Monday's Frosty Mug

Thanks for the memories, FDLC.

Some things to read while whining and/or crying.

We're 18 days away from Opening Day, and since we last spoke the Brewers have removed ten players from major league camp. Here's a quick look at the guys moving on:

  • Frankie De La Cruz has been claimed off waivers by the Cubs (FanShot). He had allowed eight runs on seven hits over 3.1 innings this spring, and is the first player the Brewers have lost on waivers since the A's claimed Adam Heether in 2010. De La Cruz was out of options, so the team had to either expose him to waivers or keep him on the Opening Day roster.
  • Wily Peralta (optioned to AAA) posted an 8.53 ERA in 6.1 innings this spring, walking four and striking out four. He has one option left and is probably #7 or so on the depth chart at starting pitcher behind Marco Estrada. (FanShot)
  • Mike Fiers (optioned to AAA) got roughed up this spring, allowing eleven runs (ten earned) in eight innings over five appearances. He is currently second among all Brewer pitchers with eight strikeouts, though. He has two options remaining but also turns 27 in June.
  • Jeff Bianchi (removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Huntsville) had just one hit in eleven at bats this spring. With his spot cleared, the Brewers now have 38 players on their 40 man roster. (FanShot)
  • Zelous Wheeler (optioned to AAA) hit .273/.429/.636 in nine games, but received just eleven at bats this spring. He has two options left. (FanShot)
  • Eric Farris (optioned to AAA) had appeared in ten games this spring and hit .200/.238/.200 in 20 at bats. He still has one option remaining, but he doesn't appear to be anywhere close to big league-ready at shortstop and the Brewers likely won't have a vacancy at second base anytime soon.
  • Amaury Rivas (optioned to AAA) pitched reasonably well this spring, allowing three runs on nine hits over 6.1 innings. His prospect status has faltered a fair amount, and this is his last option.
  • Mark Rogers (optioned to AAA) still has a few games left on his suspension dating back to a positive drug test in 2011. The fact that he's healthy this spring is good news, but his results weren't there. This is his last option.
  • Santo Manzanillo (optioned to AA) allowed four runs on six hits over 2.2 innings this spring, but all the runs and all but one of those hits came in his last outing. The fact that he's pitching at all following his offseason car accident is good news at this point, and he's someone to watch going forward. He also has two options remaining.
  • Catcher Patrick Arlis has been returned to minor league camp. He had a hit in his only plate appearance this spring.

The latest rehab update on Corey Hart is encouraging: He's reportedly "way ahead of schedule" and has already started running, hitting and throwing again (FanShot). Ron Roenicke, however, wants to make sure that Hart is actually prepared to play baseball before putting him on the Opening Day roster, in an effort to avoid the kind of slump that plagued Hart for his first month back last season. Nick Prill of The Brewers Bar compares Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl, two candidates to take Hart's place if he's not ready.

The news is also encouraging but not quite as good regarding Shaun Marcum. He pitched a simulated game yesterday and Rick Kranitz told Tom Haudricourt (linked via Twitter) that he's ready for game action, but it still seems unlikely he'll be stretched out enough to open the season on the big league roster.

Meanwhile, it looks like something may be up regarding Zach Braddock. Tom Haudricourt reported that Braddock was in camp yesterday but didn't dress or work out, and Gord Ash said he couldn't comment on it. Ron Roenicke is still saying Braddock could pitch today. Braddock, by the way, was profiled over the weekend as part of The Brewer Nation's "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.

The worst news of the weekend may belong to Brandon Kintzler, as doctors have been unable to find the source of the pain in his elbow. He told Tom Haudricourt he's "devastated" by the news. His timetable for return remains uncertain.

Back on the field, Arizona was hit with heavy rain and hail that led to early endings or postponements of most Cactus League games yesterday. The Brewers were leading the Rangers 6-4 when the skies opened up in the fourth inning in Maryvale, and you can read Noah's abbreviated recap here.

