Results tagged ‘ Corey Hart ’

Talks stall between Hart, Brewers

Corey Hart and the Brewers passed a deadline of sorts Friday without a contract compromise, and now it appears likely that the team will end its long streak without an arbitration hearing. 
Hart, the Brewers’ lone arbitration-eligible player who remains unsigned, filed for a $4.8 million salary in 2010 and the team countered at $4.15 million. The Brewers wanted a deal by the end of business Friday, and club negotiator Teddy Werner and Hart’s agent, Jeff Berry, had a series of discussions this week but were unable to reach an agreement.
Arbitration hearings are scheduled for Feb. 1-21 in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and Hart’s is still several weeks away. Last year, negotiations with Hart went down to the wire before the sides struck a $3.25 million deal on the eve of a hearing. 
“We just don’t have the appetite to go through that again,” Werner said. “We made a good-faith effort to get something done a few weeks ahead of time, but at some point you’ve got to say, ‘It’s time to prepare for a case.’ Nobody wants to go to a hearing, but I don’t want to be in a position in a couple of weeks where we’re back to where we are today, talking about the same number. To me, that’s a waste of time for both sides. 
“We didn’t want this to drag out,” Werner added. “We filed a number that we feel is very strong in his process and we were hopeful that we could reach some common ground. They felt like the number that we put out there this week was not appropriate for how they view Corey’s performance.” 
Berry wrote in an e-mail that Hart’s salary submission and the midpoint between the player’s filing and the team’s, “are consistent with the established framework for other arbitration eligible players with similar seasons.”
“We’re not rooting for a hearing and we’re not looking to break new ground,” Berry wrote. “We simply want Corey to be compensated at the level which the salary arbitration system has deemed appropriate.”
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Villanueva settles; Hart remains unsigned

The Brewers and reliever Carlos Villanueva agreed to a one-year, $950,000 contract on Tuesday, leaving outfielder Corey Hart as the team’s only arbitration-eligible player left unsigned.  
“It seems we say this every year, but this time there’s something to it: It’s looking more and more like that one’s going to a hearing,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said of the Brewers’ negotiations with Hart.  
Arbitration hearings are scheduled for Feb. 1-21 but baseball’s rules prevent Ash from revealing Hart’s date. Hart was arbitration-eligible for the first time last year and didn’t agree to his $3.25 million deal until the eve of a hearing. 
Brewers director of business operations Teddy Werner is handling negotiations with Hart’s agent, Jeff Berry. 
This time, Hart filed for $4.8 million, $650,000 more than the club’s $4.15 million offer. Hart had an off-year in 2009 made even more frustrating when he needed an emergency appendectomy in early August that sidelined him more than a month. He finished with a .260 batting average, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. 
Likewise, Villanueva did not have the season he expected. The right-hander was 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA in 58 relief appearances and six starts but did finish strong, with a 3.18 ERA over his final 16 appearances.  
Villanueva had filed for $1.075 million in arbitration and the team offered $800,000, so the sides settled for slightly more than the midpoint. Ash handled final negotiations with Villanueva’s agent, Diego Bentz.  
A deal was struck after Zach Miner of the Tigers and Robinson Tejada of the Royals avoided arbitration with identical $950,000 deals. Villanueva’s case was complicated somewhat by the fact that he has split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen. 
“It is [a complicating factor] except that those other guys are the same,” Ash said. “It is a niche.”
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Brewers swap proposals with arbitration-eligibles

