Results tagged ‘ Doug Melvin ’

Brewers planning announcement

The Brewers are planning a 3 p.m. CT press conference at Miller Park and appear poised to announce a long-term contract extension for right-hander Yovani Gallardo, the club’s home-grown, 24-year-old Opening Day starter. 
Terms of the deal will not be made official until later Thursday, but other teams who have extended their young pitchers in recent months have covered the player’s arbitration seasons and given the club control over at least one season of the player’s free agent eligibility. 
Gallardo’s original 2010 contract calls for a $450,000 salary in his final pre-arbitration season. He would be salary arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, putting him on track to reach free agency during the 2013-14 offseason. 
Now Brewers general manager Doug Melvin may have succeeded in delaying his young ace’s entry into the market. Melvin struck a similar deal nearly two years ago with left fielder Ryan Braun, whose extension runs through 2015 and covers two years of free agency. Braun was also 24 when he signed.  
If Braun is a blueprint for the type of control Melvin is seeking over Gallardo, it would have to be a five-year contract that replaces Gallardo’s existing deal for 2010.  
Teams take on risk in deals for such young players but in return get cost certainty and perhaps the chance to delay free agent departures. Players may leave some money on the table versus going year-to-year through arbitration, but they get a lifetime of financial security in return. 
The Mexican-born, Texas-raised Gallardo, Milwaukee’s second round Draft pick in 2004, lost his Opening Day start against the Rockies but is showing signs of growing into a four-pitch Major League ace. 
He returned in 2009 from an ’08 season lost almost entirely to knee injuries and went 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA. He became fourth different Brewers pitcher to top 200 strikeouts in a season — his Mexican countryman, Teddy Higuera is the only Brewer to do so twice — and ranked third among National League starters with a .219 batting average against. 
“He could be in the top handful in the game,” said new Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun. “He’s got all the ability, so now it’s going to be about polishing. He can polish some command, some different pitch sequences, adding and subtracting velocity here and there. He definitely has tremendous life on his stuff.” 
If Thursday’s announcement is indeed about a Gallardo extension, the Brewers would have their top two starters signed through 2012 and under control through 2013. Left-hander Randy Wolf signed a three-year contract during the Winter Meetings in December that includes a club option for 2013. 
Melvin has kept his talks with Gallardo’s agent, former Major Leaguer Bobby Witt, out of the spotlight since the sides agreed to a one-year contract early last month. At the same time, Melvin has been in ongoing discussions with first baseman Prince Fielder about an extension of his own, though Thursday’s press conference is not expected to include any new information about Fielder. 
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No last-minute roster surprises

After one final staff meeting on Sunday morning, the Brewers set their 25-man Opening Day roster. There were no surprises. 
Four players still officially on the big league camp roster — pitcher Chris Smith, catcher Martin Maldonado, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Adam Stern — will begin the season in the Minor Leagues, leaving 25 active players to face the Colorado Rockies beginning Monday afternoon at Miller Park. 
“I think that as a group, we’re ready to go,” said catcher Gregg Zaun, one of Milwaukee’s hottest spring hitters. 
Here is the breakdown: 
Pitchers (12): Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, LaTroy Hawkins, Trevor Hoffman, Chris Narveson, Manny Parra, Mitch Stetter, Claudio Vargas, Carlos Villanueva, Randy Wolf.

