Some things to read without picking up the pen.
Day 12 of spring training 2014 is the calm before the storm, the final day before the Brewers' Cactus League opener against the A's tomorrow. The Brewers got ready for the occasion with a three-inning intrasquad game yesterday featuring some of the less experienced pitchers in camp. Here are some of the highlights:
- Carlos Gomez hit a two-run home run off Brooks Hall in the first inning (h/t @MikeVassallo13).
- Wei-Chung Wang pitched a scoreless inning in the first. He walked Rickie Weeks and Lyle Overbay but struck out Ryan Braun, and Todd Rosiak talked to him about that experience.
- Irving Falu hit an RBI single off Michael Olmsted, who allowed just one run on two hits and two walks in an inning. (h/t @MikeVassallo13)
- Mitch Haniger hit a solo home run off of David Goforth, who allowed that single run in his inning. (h/t @Todd Rosiak)
- Elian Herrera hit an RBI single off reliever Dustin Molleken, the only run the Canadian NRI allowed in his inning (h/t @MikeVassallo13). Herrera also talked to Jose M. Romero of MLB.com about trying to win a roster spot as a utility player.
- Kevin Shackelford pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game.
Six rookie pitchers worked in the intrasquad game yesterday, but six with MLB experience are scheduled to pitch in the Cactus League opener tomorrow. Marco Estrada will start the first official game of the spring and is scheduled to be followed by Wily Peralta, Zach Duke, Will Smith, Rob Wooten and Donovan Hand.
Other notes from camp:
- Yesterday was Carlos Gomez Day for the ASU students covering spring training for the JS. Bethany Reed has a story on the new decals on his glove, Gabby Castillo has video and Molly Lange has a photo essay.
- Elsewhere in the outfield, Adam McCalvy talked to Khris Davis' one time college coach Rick Vanderhook about Davis' unlikely ascent to the majors.
- Todd Rosiak has a story on Jimmy Nelson's focus on improving his control this spring.
- Rosiak also talked to Kyle Lohse about veteran pitchers setting a tone in the clubhouse.
- Genaro Armas of the Associated Press has a story on Jonathan Lucroy's emergence as a leader on this team.
- Tom Gorzelanny is still some time away from pitching in his first Cactus League game, but he told Jose M. Romero of MLB.com he's satisfied with his progress in his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.
- While Gorzelanny spent the winter rehabbing, Martin Maldonado was playing baseball every day in Puerto Rico. Ross Dunham of MLB.com talked to Maldonado and Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch about the experience of playing in the Caribbean Leagues.
- @CraigCoshun has a picture of Wei-Chung Wang's glove.
- ASU student Bethany Reed also has a story on the ongoing media attention going to Hank the dog.
Actually, maybe "stuff about Hank" should just get its own section. This morning he welcomed Joe Block to camp, was pictured posing with Martin Maldonado and watching a team meeting, and the USA Today has a video story on him. Also, Wally from PocketDoppler.com is wondering if the positive distraction Hank has provided this spring wasn't a little too convenient.
While Hank's wagging tail is drawing lots of attention, Lyle Overbay's wagging tongue has flown somewhat under the radar. Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew noticed some comments he made to the New York Daily News about Ryan Braun, including a suggestion that he needs to "right the ship" with his teammates.
Meanwhile, the Brewers appear to be more interested in what you think about Braun. They sent out a survey yesterday asking fans for their opinion on how his situation has been handled. If you weren't on the survey list, @NicoleHaase has several screenshots of the questions.
My prediction: much of the concern about Braun will fade away locally if the Brewers put a winning team on the field and he contributes to it. To that end, here's some good news: Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs surveyed the projections and found the Brewers to be baseball's tenth most improved team. Individually, David S. Grant of Reviewing the Brew is predicting Braun will lead the Brewers in home runs and hit the team's longest home run this summer.
Speaking of outfield predictions, Jordan looked at projections for Braun and the rest of the Brewers outfielders yesterday as part of his ongoing series. If you've fallen behind, you can see all of his projections in their new StoryStream.
Overbay should probably spend less time worrying about Braun and more time trying to win a job. Jonah Keri of Grantland listed Mark Reynolds as the Brewers' most interesting non-roster invitee, and Ben Tannenbaum of The Brewers Bar says he "offers enough power to merit regular playing time at first base for the Brewers.".
The Brewers are projecting the highest payroll in franchise history for the 2014 season, and it's unlikely they'll push it any higher by signing a protected free agent for the second consecutive year. MLB Trade Rumors has a look at the draft pick each team would forfeit for signing one of those players, and the Brewers' first round pick (#12 overall) is at the top of the board.
Speaking of payroll, Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs notes that the Brewers are spending 38.6% of their 2014 payroll on starting pitchers, the third highest percentage in the majors.
But what are they getting for their money? Jonathan Judge of Disciples of Uecker has a look at pitching talent levels around the division and concludes that "The Brewers' and Cubs' rotations consist entirely of mid-rotation talent."
In the minors:
- As of this writing Clint Coulter holds a commanding lead in the voting to determine the #11 spot in our Community Prospect Rankings. You have until noon today to cast your vote, and the poll for #12 will appear sometime around 1.
- Nick Melotte of Minor League Ball says 14th round pick Hobbs Johnson had the seventh best professional debut among pitchers selected in the 2013 draft, and compared him to Reds rookie starter Tony Cingrani.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio remembers all of the home runs Brock Kjeldgaard hit as a member of the Timber Rattlers in 2009.
Closer to home, the local sales tax to pay for Miller Park has been in place for 18 years now but some local legislators continue to fight it. The Racine Journal Times has a story on proposed legislation that would remove Racine County from the taxing district and quotes on why local legislators are concerned the agreement could be extended to build a new facility for the Bucks.
But what if they threw in a bratwurst? The Crawfish Boxes has a proposed food-themed alternate logo for every MLB team, and the Brat is on the Brewers' cap. This might give the Brewers a dozen alternates.
Today in previews, projections, power rankings and whatnot:
- Rob Rogacki of Bless You Boys says the Brewers are the proverbial dark horse in the NL Central.
Additionally, here's a preview of a preview: The Brewers will be featured on MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" on Friday, March 7.
No transactions today, so we're going back to They Might Be Giants for today's musical interlude:
Today in former Brewers:
- Alec Dopp of Baseball Analytics has a look at how Prince Fielder's power against right handed pitchers has dropped in recent years.
- @gopherballs has a screen capture from Yuniesky Betancourt's introductory press conference in Japan. (h/t @wezen_ball)
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has Dickie Thon, Phil Garner, Danny Walton and Don Sutton featured among his collection of Astros cards.
Today's quintessential spring training story comes from the Giants, who announced Madison Bumgarner as their Opening Day starter despite not having played a Cactus League game yet.
Johan Santana has started several Opening Days in his career, but probably won't be on someone's roster this April. He held a workout for teams this week and could barely top 80 mph.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 1996 Brewer Danny Perez, who turns 43.
- Former Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles, who turns 53.
- 1978 Brewer Jeff Yurak, who turns 60. He is the only major leaguer with a last name starting with "Yu" in over 60 years, and we covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Today is also the 35th anniversary of the Brewers selling reliever Eduardo Rodriguez to the Royals in 1979. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History last year.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to delete my history.