Inbox: Talking future of Fielder, Braun
Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers Brewers fans' questions
Welcome back to the Inbox, which was neglected so long it was still stocked with excitement about Mark Mulder and Carlos Gomez. Mulder never played for the Brewers, of course, and while Gomez did, the more recent messages carry a slightly different tone.So it's time to clean things up and look ahead to 2011, the beginning of the Ron Roenicke era in Milwaukee. Thanks to those who helped me restock the Inbox with questions. Let's get to them: OK, I get trading Prince Fielder, but what do you think about Peter Gammons reporting that the Brewers might trade Ryan Braun? If you had to put odds on either guy getting dealt this winter, what would they be?
-- Danielle K., Madison Braun: 1,000 to 1. Fielder: let's say even money. I'll explain. With apologies to Bob Brenly, the Braun thing might have been the first great false alarm of the Brewers' Hot Stove season. Gammons, the MLB.com contributor, said on NESN that, "I think one name to watch -- and I don't know if it will happen or not -- but there is some talk in Milwaukee that Ryan Braun could get traded. I think the Red Sox would jump big into that if they could possibly get him." Somehow, that translated to, "OH MY GOD, the Brewers are shopping Ryan Braun!" But that's not what Gammons said, if you actually look, and I have a hard time seeing any scenario in which any team offers the Brewers enough to make general manager Doug Melvin think about dealing Braun. Braun will earn $4 million in 2011, $6 million in 2012, $8.5 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015, when he's 31 years old. If he maintains his level of production, he'll be a bargain. But if the Red Sox put up Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, would the Brewers listen? Absolutely. But that's not going to happen. So let's move on to something that could happen: A Fielder trade. I couple of months ago I would have pegged the likelihood he's dealt before Opening Day way higher, but I'm beginning to wonder whether the market has changed to the point that Melvin will hold on to his first baseman and try to win with him instead. The prevailing notion is that the Brewers wanted two Major League-ready pitchers for Fielder, and didn't get offered more than one. The market values pitching more than ever, and the Giants' World Series win only reinforces that idea that you win with arms. Now, here we are, with Fielder one season shy of free agency and coming off (by his high standards) a subpar season. The Brewers may have to reconsider their asking price, and even if they do, would a team offer a Daniel Hudson-type pitcher (a deal Melvin reportedly turned down in July) for Fielder? We'll see. I'm starting to think that we'll see Fielder back in Brewers blue at Maryvale Baseball Park. Melvin says that he won't go into the FA market. THE BEST PITCHER -- Cliff Lee -- is available!
-- Ben W., Janesville, Wis.
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That's easy to say and very difficult to pull off. Just for argument's sake, let's suppose that the Brewers are willing to break the bank for Lee, who, by the way, is 32 now and would be 37 by the end of a five-year contract, the shortest term offered by baseball executives who were asked by ESPN.com to predict Lee's future. He would be 39 at the end of a seven-year contract like the one CC Sabathia scored a couple of years ago.The bigger hurdle is that Lee might not (probably wouldn't?) even listen to an offer from the Brewers in the first place. This is the hurdle that bothers Melvin the most -- that even if you're willing to pay the going rate of a free agent, he almost always has a short list of teams he would consider, and that list almost never includes Milwaukee. That bias also comes into play in trades, as Melvin found out last winter when he made a strong offer for then-Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and was turned down. Melvin says his offer was better than the Phillies', but Halladay wouldn't approve a trade to Milwaukee. So Melvin usually has to operate in the second tier of free agents. Even that can be difficult. Do you think the Brewers should go after Jorge De La Rosa of Colorado?
-- Kevin R., Janesville, Wis. I'd be very surprised if they did. Melvin has been talking a lot this year about how the free-agent market for pitchers is a minefield, and it seems to me that the Brewers know first-hand that De La Rosa could blow up. I would expect the Brewers to check in on De La Rosa, but I don't think they will get into a bidding war for him. Will we see Brett Lawrie in the bigs next year? Seems to be on the Braun/Rickie Weeks/Fielder track, but he's blocked by Weeks at second base.
-- Mark, Madison, Wis. Lawrie is tough to figure out. He can hit, but word is that he still has some things to learn about professionalism and being a good teammate. In a perfect world, I think the Brewers would like him to play a full season at Triple-A before they consider him as a September callup. What happens with Weeks -- who, like Fielder, has one arbitration season remaining before he hits free agency -- will determine what happens with Lawrie. Here's another scenario we shouldn't forget: If the Brewers are unhappy with their offers for Fielder, perhaps they would consider fielding interest in Lawrie. I could see him landing a pitching prospect in return. Have you heard any comments from any players about Roenicke?
-- Ben W., Janesville, Wis. Yes, all positive, which is to be expected in this honeymoon phase. I will write about some players' reactions to the new skipper later this offseason, once Roenicke has called around. He's planning to introduce himself to players after setting his coaching staff. The Milwaukee Brewers have entered a lame duck season in Maryvale as their spring home, and Arizona recently stated that tax monies won't be used in anymore Spring Training complexes in the state anymore after the backlash over the Cubs' new facility. With City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla., being rumored as a possible destination for the Brewers in the future, the Fort Myers officials have stated they plan on making a move on Milwaukee. Is Fort Myers a realistic destination or the officials in Fort Myers just dreaming big?
-- Elcie W., Nashville Check your timeline: My understanding is that the Brewers' lease at Maryvale Baseball Park runs through the end of 2012 Spring Training. But, the point remains, that the team's long-term future there is in limbo. I've learned that it's next to impossible to know what is really going on in these discussions, because it is all politicking -- both sides trying to pressure the other into concessions. All I do know is that the Brewers have had discussions with the City of Phoenix about what the club views as necessary improvements at Maryvale Baseball Park, but that those talks are in the very early stages. If they do not progress, then I'm sure we'll hear more rumors about a move to Florida. Personally, I sure hope they stay. The Arizona fan experience is excellent, and will get better with all 15 Cactus League teams in the metro Phoenix area beginning in 2011. I drove past the progress at the Rockies' and D-backs' new facility last month, and it looks top-notch.