Some things to read while upgrading your phone.
We are 36 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, but yesterday offseason rumors and speculation took a day off as all of baseball turned its attention to the 2014 Hall of Fame vote. By now you've likely heard that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected, while Craig Biggio missed by two votes and former Brewers Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Richie Sexson and Ray Durham fell off the ballot. The four Journal Sentinel writers with Hall of Fame votes shared their ballots, and all four voted for Biggio.
With that said, members of the Hall of Fame class of 2014 weren't the only players honored yesterday. We also learned that Jim Henderson will receive Baseball Canada's Stubby Clapp Award, given out annually to "someone who embodies desire, competitiveness and a never-say-die attitude." (h/t @Mass_Haas)
Back in Milwaukee, the Brewers have had a quiet offseason, but are they due for some improvement anyway? Jonah Keri of Grantland listed the Brewers as one of five candidates for positive regression this season, noting potential full healthy seasons from Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Coming off a 74-win campaign, Keri says "the Brewers could easily return to .500 or better in 2014.
The Brewers' odds of having a bounce-back season certainly increase if they find a way to make an upgrade at first base. One low-risk option we haven't discussed is former Brewer minor leaguer Matt LaPorta, who @ChrisCotillo notes remains available as a free agent. LaPorta has been underwhelming as a big leaguer and is 29 years old, but is a career .282/.372/.535 hitter in the minors.
Should the Brewers be focusing on finding flyball hitters to fill the final gaps in their roster? Jonathan Judge of Disciples of Uecker notes that the A's have had significant success loading up on players who hit the ball in the air, and the 2013 Brewers were one of the worst teams in baseball at doing that.
In the minors:
- We found out about an interesting transaction yesterday, as Brewerfan.net spotted a story on the Brewers signing 19-year-old Dutch catcher Milan Post. He's expected to make his US professional debut with the AZL Brewers in 2014.
- While the rest of us had a quiet day Wednesday Jason Arndt of Brewers Farm Report was keeping busy, posting stories on Eric Marzec's winter in Australia, Hiram Burgos' work in Puerto Rico and D'Vontrey Richardson's return to baseball.
- Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson's lone MLB hit came off Greg Maddux in 2004, and Jim Olski of the Appleton Post Crescent has the story.
- Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, Irving Falu went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Mayaguez's 3-0 win over Caguas (box score). Martin Maldonado also had a hit for the winners, while Yadiel Rivera went 0-for-3 and Jose De La Torre recorded two outs for the losing side.
- The news was not as good for Juan Francisco's Licey team, as he went 1-for-4 with a double but it was not enough in their 3-1 loss to Cibao in the Dominican Republic (box score). Licey dropped to 5-5 but continues to hold onto second place in the league's round robin postseason.
We don't have any transactions to cover in the "Around Baseball" section, so here's a music video to warm up a cold week in Wisconsin:
This isn't the kind of transaction I normally report on, but it caught my attention: The Phillies announced yesterday that TV broadcast team Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews will not return for 2014. Wheeler has been calling Phillies games for 37 years. To put that in perspective, this is roughly comparable to the Brewers letting Bob Uecker go sometime around 2007.
Today in former Brewers:
- @Maas_Haas notes that Zach Braddock has signed a minor league deal with the Padres after missing most of the 2013 season following labrum sugery.
- Outfielder Cory Vaughn, who the Mets have invited to MLB camp, is the son of longtime Brewer Greg. (h/t @Haudricourt)
- Halos Heaven ranked Francisco Rodriguez as the 31st greatest Angel of all time.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has a Sal Bando in his collection of Oakland A's cards.
Today's sabermetric note is an interesting curiosity: David G. Temple of FanGraphs notes that average home run distances have remained remarkably flat over the seven seasons tracked by Hit Tracker. This post also reminded me that I never finished our Brew Crew Blasts series. Look for that tomorrow or sometime next week.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday to:
- 2011 Brewer Brandon Boggs, who turns 31. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
- Bill Bordley, the Brewers' first round selection (#4 overall, didn't sign) in the 1976 draft, who turns 56.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make an adjustment.