Tuesday's Frosty Mug

CHICAGO - APRIL 12: A fan dressed as the outfield ivy wall walks in front of Wrigley Field before the Opening Day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers on April 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Editor's Note: This has next to nothing to do with anything in today's Mug, but even as a noted Cub-hater I thought it was awesome.

Some things to read while naming a dog.

Is it time to worry? The Bucky Channel is sending out an SOS after Doug Davis' second consecutive poor outing yesterday, and with Jeff Suppan returning on Thursday, it's starting to look like there might be a reason for concern regarding the back end of the rotation. Davis told Tom Haudricourt that "it’s going to take a couple of good quality starts to make up for these two," while Gregg Zaun told Haudricourt he "hasn’t caught (Davis) enough to really know when he’s right."

At least Ryan Braun hit a home run yesterday: Anthony Witrado says Braun is being more selective at the plate, and Dale Sveum is happy with the results. Braun is hitting .333/.367/.630 through seven games. Corey Hart might be starting to heat up as well. He credits a mechanical adjustment made on the last day of camp with his early success. Through his first 16 PAs, Hart is hitting .357/.458/.571.

Starting in center field yesterday, Jim Edmonds went 0-for-3 with two walks. As a Brewer, he's hitting .200/.333/.250 through 24 plate appearances. Is he playing too much? In-Between Hops noted that he's made more starts (six) than either Carlos Gomez (five) or Corey Hart (three) to this point.

Other notes from the field:

Off the field, we got what can only be considered a negative sign on the Prince Fielder contract extension front yesterday. Jon Heyman is reporting that Fielder and Scott Boras view Joe Mauer's recent $184 million deal as a "mere starting point," and Fielder is believed to be seeking a $200 million deal (FanShot). Heyman is frequently accused of being little more than a Boras PR machine, but there are still a couple of things to take away from this story:

  • First of all, there's next to no chance Fielder would actually get $200 million on the open market. Suggesting that he's worth nearly $20 million more than Joe Mauer is borderline preposterous.
  • Secondly, though, if that's what Fielder thinks he's worth and Boras can convince him he can make that much on the open market, there's little to no chance the Brewers will be able to sign him to a long term extension near market value. There might be a chance they could make a competitive offer once Fielder is a free agent, but they'd have to significantly overpay to keep him from playing the market.

Meanwhile, one contract extension the Brewers did complete is drawing nice reviews: PWHjort of Beyond the Box Score suggests that the Brewers are gaining $11.4 million in value by locking Yovani Gallardo up early instead of going year-to-year.

Trevor Hoffman didn't pitch yesterday, but his early struggles remain a hot topic of conversation around the web. Over at Quevedo at the Buffet, Rubie Q is worried about Hoffman turning into Gagne 2.0. But Jeff Fletcher of AOL noted a career trend for Hoffman: He's successfully converted just 79% of save opportunities in his teams' first 20 games, and 90% after that.

Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here, but I think this is a question that needs to be asked again. Trevor Hoffman has been allowed to do his own thing in camp for each of his first two seasons as a Brewer. In 2009, he opened the season in the DL. This year, he started pitching in games several weeks after every other Brewer pitcher, and opened the season ineffectively. Now, Jeff Fletcher points out that he's been less effective in April throughout his entire career. So if he's a guy with a history of slow starts, why is he allowed to dictate his own schedule?

With roughly 4% of the 2010 season behind us, I guess it's time for new projections: FanGraphs has added ZiPS In Season Projections to their arsenal. ZiPS projects Gregg Zaun to hit .231/.333/.351 the rest of the way, which would give him a final line of .217/.318/.329.

In the minors:

In predictions and power rankings:

A quick reminder: If you haven't yet, please cast your vote in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. It was published late yesterday, so it'll remain open until 5 pm tonight and the results will be posted at 7 am tomorrow. As of this writing, 254 votes are in. It'd be nice to get into the 400-500 range.

I was pretty rough on Opening Day in yesterday's Mug. In the interest of being fair, I submit to you this evidence that Opening Day can be done right: A Girl's View of the Brewers made Brewer-themed cupcakes.

I'm remaining rough on the NBA, though: You can add Jeremy Lubus of the UWM Post to the list of Brewer fans unhappy about possibly losing Brewer telecasts to Buck playoff games.

Around baseball:

Blue Jays: Placed second baseman Aaron Hill on the DL with a strained hamstring.
Pirates:
Designated reliever Hayden Penn for assignment.

We don't frequently have unanimous agreement around here, but I'm hoping we can at the very least all come together on this one: Bringing beach balls to the ball park is dumb. But, if the "general stupidity" argument isn't enough for you, here's another reason not to: It confuses the hell out of Cody Ross.

Speaking of confusing things at the ballpark, the Pirates experimented with defensive alignments last night against the Giants, moving all three outfielders around towards right in several unconventional situations. The result? Seven balls hit to left, seven base hits.

Think pitch counts don't matter? Sam Mellinger has some numbers that might interest you: Before throwing 132 pitches in a game last season, Gil Meche had a 3.74 ERA in 82 consecutive starts. Since then, he's posted a 9.19 ERA and missed roughly ten starts due to injury.

If you've been anywhere near baseball coverage over the last few days, you probably heard about last night's first game at Target Field. For the last couple of decades it seems like new parks open every year, but Joshua Fisher of The Hardball Times says not to get used to it: Once the Marlins, A's and Rays open new parks, it could be a long time before it happens again.

This might be scraping the bottom of the "interesting former Brewers" barrel, but if you were wondering what's happened to Jorge Julio and Robinson Cancel, they're spending the 2010 season in the Atlantic League.

Hey look, a silver lining! Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs says Justin Verlander's 2007 no-hitter against the Brewers was the second most difficult of seven thrown over the last three seasons. If you needed a reminder, here's the lineup Ned Yost submitted that day:

Craig Counsell 3B
Tony Graffanino 2B (who struck out four times)
J.J. Hardy SS
Prince Fielder 1B
Corey Hart RF
Geoff Jenkins LF (0-for-3, 3 K)
Johnny Estrada C
Bill Hall CF (0-for-0, 3 walks)
Gabe Gross DH

It's good news and bad news for the economics of baseball today: At their home opener in Toronto last night the Blue Jays drew 46,321 fans. Meanwhile, the Orioles set a record low with 9,129 at Camden Yards.

Elsewhere in sadness, the Astros lost again yesterday and are now 0-7. Over at the SBN MLB page, I had a look at just how bad they are and how much worse it could get before it gets better.

On this day in 1953, the Braves played their first game as the Milwaukee Braves, beating the Reds 2-0 in Cincinnati. On the same day one year later, Hank Aaron went 0-for-5 in his Braves debut, a 9-8 loss.

On this day in 1985, Rollie Fingers recorded his 217th career save in a 6-5 Brewer win over the Rangers, setting a new American League record.

If that wasn't enough baseball history for you today, you could try this Sporcle quiz with the all time leaders in wins above replacement. I got 30 of 50, and for once I actually used the full allotted time. (h/t Beyond the Box Score)

Happy birthday to:

Oh, and here's a music video of my favorite karaoke song (h/t Bernie's Crew).

Drink up.

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