Some things to read while ducking for cover.
We are ten days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and from there it's about six short weeks to Opening Day. The Brewers have yet to officially announce who will get the ball when they face the Braves on March 31, but as part of his inbox yesterday Adam McCalvy said he'd give the ball to Kyle Lohse. Lohse started on Opening Day for the Cardinals in both 2008 and 2012.
Lohse, Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo give the Brewers a pretty formidable group of veterans at the top of the rotation, but how does it compare to their rivals? Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew has this group as the third best in the division.
Whoever gets the ball on Opening Day is likely to have Scooter Gennett playing behind them, unless the Braves send a lefty to the mound. Josh Duggan of MLB Daily Dish says the Brewers have a position of strength at second base and should trade...hey, don't look at me like that. I'm just the messenger.
There's still a fair amount of debate out there about whether or not the Brewers can compete in the NL Central with their current roster, but at least they've lifted themselves out of one writer's projected basement: David Schoenfield of ESPN is ranking every team from 1-30 and has the Brewers outside of his bottom five and ahead of the Cubs.
The early schedule may give us a pretty solid indication of this team's chances, as five of the Brewers' first six regular season series are against 2013 playoff teams. Adam Wieser of Disciples of Uecker has a breakdown of the full schedule.
Before that, though, the Brewers need to get through the Cactus League. Yesterday we used Yelp reviews to crowdsource a ranking of Arizona spring training ballparks.
The Brewers will face the Cubs in Maryvale on March 3, and travel to Chicago's new park in Mesa for the first time on March 9. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com has a picture from outside the new facility.
In the minors:
- Miller Park Prospects unveiled their list of the top 25 prospects in the Brewers organization yesterday, led by Tyrone Taylor.
Juan Francisco's winter ball season appears to be over, as he was left off of Licey's roster for the Caribbean Series. Looking back a few months, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs says a pitch he took deep against Sergio Romo and the Giants on August 5 was the second most outside homer of the 2013 season.
Astros: Signed pitcher Jerome Williams to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Gerardo Parra (one year, $4.85 million) and signed manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers to contract extensions.
Mets: Signed reliever Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Signed pitcher Armando Galarraga to a minor league contract.
There's still a fair amount of work to do around baseball, as ten of MLB Trade Rumors' top 50 free agents have yet to find new homes for 2014. Yesterday a poll showed over 25% of voters expect former Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett to be the next to sign.
This large group of unsigned free agents isn't sitting well with the MLBPA, and they're voicing their concerns regarding teams' public comments about unsigned players. Collusion is tough to prove, but the implication may get things moving a bit.
Today in former Brewers:
- Francisco Rodriguez is represented by Scott Boras, who told @JonMorosi he's close to finding a home for K-Rod and three of his other clients.
- Michael Horne of Urban Milwaukee has a look at John Axford's former home in Fox Point, which is now for sale for $1.7 million and might include a garage that's bigger than your current home.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 2004 and 2006 Brewer Ben Hendrickson, who turns 33. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
- 1986-92 Brewer Dan Plesac, who turns 52. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
- 1982-83 Brewer Rob Picciolo, who turns 61.
- 1977 Brewer Steve Brye, who turns 65.
Plunk Everyone notes that Plesac's 17 career hit batsmen are tied for the fifth most ever for a pitcher born on February 4.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm not drinking this.