Some things to read while asking the important questions.
Here's something we haven't discussed yet: Now that the Brewers have plugged the holes in their pitching staff, they're under a fair amount of pressure to win in 2011 under first time manager Ron Roenicke. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune notes that it's relatively rare for a first-timer to go to the playoffs in his inaugural season. (h/t BBTF)
I might as well get all the buzzkills out of the way early: Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar remembers the excitement surrounding the 2000 Brewers, who went 73-89.
The Brewers and their remaining arbitration-eligible players will exchange contract proposals tomorrow, with both sides likely meeting near the midpoint of their offers soon after. Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Shaun Marcum, Kameron Loe and Manny Parra are the five players who remain unsigned. It's very unusual for the team to go to arbitration, but it did happen with Corey Hart last year.
Speaking of Hart, he was the subject of this week's Brewers Six Pack at The Official Site.
Congratulations are due out today to John Axford, who received a "Special Recognition Award" at Baseball Canada's annual banquet. With the exchange rate, it's worth roughly .75 American awards.
Today is a relatively interesting anniversary for Brewer catchers (see "On this day" below), so it's fitting that we have a story about Jonathan Lucroy: Vaughn's Valley listed him as the #8 Brewer critical to 2011 success.
A few months ago it would have been unthinkable, but the Brewers might be in position to outpitch the Cardinals in 2011. Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew has a comparison of the two rotations.
Here's a head-scratcher: Jon Heyman made a list of this offseason's most over and underpaid players, and Craig Counsell is listed as the second most overpaid. Counsell will make $1.4 million in 2011, and at most he's earning a few hundred thousand dollars more than he's worth.
In the minors:
- John Sickels of Minor League Ball briefly discussed Eric Arnett in this weekend's All Questions Answered thread, and gave the former #1 pick a "less than 50/50" shot at bouncing back in 2011.
- Sickels also listed Nick Bucci as one of his sleepers for 2011.
- Voting is open for the #12 spot in our BCB Community Prospect Rankings. By now you probably know what to do.
As if you needed another reason to be excited about the 2011 season, John & Cait have a reminder that the Brewers' 40 days of giveaways start today.
Elsewhere in promotions: Carson Cistulli of NotGraphs thinks the Brewers should add a Bob Uecker Day. It's worth a read.
Athletics: Signed reliever Brian Fuentes to a two year, $10.5 million deal, signed reliever Grant Balfour to a two year, $8.1 million deal and avoided arbitration with reliever Brad Ziegler (1/$1.25m).
Blue Jays: Avoided arbitration with Carlos Villanueva (1/$1.415m)
Cardinals: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan and signed pitchers Miguel Batista and Ian Snell and infielder Ramon Vazquez to minor league deals.
Mets: Signed infielder/outfielder Willie Harris and catcher Raul Chavez to minor league deals.
Orioles: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Adam Jones (1/$3.25m).
Phillies: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Ben Francisco (1/$1.175m)
Pirates: Signed reliever Jose Veras to a minor league deal.
Reds: Signed Joey Votto to a three year, $38 million deal, avoiding arbitration.
Royals: Signed pitcher Bruce Chen to a one year deal worth $2 million plus incentives, signed pitcher Jeff Francis to a one year, $2 million deal and avoided arbitration with infielder Alex Gordon (1/$1.15m)
Tigers: Signed reliever Joel Zumaya to a one year, $1.4 million deal (avoiding arbitration) and signed outfielder Timo Perez to a minor league deal.
Twins: Avoided arbitration with infielder Alexi Casilla (1/$865k) and re-signed DH Jim Thome to a one year, $3 million deal.
Today in former Brewer notes:
- Rob Deer was the subject of Friday's Cold Stahoviak at 7th Inning Stache.
The B-Ref Blog notes that only 19 players have ever finished their careers with more than 500 doubles and a slugging percentage under .471: Two of them (Robin Yount and Paul Molitor) are former Brewers.
The Brewers are well represented here: Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times made a list of the worst regular season game endings in major league history, and the Brewers have both a win (1998's Brant Brown game is #5) and a loss (a 1976 game against the Yankees at #1) on the list.
Here's an interesting note on aging players: In 2010, major leaguers combined to accomplish one of these feats 70 times:
- Hit at least 35 home runs (6)
- Drove in 100 runs (25)
- Posted an OBP over .400 (9) or a slugging percentage over .500 (30) in 400+ plate appearances
Yet, as Jayson Stark notes, no player over 35 accomplished any of those things.
Now, a potentially ugly baseball economics note: The Dodgers' future remains in a state of disarray following the McCourts' divorce, and they've been forced to borrow money from Fox to cover operating expenses.
On this day in 2000, catcher David Nilsson signed with Chunichi in Japan, ending his major league career. The deal included a clause allowing Nilsson to leave the team to play in the Olympics in Sydney. Nilsson spent his entire major league career as a Brewer, hitting .284/.356/.461 with 105 home runs between 1992-99. His final year was arguably his best, as he hit .309/.400/.554 and made the All Star team. Nonetheless, he was done as a major leaguer at 30 years old.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index and Brewerfan.net, happy birthday over the weekend to:
- 2001-02 Brewer Tyler Houston, who turns 40 today.
- 1971-76 Brewer Darrell Porter, who would have turned 59 today.
- Huntsville Star Zelous Wheeler, who turned 24 Sunday.
- Brevard County Manatee Juan Sanchez, who turned 24 on Sunday.
- Mitch Stetter, who turned 30 on Sunday.
- 1996-97 Brewer Ron Villone, who turned 41 on Sunday.
- 2000-02 and 2007 Brewer Ray King, who turned 37 on Saturday.
- Seattle Pilot Mike Marshall, who turned 68 Saturday.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make a wish.