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Friday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while rooting out a traitor.

Let's start today with a look ahead, before we look back. In a few hours, the Brewers will play their second Cactus League road game with a familiar face across the diamond. Ben Sheets will take the mound against the Brewers in his first game action since Septmeber of 2008. Sheets told Jane Lee of that "it will be weird" to face his former teammates, but he's still the same player. Meanwhile, A's manager Bob Geren said that Sheets facing the Brewers in his debut was simply a scheduling coincedence, not a planned event.

Adam McCalvy says we should expect to see Ryan Braun and Jim Edmonds in the lineup today, after both had the day off yesterday. He also reports that we might not see Alcides Escobar, who underwent root canals yesterday, Josh Butler, who is being held back with a sore arm or Mat Gamel, who was held out of yesterday's game with a sore shoulder.

Meanwhile, the internet is all abuzz with chatter about what might have been the most anticlimactic hit by pitch in Cactus League history. If you haven't seen it yet, ESPN has video of Barry Zito hitting Prince Fielder in the first inning yesterday. There was no reaction from Fielder and the rest of the game was played without incident, so you'd think we could move on, right? Wrong. Here's a sampling of response to Zito's 80 mph "message:"

It may come as a surprise to national pundits and other over-reactors, but there were actually nine innings of baseball played yesterday in addition to the much-talked-about matchup between Zito and Fielder. Here are some other notes from the game:

It was actually a big day for Fielder for another reason: Doug Melvin and Gord Ash left yesterday's game to meet with Scott Boras to start discussion regarding a possible contract extension. Fielder said no official offer was made, but Brew Town Beat thinks signing Fielder to a long term deal might remove the "small market" label from the team.

Yovani Gallardo, meanwhile, will take home a little less cash in 2010. Tom Haudricourt reports that Gallardo's contract was renewed at $450,000, a $36,000 raise from last year. Gord Ash told Adam McCalvy there was "no negativity" in the negotiations, but the two sides weren't able to come together on a deal.

Cory Provus is in Arizona with the team this spring, and has a recap of some of the things he's seen and done so far.

The BCB Tracking Poll earlier this week showed a lot of fan confidence in Doug Melvin, who had an 80% approval rating. Tim Marchman of Sports Illustrated shares that confidence, and ranked Melvin sixth in his general manager rankings, one spot behind Jack Zduriencik (h/t  Melvin's #6 ranking was easily the best in the NL Central: Walt Jocketty of the Reds was second, at #14.

In the minors:

  • Project Prospect has the list of 58 players who appeared in their top 100 prospect list, as well as the Top 100's for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, AOL and ESPN. Alcides Escobar (consensus #17) and Brett Lawrie (consensus #51) give the Brewers two players on the list.
  • The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers unveiled their 2010 promotional schedule yesterday. Get your tickets early if you've ever wanted to meet Spiderman, Iron Man, or a cow.

We're just about done with position players in the Brew Crew Ball Community Projections, but stop by if you haven't yet and offer your opinion on the defensive projections.

Elsewhere in projections: David Appelman of FanGraphs has a look at the FanGraphs Community Projections, which have the Brewers at 78 wins, tied for second in the Central.

Around baseball:

Blue Jays: Claimed pitcher Casey Fien off waivers from the Red Sox.
Mets: Signed Kiko Calero to a minor league deal.

As spring training games get underway, Braden Looper continues to search for a new home. Ken Gurnick of thinks the Dodgers are still interested, but are only willing to offer a non-guaranteed minor league deal.

Do major league hitters change their approach on the first pitch against elite pitchers? We can say with relative confidence that one does: Dave Allen of FanGraphs has a look at Chipper Jones' tendency to swing at first pitches and the variation in that habit between elite and other pitchers.

The Astros, meanwhile, are swinging at everything this spring. They connected for 21 hits (including five home runs) en route to a 15-5 victory over the Nationals yesterday, but didn't draw a single walk in the game. The major league record for most runs in a regular season game without a walk is 16, set by the 1998 Rangers.

As you're watching spring training games, you may notice that the players' hats look a little unusual. New Era has designed new spring training caps for all 30 teams this spring, and is actually admitting that the new designs are just a giant cash grab.

Are you hungry this morning? If so, you have something in common with these baseball players on Twitter, as collected by Walkoff Walk.

If you're still hungry tonight (and in Florida), you could head out to the Twins game, where fans will receive a free grapefruit on their way out.

On this day in 1986, the Brewers traded Ted Simmons to the Braves for catcher Rick Cerone and two minor leaguers. Cerone would play just one season as a Brewer, hitting .254/.309/.380 in 68 games. Simmons, at the twilight of his career, hit .248/.323/.367 over three seasons as a Brave.

Happy birthday today to:

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a bigger sheet of paper.

Drink up.