Brewers break off negotiations with Chris Capuano

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Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the club has broken off talks with free agent left-hander Chris Capuano.

“Chris wants to be a starting pitcher and we don’t see a match at this time,” said Melvin. “We like Chris a lot but we both decided it was best he look elsewhere. I heard teams are showing interest.”

The Brewers have Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson penciled in their rotation for 2011, so Capuano will have to look for an opportunity elsewhere if he wants to be a starting pitcher.

The 32-year-old left-hander made for a nice comeback story with the Brewers in 2010, working his way back from his second Tommy John surgery and two lost seasons to post a 3.95 ERA and 54/21 K/BB ratio over nine starts and 15 relief appearances. The former 18-game winner has never thrown particularly hard, but he displayed his best velocity (87.4 mph, according to FanGraphs) since his first year with the Brewers in 2004.

There are still plenty of teams out there looking for starting pitching, so assuming teams believe he is healthy, Capuano shouldn’t have a hard time finding work.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.