Minutes before teams swapped contract proposals with their arbitration-eligible players, the Brewers agreed to terms on one-year contracts for second baseman Rickie Weeks and center fielder Carlos Gomez, leaving four other eligible players unsigned.  
Weeks will earn $2.75 million in 2010, a $400,000 raise from a 2009 season spent mostly on the disabled list, and Gomez will make $1.1 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Gomez, acquired from the Twins in November, earned $437,500 last season with the Twins and qualified for arbitration for the first time as a so-called “Super Two” player. 
Work will continue toward deals with four other players who are arbitration-eligible but remain unsigned. The team exchanged salary proposals with all four on Tuesday:  
– The biggest gap is with reliever Todd Coffey, who filed for $2.45 million while the Brewers countered with $1.7 million, a difference of $750,000 that nearly matches Coffey’s $800,002 salary last season. Coffey arguably had the best year of any of the Brewers’ eligible players, posting a 2.90 ERA in 78 appearances while leading National League relievers with 83 2/3 innings pitched.  
Coffey wasn’t sweating the gap. He spent the day playing with daughters Hannah and Haley in North Carolina.  
“I haven’t even checked my voicemail,” Coffey said. “It’s part of the game. It’s the process you have to go through. That’s what I have an agent for, to keep my mind off the business aspect as much as possible. It’s not like you can totally ignore the business side, but I’m focused on playing baseball right now. I already have the itch.”  
– Right fielder Corey Hart filed for $4.8 million, $650,000 more than the club’s $4.15 million offer and $1.55 million more than he earned in a disappointing 2009 season. Hart’s year was made even more frustrating when he needed an emergency appendectomy in early August that sidelined him more than a month. He finished with a .260 batting average, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.  
– Starting pitcher Dave Bush filed for $4.45 million and the club offered $4.125 million, a relatively manageable gap of $325,000. Bush earned $4 million in a 2009 season marred by a line drive off the bat of Florida’s Hanley Ramirez on June 4 that struck Bush near the right elbow and caused trouble for the rest of the year. Bush finished his frustrating season with a 5-9 record and a 6.38 ERA, highest of any National League pitcher with at least 100 innings of work. The Brewers could have nontendered Bush in December to erase his salary obligation, but opted to bring him back to a starting rotation that needs every arm it can get.  
– Reliever Carlos Villanueva filed for $1.075 million and the team offered $800,000, a $275,000 difference that was the smallest gap in terms of dollars but the second-largest as a percentage of the salary he’s seeking. Like Gomez, Villanueva was eligible for arbitration for the first time after earning $447,000 and is coming off a tough year in which he went 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA in 58 relief appearances and six starts. He did finish strong, with a 3.18 ERA over his final 16 appearances of the season.  
Brewers arbitration specialist Teddy Werner will continue negotiations with representatives for Bush, Hart and Villanueva while assistant general manager Gord Ash handles talks with Coffey’s agent, Rick Thurman.  
“All the exchange of numbers does is give you the actual parameters instead of the theoretical conversation,” Ash said. “Sometimes that can help you, and sometimes that hurts. I can’t speak for the guys Teddy is dealing with, but given the conversations I had [with Thurman] about Coffey last week, both parties were true to their respective positions.”  
Talks can continue until the date of an arbitration hearing in Florida — they’ll be scheduled for Feb. 1-21 — at which time each side presents its case to a three-member panel of judges which chooses one salary or the other. It can be a very uncomfortable process, which is why the vast majority of negotiations end with both sides agreeing on a figure near the midpoint of filings. The Brewers haven’t gone to a hearing with a player during Doug Melvin’s tenure as GM, which began in September 2002.   
“You always want to put yourself in a position to avoid a hearing,” Ash said. “But sometimes it makes sense to go to one. We’ll just have to see.”  
Gomez, Weeks and outfielder Jody Gerut, who agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract on Monday, avoided that prospect by signing ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.   
The Brewers acquired Gomez on Nov. 6 for shortstop J.J. Hardy and installed him as the starting center fielder. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time as a “Super 2″ player after batting .229 last season with three home runs and 28 RBIs in 137 games.  
Weeks has also yet to tap the potential that prompted the Brewers to select him second overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, partly because of injuries. He was off to a great start in 2009 — .272 average, nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 37 games — before tearing the sheath of a tendon in his left wrist during a May 17 game at St. Louis. Weeks needed surgery and was lost for the season.  
The Brewers expect Weeks back in 2010 as the team’s starting second baseman and leadoff hitter.
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Crew officials mulling tender date

After committing more than $37 million on free agents Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins at the Winter Meetings, the Brewers could cap the week with some cost savings. 

Club officials have until 10:59 p.m. CT to tender contracts to unsigned players for 2010 or let them join the pool of free agents. Of particular interest are the seven players who would be arbitration-eligible if they are offered a contract, and thus likely to see their salaries jump.

That list is made up of starter Dave Bush ($4 million salary last season), relievers Todd Coffey ($800,002), Seth McClung ($1.6625 million) and Carlos Villanueva ($447,000), outfielders Jody Gerut ($1.775 million), Carlos Gomez ($437,500) and Corey Hart ($3.25 million) and catcher Mike Rivera ($415,000).

