We are 16 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and the veteran additions keep coming for the Brewers. Yesterday they signed infielder Pete Orr to a minor league deal and, while his deal does not include an MLB spring training invite, he'll be at the team's invitation-only minor league minicamp (h/t @AdamMcCalvy).
If Orr does appear in Milwaukee this season, it won't be the first time: @PHLBaseballNsdr remembers the time he almost got trampled during a sausage race at Miller Park (h/t @Mass_Haas). Orr, a Canadian native, has played 443 games in the majors as a member of three organizations and is a career .257/.289/.328 hitter.
While Orr is probably unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, fellow new acqusition Matt Garza will almost certainly get the ball sometime in the season's first week. Over at Baseball Analytics, Alec has a look at Garza's slider. It's one of the best in baseball. Meanwhile, Derek Harvey of The Book of Gorman compares the Brewers' new rotation to the pitching staff from 2011.
Of course, in an ideal world the Brewers would draft and develop their own pitching and wouldn't need to spend on free agents. Today Viva El Birdos has a look at the money the Cardinals are saving by using a homegrown pitcher like Lance Lynn instead of paying for one like Garza.
Garza will likely spend much of the spring learning to work with his new catcher, Jonathan Lucroy. Sometimes Lucroy doesn't always get all the attention he deserves, but that's not the case today: Nick Michalski of The Brewers Bar just bought the ad space on his B-Ref page and David S. Grant of Reviewing the Brew is talking about his facial hair.
Garza will also benefit from having two of the best defenders in baseball behind him in Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. They're also two of baseball's best base stealers, and they're on Jamie Zadow of Dobber Baseball's list of the top ten thieves in the NL.
This week I've been struggling with a single question: Does the Garza signing make the Brewers into postseason contenders? At least one set of projections says no: Clay Davenport has the Brewers winning 77 games and finishing fourth in the NL Central. It's worth noting, though, that his projections have the Wild Cards going to a pair of 85-win teams.
With that said, not everyone is so pessimistic. Phil Rogers of MLB.com wrote about the "feel-good vibes" in Milwaukee following the Garza signing.
Some of the Brewers' hopes for 2014 have to depend on improved performance from the collection of first basemen they've cobbled together. Hunter Morris' chances of winning a spot on the roster have diminished greatly recently with the additions of Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, and Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew asks if the Brewers have any faith in him.
Recent minor league signee Jeremy Hermida is also potentially ticketed for AAA, but you never know, I guess. Curt Hogg of Disciples of Uecker has a reminder of some of Hermida's career accomplishments.
Elsewhere in long shots to make the team: The Brewer Nation has a profile of Brooks Hall as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Here's a post that puts the Brewers' up-and-down run in recent years into a pretty nice perspective: David Schoenfield of ESPN notes that the Brewers have baseball's 16th highest cumulative payroll over the last five years, and have been rewarded with baseball's 14th highest win total.
In the minors:
- John Sickels of Minor League Ball is working on evaluating the Brewers farm system this week and today he has a preliminary list of the 38 players under consideration for inclusion in his 2014 Baseball Prospect Book.
- Temperatures are downright arctic in Wisconsin this morning but it was a balmy 25 in Nashville yesterday for the Sounds' groundbreaking on their new ballpark. Broadcaster Jeff Hem has a photo of the Sounds staff with the special guests for the event.
- It was a little warmer last night in the Dominican Republic, where Juan Francisco went 0-for-2 but drew a walk, was hit by a pitch and scored a run in Licey's 3-1 win over Escogido to take a 4-3 lead in the DWL's best-of-nine championship series (box score). They could clinch the series and a berth in the Caribbean World Series with a win tonight.
- Minor league Rule 5 draft pick Vinnie Catricala has opted to retire instead of coming to spring training with the Brewers. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy) The former Mariners minor league player of the year is now pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Back in Milwaukee, two days later we're still talking about Brewers On Deck. Nathan Petrashek of Cream City Cables attended the event and chronicled his experience, and Lou Olsen of Reviewing the Brew explained why he wasn't there.
In former Brewers:
- Yesterday we continued our comparison of Brewers and active former Brewers with a look at the outfield, where the current Brewers are projected to outperform their counterparts in two of the three spots.
- It's About the Money is asking fans to predict CC Sabathia's 2014 record.
- Value Over Replacement Grit has Gregg Zaun, Kevin Bass, Jesse Orosco, one-time Brewer minor leaguer Marco Scutaro and brief Seattle Pilot Lou Piniella on their All-Time PTBNL Team.
Fred Luderus isn't a former Brewer, but he was a Milwaukee native and yesterday Phillies Nation named him the 45th greatest Phillie of all time.
This isn't really Brewer relevant, but it caught my eye this morning: Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation has a post on Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa, who spent most of the 2013 season playing with a misdiagnosed broken wrist.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- Lyle Overbay, who turns 37. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
- 2004-05 Brewer Junior Spivey, who turns 39.
- 1999 Brewer Steve Falteisek, who turns 42.
Plunk Everyone notes that Spivey's 35 career HBP are the fourth most ever for a position player born on January 28. Overbay leads all active players with 17.
Today is also the 27th anniversary of the Brewers signing Australian catcher Dave Nilsson as an amateur free agent in 1987. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago, and celebrated Nilsson and five other Aussies' contributions to the franchise yesterday on Australia Day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fix something.