Results tagged ‘ Doug Melvin ’

Tidbits: Hoffman, Suppan, Sheets, Hardy

The discussion about whether the Brewers would trade Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder was the most interesting part of general manager Doug Melvin’s year-end wrap-up with the media, but here’s a taste of the other topics discussed:

- The Brewers officially announced their new deal with closer Trevor Hoffman, who re-signed for one year plus a mutual option for 2011. The contract guarantees $8 million and could pay as much as $16.5 million over two years. 

 “By signing Trevor Hoffman, that was a big splash for us,” Melvin said. “If our pitching is going to improve, we have to keep the success we had at the back end of our bullpen. And also, to attract free agent starting pitchers, one of the first questions they always want to know is, ‘Who is the closer?’” 

- Melvin hinted that the focus on pitching could make it difficult for the team to re-sign its key free agents, including center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall. Rickie Weeks is the second baseman, Melvin reiterated, making it likely that free agent Felipe Lopez will also be let go.

Assistant GM Gord Ash conceded that it’s difficult for teams to win with unproven players up the middle but insisted it can be done. He mentioned Lorenzo Cain and Logan Schafer as the team’s top center field prospects and said Jonathan Lucroy was the team’s top catching prospect. Interestingly, Angel Salome’s name was not brought up.

- Jeff Suppan, the Brewers’ 2009 Opening Day starter, is not guaranteed a spot in the 2010 starting rotation despite his $12.5 million salary. It will be the final season of his four-year contract, and he projects as the team’s highest-paid player for the second straight year. 

“I think Jeff is a professional and he knows that he will come into camp and [compete],” Melvin said. “You have to give him some credit for the fact he’s been given the ball a lot of years. He’s very seldom injured. … I don’t think there will be very many guarantees about who will be in the rotation. We probably have to make it more competitive to get better.” 

- Free agent righty Ben Sheets, who missed all of 2009 following elbow surgery, is still on the Brewers’ radar.

“Ben is somebody who would have to be on anybody’s list when it comes to improving your pitching staff,” Ash said. “We’re not up to date with his physical condition right now since he’s no longer in our care, so that would have to be Step 1. But from our point of view, we enjoyed Ben as part of the Brewers and there’s been, ‘once in a while’ conversations with his agent to remind him that we still have that ongoing interest. It hasn’t been followed-up yet.”

- Melvin already interviewed one potential pitching coach on Monday and was to travel with Ash on Thursday to interview another candidate. He wouldn’t say whether he had already spoken with former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, an early favorite for the position because of his past working relationships with Brewers manager Ken Macha and bench coach Willie Randolph

“We don’t want to advertise who we’re looking at,” Melvin said. “The cat’s out of the bag on one guy. I interviewed him on Monday and another team interviewed him the next day.” 

- Ash shed more light on the options that faced third baseman Casey McGehee, who underwent successful surgery on Tuesday. McGehee has a lesion in his knee, Ash said, that causes fragments of bone to break away. He could have had a more intensive procedure to inject healthy cells into the knee to promote re-growth but it was a riskier procedure that could have sidelined McGehee weeks or even months into the 2010 season. 

“He elected, after consulting with a couple of surgeons, to have kind of the intermediary procedure done, and that was to take out all of the fragments and hope that area of his knee remains intact,” Ash said. “We don’t have 100 percent guarantee on that. What we do know about Casey is that he’s an excellent worker and he’s motivated.” 

- Melvin did little to dispute the notion that shortstop J.J. Hardy will be traded this winter to make room for Alcides Escobar. Hardy’s value is down both because of his poor 2009 season (he batted .229 and was optioned to the Minors in August) and because the rest of the league knows that the Brewers are ready to install Escobar. 

“It might be down a little bit,” Melvin said of Hardy’s value. “But there are still clubs that have interest in him. Shortstop is a big hole to fill.”

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Still nothing official on Macha

Brewers manager Ken Macha had breakfast Saturday with general manager Doug Melvin, then mentioned 2010 in several different contexts during his daily reporters’ briefing without specifically confirming that he would be back. Melvin still wasn’t ready to make any sort of announcement about Macha’s future, he said through a club spokesperson. 

No Macha news today

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash re-joined the team on Friday on St. Louis, but Melvin said he didn’t plan to make any announcements about manager Ken Macha’s future until Saturday at the earliest.

“I’m not going to do anything today,” Melvin said.

