Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while re-evaluating your retirement fund.

So Brewer management is headed out to Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings, but even before leaving they were working to lower expectations. There's a new poll in the right sidebar asking what you'd like Doug Melvin's priorities to be this week.

Speaking of polls, have you voted in the BCB Reader Survey yet? I'm almost done bugging you about it, I promise.

Ben Sheets has until Sunday to accept or decline the Brewers' offer of arbitration. Using these salary estimates from August, Eric Seidman of FanGraphs has crunched the numbers and estimates Sheets' value at $16.25 million for 2009 or $44 million over the next three seasons. Overall, Dave Cameron estimates the Brewers can afford to spend about $1.8 million per win above replacement if they hope to reach 90 wins.

It seems more and more unlikely the Astros will be able to afford Ben Sheets. They couldn't afford to offer arbitration to Randy Wolf.

For once, I'm four paragraphs into the Mug before mentioning CC Sabathia. The Angels are denying reports that they've shifted their focus from Teixiera to Sabathia, and the lefty reportedly hasn't heard from the Dodgers in weeks.

It's been a few weeks since we've heard any rumors about Prince Fielder, so I guess this is news: he could be available in a deal for starting pitching or a closer.

Do you have some time to burn and an intense desire to vote on awards? Gabe Kapler, Ryan Braun, CC Sabathia and doug Melvin are in the running for This Year in Baseball awards. Voting is open until 11 pm Monday.

As noted below, the Brewers handed out 48 playoff shares yesterday valued at approximately $29,000 each. Elsewhere in baseball, the Rays' playoff shares were over $223,000, which is more than half the 2008 salary of a significant portion of the Rays' roster. Also, somehow the Mets got $9,185 each despite not making the playoffs at all.

As noted in the FanShots, Baseball America rated Caleb Gindl the #12 prospect in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Congratulations to him on the honor.

Meanwhile, the Brewers continue to fill in the gaps in their scouting department. They hired two new scouts and promoted a third yesterday.

Here's what's on the hot stove:

Astros: Re-signed Doug Brocail, somehow convincing the Type A free agent to take a pay cut, even after declining arbitration.
Braves: Acquired Javier Vazquez from the White Sox for three prospects.
Cardinals: Still have not finalized a deal with Trever Miller, which was reported weeks ago. Rumor has it Miller failed a physical.
Giants: May be looking to sign former Cubs reliever Bob Howry, especially now that the Cubs declined to offer him arbitration.
Indians: The team is reportedly unwilling to offer a multi-year deal to free agent Orlando Hudson, more or less eliminating any chance they had of signing him.
Rays: The team may or may not be willing to make a trade involving SS Jason Bartlett.
Red Sox: Signed journeyman lefty reliever Billy Traber to a contract for 2009.
Reds: Walt Jocketty is downplaying reports that the team may be interested in signing Kerry Wood.
Tigers: The team is reportedly engaged in ongoing conversations with the Pirates regarding Jack Wilson.

Two Cardinals blogs, Fungoes and Viva El Birdos, are disappointed by the Cardinals' decision not to offer arbitration to Braden Looper, who made 63 starts for the Cardinals after being converted from the bullpen, and posted a 2008 ERA+ (102) only slightly lower than A.J. Burnett's (105). So if Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett are both seeking five year deals, Looper could position himself as a cheaper alternative and still get a pretty nice contract.

Can you really cite "tough economic times" as an issue when you're owned by a company worth nearly 11 figures? The Blue Jays are citing economic struggles as the reason for mass layoffs in their sales department. Metro Canada (via The Southpaw) is reporting 20 workers will be laid off, but The Boston Herald (via Baseball Musings) is citing a team source saying it will be "in the 30's."

The Giants' sales department is pursuing a new strategy that doesn't involve lots of empty desks: Approximately 2,000 upper deck seats will be priced based on demand. The story suggests tickets for the Giants/Brewers series in April could sell for as little as $8.

Will time change the Hall of Fame fate of Mark McGwire? A's Nation offers their thoughts and a poll.

Odds are I live closer to Cedar Rapids than most of you do, but if you're within driving distance you might see me at The Cedar Rapids Kernels Hot Stove Banquet, featuring guest speaker (and former Brewer) Jim Abbott. Tickets are relatively reasonably priced and the proceeds go to local charities.

Oh, and I know the economy is tough, but you're just buying someone else's trouble when you purchase a used wheel.

Drink up.

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