Doug Melvin Rumors

Central Notes: Melvin, Larkin, Rodon

The Brewers‘ recent firing of Ron Roenicke raises questions about how long they will retain GM Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin is in the final year of his contract, and while there have been no specific indications that owner Mark Attanasio won’t retain him, not much has worked out right for Melvin in the past eight months or so. The team collapsed down the stretch last season, and then a roster that featured most of last year’s key players got off to a terrible start in 2015. One significant move (the addition of Adam Lind) has gone well, and as I wrote this spring, the Brewers’ offseason strategy was mostly defensible, although that was partially because the team’s lack of ready or near-ready young talent would make an aggressive rebuild long and painful. Haudricourt notes that fans are speculating about the possibility that Attanasio and Melvin have already agreed on a new deal for Melvin, but they don’t want to announce it because of how unpopular such a move would be among many fans right now. Here’s more from the Central divisions.

  • The Reds hired Hall of Famer and former superstar Barry Larkin as a roving minor-league infield instructor, but Larkin isn’t looking to get into managing quite yet, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes (with a transcript of a recent chat with the press in Florida courtesy of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Hook, Line and Sinker blog). “I interviewed for the Tampa Bay job. I talked to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski about the Tigers job last year,” says Larkin. “But I just don’t feel like I’m ready for that type of commitment. If I’m going to dive in, I need to be all in, and I’m just not quite at that point yet.” Larkin cites family commitments as a key reason for his reluctance.
  • Third overall 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon made his first big-league start Saturday night in the night game of a doubleheader for the White Sox against the Reds. Rodon was a bit wild, walking four in six innings, but he struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs while making a surprising 108 pitches. The White Sox plan to move Rodon back to the bullpen after tonight’s start in order to keep his innings count low, but tonight’s performance could be a promising indication of what’s to come.

Heyman On The Brewers: Counsell, Lucroy, Segura

In his newest column for CBS Sports, Jon Heyman examines how the Brewers are hopeful that new manager Craig Counsell can help turn the club around, yet GM Doug Melvin has also “already sent out feelers” to other teams if Milwaukee continues to struggle.  Here are more Brew Crew-related notes from Heyman’s piece…

  • Counsell received a strong vote of confidence from Melvin, which included an 18-point e-mail to owner Mark Attanasio arguing why Counsell was the ideal choice to replace Ron Roenicke.  As Heyman notes, the club may have been better served to fire Roenicke after last year’s late-season fade rather than guaranteeing his 2016 option and letting him continue to manage.
  • While Melvin is “planning to consider just about anything in terms of trades,” Jonathan Lucroy and Jean Segura (in that order) are the Brewers’ two most untouchable players.  “I guess you have to be open to everything. But you’d have to be overwhelmed….[Catcher and shortstop] are positions that can take years to fill,” Melvin said.
  • Carlos Gomez is likely the Brewers’ top trade chip, and would undoubtedly generate the most interest from other teams if he’s shopped.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explored Gomez’s trade candidacy in the subscriber-only MLBTR Newsletter.
  • The Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals all seem like fits for Kyle Lohse, rival GMs tell Heyman.  Lohse formerly pitched for the Cardinals and also has ties to Houston, as GM Jeff Luhnow was in the St. Louis front office when Lohse pitched for the team.  The surprising Astros have already been considering starting pitching upgrades, while the Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu) and Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia) are both looking to replace injured starters.
  • Matt Garza is owed roughly $35MM through the 2017 season and has a $13MM club option for 2018 that can vest into a guaranteed year.  With this in  mind, “I’m not sure anyone would want him,” a rival executive said about Garza, who has a 4.58 ERA and unimpressive peripherals over six starts.
  • Scooter Gennett received some interest from the Angels and others during the offseason and could be shopped again to clubs in need of second base help.

Brewers Notes: Attanasio, Melvin, Lucroy, Braun

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio indicated that his scuffling club is looking at all options, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports“Over 11 years, I’ve made some pretty tough decisions and I’m ready to make them again,” said Attanasio. “Whether it’s remodel, retool, rebuild, whatever it takes to bring winning baseball to Milwaukee is what I’m going to do. The organization always comes first to me and for everybody.” While the owner says that all members of the organization must be held accountable, he expressed confidence in GM Doug Melvin — though he also declined to address Melvin’s contract situation.

