We are 13 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and a day later we're still reacting to yesterday's news that Bob Uecker will reduce his broadcast schedule for 2014. Adam McCalvy talked to Uecker about his decision, his lack of retirement plans, and the possibility of making Major League IV. Meanwhile, I shared my concerns about the future of baseball across the state when Uecker eventually hangs it up.
Uecker will still be in Arizona with the team this spring, watching with all of us as the Brewers work to trim down to the Opening Day roster. A bunch of non-roster invitees will also be in attendance, but Lou Olsen of Reviewing the Brew finds the group somewhat underwhelming.
Pitcher Kevin Shackelford will also be in major league camp for the first time. Yesterday The Brewer Nation profiled him as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Matt Garza will also be in his first camp with the Brewers after signing a four-year, $50 million contract this winter. Yesterday's Thursday Thinker asked you to name the 22 MLB pitchers with active contracts worth $50 million or more.
Carlos Gomez is opening his eighth major league season, and he joined an unusual group with his 2013 performance. Ryan Romano of Beyond the Box Score listed Gomez as one of a select few players in MLB history who have been at least 20% above average offensively while being 20% below average in both walk and strikeout rates. Other players on the list with Milwaukee ties include Geoff Jenkins (2000) and former Milwaukee Braves Joe Adcock (1956) and Mack Jones (1965).
In the minors:
- John Sickels of Minor League Ball unveiled his ranking of the top 20 prospects in the Brewers organization last night. He has Jimmy Nelson leading the way as the organization's only solid B prospect. Five other players received B- grades.
- @SoCalSteve9 has video of first baseman David Denson taking offseason batting practice. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
- Yesterday I linked to a Benjamin Hill MiLB.com piece about his trip to Appleton earlier this summer. Hill followed that up with a day in Beloit, and shared some stories from that leg of his adventure.
Back in Milwaukee, the Brewers made a pair of announcements yesterday: First, they unveiled Wily Peralta, Jim Henderson and Matt Garza as the three candidates for the Fan's Choice bobblehead on June 27 and invited you to vote for your favorite. Second, registration is now open for the Brewers Community Foundation's 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk on July 26.
Learning that Chen was available on a relatively cheap one-year deal made me wonder aloud if the Brewers would have been better off signing him and spending Matt Garza's money elsewhere. The knock on Chen has typically been his home run rate, but Dave Cameron of FanGraphs has a look at how he's brought it down over the years.
Elsewhere in transactions, earlier this winter the Brewers had been rumored to be interested in former Rangers and Dodgers infielder Michael Young. Young announced plans to retire yesterday.
Today in former Brewers:
- The Orioles have hired B.J. Surhoff as a special assignment coach for their minor league system.
- Stuart Wallace of Beyond the Box Score says Jorge De La Rosa's splitter was the worst among MLB starting pitchers in 2013.
- Nick Michalski of The Brewers Bar has a look back at the seven Brewers who have hit for the cycle.
And in baseball economics: Mets ownership has managed to refinance a $250 million loan that had been limiting their payroll commitments and potentially threatening the future of the team under its current leadership.
When pitchers and catchers report to spring training they're usually joined by the beat writers, who will spend most of their life from February-September (and perhaps beyond) following the team to produce daily coverage. It's a dream job for many, but Eno Sarris of The Hardball Times has a collection of stories that will make you be careful what you wish for.
- 2013 Helena Brewer Taylor Brennan, who turns 22.
- 2011 and 2013 Brewer Yuniesky Betancourt, who turns 32.
- Former Brewers pitching coach Bob Apodaca, who turns 64.
- Wautoma, Wisconsin native and UW-La Crosse and Ripon alum Webb Schultz, who would have turned 116. Schultz pitched one game in the majors as a member of the 1924 White Sox.
Plunk Everyone notes that Yuni's 10 career HBP lead all active players born on January 31.
Today is also the eleventh anniversary of the Brewers signing veteran outfielder John Vander Wal as a free agent in 2003. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stand on my chair for a while.