Some things to read while finding a fourth trombone.
We are 15 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, but it probably feels closer than that to the 11,722 fans that attended Brewers On Deck yesterday. It was the second largest crowd in the history of the event, surpassed only by last year.
Dozens of players were in attendance for the event, but there's still a chance more could be on the way: On multiple occasions yesterday members of the organization implied the team may still be active on the free agent market before spring training. Adam McCalvy has quotes saying the team is still looking at infield options (including 2012 Brewer Alex Gonzalez) and would consider signing former Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse if the price was right.
The Brewers will need to figure out a plan at first now that Corey Hart has had his knee surgery and is expected to need four months to recover. That timetable puts him out through all of April and some of May.
Also, don't be surprised if the Brewers try to improve on their depth at catcher in the next few weeks. Ron Roenicke wasn't able to say who his #3 catcher is at this point, and most of the extra catchers the Brewers are bringing to camp are more "spring training roster fillers" than "legit options."
Beyond that, fans received two pieces of good news and one more bad on the injury front: Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson have been cleared to participate in baseball activities in camp, but recent waiver claim Miguel De Los Santos had offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to be out until August.
Ron Roenicke expressed some concerns about Narveson's ability to go full speed this spring and suggested that Wily Peralta has a leg up on a spot in the starting rotation in his conference with reporters yesterday. Marco Estrada seems like a near lock to start the season's second game, but told Tom Haudricourt he's not taking anything for granted.
Here are some other notes from On Deck:
- WTMJ has archived audio from ten interviews at the event. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
- Nick Goddard of WFRV in Green Bay has an interview with Mike Fiers. (h/t @NPetrashek)
- Adam DeCock of MLB.com talked to Jim Henderson, Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin and Jonathan Lucroy.
- MLB.com has video of Bob Uecker as the center square during "Milwacky Squares."
- Ben Peters of Richfield, Minnesota's "Barrelman" design won the Brewers' uniform design contest and his jersey will be worn for a pair of spring training games.
- Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada won the "Brewlywed Game."
- John Axford autographed a pregnant woman's belly.
- Mike Vassallo has a picture of Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell) with Jonathan Lucroy, Yovani Gallardo and John Steinmiller.
- Mark Rogers still has Mitch Stetter's Dexter DVDs.
Rickie Weeks was at On Deck yesterday as he gets ready for his tenth major league season. Bryan Grosnick of The Platoon Advantage notes that Weeks appeared in seven games as a 20-year-old in 2003, making him the longest tenured current Brewer.
Of course, Ryan Braun was also in attendance. He was also the subject of two notable weekend pieces (and one about fantasy):
- High Heat Stats is comparing Braun and Joey Votto to some of baseball's all-time greats.
- Baseball by Paul says Braun is the top left fielder in baseball right now.
- Baseball Analytics makes the case for Braun to be the #1 pick in fantasy drafts.
One of the weekend and the offseason's biggest topics of conversation continues to be the Brewers' relatively thin starting pitching staff. SB Nation Designated Columnist Marc Normandin stopped by on Friday, though, to say that the rotation could also be "seriously underrated."
If the Brewer rotation is going to come through, they'll probably need a significant contribution from Mark Rogers. John Sickels of Minor League Ball has an excerpt from his book on the Brewers' longtime prospect.
Meanwhile, it's been a few days but we're still talking about Shaun Marcum getting just one year and $4 million from the Mets as a free agent (plus a possible $4 million in incentives). Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs says the Mets might have gotten a deal, while akschaaf of Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball is ok with Marcum moving on. Meanwhile, Miller Park Drunk has a strange but true fact in our Tweet of the Day:
Shaun Marcum signed with the Mets and will now play in front of less fans than he did in Milwaukee. THINK ABOUT THAT.— Miller Park Drunk (@millerparkdrunk) January 25, 2013
Elsewhere in transactions, the Brewers announced that Martin Maldonado, Jim Henderson, Taylor Green, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Josh Prince and Nick Bucci have signed their 2013 contracts. All seven players are not yet eligible for arbitration and will almost certainly receive the league minimum for any time they spend in the majors this season.
Those seven players will be among roughly 60 in Brewer camp this spring, although if Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew had his way there would be less. Orr doesn't like the decisions to sign Donnie Murphy, Kelvim Escobar or Bobby Crosby.
Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew, though, gave the Brewers a B for the decision to bring Burke Badenhop into the fold this winter. Adam McCalvy says Brewer fans are going to like Badenhop, and compared his personality to Matt Wise.
In the minors:
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has Hunter Morris as baseball's third best first base prospect and Scooter Gennett tenth at second base.
- Reviewing the Brew has a list of the top 20 prospects in the Brewer organization. Their most interesting high pick might be Gennett at #3.
- Curt Hogg of Reviewing the Brew has an interview with 2012 Brevard County Manatees reliever Seth Harvey.
- Minor League Rundown has the Brewers selecting Florida high school shortstop Oscar Mercado with the #17 overall pick in the third (!) iteration of their 2013 mock draft.
For a handful of you this will mean something, and I'm hoping you'll forgive me for the fact that it means nothing to me: Gunaxin.com compared the Brewers to Robert Baratheon of Game of Thrones. (h/t BBTF)
Cubs: Designated pitcher Lendy Castillo for assignment.
Giants: Avoided arbitration with infielder Joaquin Arias (one year, $925,000).
Marlins: Signed pitcher Chad Qualls to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed outfielder Jerad Head to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Signed utilityman Jeff Baker to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Re-signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor league deal.
Rockies: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (two years, $6.5 million).
Royals: Claimed catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Athletics and designated infielder Tony Abreu for assignment.
Yankees: Avoided arbitration with reliever David Robertson (one year, $3.1 million) and signed outfielder Thomas Neal to a minor league deal.
One of the more interesting free agents left on the market as spring approaches is outfielder Michael Bourn, although his fate could be tied to an arbitrator ruling: The Mets are interested in Bourn but don't want to give up their first round pick, #11 overall. The pick would have been protected as #10 if the Pirates hadn't failed to sign their 2012 first round pick, giving them a compensation pick at #8 and bumping everyone else back.
Of course, the big news around baseball this weekend came from Washington, where the Nationals have unveiled William Howard Taft as the newest participant in their
Sausage Race ripoff Presidents Race.
The Brewers led the NL with 158 stolen bases in 2012, including 34 against Rod Barajas and the Pirates. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs has a look at Barajas' dreadful season behind the plate, and how it was actually worse than the numbers would suggest.
In former Brewers:
- Matt Wise has been the pitching coach for Mitch Stetter's last two bullpen sessions, as both are now in the Angels organization.
- Jose Hernandez will be the fielding coach for the 2013 Norfolk Tides, the Orioles' AAA affiliate.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks 2004-05 Brewer Lyle Overbay's 36th birthday. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the third anniversary of the Brewers signing Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal, kickstarting his comeback attempt. Today is also 2004-05 Brewer Junior Spivey's 38th birthday, and Plunk Everyone notes that his 35 career HBP are the fourth most ever for a player born on January 28.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to borrow someone's jacket.