Results tagged ‘ Jarrod Washburn ’

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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Brewers were close to three-team deadline deal

The Brewers were so close to completing what general manager Doug Melvin called a “big,” three-team trade for a pitcher ahead of Friday’s nonwaiver Trade Deadline that Ken Macha tuned into the MLB Network in the visiting manager’s office at PETCO Park and waited to see the news break.

It never did.

The deal fizzled, and the pitcher in question wasn’t traded. Because of that fact, Macha and Melvin refused to talk about the blockbuster that wasn’t — Melvin did assure reporters that the pitcher in question wasn’t Toronto’s Roy Halladay — and the Brewers were left to soldier on with a weakened starting rotation that will be re-joined Saturday by right-hander Mike Burns.

Macha didn’t sugarcoat the factors that brought back Burns, who was bounced from the rotation and then returned to Triple-A Nashville after going 2-3 in five Brewers starts.

“We have kind of depleted all of the options,” Macha said.

Melvin wanted to bolster those options. He talked extensively to the Mariners about left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who instead went to the Tigers on Friday. Melvin also showed interest as recently as Thursday in Royals right-hander Brian Bannister, but Kansas City held onto him. He called on D-backs left-hander Doug Davis and, to a lesser degree, Jon Garland, both of whom stayed put. Melvin never got serious about the Padres’ Jake Peavy, who went to the White Sox, because he knew Milwaukee couldn’t put together the package of pitchers necessary to get him.

The Brewers will face one of those pitchers, lefty Clayton Richard, on Saturday at PETCO Park.

The trouble, Melvin said, is that San Diego wasn’t the only team seeking young arms in the high levels of the Minor Leagues. All of Milwaukee’s pitching prospects are lower in the system including right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who might have been an interesting chip were he not serving a 50-game suspension. At the same time, Melvin made it clear early that he was hesitant to trade his top offensive prospects: Third baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alcides Escobar.

“Most teams are looking for one or two guys who are closer to the big leagues,” Melvin said. “We’ve been a team that’s drafted real well on the positional side.”

Melvin was hopeful that he’d have a match with Seattle because Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was Milwaukee’s scouting director until last fall, and he knows the Brewers’ farm system as well as anyone. For two months of Washburn, a free agent at season’s end, Zduriencik received two left-handers: Luke French, who was in the Tigers’ rotation, and Mauricio Robles, a top prospect who was at Class A.  

“I didn’t think on Washburn we were ever close,” Melvin said.

But Melvin was near to completing, “a much bigger deal,” that was so close to happening that within a half hour of the 3 p.m. CT deadline to deal players without first exposing them to waivers, Melvin had principal owner Mark Attanasio waiting near a phone, ready to approve a deal. When the three-team proposal fell apart, Melvin had another trade possibility in the works within 10 minutes of the deadline.

“It just didn’t happen,” Melvin said. “Both of them revolved around what another team was doing. Those are always tough.”

So who was involved in the mysterious big one? Macha would only reveal that it was not a pitcher who would have been available to start for the Brewers on Saturday. Melvin wouldn’t say, either, even when a reporter presented him with some possible names. One of them was Atlanta right-hander Javier Vazquez, who had just pitched on Thursday, but a National League scout offered assurances that the Brewers and Braves weren’t talking about Vazquez on Friday. 

The Brewers’ quiet Deadline day left fans, more than two million of whom have already packed into Miller Park this season, venting their disappointment on talk radio and Internet message boards.

“I talked to him an hour and a half before the [Deadline] and he told me had another thing that he thought he was going to get done,” Macha said of his midday chat with Melvin. “I’m sure that he’s just as disappointed as all the other people.”

On the other hand, Melvin received as many as 50 messages of support, many of them via e-mail from fans who were glad to see him thinking about the future by keeping Gamel and Escobar in the fold.

“How can people judge what’s there when they don’t know what was involved?” Melvin said. “Had we made a deal involving some of the players we talked about, I’m pretty sure they would have been disappointed, too. …

“With every deal you talk about, there’s some hurdle you have to get over. It’s not just as easy as, ‘Why didn’t you give up this guy for that guy?'”

