Some things to read while remembering whose mic is open.
We're 61 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and this winter's surprises just keep coming. Over the weekend news broke that the Brewers will win the bidding for the right to negotiate with Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki (FanShot). Todd Rosiak notes that the winner of the bidding won't officially be announced until Thursday, but it looks promising. As Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar notes, this news comes less than three weeks after Melvin told reporters the Brewers don't scout Japan and won't bid on players they haven't seen.
Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker has a quick scouting report, saying Aoki lacks significant power and may be limited to left field by his arm strength. Aoki is represented in the US by Nez Balelo, who also represents Ryan Braun. Adam McCalvy found a report this morning saying the Brewers (once the posting is official) will bring Aoki to Maryvale to see him work out before offering a contract.
It's worth noting that the Brewers are really getting something close to a free look at a player who could help them. If the Brewers opt not to sign Aoki, the $2.5 million they've reportedly sent to Yakult will be refunded and he'll return to Japan. Once the bidding results are made official, the team and player will have 30 days to sort things out.
Meanwhile, we have a new development in the Ryan Braun situation: This morning TMZ is reporting that his failed test was due to a medication, not steroids (FanShot). Rumors of this nature had been making the rounds for some time now, but this is the closest thing we've seen to an acknowledgment of them. You know a rumor is pure speculation when a TMZ report *adds* credibility. They're claiming the information came from a source directly connected with Major League Baseball.
Elsewhere in Braun notes: Jacob Peterson of Beyond the Box Score notes that Braun spent 13 hours and two minutes at the plate in 2011, the sixth longest time in all of baseball. For comparison purposes, Aramis Ramirez had six fewer plate appearances but was only at the dish for nine hours and 12 minutes.
By the way, here's confirmation of something you probably already suspected: Walk Like A Sabermetrician says Braun and Prince Fielder gave the Brewers the NL's best #3 and 4 hitters, but the team's #5 and 6 hitters ranked 15th in the 16 team league.
As long as I've already mentioned him, we might as well discuss today's Prince Fielder notes:
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times wonders if a "blatant money grab" is the only chance the Mariners have of landing Fielder.
- Dale Sveum downplayed the Cubs' reported interest in Fielder, saying "it's the media talking."
I guess I'm inclined to see this as "not all bad," but your results may vary: Dodger Sims used three stats to identify Shaun Marcum as the pitcher most similar to Ted Lilly of the Dodgers.
Here's another thing we probably should have suspected: Jimmy Rollins, who re-signed to a three year, $33 million deal with the Phillies this weekend, did so after turning down a bigger offer from the Brewers.
In the minors:
- Baseball America reports the Brewers have re-signed veteran infielder Andy Gonzalez to a minor league deal. Gonzalez turned 30 last week and hit .289/.403/.416 in 69 games in 2011 between Huntsville and Nashville.
- Gonzalez, by the way, went 2-for-4 and hit a home run in Caguas' 5-3 loss to Carolina in Puerto Rico yesterday. You can read about that and more in today's Winter League Notes. Gonzalez is now batting .254/.308/.390 through 18 games.
- Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has a look back at Scooter Gennett's 2011 season, and announces that Taylor Green and Wily Peralta are MLB.com's Brewer organizational players of the year.
- Peace and Glove has a five tweet interview with reliever Rob Wooten, who split 2011 between Brevard County and Huntsville after missing the 2010 season.
- The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have unveiled the bobbleheads they'll be giving away on Opening Day in April.
- Baseball America has a story on Santo Manzanillo, but it's subscriber-only.
I have no idea what a "GIBBY" looks like, but Ryan Braun will get one to put on his mantle: His trip and fall between third and home on August 31 won the award for Oddity of the Year.
Diamondbacks: Signed outfielder Jason Kubel to a two year, $15 million deal with an option for 2014.
Giants: Signed catcher Eli Whiteside to a major league deal.
Indians: Acquired outfielder Aaron Cunningham from the Padres for a minor league pitcher, designated pitcher Josh Judy for assignment and signed infielder Jose Lopez to a minor league deal.
Mariners: Signed reliever George Sherrill to a one year deal.
Mets: Re-signed outfielder Mike Baxter to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed pitcher Jeff Fulchino and outfielder Jason Michaels to minor league deals.
Orioles: Signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a one year, $1.5 million deal.
Padres: Designated catcher Luis Martinez for assignment.
Reds: Acquired pitcher Mat Latos from the Padres for pitcher Edinson Volquez, first baseman Yonder Alonso and two prospects (FanShot).
Rockies: Signed first baseman/outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a three year, $31.5 million deal and signed catcher Wil Nieves and pitcher Mike Ekstrom to minor league deals.
Tigers: Pitcher Al Albuquerque is expected to be out until the All Star break following elbow surgery.
In former Brewers:
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com is reporting the Indians are talking to Mike Cameron.
- Dante Bichette signed Josh Wussow's first autograph. Mine, come to think of it, was Seth McClung.
Today in baseball economics:
- It's possible we're going to get a rare look at the actual value of an MLB team this winter. As one Mariners' minority owner is getting divorced, two court-ordered appraisals of the franchise have come back with the team valued somewhere between $551 and $750 million. Forbes had previously estimated the team's worth at $449 million.
- The Pirates are getting ready to become the latest team to experiment with dynamic ticket pricing.
I'm not sure I agree with this, but I'll throw it out there for conversation's sake: Both Buster Olney and Keith Law agreed over the weekend that the NL Central is baseball's worst division. I know the bottom of the Central (Astros and Cubs) is awful, but I have a hard time believing the NL West or AL Central are markedly better divisions.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to send another basket.