Some things to read while inflating another eyeball.
Today is the 10th day off the offseason, and another onetime member of the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers might be spending it wondering what comes next for him. @AdamMcCalvy noticed on Tuesday that the Brewers have outrighted utility infielder Jeff Bianchi off their 40-man roster, meaning he’ll be eligible for minor league free agency this winter.
Bianchi just turned 28 over the weekend and has appeared in 162 games as a Brewer over the last three seasons, including 29 in 2014. He has a career .216 batting average with a .251 on-base percentage and .283 slugging in the majors, but Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors notes that his batting line has been solid at the Triple-A level.
Bianchi’s history of solid performance in the minors and his defensive flexibility (he’s played second base, shortstop and third at an above-average level) means he probably won’t have much trouble finding work, but Elian Herrera’s emergence as a utility option for the Brewers likely limited his opportunity to see significant time in Milwaukee going forward.
Of course, Bianchi almost certainly won’t be the last player to leave the Brewers this offseason. Derek Harvey of Brew Crew Ball has a look at the three players who could be free agents depending on decisions regarding their contract options: Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and Yovani Gallardo.
Ramirez’s situation is the most complicated of the three, as his contract contains a mutual option for 2015 that would have to be exercised by both the team and the player. If he doesn’t return, he’s likely to be the only Brewer considered for a qualifying offer, where the team offers a one-year contract and receives draft compensation if the player rejects it and signs elsewhere. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish notes that the minimum qualifying offer for this offseason is $15.3 million.
When the returning and new members of the Brewers report to Maryvale Baseball Park in February, all eyes are likely to be on Ryan Braun’s repaired thumb. Braun just underwent a cryotherapy procedure to dull the pain in a nerve in his thumb on Thursday but has already been cleared to begin swinging a bat again.
It remains to be seen if Braun and his teammates will have a new manager next spring. We continue to await word of the results from Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin’s scheduled meeting this week, but in the meantime, Steven Martano of Beyond the Box Score continues to list Milwaukee among teams that could have a managerial vacancy.
Ron Roenicke or the Brewers’ new manager could have an opportunity to bounce back into the playoff race with a big season next year. Glenn Moore of FanSided listed Milwaukee among five teams that could have 2015 seasons similar to what the Royals are experiencing this year.
Ryan Braun’s first season as a right fielder passed largely without incident defensively, but it’s unlikely he’ll receive any awards for his work in the field this year. John Dewan of Bill James Online has a look at defensive honors for outfielders this season and the results may surprise you: He lists Khris Davis as a fringe candidate to win the National League Gold Glove for left fielders and does not list reigning Gold Glover Carlos Gomez as a candidate in center.
Gomez will have to settle for this “honor:” He and Jonathan Lucroy are starters on FanGraphs user Brad Oremland’s All-Star roster of players from non-playoff teams.
Getting back to Davis, he lost some playing time down the stretch in 2014 to Gerardo Parra, who has a reputation for being a vastly superior defender. Yesterday, I mentioned that Steven Jewell of Reviewing the Brew thought Matt Garza was the Brewers’ top newcomer this season, and today he says Parra should have been the runner-up. The Milwaukee chapter of the BBWAA gave the award to Zach Duke.
In the minors:
- Several Brewers farmhands had big days as the Arizona Fall League opened play Tuesday with the Glendale Desert Dogs beating Mesa 9-3 (box score). Tyrone Taylor started in center field and went 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk, first baseman Nick Ramirez went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and pitcher Brooks Hall worked a scoreless seventh inning in the win.
- That game was played in 2 hours and 39 minutes, and was the first contest completed under the AFL’s experimental pace of game rules. Bryan Kilpatrick of SB Nation has a look at the “pitch clock” being used to keep the game moving.
- Wei-Chung Wang didn’t pitch for Glendale on Tuesday but is on the roster and will likely see action for the Desert Dogs at some point. He was the only Brewer prospect to draw attention in Shaun P. Kernahan of Grading on the Curve’s preview of their roster.
- The AFL is the first of several offseason baseball leagues to open play for their 2014 regular season. Leagues in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic all kick off over an eight-day span starting on Friday.
- Looking further ahead, it appears increasingly likely that construction delays on the Brewers Double-A affiliate’s new ballpark in Biloxi, Miss., will force the team to remain in their former facility in Huntsville for a large portion of the 2015 season. Mark McCarter of The Huntsville Times has the latest on that situation.
Angels: Claimed outfielders Roger Kieschnick and Alfredo Marte off waivers from the Diamondbacks and designated outfielder Brennan Boesch and catcher John Buck for assignment.
Blue Jays: Claimed pitcher Bo Schultz off waivers from the Diamondbacks.
Cubs: Hitting coach Bill Mueller has resigned.
Dodgers: Pitcher Josh Beckett will retire this offseason.
Meanwhile, we’re going to have to wait a couple of days for the continuation of postseason play. The National League Division Series round wrapped up on Tuesday, with the Cardinals beating the Dodgers and the Giants beating the Nationals by 3-2 scores to each clinch a series win in four games. The League Championship Series round is scheduled to open on Friday night when the Royals travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles.
With last night’s results, the best regular season teams in both the American League (Angels) and National League (Nationals) have been eliminated from the postseason in their first series, and they combined to win just one playoff game. Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk, though, says the Nationals are in a “great position” to win again next season.
Today in baseball economics:
- Postseason TV ratings will likely be down this season, according to the Associated Press, but baseball regular-season viewership is up largely due to the increased availability of games (h/t Baseball Musings).
- Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs has a look at how postseason ticket revenue is divided between the players, teams and Commissioner’s office.
- Astros owner Jim Crane announced on Tuesday that his team could add $20 million to its payroll for 2015. Houston was near the bottom of the league with an Opening Day payroll just over $50 million in 2014, and raising its payroll by the aforementioned amount would likely still leave them in the bottom third.
- The Indians’ payroll is projected to remain around $85 million, which leaves them approximately $10-15 million available for free agents this winter.
- 2014 Huntsville Star Manny Barreda, who turns 26.
- 1982-83 Brewer Bob Skube, who turns 57.
- 1977 Brewer Ed Kirkpatrick, who would have turned 70 (Today In Brewer History).
Today is also the 56th anniversary of Game 7 of the 1958 World Series, where the Milwaukee Braves lost 6-2 and ended their hopes of winning a second consecutive championship. Follow the link for that event’s entry in Today In Brewer History at Brew Crew Ball.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to try on my new hat.
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