Opening Day Frosty Mug

Some things to read while buying a lifetime supply of umbrellas.

I woke up early this morning, and couldn't get back to sleep. I almost decided to grill out for breakfast. Yeah, it must be Opening Day.

The roster is set and the Brewers are ready to start the 2011 season against the Reds in a few hours (FanShot). There weren't any last-minute surprises: Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart were placed on the DL to make room on the roster for Erick Almonte and Jeremy Reed, and we're good to go. Here's our opening series preview with Joel Luckhaupt of Fox Sports Ohio and Red Reporter.

The Brewers spent the day yesterday in snowy Cincinnati, where they worked out outside briefly before retreating to indoor batting cages. The pictures of the Brewers out in the snow were Big League Stew's favorites of the day.

Thankfully, the weather should not be an issue for today. The forecast for Cincinnati shows a high of 47 with light winds and just a 10% chance of rain. Not everyone is so lucky: Yesterday the Nationals were already talking about the possibility of postponement.

Other Opening Day notes:

Our game thread will open at noon today, and I hope to see you there. If you're looking for a multi-tasking opportunity, though, check out PocketDoppler's live chat featuring Brian Carriveau, editor of the Maple Street Press Brewer annual.

Regardless of what happens today, it's important not to get too worked up over it. It's only .6% of the regular season. With that said, In-Between Hops notes that this series against the Reds carries some extra significance: The Brewers went 3-11 vs Cincinnati last season, and would've been in the race in the Central if they'd gone 11-3.

If you're looking for a near sure thing to bet on today, put your pennies on Prince Fielder getting on base. The B-Ref Blog notes that Fielder reached base safely in 89.4% of his games last season, the second highest percentage in baseball. Logan Morisson of the Marlins was the leader.

Also, a long game might be a safe bet. Jordan Schelling notes that the Brewers only played 12 games in less than 2 1/2 hours last season. The Twins played 32.

It's important today to take a look back and remember how far the Brewers have come: Josh Wussow of Inside Wisconsin Sports compares the 2011 Opening Day roster to 2010.

Meanwhile, we got some bad (but somewhat expected) news yesterday regarding Zack Greinke. Ron Roenicke is conceding that the Brewers' new ace will likely miss all of April as he continues to rehab his ribs (FanShot). As Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar notes at the above link, the Brewers will still only need a fifth starter three times while Greinke is out.

Looking ahead a couple of days, Don Walker of the JS has a reminder to arrive early if you're planning on attending the home opener on Monday, as construction on I-94 and the big crowd will slow things down.

If you're heading out to the ballpark on Monday (or for the Rising Stars game on Saturday), you'll get a first look at  the new Miller Park exclusive player t shirts. Some of them look pretty cool.

Back in Arizona, it was a sad day in minor league camp as the Brewers released 14 players (nearly all of them pitchers) and announced the retirement of two more (FanShot). Here's a quick look at the players who are moving on:

  • Pitcher Evan Frederickson, the 35th overall pick in the 2008 draft, appeared in just 12 games above low A as a pro.
  • Pitcher Chris Cody was acquired by the Brewers in the deal that sent Jose Capellan to Detroit. He spent most of the last two seasons with Nashville.
  • 2010 23rd round pick Ryan Bernal pitched in 14 games for Helena.
  • Pitcher and 2010 48th round pick Marques Kyles, son of bullpen coach Stan Kyles, appeared in 12 games in Arizona last year.
  • Undrafted free agent pitcher Dexter Bobo made 18 relief appearances for Arizona and Brevard County.
  • Fellow free agent pitcher Travis Stortz pitched in 12 AZL games.
  • Utilityman and 2009 24th round pick Peter Fatse split 2010 between Wisconsin and Brevard County.
  • 2008 24th round pick Brandon Ritchie pitched for Brevard County last season.
  • Pitcher and 2007 18th round pick Bobby Bramhall was limited to just three games for the AZL Brewers in 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • Pitcher and 2007 34th round pick Casey Baron made 13 appearances for Huntsville.
  • Reliever David Johnson was a 2004 15th round pick, and had spent the last two seasons with Nashville.
  • Dominican pitchers Jose Sanchez and Rigoberto Almonte hadn't appeared in a game above Wisconsin.
  • Catcher James Skelton was signed to a minor league deal earlier this offseason.
  • Austin Stockfisch, who spent 2010 as the backup catcher in Wisconsin, is one of the two players who decided to retire.
  • The other retirement was catcher Mike Melillo, a 2010 31st round pick who had yet to make his pro debut.

