Some things to read while starting a conversation.
Day four of spring training will be the first day of Ryan Braun's season. He's expected to report to Maryvale and talk to the media (but not about Biogenesis) this morning, following what we can only assume is a thorough delousing.
Meanwhile, Norichika Aoki reported to camp yesterday and made some headlines by bulking up a bit during the offseason. Ron Roenicke told reporters he still likes Aoki as a leadoff hitter, but says he looks like "he wants to be a 20, 30 home run guy this year." Wisconsin Sports Blog also has Aoki in the leadoff spot in their projected 2013 starting lineup.
Even with Braun and Aoki, the Brewers still look like a long shot to contend with this roster. Baseball Prospectus' 2013 playoff odds opened with the Brewers at just 18.3% to make the playoffs. BP gives nine NL teams a better shot, including the Mets and Phillies.
Here are today's other camp stories:
- Jason Galvin of the Journal Sentinel has a video piece talking to John Axford about a minor mechanical tweak in his delivery.
- Tom Haudricourt talked to Logan Schafer and Taylor Green about their work this spring to find a role on this team.
- Chris Narveson told Adam McCalvy he's healthy and his surgically-repaired shoulder "feels like a new arm."
- We continued our four-part series on competitions for the final roster spots yesterday with this look at the infield.
- Adam McCalvy's daily camp story for Thursday was about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado's friendly relationship as catchers competing for playing time.
- John Steinmiller has a six second video of Lucroy taking BP.
- The Arizona State students covering spring training for the Journal Sentinel have photos of Brewer pitchers taking pitcher fielding practice yesterday.
If Wily Peralta makes the Opening Day roster, then it's possible he has a chance to be an award contender: Noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs has Peralta among baseball's top rookie-eligible pitchers according to the ZiPS projection system.
The bullpen pitching behind Peralta won't look that much like the one that worked in relief following his starts last September. Conner Boyd of Reviewing the Brew has a look at how the Brewers have overhauled their relief corps this winter.
In the minors:
- The Brewer Nation profiled pitcher Hiram Burgos as the latest installment in their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has an update on the renovations at Time Warner Cable Field, which are really taking shape quickly.
Back in Milwaukee, the Brewers are making a change to the way they sell tickets at Miller Park. They're instituting demand-based pricing, a system they've experimented with over the last two seasons, at all 81 home games for the Outfield Loge, Loge Bleachers and Terrace Reserved sections.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, check out Thursday's edition of The Home Stretch Hangout. Justin Hull of 95.3 WSCO in Appleton and I spent about seven minutes discussing the Brewers' chances of clearing 80 wins and looking at other projections around the NL Central. We'll have another of our daily chats today, likely to talk about Corey Hart.
Elsewhere in BCB self-promotion, Noah wrote the Brewers season preview for BigLeaguesMag.com, and you can see a preview of it here.
Athletics: Reliever Grant Balfour is now questionable for Opening Day following knee surgery.
Cardinals: Are expected to announce a contract extension for general manager John Mozeliak that will keep him with the team through 2016 and exercise manager Mike Matheny's contract option for 2014.
Cubs: Pitcher Scott Baker may open the season on the DL while rehabbing from a recent elbow surgery.
Rockies: Acquired infielder Reid Brignac from the Rays for a PTBNL and cash.
Twins: Signed pitcher Rafael Perez to a minor league deal.
Elsewhere in transaction notes we find this piece of history: Longtime major league infielder Miguel Cairo retired yesterday to accept a job in the Reds front office, and he was the last active member of the inaugural 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Today in former Brewers:
- Jeremy Allingham of Vice.com has a story on Brett Lawrie's grudge against his high school basketball coach, which apparently he still holds and is airing on Twitter years after the fact. (h/t Bluebird Banter on Facebook)
- David Schoenfield of ESPN listed Zack Braddock, Travis Ishikawa, Jamey Wright, Lyle Overbay, Matt LaPorta, Bill Hall, Yuniesky Betancourt, LaTroy Hawkins and Tony Gwynn Jr and Brewer invitee Bobby Crobsy among the unlikely players in major league training camps.
- Braddock, by the way, had surgery to repair a torn labrum after being released by the Brewers last season.
My favorite spring training story from Thursday came from Nationals camp, where a bird dropped a dead fish into a spring training practice and outfielder Denard Span was none too happy about it.
If you're going to an Astros spring training game this season, make sure you bring along a roster: Houston won't have names on the back of their Grapefruit League uniforms. The Astros are probably best equipped to get away with a gimmick like this, because no one knows who their players are anyway.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm getting suspicious.