Teams can still make trades in August, but players must pass through waivers first. Players must be on a team’s roster by midnight ET on Aug. 31 to qualify for postseason rosters.

Melvin will remain on the prowl, and he still has the postseason in mind.

“A lot of things have to go right,” he conceded. “A lot of teams still feel they are in races, and we feel we’re in the race. Teams could have injuries. But in our situation, we’re going to have to play very well and be consistent. … We can’t have anything else go wrong, and we have to have a few things go right.”

Minus Suppan, Melvin still shopping

I just called Brewers general manager Doug Melvin to see if the news of Jeff Suppan’s rib-cage strain — an injury that often sends a pitcher to the disabled list — changes his plan of attack for Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

The answer was no.

“We’re still looking for guys who are available,” Melvin said. “We’d like to get a starter. We’ll have to wait a few days before we find out [about Suppan]. We’ll evaluate then.”

Even if it’s bad news, Melvin will be smart about his aggressiveness on the market.

“I’m not going to go out and give up a better player just because Suppan is out,” he said.

Suppan underwent an MRI scan on Tuesday after complaining of tightness in his side. Right-hander Dave Bush is already on the disabled list with a triceps injury, Seth McClung and Mike Burns were tried out as starters and then bounced from the rotation (McClung is now hurt and Burns is back in Triple-A). Another new starter, Carlos Villanueva, allowed five runs in four innings on Tuesday.

“It’s been tough right now even though we’ve been healthy,” Melvin said. “I have confidence in these guys getting better, but we haven’t pitched well. When you’re not going well, you don’t get the breaks, either.”

Melvin confirmed that he remains in touch with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who holds a chip in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who was 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA ahead of his Tuesday night start in Toronto. Washburn, a Wisconsin native, is a free agent after the season, and FOXSports.com speculated that Zduriencik, Milwaukee’s former scouting director, might consider injured second baseman Rickie Weeks in return. Zduriencik drafted Weeks in 2003.

Acknowledging only that the teams have been linked in published reports, Melvin said, “We’d like to add a starter, but Jack hasn’t decided yet if he would move one or not.”

Melvin will travel with the team to the West Coast on Thursday evening.  
 

Brewers' Macha hints of pre-deadline trade

Tim Dillard joined the Brewers from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday, when manager Ken Macha wondered aloud whether the team, strapped for starters, might get even more help ahead of Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

“The trading deadline is coming and Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee’s general manager] is trying to help the club,” Macha said. “I don’t want to try to create expectations, but he’s trying to make the club better and I’m sure if he finds a starting pitcher who can help out, it’s something he would do.

“Here again, the starters that are available are kind of limited, and expensive.”

Macha was asked whether he’d be surprised if the Brewers failed to make an addition before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

“I just know how much effort has been put into trying to look at our needs as a whole and fill those needs,” Macha said. “Typically, when you get into this, the further away you are from the deadline, the higher the price is. The closer you get to the deadline, [prices drop]. It’s a bit of a waiting game.”

Of principal owner Mark Attanasio, who was in Milwaukee over the weekend to participate in trade talks, Macha said, “I think Mark is a very competitive guy, and he wants to win. Not only that, but we have a tremendous fan base here and the fans are supporting us. [Attanasio] is very appreciative of that. He showed last year that he’s willing to go out there [and make a trade].”

At the same time, Macha cautioned, Attanasio and Melvin want to field a perennially competitive team, and thus they are hesitant to gut the farm system.

“It’s a balancing act,” Macha said.

The Brewers have been linked oin published reports to all of the supposedly available arms, from Toronto’s Roy Halladay and Cleveland’s Cliff Lee at the top of the list to Arizona’s Doug Davis and Jon Garland, Seattle’s Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn and Kansas City’s Brian Bannister.

The deadline is at 3 p.m. CT on July 31. Teams can still make trades after that, but players must pass through waivers first.

UPDATE at 2 p.m. CT, when I noticed that Bedard went back on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder. Will that make Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, whose club is a surprising contender, more or less likely to trade Wisconsin native Washburn? 

 

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