Monday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while working in a metaphor.

Brewer pitchers and catchers are in camp and most are expected to participate in today's first official workout, but as Tom Haudricourt quickly pointed out, we have to attach a "weather permitting" to that. He notes that rain and high winds are in the forecast, but a quick check of the radar suggests something more like "intermittent showers" and less like "steady rain."

Assuming they do get on the field today, the Brewers will have 31 healthy pitchers working out. Following physicals yesterday, the only player with limits on his activity is David Riske, who continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery (FanShot).

Today will be the first 2010 workout for the newest long-term Brewer, Randy Wolf. At The Book Blog, Tom Tango asked readers to select the best and worst three year contracts signed this winter. Seven percent selected Randy Wolf's deal as the best, while eight percent selected it as the worst.

Either way, the Brewer front office and ownership deserve a lot of credit for being willing to lay out the financial resources to put a competitive team on the field. Mark Attanasio recently told Michael Hunt that the team will "nervously move payroll in the direction of $90 million." (FanShot) The Brewers project to open 2010 with $85 million committed to player salaries, which is the 17th highest payroll in baseball. It's also more than twice what the Pirates and Padres are spending.

Don't expect to see much of Trevor Hoffman in games this spring. Hoffman was allowed to do his own thing last spring, pitching in "B" games and working on his own a fair amount, and Gord Ash told Tom Haudricourt to expect that to continue this spring.

Apparently the Brewers have done a good job over the last few years of keeping players healthy and on the field: Beyond the Box Score estimates the Brewers have gained slightly less than an extra win per season since 2002 by avoiding injuries. That's the seventh best average in baseball over that stretch.

Elsewhere in previews:

  • Tom Haudricourt has a preview of Brewer starting pitchers, and a depth chart with surprises at the top and bottom: Randy Wolf is listed #1 over Yovani Gallardo, and Josh Butler is eighth, ahead of Marco Estrada, John Halama and Kameron Loe, among others.
  • Meanwhile, Adam McCalvy also previews the starters, noting that the organization has already plotted out a pitching rotation through March 24, and also that the team insists that financial flexibility will not be the deciding factor in the final rotation spot.
  • Tom Haudricourt also has a profile of 2009 first round pick Eric Arnett, who is in major league spring training (and professional spring training) for the first time. It was probably a good idea to get this profile in early: with 32 pitchers in camp, Arnett, Kyle Heckathorn and some others with no chance of making the team will probably be shipped out as soon as minor league camp opens.
  • Brewers Bar has a list of ten players to watch in Maryvale.
  • Haudricourt also has the list of nine players who have yet to report to camp: Craig Counsell, Luis Cruz, Alcides Escobar, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Hernan Iribarren, Logan Schafer, Ryan Braun and Jody Gerut. Fielder, Braun, Hart, Counsell and perhaps Gerut aren't very surprising, but I'd expect the rest of those guys to be there by now. 
  • Matthew Pouliot of Circling the Bases projected Fielder to have the second best OPS among first basemen in 2010, behind some guy named Pujols.

In the minors:

  • In what's almost certainly the most overkill prospect list you'll ever see, Minor League Baseball Prospects has a list of baseball's top 2000 prospects, with Alcides Escobar and Brett Lawrie the top Brewers at 18 and 25, respectively. I lost count somewhere in the 1000's but I'm pretty sure there are 70+ Brewers included.
  • Meanwhile, Brew City Sports went the more traditional route and ranked baseball's top 50. Alcides Escobar is the only Brewer on their list, at #41.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball is asking his readers for a community projection on Escobar, with a wide range of possible outcomes that wouldn't be exceptionally surprising.
  • We might be starting to hit the point where it's not too early to look ahead to the 2010 Draft. Andy Seiler has a draft preview for the Brewers, who will select 15th.

Spring training is underway, with exhibition games soon to follow and Opening Day looming on the horizon. With that said, if you're a little behind the times and still have your Christmas tree up you might be interested in this musical Brewer snowman ornament.

Are you in midseason form? If not, Wisconsin Sports Tap has a guide to getting yourself ready for Opening Day.

Around baseball:

Angels: Lost their arbitration case against catcher Jeff Mathis, who will earn $1.3 million in 2010.
Astros: Agreed to a two year extension with GM Ed Wade that will keep him under contract through 2012.
Athetics: Justin Duchscherer has had multiple ineffective cortisone injections in his sore hip, and will undergo a procedure to burn off nerve endings in the area to end the irritation.
Blue Jays: Signed Jose Molina to a one year deal that could be worth as much as $800k, and placed pitcher Dirk Hayhurst on the 60-day DL following surgery to repair fraying in his labrum.
Cubs: Won their arbitration case against Ryan Theriot, who will earn $2.6 million in 2010.
Nationals: Won their arbitration case against reliever Sean Burnett, who will earn $775k in 2010.
Padres: Signed infielder Josh Barfield to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Khalil Greene is dealing with a relapse of his anxiety issues and will be late reporting to camp, if he reports at all.
Tigers: Signed Johnny Damon to a one year, $8 million deal.
White Sox: Released infielder Freddie Bynum.
Yankees: Have reportedly signed Chan Ho Park to a one year, $1.2 million deal.

Today's Strange Injury Notes both come from Dodgers camp, where reliever Travis Schlichting lost 30 pounds over the offseason while suffering from Gilbert's Syndrome, and Vicente Padilla has details on an offseason shooting range accident that led to him being shot in the leg.

At least Padilla's injury won't be repeated in an MLB clubhouse anytime soon. Starting this spring, Major League Baseball will be enforcing a ban on firearms, long knives and explosives in the clubhouse. Bats will still be allowed.

Spring training is a time for optimism, but the line still needs to be drawn somewhere: New Tigers closer Jose Valverde told reporters he "can get maybe 74 saves" this season. The current MLB record is 62, and only nine pitchers have ever broken 50.

Last spring we mentioned a somewhat odd moment involving Todd Coffey and Ken Macha, with Macha saying he didn't realize how hard Coffey throws (in the low 90's), even after watching Coffey pitch all spring. Apparently that's a somewhat common problem: In a two part tweet, Jordan Bastian notes that the Blue Jays also don't use radar guns in their camp, as it encourages pitchers to overthrow and increases their risk of injury.

It's becoming an increasingly bad time to be a Dodger fan. Documents leaked as part of the McCourt divorce proceedings show the Dodgers reportedly plan to trim payroll over the next few seasons, but also plan to raise the average ticket price at Dodger Stadium by 82% between now and 2018. As Jay Jaffe notes, that plan would result in the Dodgers investing just 25% of revenue in payroll by 2018, down from 46% last season.

If you were a major leaguer, how would you get ready for spring training? Apparently Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy spent a week at Mauer's cabin in Minnesota. Both returned with beards, as Mauer's cabin is no girls razors allowed.

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know I'm planning on building one of these to put in my basement. But after reading this Biz of Baseball article, I'm wondering how hard it would be to build a retro baseball pinball machine to go with it.

Happy birthday today to John Halama, who turns 38. You probably knew that Halama is in Brewers' camp on a minor league deal despite not having pitched in the majors since 2006. What you might not know, though, is that his middle name is Thadeuz.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go put warning labels on some hot dogs.

Drink up.

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