Of that group, Coffey, Villanueva, Gomez and Hart are all but guaranteed tenders and Bush and Gerut fall into the “likely” category. Brewers officials were meeting Friday to discuss the entire group.

McClung in particular is waiting to learn his fate. The right-hander posted a 4.94 ERA in 41 games, including two starts, and missed nearly two months with a sprained right elbow. He returned for three appearances before the end of the season, but it was a disappointing follow-up to McClung’s fine 2008 season in which he made 25 relief appearances and 12 starts and was so valuable late in the year during the Brewers’ postseason push.

The numbers game works against McClung in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Trevor Hoffman is back as the closer, and Coffey and Hawkins (assuming he passes his physical next week) are ticketed for set-up roles. The Brewers are close to re-signing Claudio Vargas, who was solid in the second half of 2009 and, like McClung, has history as a starter. So does Villanueva, who figures to be a lower-cost option than McClung. The Brewers also have left-hander Mitch Stetter back and will take a look in Spring Training at Rule 5 pick Chuck Lofgren, another lefty.

Rivera ($415,000 salary last season) is also part of a crowded field. The team last week signed veteran catcher Gregg Zaun and assured him he’ll be the regular starter behind the plate, and also added George Kottaras via the waiver wire on Nov. 18. Catching prospects Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy will be in camp with a chance to win a job, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has mentioned LuCroy as a candidate to make the roster.

In 41 games as Jason Kendall’s backup last season, Rivera batted .228 with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He’s been the Brewers’ backup catcher in each of the past four seasons.

Teams rarely nontender so-called “zero-to-three” players who don’t have enough service time to qualify for arbitration, but they are likely to cut loose reliever Mark DiFelice on Saturday to free his 40-man roster spot. DiFelice underwent shoulder surgery last week and expects to be sidelined for the 2010 season. The Brewers could re-sign him to a Minor League contract.

The Brewers currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster so they need DiFelice’s roster spot for Wolf and Hawkins, who are scheduled for physical exams next week to finalize their contracts.

After all 30 teams make their decisions on Saturday, the Brewers will scour the list for new free agents of interest and will probably be particularly interested in starting pitchers and backup outfielders. One pitcher to keep an eye on is Kevin Correia, who might be non-tendered by the Padres after earning $1.1 million with incentives in 2009.

The Brewers showed interest in Correia last winter before he signed a Minor League deal with the Padres and tried to acquire him again in July. The key would be Correia’s asking price after his solid year.

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Macha says he'll let 'em run

After a season spent extolling the virtues of staying put, Brewers manager Ken Macha said he’ll embrace the running game in 2010. 

The philosophical shift is driven by personnel changes this winter, particularly a Nov. 6 trade that sent shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Twins for speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez, freeing shortstop for top prospect Alcides Escobar and closing the door on a pursuit of outgoing free agent Mike Cameron

Hardy had a down year in 2009 but he still averaged 20 homers over the past three seasons, and Cameron has topped 20 homers eight times in his career including both of his two years in Milwaukee. Gomez, meanwhile, stole 33 bases as the Twins’ regular starter in 2008, and Escobar swiped 42 bases in 109 games last season at Triple-A Nashville. 

The Brewers also expect speedy second baseman Rickie Weeks to return after a 2009 season lost to wrist surgery, and right fielder Corey Hart (assuming the trade rumors don’t turn into an actual trade) should “have his legs under him” after missing time last year following an appendectomy. There’s also left fielder Ryan Braun, who stole 20 bases in 2009 despite hitting in front of slugger Prince Fielder

“We’ve got some guys that can run this year, so it’s going to be a little different,” Macha said on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. “The games may be a little more exciting with the guys who do get on base. … We’ve got five guys in the lineup who are definite stolen base threats.” 

Macha conceded that he’s concerned about losing Cameron’s and Hardy’s power, but Weeks’ return should help in that area and the Brewers also picked up veteran catcher Gregg Zaun, who’s no Johnny Bench but should provide more homers than outgoing free agent Jason Kendall

In 2009, Macha’s first season at the helm, the Brewers swiped only 68 bases, third-fewest in the Majors ahead of the Braves (58) and Cubs (56). Macha said he discussed the topic with general manager Doug Melvin near the end of the regular season, when Macha was offered assurances that he would be back for the second year of his contract. 

