Some things to read while checking your symptoms.
We are two days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and today I'm seeing a sense of optimism that the Brewers can make a significant improvement on their 74 wins from a year ago. Marc Normandin of Sports on Earth is predicting the NL Central will be a tough division in 2014, and as part of his preview he says, "The Brewers aren't necessarily better than the Pirates or Reds, but they're in the mix at all, and that's a step up." Meanwhile, 84% of voters in this Reviewing the Brew poll expect the team to either win a Wild Card or finish above .500 but miss the playoffs.
If the Brewers do make the playoffs this year, there's a strong chance Rob Wooten will appear in a postseason game in his first full MLB season. Yesterday The Brewer Nation profiled him as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.
Donovan Hand is likely a longer shot to make a major contribution to the 2014 team, but he is still in the organization: Yesterday the Brewers announced that Hand has cleared waivers and been outrighted off the 40-man roster. He'll still be in major league camp as a non-roster invitee.
If Jonathan Lucroy isn't already there, he's expected to report to Brewers camp on Saturday. First, though, he'll have to stop and pick up another honor: He was recently named to the Florida Collegiate Summer League's All-Decade Team. Lucroy played for the Sanford River Rats in 2005 and the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs in 2006.
In the minors: As of this writing Tyrone Taylor is threatening to lap the field in the voting for the #2 spot in our Community Prospect Rankings. You have until noon today to cast your vote, and the poll for #3 will appear sometime around 1.
Back in Milwaukee, our Tweet of the Day has a pretty cool glimpse of what could have been if designers had gone in another direction with Miller Park:
Before the #Brewers built Miller Park they messed with an Ebbets Field motif as seen in this proposal. pic.twitter.com/na8hPLi6vo— MLBcathedrals (@MLBcathedrals) February 12, 2014
Back in the present, yesterday the Brewers unveiled their full promotional schedule for the 2014 season.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, I have a couple of options for you:
- First, my Wednesday appearance on The Home Stretch with Justin Hull on 95.3 FM WSCO in Appleton has been archived. Justin and I spent most of an hour comparing Robin Yount and Derek Jeter and unveiling our lists of the season's most important Brewers.
- Also, at 5:30 today I'll be checking in with The Sports Den with Downtown Ollie Burrows on Sports Fan 100.5 in Wausau.
Mariners: Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day after suffering a finger injury.
Mets: Signed reliever Jose Valverde to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Signed Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon to a three-year, $5.75 million deal.
Phillies: Signed pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $16 million contract, released pitcher Chad Gaudin after he failed his physical and announced that pitcher Cole Hamels will likely miss Opening Day with biceps tendonitis.
Reds: Claimed pitcher Brett Marshall off waivers from the Cubs and designated infielder Henry Rodriguez for assignment.
Royals: Avoided arbitration with reliever Greg Holland (one year, $4.675 million).
Tigers: Catcher Ronny Paulino has been suspended for 100 games for a second positive test for exogenous testosterone.
Twins: Claimed pitcher Brooks Raley off waivers from the Cubs.
A week ago I noted that Astros first baseman Brett Wallace had been placed on waivers and suggested that the Brewers should claim him to compete for their vacancy this spring. It appears they passed, because Wallace cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to the minors.
Meanwhile, the big news around baseball yesterday was Derek Jeter's announcement that he'll retire at the end of the 2014 season. His farewell tour will bring him to Milwaukee in May, and he needs just four hits this season to pass Paul Molitor for ninth on the MLB all-time list. (h/t @NoahJarosh)
Brewers special assistant Dick Groch was working for the Yankees when he signed Jeter to his first professional contract back in 1992. He talked to Adam McCalvy about the experience and Jeter's career.
Today in former Brewers:
- Richard Durrett of ESPN has a story on Prince Fielder's move to Texas and says he's primed for a big year.
- 1994 Brewer Dave Valle is the new manager of the short-season Everett AquaSox in the Mariners organization.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has a Ben Oglivie card featured prominently in his collection of one-time Detroit Tigers.
- Craig Robinson of NotGraphs featured Zack Greinke in his collection of drawings of Cyclopean pitchers.
This isn't Brewer relevant, but I'm sure Brewer fans can relate to it: Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles notes that the Giants only had one prospect on Marc Hulet of FanGraphs' top 100 list, but that San Francisco had 14 players on the list of the top 14 prospects in their own organization.
Today in baseball economics: A few weeks ago MLB owners quietly approved a policy allowing them to greatly reduce or eliminate pensions offered to non-uniformed team employees. MLB COO Rob Manfred denies that any teams have taken this step, but there's speculation that some may be planning to do so.
Finally, with help from Brewerfan.net and the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 2013 Wisconsin Timber Rattler Preston Gainey, who turns 23.
- 2013 Brevard County Manatee T.J. Mittlestaedt, who turns 26.
- 1993-97 Brewer Matt Mieske, who turns 46. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
- 1981 Brewer Donnie Moore, who would have turned 60.
- 1977-81 Brewer and former Brewers GM Sal Bando, who turns 70. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History last year.
Plunk Everyone notes that Bando's 75 career HBP are the most ever for a player born on February 13.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm not supposed to be on my phone.