Some things to read while looking for your saxophone.
We are 67 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale and all eyes are on Orlando, where the 2013 Winter Meetings officially opened today. It'll be a week of rumors, speculation and alcohol consumption, and it kicked off this morning with a report that the Brewers are expected to meet with Jeff Berry, who represents Corey Hart, while the two are in town.
Tom Haudricourt, for what it's worth, reports that Hart is not expected to be in Orlando this week. I guess you could infer a lot of things from that, but to me it implies a general lack of urgency to potentially expand his market or get a deal done. Buster Olney also seems to suggest Hart is taking things slowly in our Tweet of the Day:
Corey Hart's rep is seen by teams as being very patient in the market, assessing best opportunity for Hart in a bounce-back situation.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 8, 2013
Jon Heyman (via Twitter) says Hart is also a target for the Mariners.
If the Brewers' discussions regarding Hart don't go well, there are still other first base options out there. Mass Haas of Brewerfan.net makes the case for the Brewers to consider Michael Morse, another player coming off an injury-riddled 2013.
The Brewers could also use this week to search for possible bullpen help. In his winter meetings preview Adam McCalvy mentioned that possibility. He also talked to Doug Melvin, who downplayed the significance of this week and the team's likelihood of making any major moves.
Of course, conversation continues regarding the Brewers' big move from last week, trading Norichika Aoki to the Royals for Will Smith. Here are the latest notes on the deal:
- Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs has a really optimistic take from the Brewers' point of view, highlighting Smith's potential.
- The Book of Gorman has an updated roster and payroll projection.
- Enrique Bakemeyer of The Brewers Bar has a list of his five favorite Aoki moments.
- We also took a detour from our Brew Crew Blasts series to look at Aoki's Brewer home runs, and last week's Brewers Sporcle quiz was about Aoki and other Brewers with high on base percentages.
- JP's weekly recap of what we learned over the previous seven days also largely focused on the trade.
The Aoki trade would seem to open the door for Khris Davis to play every day in left field, but he told Todd Rosiak he's not taking that for granted. I suspect sometime between now and spring training the Brewers will look for a veteran to challenge him for that job.
Wouldn't it be something if the Brewers replaced Aoki with another Japanese outfielder? Pinstripe Alley says the Yankees are looking to trade Ichiro Suzuki this winter, and suggests they may have to eat some of his salary to be able to do so.
With that said, bringing in Ichiro would fill up a roster spot that could go to someone like Irving Falu. Lee Warren of Minor League Ball has a look at Falu's near-legendary status as a longtime Omaha Royal.
Elsewhere on the fringe of a roster spot, we have Johnny Hellweg. Curt Hogg of Disciples of Uecker looks at Hellweg's long-term prospects and hits the nail on the head with this line:
"Hellweg's future as a major leaguer rests on his ability to gain command."
There may be reason to be more optimistic about Jimmy Nelson's long term contributions at this point, but he also faces an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster. Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew attempted to project Nelson's future and says "In all likelihood, Nelson will begin the 2014 season in Nashville."
In the minors:
- All of the Caribbean League teams featuring Brewers were off on Sunday, but Morineko has more on Brewers offseason activity in her weekly look at winter ball, including notes on new Brewer Irving Falu in Puerto Rico and 2013 Huntsville Star Eric Marzec in Australia.
- Carson Cistulli of NotGraphs, by the way, has details on how you can watch Australian games this winter.
Meanwhile, the rumor regarding the Brewers possibly moving spring training to Florida isn't going away. Space Coast Daily is the latest to report on the possibility that the Brewers could move into the Blue Jays' current facility in Dunedin. With that said, Adam McCalvy threw some cold water on the speculation this morning.
If the Brewers are considering moving to Florida, then 2014 could be one of your last chances to see the team in Maryvale. Spring training tickets went on sale on Saturday.
Astros: Signed pitcher Scott Feldman to a three-year, $30 million contract and reliever Chad Qualls to a two-year, $6 million contract.
Mariners: Signed second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract.
Marlins: Are expected to sign 1B/OF Garrett Jones to a two-year, $7.5 million contract.
Mets: Signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract.
Nationals: Signed outfielder Nate McLouth to a two-year, $10.75 million contract.
Rangers: Signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a one-year, $1.8 million contract.
Red Sox: Re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million contract.
Reds: Re-signed catcher Corky Miller to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Signed outfielder Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million) and pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (one year, $16 million).
The Mariners made big news with the Cano signing, but even that wasn't a big enough splash to cover up this story: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has perhaps the most damning takedown of an MLB front office you'll ever see, with former Mariners manager Eric Wedge and advisor (and Brewers exec) Tony Blengino absolutely destroying Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, team president Chuck Armstrong and general manager Jack Zduriencik. Among the allegations: Blengino, while working for the Brewers, wrote Zduriencik's job application for the Mariners.
The Winter Meetings are known, of course, for breaking and unscheduled news, but by the time you read this the first piece of scheduled news is likely to have been announced. The Veterans Committee will name their selections to the MLB Hall of Fame this morning and longtime managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa are all expected to be inducted.
By the way, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish is live in Orlando all week, so keep an eye on that link and follow him on Twitter for all the latest news.
In former Brewers:
- The Mariners, Orioles and Cubs have reportedly all shown interest in John Axford.
- Eight teams reportedly sent a representative to watch Randy Wolf work out recently, but the Orioles were not one of them.
- Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that "nothing is imminent" with Yuniesky Betancourt.
- High Heat Stats has CC Sabathia 26th and longtime Milwaukee Brave Warren Spahn 25th on their list of the top 50 pitchers since 1950.
- True Blue LA has a recap of Jerry Hairston Jr.'s 2013 season with the Dodgers.
- Baseball Card Vandals had some fun with a Robin Yount card.
- There are also plenty of former Brewers eligible for Baseball: Past and Present's poll to determine the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame.
History would suggest that Yuniesky Betancourt won't be the only free agent who has to wait deep into the winter (and maybe spring) to find a new home for next season. Kyle Lohse was that player last winter, and D.J. Short of Hardball Talk wonders who it will happen to this year. He suggests former Mariners first baseman Kendrys Morales, but I suspect Nelson Cruz is also a possibility.
Today in baseball economics: The Orioles are raising ticket prices for 2014, and Camden Chat has a great look at what that might imply about the franchise's long term economics.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 1977, 1980-85 and 1989 Brewer Ed Romero, who turns 56.
- 1982 Brewer Doc Medich, who turns 65.
- 1957-58 Milwaukee Brave Bob Hazle, who would have turned 83. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
Plunk Everyone notes that Medich's 35 career hit batsmen are the third most ever for a pitcher born on December 9.
Today is also the 36th anniversary of the Brewers acquiring outfielder Ben Oglivie in a trade with the Tigers. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's my turn again.