Manriquez and Kevin Richardson at AA both did pretty well, Manriquez having performed better and being a couple of years younger is the better prospect. Star prospect Taylor Teagarden split time at High-A and AA, and split between DH and catching, having come back from injury the year before. Showed great ability with the bat (27 HRs), but is his future at C or somewhere else? The Rangers had traded Kenny Lofton in July for A-ball catcher Max Ramirez, who continued to hit almost exactly the same (.920 OPS) as he had in the Cleveland minor leagues (.923 OPS), and is now probably the number one catching prospect for the Rangers. The others at Bakersfield didn’t do much, and probably won’t get very far. In low-A Clinton, Manuel Pina was the feature catcher, and didn’t do much with the bat, but is still only 20 years old so has the possibility of developing. Short-season Spokane had Jonathan Greene doing very well, while 18-year-old Cristian Santana did very well both there and in rookie ball.

Overall, catcher is one of the strongest positions the Rangers have in the system right now, thanks to trades and the draft. At the top of the minor league tree there isn’t much, but every level below has at least one strong prospect. If Laird is considered expendable, then we should get something decent in return, and still have a good stockpile of catchers. Being loaded at a position is a good thing, because you can choose the ones you want to keep and deal the rest for something you need (a.k.a. pitching). Don’t expect to see even half of these names in a Ranger uniform, or even in the majors, but with luck you might see one or two and see some of the others in trades for someone we will use.

2008: My expectation is that Laird will be dealt this winter, and Salty will be the starting catcher next year. Will Quiroz get the backup job? Stewart? Ojeda? Each is an interchangeable part, except Ojeda is several years older. Or will they look at some veteran catcher to teach Salty? If they could get someone who can sit on the bench with Salty all year and teach him what they know (which is what Sandy Alomar did a couple of years ago), that would be a good deal for the Rangers. Salty has good value as a catcher, but probably below average bat value at first. Will his arm be good enough to stay at catcher, and if not where else does he go? Third?

2009 and beyond: If Salty works out, he could be the starting catcher for several years to come. If not (and he needs to be given enough time to prove not before the Rangers quit on him), then as noted the system is loaded and someone else should come through in a year or two. Perhaps Taylor Teagarden has the best opportunity, if he stays at catcher, but otherwise Max Ramirez should be ready around 2010, right when the Rangers farm should be maturing into a contending team for several years.

No White after Labor Day

September 5, 2007

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been (and you probably haven’t), we spent the Labor Day weekend down at Crystal Beach (near Galveston) with family, as we do every year. A long drive in each direction, but a chance to catch up with people, to have some fun in the sun (or clouds, as it mostly was this weekend), to enjoy our almost-3-year-old discovering how much fun everything at the beach can be, with a number of firsts for him, and to get away from baseball. Now, the getting away from baseball wasn’t intentional, but by the time we got round to even looking at the tv it was already Saturday evening, and all we got was the score from Saturday’s game, nothing about Friday at all, or about what happened during Saturday. Paying more attention on Sunday morning (it rained quite a bit so we stayed inside for a while, before heading down to the beach figuring that the water from the sky is exactly the same as the water we were swimming in, although a whole lot less brown), we got to see SportsCenter and the no-no by Boston’s Clay Buchholz. I wish we had gotten him for Gagne, no disrespect to Gabbard or Murphy, who should end up as solid major leaguers, but Buchholz should end up as a superstar, and not just based on his no-hitter, but everything he’s done. As it turns out, Buchholz went to high school with my nephew, something I did not know until Sunday, but maybe I can leverage that piece of information one day (yeah, me and a million others, huh?).

Sunday night was the one good night, because we saw the Rangers on ESPN, the only way we would possibly see them down there. Talking to the folks who live in the Houston area, they said that they used to see the Rangers a lot, but not any more, they’re only on tv down there when the Astros aren’t playing and there’s no other filler shows to put on. A little similar to here, although I think we get more Astros games than they do Rangers. I wonder what drives that? Yes, there’s the franchise competition (our market vs their market), but I think if your local team isn’t playing there’s no reason they couldn’t show others. It’s kind of like the frustration I get knowing I’ll be lucky to see only three or four Seahawks games all season (until the playoffs!), but in that case worse because I know the NFL and DirecTV conspire to stop me being able to watch the game I want. Sooner or later Congress will get on with their hearings into that, and then things will change.

