Some things to read while a handsome stranger approaches.
We're 11 days away from pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Maryvale and the Brewers will need to have at least one more locker ready when they do: The team signed Dominican pitcher Alfredo Figaro to a minor league deal yesterday after over a month in limbo waiting to see if his Japanese team would waive his rights. Before leaving for Japan Figaro appeared briefly in the majors a couple of times with the Tigers, and spent this winter pitching for Nashville manager Mike Guerrero's Licey team in the Dominican Republic.
While Figaro will be a Brewer (or at least a Brewer minor leaguer) after all, another prospective comeback candidate will not: Lyle Overbay turned down the Brewers' minor league contract offer and signed with the Red Sox instead.
Yovani Gallardo is under a lot of pressure this season to anchor the Brewers' rotation as its only truly-established member. We've had countless debates over the years about whether or not Gallardo is a legitimate ace, but Kevin Feeney of Call to the Pen has him as the second best starter in all of the NL Central.
Elsewhere in likely members of the 2013 roation: Tom Haudricourt has a great story on Mark Rogers' efforts to overcome his injury history and Wily Peralta is the latest subject in The Brewer Nation's "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Of course, there's still a chance the Brewers could sign a free agent and bump a candidate or two from the rotation chase. Yesterday SB Nation Designated Columnist Mike Bates stopped by to suggest the Brewers sweep the remaining free agent market, picking up both Kyle Lohse and outfielder Michael Bourn.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dave Radcliffe of Yahoo Sports has a look at how the Brewers have learned from their recent payroll mishaps.
After years of watching Ryan Braun in the outfield, it's understandable if you occasionally forget that he was once a dreadful defensive third baseman. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs remembers, though, and wonders if a player that bad defensively could ever be an everyday starter in the majors again.
It was moving day for the Brewers in the minors yesterday, as three players retired and eight more were released. Let's start with the retirees:
- Outfielder Lee Haydel was the Brewers' 19th round pick in 2006 and spent the last three seasons hitting .281/.336/.338 for Huntsville.
- Pitcher Brandon Williamson was a 20th round pick in 2011 and posted a 5.53 ERA in 2012 over 23 appearances for Wisconsin, Brevard County and Huntsville.
- Pitcher Austin Hall was a 33rd round pick in 2012 and posted a 4.41 ERA in 13 appearances for the Arizona League Brewers.
Moving on to the releases:
- Outfielder Franklin Romero Jr. was the Brewers' 20th round pick in 2009 and hit .219/.246/.259 in 93 games for Brevard County in 2012.
- Pitcher Elliot Glynn was a 39th round pick in 2011 and appeared in 15 games for Helena in 2012.
- Pitcher Mike Francisco was a 2011 48th round pick and appeared in 20 games for Helena in 2012.
- Former undrafted free agent pitcher Connor Whalen pitched in 31 games for Helena and Brevard County in 2012.
- 21-year-old outfielder Jose Garcia, 22-year-old outfielder Jose Dicent, 22-year-old 1B/P Hitaniel Arias were all Dominican signings that never advanced past winter ball.
- 21-year-old Venezuelan pitcher Eliezer Montano never advanced past the Dominican League.
@Mass_Haas notes that Arias and Garcia combined to receive over $1 million in bonuses from the Brewers in 2007.
Elsewhere in the minors:
- Tyler Thornburg came in outside the MLB.com's top 100 prospect list, but Jonathan Mayo added ten more yesterday and ranked him 108th.
- Chris Vow of The Moulton Advertiser has a hometown profile of pitcher and Brewers spring training invitee Donovan Hand. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
- With a few hours to go we've got a dead heat in the voting for the #11 spot in our BCB Community Prospect Rankings, with four players separated by two votes. Go cast your vote before 1 if you haven't already, then check back after 2 to vote for #12.
- Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk has the latest update on the stadium situation with the Nationals' spring training facility in Viera, which is shared by Brevard County. Lee County is still trying to lure the Nats away, but may not have money available to renovate the facility they're offering.
- Meanwhile, Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has the latest renovation update from work continuing through the winter at Time Warner Cable Field.
Looking back a few days, OnMilwaukee.com has a photo gallery from last weekend's Brewers On Deck, a rare combination of people both posing for pictures with and sampling sausages.
Finally, take a moment this morning (and every morning, for a while at least) to vote for friend of the site Kevin Kimmes of Cream City Cables, one of two Brewer fans in the final 52 for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. There's also a third candidate from Wisconsin, but she's a Cubs fan so I'm comfortable disowning her.
Angels: Signed Japanese pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a minor league deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed utilityman Martin Prado to a four-year, $40 million contract extension through 2017.
Indians: Signed reliever Matt Capps to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Avoided arbitration with second baseman Neil Walker (one year, $3.3 million) and pitcher James McDonald (one year, $3.025 million).
Reds: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Chris Heisey (one year, $1.325 million) and pitcher Alfredo Simon (terms unknown).
Yankees: Are expected to sign DH Travis Hafner to a one-year, $2 million deal.
We often credit Rickie Weeks with being one of the toughest Brewers, as demonstrated by the fact that he's been able to play nearly 900 career games at one of baseball's more dangerous positions. Bryan Grosnick of Beyond the Box Score has a look at the facts behind the notion that second base isn't a safe place to play.
Today in former Brewers:
- The Janesville Gazette's "Peace and Glove" blog has a Twitter interview with Jeff Cirillo.
- Halos Daily has Francisco Rodriguez and recent Brewer minor league signing Kelvim Escobar on their Angels All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Today's baseball economics note is also a history note: On this day in 1947 MLB announced its first pension plan for former players, giving 50+ year old former players with over five years in the majors between $50-100 per month based on their service time. If that doesn't seem like much money it's because it wasn't: $50 per month in 1947 translates to around $6000 per year in 2012 dollars.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks what would have been the 138th birthday of Oakland, Wisconsin native and longtime MLB catcher Billy Sullivan Sr. Plunk Everyone notes that his 32 career HBP are the third most ever for a player born on February 1. Chris Jaffe also notes that today is the 13th anniversary of the launch of Baseball Reference, I site I use at least a dozen times most days.
Finally, if you've been around the site the last couple of days you may have noticed some slight layout and color changes. Head over to Blog Huddle for a full description of SBN's latest update.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've lost my pocket square.