Monday's Frosty Mug: Moving on

Al Bello

We'll look back at 2013 and ahead to 2014 in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

Some things to read while raising the bar.

Like some of you, I watched every pitch of the final game of the 2013 season yesterday and at one point wife noticed I was feeling a little melancholy about it. "Come on," she said, "you're not really going to miss this team, are you?" She was right. In a way, the end of the 2013 season feels a little bit like coming out from under a dark cloud. The Brewers wrapped up a dreadful campaign with a 3-2 loss to the Mets, and Noah has the recap if you missed it. Noah is also counting down the days to Yuniesky Betancourt's pending free agency.

The Brewers certainly had some opportunities to win yesterday's game, where they made two outs at the plate in the fourth inning (h/t @AdamMcCalvy) and allowed the game-tying and winning run to score on a pair of errors in the eighth. Ron Roenicke summed the performance up nicely in our Tweet of the Day:

Marco Estrada, however, finished the season on a strong note. He pitched seven innings on Sunday and allowed a single run on just two hits, wrapping up a second half where he posted a 2.15 ERA over his final nine starts. Before the game Ron Roenicke told reports that he's got Estrada penciled into the 2014 rotation. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy)

Despite the loss yesterday, the Brewers finished the season with baseball's eleventh worst record and will be rewarded with the first unprotected pick in the 2014 MLB draft, #12 overall. The Brewers could lose the pick if they sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer from his 2013 club, but Jaymes Langrehr notes on Twitter that the list of players likely to fit that distinction doesn't really mesh with the team's needs.

Other notes from the field:

Let's wrap up the Mets series and the season with a look at the weekend's home runs, with help from Hit Tracker:

Day Player Distance
Friday Martin Maldonado 406 feet
Friday Khris Davis 382 feet
Friday Norichika Aoki 367 feet
Saturday Carlos Gomez 404 feet
Sunday No home runs

Looking back another day, Saturday's game featured the first MLB start for Jimmy Nelson, who pitched five innings and allowed a run on a single hit and three walks. After the game he mentioned that he's struggling to adjust to the major league ball, which is a little "slicker" than the minor league version (h/t @AdamMcCalvy). Nelson probably faces an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster, but it's always nice to have depth.

Speaking of Opening Day, Adam McCalvy has the first shot at predicting the first lineup of 2014. He has Norichika Aoki (whose contract option will be exercised), Scooter Gennett and "Joe Firstbase" in and Khris Davis, Rickie Weeks and all of 2013's first basemen out. Kyle Lohse is also projected as the Opening Day starter, and he was 2013's final Brewer of the Week.

Jean Segura is in that projection, of course, and may be for a long time. The Brewers are expected to discuss a possible long-term extension for Segura this winter. If the framework is something like Jonathan Lucroy's deal, I'm all for it. The Brewers, by the way, are blocking Segura from playing winter ball.

Ryan Braun is also expected to be back in left field and batting third, and if the Brewers are going to compete they'll likely need a big season from him. Aramis Ramirez told reporters the Brewers will be counting on the 2011 NL MVP to be back in full form next season.

The above lineup will be coached by largely the same group that led them to 74 wins in 2013. The Brewers announced that the coaching staff has all been invited back for another year, with one addition: longtime Brewer minor league manager Mike Guerrero will join the team as an infield coach. Guerrero has managed 1213 minor league games over parts of ten seasons in the organization.

On Saturday Jimmy Nelson became the 12th pitcher to start a game for the Brewers this season, and most of the pitchers who did so in the second half performed pretty well. @AdamMcCalvy notes that the Brewer rotation had a 4.86 ERA before the All Star break but a 3.36 mark in the second half.

Carlos Gomez went 1-for-3 with a walk and the aforementioned stolen base Sunday to finish the season with a .284/.338/.506 line. All three numbers in that slash line are career highs, to go with new personal records for hits (152), runs (80), doubles (27), triples (10), home runs (24), RBI (73), walks (37) and stolen bases (40). He's also likely to receive MVP votes for the first time: Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk has him fifth on his ballot while Jeff Passan of Yahoo has him among those who "just missed."

Yuniesky Betancourt started at third base and went 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday in what had better be his final Brewers appearance. Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk notes that Yuni's .595 OPS was the worst by an MLB first baseman since 1978 and only the third worst of the expansion era.

Of course, not everything was bad this season. Enrique Bakemeyer of The Brewers Bar has a list of the season's ten best wins.

In the minors:

If you weren't around the site this weekend, you might have missed JP's look at what we learned over the previous week. There's a lot in there from the season's final full week.

Around baseball:

Cubs: Fired manager Dale Sveum
Giants: Signed outfielder Hunter Pence to a five year, $90 million contract extension.
Mariners: Manager Eric Wedge has resigned.
Marlins: Fired team president Larry Beinfest and promoted former general manager Michael Hill to team president, nameing Dan Jennings general manager.
Mets: Are expected to sign manager Terry Collins to a two-year extension.
White Sox: Fired hitting coach Jeff Manto.

The Pence move is an interesting one, as the Giants have laid a lot of money on the table pretty early in the offseason. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes that Pence got a year and over $30 million more than Indians outfielder Nick Swisher a year ago. The deal also made me wonder what Corey Hart might have been able to get if he'd been healthy this season, as their career numbers are pretty comparable:

Let's take one last trip around the NL Central:

  • The Cardinals clinched the NL's best record with a 4-0 win over the Cubs yesterday. Jake Westbrook pitched a scoreless inning before giving way to Joe Kelly, who threw 5.1 scoreless innings in relief.
  • The Pirates and Reds had nothing on the line but Pittsburgh picked up their 94th win by a 4-2 margin in Cincinnati. Jordy Mercer and Garrett Jones homered in the game.
  • The Brewers, as you likely know, lost to the Mets.

Here are the final NL Central standings for 2013:

Team W L GB
Cardinals 97 65 --
Pirates 94 68 3
Reds 90 72 7
Brewers 74 88 23
Cubs 66 96 31

The Pirates and Reds will play a single game to determine which of these 90 win teams advance in the playoffs on Tuesday, while the Cardinals wait to host the winner on Thursday.

Odds are most of us will be rooting for the Pirates tomorrow night and hopefully again on Thursday. Ted Simmons Speed Camp took to the FanPosts to help us decide which teams to hate (and love) this postseason.

Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter was held hitless yesterday, finishing the season with an MLB-high 199. This is the first time since 1990 that no major leaguer has had 200 hits in a full season.

Today in former Brewers:

The Brewers' season is over, but the 2013 MLB regular season will actually go on for one more day. The Rays and Rangers will play a tiebreaker game tonight for the final AL Wild Card spot, and Brian Anderson will have the call before heading to Boston to cover the ALDS for TBS.

Speaking of broadcasters, today's sabermetrics note deals with the way they handle statistics as part of their broadcasts. Mark L. Smith of Talking Chop argues that broadcasters have a responsibility to have a basic understanding of statistical concepts, even if they disagree with their use or relevance.

Today in baseball economics:

It was a rough weekend all around for the Astros, who finished the season with a 15-game losing streak. That's the longest in all of baseball this season and over twice as long as the Brewers' longest streak (six games). The Astros also set an MLB record by striking out for the 1530th time, passing the 2010 Diamondbacks. Not that long ago the 2001 Brewers held that record with 1399.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to climb out through the ceiling.

Drink up.

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