Macha pushed back against the notion that he favored a station-to-station approach.

 “I think you’re branding me as, ‘This is your type of baseball,’ but, no,” Macha said. “I try to do what’s best for the players that we have there. I think you look at the club we have [for 2010] and there’s going to be a little more activity on the bases this year.”

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Braves not interested in Hart

From Braves.com beat reporter Mark Bowman’s blog:

The Braves see the Brewers as a potential suitor for Derek Lowe.  But contrary to a report on FOXSports.com Thursday, they have never been interested in trading the veteran sinkerballer in exchange for Brewers outfielder Corey Hart.

The report indicated that the Brewers seem reluctant to deal for Lowe because he is owed $45 million over the next three years.  While that is certainly understandable, the Braves have also provided indication that they are not interested in Hart.

In other words, if the Braves end up having to trade Javier Vazquez to the Brewers, there’s little reason to believe that Hart would be part of the return package.

Indications are that the Braves don’t like Hart’s undisciplined offensive approach.  The Brewers outfielder, who could draw a $5 million salary via arbitration this winter, hit .260 with 12 homers and a .753 OPS this past season.

As the Braves continue to explore their options with Lowe, they still think there’s a chance that the Angels may be willing to add the veteran sinkerballer to their young rotation.

It appears that instead of getting a Major League-ready outfielder in return, the Braves would be more interested in digging into the Angels farm system.

Bowman has more on Lowe’s situation in a story on Braves.com. As Mark notes, Lowe is coming off a season during which he posted a 4.67 ERA — his career high in the National League — is owed $45 million over the three seasons and turns 37 next season.

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List of arbitration-eligible players

The Major League Baseball Players Association released a list last night of the 210 players potentially eligible for arbitration this winter. We already knew the eight eligible Brewers — Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Jody Gerut, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera (first time eligible), Carlos Villanueva (first time eligible) and Rickie Weeks — but I thought it may be helpful to pass along the entire list. Many of these players will become free agents after the Dec. 12 nontender deadline.

The Brewers will face a couple of decisions at that deadline. Do they bring back McClung ($1.6625 million salary in 2009), the versatile right-hander who worked his way back from an elbow injury at the end of last season? Will Gerut ($1.775 million) return based on his strong finish to the 2009 season? If the Brewers do convince free agent catcher Jason Kendall to return at a discount, will they give the backup job to Jonathan Lucroy or bring back Rivera?

We will get into those decisions at a later date. For now, here is the MLBPA list:

