Some things to read while opening a new pack.
We are 102 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, but our top story today is a look back to 2013. Mark Attanasio sent a letter out to fans late Friday night wrapping up the 2013 season, acknowledging the team's struggles and also highlighting some hope for the future.
All told, the letter didn't say anything unexpected, which is why the timing was a little strange. I received my copy at 12:16 am Sunday morning, when most fans were presumably already in bed. Nicole summed up the puzzling decision in a handful of tweets:
An email with a letter to the fans from @Brewers owner Mark Attanasio at 12:15 am? That's usually a bad sign ....— Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) November 3, 2013
Apparently I'm inherently more suspicious than the rest of you, but my first thought was "what are they trying to bury?"— Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) November 3, 2013
Glad it turned out to be nothing, but after this season of bombshells, felt like was going to be more bad news.— Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) November 3, 2013
Seems like even risking having your fans thinking "oh god, what now?" is a bad idea. Just my initial reaction to it.— Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) November 3, 2013
Meanwhile, the Brewers did have an actual announcement to make this weekend: They're going to hold 14 all-fan giveaways at Miller Park in 2014, and the first is a Carlos Gomez Gold Glove bobble introduced moments ago.
The Brewers could also have announced they're going to try to limit outs on the bases in 2014. Adam McCalvy reports that Bill James ranked them sixth in all of baseball in "manufactured runs" in 2013, but it's unclear if the stat penalizes them for all the bad outs made while attempting to manufacture more.
We're counting down the hours until free agents can begin signing with new teams later this week. Here are today's free agency notes:
- MLB Trade Rumors ranked the top 50 players on the market this winter and made a prediction for each of them. They have the Brewers re-signing Corey Hart and adding Paul Maholm, but also mention them in connection to starter Scott Feldman, relievers Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith and first baseman James Loney.
- Lookout Landing went all-out to produce a proposed offseason plan for the Mariners, and it includes signing Hart to a two-year, $16 million deal.
- Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew has a pipe dream about the Brewers signing Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.
Back in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun has served his suspension and will be back in uniform when the Brewers open play at Miller Park in April. Dave Morris Jr. of Fake Teams has a head-to-head comparison of Braun, who will be 30 on Opening Day, and Bryce Harper, who will be 21.
Braun, by the way, homered on a 67.4 mph pitch against the Dodgers on May 22. David G. Temple of FanGraphs says that was the fourth slowest pitch taken deep this season. You can see that home run and every other long ball hit by a Brewer in 2013 on ESPN's Stats and Info blog.
Some of Braun's playing time in 2014 is likely to come at the expense of Logan Schafer, who appeared in 134 games last season in the outfield. We profiled Schafer on Friday as an honorable mention in our MVBrewers series, and will wrap up the honorable mentions with another post this afternoon.
In the minors:
- The Arizona Fall League is off on Sundays, but Juan Francisco went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI in Licey's 5-2 win over Escogido in the Dominican Republic yesterday (box score). Sean Halton went 0-for-4 in the game.
- Surprise was also off on Saturday, but reliever David Goforth represented the Brewers in the league's Fall Stars Game by facing two batters and recording two outs in the ninth inning of the West team's 9-2 win (box score).
- The Puerto Rican winter season also kicked off on Friday. Martin Maldonado is on Mayaguez's roster again this winter, but is currently listed as inactive.
- If you missed any winter league action last week or would just like a full recap, morineko posted her weekly update yesterday.
If you weren't around the site this weekend or you've fallen behind on Brewer news recently, you might want to go back and check out JP's recap of what we learned last week. You won't find a better weekly recap of events around the Brewers and this site.
Astros: Claimed pitcher Darin Downs off waivers from the Tigers.
Athletics: Signed pitcher Philip Humber to a minor league deal and exercised 2014 contract options for outfielder Coco Crisp ($7.5 million) and pitcher Brett Anderson ($8 million).
Diamondbacks: Signed catcher Blake Lalli to a minor league deal (h/t @joe_block), claimed outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo off waivers from the Tigers, named Dave McKay their new first base coach, Glenn Sherlock third base coach and Turner Ward hitting coach.
Giants: Declined pitcher Ryan Vogelsong's contract option for 2014.
Indians: Signed pitcher J.C. Ramirez to a minor league deal.
Mariners: Fired bench coach Robby Thomson and reassigned third base coach Jeff Datz, and declined contract options for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and pitcher Joe Saunders.
Mets: Declined pitcher Johan Santana's contract option for 2014.
Nationals: Named Matt LeCroy and Mark Weidermaier as their new bullpen and defensive positioning coaches.
Orioles: Declined pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada's contract option for 2014.
Pirates: Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has exercised his $13 million player option for 2014 and outfielder Felix Pie has refused an outright assignment to the minors, becoming a free agent.
Rangers: Claimed pitcher Chaz Roe off waivers from the Diamondbacks and announced that reliever Joe Nathan has declined his player option for 2014.
Rays: Exercised 2014 contract options for infielders Ben Zobrist ($7 million) and Yunel Escobar ($5 million) and signed outfielder David DeJesus to a two-year contract with a club option for 2016.
Red Sox: Exercised pitcher Jon Lester's $13 million contract option for 2014 and declined reliever Matt Thornton's option.
Tigers: Hired Brad Ausmus as their new manager and declined pitcher Jose Veras' contract option for 2014.
Yankees: Re-signed shortstop Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million deal.
Today in baseball economics: Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs looks at the impact of a significant increase in national TV revenue headed to MLB teams in 2014. New deals with ESPN, Fox and TBS will net teams a combined $1.5 billion next season, up from $750 million in 2013.
Meanwhile, the A's situation remains an ongoing storyline. Big League Stew analyzed a proposal that would have them share AT&T Park with the Giants for the next two seasons before probably moving out of the Bay Area.
And in former Brewers: Congratulations are due out this morning to Casey McGehee and the Rakuten Golden Eagles, winners of the 2013 Nippon Pro Baseball championship in Japan. McGehee had a big season for Rakuten, joined by former MLB players Andruw Jones, Kazuo Matsui and Takashi Saito.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2002 Brewer Ryan Thompson, who turns 46.
- 1974 Brewer Dick Selma, who would have turned 70.
- 1970 Brewer Tito Francona, who turns 80.
Plunk Everyone notes that Selma's 27 career hit batsmen are the most ever for a pitcher born on November 4, while Francona's 32 career HBP are the third most ever for a position player born on this day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to practice my bounce passes.