What We Learned: March 28, 2014

Sarah Glenn

Today's lessons are all about problems: minor-league compensation, covering injuries, and the struggles of the Opening Day starting pitcher.

Yesterday's Results

Reds 8, Brewers 2

In the final game of spring training in Arizona, the Brewers weren't able to put together a full team effort and fell to the Reds 8-2. Everything wasn't bad for the team, though. After a rough spring, Kyle Lohse finished spring training on a high note, pitching five innings and allowing only two runs with four strikeouts. The bullpen struggled to finish the game, but the offenders (Casey Medlen, Brent Leach, Kyle Heckathorn) probably won't be in the MLB bullpen this year. Meanwhile, the Brewers had six hits and ten walks as a team, and Hunter Morris hit his first spring home run.

Countdown to Opening Day

As of 8 am today, first pitch for Opening Day is 77 hours and 10 minutes away. Looking at Accuweather.com this morning, the weather forecast for first pitch on Monday is mostly cloudy with a high of 56 degrees, an 8% chance of rain, with winds blowing from the SSE at 16 mph. Of course, this doesn't really matter under the roof of Miller Park, but those of you planning to tailgate could use this information.

There is a problem with compensation in the minor leagues.

So many baseball players dream of playing in the majors, but there is a long and hard path to get there, which can include several years of work in a minor-league system. Many people assume these players get paid well, but in most cases that is not true. Jordan examined the growing labor problem in the minor leagues yesterday and went through many of the problems that the players in the minors are facing. The decision with the Northwestern football team being able to unionize may change how the college system works, and a similar day may be coming for minor league baseball.

The Jean Segura injury reveals just how thin the Brewers backup situation is.

Jean Segura was out of the lineup again on Thursday, and it's looking like he may not play in the exhibition series at Miller Park to keep his DL options open. How bad would it be if Segura had to miss some time? Noah looked at this issue yesterday, noting that the Brewers depth at each position is pretty thin. No team has an easy time of dealing with injuries, but the Brewers' hopes for 2014 may be resting on team health. One wrong injury could destabilize the Brewers' chances of competing. Over on MLB.com, Adam McCalvy saw a similar need for the Brewers, noting that the biggest factor for a successful 2014 season may be health.

Yovani Gallardo could be better this year.

For the fifth straight year, Yovani Gallardo will get the Opening Day start. This is Gallardo's last year under contract with the Brewers (though there is a club option available), and he could be pitching for his next contract this year. Can Gallardo get back to where he was when he was dominant? Derek spent some time examining the stats around Gallardo. He's not sure what to expect from Gallardo in 2014, but sees both reasons for optimism and pessimism with him.

The voters don't like the decision to release Juan Francisco.

When Juan Francisco was placed on release waivers over the weekend, it drew a lot of anger from fans around BCB as well as around the Brewers community as a whole. Not surprisingly, the voters here showed their displeasure, with 55% disagreeing with the decision. Most voters did agree with the other decisions to keep Jeff Bianchi as the last bench player and to send Rob Wooten down. However, both Ron Roenicke and Doug Melvin took big hits in their approval ratings, falling 9% and 11% respectively.

Cram Session

Roster News

  • Five of the Brewers players on the 25-man roster are making their first Opening Day roster: Jeff Bianchi, Scooter Gennett, Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg, and Wei-Chung Wang. Wang may be the most unique of these five for a few reasons: He will be the first Taiwanese player to pitch for the Brewers, and will be the first Rule 5 pick to make an Opening Day roster despite never pitching above rookie ball.
  • Meanwhile, while the rest of the team packed their bags and headed back to Milwaukee, Tom Gorzelanny stayed behind in Arizona to continue work on his rehab. While he has been throwing off of a mound, he still needs to go on a rehab assignment and is currently projected to return in late April.
  • Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew notes that the Rangers interest in Rickie Weeks may be over as fast as it started, with the Rangers claiming Donnie Murphy off waivers.
  • One of the most unusual situations in spring training this year came from former Brewer Randy Wolf. He was informed that he would make the team, but would be required to sign a 45 day waiver, where the Mariners could cut him and not pay his salary. When Wolf refused, the Mariners released him. Lookout Landing has a breakdown of the situation and what happened. Meanwhile, NotGraphs also offered Wolf an opportunity to write for them, but it fell apart as well. They have a transcript of the email conversation that took place.

Projections/Previews

Lighter Side of Baseball

  • If you thought the saturation of Hank the Ballpark Pup had reached maximum levels, you are wrong. It's going to continue throughout the season, culminating in a bobblehead day for Hank in September.
  • This story may be better suited for the heavier side of baseball. On Twitter, Darren Rovell had a rundown of several new items available at different MLB ballparks in 2014. Joe Lucia of The Outside Corner collected these tweets in one mouth-watering post. While you may not get to taste most of these items, this may give you an idea for how to improve your next tailgate at Miller Park.

This Weekend's Action

The Brewers return to Milwaukee for a two-game exhibition series against the Royals. Friday's game will feature Jason Vargas starting for the Royals and Matt Garza for the Brewers at 7:10 pm. Then, on Saturday, a matinee matchup will send Yordano Ventura to the mound for the Royals and Marco Estrada out for the Brewers at 1:10 pm. Neither game will be televised, but both games have plenty of tickets available for those who want to make the trip. Following this series, the Brewers will have an off-day on Sunday before the season starts on Monday.

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