Catchers (2): George Kottaras, Gregg Zaun.
Infielders (6):Craig Counsell, Alcides Escobar, Prince Fielder, Joe Inglett, Casey McGehee, Rickie Weeks.
Outfielders (5): Ryan Braun, Jim Edmonds, Jody Gerut, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart. 
Four other players will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list: Pitchers Josh Butler, David Riske and Jeff Suppan and infielder Mat Gamel. 
The Brewers’ final decision essentially was made on Tuesday, when Suppan was placed on the DL with a neck injury. He had been vying with left-handers Narveson and Parra for the fifth starter spot, and with Suppan out of the mix the club was able to keep both Narveson and Parra on the Opening Day roster. 
Health was something of a question for veterans Zaun (quadriceps) and Edmonds (hamstring), but both players proved by playing Saturday’s exhibition against the Tigers that they were fit enough for Opening Day and will be active on Monday afternoon. Zaun figures to start behind the plate, but as of Saturday evening, Brewers manager Ken Macha had yet to decide officially whether Edmonds, Hart or perhaps Gerut would man right field against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies. 
Asked when he would make that decision, Macha replied, “probably 10 a.m. on Monday.” Gallardo is scheduled to throw the season’s first pitch at 1:10 p.m. CT. 
Assuming Hart makes his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, Edmonds will join a Brewers bench much longer on experience than in years past. Counsell, Edmonds, Gerut and Inglett have combined to play 4,093 Major League games, with Inglett the least experienced of the group at 211 games. Even Kottaras has some big league experience, with 48 games under his belt. 
That’s a change from last season, when Counsell was the Brewers’ only extra man with extensive experience. McGehee had only a September call-up on his resume at the time, and he certainly panned out.  But outfielders Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson did not, combining to start the season 4-for-53 at the plate and prompting changes.  
“I think looking at what happened to us in April last year with Chris Duffy and Nelly, [Brewers general manager Doug Melvin] probably looked for some guys who are used to sitting on the bench,” Macha said. 
Flexibility was the key to the Brewers’ choices. Counsell can play anywhere on the infield, and while Inglett is primarily a second baseman, he proved in Spring Training that he’s versatile elsewhere on the infield and in the outfield corners. Edmonds and Gerut are capable of playing all three outfield spots. 
“Most of the guys on the bench are semi-regulars,” Melvin said. “In the case that we had an injury, they probably could play that regular role. Looking at that, we are more experienced and deeper, I guess.”
In the bullpen, Macha will also have options. With Narveson and Parra beginning the year in relief, the Brewers could turn to one of those left-handers early in games and save Stetter for tougher situations later on. Narveson and Parra also give Macha multiple long relievers, and right-handers Villanueva and Vargas are also capable of working more than one inning.  
The next big decision won’t come until next week, when the Brewers plan to use a fifth starter for the first time. Suppan remains in the running, assuming he’s ready to return from the DL, along with Narveson and Parra. The winner of that derby will probably debut on April 14 or 15 against the Cubs, though the Brewers don’t actually <i>need</i> a fifth starter until April 18 at Washington. 
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Brewers rank high in free agent spending

I just noticed a very interesting post on the fine site that ranks all 30 teams in order of total dollars committed to free agents during the offseason The Brewers, who shelled out for free agent starters Randy Wolf and Doug Davis and relievers Trevor Hoffman and LaTroy Hawkins, rank fourth on the list behind the larger market Red Sox, Cardinals and Mets. The Yankees, who spent freely during the 2008-2009 offseason, are way down the list this time at No. 19.

Here’s how the website lined teams up:
Red Sox – $137,030,000
Cardinals – $129,450,000
Mets – $75,350,000
Brewers – $55,650,000
Angels – $52,000,000
Mariners – $51,325,000
Braves – $41,350,000
Reds – $37,070,000
Giants – $34,750,000
Phillies – $30,850,000
Astros – $29,900,000
Nationals – $29,900,000
Cubs – $25,800,000
Tigers – $23,950,000
Orioles – $23,900,000
Rangers – $22,500,000
Athletics – $20,900,000
Blue Jays – $20,500,000 
Yankees – $19,800,000
Diamondbacks – $19,100,000
Royals – $18,600,000
Twins – $14,400,000
Rockies – $13,100,000
Dodgers – $11,500,000 
Padres – $8,675,000
White Sox – $8,375,000
Pirates – $8,125,000
Rays – $5,300,000
Indians – $2,850,000
Marlins – $0
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Macha: No worries about Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman has been working hard in his first two Cactus League outings. He was touched for four more hits and two more runs by the Dodgers on Monday, three days after he allowed a run on two hits against the Angels. 
Manager Ken Macha isn’t worried. 
“He’s free and easy,” Macha said. “If he’s healthy, he’s going to pitch.”
Macha was curious to see the radar gun readings from Hoffman’s outing. Hoffman was not the only Brewers pitcher knocked around by the Dodgers’ starter Doug Davis surrendered three runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings on Monday. 
All nine of the Dodgers starters had at least one hit in their 8-4 win over the Brewers, who were out-hit, 16-6.
“I thought the Dodgers had a tremendous approach,” Macha said. “That’s why they had eight runs. They hit the ball to the middle of the field, they hit the ball the other way and I thought their approach against Trevor and against Davis was tremendous. I hope some of our young guys were watching the game.”
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Fielder talks begin quietly