Zack Greinke was scheduled to pitch yesterday but threw a simulated game instead because of the threat of bad weather. He told reporters he's working on a mechanical change this spring and has been happy with both his increased command and velocity.

Ryan Braun had the day off yesterday but played his first road game of the spring on Saturday, drawing roughly the reaction you'd expect from Angels fans in Tempe. Jonathan Lucroy told reporters that Braun has told his teammates more than he's told the media about his situation and his explanation has been convincing. Braun is still just 1-for-15 this spring, but is expected back in the lineup today and tomorrow.

If Braun is in the lineup today he'll get to face Yu Darvish, who is scheduled to start for the Rangers. Norichika Aoki is the only Brewer who's seen Darvish before, and he told Joe Block he's taken him to the warning track once in four at bats.

Mat Gamel went 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI yesterday before the rains came, continuing his solid spring. AJ Mass of ESPN.com listed Gamel as his question facing the Brewers this spring.

Is it possible we spent more time talking about a John Axford extension this spring than Axford and the team did? Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt his meeting to discuss contract details with Axford this spring was "just a conversation." As usual it's impossible to tell if that's true, if Melvin is posturing, or if he's simply not inclined to tell the media the truth.

Elsewhere in things Melvin may or may not be doing, Buster Olney is reporting the Brewers are in the market for a backup infielder to fill in if something happens to Alex Gonzalez or Rickie Weeks. Cesar Izturis is the current primary candidate for that job but is hitting just .192/.267/.308 so far this spring.

Meanwhile, Brooks Conrad still appears to have a pretty good chance to make the team. Adam McCalvy reports he was working with bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel this weekend on learning to catch. If he makes the team it's possible he'd be the emergency catcher this season.

It was a big weekend for positional previews and profiles:

Elsewhere in previews, Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation has an in-depth look at the 2012 Brewers and concludes that they'll finish "not first." Meanwhile, Mike Bauman of MLB.com says the Brewers could be "just as good" without Prince Fielder.

In the minors:

  • It looks like Mark Rogers (once he's back from suspension), Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Amaury Rivas will be in the rotation for Nashville. Frankie De La Cruz would have filled the fifth spot if he hadn't been claimed off waivers.
  • Tyler Thornburg started yesterday's game when Zack Greinke was scratched due to the threat of rain, and allowed two runs on four hits over 1.2 innings. Then he apparently headed out to a casino.
  • Reliever Lucas Luetge, selected by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft, remains on their roster and appears to have a chance to make the team. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
  • ASU student Lisa Kennell of the JS (linked via Twitter) has a story on likely Wisconsin Timber Rattler Parker Berberet, who has had to overcome a lot of oversight on his way to professional baseball.
  • The Appleton Post Crescent has a good story on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and some of the hard work that's gone into their off-the-field success.
  • I haven't linked them individually because most of them came while I was on vacation, but I've added about 20 Brewer minor leaguers to the Twitter list over the last couple of weeks.

Today's game won't be televised, but the Brewers will be on TV tonight: MLB Network is airing their episode of "30 in 30" covering the Brewers at 7 pm.

Around baseball:

Athletics: Reliever Joey Devine will open the season on the DL with right biceps tendonitis.
Nationals: Signed outfielder Xavier Nady to a minor league deal.
Padres: Outfielder Carlos Quentin will open the season on the DL following knee surgery.
Phillies: Released pitcher Dontrelle Willis.
Red Sox: Released pitcher Carlos Silva.
Yankees: Signed pitcher Andy Pettitte to a minor league deal.

In former Brewers:

The Brewers are likely to be back in the market for minor league partners this winter, as their player development deal with AAA Nashville expires following the season. At least one possible option is off the board, however, as the Nationals have extended their deal with AAA Syracuse and three of their other top affiliates.

How about some baseball economics?

  • 13,655 fans paid to see the Dodgers and Giants play to a tie in Glendale Saturday night, setting a new Cactus League record.
  • Fish Stripes wants to know what you'd consider an acceptable price for a ballpark burger. As you might expect, responses are all over the map.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to do the mash.

Drink up.

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