Some things to read while remaining hopeful.
We are seven days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale (the Diamondbacks were the first team to officially report yesterday), and spring is in the air. Yesterday the Brewers announced that single-game tickets for the 2014 season will go on sale on March 1 as part of the team's annual Arctic Tailgate. Hopefully it'll be a little warmer by then.
Despite the fact that spring training doesn't officially begin for another week, about a third of the Brewers' camp invitees are already present. @AdamMcCalvy reports that 20 or so players have already reported, including Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang.
Sometime in the next week I'm still expecting the Brewers to announce the signing of another relief pitcher. A few more came off the board yesterday, though, including Carlos Marmol signing with the Marlins. Tom Haudricourt wondered (via Twitter) if we might be looking at Francisco Rodriguez's third tour in Milwaukee. Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew has a look at the possibility.
If the Brewers don't make any more upgrades, this is where they stand: Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk projected their bullpen to be the 23rd best in baseball in 2014. That's a couple of spots ahead of the Cubs but behind the rest of the NL Central.
Even if the Brewers do upgrade their bullpen, Brandon Kintzler figures to be a key part of their relief corps going forward. The Brewer Nation profiled him yesterday as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Many or most predictors seem to have the Brewers looking up at the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates (typically in that order) in 2014. Nicholas Zettel of Disciples of Uecker has a look at the winning trends in the NL Central from 2012 and 2013 to consider when making your predictions.
In the minors:
- Mayaguez, Puerto Rico will take on Venezuela tonight for a berth in the championship game of the Caribbean Series. Martin Maldonado will likely be behind the plate for the 6:30 first pitch.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has a look back at the Brewers Sunday jerseys Wisconsin wore in 2010, and has pictures of Scooter Gennett, Khris Davis and Hunter Morris wearing them.
Astros: Designated first baseman Brett Wallace for assignment.
Cardinals: Signed reliever Pat Neshek to a minor league deal.
Cubs: Avoided arbitration with second baseman Darwin Barney (one year, $2.3 million).
Diamondbacks: Avoided arbitration with first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo (one year, $4.8 million).
Mariners: Signed reliever Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million contract.
Orioles: Avoided arbitration with catcher Matt Wieters (one year, $7.7 million).
I think there's a strong chance Wallace could help the Brewers, and I took a break this morning to write about it in the latest edition of Freely* Available Talent. So far 92% of voters in the attached poll are in favor of the Brewers acquiring Wallace via a minor trade or waiver claim.
Wieters' new deal with the Orioles also helps put Jonathan Lucroy's contract into perspective:
Matt Wieters, who had a .287 OBP in '13, will make more in 2014 ($7.7mm) than Jonathan Lucroy gets in any 2 years on his five year deal.— Brew Crew Ball (@BrewCrewBall) February 7, 2014
Today in former Brewers:
- Braves Journal has a look at Mat Gamel as he prepares to report for spring training with Atlanta.
- Matt LaPorta has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles and will not receive an invitation to MLB camp.
Today in baseball economics: FS Ohio is only televising one Reds spring training game in 2014, a year after the team reached the postseason. They will have a nightly TV show from Reds camp, though.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 2007-09 Brewer Seth McClung, who turns 33.
- 1985 Brewer Carlos Ponce, who turns 55.
- 1957-60 Milwaukee Brave Juan Pizarro, who turns 77. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
Plunk Everyone notes that Pizarro (41) and McClung (22) have the third and fourth most hit batsmen among pitchers born on Feburary 7.
Today is also the ninth anniversary of Jeff Cirillo rejoining the Brewers as a free agent in 2005. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Finally, today we send out our condolences to the family and friends of longtime MLB outfielder and broadcaster Ralph Kiner, who passed away yesterday at age 91. Kiner was a Hall of Fame player with the Pirates, Cubs and Indians from 1946-55, leading the National League in home runs in seven consecutive seasons. More recently he worked as a broadcaster with the Mets.