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Monday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while turning your back on karaoke.

Before I get started today, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for stopping by the site over the course of the season. The results on the field weren't always anything like what we were hoping for, but this site remained a fun place to write about and discuss the Brewers, and I owe that to all of you. As of the end of September, 760,415 people had visited the site in 2009, over double the 372,904 that had visited at the same point last year.

And, while the regular season may be over, there is no offseason here at BCB. The Frosty Mug will continue to be posted every weekday, along with some other things I'm working on and all the other great stuff I've come to expect from our contributors, as we work our way through the hot stove season and count down the days to spring training 2010. So, to sum up, thanks for reading, and please continue to do so.

Yesterday's biggest news might have been the announcement that Ken Macha will return next season, and a club option has been added to his contract for 2011 (FanShot). I'm disappointed by the news, but at least it means we'll probably have a manager (and maybe a GM) on the hot seat to discuss come May or June.

While Macha is returning, interim pitching coach Chris Bosio and bullpen coach Stan Kyles have not been offered contracts for next season, but will instead be invited to re-interview for their jobs. Tom H. says he'll be very surprised if former A's and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson isn't hired to fill Bosio's spot. All of that will probably cast a somewhat dark cloud over Bosio's charity golf outing in Neenah on Thursday.

Yesterday's game might be the last time we see Mike Cameron in a Brewer uniform, but this almost certainly wasn't the way he wanted to go out: Cameron left yesterday's game early after suffering a mild concussion while making a diving play in the sixth inning. Hopefully Cameron will be ok, and I wish him the best of luck going forward, whether it's with the Brewers or someone else.

Trevor Hoffman also had a season finale to forget yesterday, blowing a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth and sending the game to extra innings. With that said, yesterday's game likely will not be Hoffman's final appearance as a Brewer, as he's reportedly close to a deal to return next season (FanShot). Jon Heyman is reporting the deal is expected to be worth around $8 million and should be completed by the end of the week. Hoffman's contract for 2009 had a base value of $6 million, but incentives for finishing games and making the All Star team pushed the actual value up to $6.8 million.

Jon Heyman ranked the Brewers' decision to sign Hoffman for 2009 as the 24th best decision made this season. Nowhere to be found on that list is the trade for Felipe Lopez, which may be one of the more underrated moves in Brewer history: all Lopez did was take over an uncertain position in the field and the lineup and hit .320/.407/.448. And he'll likely net the Brewers two compensation picks as a free agent.

Ryan Braun finished the season with 203 hits, making him the only NL hitter with 200 and just the fourth player to reach 200 in Brewer history, and also picked up his 20th stolen base Sunday, making him the second Brewer ever to record 30 home runs and 20 steals. The Brewers had gone 17 seasons without having anyone reach 200 hits, the second longest active streak in the majors. Braun told Tom H. that chasing 200 hits helped him maintain a singular focus down the stretch:
"I think my level of concentration and focus on every at-bat is probably more intense than I’ve ever been able to do before. I’d like to be able to channel that emotion and that feeling. I’ve been able to focus and concentrate on being locked in on doing nothing but centering the ball up the last two weeks, and knowing I had to do that to get to this point."
Two thoughts on that quote:
  • First of all, if focusing on a milestone helps Braun get into a groove at the plate, here are some more he can focus on: His next stolen base will be his 50th, his next triple will be his 20th and he needs 34 more home runs to crack the top ten in franchise history.
  • Second, anyone who has watched some of Braun's performances in the field the last few days could tell he was more focused on his work at the plate.
Casey McGehee picked up the hit he needed to finish the season over .300, then was removed from yesterday's game to protect that figure. Adam McCalvy listed McGehee as the biggest surprise in his review of the 2009 season, but Jayson Stark is still picking Marlins OF Chris Coghlan to win NL Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile, Mat Gamel replaced McGehee in the game, the last game action he'll likely see before reporting to winter ball in Venezuela after Thanksgiving (FanShot). Gamel is also scheduled to get married this offseason, less than a week before he leaves.

With Trevor Hoffman already having pitched, John Axford pitched the tenth inning in yesterday's season finale, picking up his first major league save. It'll be interesting to see what 2010 holds for Axford, who ascended all the way from Brevard County to the big leagues this season. Al thinks he'll start off as the closer in AAA, and could be one of the first called up.

The Brewers are closing in on the deadline to make a decision on the future of Braden Looper, who is expected to undergo athroscopic surgery on his knee in the coming weeks (FanShot). The surgery is being referred to as "cleaning up" some issues Looper says have been present all season. From this angle, it's tough to tell if the knee has been an actual problem for Looper, or is merely a convenient scapegoat following a disappointing season.

With the regular season concluded, the Brewers are locked in with the 14th pick in next June's draft, meaning they can't lose their pick if they happen to sign another team's Type A free agent. Andy Seiler is way out ahead of the game and has a mock draft: He thinks the Brewers will pick junior college outfielder LeVon Washington, a Scott Boras client who didn't sign after being picked late in the first round by the Rays in 2009.

The regular season is hardly cold and already we're seeing another wave of firings: Over the weekend J.P. Ricciardi was dismissed as GM of the Blue Jays and it was announced that Kevin Towers will not return as GM of the Padres. The Blue Jays are also searching for a new team president (and the new president may want to hire his own GM), but have named Alex Anthopolous the new GM, and they're saying it's not an "interim" position.

If Doug Melvin meant what he said about making a serious splash in the pitching market this winter, this might be a trade possibility: The Braves are reportedly looking to deal Derek Lowe, just one season after signing him to a four year, $60 million deal. The Braves would likely have to take on one of the Brewers' big contracts or send cash to complete a deal, though.

Here's a move that could happen and would likely be cheaper: Scott Podsednik, who hit .306/.355/.415 for the Rockies and White Sox this season, is expected to explore free agency this offseason.

Speaking of potential free agents, for the second consecutive year the top prospect in Japan is considering asking Japanese teams not to draft him so he can immediately be eligible to play professionally in the US. If drafted by a Japanese team, Yusei Kikuchi would either have to wait nine years to be eligible to come to the US or his rights would have to be sold to a US team via the "posting" process.

We're quickly coming up on postseason awards season, and here's a question to ponder when discussing them: Why aren't reporters eligible for the BBWAA? In many cases (including with the Brewers), the reporter may very well be the best beat reporter covering the team.

What a difference two years can make. Today, Jim Tracy is getting the Rockies ready for their second postseason appearance in three years. Two years ago today, he was fired by a Pirates after two years on the job.

Happy birthday today to Alex Diaz, who spent parts of the 1992, 1993 and 1994 seasons as a Brewer and turns 41 today.

Oh, and somewhere in a third world country today, a shipment is arriving carrying nothing but orange t shirts.

Drink up.