Some things to read from really far away.
We are three days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, so it's time for camp previews: Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel and Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects each have five questions facing the Brewers this spring, and Krause also has a full schedule for the team's minor league games.
The Brewers have turned a quiet winter into a pretty eventful one in the last few weeks, adding several players who project to be important parts of the 2014 team. Dave Radcliffe of Yahoo says the Brewers have had one of baseball's best offseasons. In a related note, Michael Clair of MLB Daily Dish has two divisional rivals, the Pirates and Reds, among his candidates for the worst offseason.
The Brewers weren't able to find anyone to take Rickie Weeks' contract this winter, though, so he returns to the team in an uncertain role for 2014. Jonah Keri of Grantland has him as a "dishonorable mention" on his list of baseball's 15 worst contracts.
Weeks' situation and a potential first base platoon leave the Brewers with a weird roster crunch in the infield, where they're likely to have six spots committed without having a backup shortstop. Curt Hogg of Disciples of Uecker has a look at the situation.
Meanwhile, first base also remains a question mark. David S. Grant of Reviewing the Brew breaks down the candidates and suggests a 25% chance that the team's first baseman by the end of 2014 will be someone that's not currently on the roster.
It's probably safe to assume Jean Segura will spend most of the 2014 season playing shortstop for the Brewers, but it's tough to tell what to expect from him. Alex Kantecki and Daniel Kelley of Fake Teams debated whether or not Segura will be a top-five shortstop this season.
Some of those question marks are among the reasons the Brewers are a long shot to win the World Series this season. Zach Reynolds of NotGraphs compared every team to a city in the Roman Empire and put the Brewers somewhere in Turkey.
Of course, the Brewers' second half performances from the last three seasons are a cause for optimism. Nicholas Zettel of Disciples of Uecker has a look at what's been different after the break in those campaigns.
The Brewers were 41-58 when they traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles last season, then went 33-30 the rest of the way. Rodriguez is back for 2014, though, and Alec Dopp of Baseball Analytics has a look at how he's managed to defy conventional wisdom by increasing his strikeout rate with age.
In the minors:
- Congratulations are due out this morning to Jimmy Nelson, who Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has at #91 on his list of baseball's top 100 prospects. The Brewers are one of five teams to only get one player on the list, and that's one more than the Angels got.
- Nelson, by the way, is currently leading the voting for the #1 spot in our BCB Community Prospect Rankings. You have until noon today to cast your vote, and the poll for #2 will be up around 1.
- Nick Melotte of Minor League Ball has Brewers minor leaguers Michael Ratterree (seventh) and David Denson (tenth) on his list of the best hitting performances from 2013 draftees.
- Adam McCalvy has a story on the Brewers' decision to increase their activity on the international market, highlighted by a recent report that they've agreed to a $3.2 million deal with 16-year-old Dominican infielder Yirver Gilbert Lara. Lara's trainer, by the way, is denying that a deal is in place.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, I'll be appearing on The Home Stretch with Justin Hull on 95.3 FM WSCO at 3:15. I'll be in studio with Justin for most of the rest of the hour taking your calls, emails and tweets, so tune in and get your voice heard.
Dodgers: Avoided arbitration with reliever Kenley Jansen (one year, $4.3 million).
Mariners: Signed pitchers Zach Miner and Randy Wolf to minor league deals.
Marlins: Designated reliever Chris Hatcher for assignment.
Today in former Brewers:
- We'd like to send out best wishes this morning to former Brewer reliever Mitch Stetter, who retired from baseball yesterday and has accepted a coaching job in the Royals organization. All of Stetter's 132 MLB appearances came as a Brewer, including 71 in 2009. He also inspired a song parody that I'm still proud/embarrassed to have written.
- Matt Stairs will be providing color commentary for 100 Phillies TV broadcasts this season, joining Jamie Moyer on their team.
Today in baseball economics: Three former professional players have filed a class action suit against Major League Baseball claiming unfair labor practices relating to the pay and requirements for minor leaguers. I'll be interested to see where this goes.
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy 34th birthday to 2010 Brewer Adam Stern.
Today is also the fifth anniversary of the Brewers signing pitcher Braden Looper as a free agent in 2009 and the fourth anniversary of Corey Hart winning his arbitration case (and a $4.8 million salary) against the Brewers in 2010. We covered those events in Today In Brewer History last year and two years ago, respectively.
Now, if you'll excuse me, the pilot is deflating.