If the Brewers have begun discussions with agent Scott Boras about first baseman Prince Fielder’s contract, club officials were not willing to talk about it on Thursday.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash returned to camp on Thursday after an absence all day Wednesday. Asked specifically whether it had anything to do with Fielder, Melvin said only “we took a little trip.” 
Asked where that trip took him, Melvin said again: “We took a little trip.” Ash wouldn’t dish, either, joking to a reporter that, “we don’t have to tell you guys everything.”
Fielder himself was more forthcoming, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brewers officials indeed met with Boras but did not make an offer. 
It made sense that the trip took place since Melvin, Ash and principal owner Mark Attanasio spent some time last week discussing how the club would approach talks with Boras, who is based in Los Angeles. Melvin has said repeatedly this spring that if and when negotiations begin, they would happen in private. 
Fielder is under contract for 2010 and has a year of arbitration eligibility remaining for 2011, but he has been a topic of internal conversation for Melvin & Co. because the Brewers have to figure out how best to handle the next two years. If the sides cannot work out an extension — Fielder, after all, has the same right to test free agency as any player — then the Brewers would have to at least consider whether it makes sense to weigh trade offers. 
The last time they faced this situation was in 2006 with left fielder Carlos Lee. When Lee’s camp turned down a four-year offer worth about $48 million, the Brewers traded him to the Rangers for a package that included closer Francisco Cordero rather than lose him via free agency and get nothing but Draft picks in return. 
The difference is that Fielder is still two years removed from free agent eligibility, and both sides have made the point that there is no rush to negotiate. 
While that business matter continues to simmer, the San Francisco Giants took care of their own business with Fielder on Thursday afternoon when Barry Zito’s first pitch to Fielder plunked him right in the middle of the back. It was almost certainly a punctuation mark to Fielder’s choreographed celebration with his teammates at home plate after his 12th-inning home run beat the Giants last Sept. 6. The Giants didn’t appreciate the show because they were still fighting for the playoffs. 
Nearly six months later, Fielder simply flipped the baseball that had struck him back in Zito’s direction and trotted to first base. Casey McGehee then struck out to end the top of the first inning. 
“I hit the home run. Hit me,” Fielder said after coming out of the game. “If that’s what you’ve got to do, then that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Fielder said he had no regrets about the September celebration. He was proud of himself for staying calm and avoiding a scene like the one that unfolded at Dodger Stadium last August, when television cameras caught Fielder charging toward the Dodgers clubhouse in search of former teammate Guillermo Mota, who had plunked him with a pitch. Mota, coincidentally, signed over the winter with the Giants.
“Every time someone does something I’m always the one videotaped. So I’m trying to be a good guy,” Fielder said. “I [don’t] want kids to see me that way so I’m trying to maintain. Unfortunately, some people like to test it sometimes. I’m working on it. I’m tired of being the bad guy. I took my base and everything was fine.”
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Brewers ink Dominican trio

The Brewers agreed to terms with a trio of right-handed pitchers last week after they auditioned for general manager Doug Melvin at the team’s new facility in the Dominican Republic, amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said.  
The Brewers have agreements in place with Eduard Reyes, 19, Carlos Sosa, 18, and Elvis Mora, 17, though all three contracts are pending a Major League Baseball investigation into the player’s ages. Such investigations are now standard practice in International signings, and can take 4-6 weeks to complete. 
Seid’s policy is not to reveal signing bonuses, but he did say that all three players came at a “reasonable” cost. Melvin was at the academy last week and saw all three pitchers in person. 
“We felt like we maximized our dollars with these three guys,” Seid said. “They’re all 90-plus [mph] velocity guys at 17-19 years old.” 
The Brewers had been tracking all three players at their new academy north of the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. Milwaukee had ceased operating a Dominican academy in 2003, soon after Melvin and and assistant GM Gord Ash were hired, and instead put the money they had been spending on the facility toward higher-profile signings. 
The experiment yielded only modest results, so last summer the Brewers resumed a Dominican presence in a co-venture with the Orioles. The Brewers subsequently moved into a complex previously owned by the Phillies, complete with two baseball fields, batting cages, housing and mess facilities and classroom space where players are instructed in English, among other topics. The idea is to prepare young players — most are 16-19 — to eventually move to affiliates in the U.S. 
Whether Reyes, the oldest of last week’s signees at 19, makes that jump immediately remains to be seen, Seid said. While MLB’s age investigation is ongoing, Reyes will continue to participate at the academy. 
“He threw 90-91 [mph] for us and had a good feel to pitch,” Seid said. “He wanted to sign, and we were on board with that.” 
Reyes was a participant in the Dominican Prospect League, an organization that is trying to bring some order to a scouting process that in the past has been scattered. The DPL first trumpeted Reyes’ deal with the Brewers on its website last week. 
Sosa is the big man of the trio at 6-foot-6. Mora touched 93 mph for Brewers scouts and Seid compared him to former Brewers pitcher Salomon Torres, a fellow Dominican. 

