Some things to read while adjusting your optimism.
You're probably going to hear a fair amount of complaining about scheduling today, as the Brewers and Giants wait around to become the last two teams to open their 2009 schedules. Tom H. certainly wants the Brewers to play today.
The Brewer opener was pushed to tomorrow to give the Giants a day off between their last exhibition contest yesterday and their opener. Most teams schedule a day off for the middle of their opening series in case of weather, but the Giants are flying without that safety net, and it may become important because it's supposed to rain tomorrow. This week's series is the Brewers' only scheduled visit to San Francisco in 2009, meaning the game will either have to be played in poor conditions tomorrow or the Brewers and Giants will face a doubleheader in their first series of the year.
Weather could be an issue in other places as well. Today's White Sox/Royals game in Chicago has already been postponed, and there's talk of weather-related delays in Boston, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
When the Brewers finally do take the field, it will be 20 minutes later than previously expected. The Giants have pushed back the start time to allow for Opening Day festivities. Heaven forbid they'd start those before everyone is in their seats on a rainy day.
So, barring inclement weather, Jason Kendall will start his second season as the Brewers' catcher tomorrow. The second of how many, you ask? Well, Kendall says he'd like to play six seasons in Milwaukee, which would keep him in a Brewer uniform through his fortieth birthday and give him a good shot at being baseball's all time leader in games played at catcher.
When the Brewers finally do take the field, it will be without Trevor Hoffman, who will need more than 15 days to get ready to pitch in regular season games. He'll play catch today and take it from there. Murray Chass featured Hoffman in his look at closers in new places.
David Riske, however, will be there despite a dismal spring. Tom H. reports the Brewers have no plan to try to move Riske or hide him on the DL, but likely will not use him in important situations.
Alcides Escobar is getting a lot of attention as spring training comes to an end. Peter Gammons listed Escobar as one of the most impressive young players this spring and Prospects Paradise lists him as having the second best glove in the minors. A couple of other minor notes:
- Beyond the Box Score says Caleb Gindl was 17 runs above average in the outfield last season.
- They also rank Taylor Green as exactly average at Mat Gamel at two runs below average at third base.
I'm sure this will sound familiar to anyone who's been following the team for more than a few days, but Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated thinks Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart could have breakout years in 2009.
Are these more relevant than the other projections? It's hard to say.
- None of the 20 experts at ESPN picked the Brewers to make the playoffs. They also have the Crew 14th in their power rankings.
- Of the eight at The Journal Sentinel, none picked the Brewers to win the Central and only Tom H. picked them to win the Wild Card. The eight predictions average out at 84.6 wins for the Crew.
- 26 predictors at The Hardball Times were unanimous in picking the Cubs to win the Central. The Brewers finished third.
- Ken Rosenthal has the Brewers finishing fourth.
Please hold for the deluge of other predictions, projections and rankings:
- Fielder's Choice has the Brewers in fourth.
- The Tennessee Journalist has the Brewers in fourth.
- Texas Rangers Trades has the Crew in fourth too.
- Baseball & The Boogie Down has the Brewers winning 88 games and finishing in second.
- We Will...Never Learn has the Brewers, and every other team in the Central, beating the Pirates.
- Hear the Hurd has the Brewers in second.
- Below the Beltway has the Brewers in third.
- The View From The Dugout thinks the Brewers will win 85-90 and make a run at the Wild Card.
- Bleed Cubbie Blue is picking the Brewers to finish second.
- Happiness for Blessing projects the Brewers for 80 wins and a fourth place finish.
- Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal ranked the Brewers 20th in his preseason power rankings.
- By My Count has the Brewers fourth in the Central.
- Patrick Sullivan of The Baseball Analysts thinks the Brewers will win more than 81.5 games.
- One of the eleven contributors at Baseball Digest Daily picked the Brewers to win the division. The consensus pick was third, and no one had them below fourth.
- Chicago White Sox Examiner picked the Brewers to finish fourth.
- Jordan Bastian has the Brewers finishing fourth.
- Talking Chop has the Brewers finishing third.
- Viva El Birdos thinks the Brewers will end up in the middle of the division.
- Phil Rogers' Power Rankings have the Brewers 16th, 15th among actual baseball teams.
- View From The Bleachers has the Brewers third in the Central.
- The Diamond Cutter also has the Brewers third.
- Bill Chuck has the Brewers winning 90 games and finishing second.
- Walk Like A Sabermetrician picked the Brewers to finish third.
- Sully Baseball thinks the Brewers will slide back to mediocrity and trade Prince Fielder. He also predicts Ned Yost will take over mid-season as manager of the Blue Jays.
- David Brown and Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew pick the Brewers second and third in the Central, respectively.
- Backseat Fan is picking the Cardinals to win the Central and the Brewers to finish third.
- Brewed Sports has the Brewers winning the Central.
- The Grand National Championships has the Brewers finishing second behind the Cardinals.
- The Bucky Channel has the Brewers finishing second.
- BC Sports has the Brewers finishing third.
Ok, I'm going to stop there. There were at least a dozen more, probably more, but I think we've seen enough. My apologies if I missed yours. Think you can out-predict these guys? Then you should enter Red Reporter's prediction contest and Beyond The Box Score's 32 predictions. You also have until the end of the day today to get your picks in for The Brew Crew Ball Over/Under contest.
So what happens if the Brewers do underperform in 2009? Between the Green Pillars explores the possibilities of a fire sale, but even if the desire to sell off assets arises, there may not be many buyers out there.
Sounds like Cory Provus is quickly settling into what might be America's greatest job: spending the summer seated next to Bob Uecker. The JS takes a look at their developing partnership.
If given the opportunity to sum up why you're a Brewer fan in one paragraph, could you do it? As part of a project for The National Review, Michael E. Hartmann gave it a shot.
Elsewhere around baseball:
Cubs: Released Chad Gaudin.
Mariners: Placed Ichiro Suzuki on the DL with a bleeding ulcer.
Mets: Signed Gary Sheffield to a one year deal.
Rangers: Released Casey Daigle, perhaps best known for being Jennie Finch's husband. They also released Adam Melhuse.
Reds: Jonny Gomes will not make the Opening Roster and is undecided on reporting to AAA.
Rockies: Acquired Jason Hammel from the Rays for minor league pitcher Aneury Rodriguez.
White Sox: The team has postponed its home opener against the Royals due to snow. They've also become Jimmy Gobble's third team this spring.
I'm not sure how this impacts one's ability to continue to own an MLB franchise, but it can't be good: Rangers owner Tom Hicks has defaulted on over $500 million in debt. If you'd like to own the Rangers, get your checkbook ready.
Even after 100 years, some may never learn: Goat Riders of the Apocalypse has a poll asking Cub fans how many games the team will win in 2009, and not a single voter has gone below 90.
On the other side, someone is finally starting to poke holes in the notion that the Reds are going to make a sudden surge. Surprisingly, that someone is Reds beat writer Hal McCoy.
Maybe they need more sweet potatoes? Jason Giambi swears by them.
Sometimes I wonder if newspaper profiles are sparked by the discovery that someone else in the office doesn't know something: A few weeks after Tom H. followed a mention of Giants prospect Ryan Rohlinger with the phrase "whoever he is," Dave Boehler has a profile of the West Bend native.
I have four links left, and three of them are FanGraphs:
- They're trying out Twitter Feeds to keep you updated on your favorite team's Win Expectancy during games.
- They're also looking at the merits of the Rays' decision to platoon former Brewers Gabe Gross and Gabe Kapler.
- And they're sharing my opinion on the ethics of service time manipulation.
Oh, and you're never too old to play with Micro Machines.