Macha is under contract for 2010 and Melvin is expected to ask him back. What’s unclear is whether Melvin will be willing to tack anything onto the deal, be it a club option for 2011 or more guaranteed years. Macha expected to sit down with Melvin following Friday’s game.

“I’ll let him be the spokesman,” Macha said.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio arrived at Busch Stadium with Melvin and Ash about an hour before the start of the season’s final series to address the team.

Macha 'comfortable' he'll return in '10

kinhf9Zy.jpgManager Ken Macha’s contractual status never came up during his two-hour meeting with general manager Doug Melvin earlier this week, but Macha said Saturday that he expects to be back to serve the second season of his two-year contract.

“Yeah,” Macha said. “[But] stranger things have happened. I just want what’s best for the club.”

Melvin met individually with Macha and each of the Brewers’ coaches, an annual part of his evaluation of the team. After winning the National League Wild Card under interim manager Dale Sveum last season, the Brewers were eliminated from postseason contention this year with 11 games to play.  

The club’s performance has sparked a discussion of Macha’s job security, though Melvin has made mostly supportive comments. Earlier this week, Melvin wouldn’t rule out making a decision about Macha’s future before the team’s Oct. 4 season finale.

During their evaluation, Melvin sought Macha’s input on building the team for 2010. The fact he’s entering the final year of a contract was not brought up.

“We had a sit-down the other day, and it wasn’t even discussed, Macha said. “We talked about a whole bunch of stuff that we would like to address next year, so, yeah, if that bodes well, that’s it. … With all the conversations I’ve had with Doug, I feel comfortable.”

Here’s another clue that could bode well: Macha spent part of this week looking at apartments for next 2010.

“If I’m the guy next year I’ll certainly be doing my best to win as many games as we can,” he said. “I think that was our focus as the year went on this year.”

Melvin's staff evaluations complete

136151_ken_macha__doug_melvin.jpgBrewers general manager Doug Melvin has already wrapped up his annual end-of-season evaluations of the team’s manager and coaches, and wouldn’t rule out making a decision about manager Ken Macha’s future before the Oct. 4 season finale.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Melvin said. “I really haven’t.”

Melvin and Macha met for about two hours at Miller Park this week to analyze the season. That’s standard operating procedure for Melvin, who meets with members of the coaching staff each year to evaluate players and the individual staff member’s own performance.

Macha is finishing the first year of a two-year contract that he signed last October without using an agent. The topic of an extension never came up during his long meeting with Melvin, but neither did the prospect of making a change.

Entering their four-game series against the Phillies, the Brewers were 75-77 and had been formally eliminated from postseason contention.

Melvin will visit the Brewers’ instructional league team early next week but will rejoin the Brewers for their season-ending series in St. Louis on Oct. 2-4.

Melvin sounds off on September call-ups

Brewers GM Doug Melvin is about as mild-mannered as they come, except for two subjects: The First-Year Player Draft and expanded September rosters. Our fine Braves beat writer, Mark Bowman, wrote about the latter subject today and gave Melvin an opportunity to state his case.

It’s an interesting topic, and one that doesn’t get a lot of discussion because the focus is on pennant races. Melvin has some ideas to fix what he views as competitive imbalances. The Brewers, for the record, have 16 pitchers and 16 hitters on the active roster, though that includes a few extra arms to insure Yovani Gallardo, who has been shut down for the season, and Manny Parra, whose status remains in limbo because of a stiff neck.

Check out Mark’s story when you have a moment this evening and let me know what you think.

Attanasio: Talk of Melvin's job security 'ridiculous'

The Brewers don’t need a major overhaul to return to contention next season, and speculation about general manager Doug Melvin’s job security is “ridiculous,” the team’s principal owner said Wednesday.

“It seems like a cop-out to me to blow everything up and start from scratch,” said Mark Attanasio, who arrived at Wrigley Field this week for his first in-person look at the team in weeks. “We’ve built this team around a good core of players now for five years and we took a step back [this year]. We’d like to take two steps forward next year.”

sabathia.jpgThe Brewers won the National League Wild Card last season to earn their first postseason ticket in 26 years. This season has been just as successful at the gate — the Brewers will draw three million fans for the second straight season — but less so on the field. Entering play on Wednesday night, any combination of three Brewers losses and Cardinals wins would formally eliminate Milwaukee.  

“I try to take what I’ve learned from portfolio management and apply it to baseball, because investing is what I know,” Attanasio said. “There is a temptation when things are bad to change everything, right? But if, at the bottom of the market, you sold all of your beat-up stocks, you sold your financial services and home builders, those are the ones that have recovered the best.

