Some things to read while making an entrance.
We're 81 days away from spring training and finally got the news we were waiting for yesterday: The Brewers have hired former Rangers assistant hitting coach Johnny Narron (bench coach Jerry Narron's older brother) to serve as their new hitting coach (FanShot). Narron has followed Josh Hamilton around the big leagues since 2007 helping him become a productive major leaguer following his bout with drug addiction. Hamilton, by the way, congratulated Narron on the new job. Before that, Narron spent four seasons coaching in the lower levels of the minors for the Brewers.
So I guess the Brewers will go into the 2012 season with two Narrons. TheJay notes that even an extra initial on their unforms won't help us tell them apart.
Elsewhere, the coaching carousel continues to spin. MLB.com is reporting the Orioles are expected to hire longtime Brewer coach Bill Castro as their new bullpen coach. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy) Castro has been working in the minors for the organization since being reassigned from his pitching coach duties in 2009. Chris Bosio is also expected to accept the Cubs' pitching coach job.
I'm not sure if Castro or Bosio received one, but the Brewers handed out their playoff shares yesterday. 44 players each received $133,511 for their part in the Brewers' postseason berth and NLCS appearance. For whatever it's worth, the Brewers and Tigers (44 each) tied for the fewest shares distributed.
Here are today's Prince Fielder notes:
- Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Nationals have been talking to Fielder.
- Apparently the Cubs are back in the market. Bleed Cubbie Blue makes a case for them to go for it.
- Until yesterday, the market for Fielder looked pretty quiet. Adam Bernacchio of MLB Daily Dish has a look at this winter's slow developments.
- Meanwhile, Pro Ball NW notes that bringing Fielder to Seattle would require significant financial sacrifice in other areas.
- The Hall of Very Good is the latest to mention a rumor that Fielder wants to avoid comparisons to his father and as such would be unlikely to play for one of his former teams. Cecil was a member of the Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Indians and Angels during his career.
Elsewhere in the rumor mill: The White Sox are reportedly considering trading lefty reliever Matt Thornton, and the Brewers are one of the teams believed to be interested. Thornton has made at least 60 appearances for the Sox in six straight seasons and posted an ERA under three in three of the last four, but he's 35 and due $5.5 million in 2012. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
Baseball's winter meetings are usually a cavalcade of rumors and speculation, but Adam McCalvy says the Brewers are unlikely to be major players at the event this year. He also notes that they're unlikely to pursue Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who has been posted by the Seibu Lions (FanShot).
This is a debate we're probably going to hear again and again over the years: Dingers is using playing time to make the case that Matt Kemp should have beaten out Ryan Braun for NL MVP.
In the minors:
- The Brewers announced their minor league coaching staffs this morning and there's an interesting change to note: Former Helena manager Joe Ayrault is moving up to Brevard County and Jeff Isom, who managed Brevard County last year and Wisconsin before that, is taking his place in Helena.
- Project Prospect has an extended scouting report on Jed Bradley from his time in the AFL. There's some encouraging and discouraging stuff in there.
- It was a relatively quiet day in winter league action yesterday: Mat Gamel was the only active Brewer and went 0-for-4 with an RBI in Estrellas' 3-2 loss to Licey. You can read about that in today's Winter League Notes.
- Peace and Glove has a five tweet interview with Brevard County pitcher Maverick Lasker.
- John Matisz of the London (Ontario) Community News spent some time with Brock Kjeldgaard at his winter job: hitting instructor for Centrefield Sports.
Each year I intend to do this, but this year I won't make it again: The Brewers' annual clubhouse sale is on Friday and Saturday.
I know it's a long winter without baseball. If you're really desperate for some offseason activity, you could try having NLCS flashbacks with @Poonix. That might actually be a better decision than going hunting with Zack Greinke.
Our Brewer-by-Brewer look at the 2011 season continued yesterday with this profile of Mark Kotsay. The series continues this afternoon, so stop back later to see who we're talking about today.
If you'd like more Brewer content this morning but you're sick of reading, Justin Hull has archived my appearance with him on The Home Stretch in Appleton yesterday. If nothing else, you might enjoy hearing Justin and I admit that we'd both probably hate it if the other was allowed to run the Brewers.
Pirates: Released outfielder Xavier Paul.
Rays: Catcher Jose Molina's new contract will pay him $1.8 million next season and includes a club option for 2013.
Royals: Are expected to sign reliever Jonathan Broxton.
Tigers: Signed outfielder Jerad Head to a minor league deal.
While teams scramble and overpay for major league caliber help this time of year, one option remains unexplored: Former major league outfielder Matt Murton is returning to Japan for the 2012 season. Chris Cwik of FanGraphs has a look at his resume: in 2010 he broke Ichiro's single season hit record, and hit .311 again last season.
Today in baseball economics:
- The Athletics and Brewers are the only two Cactus League teams that still play home games within the city of Phoenix, but that could change soon as the A's are negotiating with the city of Mesa to move into the facility the Cubs will vacate following the 2013 season.
- Clint Barmes' two year, $10.5 million deal with the Pirates is that organization's largest free agent contract since 1992.
For years I've wondered about this, and now I finally know: New Orioles infielder Matt Antonelli has an in-depth look at what actually goes on in a major league physical.
The Outside Corner has spent a month comparing facial follicles as part of their MLB Mustache Madness tournament and now it all comes down to this: Rollie Fingers (who beat John Axford in the semifinals) faces James Gammon (who played manager Lou Brown in Major League) for all the mustache marbles.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History remembers the anniversary of Craig Counsell's return to Milwaukee in 2006. Meanwhile, Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also been 9000 days since B.J. Surhoff's major league debut.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stare at the remote for a while.