Some things to read while making some substitutions.
We're 87 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, but what are we expecting when they get there? The 2014 Brewers project to look a lot like the group that wrapped up a 74-88 2013 season. At least one fan is somewhat optimistic, though. Here are a few selected tweets from Jack Moore's feed:
Talked myself into some pretty neat 2014 Brewers optimism that will surely evaporate by April 15th.— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) November 18, 2013
I am also excited about a potential lineup of Aoki/Gomez/Braun/Ramirez/Hart/Lucroy/Davis/Segura or whatever it comes out to be.— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) November 18, 2013
I guess what I'm more convinced of with the Brewers is blowing it up now is a really bad idea.— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) November 18, 2013
The biggest challenge for the 2014 Brewers, though, is that being slightly above average may not be enough to compete in the NL Central. Noah Eisner of View From The Bleachers (a Cubs site) took a look around the NL Central and concluded that "The Brewers had a nice little run from 2008 to 2011, but that window closed once the Brewers got off to a slow start in 2012, and it will likely be a fairly long and bumpy ride back to contention for our neighbors to the north."
Elsewhere in diminished optimism, David S. Grant of Reviewing the Brew has a look at the "best case" scenario for Brewers corner infielders in 2014. Even if Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart are in the Opening Day lineup, he's not expecting much contribution from them.
With that said, the 2014 season could be a key one for Ron Roenicke. As part of his latest "Five Things I Know I Think," Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew suggests Roenicke could be on the hot seat if the Brewers don't have a winning season next year.
At the very least, the 2014 Brewers should be somewhat good at getting hit by pitches. Plunk Everyone handed out their 2013 awards yesterday and noted that Norichika Aoki led all NL right fielders in HBP with eleven. Khris Davis was also hit by the season's fastest pitch.
Meanwhile, Mike Fiers is just hoping to get a chance to hit a batter in the majors in 2014. Yesterday we considered his lost season as part of our player-by-player look at the 2013 campaign. Check back this afternoon to see who we're profiling today.
In the minors:
- Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com collected a team of Brewers' organizational All Stars. It's a pretty solid group, although I think I'd find a way to get Tyrone Taylor into the outfield.
- Brewerfan.net translated a report saying Sean Halton left his winter ball team in Licey early due to a leg injury. He returned to the US to rehab, but could rejoin the team in December if he's healthy.
- Benjamin Hill of MiLB.com is looking back at some of the uncovered material from his 2013 road trips, and today he has some notes from Nashville that didn't make his original post.
Meanwhile, Sophia Minnaert of FS Wisconsin is headed back home after 15 days in the Dominican Republic. One of her final pictures from the road came on Carlos Gomez's trip to visit his elementary school.
Cardinals: Signed infielder/outfielder Scott Moore and catcher Ed Easley to minor league deals.
Dodgers: Signed infielder Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.
Giants: Signed pitcher Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal.
Orioles: Signed pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz to a major league deal.
Padres: Hired Jose Valentin as their new first base coach.
Phillies: Re-signed catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year, $26 million deal.
Pirates: Promoted Jeff Branson to hitting coach and hired former minor league manager Jeff Livesey to an unnamed coaching position.
Rays: Pitcher Jeff Niemann has refused an outright assignment to the minors and is now a free agent.
Reds: Signed second baseman/outfielder Skip Schumaker to a two-year deal.
Rockies: Signed reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
Tigers: Hired Omar Vizquel as their new first base coach and Matt Martin for a new "defensive coordinator" position.
Howie Magner makes a great point about Ruiz and the Brewers' catching situation:
Carlos Ruiz getting 3 years/$26 million should just make #Brewers fans appreciate Jonathan Lucroy all the more.— Howie Magner (@howiemag) November 18, 2013
Lucroy and Ruiz are both big parts of a catching renaissance around baseball. Jack Moore of Sports on Earth says we're witnessing the best group of offensive catchers in recent memory.
Sticking with catchers, Max Weinstein of FanGraphs has an argument that we overrate their throwing arms when considering their value. If nothing else, the post is a good reminder that catcher throwing isn't the only variable determining basestealing success.
If your email inbox is anything like mine, it's consistently flooded with promotional emails from MLB.com advertising 10% off this or 25% of that for ONE DAY ONLY...four days in a row. If you'd like to get yourself (or someone else) something this winter but you're seeking an alternative, Lookout Landing has a guide to obscure Mariners jerseys available on Ebay.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to Seattle Pilot and 1977-78 Brewer Larry Haney. He turns 71, and we covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
Today is also the 36th anniversary of the Brewers signing third baseman Sal Bando as a free agent in 1977, and we covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's back again.