List of players potentially eligible for 2010 Salary Arbitration

PLAYER    SERVICE TIME    TEAM    POSITION
1 Aardsma, David 3.082 SEA RP
2 Accardo, Jeremy 3.171 TOR RP
3 Adams, Mike 3.019 SD RP
4 Albers, Matt 2.141 BAL RP
5 Amezaga, Alfredo 5.097 FLA OF
6 Anderson, Brian N. 3.053 BOS OF
7 Atkins, Garrett 5.072 COL 3B
8 Aybar, Erick 3.086 LAA SS
9 Baker, Jeff 3.049 CHC 2B
10 Bale, John R. 4.016 KC RP
11 Balfour, Grant 5.099 TB RP
12 Bannister, Brian 3.158 KC SP
13 Barmes, Clint 4.122 COL 2B
14 Bartlett, Jason 4.086 TB SS
15 Bautista, Jose A. 4.165 TOR OF
16 Bell, Heath 4.099 SD RP
17 Bennett, Jeff 3.012 TB RP
18 Bergmann, Jay 3.064 WAS RP
19 Billingsley, Chad 3.110 LAD SP
20 Blanton, Joe 5.016 PHI SP
21 Bonser, Boof 3.102 MIN RP
22 Bourn, Michael 3.028 HOU OF
23 Boyer, Blaine 3.122 ARI RP
24 Broxton, Jonathan 4.020 LAD RP
25 Bruney, Brian 4.164 NYY RP
26 Bruntlett, Eric 5.102 PHI 2B
27 Buchholz, Taylor 3.140 COL RP
28 Buck, John 5.101 KC C
29 Burnett, Sean 3.085 WAS RP
30 Burton, Jared 2.165 CIN RP
31 Bush, David 5.052 MIL SP
32 Byrdak, Tim 4.150 HOU RP
33 Cabrera, Fernando 3.104 BOS RP
34 Cabrera, Melky 3.148 NYY OF
35 Camp, Shawn 4.170 TOR RP
36 Cantu, Jorge 5.036 FLA 1B
37 Capps, Matt 4.017 PIT RP
38 Carrasco, D.J. 3.141 CWS RP
39 Casilla, Santiago 3.012 OAK RP
40 Cedeno, Ronny 4.029 PIT SS
41 Chavez, Raul A. 5.074 TOR C
42 Choate, Randy 5.073 TB RP
43 Church, Ryan 4.152 ATL OF
44 Coffey, Todd 4.024 MIL RP
45 Colon, Roman 3.133 KC RP
46 Condrey, Clay 4.012 PHI RP
47 Cormier, Lance 4.154 TB RP
48 Correia, Kevin 5.027 SD SP
49 Cotts, Neal 4.081 CHC RP
50 Crain, Jesse 5.039 MIN RP
51 Cust, Jack 4.002 OAK DH
52 Danks, John 3.000 CWS SP
53 Davies, Kyle 4.012 KC SP
54 Davis, Rajai 2.167 OAK OF
55 de la Rosa, Jorge 5.015 COL SP
56 Delcarmen, Manny 3.133 BOS RP
57 Devine, Joe 2.171 OAK RP
58 Diaz, Matt 4.157 ATL OF
59 Dinardo, Lenny 3.157 KC RP
60 Drew, Stephen 3.079 ARI SS
61 Duke, Zach 4.094 PIT SP
62 Durbin, Chad 5.102 PHI RP
63 Ethier, Andre 3.153 LAD OF
64 Feldman, Scott 3.091 TEX SP
65 Feliciano, Pedro 5.059 NYM RP
66 Flores, Jesus 2.158 WAS C
67 Fontenot, Mike 2.139 CHC 3B
68 Francisco, Frank 5.053 TEX RP
69 Francoeur, Jeff 4.088 NYM OF
70 Frasor, Jason 5.134 TOR RP
71 Garko, Ryan 3.091 SF 1B
72 Garza, Matt 2.149 TB SP
73 Gaudin, Chad 4.163 NYY SP
74 German, Esteban 4.069 TEX 2B
75 Gerut, Jody 5.096 MIL OF
76 Gomes, Jonny 4.097 CIN OF
77 Gomez, Carlos 2.141 MIL OF
78 Gordon, Alex 2.162 KC 3B
79 Gorzelanny, Tom 2.160 CHC RP
80 Green, Sean 3.125 NYM RP
81 Grilli, Jason 4.118 TEX RP
82 Gross, Gabe 4.114 TB OF
83 Guerrier, Matt 5.056 MIN RP
84 Guthrie, Jeremy 3.130 BAL SP
85 Gutierrez, Franklin 3.080 SEA OF
86 Guzman, Angel 3.095 CHC RP
87 Hairston, Scott 4.102 OAK OF
88 Hamilton, Josh 3.000 TEX OF
89 Hammel, Jason 2.153 COL SP
90 Hardy, J.J. 4.164 MIN SS
91 Harris, Brendan 3.112 MIN SS
92 Hart, Corey 4.038 MIL OF
93 Heilman, Aaron 5.123 CHC RP
94 Hermida, Jeremy 4.033 BOS OF
95 Hernandez, Felix 4.060 SEA SP
96 Hill, Koyie 3.006 CHC C
97 Howell, J.P. 3.007 TB RP
98 Iannetta, Chris 3.029 COL C
99 Izturis, Maicer 5.038 LAA 2B
100 Jackson, Conor 4.067 ARI OF
101 Jackson, Edwin 4.070 DET SP
102 Jacobs, Mike 4.047 KC DH
103 Janssen, Casey 3.063 TOR RP
104 Jenks, Bobby 4.090 CWS RP
105 Johnson, Josh 4.026 FLA SP