But I digress. Sunday was a great day to watch, especially seeing Hank back at long last, and with a salami to win the game, too. We got a month and a half of him at the start of the season where he showed a few sparks, but with quite a bit of cold in him too, and now we’re going to see another month at the end of the year. It will be interesting to compare the two. He’s had the knock on him of slipping every year he’s been in the majors, and this was his chance to break that streak, but of course being shortened it doesn’t mean as much. Is he “back”? Was he ever gone? He was certainly headed in the direction of losing his job, but then you have to remember that he’s only 26 (27 in Nov), so his peak should be the next few years. I have no doubt if the Rangers didn’t want him, someone would. Hopefully he can turn it around, and I won’t have to write some of the scathing things I wrote earlier this year about him. I have the greatest wish for him to succeed in a Rangers uniform, but as with all players, if he can’t cut it, move along and find someone else.

That move along attitude was biting me again tonight. I was watching them bring in Jamey Wright, and wondering why, when there are no plans for him next year (I assume). It really is time, especially now it is September and rosters expand, to have some of the dead wood sit at the back of the bullpen and watch the future overtake them. There was a stupid question about Jason Botts on the Rangers site in the last couple of days, saying he’s never going to make it and we shouldn’t play him. His past has strongly predicted success, and unfortunately they are going to measure him on a month in the majors. Jamey Newberg pointed out today that he had a poor first month in various places, and then exploded, and coincidentally tonight he gets three hits. If I were the GM I would be writing his name in for next year already, and not worrying about finding another Sammy Sosa or equally worn-out player.

Here’s what I’d be doing if I was GM right now: Murphy, Byrd and Cruz in the outfield every day. We know what Cat can do, we don’t care about Wilkerson, but we need to see these three guys. In the infield, we’re wasting time with Vazquez and Hairston, because we think Blalock will be back. Okay, but don’t read anything into them, they should both be free agents in the offseason, because they are easily replaceable parts. I’d like to see Salty catch every day, but I’d also like to see Laird every day, and that’s going to be the toughest decision of the winter. My guess is Laird is done here, sad to say. He hasn’t shown much improvement with the bat, if any, and I think the clock is ticking. He’s done well at bunting for a hit (not necessarily a great skill to have), and pretty good defensively, but not enough to offset the bat that Salty brings. I think we should get Salty in catching, put Wilkerson at first (just for the heck of it), and deal Laird in the winter at unfortunately a low point. Not all his fault, the organization dicked him around a lot, and didn’t give him the chances he needed a few years ago. But they’ve done that to a lot of people.

On the pitching front, I think we’re set with the rotation, unfortunately. They didn’t do anything this year, why should they next? I said a few weeks ago we are loaded down with third and fourth starters, and don’t have anyone to drag us along with them. The bullpen is really a mess right now, after CJ and Jack what do you have? A bunch of parts that hopefully slot together in the right way at the right time. I read a study a little while ago, I’ll have to find it again, that said the Rangers bullpen was over-rated last year, because they weren’t in high-leverage situations. That’s definitely true again this year. Frankie and Aki are probably going to be in the mix, but there’s a lot of question marks there. Of course, they end up bringing up Bill White, the reason for which I’m not clear, it’s either because he’s been around a long time and they felt he should have a go, or because someone lost a bet.  Seriously, why?  There is nothing in his stats to say he belongs, having spent several years at AA with pretty mixed results.  My only guess is that they felt they should do something, and he was the guy who was expendable, so by putting him on the 40 man roster they weren’t risking losing someone they didn’t want to lose.  Hey, good luck to the guy.  He’ll certainly remind you of that old saying:  If at first you don’t succeed, may as well give up, it probably wasn’t worth doing anyway.  Uhh, something like that.

Speaking of CJ (I was!), Sunday night reiterated what I’d said a few days ago about him. The Rangers should go with dual closers, him and Benoit. Jack would get all the “easy” saves, and CJ should be used for the one run leads. Not because Jack is any less of a pitcher, he’s just a lot more steady. CJ has given me (let alone Ron Washington) half a dozen heart attacks in the last week, and I’ve only watched half the games. If the game is tight, he’s the man you want in there, but if not, give it to Jack and save me from tearing my hair out.