Milwaukee will face many tough questions over the coming months, and here are a few more notes on their current situation and future outlook:

  • The Brewers are telling other clubs that injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy is not available via trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. It is early, of course, and that stance could presumably always change with the right offer, but Milwaukee is presumably less than thrilled with the prospect of parting with perhaps its highest-value asset. The very same thing that makes Lucroy so appealing to the rest of the league — his top-level offensive and defensive production in an up-the-middle position at a bargain rate for multiple years — also make him an obvious player to build around in either a go-for-it or reloading scenario. Assuming his club option is picked up, the 28-year-old will earn just $12.25MM from the start of this season through 2017.
  • Whatever they may be saying in talks, the Brewers should strongly consider dealing Lucroy, in the opinion of Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That assessment is due in part to the fact that Lucroy’s cheap contract opens up a wide array of possible trade partners, to say nothing of the dearth of other available top-end options at the catching position. Of course, it bears noting that Lucroy is off to a rough start to the year (.133/.216/.178 in 51 plate appearances) and will be sidelined for another few weeks as he rehabs a broken toe. And Martin Maldonado, his quality backup, has also failed to deliver much offensively thus far in 2015.
  • J.P. Breen of Baseball Prospectus examines Ryan Braun‘s lack of productivity, noting that Braun’s ability to handle pitches on the inner third of the plate has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons. That was understandable in 2014, Breen points out, due to a devastating nerve issue in Braun’s thumb that made it difficult for him to even shake hands with another person, let alone play baseball. Braun began starting his swing early in an effort to keep up with fastballs that he could once handle, leaving him susceptible to breaking pitches away. Breen wonders if Braun may still be working to correct some of those bad habits he developed last year. Though he’s still whiffing on inside pitches, Braun has excellent exit velocity and hard-contact numbers, indicating that if he can close the hole in his swing, he could return to his status as a premier threat. However, as Breen concludes, any significant dip in production would mean that Braun likely won’t live up to his five-year, $105MM extension — a contract that begun only this season.


Extension Notes: Cueto, Zimmermann, Duda, Melvin

We just heard that the Angels and Huston Street could continue their efforts to find a new deal before he hits the open market, but the same may not be true of several other prominent free agents-to-be. Here’s the latest:

  • Johnny Cueto and the Reds are not expected to reach agreement, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, confirming the expectations from recent reports. As Cincinnati takes the field, it appears the start of Cueto’s last year with the club.
  • The same holds true of Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals, who as Morosi tweets never made progress on a new deal that could have kept him in D.C.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that he does not foresee restarting talks with first baseman Lucas Duda, as Matt Ehalt of the Record tweets. Of course, it seems likely that Alderson is merely referring to the notion that the team will not look to re-open talks during the coming season, not that it sees no future possibility of discussing a longer-term arrangement.
  • Meanwhile, it appears that an extension is all but a formality for the Brewers and GM Doug Melvin, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Owner Mark Attanasio says that he is still talking about a new deal with Melvin, with the major question being how long the veteran executive wants to stay at the helm.

NL Notes: Ichiro, Melvin, Rollins

New Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki says being an older free agent is like being an older dog in a pet store, Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal writes. “Amongst all the cute little puppies jumping and tumbling for prospective owners, there’s one who’s a little older, a little more mature, who keeps getting passed over for the more adorable ones,” says Ichiro. “When someone finally comes along and points a finger at him, an undying loyalty is born.” The 41-year-old Ichiro’s offseason training routine helps him stay relevant, Lefton writes. Ichiro works out at the Orix Buffaloes’ home park in Japan, with a pitcher who throws batting practice for him and another player he plays catch with. Ichiro might take 150 swings against live pitching each day in the offseason. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • GM Doug Melvin has recently discussed an extension to his contract with the Brewers, although it’s unlikely he and the team will agree to one before the season starts, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin’s contract expires after the 2015 season. Counting his previous job with the Rangers, Melvin has now been a GM for about two decades, and it sounds like he remains at least somewhat enthusiastic about continuing. “I still think I’m good at what I do and I still enjoy it,” he says. “I like the draft-and-development part of the job and that’s something we’ll always have to do in our market.”
  • The fact that he’s with the Dodgers now doesn’t mean Jimmy Rollins can’t relate to fans who dislike them, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “For a long time – you don’t hear ‘Beat the Dodgers,’ you don’t hear ‘Beat the Lakers,’ even the Clippers now – it’s ‘Beat L.A.,'” says Rollins. “It’s everything L.A. stands for. . . . I’ve heard [it] for the first time on this side, and I was cracking up. Because I know how the crowd feels, the fans feel, on the other side.” This isn’t the first interview Rollins has given about how strange it can feel for a player to spend years with one organization and then abruptly switch to another, but his perspective on a common but little-discussed situation is still refreshing to read.

