MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Thursday downplayed a report that the Brewers will explore extensions for starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. It's true that the Brewers have interest in keeping both players after their contracts expire next fall, but no discussions have commenced or are imminent."A lot of that stuff happens later," Melvin said. "We would probably want to sit down and think about where we're at, but there is a high possibility we would engage." The Brewers are also open to talking with closer John Axford and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Axford projects as arbitration-eligible after the 2012 season, and Lucroy either after 2012 or 2013, depending on the cutoff for Super 2 status.
Brewers begin pursuit of new hitting coach
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers were already preparing for the departure of hitting coach Dale Sveum before the rival Chicago Cubs announced him as their new manager on Thursday.Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spoke via telephone earlier in the day with Sveum, who had also been in the running for the Red Sox's managerial vacancy. At that time, nothing had been finalized with the Cubs. "I think he's ready to manage, and he gets to do it for a club he's familiar with," Melvin said. Sveum played parts of five seasons in Milwaukee from 1986-91, a tenure interrupted by a major leg injury, and had been on the Brewers' staff since 2006 as a third-base coach, bench coach and most recently as hitting coach. He is the second former Brewer to take over a National League Central rival this week; Mike Matheny was named Cardinals skipper on Monday. Now the Brewers need a new hitting coach, and Melvin will consult with manager Ron Roenicke before coming up with a candidate list. When Roenicke was hired by the Brewers in October 2010, he had less input, which is typical for rookie managers. Melvin will recommend Triple-A hitting coach Sandy Guerrero, who is coming off his third season at Nashville and his ninth as a coach in Milwaukee's Minor League system. "Sandy is a very qualified guy," Melvin said. "He's had a big role in our organization with our Minor League guys, too. He's very familiar with our players." Melvin would not rule out discussing the job with Craig Counsell. The Brewers have said they do not intend to offer a 2012 contract to Counsell, who turned 41 last season, and Melvin wants to meet in the coming days to discuss Counsell's plans. Agent Barry Meister said Counsell had not ruled out playing in 2012. Melvin did not anticipate getting permission to speak to coaches from other teams. "We'll have to get on that pretty quick, because most clubs have their people tied up and you can't really get permission on a lot of guys at this point," Melvin said.
Their schedules never did allow Melvin and Jimmy Rollins' agent, Dan Lozano, to chat in person before General Managers Meetings broke up Thursday. Melvin spent the week checking in with the representatives for all of the free-agent shortstops, but Rollins is probably not a fit considering his likely asking price."You think you hear, [where a player may sign], but you just have to stay on top of it in case something changes," Melvin said. Asked whether the same wait-and-see philosophy could apply to reliever Francisco Rodriguez, one of Milwaukee's free agents, Melvin said, "Probably not. He wants to close." Rodriguez was extremely effective as a setup man to closer John Axford after a July trade from the Mets, but he accepted the role with some hesitation. Since the Brewers are set at closer with Axford -- and may approach him at some point in the coming months about an extension, Melvin said -- it means Rodriguez is not a fit. The Brewers need eighth-inning options, but will have to look elsewhere. With Rodriguez, the bigger question is whether the Brewers will offer him arbitration. If they do, and he declines to seek a multiyear contract from someone else, Milwaukee would get compensation in next year's Draft. But if he accepts, he would be signed for 2012 at a salary above the $11.5 million he earned in '11. The Brewers must make the call on Rodriguez and their other compensation-eligible free agents by 10:59 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo finished seventh in NL Cy Young Award balloting and Axford was eighth. Gallardo tallied five points, running fourth on one ballot and fifth on two. The Orioles may talk to longtime Brewers coach Bill Castro about being their bullpen coach. Castro has spent the last 37 seasons in the Brewers' organization, including 18 years on the Major League coaching staff, and more recently has served as a pitching advisor for Latin America. He worked alongside new Orioles GM Dan Duquette in Milwaukee's scouting department in the mid-1980s. The Brewers will have to make some additions to the 40-man roster on Friday to protect certain prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Among the strong candidates are outfielder Caleb Gindl, infielder Zelous Wheeler and left-hander Dan Meadows. The Brewers currently have nine openings on the roster.