Some things to read while it sneaks up on you.
We are just one day away from pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Maryvale, and today we can tell you that one more pitcher is in camp early: Jimmy Nelson arrived on Saturday for his first big league camp. Hunter Morris is probably there too, although he stopped in Oklahoma on Friday to tweet about cows.
Spring training isn't even officially underway yet and we've already got our first head-scratching Ron Roenicke moment. As part of a chat with Tom Haudricourt on Sunday Roenicke said he's hoping to use Alex Gonzalez at first base during Corey Hart's absence this spring. Gonzalez, I'll remind you, is a career .247/.292/.399 hitter and turns 36 this week.
Elsewhere in infielders, on Friday MLB Network named Aramis Ramirez as one of the game's ten best third basemen. Baseball by Paul concurs and has Ramirez 5th on his list, while Adam McCalvy has a look at where Ramirez ranks statistically.
Ron Roenicke also spoke on Saturday at Florida International University's baseball banquet. Here's a quote from his remarks on Ryan Braun:
''So no matter if it's just a payment that wasn't made and that was it, his name's still out there and it's not right,'' Roenicke said. ''When a story's put out there, they need to know if they drop a name, they need to know why they're dropping that name. If there's reason to drop it, fine. But if they have no idea why they're dropping the name, not fair.''
Roenicke has quite the challenge ahead of him if he's going to win in 2013 with a team that slashed payroll by about $25 million this winter. Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk classified their offseason as doing little and hoping for the best, and said "this is a team that's going to need a lot of luck to get back to the postseason."
That disappointing winter isn't dampening some fans' excitement for the new season, though: Well over 50,000 fans have registered for a chance to purchase one of the Brewers' remaining Opening Day tickets.
It's possible the Brewers could use this winter's financial savings to help lock up the future: Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew considers the possibility of a long term extension for Yovani Gallardo, whose current contract is set to expire following the 2014 season. Gallardo, by the way, was the subject of the latest installment of The Brewer Nation's "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series. They also profiled Michael Gonzalez on Friday.
Elsewhere in extension candidates, MLB Trade Rumors has Corey Hart and Carlos Gomez outside the top ten in their ranking of players who could be free agents following the season.
Of course, the Brewers also don't have to be done adding talent for 2013. Our poll over the weekend showed that 87% of readers would be in favor of the Brewers acquiring (via waivers or trade) reliever Shawn Kelley, who the Mariners designated for assignment last week.
In the minors:
- Keith Law says he still sees Tyler Thornburg as a reliever in the long run, and his height, mechanics and pitch quality are all reasons why.
- Wisconsin Sports Blog has an interview with 2012 second round pick Tyrone Taylor.
- The Book of Gorman has a profile of 2012 first round pick Mitch Haniger.
Cardinals: Avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese (one year, $3.15 million).
Cubs: Designated outfielder Tony Campana for assignment.
Diamondbacks: Signed second baseman Aaron Hill to a three-year, $35 million contract extension and signed catcher Rod Barajas to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Signed relievers Mark Lowe and Kevin Gregg to minor league deals.
Indians: Signed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and DH Jason Giambi to minor league deals.
Mariners: Signed pitcher Jon Garland to a minor league deal.
Marlins: Signed utilityman Chone Figgins to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Claimed pitcher Todd Redmond off waivers from the Reds, designated outfielder Trayvon Robinson for assignment and avoided arbitration with pitchers Jim Johnson (one year, $6.5 million), Jason Hammel (one year, $6.75 million) and Darren O'Day (two years, $5.8 million).
Red Sox: Outfielder Bryce Brentz will miss spring training after accidentally shooting himself in the leg.
Meanwhile, last week's reported seven year, $175 million contract for Felix Hernandez is on hold after a routine physical with the Mariners showed signs of an elbow issue. Hernandez has since withdrawn from the Venezuelan WBC team.
In former Brewers:
- True Blue LA has a profile of Zack Greinke as he enters his first season as a Dodger.
- Yuniesky Betancourt's new deal with the Phillies contains $500,000 in incentives tied to playing time, $175,000 in award bonuses (including a laughable $25,000 for winning a Gold Glove) and, perhaps most relevant, a March 24 opt-out clause if he's not on the major league roster.
- Patrick Dubuque of NotGraphs wrote a poem about a picture of former Milwaukee Brave Red Schoendienst.
Today in baseball economics:
- Astros owner Jim Crane claims the team has lost money each of the last five years.
- A Marlins beat writer sent out a picture over the weekend of just four fans standing in line 30 minutes before Miami's single game tickets went on sale on Saturday.
Here's today's most interesting statistical note: The Rays held opposing batters to a .646 OPS one year ago, the lowest figure any team has posted since before the 2000 season.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm getting old.