106 Johnson, Kelly 4.127 ATL 2B
107 Karstens, Jeff 2.144 PIT SP
108 Kemp, Matt 3.049 LAD OF
109 Kendrick, Howie 3.091 LAA 2B
110 Kensing, Logan 4.035 WAS RP
111 Keppinger, Jeff 3.052 HOU 3B
112 Kotchman, Casey 4.144 BOS 1B
113 Kouzmanoff, Kevin 3.030 SD 3B
114 Kuo, Hong-Chih 3.114 LAD RP
115 Laird, Gerald 5.077 DET C
116 Langerhans, Ryan 4.062 SEA OF
117 League, Brandon 3.145 TOR RP
118 Lincecum, Tim 2.148 SF SP
119 Lindstrom, Matthew 3.000 FLA RP
120 Liriano, Francisco 3.104 MIN SP
121 Logan, Boone 3.002 ATL RP
122 Loney, James 3.012 LAD 1B
123 Lowe, Mark 3.087 SEA RP
124 Ludwick, Ryan 4.109 STL OF
125 MacDougal, Mike 5.143 WAS RP
126 Maine, John 4.013 NYM SP
127 Marcum, Shaun 3.128 TOR SP
128 Marmol, Carlos 3.084 CHC RP
129 Marshall, Sean 3.088 CHC RP
130 Martin, Russell 3.150 LAD C
131 Masset, Nick 2.146 CIN RP
132 Mathis, Jeff 3.012 LAA C
133 McCarthy, Brandon 4.055 TEX SP
134 McClung, Seth 5.111 MIL RP
135 McGowan, Dustin 3.113 TOR SP
136 Medders, Brandon 3.074 SF RP
137 Meredith, Cla 3.107 BAL RP
138 Miller, Justin 5.070 SF RP
139 Miner, Zach 3.078 DET RP
140 Mitre, Sergio 4.132 NYY SP
141 Montero, Miguel 3.031 ARI C
142 Moylan, Peter 3.061 ATL RP
143 Murton, Matt 3.004 COL OF
144 Napoli, Mike 3.151 LAA C
145 Navarro, Dioner 4.103 TB C
146 Neshek, Pat 3.087 MIN RP
147 Nieves, Wil 3.092 WAS C
148 Nippert, Dustin 2.140 TEX RP
149 Nix, Laynce 4.070 CIN OF
150 Nolasco, Ricky 3.142 FLA SP
151 Nunez, Leo 3.108 FLA RP
152 Ojeda, Augie 4.169 ARI SS
153 Okajima, Hideki 3.000 BOS RP
154 Olsen, Scott 4.101 WAS SP
155 Orr, Pete 3.096 WAS 2B
156 Pagan, Angel 3.144 NYM OF
157 Papelbon, Jon 4.064 BOS RP
158 Paulino, Ronny 3.112 FLA C
159 Pena, Tony 3.076 CWS RP
160 Pence, Hunter 2.156 HOU OF
161 Perez, Rafael 2.157 CLE RP
162 Pinto, Renyel 3.083 FLA RP
163 Qualls, Chad 5.058 ARI RP
164 Quentin, Carlos 3.065 CWS OF
165 Quintero, Humberto 3.141 HOU C
166 Ramirez, Ramon 3.113 BOS RP
167 Ray, Chris 4.098 BAL RP
168 Redding, Tim 5.167 NYM RP
169 Reed, Jeremy 4.016 NYM OF
170 Repko, Jason 3.067 LAD OF
171 Reyes, Anthony 3.027 CLE SP
172 Rivera, Mike 3.081 MIL C
173 Rivera, Saul 3.056 WAS RP
174 Rodriguez, Wandy 4.105 HOU SP
175 Ross, Cody 4.058 FLA OF
176 Ruiz, Carlos 3.069 PHI C
177 Sampson, Chris 3.012 HOU RP
178 Sanchez, Anibal 3.099 FLA SP
179 Sanchez, Jonathan 3.071 SF SP
180 Santiago, Ramon 5.095 DET SS
181 Saunders, Joe 3.013 LAA SP
182 Schumaker, Skip 3.051 STL 2B
183 Scott, Luke 3.144 BAL DH
184 Seay, Bobby 5.118 DET RP
185 Sherrill, George 4.147 LAD RP
186 Shoppach, Kelly 4.021 CLE C
187 Spilborghs, Ryan 3.072 COL OF
188 Street, Huston 5.000 COL RP
189 Sullivan, Cory 4.010 NYM OF
190 Tallet, Brian 4.146 TOR SP
191 Teahen, Mark 4.155 CWS 3B
192 Tejeda, Rob 3.102 KC RP
193 Th
eriot, Ryan 3.118 CHC SS
194 Uggla, Dan 4.000 FLA 2B
195 Upton, B.J. 3.126 TB OF
196 Veras, Jose 3.014 CLE RP
197 Verlander, Justin 4.002 DET SP
198 Victorino, Shane 4.092 PHI OF
199 Villanueva, Carlos 3.053 MIL RP
200 Waechter, Doug 4.087 KC RP
201 Wang, Chien-Ming 4.159 NYY SP
202 Weaver, Jered 3.129 LAA SP
203 Weeks, Rickie 4.131 MIL 2B
204 Willingham, Josh 4.123 WAS OF
205 Willits, Reggie 3.000 LAA OF
206 Wilson, Brian 2.169 SF RP
207 Wilson, C.J. 4.055 TEX RP
208 Wuertz, Michael 4.139 OAK RP
209 Young, Delmon 3.034 MIN OF
210 Zumaya, Joel 4.000 DET RP

