Here’s the latest from Brewers On Deck:
The attendance figure is in and it’s a record: A total of 11,299 fans passed through Brewers On Deck today, besting last year’s crowd of 10,638. In 2009, the first year the event was held at Milwaukee’s convention center, 10,411 fans attended.
Nobody is more excited about the club’s 2011 prospects than principal owner Mark Attanasio, though he’ll be signing some big paychecks again this season. By acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, among others, and paying a record arbitration salary to first baseman Prince Fielder, the payroll will push $90 million again next season.
“Once again, I’ve managed to put us in a position where we could lose money this year, even with three million fans, which we project coming out,” Attanasio said. “But there’s nothing better than winning.”
The trick, Attanasio says, is balancing the desire to win now with the need to compete consistency. To that end, club officials have already assembled payroll projections through 2015. That work will help Attanasio & Co. decide who can be locked-up beyond their current contracts.
Attanasio, by the way, has been added to a committee of owners working on the next collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires in December.
Second baseman Rickie Weeks says he wants to focus on baseball once he reports to Spring Training. That means if the Brewers and Weeks’ agent, Greg Genske, are going to work out a multi-year extension, the calendar is running short.
“After Spring Training [begins], I want to focus on the year and the team,” Weeks said.
Ryan Braun considered going to Dallas to watch his buddy Aaron Rodgers play in the Super Bowl, but he’s leaning against it because he doesn’t want to miss any of his workouts. Braun has been working hard this winter with one of baseball’s fitness freaks — former Brewer Gabe Kapler.
They’ve been using the facilities at Peperdine University, which is near Braun’s home.
“That guy is an animal,” Braun said. “He’s made me a much better athlete and helped me get bigger and stronger this offseason. I’ve known Gabe since I was 12, 13 years old, but this is the first offseason we’ve worked out. Trying to compete with him has made me better. His intensity is amazing.”
So Braun will probably cheer Rodgers and the Packers from home next Sunday.
“I’m too paranoid about missing workouts,” he said.
New manager Ron Roenicke and his coaches broke in the event’s main stage with a question and answer session led by TV man Brian Anderson. Roenicke told fans he does not like talking about himself, but he did reveal this piece of inside information: One of his hobbies is woodworking.
“I’ve got a lot going on off the field,” Roenicke said. “This winter, I haven’t had the opportunity to do the things I normally would do. That’s a good thing.”
That’s, of course, because he has been busy preparing for his first season as a Major League manager. The first question of Roenicke was a familiar one: How will he do a better job than his predecessors of meshing with players like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder?
“Communication in this game is very important,” Roenicke said. “I realize that today, that’s something you have to go out of your way to do. … I think it’s important for [players] to know you’re behind them all the time.”
Other tidbits from that coaches’ session:
— Pitching coach Rick Kranitz will gather his pitchers for a voluntary minicamp at Maryvale Baseball Park on Feb. 12. He’s already been getting to know members of the staff but said that camp would give him a better idea of what he’ll be working with in 2011.
— Bench coach Jerry Narron, the former Reds manager, downplayed the fact he’s been out of baseball for the past two years. He said he was thrilled to spend that time with a son who’s in high school, and watched more games on MLB Network that he would have been able to see had he been working.
— Roenicke said he’s glad to have three holdovers from last year’s Major League coaching staff — hitting coach Dave Sveum, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and third base coach Ed Sedar (who moved from first base). Sveum sounded impressed so far.
“Ron is an aggressive manager and we have some really aggressive players,” Sveum said. “They’re champing at the bit to play for this guy.”