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Some things to read while acknowledging that the world would be better off without some people.

Another sigh of relief is in order this morning, as X-rays on Ryan Braun's thumb came back negative. Braun lost a fly ball in the lights in last night's 6-4 loss to the Padres and, as a baseball tends to do, it found a delicate place to hit him. He suffered a contusion and will likely be off today, but could play again as soon as tomorrow.

Braden Looper continues to work to catch up with his teammates in his preparations for the season. Looper gave up two earned runs (four total) in four innings last night, but gave up two home runs and was hit hard in general. He'll get one more minor league start before the home opener.

Tony Gwynn Jr. was given another opportunity to prove he belongs in the field last night, and was not impressive. In fact, "not impressive" might be understating it a bit, so Chuckie Hacks took it to the next level. Tuesday's JS Camp Report had this to say about Gwynn's chances of making the team:

Asked if Brad Nelson (.370, 3 HRs, 15 RBI) and Chris Duffy (.313, 8 doubles, 11 RBI) deserved to claim the reserve outfield jobs over Tony Gwynn Jr. (.167) for the same reason, Macha said, "I'd probably say that's the case but they're not on yet. We'll have to see. You'll have to ask me that question in a couple of days."

Brewed Sports has a familiar name in mind to fill Gwynn's roster spot. Geoff Jenkins was cut loose by the Phillies yesterday, and could be available for next to nothing. It's important to remember, though, that the Brewers would likely have to DFA Brad Nelson to make room for him. Nelson will likely produce at a similar level for the Brewers this season, and when he's done he'll still be under team control for five more years.

A side note on Jenkins: Gary Sheffield was also let go yesterday, but FanGraphs compared the two former Brewers and thinks Jenkins has more to offer a team at this point.

While nothing is official yet, it appears Casey McGehee has made the team, as Mike Lamb will not. Lamb has until 11 am today to decide if he would like to become a free agent or go to the minors. If he decides to stay with the Brewer organization, he'll have to clear waivers to be sent down. He'll make $3 million (from the Twins) to be a below average corner infielder this season anyway, so it's hard to feel too bad for him.

Ken Macha tried out a new lineup wrinkle yesterday, batting Corey Hart second and J.J. Hardy fifth. It's an interesting concept: putting Hart in front of Braun and Fielder could force pitchers to throw him more strikes. It will only work, though, if Hart learns to take a pitch from time to time. If pitchers know they can get him out with junk out of the zone, there's no reason to change their approach to him at all.

Barring something unforeseen, Mark DiFelice will be on an Opening Day roster for the first time in his 12 year professional career. Tom H. has a profile that talks about DiFelice's long road to the majors.

By the way, if you're headed out to Miller Park to catch DiFelice and the rest of the Brewers on Opening Day, Miller Park Drunk wants you to dress for success.

If you've already purchased tickets for a Brewer game this season, you're one of 1.75 million fans who have done so, which means you'll also probably be one of 1.75 million fans waiting in line at the new discount concession stand.

You probably won't see these guys, though: The Brewers are suing another suite holder for failure to pay. This time, it's Big League Promotions and Marketing of Waukesha. Apparently they weren't Big League enough.

Brian Anderson posted a new blog before last night's FS Wisconsin telecast and has a preview of some of the upcoming interviews Brewer fans can expect to see as part of the telecasts.

Peter Gammons says 2009 is the year for Rickie Weeks, but if you don't believe him, The Grand National Championships is making a case for it too.

On Rankings/Previews/Predictions and whatnot:

  • Bucs Dugout has the Brewers finishing second in the Central.
  • Sports Illustrated also has the Brewers second in the division, but says they could make a run at the Cubs by trading Prince Fielder for pitching and replacing him with Mat Gamel, who still has not played one inning at first base.
  • also has the Brewers finishing second.
  • predicts the Brewers will win 81 games and tie with the Reds for third place.
  • Sharapova's Thigh thinks the Brewers will finish right around .500.
  • Wheelhouse Radio has the Brewers finishing fifth.
  • Canada Free Press also has the Brewers fifth, along with a bandwidth-sucking website that made this morning's Mug five minutes later all by itself.
  • Sixty Feet, Six Inches has the Brewers fourth in the Central.
  • C70 at the Bat also has the Brewers fourth.
  • MLB Playoff Odds simulated the season 10,000 times using CHONE projections and predicts the Brewers will win about 79.8 games.
  • Stan Musial's Stance has the Brewers fourth in the division.
  • The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog simulated the season 6000 times, with 1000 simulations each for six projection systems. The Brewers averaged 81.9 wins and finished in second more often than any other position.
  • Vigilante Sports has the Brewers finishing second.
  • The Sports Guys rank the Brewers 26th in their preseason power rankings. I've started a petition to get them to become "The Fashion Guys."

Around the minors today, there are a couple of stories of note: Vinny Rottino is headed to Huntsville to play every day at third base. Also, Keith Law watched a Brewer minor league game this week and was impressed by the velocity of Brewer farmhand Pedro Lambertus, who could spend 2009 in Brevard County or Huntsville.

Meanwhile, in other camps:

Astros: Acquired Jeff Keppinger from the Reds for a player to be named later.
Braves: Signed Chipper Jones to a three year extension, keeping him in Atlanta through 2012.
Giants: Jonathan Sanchez will miss his final Cactus League start and could miss his first start of the regular season after burning his right index finger "cooking."
Marlins: Released Dallas McPherson.
Mets: Released Jose Valentin, Tony Armas Jr. and Junior Spivey.
Nationals: Released Wily Mo Pena.
Padres: The team is still looking to add relievers and could make a move for a player who's out of options.
Rays: Jason Isringhausen may not make the team and is not willing to accept a minor league assignment.
Tigers: Jeremy Bonderman will open the season on the DL with tightness in his shoulder.

Another day, another economic story: An AP poll showed 45% of baseball fans think baseball's biggest problem is its price tag. To a point they're right. Take another look at the note above about the Brewers reducing concession prices: the reduced price for soft serve ice cream is $3.50. That's after you spend $10 to park your car and pay "convenience fees" for the right to pay $30-$100 to watch a game.

With that said, the wording of the poll is problematic for me. The poll asked baseball fans for their opinion on the biggest problem facing the game, and they named a problem. If I handed you a $100 bill and asked you to name the biggest problem with it, you'd probably be able to find one. But all the game's problems put together weren't enough to keep participants from telling a pollster they were "interested" or "very interested" in baseball.

Of course, cool giveaways can help raise fan morale too. Giving a cardboard model of your team's new stadium to season ticket holders, however, may be too small of a gesture.

Are the rules somehow different in spring training? Dusty Baker was ejected from yesterday's Reds game, but instead of leaving the field, he remained in the dugout.

Statheads rejoice, you're about to have another new toy: two sources are going to start measuring the hang time of fly balls.

Oh, and if you'd like to make the trip to Davenport, Iowa this season, you could watch the Timber Rattlers play the Quad Cities River Bandits from a van down by the river.

Drink up.