“So we need to take a hard look of what we’ve got and not just see the bad. We have a lot of good here. We thought we had a team this year that was going to compete for the playoffs — and by the way, a lot of teams this year are surprised that they haven’t, including [the Cubs] — but we obviously didn’t have as good a team as we thought we had. But, we probably don’t have as bad a team as it may feel like we have now because we’re having some tough losses. I think we have to take a measured approach. Doug always takes a measured approach to things.

“If Doug were to end up deciding that he wanted to make significant changes, I would support that, but he’s certainly not getting any pressure from me to make significant changes because I do think that we have a pretty good core group of players.”

He also believes he has a pretty good GM. Last winter, he extended Melvin’s contract an additional three years, through 2012. On Wednesday, Attanasio squashed any speculation that he might consider a change considering the team’s disappointing showing in 2009.

“Ridiculous,” Attanasio said. “Doug is a very strong baseball guy and I believe that this year was an aberration. I’m encouraging him to continue to follow his instincts and not do anything different.”

Manager Ken Macha doesn’t have the same contractual cushion as Melvin. He signed a two-year contract prior to last season that runs only through 2010.

“I’m really leaving that to Doug,” Attanasio said. “I believe he’s said that he’s going to assess everything after the season. … I think Ken is a very strong baseball guy and he’s certainly put enormous effort into the team this season and we did sign him to a two-year contract, so I guess those are all facts. I will say that Doug is not getting any pressure from me to make a manager change, but he will make the decision.”

The more important decisions will be in player personnel, beginning with a pitching staff that entered Wednesday’s game next-to-last in the National League with a 4.79 ERA, including a starting rotation that ranked dead last at 5.19.

The only starter whose contractual situation is unclear for 2010 is right-hander Braden Looper, whose deal includes a mutual option. The Brewers will almost certainly exercise their half (it calls for a $6.5 million base salary) but it remains to be seen whether Looper seeks a better deal on the open market.

The Brewers’ other key free agents are closer Trevor Hoffman, center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall. The Brewers figure to hold payroll relatively steady next season — it was just over $80 million at the start of 2009 but has crept up to about $87 million with midseason additions — and adding depth to the pitching staff within that framework will probably dominate the offseason agenda.

“Doug and his team have had numerous conversations to figure out what went wrong and how do we fix it, and it’s very, very complex,” Attanasio said. “There are various things that did not work out this year relative to the pitching and we’re examining all of those. … With an offense like ours, you really just need your pitching to be average, and unfortunately it wasn’t this year.”

One way to improve the pitching, of course, would be to put one of the team’s young stars on the trading block. The name mentioned most is Prince Fielder, who is under contract through next season and then has one more year of arbitration-eligibility before reaching free agency in the winter of 2011-12.

Asked whether the team would consider trading Fielder this winter, Attanasio did not seem interested.

“I think that would be a very easy way to cop-out,” he said. “We’re not going to do that. Again, Doug is very methodical and needs to assess everything at the end of the season when the data is in and you certainly reserve the right to go look at that. If we study something and it’s the right thing to do, of course we would consider doing it.”

But Attanasio made it clear that he believes the team can return to prominence next season without so drastic a move.

“It’s very disappointing that these games in September don’t mean anything, but guess what?” he said. “They don’t mean anything for the Chicago Cubs, either. That’s kind of a shock. Or the Cincinnati Reds, who have a similar payroll to us. The only team in our division that seems to have got it right this season is the Cardinals.

“I do believe that this is a fixable situation, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy to fix. We have to make a number of right moves.”

Lots of questions ahead for Crew

I wrote a story earlier today about the slew of questions facing the Brewers this offseason, from free agents to arbitration-eligibles to players under control with uncertain positions. As much as was made about the Brewers losing CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets last season, you can argue that the questions facing general manager Doug Melvin this winter are even tougher.

So, I laid some of them out and found it helpful to rebuild the current roster in terms of players’ contractual status. Take a look and then tell me which areas Melvin should make his focus.

