Some things to read while refilling the pit.
We are five days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, but we might be five years away from seeing the Brewers' latest rumored acquisition. Yesterday we learned that the Brewers have an agreement with 16-year-old Dominican infielder Yirver Gilbert Lara on a deal that could pay him $3.2 million. The contract can't be officially announced until July 2, but would be easily the largest international free agent contract in franchise history.
Mere days earlier, the Brewers spent a similar amount of money on a player much closer to the majors: After much speculation the Brewers reunited with Francisco Rodriguez on a one-year deal worth $3.25 million plus incentives. So K-Rod will return for a third run with the Brewers, but he's not going to get Jim Henderson's job (for now). Doug Melvin told Adam McCalvy that Henderson is still the closer.
Earlier in the day on Friday I had written this note examining Brandon Kintzler's 2013 season and suggesting he needed to raise his strikeout rate to remain effective. K-Rod is on the other end of the strikeout spectrum: Amazin' Avenue notes that his 9.96 K/9 is the third best in Mets franchise history. Enrique Bakemeyer of the Brewers Bar has a reminder of Rodriguez's history as a Brewer and says it "feels good to welcome him back." I know not everyone will share that sentiment.
It seems likely K-Rod is the final addition to the 2014 Brewers before spring training, and if that's the case Derek Harvey of The Book of Gorman is projecting a $96.375 million payroll for the season. That includes multiple incentives, though, so the real figure could be lower.
The Brewers cleared a spot for K-Rod on the 40-man roster by designating pitcher Donovan Hand for assignment. Hand made his big league debut with the Crew in 2013 and posted a 3.69 ERA over 31 appearances, including seven starts, It's possible he could still clear waivers and remain in the organization.
The K-Rod signing is also likely to be bad news for these pitchers coming to camp to try to win spots on the Opening Day roster: Over the weekend The Brewer Nation profiled Jose De La Torre, Wei-Chung Wang and Jimmy Nelson as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Maybe nine months from now we'll be talking about the K-Rod acquisition as the final piece of the puzzle for the Brewers' World Series championship. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times is ready, as he's estimated what each general manager will say if their team wins it all this year (h/t Hardball Talk). Here's the Brewers' entry:
People forget that we were actually over .500 after Ryan Braun's suspension last year. With Braun back, the offense we already had, a strong bullpen and Matt Garza making our rotation deeper, this isn't really a surprise to us.
2014 projects to be an important year for Logan Schafer, who seems likely to make the team as a fourth outfielder but will need to improve on his .211/.279/.322 batting line from a year ago if he's going to remain in the big leagues long term. Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew heard Schafer on Hot Stove Weekly last week and has some quotes from the interview.
Elsewhere in interviews, Tom Haudricourt has a Q&A with Ron Roenicke. Questions asked involve Rickie Weeks, slow starts and more.
In that interview Ron Roenicke implied that Khris Davis still has work to do to prove he deserves to stay in left field every day. It appears a majority of fans are also skeptical: As of this writing 71% of voters in this JS poll think Scooter Gennett is more likely to have a long-term role on the team.
Jonathan Lucroy will be heading to Maryvale this week, but he made a stop in Lafayette, Louisiana first. He was in town for his alma mater's "Ragin' Cajun Baseball Fan Day," and current UL player Dylan Butler got a picture with him.
Bob Uecker will probably also be on his way to Arizona before long, but first he stopped in at Hank Aaron's 80th birthday party. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy) Terence Moore of MLB.com says there's no one else like Uecker.
In the minors:
- Martin Maldonado went 1-for-4 on Saturday but struck out for the final out as Hermosillo, Mexico beat Mayaguez, Puerto Rico 7-1 in the final game of the 2014 Caribbean Series (box score). Irving Falu went 0-for-4 in the game. MLB.com has more on the champions.
- 24 Brewers minor leaguers arrived in Maryvale over the weekend for an invitation-only minicamp. Minor league camp doesn't officially open for a few more weeks.
- Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects has an interview with 2012 third round pick Zach Quintana, who went to the same high school as Brewers reliever Michael Blazek.
- Alexis Brudnicki of the Canadian Baseball Network has a story on 2013 Huntsville Star Brock Kjeldgaard, who continues to chase his MLB dream at age 28. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has photos from around Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, which looks roughly the same as it did a week ago.
- Brevard County's ballpark in Viera is serving as the Nationals' spring training facility again this spring, but its future in that role remains up in the air. James Wagner of the Washington Post has an update on the uncertainty.
- Elsewhere in ballpark news, an archaeological firm has been hired to handle excavations at Nashville's new stadium site. The possibility has been raised that anything from Civil War artifacts to dinosaurs could lay under the Sulphur Dell site.
- Nashville, by the way, has renewed their radio broadcasting agreement with 102.5 "The Game" for the 2014 season.
- Former big league pitcher Micah Owings, who spent 2013 in the minors with the Brewers trying to become a two-way player, is going back to pitching exclusively. He's still a free agent.
Back in Milwaukee, the Brewers have announced that their annual "Weather Day" will be held before the Wednesday, April 2 game against the Braves. Check out that link for more on the educational opportunities available at the game.
The Brewers are also offering fans a chance to write and direct their 2014 TV commercials. The contest pays in game tickets and directors' chairs, which is probably less than the team has paid for similar work in the past.
If you weren't around the site this weekend you might have missed JP's weekly look at what we learned over the previous seven days. News is certainly picking up as baseball season approaches.
Athletics: Signed outfielder Coco Crisp to a two-year, $22.75 contract extension with a vesting option for 2017.
Cubs: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Jeff Samardzija (one year, $5.345 million).
Diamondbacks: Signed pitcher Bronson Arroyo to a two-year, $23.5 million contract.
Dodgers: Signed pitcher Paul Maholm to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
Indians: Won their arbitration case with pitcher Vinnie Pestano, who will receive $975,000 in 2014.
Marlins: Designated outfielder Jimmy Paredes for assignment.
Nationals: Signed reliever Luis Ayala to a minor league deal.
Padres: Lost their arbitration case with pitcher Andrew Cashner, who will receive $2.4 million in 2014.
Pirates: Signed catcher Omir Santos to a minor league deal.
White Sox: Signed reliever Mitchell Boggs to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.
Meanwhile in Chicago, on Friday we had some fun trying to predict the date of the Cubs' 10000th loss, which will come sometime in 2014. Bleed Cubbie Blue responded, and the dueling posts landed us both a spot in today's edition of HOW DARE WE ENJOY BASEBALL on SBNation.com.
Today in former Brewers:
- The Orioles are reportedly interested in signing Chris Capuano.
- Bryan Grosnick of Beyond the Box Score says the Marlins, who brought Casey McGehee back from Japan this winter, could have a black hole at third base.
- 2013 Wisconsin Timber Rattler Jorge Lopez, who turns 21.
- 2010 Brewer Luis Cruz, who turns 30.
- 2012 Brewer Cesar Izturis, who turns 34.
- 1999 Brewer Eddie Zosky, who turns 46. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
- 1965 Milwaukee Brave Billy O'Dell, who turns 81.
Plunk Everyone also notes that O'Dell's 42 career hit batsmen are the third most ever for a pitcher born on February 10, and Izturis' 22 HBP are the fourth most ever for a position player born on this day.
Today is also the 43rd anniversary of the Brewers trading future 20-game winning pitcher Al Dowling to the Dodgers in 1971. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, something has gone horribly wrong.