11/28/07 5:44 PM ET
GM Melvin looking at many options
Brewers need to fill hole in left field, bolster relief corps
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
"There's a bunch of different avenues we can go down," manager Ned Yost said early this month.Elsewhere around the diamond, the Brewers appear relatively set. Braun (.324 batting average, 34 home runs, 97 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 2007), right fielder Hart (.295 average, 24 homers, 81 RBIs and 23 steals) and shortstop Hardy (.277, 26 homers, 80 RBIs) established themselves as big league regulars alongside super sophomore Prince Fielder, who improved in every offensive category, including home runs, leading the National League in that category with 50. Second baseman Weeks remains a bit of a question mark in the health department but compiled a .442 on-base percentage after returning from a Minor League assignment on Aug. 10. Weeks also made enough strides defensively, according to Brewers coaches, to cement the second-base job. The catcher's spot also appears locked up since the Brewers traded away Johnny Estrada in favor of free agent Jason Kendall, the only Major League catcher to start at least 130 games in each of the past five seasons, according to Melvin. The team has Mike Rivera, Eric Munson and possibly Vinny Rottino as backup options and apparently will not pursue another catcher. If the Brewers do add a position player during the Meetings, don't be surprised if he's not a run-producer. "We'll look at what's out there," Melvin said earlier this offseason. "But we're not as concerned with slugging from that spot, because we feel we have that at other places on the ballclub." Like the other 29 teams, the Brewers will discuss pitching at the Winter Meetings. Melvin is looking to bolster a relief corps that ranked 12th of 16 NL teams with a 4.15 ERA and is now missing its best member. Cordero set a franchise record with 44 saves in 2007, and the Brewers may be forced to move setup man Derrick Turnbow back to closer for 2008. After two consecutive seasons in which Turnbow was under the microscope, he's a major question mark. The Brewers appear stocked in the starting rotation and have reportedly fielded interest in a number of players, including left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Dave Bush, both of whom are arbitration-eligible. Claudio Vargas, another arbitration-eligible player, could also be moved. "We still have some depth at starting pitching," said Melvin, who pointed out that free agent starters have been slow to sign, which could cool the trade market. Melvin has been active at the Winter Meetings before, despite a quiet week in Orlando, Fla., last year. In December 2005, the Brewers sent Lyle Overbay to Toronto for a package that included Bush and Gross, opening first base for Fielder. The year before that in Anaheim, Calif., Melvin traded for slugging outfielder Carlos Lee.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.