Some things to read while swinging a new bat.
Today is the 34th day of spring training and home runs were the big story yesterday, as the Brewers went deep five times (including one for starting pitcher Wily Peralta) in a 9-7 win over the Mariners. I posted a late recap, if you missed it.
The Brewers didn't see Corey Hart yesterday, as he played in a minor league game instead of facing his former team. Hart did talk to reporters, though, and told them that his former teammates didn't make any phone calls to attempt to get him to return to Milwaukee.
Other notes from the field:
- Logan Schafer had one of the Brewers' home runs on Wednesday and also stole a base, his fifth of the spring. @MikeVassallo13 notes that the Brewers have stolen 24 bases in 30 attempts in 22 games (1.1 steals per game) this spring. They led all NL teams with 142 in 162 games (.9 steals per game) last season.
- The Brewers tumblr talked to Jeff Bianchi about his offseason.
The Brewers continue on the road today with a bullpen day against the Rockies, with Wei-Chung Wang scheduled to make the start against Juan Nicasio at 3:05 Central time. This will be the Brewers' final visit to Salt River Fields until 2015.
Mark Reynolds homered for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, continuing to make his case for a spot on the Opening Day roster. This week's BCB Tracking Poll shows that voters are split on whether he or Juan Francisco should play more often at first base. Reynolds and Francisco also lead a group of first basemen that Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs ranked as the 27th best in baseball.
Ryan Braun was out of the lineup on Wednesday, but expectations remain high for his first season in right field. This SweetSpot video shows Braun was selected as the top right fielder in Baseball Tonight's ranking of the top 100 players in baseball. Ryan Topp of Disciples of Uecker also has a preview of the Brewers right fielders.
Braun pretty clearly slots into the #3 spot in the Brewers' opening day lineup, but should he? David Pinto of Baseball Musings says he's impressed by the Brewers offense, but also suggests they could pick up about .2 runs per game by moving to an optimized lineup with Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett and Ryan Braun batting 9-1-2 instead of 1-2-3. Two-tenths of a run per game is about 32 extra runs over the course of the season, which could have been the difference between finishing eighth and sixth in the NL in runs a year ago.
At the moment it looks like Jean Segura will actually bat second, as Carlos Gomez has been getting a look in the leadoff spot recently. Lyle Spencer of MLB.com says Segura is entrenched near the top of the Brewers lineup.
Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett may not have done enough to assure himself a full share of playing time at second base this spring. With about a week and a half of spring training remaining the Brewers appear to be leaning towards keeping two first basemen, Gennett and Rickie Weeks on the Opening Day roster.
Martin Maldonado didn't get a home run on Wednesday, but he did pick up an RBI during his 0-for-3 day. He's the subject of the latest edition of "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" at The Brewer Nation, and he's also the smaller half of a catching corps that Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs ranked as the ninth-best in baseball.
In the minors:
- Beyond the Box Score has compiled a "consensus" list of the Brewers' top prospects, and as you might expect it's led by outfielder Tyrone Taylor.
- Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects talked to catcher Rafael Neda about working on his offense to go with his defense. Krause also has a photo gallery from the day's action.
Back in Milwaukee, the biggest story around the Brewers continues to be Hank the dog. The team sold over 1000 t-shirts (at $32.99 each) with Hank's likeness on them on Tuesday, and the JS has a collection of various places Hank has been photoshopped.
Meanwhile, this may be Hank's greatest miracle: He appears to have brought Miller Park Drunk back from the dead. He's returning as a casual fan, but his gift for profanity remains untarnished.
Today in predictions, projections, power rankings and stuff:
- Matt Snyder of CBS Sports predicts the Brewers will post a win number somewhere in the low-to-mid 80's and says "If someone asked me to name three teams most certain to improve upon their 2013 win total this season, the Brewers would be on the list."
- Two of the three writers at For Baseball Junkies have the Brewers finishing fourth, but the third has them finishing second and winning a Wild Card.
Nationals: Released reliever Luis Ayala.
Meanwhile, there was a scary moment last night in Surprise when Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Early indications show Chapman has fractures about his nose and left eye.
Today in former Brewers:
- Carlos Villanueva faces an uncertain role with the 2014 Cubs but says he's prepared to start or relieve.
- Seth McClung has been released from his minor league contract with the Pirates. He last pitched in the majors with the 2009 Brewers and spent 2013 in Mexico.
- Meanwhile, another player has found work on the independent circuit: Edwin Maysonet has signed with the Altantic League's Somerset Patriots. He last played in the majors with the Brewers in 2012. (h/t @ChrisCotillo)
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has Jim Wohlford pictured as part of his collection of Giants cards.
This is the time of year when we start to talk about gaming MLB's roster rules, as teams send down potential contributing rookies for a month or two to delay their arbitration clock. This morning Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk has a look at how the Astros have done just that with outfielder George Springer.
It's also the time of year when groundskeepers scramble to thaw frozen earth in an effort to have green grass on Opening Day. The Brewers are fortunate to be playing under the roof at Miller Park, but ESPN has a story on efforts to prepare fields in Minnesota and Chicago.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
Today is also the 12th anniversary of the Brewers trading catcher Henry Blanco to the Braves in 2002 for catcher Paul Bako and reliever Jose Cabrera. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, this chair isn't going to fix itself.