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Brewers eye free agent pitching market

Surprise, surprise. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spent his time at this week’s General Managers Meetings in Chicago focused on pitching.

Melvin spoke this week with agent Arn Tellem, who represents free agent left-hander Randy Wolf, and Steve Canter, the agent for free-agent left-hander Doug Davis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At some point he also expressed interest in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, Washburn’s agent Scott Boras told the newspaper.

According to a Major League source, Melvin also met with Steve Hilliard, who represents righty John Lackey, the top available pitcher. In a chat with the Journal Sentinel before heading home to Milwaukee, Melvin downplayed the Brewers’ chances of landing Lackey. 

“It depends what they’re asking for,” Melvin said. “I don’t know if it could fit or not. I might have to make some other moves to make it fit.” 

The Brewers may have jumped to the top of the list of teams expected to pursue Lackey last week, when Melvin brought up Lackey’s name in a discussion of his plan to bolster a pitching staff that ranked next-to-last in the National League in 2009. 

Melvin said he would have to focus on bounce-back candidates coming off poor- or injury-plagued seasons, and indeed he has already checked in with the agent for Mark Mulder, who missed all of 2009 with shoulder woes. At some point Milwaukee could also check in with former Brewer Ben Sheets, who never pitched in 2009 after undergoing elbow surgery.

But at the same time, Melvin would not rule out a look at the top shelf of free agents. 

“There’s one guy that stands out and it’s John Lackey,” Melvin told reporters on a conference call last Friday. “He’s head and shoulders above the others. … You look at the consistency of pitchers who are out there and John Lackey is a great competitor, but we’ll have to take a look at that and see.” 

Since Melvin raised Lackey’s name without being asked, he was pressed on the matter. Is he a free agent of interest to the Brewers? 

“We’ll leave that discussion internally for ourselves,” Melvin said. “When you get involved in free agency and you talk about people, then all you’re doing is letting people know you’re interested and it drives the prices up. So I’m not going to say who we’re interested in or who we’re not.” 

It’s a two-way street, said Melvin, who believes most free agents enter the market with a short list of teams they prefer. 

“It’s our job to find out if we’re on that list of teams,” Melvin said.  

If the Brewers are on Lackey’s list, then Melvin might have to move some more payroll, as he suggested to the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday. 

Melvin has already said he won’t pursue center fielder Mike Cameron, who earned $10 million last year, and has hinted that Jason Kendall’s $5 million salary might not fit next year, either. His highest-paid returning players are starter Jeff Suppan (due $12.5 million in 2010, the final year of his four-year contract), first baseman Prince Fielder ($10.5 million), closer Trevor Hoffman ($7.5 million) and reliever David Riske ($4.5 million in the final year of his three-year deal). 

More decisions are coming. The Brewers have until Saturday to exercise their half of starter Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option, and pitcher Dave Bush (who made $4 million in 2009), outfielder Corey Hart ($3.25 million) and second baseman Rickie Weeks ($2.45 million) head the list of arbitration-eligible players whose salaries could jump again. 

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Surgeries set for Counsell, Parra, McGehee, Looper

Add Craig Counsell and Manny Parra to the list of Brewers set for arthroscopic surgeries in the coming days to fix problems that nagged all season. 

