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Rolling Out the Barrel: Arizona Dreamin’

Folks, I’ve got some great news for y’all: We are officially within a month of Milwaukee’s pitchers and catchers reporting. Though it seems so close (and yet so far), our first piece today has enough ways to fill up those days to last you into Spring Training and beyond. Let’s roll it out:

The Hardball Times || How to Survive Until Spring Training

Joe Distelheim, who is apparently Twitter-less (congratulations! and I’m sorry if you’re not) brings us 31 ways to occupy our time as we enter the home stretch before Spring Training begins. My personal favorite is picking a random team from a random year and just diving in to learn everything about them. He picked the 1954 Cleveland Indians, losers of the World Series but the record-holder for best winning percentage in the American League. I’ll be choosing my team this week, ask me about it!

Beyond the Box Score || Trade Retrospective: Matt Garza to the Cubs, five years later

Taking it back to BtBS, the site we featured heavily last week, Spencer Bingol (@spencerbingol) breaks down the ill-fated (for Chicago) trade that brought beleaguered Brewers’ starter Matt Garza to the Second City in exchange for a prospect package highlighted by Chris Archer. For reasons that were inexplicable at the time and remain so, the Cubs, a 75-win team in 2010, were in win-now mode, jettisoning a prospect who is now one of the game’s best pitchers for the present value of Garza. Although the latter vastly exceeded expectations in his debut season with Chicago, the Cubs lost the trade, even without including the massive surplus value of Archer.

Disciples of Uecker || Lucroy Defeated

Yesterday, our J.P. Breen offered his reaction to the overreaction to Jonathan Lucroy’s comments this week regarding the Brewers rebuild, given to Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy in the wake of the announcement that Lucroy would miss Brewers FanFest on the 31st of this month. The intrepid Nicholas Zettel (@SpectiveWax) of Disciples of Uecker offered his own take on the comments, which he says are understandable yet still worrisome. If he isn’t traded before the season, which seems more and more unlikely as Opening Day approaches, Lucroy will be counted on to anchor a young roster and to help bring along a young starting rotation — hopefully, he’s fully committed to the cause.

FanGraphs || Lucroy and the New Decline 

Speaking of the Brewers’ face of the franchise, Jeff Sullivan (@basedball) takes a look at some troubling numbers regarding Lucroy’s defense. Long thought of as one of the premier pitch-framers in the game, many noticed a stark drop in production from a defensive standpoint for Lucroy in 2015. As Sullivan shows in this piece, it wasn’t just a fluky drop in 2015 — Lucroy’s pitch-framing has been dropping steadily for a number of years, and he’s now dropped all the way to league average. Most troubling is Sullivan’s research that suggests that catchers who begin to decline in pitch-framing runs saved generally do not recover.

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