Wednesday's Frosty Mug: Who's on first?

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

We're discussing the challenges of selecting an Opening Day first baseman and more in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

Some things to read while living the dream.

We are 22 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale and the battle for playing time at first base is likely to be the top story when they arrive. Curt Hogg of Disiciples of Uecker weighed in yesterday with an argument for choosing Juan Francisco over recent signee Lyle Overbay. Enrique Bakemeyer of The Brewers Bar also has a look at the Brewers' collection of options at the position.

Of course, Ryan Braun's return to action will also be one of the spring's top stories. Braun was a big topic of conversation at last night's Red Smith Annual Sports Banquet in Appleton, where Mike Woods of the Post Crescent grilled assistant GM Gord Ash about him.

Braun was also one of several topics of conversation as friend of the site Justin Hull of 95.3 FM WSCO in Appleton interviewed Craig Counsell at the event. You can see the full interview on Youtube.

Braun is also the Brewers' biggest question entering 2014 according to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider's season preview. Zuckerman also wonders how the Brewers' young pitchers will perform and what will happen with Aramis Ramirez.

Meanwhile, Jim Henderson is getting ready for his first full season as the Brewers' closer. Chris Mehring of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers has a list of his five favorite Henderson saves from his time with the team in 2009. In a related note, Jason Collette of FanGraphs has an interesting look at where closers come from.

Jonathan Lucroy has come pretty far in his three and a half major league seasons, going from a relatively unheralded prospect to one of the game's top catchers. Alex Kantecki of Fake Teams identified Lucroy as "the forgotten Brewer."

If the Brewers are going to compete in any relevant way in 2014 they're likely to need strong seasons from Lucroy and many of their other cost-controlled young stars. Jeff Wiser of Beyond the Box Score put five Brewers, including Jean Segura and Wily Peralta, on the NL Central's "All-Minimum team."

Unfortunately, Peralta also shows up on this list: Yesterday we took a look at the five longest homers hit by opposing players in 2013 as part of our Brew Crew Blasts series.

In the minors:

  • Andrew Vrchota of Wisconsin Sports Blog has an interview with Huntsville Stars GM Buck Rogers where he discusses the team's pending move to Biloxi and some of his favorite moments from his long career in baseball.
  • Juan Francisco went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in Licey's 5-1 win over Escogido in the Dominican Republic last night (box score). Licey now leads 2-0 in the best-of-nine championship series.
  • Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, Martin Maldonado went 2-for-4 with a double, scored a run and drove in two in Mayaguez's 6-4 win over Caguas (box score). Irving Falu went 1-for-5 for the winning side, while Jose De La Torre allowed a run in his inning of work in the loss. Their best-of-seven championship series is tied 1-1.
  • Jason Arndt of Brewers Farm Report has a profile of 2013 top draft pick Devin Williams.
  • Matt Garrioch of MLB Prospect Guide ranked 2013 Brevard County Manatee Nicky Delmonico among baseball's best 22-year-old third basemen.

Closer to home, Tom Gorzelanny is due some credit for doing a nice thing for kids in his community this winter. The Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City has a photo of Gorzelanny dropping off Brewers-themed gifts for the children at the facility.

Elsewhere in offseason activity, Donovan Hand recently visited his alma mater, Jacksonville State, and Joe Medley of the Anniston Star has the story.

Around baseball:

Dodgers: Signed catcher Miguel Olivo to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed reliever Clay Hensley to a minor league deal.
Phillies: Avoided arbitration with reliever Antonio Bastardo (one year, $2 million) and signed reliever Chad Gaudin and first baseman/outfielder Bobby Abreu to minor league deals.
Rays: Acquired utilityman Logan Forsythe and a PTBNL from the Padres for reliever Alex Torres and a PTBNL.
Yankees: Signed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract with an opt-out clause following the 2017 season.

The Brewers won't see Tanaka as often as they might have if he'd signed with the Cubs, but there's still a chance he'll pitch at Miller Park this season. Joe Block has the details in our Tweet of the Day:

Meanwhile, Ike Davis remains with the Mets despite having been the subject of rumors all winter. Ike is the son of former big leaguer Ron Davis, who told reporters the Mets "screwed up" their chance to move him.

We're using a wide interpretation in today's "former Brewers" notes:

Today's sabermetric note comes from Disciples of Uecker, where Nicholas Zettel takes an extended look at the concept of a "dependable" starting pitcher.

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

Plunk Everyone notes that Caldwell's 35 career hit batsmen are the third most ever for a player born on January 22.

Today is also the tenth anniversary of the Brewers signing reliever Matt Wise as a minor league free agent in 2004. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History last year.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's my turn again.

Drink up.

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