I have so many different studies I’m working on now it’s crazy trying to keep track of them all. I need to keep a list of everything that pops into my head, and prioritize on the immediate vs the interesting. Of course, there’s also the impending end of the season, I have a few things I want to look at but I should probably wait a few weeks and get a complete dataset. And then there’s stuff I think about so long that someone else comes along and gets it done for me, like the comparison of release points among ballparks. This guy has a new blog, and did the study I’d been thinking of, and even stepped through the same ideas I had. It’s nice know that my thinking is being matched by others, that tells me I’m on the right track for what I’m doing. If I was getting radically different results, I’d be worried, but I think the fact that we’re validating each other as we go tells me that the Cambrian explosion as Dan Fox put it may be happening. Fun times to be looking at this stuff.

I’ll try and work harder too

August 15, 2007

So the Rangers finally inked first round pick Blake Beavan to a contract, one day before the deadline for signing players. With that one day to go, there are still a few players left that the Rangers won’t want to get away, so expect the possibility of another signing or two being announced tomorrow. Of course, chances are some of them won’t want to sign, and will be back in the draft next year (or later, depending on what their eligibility will be). If that’s the case, the Rangers will get compensatory picks in the same spots next year (e.g. Beavan was the 17th pick this year, if he hadn’t signed the Rangers would have gotten a compensation pick after the 17th pick next year), which to me sounds like an extremely unworkable solution, which is going to need some accountants to keep track of in a year or three. What if the Rangers didn’t sign that comp pick next year? Would they get another one the year after? Would it still be after the 17th pick, or would it be after the 18th, since that’s where it would effectively be next year (assuming all other teams signed their players)? What if the team drafting 17th next year also didn’t sign their player? And so on. You can imagine the team drafting 30th overall next year actually getting about the 35th player (if five teams don’t sign their first picks this year), and the year after that 30th pick might actually be the 40th player, and so on and so on. An accounting nightmare that only an Enron fan could love (sorry, had to throw that in since I’m reading a book about the Enron scandals right now).

Anyway, they got their man, at last. You can now expect to see Beavan in the Rangers rotation in about five years time. Well, expect is a strong word, since I’m guessing there’s probably about a10% chance he a) won’t get injured, b) will still be a rotation candidate instead of in the bullpen, c) will still be with the Rangers instead of being traded, or d) won’t have veered off into some other interests, like football, or girls, or drugs, or any of 1.5 million other distractions that an 18 year old with 1.5 million dollars might have. In fact, you’ll love this quote, when asked about a timetable on reaching the Rangers he said “It depends how hard I work in order to get there”. Uhhh, yeah, sure it does, kid. Hey, why don’t you spend some of that money on a PR person, someone who’ll tell you not to say really stupid things that will make people question your work ethic the day you sign a million dollar contract? I’ve been irritated at him before on this blog, and I can see that’s not going to stop. If he ever does make the majors, I have the strong feeling that my thoughts about him will always be colored by the dumb things he has said, and the holding out he did because he wanted more money. Ironically, just a few days ago one of the Rangers’ other first round picks, Michael Main, was promoted a level after pitching well at his first stop in pro baseball. Who are you going to root for more, the guy who signed, got on with the job, and stepped one rung closer to the majors, or the guy who held out for a few thousand more dollars, threatened to go to college, didn’t pitch at all this year, didn’t get any development done, and isn’t eligible to pitch until next year?

On the other hand, who knows? Maybe he has just the right attitude to turn himself into another Roger Clemens, or Nolan Ryan. As always with prospects, only time will tell.

Nice win against KC today. Gerald Laird pulls off a bunt to hit a three run homer, and of course it’s all about him being questioned as the catcher going forward. You know, four years ago when he made his debut I thought he might have the chance to be the new Pudge, setting up to be the Rangers catcher for the next ten years or so. Of course, that kind of got derailed, not only by various little injuries but also by the idea that Rod Barajas was better than him, and by Showalter not liking him for some reason. I think if he’d gotten the chances he deserved, he might have made something more of himself. Instead he’s going to be another one of those guys who, if not traded beforehand, will be looking elsewhere once free agency comes along simply because the Rangers didn’t give him those opportunities. It’s got to be really annoying for them to trade for Salty, say he’s going to catch just a little, then two weeks later turn around and say that they’ll split time behind the plate, to see what Salty can do. Yeah, that might be good for the team, but it’s irritating for the player. Gerald has shown he can field with the best of them, he’s just had trouble getting his bat going, which since he’s been jerked around so much isn’t surprising. Right now I’d give more than even odds that Laird will be with another team next year, because JD doesn’t have the skin in the game where Laird is concerned, not compared to Salty who he traded for instead of inheriting. Laird should be worth yet another prospect, in JD’s chase to have the best minor league system around.