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Brewers have worked waiver wonders

casey-mcgehee.jpgThe addition of Marco Estrada on Wednesday had me thinking back to some of the Brewers’ notable waiver wire additions, from GM Doug Melvin’s first-ever acquisition (Scott Podsednik) in 2002 to a Cubs castoff-turned-Brewers starter (Casey McGehee) in 2008. 

The waiver wire is especially important to lower-budget teams like the Brewers, and Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash, head pro scout Dick Groch and the rest of Milwaukee’s front office has fared pretty well over the years. 
Here’s a look at their pick-ups, organized into three tiers. Who would you rate as Melvin’s best find? What about the biggest disappointment?
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Mulder talks tabled for now

The Brewers will wait until next month to consider making a Minor League offer to rehabbing left-hander Mark Mulder, general manager Doug Melvin said Friday.  
Melvin and Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson met with Mulder in Phoenix on Thursday night and there remains mutual interest in striking a Minor League deal at some point. But Mulder, who has been limited to six Major League appearances since 2006 because of shoulder injuries, is still too early in his throwing program for the Brewers to commit even to a Minors deal, Melvin said.  
“He continues to throw but he’s doing long tossing and flat ground,” Melvin said. “We just haven’t had a chance to see him throw [off a mound]. As soon as he does that, we could talk about a contract.  
“Mark is in agreement with that. He understands that there is no rush to do a contract. He knows we have a good guy in place to help get him back where he wants to be.”  
That would be Peterson, Mulder’s former pitching coach in Oakland. Under Peterson’s tutelage, Mulder finished second in American League Cy Young Award balloting in 2001 and made a pair of All-Star teams. They reunited last summer while Mulder was looking for answers about his mechanics.  
In a sign of mutual interest, Melvin said that Mulder might use the Brewers’ facilities at Maryvale Baseball Park once he’s ready to progress to the next level in his program.  
“We had a nice visit with him,” Melvin said. “We’re interested and he’s interested.”  
Mulder’s agent, Gregg Clifton, was not available for comment on Friday afternoon. 
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Melvin mulling how Davis would fit

Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed that he had spoken this week with agent Steve Canter about former Brewers left-hander Doug Davis, a free agent who has some interest in returning to Milwaukee. 
“He’s interested. I’m just not sure we’re going to add anybody at this point,” Melvin said. “We could give opportunities to guys we have, and — this is the big thing — keep our flexibility [to add a pitcher later].” 
Flexibility has been Melvin’s buzzword this winter. He acquired left-hander Randy Wolf at the Winter Meetings and, as the roster stands today, could field a starting rotation led by Wolf and right-hander Yovani Gallardo followed by some combination of Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and Manny Parra. Melvin mentioned left-hander Chris Narveson and nonroster righty Kameron Loe among those who would get an opportunity to knock one of those incumbents out. 
Davis has been extremely consistent in recent seasons, logging at least 33 starts in five of six seasons since finding a home with the Brewers at the end of 2003. He was 37-36 with a 3.92 ERA in parts of four years with the Brewers before Melvin traded Davis to Arizona in November 2006. In 2009, Davis posted a 4.12 ERA for the D-backs. 
But “there are issues there,” Melvin said, meaning roster management issues. Melvin said that adding a pitcher would mean you have four pitchers — the newcomer, Parra, Suppan and Narveson — for two spots in the rotation. Parra and Narveson are out of Minor League options. Suppan is in the final season of a multi-year contract, so his $12.5 million salary is guaranteed. Then there is Bush, who has options left but owns enough Major League service time to refuse an optional assignment and elect free agency.  
“It’s not like you could keep two and option the other two out,” Melvin said. “You would probably lose them. Are you willing to do that? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves.” 
Melvin asked that and other questions this week, when he gathered his staffers in Phoenix for a pitching symposium. Melvin deemed the meeting a success but did not have any drastic changes to announce. The team will continue its pitching tandems at Class A Wisconsin and the rookie levels, in which two starters piggyback each other every fifth day. The group also addressed conditioning and workload issues.
“Any time you get this many people together it’s always productive,” he said. “It’s hard to get all of these people — the doctors, the trainers, coaches, front office staff — together in the same place. The No. 1 goal is to develop starting pitching.”
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Brewers, Mulder to meet Thursday


