Thursday's Frosty Mug: On defensive impact

Bob Levey

We're getting defensive in our look at the new year's first Brewers news.

Some things to read while dealing with it.

We are 43 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and arguably the biggest move of the offseason was not an acquisition, but the Brewers' decision to move Ryan Braun from left to right field to make room for Khris Davis. Mark Simon of ESPN looked at the biggest defensive change for every NL team, said Braun's throwing arm is "minimal to below average" and suggested that could hurt the Brewers as he makes the move. Braun, by the way, headlined Adam McCalvy's list of the Brewers' top news stories from 2013.

Of course, the Brewers will remain above average defensively in the outfield as long as Carlos Gomez continues to patrol center field. The Gomez extension was one of eight moves nominated for MLB Trade Rumors' poll on the best transaction of 2013, but is currently last in the voting.

The Brewers' infield defense also took a big step forward in 2013 with Jean Segura playing everyday at shortstop. On Tuesday Noah considered Segura as the next Brewer who could receive a contract extension. Meanwhile, Segura's baserunning antics made Baseball Nation's list of 2013's best gifs.

Not every Brewer's defense has a sterling reputation, though: Jonathan Judge of Disciples of Uecker looked into questions about the strength of Jonathan Lucroy's throwing arm.

Now, perhaps a more important question: Does Lucroy's defense matter? Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation crunched some recent data and discovered the difference between baseball's best and worst teams at catching basestealers is less than three wins.

It may have been a quiet offseason for the Brewers, but it's important to remember that quiet isn't always bad. Bill Baer of Hardball Talk left the Brewers off his list of the five teams having the worst winter.

Meanwhile, after posting his first losing season in 2013, Ron Roenicke may feel some pressure to get more results this year. Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew predicts, however, that Roenicke will not be let go this season.

A big season from Johnny Hellweg could do a lot to help the Brewers and perhaps preserve Roenicke's job. Ryan Connor of Reviewing the Brew notes that Hellweg's results haven't always been there, but "a guy with his stuff will always have upside to dream on."

A bounce-back campaign for Rickie Weeks would also make Roenicke look smarter. Bryan Grosnick of Beyond the Box Score has a look at the longest-tenured players with each NL team and notes that Rickie Weeks, a Brewer since 2003, is very near the top of the list.

Weeks is not, however, likely to be an option at first base. Adam McCalvy confirmed that yet again in this week's inbox.

In the minors:

  • Jason Arndt of Brewers Farm Report was busy over the New Years holiday, posting stories on 2013 Brevard County pitcher Brent Suter and third baseman Nicky Delmonico and Wisconsin outfielder Michael Reed.
  • The minor league team at Fake Teams unveiled their list of the Brewers' top prospects for fantasy purposes on Monday, with Jimmy Nelson leading the way.
  • The round-robin portion of the winter league playoffs is underway in the Dominican Republic, and all four teams are 2-2 after four games. Juan Francisco has two homers in four games for Licey.
  • Puerto Rico's round-robin playoffs begin tomorrow, and Martin Maldonado, Hiram Burgos and Irving Falu's Mayaguez team has qualified for postseason play.

Around baseball:

Angels: Signed pitcher Mark Mulder to a minor league deal.
Astros: Signed reliever Jesse Crain to a one-year deal (terms undisclosed).
Cubs: Signed reliever Jose Veras to a one-year, $3.85 million contract.
Marlins: Signed outfielder Joe Benson to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Re-signed second baseman Will Rhymes to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Acquired first baseman Chris McGuiness from the Rangers for pitcher Miles Mikolas.

Today in former Brewers:

Once April and May roll around we'll probably spend a fair amount of time again discussing the roof at Miller Park and the Brewers' decisions to open and close it. The Astros also have a retractable roof at Minute Maid Park, but largely keep it closed. They're looking for ways to open it more often in 2014.

Meanwhile in navel-gazing, Yar Nivek has our end-of-year look at the memes and inside jokes of the Brew Crew Ball comments. If you're new around here and don't get all the jokes, most of them are listed there.

On a more serious note: If you weren't around the site over the last few days you may have missed our New Year's Eve post on members of the Brewers or Milwaukee Braves who passed away in 2013, including Johnny Logan, George Scott and Mike Hegan. Baseball Card Memories also notes that Wednesday was also the 37th anniversary of the passing of 1976 Brewer Danny Frisella, who was killed in a dune buggy accident in 1977.

Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:

Plunk Everyone notes that Suppan's 94 career hit batsmen are the second-most ever for a pitcher born on January 2. Clayton's 45 career HBP are the fourth-most for a position player born on this date.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a new place to sleep.

Drink up.

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