Counsell, fellow infielder Casey McGehee and pitcher Braden Looper will each undergo relatively minor procedures next week to clean up right knee injuries and pitcher Parra will have surgery on his left shoulder.

All four procedures will be performed by Dr. William Raasch, the team’s head physician. In chronological order: 

- Parra will undergo what a club official stressed was a routine surgery Tuesday to clean up the AC joint in his left shoulder. The procedure has been planned for some time, and the injury did not prevent Parra from making his final starts of the season. 

It’s also “not even remotely close” to the shoulder issues in Parra’s past, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash. Parra had season-ending surgery in August 2005 to repair a torn rotator cuff. 

“What Dr. Raasch is going to do is eliminate the friction” outside of Parra’s shoulder joint, Ash said. “It’s nothing inside the joint. It’s been nagging him all year, but not nagging to the point where he couldn’t pitch. There is some irritation there, so we’re going to take this opportunity to eliminate it. It’s kind of like having a pebble in your shoe.”

Ash hoped the surgery would provide some peace of mind for Parra, who had a trying season. He went 11-11 but posted a 6.36 ERA in 27 starts and spent three weeks in the Minor Leagues following a June demotion. Of the 67 National League pitchers who worked at least 100 innings, only teammate Dave Bush (6.38) had a higher ERA than Parra. 

- As previously reported, McGehee will also have surgery on Tuesday, to clean out loose bodies from his right knee. McGehee played most of the season with pain in the joint, and has known since the All-Star break that he would probably require surgery. 

McGehee enjoyed a breakthrough season in spite of the constant knee pain, which affected him more in the field than at the plate. He singled in his first at-bat in Sunday’s season finale to finish with a .301 batting average, and his 66 RBIs led all Major League rookies. McGehee also hit 16 home runs. 

Manager Ken Macha pulled McGehee from Sunday’s game early to preserve his batting average. 

“That’s something he by no means had to do, and I appreciated it,” McGehee said. “I thought [my year] went pretty well. I want to get my defense back next year to where I expect it to be at. Other than that, I feel like I had a solid year.” 

- Also, as expected, Looper will have surgery next week to fix torn meniscus in his right knee. Looper told reporters on Saturday that he pitched all year with the issue. 

He led the Brewers and set a career high with 14 wins and led the National League with 34 starts, but also led the Majors by allowing 113 earned runs, 39 home runs and posted a 5.22 ERA. Looper wondered aloud whether the pain in his knee contributed to his trouble keeping the ball in the park. 

“I tried the best I can to get the ball down because that’s my whole game,” Looper said Saturday. “I don’t know [if the knee played a part in pitches staying up]. I know I haven’t been as consistent this year. That’s the thing that upsets me, I hope that [the knee] didn’t cause that.

- Counsell has been dealing with an injury similar to Looper’s since Spring Training, when he briefly considered surgery that would have sidelined him for several weeks. Instead, he opted to play through it and enjoyed his best season in years, batting .285 — a career high for a full season — with a .766 OPS — his best mark since 2000.  

In recent days, Counsell had said he would not have surgery. On Monday, he changed his mind, and will also have his surgery scheduled for next week. 

- In another medical matter, Ash said that outfielder Corey Hart had visited Monday with Dr. Don Sheridan, a Phoenix-based hand specialist who confirmed the diagnosis of Hart’s right hand injury. Hart has a pair of sprained fingers but no fractures and will require only rehabilitation.

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Hart hurt in Tuesday's game; status uncertain

Brewers right fielder Corey Hart was out of the lineup on Wednesday, and the team revealed why about 40 minutes before Game 2 of a series against the Rockies.

Hart had x-rays earlier in the day that revealed, “possible compression fractures to the fourth and fifth fingers of the right hand,” according to a club spokesperson. The Brewers expected further clarification after Hart’s x-rays were sent via e-mail to head team physician William Raasch back in Milwaukee.

The Brewers only have four games left after Wednesday, and Hart may be sidelined for all of them.

“Probably, but we don’t know that yet,” assistant GM Gord Ash said. Hart’s particular injury could require further tests.

Hart played all 11 innings of Tuesday’s series opener at Coors Field, going 1-for-4 with his 500th career hit. He was hurt sliding back to first base in the 10th inning when he jammed his fingers against Todd Helton’s foot. Hart was safe on the play, but instant replays showed he was clearly out.

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