Some things to read while taking your pills.
We're 33 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale and we've got a new nominee for "Most interesting story in camp:" The Brewers signed veteran pitcher Kelvim Escobar to a minor league deal yesterday and invited him to major league spring training. Escobar is 36 years old and has pitched in exactly one major league game since the end of the 2007 season, but played winter ball this offseason and appears to be both healthy and in great shape.
Escobar is on Twitter, making him an easy choice for our Tweet of the Day:
Here's much more on Escobar:
- Gord Ash told Tom Haudricourt the Brewers are planning on looking at Escobar as a reliever this spring.
- Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs has the most thorough look at Escobar that I've seen, and says "the wisest bet is probably that Escobar will throw zero major-league innings between today and any future endpoint you select. But Escobar, even at his age, even with his history, drips with promise."
- Buster Olney pointed out that Escobar and Ron Roenicke know each other from their time together with the Angels.
- Mark Saxon of ESPN said Escobar is "one of the nicest, most fun-loving guys in baseball."
- He's also Alcides Escobar's cousin.
- Along with Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe, he's one of three active pitchers with 100 career wins and 50 saves.
- Escobar will wear #45, which was previously assigned to hitting coach Johnny Narron. He's moving down to #13.
Escobar was not, however, yesterday's only transaction. The Brewers also cut a deal to avoid arbitration with Chris Narveson, who will make $840,000 in 2013 while trying to bounce back from a lost year in 2012.
Mike Vassallo notes that the Brewers' arbitration-eligible list is now down to four: John Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada and Carlos Gomez. Some of those cases will likely be quickly settled after teams and players are expected to exchange offers a week from today.
Even that, however, wasn't the day's only big news: Jonathan Lucroy took to Twitter yesterday to announce that he'll be joining Ryan Braun on Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. This will be Lucroy's first WBC.
Elsewhere in things that would have been our top story any other day this week, Dan Szymborski has released his 2013 ZiPS projections for the Brewers. I think his numbers show reason for optimism for Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Jean Segura but not so much for Aramis Ramirez or four of the likely five members of the Brewer starting rotation.
Even before those predictions came out, Ryan Topp of Disciples of Uecker spotted a possible pitfall in the Brewers' 2013 roster construction: They're building a team around a starting rotation with five guys who are unlikely to consistently pitch deep into games. The young rotation is also one of Dave Radcliffe of the Yahoo Contributor Network's five Brewer storylines for 2013.
Maybe John Axford can bring back some innings-eaters from the past to help out here: Kevin Kimmes of Cream City Cables has some evidence to suggest he may be a time traveler.
Axford will be one of dozens of players in attendance when the team hosts "Brewers On Deck" on January 27. Follow that link for the full list of players, but at this point the only really notable absences are Aramis Ramirez and Norichika Aoki.
In the minors:
- Marc Hulet of FanGraphs released his list of the Brewers' top 15 prospects yesterday and has Tyler Thornburg and Taylor Jungmann in his top two spots.
- Also at FanGraphs, David Laurilia has a great interview with Brewer pitching prospect Jed Bradley.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has an in-depth photo update from this winter's work to renovate Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
He remains a long shot at this point, but the voting is still open to get Ryan Braun on the cover of MLB '13 The Show and John and Cait are making their final push for your support.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, @Mass_Haas has a link to the archived audio from Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt and Taylor Jungmann's appearances on Brewers Weekly on WTMJ last night.
Athletics: Avoided arbitration with reliever Chris Resop (one year, $1.35 million).
Blue Jays: Claimed pitcher Tommy Hottovy off waivers from the Rangers and designated pitcher Chad Beck for assignment.
Cubs: Signed infielder Brent Lillibridge and outfielder Darnell McDonald to minor league deals and avoided arbitration with infielder Luis Valbuena (one year, $930,000).
Nationals: Signed pitchers Ross Ohlendorf, Sean West and Brandon Mann to minor league deals.
White Sox: Signed pitchers Jeff Gray, Ramon Troncoso and David Purcey, catcher Bryan Anderson, infielders Josh Bell and Steve Tolleson and outfielder Stefan Gartrell to minor league deals.
Meanwhile, the biggest transaction news around baseball is a deal that didn't happen. The Diamondbacks and Mariners reached an agreement that would have sent outfielder Justin Upton to Seattle for a prospect-laden haul, but Upton has the Mariners on his no-trade list and rejected the deal.
Yesterday's biggest news around baseball may have been that MLB is restructuring their drug-testing program for 2013 to change the way they test for synthetic testosterone and include in-season blood tests for HGH for the first time. There are some logistics to be worked out on the timing of testing, but you can count top Brewer prospect Clint Coulter as one of those in favor of the change.
Today in former Brewers:
- Mike Axisa of FanGraphs has an extended look at Shaun Marcum's lengthy wait for a free agent offer this winter.
- Kevin Kimmes of Cream City Cables has a look at Brewers who have worn #7, including Don Money and J.J. Hardy.
- Former Brewer top prospect Brad Nelson will be in camp with the Cubs this spring.
- C.C. Sabathia's weight is a story once again, as he's reportedly lost 20 pounds this offseason.
- Jon Roegele of Beyond the Box Score listed Jim Gantner, Craig Counsell and Eric Young among players whose stolen base numbers peaked in their later years.
Today's baseball economics note comes from Washington, where the Nationals' payroll will be above $100 million for the first time in franchise history in 2013.
Yesterday I mentioned that "interview caps" are apparently an actual thing MLB is asking players to wear. Bluebird Banter has suggestions for some caps the Blue Jays could also wear in 2013 in various situations. Meanwhile, Jess from The Catlantis used the caps for an innovative idea to help players remember their interview cliches.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to teach someone how to use Pinterest.