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I like Izturis already.
I like Izturis already.

Some things to read while working on a screenplay.

We're 58 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and now we know five more players who will be joining the Brewers in major league camp.

The first invitee is Cesar Izturis, who the Brewers have signed to a minor league deal and invited to spring training (FanShot). Izturis will turn 32 in February and is a career .255/.295/.322 hitter over eleven seasons. His real value is on defense, though: He's played 1074 career games at short and been worth an average of 7.6 runs above average per 150 games according to UZR.

Izturis' free agent value was probably knocked down a bit by injury concerns: He played in just 18 games in 2011 (and only two after May 12) as he dealt with an elbow injury and a groin strain. He's probably the leading candidate to take over Craig Counsell's former "defensive utility" role, although it's worth noting that his experience away from shortstop is pretty limited. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar hit the nail on the head when he said Izturis "isn't a bad guy to have stashed away in Nashville in case of injury or ineffectiveness."

The Brewers also announced yesterday they've signed free agent pitcher Juan Perez to a minor league deal and invited him to camp. Perez is 33 and pitched in eight games in relief for the Phillies in 2011. He also pitched in 36 games for Lehigh Valley in AAA and posted a 5.70 ERA, walking 6.2 batters per nine but also striking out 13.1.

Finally, the Brewers have invited 2011 first round picks Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley and catcher Anderson De La Rosa to major league camp (FanShot). None of them are serious candidates to make the team.

Earlier this week we talked about Taylor Green and his prospective future now that Aramis Ramirez appears to be installed in his place at third base. Nick Fieder of The Hardball Times is still predicting big things for Green, though: as part of his bold predictions for all 30 teams he says Green will get over 400 at bats this year in place of Ramirez and Mat Gamel and hit .280 with 15 home runs.

By the way, Call to the Pen listed the Ramirez signing as the fifth biggest transaction of the offseason to this point.

Here's a reminder of the good things that can happen when you develop your own talent. John Axford was worth 2.9 wins above replacement (according to B-Ref) in 2011 but was paid just $442,000. That made him the 19th best value in all of baseball among pitchers, according to High Heat Stats.

On the opposite end of the contract spectrum, here are today's Prince Fielder notes:

I have no sources or inside information, but as an observer it looks to me like the Mariners are bidding against themselves here. At the very least, multiple teams appear to have gone out of their way to make it clear they're not competing.

With a couple of notable exceptions, Doug Melvin has had a pretty good offseason. This week's BCB Tracking Poll shows pretty widespread approval for all of his recent moves.

The Brewer ticket office is also having a pretty good winter: They've already sold one million tickets for 2012, and this is the earliest they've ever reached that mark.

In the minors:

  • Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has posted his list of the top 15 Brewer prospects for 2012, and Taylor Jungmann leads the way (FanShot).
  • morineko isn't feeling well this morning, so Winter League Notes are taking a day off.
  • The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have posted a new Spot the Difference challenge. I'm either getting good at this or they're making them easier, because I found all five.

"Year in review" posts are an easy way to fill space during a quiet holiday season, which is why I'll probably do at least one next week. In his, Jeff Robbins of WISC lists Ryan Braun's eighth inning homer in the Brewers' NL Central-clinching win as 2011's seventh best Wisconsin sports moment.

If you'd like more Brewer content today but you're sick of reading, this week's View From Bernie's Chalet podcast is up. Topics include Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and more.

This morning's Mug is the 993rd in BCB history. Hopefully you'll join us at Rounding Third on January 3 to celebrate The Night of (Approximately) 1000 Mugs.

Around baseball:

Cardinals: Signed outfielder Eugenio Velez and pitcher R.J. Swindle to minor league deals.
Cubs: Signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a minor league deal.
Indians: Signed infielder Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Claimed third baseman Carlos Rivero off waivers from the Phillies.
Pirates: Signed infielder Anderson Hernandez to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Acquired catcher Luis Martinez from the Padres for a minor league pitcher.
Red Sox: Hired Bob McClure and Jerry Royster as their new pitching and third base coaches, respectively.
Reds: Acquired reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs for pitcher Travis Wood and two minor leaguers.
Royals: Signed reliever Jose Mijares to a one year, $925,000 deal and will pay Yuniesky Betancourt $2 million in 2012.
White Sox: Signed pitcher John Danks to a five year, $65 million contract, avoiding arbitration.

We spend a lot of time here and around the internet discussing, rating and evaluating minor league players. It's a fun pastime, but do we take it too far? David Schoenfield of makes the case that prospects are now overvalued, causing teams to overpay for potential that may never develop.

Of course, we also spend a lot of time looking back at old transactions. Bucs Dugout, for example, ran this post yesterday arguing that the Pirates won the deal that sent Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals in 2009.

In former Brewers:

Yesterday I mentioned the Brewer holiday greeting. It was nice, but it's not nearly as unintentionally funny as the one the Pirates made.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm renaming an airport.

Drink up.