So in yesterday's Mug I linked to Brian Anderson, who told us that Sheets was "headed in a different direction." Today, he's changed the wording of his note on Sheets to this:
Free agent Ben Sheets appears to be headed in a different direction but the door is never closed until he is signed.At least he was right on spring training: pitchers and catchers report in 27 days, and The Biz of Baseball reports the Brewers' first spring workout is on February 15.
Dave Bush and the Brewers have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $4 million dollar deal with incentives for 2009. This may seem a bit obvious, but the JS reported it anyway: After going 2-7 with a 5.73 ERA in his first 13 appearances in 2008, Bush is hoping to start stronger in 2009.
So, with Bush and Hardy signed, the Brewers are down to four arbitration eligible players: Prince Fielder, Seth McClung, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. Jayson Stark says Fielder may get compared to Ryan Howard, but the stats don't line up. Tom H. says the Brewers are in a tough spot, with real drawbacks to both trading and keeping him.
Speaking of Fielder, FakeTeams ranks him as the NL's fifth best fantasy first baseman. They also rate Rickie Weeks as the fifth best second baseman. And while I'm on the subject of rankings, Tiger Tales ranked Ryan Braun fourth among defensive left fielders. Team-wide, the Brewers ranked eighth in all of baseball defensively, according to UZR/150 at Beyond the Box Score.
I think playing defense might be a little harder at Miller Park this week: Home Run Derby has a picture of Miller Park and several other northern stadiums in winter.
Two former Brewer prospects are making news today: Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley have been invited to spring training with the Indians.
Among current prospects, Brent Brewer leads Cody Scarpetta by four votes in the balloting for the 17th and final spot in the Community Prospect Rankings. Hernan Iribarren, Erik Komatsu and Alexandre Periard are all also within 15 votes. Since this is the last spot, I'm leaving the voting open until Monday, so make sure you get your vote in.
On the hot stove:
Astros: Signed former Brewer Jose Capellan to a minor league deal.
Cubs: Signed So Taguchi to a minor league deal.
D-Backs: Reportedly offered a deal to John Garland, but he rejected it. Terms were not disclosed.
Dodgers: Released Andruw Jones but will still have to pay the remainder of the $20+ million he is owed over the next six years.
Indians: Signed Vinnie Chulk to a minor league deal.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez, arbitration eligible for the first time, is reportedly open to a multi-year deal. As things stand now, he would be a free agent in 2011, when he will still only be 25 years old.
Nationals: Are reportedly talking to the A's about a deal that would send Nick Johnson to Oakland for Daric Barton, but aren't as close to agreement as previously reported. They've also re-signed Jesus Colome.
Padres: Signed David Eckstein to play second base and claimed Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers from the Rays.
Phillies: Signed Pablo Ozuna to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Michael Young has reportedly changed his mind about wanting to be traded, and will play third base in 2009.
Red Sox: Avoided arbitration by signing Kevin Youkilis to a four year deal worth $40 million. They also designated David Aardsma for assignment to make room for Mark Kotsay.
Tigers: Are reportedly interested in both Jason Isringhausen and Brandon Lyon.
Twins: Have reportedly contacted Scott Boras to express interest in Eric Gagne.
So, with a starting rotation of Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, Braden Looper, Randy Wolf and John Garland and hitters like Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu in the middle of the order, one would think a team of remaining free agents would win some games, right? Actually, projections suggest they'd finish under .500 and cost over $140 million.
The 2009 postseason: Now with less controversy. The owners have approved rule changes that will eliminate rain-shortened playoff games and coin flips for home field advantage.
Oh, and if you had asked me for living situations that might create an inherent advantage for managers, I wouldn't have listed "former goat pasture," but it appears to be working for Trey Hillman.