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Tuesday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while getting trolled.

The news just keeps coming this week, and yesterday's top story came as a bit of a surprise to me: The Brewers have signed former Cub third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three year deal believed to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $34-37 million (FanShot). Ramirez is 33 years old and is coming off a season where he hit .306/.361/.510 in Chicago, winning his first Silver Slugger award. He had an awful year in 2010 but has been very good to great in four of the last five seasons. Here's some reaction from around the web:

Having Ramirez in the fold made Casey McGehee expendable, and the Brewers wasted no time finding him a new home. They traded him to the Pirates yesterday for reliever Jose Veras, who was second in the National League with 79 appearances last season and struck out ten batters per nine innings while posting a 3.80 ERA (FanShot). Veras is arbitration eligible for the first time this season and MLB Trade Rumors predicts he'll earn about $2.5 million. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar called Veras "surprisingly useful." Tyler Maas of Miller Park Drunk penned a farewell to Casey McGehee, who Doug Melvin said it was hard to let go. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Brewers didn't think McGehee was going to win the job at first base.

Meanwhile, the Ramirez signing means Taylor Green will likely compete for playing time at first base with Mat Gamel. The Brewers added another candidate to that race yesterday by signing free agent first baseman Travis Ishikawa to a minor league deal (FanShot). Ishikawa missed most of last season due to injury but is a career .265/.327/.400 hitter in 281 major league games and has a reputation as a very good defender.

Yesterday was also the deadline for the Brewers to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players for the 2012 season. I had suspected the team might take this opportunity to shed some payroll but they opted to keep all eight players, and signed George Kottaras to a one year deal. Manny Parra is already looking into investment opportunities.

Parra and (and fellow arb-eligible reliever Kameron Loe) probably project to be part of a 2012 bullpen that just might include baseball's best closer. Lee Panas of Tiger Tales notes that John Axford was the second best reliever in all of baseball in 2011 in what he calls "shutdown percentage," and the best in terms of "meltdown percentage." Marco Estrada, meanwhile, melted down in nine of his 36 relief appearances. His 25% meltdown percentage led the team and was the eighth highest in all of baseball.

Meanwhile, another 2011 Brewer will not be back: Takashi Saito signed a one year deal with the Diamondbacks.

While yesterday provided lots of other news, Ryan Braun remains the Brewers' top story. Here's what people are saying today:

Yesterday Zack Greinke was in the headlines as news broke that he's switching agents and some speculated that he might be considering requesting a trade. As it turns out, Greinke left CAA (his previous agency) last spring and has been without an agent ever since. That might make it difficult to attempt to negotiate an extension with him.

The Brewers have already spent more this winter than any of us expected them to, so as you might expect they're now saying they're out on Prince Fielder. Here are the rest of today's Fielder notes:

If the Brewers do decide to keep spending, Carlos Pena could be their next move. Jon Heyman says he could see either the Cardinals or Brewers pursuing the former Cub first baseman.

Elsewhere in transactions: The Brewers officially announced Alex Gonzalez's signing yesterday. I still haven't seen the terms of his new contract.

With everything going on this weekend, it's been a few days since we've had an opportunity to discuss Ron Roenicke. Beyond the Box Score notes that Roenicke was third among all NL managers in sac bunts but last in intentional walks in 2011, leading him to rank 17th in their Traditional Manager Index.

Bob Uecker is about to pick up another award for his mantle: On April 17 he'll be enshrined into the National Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame at an event in Las Vegas. The Brewers open a series against the Dodgers that night.

In the minors:

If you haven't yet, please take a moment today to vote in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. It will remain open through the day today and results will be posted tomorrow.

Thanks to Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar for filling in yesterday while @MrsBrewCrewBall and I spent a day in the Dells. He did a great job covering the latest developments on several fronts, so go back and read it if you haven't yet. I stopped by his site to thank him this morning, and I'd encourage you to do the same.

Elsewhere in self promotion: Here's a reminder that the BCB Book Club is meeting tonight. Nicole and/or I might be a little late, but we'll be meeting around 7 to discuss chapters 7-9 of The Extra 2%.

Counting Sunday's special edition and yesterday's guest appearance, this morning's Mug is the 986th in BCB history. Writing on Sunday threw off the math a little, so I guess now we'll have to call our January 3 event The Night of (Approximately) 1000 Mugs. We've also confirmed Rounding Third as the venue.

Around baseball:

Angels: Avoided arbitration with first baseman Kendrys Morales (1 year/$3 million) and pitcher Jerome Williams (1 year, $820,000).
Astros: Avoided arbitration with catcher Humberto Quintero (1 year/$1 million) and announced that catcher Jason Castro had surgery to remove a bone in his foot and may not be ready for spring training.
Blue Jays: Avoided arbitration with pitchers Jesse Litsch (1 year, $975,000) and Dustin McGowan (1 year, $600,000), claimed reliever Jim Hoey off waivers from the Twins and acquired outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies for a minor league pitcher.
Cardinals: Non-tendered infielder Ryan Theriot and received cash from the Blue Jays to complete the Colby Rasmus trade.
Cubs: Non-tendered catcher Koyie Hill.
Diamondbacks: Non-tendered pitchers Joe Saunders and Micah Owings.
Dodgers: Non-tendered reliever Hong-Chih Kuo and avoided arbitration with outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (2 years, $2 million)
Giants: Avoided arbitration with infielder Mike Fontenot (terms undisclosed) and non-tendered infielder Jeff Keppinger and catcher Eli Whiteside.
Indians: Signed outfielder Felix Pie to a minor league deal.
Mariners: Non-tendered pitcher Dan Cortes and catcher Chris Gimenez.
Marlins: Signed outfielder Aaron Rowand to a minor league deal.
Mets: Non-tendered catcher Ronny Paulino and outfielder Mike Baxter and claimed pitcher Jeremy Hefner off waivers from the Pirates.
Nationals: Non-tendered pitcher Doug Slaten.
Orioles: Non-tendered outfielder Luke Scott and pitchers Willie Eyre and Jo-Jo Reyes.
Pirates: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Jason Grilli (1 year, $1.1 million).
Rays: Non-tendered pitcher Andy Sonnanstine and acquired pitcher Burke Badenhop from the Marlins for a minor league catcher.
Rockies: Non-tendered outfielders Ryan Spillborghs and Cole Garner.
Royals: Non-tendered pitcher Aaron Laffey.
Tigers: Non-tendered second baseman Will Rhymes.
Twins: Non-tendered pitcher Jose Mijares.

All the players non-tendered above are now free agents.

When a player changes teams I'd assume they usually hear about it from their former team, or perhaps their agent. The fact that Craig Breslow learned about his move from Oakland to Arizona via Twitter makes me wonder what happened there.

Today in baseball economics:

  • I've previously mentioned that the Marlins will owe $70 million to Jose Reyes in the final three years of his new contract. They also backloaded their deal with Mark Buehrle, who will earn just $6 million in 2012 but $37 million combined in 2014 and 2015.
  • The Mets financial woes continue: They've taken out another $40 million in loans to help them get by while they work on selling minority shares of the team.

The Marlins may be in financial trouble long term, but at least they're not lacking for heroes: catcher John Buck helped rescue two elderly women who were trapped in their car following a rollover accident this weekend.

In former Brewers:

No matter how bad your day is today, here's a reminder that it could always be worse: Rays pitcher David Price left a gig as a celebrity bartender this weekend to find a man urinating on his car, and narrowly avoided an altercation.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my ears are bleeding.

Drink up.