Central Notes: Melvin, Garcia, Beckham, Twins

Now that the Brewers have settled Ron Roenicke’s contract situation, the focus has now naturally turned to GM Doug Melvin, whose own deal is set to expire after the 2015 season.  Talking with reporters, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links), Melvin said that he felt Roenicke’s extension was the more important deal to complete first so Roenicke wouldn’t have “lame duck” status hanging over him with the players.  Getting an extension of his own isn’t as important to Melvin at the moment, though he figures he may talk to owner Mark Attanasio about the topic at some point.

Here are some more items from around both the NL and AL Central…

  • Jaime Garcia‘s checkered injury history and high salary ($9.25MM in 2015 plus $500K to buy out his $11.5MM club option for 2016) make him a tough sell as a trade candidate, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in his breakdown of Garcia’s trade value.  The Cardinals could pay some money to help make a deal happen, though that presumes they want to deal Garcia at all — Miklasz notes that Garcia has pitched well this spring and could be a valuable depth piece for the Cards this season.
  • While the White Sox were looking for a player with Gordon Beckham‘s skillset this winter, GM Rick Hahn tells ESPN Chicago’s Doug Padilla that he initially didn’t consider Beckham “because I didn’t think this was necessarily right fit for Gordon Beckham, individually.”  Hahn felt Beckham might be better suited to getting a fresh start with a club rather than returning to his original team, but after discussing the matter with Beckham and his agent, the infielder assured the GM that he was happy and eager to return to Chicago.  From that same piece, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that the Halos “were competitive” in making Beckham an offer close to the $2MM he received from the Sox.
  • Danny Santana‘s $530K salary for 2015 makes him the highest-paid of the Twins‘ pre-arbitration players, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  Berardino has the full list of salaries for all 17 Minnesota pre-arb players.

Brewers Notes: Melvin, Roenicke, Bullpen, Third Base

In December, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who is entering the final year of his contract, could be on the hot seat if the team falters in the increasingly competitive NL Central. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwauke Journal Sentinel, in a recent chat, speculated, if Melvin isn’t extended during Spring Training, the whispers will grow if the Brewers stumble out of the gate. Haudricourt adds Melvin’s future, and that of manager Ron Roenicke, isn’t necessarily tied to the Brewers making the playoffs, but how the team plays over the course of the season, if they remain healthy.

In other Brewers notes from Haudricourt:

  • The Brewers have eight bullpen candidates on their 40-man roster (in addition to non-roster invitees Chris Perez and Dontrelle Willis). Haudricourt does not envision the club carrying eight relievers, so a trade is likely.
  • Closer Francisco Rodriguez is in the process of obtaining his work visa and the Brewers hope he arrives in camp by the end of the week, Haudricourt tweets. Rodriguez agreed to a two-year, $13MM deal with the Brewers last month.
  • With Aramis Ramirez announcing 2015 will be his last season and no obvious replacement within the organization, the Brewers will give waiver claim Luis Jimenez first crack. If Jimenez struggles, Haudricourt thinks Milwaukee will use its shortstop depth to acquire a third baseman.
  • Despite that shortstop depth, Haudricourt does not see current shortstop Jean Segura being moved to the hot corner because of his lack of power.
  • Haudricourt also downplays the likelihood of Brewers 2012 first-rounder Clint Coulter, drafted as a catcher, being moved to third base. The organization did consider such a switch, but believe his bat (.287/.410/.520 with 22 home runs in 529 plate appearances for Class A Appleton) and arm will translate better to the outfield allowing him to reach the Majors faster.

Brewers Notes: Bullpen, Braun, Nelson, Henderson, Thornburg

Exactly one week after the trade of Yovani Gallardo was first reported, Milwaukee hosted its annual winter fan festival Brewers On Deck. One year ago, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio opened the event by announcing the signing of Matt Garza to the richest free agent contract in franchise history. Today, Attanasio told the crowd he will be very surprised if the Brewers do not make one more signing before Spring Training starts, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. GM Doug Melvin has said his focus is strengthening the bullpen and told the assemblage, as tweeted by Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin, he is having negotiations with a few people and there is a chance of adding a reliever. Melvin downplayed the Jonathan Papelbon rumors while Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted he feels a reunion is in store with Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 44 games for the Brewers last year.

