Full-squad workouts are now officially underway, after position players reported to camp on Saturday. With everyone now in Maryvale, some interesting Brewers notes came out of the weekend, and most of them came from the team's owner.
Mark Attanasio made his annual address once every member of the organization was gathered, and this year it included some uncharacteristic language from a normally mild-mannered guy, telling the players "don't (fun) it up."
To be clear, it doesn't appear to be a "win or else" threat, like you may expect from the Steinbrenner family this time of year. Instead, the comment was made in more of a "don't let your opportunity to break out slip by" sense. While the Brewers aren't expected to compete this year, Attanasio says the 2017 season will tell him and the front office just how much more rebuilding needs to be done:
"This is the youngest team we've ever had. So we're really going in the right direction. There's a group of guys who are going to be part of this next push and who are going to be part of the next playoff team, and that's exciting. So they have to seize it."
Attanasio also addressed the team's payroll, which should once again be one of -- if not the -- lowest in baseball to start the year (last week, we projected the Opening Day payroll to be roughly $62.45 million). He says the low figure is the result of what GM David Stearns and his staff wanted to do, not because he set a spending cap for the team.
"The team and its composition 'informs' the payroll. We don’t set a number," Attanasio said. "The payroll is about where it was last year. There weren't any restrictions on David and (assistant) Matt (Arnold) this winter. They went out, right out of the box, and signed Eric Thames. They wanted to get Neftali Feliz to close. There were other things they looked at that didn't come together, but there wasn’t any kind of restriction."
Attanasio says in addition to the much-hyped concession stand improvements at Miller Park, the money they've saved on payroll over the past couple years is being reinvested within the organization, whether it's part of his efforts to buy the High-A affiliate in Carolina or improving the team's facilities in the Dominican and Arizona.
On the top of the Brewers' camp in Maryvale, Attanasio says the team would like to stay in Arizona, but he continues to push for either significantly upgrading the Maryvale site or moving elsewhere. The team had been rumored to be possibly interested in a move to Florida, but Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt that his "first and second choice" would be training somewhere in Arizona.
While the Brewers' current facility -- and the surrounding neighborhood -- in Maryvale certainly has its problems, there are advantages to staying in Arizona. Namely (weekend rainstorm notwithstanding) weather is rarely an issue in Arizona, whereas teams in Florida constantly have to dodge rain showers.
Florida also doesn't have a Cactus Cup. The Brewers' pursuit for the prestigious crown soon gets underway. We're less than a week from kinda-real baseball.