Back at it again…

> It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve posted in over two weeks, and my apologies for that. I was on winter break in Florida, which was heaven. Now, it’s back to Wisconsin, where I have to get used to a 60-degree change for the worse in weather. Anyway, BW should start up again on a regular basis after this.

> Not much happened while I was gone, as far as the Brewers are concerned. But, there a few minor things that I’ll go over.

> The Brewers added two peculiar players on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training- shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Juan Perez. Both have a shot at making the Major League club, but I also have my doubts about both.

You’ve probably heard of Izturis at some point. He’s played in the Majors for 11 years, spending time with Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and, most recently, the Orioles. He was once considered a great defensive shortstop, winning the Gold Glove Award in 2004 with the Dodgers. He’s not at that level defensively anymore, but is still considered an above-average defender (and as long as he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, I’ll take it).

The only issue with Izturis¬† is his extremely weak bat. He has a career .255 average, which isn’t awful, but he has the lowest slugging percentage of an active player at just .322. Over his 11-year career, he only has 15 home runs, never hitting more than four in a season.

Anyway, if Izturis does end up making the Brewers out of Spring Training, he’d probably serve as a backup to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

Perez has played professionally for 12 years, but has only spent part of three seasons in the Majors- two with the Pirates, one with the Phillies, which was last year. He has a career 4.79 ERA, but put up a career low 3.60 ERA with the Phillies in 2011. That was in just five innings over eight games, however.

Perez has a good shot at making the Major League club, though, because the Brewers are still extremely low on left-handed relievers. The three on the roster with Major League experience- Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter- all had injury-plagued years in 2011. Parra missed the entire year with elbow and back problems, Stetter couldn’t recover from a hip injury, and Braddock struggled with a social disorder. Because of all this, the Brewers spent the majority of the final months of the season with a right-handed dominant bullpen. So, Perez gives the Brewers a little left-handed depth in 2012.

> The Brewers shed a bit of light on the Norichiki Aoki situation. They won rights to sign him in mid-December, and have until January 17th to work out a deal, or Aoki returns to his Japanese team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

It turns out negotiations with Aoki have started at around just $1.5 million, which shows the Brewers aren’t extremely interested in him. Aoki has speed and can hit for average, but his weak arm and not much power at the plate probably hold him at a reserve, or fourth, outfielder in the Majors. This shows why the Brewers started negotiations so low.

They plan to work him out at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale sometime within the next few weeks before making their final decision.

> Now, for the piece of news Brewers fans have been worrying about for a while now- the Ryan Braun story. Apparently, an MLB official with knowledge on how the whole appeal process works told Tom Haudricourt that he think the ruling won’t be overturned because of previous cases.

But, you have to take into account that the test results are “unlike any test results seen before,” so this guy’s opinion doesn’t really matter.

I’m still holding out hope that Braun can get this cleaned up and be ready for the start of the season. Because there is a first time for everything.

> One more thing Brewers-related- the Brewers have reportedly approached Zack Greinke about a contract extension. I don’t know if negotiations have even started yet, but this is a good sign, because the Brewers need both Greinke and Shaun Marcum extended by the time the season starts.

> And that’s about everything Brewers-related the took place while I was away. However, there was also some stirring around other teams in the NL Central.

> The Cardinals managed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal worth $26 million. That sort of helps fill the void Albert Pujols left, but not quite.

With Beltran, the Cardinals now have an outfield trio of Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. Normally, this would be a scary trio to have in the lineup offensively, but none of them have very good injury history, so I’m not too worried at this point.

> The Reds and Cubs struck an in-division trade, with the Cubs sending reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for three prospects- starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and second baseman Ronald Torreyes. In my opinion, the Cubs won this trade- the Reds have been giving up way more prospects then they’ve needed to over their past few trades. They also had to give up five prospects to acquire starter Mat Latos from the Padres a few weeks ago.

> The Marlins are reportedly closer to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. And here I thought they were having a productive offseason…

> And I think that’s about it. Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a late merry Christmas and a happy new year. Here’s to hoping for another good Brewers season in 2012. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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