You can link to the story here, and for reference here’s the roster breakdown:

Brewers active roster and DL as of 9/10
(34 players)
FREE AGENTS
Mike Cameron
Frank Catalanotto
Craig Counsell
Trevor Hoffman
Jason Kendall
Felipe Lopez
Corey Patterson
Claudio Vargas
OPTIONS
Braden Looper (mutual)
David Weathers (club)
ARBITRATION
Dave Bush
Todd Coffey
Jody Gerut
J.J. Hardy
Corey Hart
Seth McClung
Mike Rivera (first time)
Carlos Villanueva (first time)
Rickie Weeks
MULTI-YEAR DEALS
Ryan Braun (through 2015)
Prince Fielder (through 2010, plus ’11 arbitration)
David Riske (through 2010)
Jeff Suppan (through 2010)
“ZERO-TO-THREE” PLAYERS
John Axford
Jason Bourgeois
Mark DiFelice
Alcides Escobar
Mat Gamel
Yovani Gallardo
Casey McGehee
Chris Narveson
Manny Parra
Chris Smith
Mitch Stetter

Gallardo's workload: What do you think?

Yovani Gallardo was outdueled again on Saturday, and now the question becomes how much more the Brewers will let their young ace duel this season.

Gallardo (12-11) took the loss despite his team-best 17th quality start this season while surpassing the 3,000-pitch threshold — a dangerous place, according to club officials, for a 23-year-old pitcher who missed all but four regular-season starts last season because of a knee injury. Considering that the Brewers’ elimination number — the combination of Brewers losses and Cardinals wins that would formally bounce Milwaukee from the NL Central race — fell to 12 on Saturday, the team is considering whether to limit Gallardo’s workload over the final four weeks of the season or just end his year entirely.

“We’ve talked about that,” general manager Doug Melvin said Saturday afternoon. “We did push this start back, and it will happen again. … We may [shut him down] later on, but I don’t know if he would want to do that, either, or if his agent would want that if he has a chance to win 15 games.”
 
Gallardo was originally lined up to pitch Thursday in St. Louis, but he was bumped two extra days to rest up for the Giants. A team off-day in the coming week means Gallardo will get at least one extra day before his next start, and manager Ken Macha may give him more.
 
“All I know is there will be another adjustment after this off-day [Thursday],” Macha said. “Maybe a couple of days. We’ll see how that all works out.”
 
Macha then changed the subject, promising reporters that he would have more on the Gallardo front — a “presentation” — on Sunday morning.

So we will see if Macha has anything for us today. In the meantime, if you were in charge, how would you handle Gallardo over the final four weeks of the season? 

Melvin was unmoved by Aug. 31 offers

By about 7 p.m. CT on Monday, four hours ahead of the deadline for teams to acquire players and have them eligible for postseason play, it became clear to general manager Doug Melvin that he would not be parting with any of his pending free agents.

“We had some activity, but in the end it just didn’t work out,” Melvin said on Tuesday, as the Brewers sat in third place, 12 games behind the first-place Cardinals ahead of a three-game series in St. Louis. “If you look at the players that [other] teams got, they didn’t get prospects, really.

“If you want to move the money on players, you can do that. But I wasn’t into that. I want to give the benefit of the doubt to our players, to keep the team together. Unless I thought I could do something that would really be beneficial to us this year or next, I wasn’t going to make a trade just to make a trade.”

Melvin wouldn’t say which of his players drew interest in the hours before the Aug. 31 deadline. But it makes sense to guess about players like center fielder Mike Cameron, who is due about $1.67 million in September and reportedly was getting interest on Monday. Cameron projects as a Type B free agent who could bring Draft compensation if he declines an arbitration offer from the Brewers signs elsewhere this winter, but because he earned $10 million this year, the Brewers probably won’t be inclined to extend the arbitration offer.

Craig Counsell is another plausible guess, since is is versatile defensively, would have come cheaply (Counsell is making $1 million this year) and could be considered expendable by the Brewers because he doesn’t qualify for Draft compensation, and because the team has plenty of infielders on hand with September call-ups. Teams may have also asked about right-hander Braden Looper, whose contract calls for a mutual option next year.

Melvin said that non-baseball factors, like the team’s robust attendance this season, or the fact that manager Ken Macha is only signed through 2010, had no bearing on his decision to keep the team intact.

“It all comes down to, are you going to get a player back?” Melvin said. “If not, I’m not going to make our club weaker for the next 30 days just to get a Minor League player that I don’t think is going to someday help the Major League club. … I didn’t have to move players because of salary and I didn’t want to move players because of that. I have respect for our players because they are good. And unless I felt I was getting something back that was worthy, I wasn’t going to make that kind of deal. A lot of deals on Aug. 31 are based around salary more than the quality of the prospects. 

“I want to play out the year,” he added. “There weren’t any trades out there that would have helped our team this year or next year.  As far as young players we want to see play, [Alcides] Escobar is already up here.”

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