Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 20th, 2010

Brewers get Greinke, Betancourt . . . .

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And finally, folks, for my third post of the night, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the Milwaukee Brewers recent trade for RHP Zack Greinke.

Yesterday afternoon, the Brewers traded SS Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain, and two minor league RHP, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, to the Kansas City Royals for Greinke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt.  Greinke is a former American League Cy Young winner (he won in ’09 with a 16-8 record), and is considered one of the best pitchers in the major leagues despite having an off-year in 2010 with a 10-14 record and a 4.19 ERA.

I’m pleased the Brewers went out and got Greinke, because this is the second pitcher the Brewers have acquired in the off season (the Brewers got Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays a few weeks ago, trading minor league 2B Brett Lawrie for him straight up).   He’s an excellent pitcher and should really help the Brewers’ rotation — and as all know, the Brewers’ main problem the last few years has been pitching.  Especially starting pitching.  (When the Brewers lost C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency, they took a major step down despite all their good hitters — Corey Hart, Casey McGehee, and of course Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  Hitters can’t do much when the starters keep giving up around 5 ERs a game.)

But I’m not happy the Brewers parted with Lorenzo Cain; Cain had shown some power and a great deal of speed to go along with his excellent defensive skills in centerfield in his brief stint in the majors last year, hitting .308 with a robust OBP of .348 — pretty good for his first 147 at-bats.

The others — eh.  I liked what I saw of Jeffress, and I’m sure he’ll have a good career if he can stay away from the illegal substances (he’s been busted twice under MLB’s anti-drug policy for marijuana use), but to get Greinke I have no problem with him leaving.  Ditto for Jake Odorizzi, who seemed like a good prospect thus far — possibly the Brewers best pitcher in the minors (certainly the most-hyped), though he was still in A ball this past year.

To be perfectly honest, though, I was glad to see Alcides Escobar go; I felt his defensive play was at best overhyped (Escobar makes great plays, then muffs easy ones), especially compared to the SS who came before him, JJ Hardy (who is an outstanding defensive shortstop, possibly the best in the major leagues, and certainly in the top five when healthy), and his offense was, well, anemic at .235 with a .288 OBP and 10 stolen bases.

When I went to Brewers games last year, everyone I spoke with used the same words to describe Escobar:  “Overhyped.”  “Flash in the pan.”  “Melvin’s an idiot — can we please have JJ Hardy back?”  And I agreed — Escobar was described as “the real deal,” or “everything, and the bag of chips besides” — and he just wasn’t.  (Perhaps no one could live up to that billing.)

Betancourt would appear to be a step up offensively, as he batted .259 with 16 HRs (to Escobar’s 4) and 78 RBIs (to Escobar’s 41), though he also has a very low OBP at .288.  As for his defense, I’d describe it as adequate — he’s another guy who won’t make anyone forget JJ Hardy anytime soon — though as he’s not been labeled a “can’t-miss” prospect, maybe he’ll be less encumbered by expectations than was Escobar.

At any rate, this is a trade that looks very good on paper and I hope it works out well for the Brewers.  I know that as a fan, I’m for it.

Brett Favre to start tonight for the Vikings — UPDATED

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UPDATE:  Brett Favre took a hard hit on his left shoulder (not his throwing shoulder) from DE Corey Wooten of the Bears, and has sustained a head injury.   It is unlikely he’ll return to this game; as for next week, I guess we’ll all see.

Here’s the most recent story at ESPN:

And here’s another one that amused me from Bleacher Report about how to finally get Brett Favre into retirement (written before this game started):

**** Now back to the original post. ****

Brett Favre started tonight for the Minnesota Vikings in their Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears.

I mention this for three reasons:

1) I really admire Favre as a player.

2) It’s amazing that Favre would try to play with a hand that, at last check-up, was still swollen to twice its normal size and looked like raw hamburger.

3) If the Vikings win tonight, Favre will be indirectly helping his old team, the Green Bay Packers, because the Packers lost last night to the Patriots (in a gutty, inspired performance from Packers backup Matt Flynn), 31-27.  The Packers are now 8-6 and need all the help they can get to make the playoffs; if the Bears lose tonight, that will help the Packers (as the Bears are currently ahead of the Packers in the standings; the Bears’ record currently stands at 9-4, while the Vikings are at 5-8.  The Packers want to stay only one game back in the loss column and have a shot at the NFC North title (the Bears can lock it up tonight if they win, or so the Milwaukee announcers said), so in a probable first, Aaron Rodgers (who sat out last night with a concussion) and the rest of the Packers will most likely be cheering on Favre and the Vikings.

Who said fact is stranger than fiction, huh?

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Reviewed Jason Cordova’s “Corruptor” for Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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Folks, just wanted y’all to be aware of my new review for Jason Cordova’s CORRUPTOR.   I posted it at and Barnes and Noble’s Web site also . . . here’s what I wrote, in its entirety:

******* REVIEW FOLLOWS ********

Jason Cordova’s CORRUPTOR has an interesting premise that ties games theory, computers, advanced virtual reality interfacing, the problems of soldiering, and one tough gal together and never lets go.

I read CORRUPTOR over a year ago and recently re-read it in ARC form. It has excellent plot twists, a heroine in Victoria (Tori) Adams that’s almost impossible to describe — she’s tough, as I said before, but she’s also a typical teenager doing her best to get used to friendship and dating. And because her father has moved around a great deal due to his job, she hasn’t really been able to make many friends in real life — all of her friends play the same game she does, a game-world called “Crisis” that’s part of the mega-corporate WarpSoft, the ultimate in computer games where every possible talent the gamer in question has is used.

Because Tori is such a strong gamer, she’s both hated and feared in this game, yet she has some good friends — Raul, Stephanie, and Dylan, among others — who will not betray her. Which is just as well, as Crisis has been hijacked, and no one’s getting out alive unless Tori (on the inside) can beat the game, while her father (one of WarpSoft’s major players) figures out the identity of the hijackers and stops them on the outside.

This is an excellent plotline with some good characterization, and I enjoyed it heartily.

So with all this being said, you might be wondering why I didn’t give this book a five for “excellent” rather than a “four” for very good. The reason for that is mostly that I can’t consider this book an “instant classic,” nor can I give it quite enough to round it up to five stars for Amazon’s purposes, either. I didn’t quite believe the romance between Tori’s father and one of the WarpSoft personnel trying to figure out the identity of the hijackers, either, and thought there wasn’t enough there for more than a flirtation (especially the end of the book, where the love-interest stands there and says nothing). But these are minor quibbles.

This is a very good first novel that’s interesting, that has some really fine interplay between the in-game characters, and some believable interplay with the WarpSoft personnel, particularly the chief of security (a big, tough, former football player named Mike).

I enjoyed CORRUPTOR, and believe if you read it, you will, too.

Four stars. Recommended.


Then I signed my name (as is my wont).

So why are you still sitting here?  Go get it, and read it, and enjoy it!  (Just in time for Xmas, even.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm