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Thursday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while failing upward.

Wipe the sleep from your eyes, folks: We're about 90 minutes away from first pitch as the Brewers and Pirates meet at 11:35 Central time in a getaway-day special. Adam McCalvy already has today's lineup: George Kottaras and Jim Edmonds will get the start, replacing Gregg Zaun and Corey Hart.

Yovani Gallardo was very good in a somewhat brief outing last night, recording ten strikeouts (but also 103 pitches) in five innings. Adam McCalvy tweeted that it was Gallardo's fourth game with double digit strikeouts, and his first of 2010. Gallardo told Tom Haudricourt he was working on throwing his curveball and slider for strikes. Disciples of Uecker has a look at his Pitch f/x graph as part of last night's game recap.

Unfortunately, the Brewers and Pirates couldn't get through last night's game without some drama. Rickie Weeks homered off Zach Duke in the fifth inning, and was hit by a pitch from Duke in the sixth. Baseball Brew notes that this is a trend from the Pirates. Weeks was certainly upset enough by the pitch and the time it looked like things might get ugly, but cooler heads prevailed. On Twitter, Wezen-ball made the case that the pitch might have been unintentional, noting that it was thrown on a 1-2 count.

At any rate, the HBP was Weeks' fifth of 2010, making the Brewers just the second team in 25 years to have two players with five plunkings in April. Follow that link for much more from Plunk Everyone.

Even with the HBP, Weeks' OBP dropped six points last night to .478, third best in the NL. The Brewers have three players in the top 15, with Weeks joined by Ryan Braun (.453, 11th) and Casey McGehee (.435, 14th).

Prince Fielder, meanwhile, continues to scuffle. He hit some long fly balls foul but finished the night 1-for-4 with a single and a walk. Fielder's homerless streak is at 49 at bats, his longest since going 54 ABs at the start of the 2008 season. He was also wearing a wrap on his left hand before Wednesday's game, but didn't want to talk about it.

Other notes from the field:

MLB Daily Dish is reporting that the Brewers, concerned with Doug Davis' slow start, have expressed interest in Jarrod Washburn. Washburn remains a free agent. Obviously, more pitching is always a positive, but the move seems unlikely for a few reasons: First of all, Washburn wasn't in a major league camp this season and hasn't pitched for some time - he'd presumably need at least a month to get ready. Secondly, the Brewers don't really have room on their roster for all the pitchers they have now. Third, with Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Manny Parra and Chris Narveson, the Brewers don't really need another left-handed rotation candidate.

Speaking of pitchers they have now, Adam McCalvy reports that Doug Davis worked on his fastball in yesterday's bullpen session. He's been having a hard time controlling it in his first few starts, and without it he's left with his cutter and curveball, which both break the same direction.

A Washburn deal probably (hopefully) wouldn't change this, but In-Between Hops notes that the Brewers are one of just three franchises that have never given out a $50 million contract.

In the minors:

  • Jake Odorizzi pitched very well for the Timber Rattlers yesterday (read my report here), but gave himself a C+ for the outing in this Brett Christopherson profile.
  • Yesterday I mentioned that Jonathan Lucroy has been moved up to Nashville, and TheJay noted (in the comments of the Minor League Notes) that Huntsville was down to one catcher as a result. The Brewers have promoted 40-man roster member Martin Maldonado to Huntsville to rectify that problem.
  • Inside Wisconsin Sports has an interview with Timber Rattlers first baseman Chris Dennis (h/t Rattler Radio). MLB Depth Charts listed Dennis as an honorable mention for their Under the Radar Hitting Performance of the Week Award. Dennis is hitting .364/.500/.727 so far this season for Wisconsin. The Midwest League is normally a pitchers' league, and doubly so in April.

In power rankings: Beyond the Box Score moved the Brewers up nine spots to 10th.

Around baseball:

Astros: Reliever Alberto Arias will have surgery to remove a calcium buildup in his shoulder and is likely done for 2010.
Athletics: Placed Mark Ellis on the DL with hamstring tendinitis.
Blue Jays: Placed pitcher Brian Tallet (forearm tightness) and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (sore shoulder) on the DL.
Marlins: Signed pitcher Jorge Sosa to a minor league deal.
Mets: Placed reliever Ryota Igarashi on the DL with a strained hamstring.
Nationals: Placed Jason Marquis on the DL with loose bodies in his elbow.
Claimed pitcher Pedro Viola off waivers from the Reds.

In former Brewer notes: Baseball America's Minor League Transactions note new homes for two former Brewer catchers: Mike Rivera has signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers and Chad Moeller has one with the Yankees.

Defense is the order of the day in today's other notes:

  • Jeremy Greenhouse of The Baseball Analysts has Part 2 of his look at defensive positioning for outfielders. Just like Part 1, it's interesting stuff and has some fascinating graphics.
  • Defensive metrics would appear to have taken a step forward this week, as FanGraphs has updated UZR data to reflect some changes to the system, including park factors. The Hardball Times has a look at some of the biggest winners and losers, while FanGraphs notes another new element: catcher defense.
  • Finally, Jeff Sackmann has a post on the defensive spectrum and the differences between college and pro ball at The Hardball Times.

When the Brewers face the Cubs this weekend they won't see Carlos Zambrano in the rotation, but they might see him out of the bullpen: The Cubs have opted to keep Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny in the rotation and bump Zambrano when Ted Lilly returns from the DL this weekend (FanShot).

We talk a lot about the impact of bad long term deals around here, as well we should: The Brewers are paying roughly $20 million this season to Jeff Suppan, David Riske and Bill Hall. But the Cubs' bad contract situation pales in comparison. Over this year and the next four, they owe $193.25 million to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Silva. Zambrano also has a vesting option that could add $19.25 million to his deal.

On this day in 1993 former Brewer Chris Bosio, pitching for the Mariners, threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox. Bosio walked the first two batters he faced, then retired the next 27 in order.

Happy birthday today to 1976-85 Brewer Moose Haas, who turns 54. Haas is among the top five all time Brewers in wins (91, 4th), starts (231, 2nd), complete games (55, 3rd), innings pitched (1542, 3rd) and strikeouts (800, 4th).

That's all I've got for you today, unless you want to know who's under that skeleton mask.

Drink up.