Some things to read while going to bed early.
We're 103 days away from Opening Day and it's hard to believe any of those mornings will be quieter than this one. For today's top story, we turn to the coaching carousel: Dale Sveum is interviewing for the Cubs' managerial opening today, and Ken Rosenthal says he might be the favorite to become the new manager in Boston.
Here are today's Prince Fielder notes:
- High Heat Stats says Fielder was 2011's third most productive hitter (ranked by batting runs per plate appearance. Ryan Braun was eighth.
- Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk ranked Fielder as this winter's second most valuable free agent, with Francisco Rodriguez checking in 16th.
- The Dodgers still seem like a long shot to offer any big contracts this offseason, but Ken Rosenthal says the team could help solve its financial woes by signing Fielder or Albert Pujols.
- Lou of Reviewing the Brew listed his favorite three Prince Fielder memories.
I guess I'm going to look foolish if it actually happens, but I still can't see the Brewers signing Jose Reyes. Buster Olney disagrees, though, and said this on Twitter:
Don't know where Jose Reyes will land, but I do think the Brewers would be an excellent fit for him; they've got money to spend, too.
I'm not sure what Olney's looking at, but the ~$10 million available to fill six or seven positions in our 2012 payroll estimate would suggest that "they've got money to spend" is technically true but not necessarily valid here.
Assuming the Brewers are going to shop for a new shortstop but Jose Reyes is out of their price range, Aaron Gleeman has a guide to upgrading the position for the budget-conscious consumer.
Here's a reminder why the upgrade is so important: Bill James' 2012 Handbook says Yuniesky Betancourt has been baseball's worst defensive shortstop over the last three seasons, costing his teams 46 runs. This season's Rickie Weeks-Yuni double play combo, though, was baseball's 18th best.
Elsewhere in offseason speculation, Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew has an offseason blueprint for the Brewers to follow. The Sporting News (Anthony Witrado) also has a preview of the Brewer offseason.
The Brewers did make one minor transaction this weekend, hiring Andy Pratt to serve as a pro scout (FanShot). Pratt had been working as an instructor in the Rangers organization.
A team of MLB stars wrapped up their week-long exhibition series in Taiwan last night, beating the Chinese Taipei national team 6-4 to complete a five game sweep. LaTroy Hawkins made his second appearance of the series and allowed a run on two hits in an inning.
The race to have 2011's best mustache continues, and John Axford continues to lead it: He coasted through the first round of The Outside Corner's MLB Mustache Madness tournament, and now faces Carl Pavano.
I'm not sure if this award would be more or less flattering: Nyjer Morgan is currently second in NotGraphs' voting to assign the nickname "I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass." He's a long way behind Kyle Farnsworth, though.
In the minors:
- Caleb Gindl was yesterday's top VWL performer, going 2-for-3 with two walks and a home run in Caracas' 6-0 win over Margarita. You can read about that and more in today's Winter League Notes.
- While most of the AFL Brewers got back-to-back days off this weekend, Jed Bradley pitched a scoreless inning with a pair of strikeouts in the prospect league's Rising Stars Game. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said Bradley pitched an impresssive inning, has a pro body and very good stuff, but has been "frustratingly inconsistent."
- Meanwhile, Jimmy Nelson and a handful of others are headed to Maryvale to take part in a small, two week winter minicamp.
- Matt Garrioch of MLB Bonus Baby says the Brewers added $9.78 million in value in the 2011 draft, the 23rd most among MLB teams.
- Baseball America is reporting the Brewers have released Steffan Wilson. He was a 27th round pick out of Harvard in 2007 and hit .239/.296/.325 in 123 games for Huntsville last season.
- 18 other Brewer minor leaguers became free agents over the weekend. I listed my thoughts on a few of them here. Baseball America has the list of all 537 minor league free agents around baseball.
- I'd like to take a moment this morning to thank Mass Haas of Brewerfan.net, who has decided to step down after over ten years producing that site's daily minor league Link Reports. Through those posts he's been producing tireless quality content there for almost three times as long as I've been writing here, and we're all better informed for it.
If you missed it on Friday, Corey Hart was profiled as the ninth entry on our list of 2011's Most Valuable Brewers. If you haven't yet there's still time to vote for #10: As of this writing Randy Wolf leads Jonathan Lucroy by 19 votes.
Blue Jays: Acquired pitcher Trystan Magnuson from the A's for cash considerations.
Diamondbacks: Signed manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers to contract extensions through 2014 with club options through 2016.
Orioles: Are expected to announce former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette as their new general manager tomorrow.
Phillies: Signed first baseman/DH Jim Thome to a one year deal worth $1.25 million plus incentives.
If the Orioles' GM search is over, then I know a couple of people who are going to be disappointed: Both Marc Normandin and Jack Moore were hoping the search would come to them.
Elsewhere in notes from Baltimore: it'll be interesting to see if the Brewers find room in the organization to add one more scout: Scott Miller of CBS is reporting that the Orioles fired longtime scout Gary Roenicke this offseason. Gary, if you haven't made the connection, is Ron's brother.
Here's today's baseball economics note: The Mets have laid off roughly 10% of their non-player employees in an effort to cut payroll (FanShot).
If you're still wondering why the Braves melted down in September this season, here's one possibility to consider: Peter Gammons noted that three Atlanta relievers were in the top four in all of baseball in appearances on back-to-back days.
- Mike Matheny is one of the candidates that's interviewing for the Cardinals managerial vacancy.
Beyond the Box Score notes that eleven players in baseball history have worn at least eight different uniform numbers. Five of them (Russell Branyan, Jamey Wright, Henry Blanco, Corey Patterson and Nelson Figueroa) wore one of those numbers in Milwaukee.
I'll admit it, I missed this meme: NotGraphs has visual evidence of Joe West ejecting soon-to-be former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
Here's something I missed over the weekend, but still wanted to mention: Saturday was the eighth anniversary of the launch of Athletics Nation, the first site on what went on to become the SB Nation network. Eight years later the network has 316 sites and continues to be a great platform for writers like me across the spectrum of sports.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find Mark.