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Friday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while simulating a sunrise.

Claudio Vargas is expected in Milwaukee for his physical late in the day today, so we can expect an official announcement on his contract sometime late this afternoon. Vargas had to return from the Dominican Republic, where he just reported to winter ball a few weeks ago and has yet to allow an earned run in four relief appearances, including two saves. Since he's only logged 6.1 innings of work, he might head back down there after the physical.

Until last season, Vargas had thought of himself as a starter temporarily pitching out of the bullpen, but Adam McCalvy has the story of how a late-season matchup against Albert Pujols changed his mind and caused him to embrace his new role.

Once the Vargas signing is official, the Brewer 40 man roster will be full. Tom H. engaged in a little rosterbation and notes the team is pretty much set going into spring training, barring an injury or trade.

With a tight roster, apparently there's no room for Seth McClung. McClung tweeted that the Brewers sent an email to his agent letting him know they're not interested in pursuing a deal to bring him back as a free agent. He's also looking to sell his house in Florida, if you're in the market.

Meanwhile, Adam McCalvy posted a correction to an earlier report on the incentives in LaTroy Hawkins' contract: they're actually tied to appearances and games finished, not saves. As TheJay noted, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits teams from tying incentives to "skill" stats, but allows them for playing time.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, Chuck Lofgren's hometown paper has a story about his opportunity to pitch for the Brewers this spring. They also have this quote, which might remind you of another former Brewer reliever/pinch hitter:

"I don't prepare for spring training like a hitter would, but I do still get in the cage,'' Lofgren said. "I can still hit. I never really lost it.''

Months into the offseason, the market hasn't heated up quite as much as one might have expected for second basemen. FanGraphs has a look at the guys that still remain on the market, including Felipe Lopez, and the possibility that they'll have to change positions to find work this offseason. I still think Lopez would have turned down arbitration in search of full-time work, but perhaps the Brewers knew something we didn't in terms of the market for his services.

Adam McCalvy also picked up on that note, and his ensuing post on Lopez included this note regarding the Brewer payroll for 2010:

Melvin says he still has some flexibility left over to troll the market in January and February for bargains. If he doesn't find any deals to his liking, Melvin could retain that flexibility into June and July to make a pre-trade deadline deal.

I guess the possibility of another signing shouldn't be ruled out.

Have the Brewers done enough to improve themselves this offseason? Reds Blog handicapped the 2010 NL Central, and said the Brewers "may be slightly better than the Reds, but not much."

John Steinmiller and Caitlin Moyer continue to give us looks into the offseason jobs of the Brewer front office staff: Today they have a look at the work being done by Aleta Mercer, Brewers Senior Director of Entertainment and Broadcasting.

Meanwhile, the Timber Rattlers' front office staff still has some time on their hands, as demonstrated by the five minute battle for superiority between ketchup and mustard in this week's episode of The Offseason.

The Timber Rattlers are also looking for your help to select a shortstop for their 15th anniversary team. Follow this link to read about the candidates, then click over to the front page to vote.

Speaking of voting, we have two of the closest races to date for our BCB All Decade Team. You have until 4 pm today to cast a vote for a backup catcher, where Mike Rivera leads Jason Kendall by 13 votes. You also have until 4 pm tomorrow to cast a vote for our fourth outfielder, where Carlos Lee leads Scott Podsednik by 28 votes, with Jeromy Burnitz lurking over his shoulder.

Around baseball:

Dodgers: Signed infielders Doug Mientkiewicz and Angel Berroa to minor league deals.
Marlins: Signed Ricky Nolasco to a $3.8 million, one year deal, avoiding arbitration.
Mets: Signed Japanese reliever Ryota Igarashi to a two year deal worth $3 million.
Padres: Signed outfielder Chris Denorfia to a minor league deal.

Here's another research project for a reader looking for something to do: Max Marchi of The Hardball Times looks at the difference in pitches CC Sabathia threw to three Yankee catchers in 2009, showing he appeared to prefer to throw sinkers to Jose Molina. I'd be curious to see if there are any disparities in pitches thrown to Mike Rivera and Jason Kendall last season.

There seem to be enough sites discussing it so I'm not going to turn the Mug into a daily receptacle for notes on Hall of Fame voting, but I did find these notes interesting:

Speaking of Neyer, earlier this week I mentioned his post on the top 100 players of the decade, which included Corey Koskie (among others), but not Prince Fielder. Tangotiger has a look at Koskie's career, and his somewhat surprising route to 22 WAR in slightly more than five full seasons.

If that's not enough stat content for you today, Big League Stew has everything you always wanted to know about WPA.

There may be snow on the field on or near Opening Day, but at least Target Field will have functional bathrooms. Hall of Famer and Twins exec Tony Oliva was recently trapped in a Metrodome bathroom when the handle fell off the door.

I've heard of players doing all kinds of things to break slumps, but Hee Seop Choi might have topped them all by climbing Mount Seorak.

On this day in 1985, the Brewers traded two minor leaguers to the Giants for Rob Deer. Long before Russell Branyan was king of the Three True Outcomes, Deer was a 3TO Pioneer, hitting .229/.329/.450 with 333 walks, 137 home runs and 823 strikeouts in five seasons as a Brewer. Those 137 home runs were the tenth most in baseball during that stretch.

Happy birthday today to 2009 Nashville Sound Patrick Arlis, who turns 29.

Oh, and I'm hoping Garrett Broshuis will eventually share the plans for his Radioactive Cardboard Catcher.

Drink up.