Spring training mixed bag

Posted by Steve

There has been a good amount to talk about lately with the Brewers.  Nothing too huge, but a bunch of tidbits.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to post lately.  It’s getting down to the wire–I’m making the big move to Pennsylvania this week, and I still have a lot to do.

An example of how this has been affecting my baseball-following patterns: I was asked this weekend what I thought of the new Baseball Prospectus handbook.  My response?  “Wow, I didn’t even know it was out yet!”

Every year I purchase the BP and Baseball America Prospect handbooks in the packaged deal from Amazon, and they arrive as soon as they’re released.  Not that I’m excusing this misstep, but with everything going on I apparently missed the release date.  Not to worry; I picked it up today and I’m sure I’ll be doing the normal piece on it soon.

On to the cornucopida.

———-

Corey Hart agreed to terms just before an arbitration hearing, meaning no Brewer has gone to arbitration since Doug Melvin has been GM.  I’m not really sure how impressive that actually is–obviously it’s a good thing not to potentially alienate your players–but I’ve heard people discuss this as though it’s a big feather in Melvin’s cap.  I don’t think it’s that huge of a deal, but oh well.  All I know is this was about the fourth or fifth time we’ve seen this paragraph around this time of year:  “No Brewer has ever gone to an arbitration hearing under Doug Melvin, but that could end this week.  The team has not made any progress with INSERT PLAYER NAME to this point, and both sides are preparing to go to a arbitration.”

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The signing of Eric Gagne to a minor league contract was a very pleasant surprise.  I have liked the idea bringing Gagne back for a lesser deal before but never thought they’d get him for that.  The Brewers have Spring Training to evaluate and decide whether Gagne will be added to the roster.  If they don’t, he’ll be cut with minimal cost to the team.  If he’s kept, he’ll make a base salary of $1.5 million with the potential to earn another $3 million in incentives.  Gagne was very solid in the second half, and this is a very low-risk (no risk if they don’t keep him) signing.

I give Gagne a lot of credit.  He likely could have taken this type of deal with several teams, but he came back to the place where he was relentlessly booed.  He basically apologized to Melvin for not performing up to his contract last season, and now he’s giving the Brewers a very team-friendly contract to see if he can make up for it.  I’d like to see him make the team, and I think he will.  I’d venture to guess they will only take one of Mitch Stetter and R.J. Swindle (both lefties), and I’d rather see Gagne on the team than Jorge Julio.  Eduardo Morlan, the 22-year-0ld reliever taken by the Brewers in the Rule V draft, will be another main competitor to Gagne.

My favorite detail around the signing of Gagne is the fact that he amazingly got laser eye surgery in the off-season and will no longer need his sweet-looking glasses.  Why is that a favorite detail you ask?  Because this is a baseball blog, and it is the third time in a year I can legitimately use the tag, “The wonders of laser eye surgery.”

———-

Ken Macha said last week that he will likely give Jason Kendall at least one day off per week.  While this should be common sense, it is great news after Yost’s use of Kendall last year.  It sounds like we’ll be able to tell that Mike Rivera is a member of the team this year.  That’s a good thing–not so much because Rivera is good as the fact that Kendall isn’t good or young enough to be playing so much.

Macha said he’s considering pairing one pitcher with Rivera as a way to get him into the lineup on a regular basis.  Manny Parra seems to be a logical candidate.  He and Rivera played together quite a bit in the minors, and Rivera caught Parra’s perfect game in AAA in 2007.

———-

Cory Provus was introduced last week as Jim Powell’s replacement.  He comes to the Brewers from WGN Radio.  Yep, he worked for the Cubs.  And yep, he’s a lifelong Cubs fan.  A lot of people are upset about the Brewers hiring someone who rooted for the Cubs growing up.  I admit I do find it odd and a bit annoying, but if the guy calls a good game and gets excited when the Brewers do well, I won’t really care.  At the very least I’m going to give him a fair chance before I pass judgment.  Jim Powell was from Atlanta, yet he was able to get plenty excited when the Brewers did well.  Also, he was able to be awesome.  If Provus is half as good as JP I’ll be happy with the hiring.

———-

Finally, on to a seemingly terrible idea.

Moneyball the book?  Outstanding.  A classic.

Moneyball the movie? Huh?!

Yes, this is real.  It’s apparently really going to happen.  Is there any way this could be half as good as the book?  And is there any way it isn’t horribly “Hollywooded” up to the point that it completely ruins the point of Moneyball?  I mean, Billy Beane being played by Brad Freaking Pitt?

I just don’t see a market for the movie.  People who aren’t into baseball won’t want to see the movie, and people who liked the book will probably be put off by the Hollywoodiness.  Am I wrong in thinking this?

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