Some things to read while searching for an umbrella.
We're two days away from Opening Day and as of this morning it looks like the weather will be largely cooperative: The Weather Channel says it will be 50 degrees and sunny when the Brewers and Cardinals meet for the first time on Friday.
Meanwhile, yesterday's biggest news came significantly after many of us had gone to bed: The Brewers finalized their 25 man roster in unexpected fashion last night by picking Travis Ishikawa over Brooks Conrad for the final bench spot (FanShot). The decision is interesting for a few reasons, most notably the fact that it leaves Cesar Izturis as the only backup on the roster at second and third base in addition to shortstop.
Here's a quick comparison of Ishikawa and Conrad's batting lines this spring:
At any rate, Jaymes Langrehr of Disciples of Uecker has a reminder that we spent a lot of time discussing a similar decision in 2011 only to have it become irrelevant. It's also worth noting, though, that we had a similar conversation when the team chose Casey McGehee over Mike Lamb.
Back on the field, the Brewers dropped both halves of their last doubleheader of the spring, losing 5-3 to the Cubs in Mesa and 5-3 again to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. We've got recaps here and here, if you missed them.
Corey Hart made his spring training debut last night, going 2-for-3 with a double and scoring a run. He'll likely play again today to get as many plate appearances as he can before Friday.
Other notes from the field:
- Yesterday's losses dropped the Brewers to 2-8 in split-squad action this spring. They completed a sweep once and were swept four times.
- The Brewers' only run against Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter scored without a hit: An HBP, error, wild pitch, walk and fielder's choice led to the score.
- Mike Vassallo took a picture of the empty press box in Mesa.
The Brewers close out the exhibition season today when they face the Diamondbacks at 2:40. Shaun Marcum will be on the mound, and the game will be televised on FS Wisconsin. Shaun Marcum told reporters he's satisfied with his spring, even if it was abbreviated due to injury for the second straight year.
We don't know for sure how Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum will perform in their first starts this week, but we can relatively safely assume neither of them will hit a batter. Plunk Everyone notes that Marcum (864 batters faced) and Gallardo (751) have baseball's third and seventh longest active streaks without a hit batsman.
For whatever reason, everyone seemed to be talking about Zack Greinke yesterday:
- Jim Bowden is reporting that Greinke has hired Casey Close to serve as his agent, but Tom Haudricourt says he has yet to file the paperwork.
- Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs has him first in his spring training SCOUT stat. Chris Narveson is last.
- Jack Moore notes that 68.4% of the home runs Greinke allowed in 2011 were listed as "just enough" by Hit Tracker Online.
Looking ahead, Mike Vassallo has the pitching matchups for the Cubs series that opens on Monday:
|Monday||Shaun Marcum||Chris Volstad|
|Tuesday||Chris Narveson||Paul Maholm|
|Wednesday||Yovani Gallardo||Ryan Dempster|
|Thursday||Zack Greinke||Matt Garza|
I'd say there's a strong chance Cesar Izturis is going to be the Brewer lightning rod in 2012. Being the lone backup at three positions is probably going to net him a fair amount of playing time and his bat is going to get old fast. The Brewer Nation profiled Izturis yesterday as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
While most eyes are looking forward to Friday, Howie Magner of Milwaukee Magazine talked to Mark Attanasio about his experience at Game 5 of the NLDS.
In the minors:
- Huntsville pitcher Kyle Heckathorn started for the Brewers in the Mesa half of the doubleheader yesterday and talked to Adam McCalvy about the experience.
- Wisconsin held their annual Media Day yesterday, and I've got quotes and over half an hour of audio from interviews with manager Matt Erickson and eight players.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has Wisconsin's rotation set through the first five games.
- Taylor Jungmann will start tomorrow night's opener for Brevard County.
- The organization released catcher Patrick Arlis, who has since signed with an independent team.
Until the Ishikawa/Conrad news, there was a chance this was going to be today's top story: The Brewers released their 2012 TV ads yesterday, with four spots featuring Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki, Mat Gamel, Shaun Marcum and Aaron Rodgers. The Ramirez one is my favorite, but as you might imagine the one featuring an actual live member of the Green Bay Packers is drawing the most attention.
Today might be the biggest day of the year for predictions, projections, power rankings and whatnot:
- Eleven of ESPN's 49 writers are picking the Brewers to win the Central. Five more have them winning a Wild Card, and John Kruk and David Schoenfield are picking them to reach the World Series.
- One of six writers at Bless You Boys has the Brewers winning the Central.
- None of Hardball Talk's four writers have the Brewers winning the Central, but two have them winning a Wild Card.
- The Outside Corner has the Brewers 13th in their power rankings.
- The Baseball Index has Zack Greinke winning the NL Cy Young.
- ESPN listed Braun as baseball's sixth best player as part of the final piece of their top 500 list.
You Can't Predict Baseball says the Brewers will score more runs than they did last year.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, my appearance on The Watercooler with Jimmie Kaska from last night has been archived. I'll also be spending an hour today on The Home Stretch with Justin Hull on The Score in Appleton. I'll be live in studio at 3 and taking your calls as we resume our weekly schedule.
Braves: Signed reliever Chad Durbin.
Padres: Placed Mark Kotsay on the DL with a calf injury.
Rays: Closer Kyle Farnsworth will open the season on the DL with elbow soreness.
Red Sox: Closer Andrew Bailey will require thumb surgery and is expected to be out for months.
Reds: Claimed pitcher Alfredo Simon off waivers from the Orioles.
Rockies: Placed pitcher Josh Outman on the DL with an oblique injury and claimed pitcher Adam Ottavino off waivers from the Cardinals.
Tigers: Placed infielder Brandon Inge on the DL with a groin strain.
In former Brewers: Neither Danny Ray Herrera or Vinny Rottino are going to make the Mets.
Here's a reminder that there's really not another pitcher in baseball like Justin Verlander: David Schoenfield notes that Verlander's 3941 pitches thrown during the regular season were the most in the majors since 2005, and he threw 360 more in the playoffs.
Today in baseball economics: The Mariners have come out against a proposed move to build a new arena for an NBA/NHL team in the same neighborhood as Safeco Field, and Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wonders if it's part of an effort to sell the team.
Finally, here's one last reminder to go participate in Tom Tango's Community Projections, if you haven't already. The voting closes tonight.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find this place.