Melvin's expectations high for Brewers
General manager fields fans' questions during Webchat
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin chatted online with fans from Spring Training camp on Friday. After a successful 2005 campaign, the Brewers continue to build and develop young players to meet the high expectations for this season.
Ashley_Kolata: Mr. Melvin, Corey Hart has been having a pretty good Spring Training this year. Is he going to start the year at Miller Park or in the Minors?
Doug Melvin: We haven't made our final decision yet, but Corey is viewed as an extra outfielder and also will be playing first base at times against some left-handed pitchers.
Craig_Marshall: Wednesday's reports stated that Ben Sheets felt fine in his workout. Is there anymore news regarding his current health and is he still planning on starting the year on the disabled list?
Melvin: More than likely he will start the season on the DL but we are feeling very optimistic with his return early in the season.
John_Morey: What are Vinny Rottino's chances of making the squad? He has had a great spring.
Melvin: Vinny had a very good Spring Training and we all root for him. I would be surprised if he's not in the big leagues sometime during the season.
gameman88: I was just wondering how hard was it to actually make the Richie Sexson trade way back when. He was a real fan favorite and a 40 home run hitter. Did you ever think that it would be as brilliant of a trade as it has become at this time?
Melvin: Obviously we're still benefiting from the trade and it has helped us to reach the competitive level we are at now. Because Richie is such a good player, our expectations were to get back some contributing players.
brewers19: Dave Bush has been stellar so far this spring. Granted, Spring Training stats should be taken with a grain of salt, but how high is his ceiling?
Melvin: David has had a very good spring. A player's performance will dictate how high his ceiling is, but we feel confident he can fit in the front end of our rotation with a few more years of experience.
coghlanjr: As a fan, I want to say thanks for all that you do. I've never been as excited as I am this year about the Milwaukee Brewers. How do you attract fans to Miller Park who have stopped being fans over the past few years?
Melvin: As a general manager I want to thank you, the fans, and being patient in allowing us to put this kind of ballclub together. With a more talented club and a roster of players who exemplify good character and passion for the game, that will be the reason fans return to Miller Park.
kyle_scidmore: What exactly got you interested in wanting to be a big league GM?
Melvin: As a Minor League player I really wasn't interested in becoming a GM. When my career as a Minor League player ended, my positions as a farm director, scouting director and assistant GM led to becoming a general manager.
kyle_scidmore: What gives you the instincts to make some of the trades you have made?
Melvin: Good scouting, good support staff. There are a lot of people involved in making the decisions -- ownership, support staff like Reid Nichols, Jack Zduriencik and pro scouting director Dick Groch. I'm just the person who ends up pushing the button after getting everyone's input.
brewers19: A few people were vocally opposed to the World Baseball Classic, most notably George Steinbrenner. What was your initial opinion of the concept and how important do you feel it has been towards baseball as a whole?
Melvin: I was always supportive of the Classic and still feel very confident that it will help our game grow throughout the world. I believe the next time it's played that you will see more players want to play and be a part of it than the first time around.
nosense: What is the best thing you like about Corey Koskie?
Melvin: I like his presence in the clubhouse and how he prepares for the game. He is very competitive and brings experience and a blue-collar type work ethic to our ballclub.
Joe_Arena: Is it harder to be a general manager with all of the expectations everyone has of the Brewers now, or was it more difficult when the Brewers were a mediocre club?
Melvin: We all thrive for high expectations. You start every season hoping your club is going to be competitive. Instead of saying the job is harder, there are different challenges as a GM under both conditions.
max_kraft: What player in your Minor League system do you think will make the biggest impact on the Brewers Major League team if brought up?
Melvin: Dana Eveland, Zach Jackson and Nelson Cruz are players close to the big leagues who could have some impact on our club during the '06 season.
max_kraft: How much of a chance do you think the Brewers have of making the playoffs?
Melvin: Our goal is to make the playoffs. Last year we contended more than people realized. We hope to build on that and be in the running for playoff baseball for a number of years.
ayountfan: With all of the expectations and excitement this season, it kind of reminds me of the early 1980s with this ballclub. How important is it for this team to get out of the gate fast and win early in the season?
Melvin: It's important, but also it is just as important to finish strong. The most important thing is to be consistent throughout the year and avoid a long losing streak. Over the course of a 162-game season teams will have losing streaks -- some at the start of the season, some in the middle, some at the end.
Greg_Giesen: How much has Rickie Weeks' defense improved during Spring Training?
Melvin: Robin Yount and Dale Sveum both recently told me they're pleased with the progress of Rickie at second base.
Ashley_Kolata: Which team was your favorite growing up?
Melvin: I was a Detroit Tigers fan. I wanted to be Ernie Harwell. Growing up I wanted to be a Major League player, but if I couldn't do that I wanted to be a broadcaster, and I grew up listening to him.
Greg_Giesen: The Brewers have more talent than they've had in years past. How do you think that will translate in terms of competing in the difficult NL Central?
Melvin: There is no doubt that our talent level is much better than in previous years. We have great respect for the Central Division. With the Cardinals having a Hall of Fame manager, a National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner they still are the team to beat.
diehard331: Are you concerned with the performances from your pitchers this spring? Other than Dave Bush, we have been getting hammered pretty bad.
Melvin: I am concerned a little bit about our pitching but also confident it will get better once the season starts. Most recently, Tomo Ohka has pitched better and Chris Capuano threw much better his last outing, so there are signs our pitching will be better once we open the season.
