Some things to read while getting the whole story.
We are nine days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and everything will be ready when they get there. Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter) that the last equipment truck will leave Milwaukee for Phoenix today. Hopefully the drivers aren't taking directions from Jess Lemont of The Brewers Bar, who accidentally went on assignment to Scaryvale.
Speaking of scary things, the Brewers are reportedly one of three teams still interested in former Cubs and Dodgers reliever Carlos Marmol (h/t @Mass_Haas). The Red Sox and Marlins are the others. Marmol has 117 career saves over eight MLB seasons but has also walked 6.1 batters per nine innings for his career.
Signing Marmol probably wouldn't change either of these projections much: Baseball Prospectus has the Brewers winning 80 games this season and finishing in third place, ahead of the Pirates (h/t The Cub Reporter). Meanwhile, David Schoenfield of ESPN says he's off the Brewers bandwagon, ranked the team 21st in all of baseball and is predicting 76 wins.
Around here, many of us aren't much more optimistic. As of this writing the community is split in our poll to determine whether the 2014 Brewers could beat a team of active former Brewers. To be honest, that's not the outcome I expected.
The Brewers are drawing relatively low expectations for 2014 despite having a pretty solid group of individual talents. DobberBaseball has five Brewers on their list of the top 150 hitters for fantasy teams in 2014 (including Jean Segura at #16). Scooter Gennett isn't on that list, but Fake Teams listed him as a potential late round target.
Fantasy writers are less excited, of course, about the Brewers potential collection of players at first base. With that said, Alex Skillin of Beyond the Box Score listed first base as one of five vital positional upgrades across MLB for 2014.
Here's a piece of news that snuck by me: Apparently the Brewers/Nationals matchup in MLB Network's "Face of MLB" tournament was this week and, with many of us unaware it was going on, Bryce Harper beat Ryan Braun with over 90% of the vote. Whatever.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen who will serve as Braun's primary backup in right field this season. Curt Hogg of Disciples of Uecker has a look at the candidates. He seems to imply the Brewers will go with two backups, but I strongly suspect it might be one: If they're going with a typical five-man bench they'll need spots for a catcher, the second of their three first basemen, Rickie Weeks and someone who can play shortstop. That only leaves one spot.
In the minors:
- Martin Maldonado and Irving Falu went a combined 0-for-7 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico's 2-1 loss to Cuba in the Caribbean Series yesterday (box score). Mayaguez is now 1-2 and plays 3-0 Venezuela today. With a win they'd still clinch a spot in the elimination round.
- Maldonado may have had a rough day at the plate yesterday, but he did make one sparkling defensive play. Brewerfan.net has a gif of the catcher coming way up the third base line to make a play on a bunt.
- Yesterday the Brewers signed Whitefish Bay native and lefthanded pitcher Kevin James to a minor league deal. James was a former ninth round pick for the Rays but has never risen above rookie ball in four professional seasons.
Further west, before coming to Brewers camp next week Ron Roenicke has a piece of business to attend to in California: On Saturday he'll be one of several inductees into the Mt. San Antonio College Hall of Fame. He played baseball there in the 1970's.
Athletics: Signed outfielder Sam Fuld to a minor league deal.
Braves: Signed first baseman Freddie Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million contract extension and avoided arbitration with outfielder Jason Heyward (two years, $13.3 million).
Mariners: Avoided arbitration with 1B/OF Logan Morrison (one year, $1.75 million).
Marlins: Signed infielder Jeff Baker to a two-year, $3.7 million contract.
Padres: Pitcher Cory Luebke needs a second Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss the 2014 season.
Even after crossing Heyward and Morrison off the list Tuesday, there are still 19 players left with unsettled arbitration cases. The biggest name left on the board is Reds pitcher Homer Bailey.
Today in baseball economics:
- Nicholas Zettel of Disciples of Uecker has a look at how the TV deal boom impacts payroll disparities across baseball and the possibility that it won't trickle down to smaller markets.
- The Rangers have scheduled an press conference and are expected to announce a new naming rights partner for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rogers Centre in Toronto is keeping its name but changing its playing surface. The Blue Jays will play on refurbished AstroTurf for one more year in 2014 before getting a new artificial surface in 2015 and real grass for the first time in 2018.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 1954-65 Milwaukee Brave, 1975-76 Brewer and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who turns 80. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
- Greenwood, Wisconsin native and UW-Madison alum Cy Buker, who would have turned 96. Buker pitched in the majors as a member of the 1945 Brooklyn Dodgers.
Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio looked at all of Aaron's home runs as a Brewer in this week's installment of Tater Tuesday. Aaron is also third on baseball's all-time list with 13,941 plate appearances, but was only hit by 32 pitches in his career. That's still tied for the second most among players born on February 5, according to Plunk Everyone.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out how to un-delete things on my DVR.