Elsewhere in the minors:

The B-Ref Blog has an interesting note today: They list the Brewers as one of just six teams that have never had a pitcher accumulate 1000 career innings with an ERA+ over 120. Among pitchers with 1000 innings, Teddy Higuera (117 ERA+ and Ben Sheets (115) are the closest. Dan Plesac had a 128 ERA+ during his Brewer career, but only pitched 524.1 innings.

On power rankings and predictions and stuff:

You may recall that Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com predicted the Brewers to finish fourth in yesterday's Mug. I asked him about it and here's what he had to say:

Obviously just a guess. But Cubs have a better bullpen which makes a big difference. Concerned with MIL depth all over.

And if my past predictions are any indication I just assured your men a playoff spot.

There's still time to make some predictions of your own. You have until game time today to enter the BCB Prediction Contest, and until tomorrow to enter Wezen-ball's.

Earlier this week I mentioned that I hadn't seen any confirmation about Luis Cruz's plans to sign with the Rangers. He must have signed, though, because he's starting to show up in minor league box scores. (h/t MLBTR)

Around baseball:

Astros: Designated pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith for assignment.
Giants: Designated first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment.
Indians: Placed outfielder Grady Sizemore on the DL as he recovers from microfracture surgery on his left knee.
Marlins: Outfielder Dewayne Wise has refused a minor league assignment and is now a free agent.
Mets: Outfielder Jason Bay will open the season on the DL with an oblique strain.
Phillies: Released second baseman Luis Castillo.
Reds: Placed pitcher Jose Arrendondo (shoulder inflammation), outfielder Fred Lewis (oblique) and pitcher Jared Burton (shoulder inflammation) on the DL.

The Rowland-Smith move listed above got me thinking, as he's a freely available pitcher with starting experience and some success in his past. So I put it to a vote and a plurality of you (45% at last check) don't think it's a good idea to consider him for the fifth starter spot. Fair enough.

Yesterday's scariest moment likely belonged to the Giants, as Barry Zito was taken to the hospital following a car accident. Thankfully, Zito was released and his injuries are not believed to be serious. He's scheduled to start for the Giants on Sunday.

Earlier this week I mentioned that the Dodgers had released reliever Ron Mahay. The Washington Post notes that Mahay is the last active former replacement player from the 1994-95 strike.

If you've got a minute this morning, I've got something for you to check out: SBNation.com/mlb has been relaunched as Baseball Nation, and I think it looks pretty cool. Rob Neyer and Jeff Sullivan (who in my opinion doesn't get enough credit for his excellent work there) have done a very good job of making that page into something that should be one of the first sites you check for news and commentary.

I only wish our friends at Baseball Nation had thought of this first: Joe Posnanski has an interview with UZR.

On this day in 1998, the Brewers played the Braves in the franchise's first game as an NL team. Since the formation of the AL in 1901, the Brewers are still the only team to switch between the two leagues.

Elsewhere in baseball history, Dave Heller of the JS has a look at what the Milwaukee Journal said after the Brewers' first Opening Day in 1970.

With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:

  • 1975-76 Brewer Tom Hausman, who turns 58.
  • Menasha, WI native and 1954-55 Milwaukee Brave Dave Koslo, who would have turned 91.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fill in the blanks.

Drink up.

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