Jason_Vredeveld: Doug, what position currently on this team do you feel you would still like to upgrade?
Melvin: We feel pretty comfortable with the current positional players.
brewski25: How much emphasis is being placed on batters working the count better with runners in scoring position? The Brewers as a team overall seem to be very poor at working the count and making the pitcher work.
Melvin: I think sometimes our batters are not as aggressive with runners in scoring position. While players work very hard at being selective and working the count, I think sometimes it has an adverse effect when doing that with runners on base.
kyle_scidmore: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received in terms of baseball?
Melvin: The best piece of advice is to listen to people with experience. The first job I got with the Yankees after I was done playing I was surrounded by people like Yogi Berra, Mickey Vernon, Jim Hegan, and Clyde King who are all good baseball people. I was always told to just grasp as much knowledge as you can from people who have been in the game for years.
Base_Ball_4: Hey Doug, why do you think Geoff Jenkins has never received a Gold Glove? Certainly his defense is good enough and he always leads the league in assists.
Melvin: In our minds we think Geoff should be a candidate for a Gold Glove. I think he is one of the most underrated outfielders in the game. I was disappointed he was not selected as the right fielder for Team USA in the Classic.
zacdaddy22: What is the approach being taken with Ryan Braun? Where will he be this season, and when can we expect him in the bigs?
Melvin: Ryan will start the year with the Brevard Club of the Florida State League. Reid Nichols will sit down with Ryan and lay out a game plan for him. Realistically, he probably would be a couple years in the Minor Leagues before getting to the Major Leagues.
Base_Ball_2: If the Brewers are in the running for the playoffs nearing the trade deadline, are you going to try and make some trades for the playoff run?
Melvin: We hope we're in the playoff run and I know that ownership will allow us the flexibility to do what it takes to help the club reach the playoffs. We have not had that opportunity in 12 years so are looking forward to it.
kyle_scidmore: How long do you plan on staying in the Brewers organization?
Melvin: I plan on staying until we win a championship and even beyond that.
Erik_Anderson: We've all heard about Jorge De La Rosa having a ton of talent, but he has yet to reach his potential. In my eyes, his confidence (or lack there of) is holding him back. What do you think he needs to do to get to the next level?
Melvin: I think he needs to have success, then his confidence will be much better. There is the old saying -- which comes first, confidence then success or success before confidence?
kyle_scidmore: What was your strikeout pitch in your playing days?
Melvin: Slider. I threw strikes, an 87 mph fastball with a pretty good slider.
max_kraft_2: What do you like most about the Brewers' future?
Melvin: Our future obviously is a lot of good young players mixed in with a change of attitude within the entire organization. We are very fortunate to have a great facility, an ownership that will back us with success, and a manager who has a passion and desire to win, and the support of Wisconsin fans.
ayountfan: How is Bill Hall doing in left field?
Melvin: He hasn't played as much outfield as we had hoped because of the minor injuries to J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks. Dave Nelson is confident he will be able to play in the outfield. We hope to have him start three games in center field over the last week of Spring Training.
jmanz2: It seems like the first two months of the season are the toughest schedule-wise. Was this a plan to set the bar high?
Melvin: I wish I had control over the schedule. Every game of the 162 is tough. There is no design to a schedule.
kyle_scidmore: Who is the most influential person on your career?
Melvin: Roland Hemond, the former GM of the White Sox, was my mentor and had the biggest impact on my career. I worked under Roland as assistant GM and director of player development in Baltimore.
foop42: What do you consider the most important factor in evaluating talent?
Melvin: Finding a player who has passion and qualities that he wants to get better and work ethic. Not every player is going to be blessed with physical skills, so he needs to have the character traits that allow him to improve those physical skills. An example would be Brady Clark.
crazyforcappy: How well do you think the starting rotation is going to do this year?
Melvin: I'm confident our rotation will be very solid and once Ben is back we'll be much deeper in our rotation one through five than we have been since I've been here. I can anticipate all five starters potentially starting 30 games.
ayountfan: What player has been the biggest surprise for you this spring?
Melvin: David Bush has come in and maybe hasn't surprised me as much as a lot of other people by pitching outstanding in each of his starts. Also, Jared Fernandez as a non-roster player has gotten a lot of people out with his knuckleball.
kyle_scidmore: Being in Milwaukee means Miller beer land. What's your favorite Miller product?
Melvin: Whatever is cold and has foam.
foop42: If the club falls into a big slump would you consider shaving the mustache again?
Melvin: We don't plan on having a big slump! I think the mustache is here to stay.
kyle_scidmore: I am interested in getting started in coaching. Could you give me any advice on where to start?
Melvin: Assuming you mean starting from scratch, I would recommend starting with young players because teaching the basics, fundamentals and watching young kids grow is very self-satisfying.
kyle_scidmore: Do you model your team building after any other franchise/GM, or do you just take bits and pieces and mold your own format?
Melvin: I have a lot of respect for Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins and what they've done. I don't believe there is a perfect model for a championship team, but I believe they are as close to what we are capable of doing as any other team.
max_kraft_2: What do you like most about Ned Yost?
Melvin: Ned's passion for managing, his work ethic, and commitment to the Brewers and their fans are what I admire the most.
Melvin: Thanks everyone for all your great questions. It's time to go watch some baseball.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.