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Tuesday Spring Training Notes

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We're still in that weird phase of spring training where nothing is actually happening, but guys are in Arizona and Florida frantically writing about all of it. So here's some...

Ryan Braun is going to get his shot, but that means he'll have to field third base like...a third baseman:

With third baseman Corey Koskie still recovering from post-concussion syndrome and not ready to participate at the outset of camp, Braun figures to get a solid chance to show what he can do. What Yost wants to see, primarily, is defensive improvement.

"To his credit, he's very serious about it," Yost said. "He knows where we stand."

Whether you like stats or scouts, Braun leaves a lot to be desired in the field. He could always improve, but generally players don't magically learn how to play the field, they move to easier positions. It'd be wonderful if Braun did improve; it would certainly make sense for the future of the team, especially now that Bill Hall has been moved away from the position.

Speaking of defense, Adam's most recent mailbag was posted yesterday, and he addresses the outfield defense (which it didn't even occur to me was something to be worried about):

Here are the optimistic answers: Hall is a great athlete, and if he can play Gold Glove-caliber shortstop like he did last season, he shouldn't have any trouble with center field. Hart has only had a few seasons of work in the outfield, he continues to get better and he can always rely on his speed to partially make up for poor breaks. Mench can only improve over his defense during the second half of last season.

The reason the Brewers moved Hall to the outfield was to get his bat in the lineup. If that group hits, they can more than make up for their defensive imperfections.

Speaking of outfield defense, the Crawfish Boxes has an interesting take on that:
Yet it's a funny thing: everybody likes to talk about defense, but nobody wants to do anything about it. With the spectre of the worst outfield defense in franchise history hanging over the 2007 team as they open camp, not one person thinks that we oughtn't to throw the defensive dogs even one bone?
He talking about the Astros, but the general sentiment applies to everybody. Even though people talk about defense more (and more confidently, with more numbers) than at any other time in recent memory, it doesn't always extend to the outfield, especially the corners.

Until he moved to right field, Jenkins was one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He was a truly valuable player in his prime, in part because he was the best in the game at his position. He could offer the same this year back in left, even if his bat doesn't return to form.

I agree with Adam's optimistic assessment: Billy is a great athlete, he was a great shortstop, and those skills translate to center field. We'll see some ugly mistakes occasionally, I'm sure, but by the all-star break, that'll all be a memory. I wouldn't be surprised if, in 2008, Billy was one of the best defensive center fielders in the game.

Finally, here's Adam's notes column for the day in Arizona, including lots of stuff on Dennis Sarfate and Johnny Estrada's catching skills.