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Thursday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while promoting tongue safety.

We're 37 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and yesterday we found out another new Brewer will be joining the team in Maryvale: The team claimed shortstop Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Cubs, who claimed him from the Royals about a month ago (FanShot). Bianchi is 25 and posted a .259/.320/.333 line in AA last season after missing the entire 2010 campaign following Tommy John surgery. Before that, however, he was a pretty interesting prospect. John Sickels rated him as a C+ prospect in last year's Baseball Prospect Book, and here's an excerpt from his scouting report:

When healthy, Bianchi is a line drive hitter with gap power, speed, adequate on-base skills, solid defense up the middle and a "baseball rat" personality. Grading him is tough: He has the profile to be a strong utility player at least, and if he maxes his talent out, he could be a pretty solid regular, too.

@Mass_Haas says Bianchi has one option remaining but may qualify for another because he missed the entire 2010 season, and has a link to a Baseball Prospectus interview from 2009.

Meanwhile, time is running out for the Brewers to reach a deal with Norichika Aoki. The two sides have until Monday to come to an agreement, and Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt he has no update on the situation.

It's an unusually large day for Prince Fielder notes:

We've been counting down to this for a while now so it's hardly a surprise, but MLB officially announced yesterday that the Brewers will hold their first workout of the spring on February 20, and their first full-squad practice on the 25th. Plan your lives accordingly.

Elsewhere in upcoming excitement, the Brewers released the list of players expected to attend January 29's "Brewers On Deck" event yesterday. There are 28 current Brewers, ten prospects, six alumni and the full MLB coaching staff on the list. The most notable name expected to attend is probably Ryan Braun, who will be making his first major public appearance since news broke regarding his possible suspension.

In the minors:

  • The Brewers have signed catcher Paul Phillips to a minor league deal. He'll turn 35 in April and has played in 91 major league games over six seasons as a member of three teams. Phillips hit .237/.281/.305 in 78 games for AAA Columbus in 2011, and is probably behind at least four other catchers on the Brewer depth chart at this point.
  • Martin Maldonado went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk but it wasn't enough as Mayaguez lost 9-6 to Ponce in the Puerto Rican playoffs yesterday. You can read about that and more in today's Winter League Notes.
  • We're seeing our first significant snowfall of the winter in Appleton today, and the @TimberRattlers twitter feed will be posting pictures all day.

If you'd like more from me this morning but you're sick of reading, check out my appearance from last night on the D+ Sports Advantage podcast with my friends J.D. Fox and Travis Monroe. We mostly talked Hall of Fame, but discussed a handful of former Brewers.

Around baseball:

Angels: Avoided arbitration with first baseman Kendrys Morales (one year, $2.975 million).
Astros: Claimed outfielder Fernando Martinez off waivers from the Mets, designated pitcher Henry Villar for assignment and hired former Cardinals coach Joe Pettini as their new bench coach.
Giants: Avoided arbitration by signing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a two year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2014.
Pirates: Signed pitcher Doug Slaten to a minor league deal.
Rays: Signed 1B/OF Luke Scott to a one year contract with a club option for 2013.
Red Sox: Acquired infielder Brad Emaus from the Rockies for a PTBNL or cash.

@Mass_Haas says the Brewers also made an offer to Slaten.

In former Brewers:

The 2012 season is the final year on the Brewers' lease with their spring training facility in Maryvale. They'll likely explore their options, but one of their best bets is off the table: The A's have reached a verbal agreement to move their spring training site to the former Cubs facility in Mesa.

Today in baseball economics:

Here's an interesting statistical analysis note, if you're so inclined: Eno Sarris of FanGraphs has data and a chart showing that pitchers' strikeout rates are (on average) never higher than the number posted in their first major league season.

If you've been reading our Twitter feed this morning you probably know that I'm into game shows. As such, I'm curious about MLB Network's new Baseball IQ show, a tournament-style trivia contest featuring representatives from each MLB team.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I know who stole my tie.

Drink up.