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Monday's Frosty Mug

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George Kottaras is the subject of one of my favorite Picture Day photos.
George Kottaras is the subject of one of my favorite Picture Day photos.

Some things to read while speaking the truth.

After weeks of preparation the Brewers are finally ready to play games for the first time today (FanShot), as they open exhibition play with split squad action against the Cubs and Giants. Shaun Marcum will take the mound for the first time against the Cubs, while Tim Dillard faces off against the Giants. Adam McCalvy has the full lineups, with Brewer regulars relatively evenly spread over the two games.

While most of the Brewer position players will likely see action today, Corey Hart will be out: He's going to miss a few days with soreness in his side.

Hart can grab a spot on the bench next to Jonathan Lucroy, who isn't allowed to take part in drills until he sees a doctor again this week to check on the progress of his surgically repaired pinkie finger.

Most of us don't get too worked up over spring training games, and here's a quick reminder why: Don't Bring In The Lefty has a chart showing virtually no correlation between spring training and regular season records. Even in a somewhat meaningless chart, though, the 2009 Brewers get a dubious distinction: The .240 drop between their spring (.734) and regular season (.494) winning percentages was the largest in the majors since 2003.

As their final tune up for today the Brewers played an intrasquad game yesterday, headlined by a Yuniesky Betancourt home run and a Prince Fielder bunt single against the shift. It sounds like it's possible Fielder could employ that strategy more often this season.

Even if the bunt was a one-time event, it's great to see Fielder having fun this spring. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports said new management should let Fielder enjoy himself again in 2011.

Mark Rogers and John Axford signed their 2011 contracts over the weekend, leaving Casey McGehee as the team's lone unsigned player. The deadline to agree to 2011 contracts with pre-arbitration players is today, so the Brewers will either cut a deal with McGehee or renew his contract, probably before today's first pitches.

Other notes from camp:

Back at home, single game tickets went on sale on Saturday and over 98,000 were sold. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar has a look at the possibility that the team will set a single season attendance record in 2011.

I guess it's time once again to reveal myself as a worrywart: David Pinto of Baseball Analytics has some graphs showing one of the reasons Yuniesky Betancourt is so bad at getting on base: There's a massive hole in his swing in the middle of the strike zone.

Speaking of Pinto, here are his two most recent posts on defense:

  • Brewer third basemen are 12th in baseball in Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range over the last five seasons, but Casey McGehee ranks fourth worst.
  • Brewer right fielders are 21st overall, and Corey Hart is rated below the median.

Here's something to keep an eye on as the regular season approaches: Edinson Volquez is tentatively scheduled to pitch against the Brewers on Opening Day, but at this point he's still not allowed to pitch in front of paying fans due to a visa issue. Volquez is in the States on a travel visa, not a work visa.

In the minors:

Around baseball:

Indians: Signed pitcher Chad Durbin to a one year, $800,000 deal.

Today's former Brewer notes:

  • Jody Gerut, who had been in camp with the Mariners this spring, has decided to retire.
  • Plunk Everyone notes that Fernando Vina scored a run after being hit by a pitch 33.1% of the time, the sixth highest percentage among major leaguers who were hit at least 100 times.
  • Mark Loretta was the subject of Friday's Cold Stahoviak at 7th Inning Stache.
  • Minor League Ball looks back at the career of Jim Edmonds.
  • The B-Ref Blog noted that the Brewers are one of just 17 teams to have four players collect four or more hits in the same game - they did it against the Blue Jays on August 28, 1992.

Here are my favorite spring training stories from the weekend:

I'm not sure if this is an interesting statistical note or just an anomaly, but over the weekend Sky Kalkman noted that a player who steals 40 or more bases over a two year stretch is significantly more likely to still be in the majors seven years later. Some of that could probably be attributed to age: The average base-stealer is likely younger than the average major leaguer.

In sad news today, former Seattle Pilot and 1970 Brewer Greg Goossen has died. He was 65.

With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday to:

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm suing a bobcat.

Drink up.