In other news and notes coming out of Brewers On Deck:

  • Ryan Braun‘s right thumb, which has plagued him for the past two seasons, is feeling fine allowing him to perform his normal offseason regimen with no restrictions, reports Haudricourt. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure on the thumb last October and there are no current plans or need for a follow up session, tweets Haudricourt’s Journal Sentinel colleague Todd Rosiak.
  • Attanasio addressed the Gallardo trade (transcript provided by Rosiak). “I could go on and on about how terrific Yovani Gallardo was for our team and the city. There’s a huge amount of risk in doing that. But in the nature of the sport, we need to do that. The goal is not to be average in Milwaukee.
  • The Gallardo deal has left the Brewers without any proven MLB rotation depth which concerns manager Ron Roenicke, Rosiak tweets. Roenicke, however, maintains the team has some good prospects who could step up.
  • I don’t think we have room for a notable starting pitcher,” said Melvin, per Gruman (Twitter). “We’d like to add a pitcher that could be a spot starter.
  • Filling Gallardo’s void in the rotation will be Jimmy Nelson who told Haudricourt he knows why he struggled in 2014. “The problem was when I got to the big leagues I got away from my game plan. The things I was doing to be successful, I got away from that when I got up here.
  • Jim Henderson, who missed most of 2014 battling bone spurs in his right shoulder, began throwing off a mound last week and will have his first true bullpen sessions this week, McCalvy tweets.
  • Fellow right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who also missed most of 2014, says platelet-rich plasma therapy and lots of rest has helped heal his UCL injury and is throwing two bullpens per week and plans on being ahead of schedule when pitchers and catcher report next month, according to Gruman (Twitter links).
  • The Brewers introduced a new addition to their mascot family: Barrelman. No word if he and Bernie Brewer will have joint custody of the slide.

NL Notes: Brewers, Marlins

Earlier today, we learned the Brewers will conduct an offseason review of the club. Owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin met with media moments ago to discuss the state of the franchise. As part of the press conference, we learned that Melvin’s job is safe, tweets Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Manager Ron Roenicke and the rest of the coaching staff will be evaluated after the season, according to Rosiak (also on Twitter). Melvin explained that the club will evaluate the team’s play at home (tweet). He also expressed some concern about clubhouse attitudes, saying, “I’m going find out about who cares about winning and losing (tweet).”
  • Attanasio will also be involved in the evaluation process. He’ll meet with select players to learn what the club is missing, tweets Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Per Attanasio, “if we’re not making any changes, we’d better have a damn good reason for why.”
  • It’s been 11 years since the Marlins have reached the postseason, and club president David Samson views Giancarlo Stanton as crucial  to an October return, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The Marlins, who haven’t seen postseason action since 2003, now possess the third longest playoff drought after the Blue Jays (1993) and Mariners (2001). As for locking up Stanton, Samson had this to say on the subject: “I’m very much looking forward to sitting down and talking to Giancarlo at the end of the season, which we promised to do and we want to do.”

NL Central Notes: Martin, Huntington, Brewers, Cubs

As a former player, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly can relate to what Cubs prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are going through, writes David Just of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s just a time factor with the young guys,” Mattingly said. “They can look good right away, and the next year they come out and it doesn’t look good. Or they can look kind of shaky and figure a lot of it out. So time is going to tell.” As a youngster, Mattingly got off to a slow start with the Yankees, hitting .278 with a .326 on-base percentage in his first 98 games during the 1982 and ’83 seasons. He then led the American League in hits, doubles, and batting average in 1984.

Here’s the latest from the NL Central:

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington says re-signing catcher Russell Martin is a priority for the franchise, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We are going to try to do everything we can to keep Russ,” said Huntington. “We’d love nothing more than to have (Martin) in a Pirates uniform.
  • Huntington, however, reiterated the Pirates will not veer from their financial philosophy. “We’re going to continue to have to pay guys for what we believe they’re going to do, and not what they’ve done,” said Huntington (as quoted by MLB.com’s Stephen Pianovich). “The bigger markets certainly have luxury to be able to extend much beyond comfort levels to pay an extra year or two, to pave over prior mistakes with more money.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin does not “think there’s a need to go out and try to get another starter” and will instead focus on offense this offseason, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The Brewers are all but certain to pick up the $13MM option on Yovani Gallardo, McCalvy opines.
  • The Brewers‘ biggest offseason decisions will be the infield corners and whether to exercise Gallardo’s option, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a recent chat. The Brewers will consider both internal and external options at first base, but Haudricourt notes finding productive first basemen is easier said than done.
  • In a separate piece, Haudricourt writes Rickie Weeks is nearing the end of his tenure with the Brewers (his $11.5MM option isn’t expected to be exercised), but the team’s senior member in terms of service time is not thinking about 2015. “I’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Weeks said. “I’m still with the Brewers right now. That’s the way I look at it.
  • What we’d really like is to have a bunch of really good baserunners,” is what Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, when asked about the club’s 2015 wish list.