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Some things to read while keeping your hearts straight.

As Marco Estrada, Joe Inglett and Luis Cruz prepare for their first spring training as members of the Brewers, Adam McCalvy has a look at the successes Doug Melvin has had via the waiver wire. His ability to find freely available contributors has almost certainly been his greatest strength as a GM, netting the Brewers players like Doug Davis, Casey McGehee, Scott Podsednik and Todd Coffey.

Another day, another round of high expectations for new pitching coach Rick Peterson: Today Right Field Bleachers has quotes from Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest and Peterson himself, talking up his ability to help young pitchers and keep them healthy.

Clearly, the excitement generated by the Peterson hire is great, but if I were in the Brewer front office (or if I were Rick Peterson), I'd be working to manage expectations a bit. Clearly he's a talented pitching coach and there are plenty of places where he could help the Brewers, but he's starting to approach the point where anything short of an all-out, miraculous turnaround might be seen as something of a disappointment.

Here's something you probably expected: Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are pretty good at hitting pitches over the middle of the plate. Here's a number that might surprise you, though: Jeremy Greenhouse of The Baseball Analysts says they're the best and third best hitters in all of baseball when facing that pitch, respectively. Here are some other notes from that story:

  • Casey McGehee (+5.1 runs) was baseball's best hitter against high, inside pitches last season.
  • Braun (+7.2 runs) was also baseball's third best hitter against pitches thrown outside at medium height.
  • Corey Hart (+3.6 runs) was among baseball's top five hitters when swinging at low, inside pitches. Braun (-6.1 runs) was among baseball's five worst.
  • Mike Cameron (+8.8 runs) was baseball's fourth best hitter against inside pitches at medium height, but third worst among pitches thrown high and over the middle of the plate (-11.6 runs).

On predictions and projections:

  • Revenge of the RLYW has updated their CAIRO projections for 2010, and they now have the Brewers winning 80.9 games, down slightly from the 81.3 they predicted last week. That number would be good for fourth place, behind the Cardinals (90.5), Cubs (86.2) and Reds (84.2).
  • Tony Paul of the Detroit News gave the Brewers a C- for their offseason and predicts they'll finish fourth in the NL Central.

At the Caribbean World Series:

After yesterday's action, the Dominican Republic is 3-0 halfway through the six game, round robin tournament. Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico are all two games back at 1-2.

Around baseball:

Cubs: Avoided arbitration with Carlos Marmol, who will earn $2.125 million in 2010.
Mariners: Have reportedly agreed to terms on a deal with Erik Bedard that will pay him $1.5 million plus incentives.
Nationals: Have reportedly signed Adam Kennedy to a one year deal (FanShot).
Phillies: Signed pitcher Oscar Villareal to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Orlando Hudson to a one year, $5 million deal.

Want some insight into the life of a major league beat writer? Jordan Bastian, who in my opinion is one of baseball's best, covers the topic of rooting in the press box in his latest post at his personal blog.

I've never played Strat-O-Matic Baseball but Joe Posnanski's recent post about it has me intrigued, so I'm excited to see Bugs & Cranks giving away one copy of the game each week until Opening Day.

While you're daydreaming at your desk today, here's something to ponder: If you were on Jeopardy and the final category was baseball related, how much would you risk? I didn't do so well on the application test a few weeks ago, so I'll probably never have to worry about it.

Happy birthday today to Hank Aaron, who turns 76. Aaron hit 398 home runs as a Milwaukee Brave from 1954-1965, and 22 more as a Milwaukee Brewer in 1975 and 1976. A 25-time All Star, Aaron is still baseball's all time leader in RBI, total bases and extra base hits, and ranks in the top five in home runs, hits, games, plate appearances and intentional walks.

Drink up.