Some things to read while not working.
We are 17 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and after a false start the Brewers finally announced their biggest acquisition of the offseason on Sunday: Matt Garza's new deal is done and will be four years at $50 million with a vesting option for 2018. Jim Bowden of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the deal could reach a value of $67 million if Garza maxes out his incentives and the option year.
As you might expect, we have lots more on Garza from around the web:
- @Haudricourt reports that the holdup on the deal was scheduling payments of deferred salary and setting the threshold for the vesting option.
- Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel has Garza's quotes from his introductory conference call.
- @MikeVassallo13 tweeted a picture of writers crowded around a telephone for the call.
- @howiemag notes that the Brewers could have faced a PR issue if the Garza holdup had remained unresolved through On Deck.
- @JonHeymanCBS says he likes what the Brewers have done this winter.
- Derek Harvey of The Book of Gorman says the signing "doesn't put the Brewers in contention for the NL Central. However, it may just put them in the conversation for one of the Wild Card spots."
- Justin Millar of MLB Daily Dish is slightly less optimistic, saying "Overall, the Garza signing should make Milwaukee a considerably better team in 2014, but whether or not they will be good enough to compete in a deep National League playoff race is another matter."
- Harvey also has a look at how the signing could impact the bullpen, and has the Brewers' projected 2014 payroll at $95 million.
Garza's signing meant a wardrobe change for Logan Schafer, who started the day Sunday wearing the #22 uniform that now belongs to the Brewers' latest acquisition. Schafer will now wear Corey Hart's old #1. If you're looking for Schafer's old #22, it might still be in one of the trash cans at the Wisconsin Center.
Schafer won't be the only young Brewer sporting a new number this spring: @JaymesL noticed that Tyler Thornburg is moving to #30 for 2014. He wore #63 for his 18 MLB appearances last season.
Reliever Kevin Shackleford will be wearing #60 when he joins the team at his first major league spring training in a couple of weeks, but yesterday he was wearing #2 or #4: He tweeted a picture of he and Hiram Burgos trying on the Racing Sausage costumes.
Shackelford and Burgos were two of dozens of current and former players in attendance for Brewers On Deck this weekend as over 14,000 fans crammed into the Wisconsin Center to meet their favorite players and more. Our own Nathan Petrashek posted his autograph haul in our Tweet of the Day:
The final #BrewersOnDeck haul. Had Gorman, Gantner, & Yo sign bobbles, Braun & Khrush on balls, Segura on helmet. pic.twitter.com/abI5nDLcjV— Nate Petrashek (@NPetrashek) January 27, 2014
If not for the Garza signing, the big story from On Deck yesterday might have been a relatively rare public appearance from Ryan Braun, who addressed the fans as part of his ongoing effort to rehab his image. Adam McCalvy has quotes from Braun, who seems to recognize that he faces an ongoing challenge. Dave Brown of Yahoo recapped the appearance and says "There's nothing else that Ryan Braun can do except stay clean (or, let's face it - avoid getting caught) while continuing to mash taters."
Jonathan Lucroy was in attendance at On Deck yesterday, but continues to fly beneath the radar a bit as one of the cornerstones of this Brewers team. Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com included the Brewers catcher on his All-Underrated team.
Tom Gorzelanny was also in attendance, taking a break from rehab on his surgically repaired right shoulder. He's still not throwing yet but told Andrew Gruman of FS Wisconsin he expects to be ready for Opening Day.
The Garza signing was this weekend's big news, but it wasn't the Brewers' only weekend acquisition: On Saturday they announced they've signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Joe Thurston to minor league deals. Both players will be invited to major league spring training, and @Mass_Haas notes that Thurston is on Twitter as @Joeyballgame.
Hermida has never homered in 13 career games at Miller Park, but maybe he'll get a chance this season. Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation is rating parks by their home run aesthetics, and listed Miller Park as the tenth best.