Padilla is going to start tomorrow. Quote: “We hope he throws well,” Connor said. “The Minor League starts don’t indicate he’s back to where he needs to be, but those are Minor League starts. Some guys don’t pitch very well in those starts.” Yeah, right. What do you call players who don’t pitch very well in the minors? Scrubs, usually. But usually you don’t give them 20 million dollar contracts. And then usually you don’t risk bringing them back up when they’ve had a 8 something ERA in 12 innings over 6 starts in the minors. That’s right, in his rehab he has averaged two innings per start. Do you think he’ll make it through two innings tomorrow? My prediction, he sucks tomorrow, and in the next couple of starts, and will eventually have season ending surgery, then will be back in the mix in spring training.

Speaking of season ending, that’s what they’re saying about Aki. Remember back in early July, when he first got injured? They didn’t put him on the DL for a couple of weeks, they kept saying it was a day to day thing, they kept hoping he’d be okay so his trade value wouldn’t be damaged. Now, six weeks later, they still don’t know when he’ll be back, if at all this year. This is another example of a pitching coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing, who is gambling with million dollar arms and losing more often than he wins. It’s not a coincidence that all these pitchers are getting hurt this year, there’s something deeper underlying it. If Blake Beavan wants to increase his 10% chance, he shouldn’t even shake hands with Mark Connor, let alone listen to his advice.

TR Sullivan took a look at where the Rangers are for next year. In a couple of places he talks about what the Rangers have to do to contend in 2008. The scary part is that Rangers ownership and management might be looking at this and getting ideas about winning next year. You know what the Rangers have to do to contend next year? Become the Angels. Seriously. If you think this team, which a while ago was almost guaranteed to lose 100 games but have improved so much they might only lose 90, is going to contend next year, then I’ve got some bridges you might be interested in. Yes, theoretically it’s possible they might contend, but in reality that’s maybe a 2% chance. They haven’t done anything to improve the major league team, they’ve got a rotation which I talked about the other day as being full of #4 and #5 starters, nothing to scare anyone, and they’re a franchise that has been drifting for years. They are going to plug in a couple of stop-gap free agents, pretend they’re big stars who are going to put the team over the top, and muddle their way back to another 70-80 win season. They don’t have the guts to tear it all down, they don’t have the minor league system to trade for the people they need, and they don’t have enough money to get the free agent pitching they need (they will get the mediocrities, the Chan Ho Park’s that will take a lot of dollars for a little result, and trumpet them as saviors). It doesn’t really matter what they do for the next year or two, they simply have to sit back and try not to destroy anything while the kids develop into a winning team in 3-5 years time.

Apologies for not getting Rusty photos uploaded yet, as I promised I would on the weekend.  Maybe tomorrow, if time doesn’t get away from me again.

Finally, it’s been fun to see some of the people that have linked to this blog over time. I’ve gotten a number of links from some high profile places in the baseball geek world. I recently passed a milestone, 1000 page views (in four months, although it took a couple of months to get to 50, so things have been getting better and better), and those page views only count people who browse or come in from other links, not those of you who read my feed, which would put the number a lot higher. It’s always an honor when I get a link, because it gives some validation to what I write and encourages me to continue. It’s especially pleasing from somewhere that I read regularly, like the Batter’s Box site that mentioned me nicely the other day in their preview of the Rangers-Blue Jays series. But today I got perhaps my biggest link ever, from Slate magazine discussing the online analysis of the Gameday system.  I’ve read Slate for years, they’re one of the premier online magazines around.  To get mentioned in there is definitely the highlight of this blog so far, even if their implication is that I’m among the geekiest of the geeks.  I’m proud to be a geek, and I’m proud to get that link.  Thanks to all who read.