The Brewers’ long-awaited sit-down with free agent left-hander Mark Mulder is set for Thursday evening, when the sides will meet to begin discussing whether Mulder’s road back from injury will continue to Milwaukee’s Spring Training hub. 
Mulder, who didn’t pitch at all in 2009 while he recovered from shoulder surgery, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Brewers officials gathered this week at Maryvale Baseball Park in neighboring Phoenix for a pitching symposium. The confluence offers an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with Mulder and his agent, Gregg Clifton, that could kick-start talks toward a contract. 
“I think it will just be a nice chance to get together and talk and then we’ll go from there,” Clifton said. “But I don’t think it will take weeks and weeks to figure out, assuming they are interested in getting something done.”  
Given Mulder’s medical history, the Brewers are planning to offer a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The team’s contingent at Thursday’s meeting is likely to include general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash, plus pitching coach Rick Peterson, whose relationship with Mulder dates back to their years together in Oakland.  
Clifton, speaking via telephone on Tuesday while watching Mulder throw a side session at home off a backyard mound, indicated a willingness to discuss a Minor League offer.  
“If the parties want to be together, we can always make the financial side of it work,” Clifton said. 
The Brewers are interested in the 32-year-old as a bounce-back candidate. Mulder has made only four starts since Aug. 29, 2006 because of shoulder injuries, but he won 15 games in five straight seasons from 2001-2005 and Brewers officials are intrigued by the notion that he could rediscover his form with help from Peterson.  
That relationship goes back to 1998, when Peterson was the A’s pitching coach and Mulder was the second overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. Mulder joined Peterson in the big leagues in 2000, and in 2001 Mulder went 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA and finished second in American League MVP balloting. He made the AL All-Star team in 2003 and 2004 before Oakland traded Mulder to the Cardinals for a package of players highlighted by pitcher Dan Haren in December 2004, and Mulder made 32 starts for St. Louis in 2005 before shoulder woes set in.  
He was limited to 17 starts in 2006 and eventually underwent rotator cuff surgery. He signed a two-year free agent deal with the Cardinals but made only three appearances in 2007 before a second surgical fix, then made three more appearances in 2008 before another shut-down. 
At some point last summer, Mulder reunited with Peterson for help with his mechanics. Peterson is an expert in biomechanics, a process intended in part to help pitchers avoid injuries, and spent most of the year founding a company called 3P Sports that offers training services to amateur and professional athletes. The Brewers hired him in October.  
Mulder, meanwhile, continued his rehab.  
“He’s feeling wonderful,” Clifton said. “The final phase is finalizing his mechanics to the point where he can be successful on an every-outing basis. He feels healthy and as strong as he’s ever felt. If we can figure something out and get something finalized with the Brewers, I know he’s very excited about the chance to work with Rick and get back with people he’s very comfortable with.” 
Brewers starters combined for a 5.37 ERA in 2009, the worst mark in the National League. Melvin has already added left-handed free agent Randy Wolf to the mix as a replacement for righty Braden Looper, whose option was declined after the season. For now, Wolf and right-hander Yovani Gallardo are projected to top a starting rotation that also includes right-handers Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan and left-hander Manny Parra
The Brewers also have left-hander Chris Narveson on the 40-man roster, and former All-Star Chris Capuano will be in camp as a non-roster invitee who, like Mulder, is attempting a comeback from injury. Capuano hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007 and underwent his second career Tommy John surgery in May 2008. 
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