In the minors:
- Martin Maldonado wasn't at On Deck on Sunday because he was too busy going 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI and run scored as Mayaguez beat Caguas 5-1 to clinch the Puerto Rican winter league championship (box score). Irving Falu went 1-for-4 for the champions in their final game. @PrimeraHora has a photo from the postgame celebration.
- Unfortunately, reliever Jose De La Torre was on the flip side of the coin. He allowed four runs in the eighth inning as Mayaguez rallied for the win.
- Meanwhile in the Dominican Republic, Juan Francisco went 0-for-2, was hit by a pitch and drove in a run with a sac fly in Licey's 9-6 loss to Escogido (box score). The best-of-nine Dominican championship series is now tied at three games apiece.
- Jay Blue of Grading on the Curve has a full recap of Brewers playing winter ball.
- Jason Arndt of Brewers Farm Report has stories on Tucker Neuhaus' transition to third base and Josh Uhen, Charlie Markson and Chad Pierce, the three Wisconsin-born players in the Brewers organization.
- Matt Garrioch of MLB Prospect Guide listed 2013 Wisconsin outfielder Tyrone Taylor among baseball's best 20-year-old outfielders.
- On Friday the Brevard County Manatees announced that they'll be traveling to Vero Beach, Florida on April 15 to play a game against the Lakeland Tigers at the historic "Dodgertown" facility for Jackie Robinson Day.
Back in Milwaukee, the Brewers announced several additions and changes to Miller Park for 2014 over the weekend. The headline attraction is likely to be the second Bob Uecker statue, but the team will also be adding an AJ Bombers location on the patio on the field level down the first base line. AJ Bombers currently has locations in Milwaukee and Madison and is most famous, of course, for both having appeared on Food Wars and having hosted the first-ever BCB meetup.
The Brewers are also adding to their broadcasting team: Over the weekend they announced that longtime Badgers radio voice Matt Lepay will fill in on 35 TV broadcasts this season while Brian Anderson is off fulfilling national broadcasting obligations. Craig Coshun, who had filled in for Anderson in the past, will also remain with FS Wisconsin as a pre and post-game host.
These three guys are also hoping to appear in Milwaukee sometime in 2014: The Brewer Nation has features on catcher Robinzon Diaz, infielder Irving Falu and pitcher Mike Fiers as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
If you weren't around the site this weekend then you may have missed JP's weekly look at what we've learned over the previous seven days. With spring training approaching, this is no time to be falling behind.
Braves: Re-signed pitcher Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal.
Cubs: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Travis Wood (one year, $3.9 million).
Diamondbacks: Signed first baseman/outfielder Shelley Duncan to a minor league contract.
Dodgers: Signed outfielder Trayvon Robinson to a minor league deal.
Giants: Acquired pitcher David Huff from the Yankees for cash.
Indians: Hired Charles Nagy to an unnamed coaching position.
Mariners: Signed pitchers Mark Rogers and Joe Beimel to minor league deals.
Marlins: Signed infielder Ty Wigginton to a minor league deal.
Mets: Signed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league deal.
Phillies: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Ben Revere (one year, $1.95 million).
White Sox: Signed manager Robin Ventura to a multi-year contract extension.
Today in former Brewers:
- The Brew Crew Ball community's shadow Walk of Fame vote netted four new inductees for 2014: Teddy Higuera, Geoff Jenkins, Pete Vuckovich and Ben Oglivie. In reality, the writers tasked with voting for honorees on the Miller Park walk chose no new honorees this year.
- On Friday we started a project comparing the 2014 Brewers to a team comprised of active former members of the team. You can see the infield matchup here.
- Halos Heaven named Jim Edmonds as the 20th greatest Angel of all time.
- Livan Hernandez is expected to join the Nationals in a coaching capacity this spring.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday to:
- 2003 Brewer Jason Conti, who turns 39.
- 1998 Brewer Greg Martinez, who turns 42.
- 1986-91 Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn, who turns 66. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, this chicken isn't going to roast itself.