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Melvin 'ticked off' by Braun's comments

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McClatchy-Tribune
July 7, 2009
— Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin says it is "uncharacteristic" of him to publicly criticize a player, but leftfielder Ryan Braun obviously struck a nerve Sunday afternoon.

"It was inappropriate for him to say what he said, and I'm not happy about it," an upset Melvin said.


"To make the statements he made and also get on his teammates like that, it was irresponsible on his part. It just ticked me off."


After the Brewers lost, 8-2, Sunday to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to drop three of four games there, Braun implored Melvin to make a trade for a pitcher as soon as possible. He also said Chicago's starting pitchers were "a lot better than ours."


"They threw the ball a lot better than our starters did," Braun said. "All four guys we saw in this series are No. 1, worst-case, No. 2-type starters. They make big pitches in big situations. You're not always going to get hits in those situations."


Asked about the rotation missing Dave Bush (disabled list) and Manny Parra (demoted to the minors), Braun said, "Regardless of the reasons, we've got to find a way to throw the ball a little bit better for us to have success. When you're constantly behind in games, it's not easy and not fun."


The Brewers did get solid performances in the middle games of the series from starters Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper. Suppan allowed only one run in seven innings in a 10-inning, 2-1 loss, and Looper yielded only two runs in six innings in an 11-2 victory.


Fill-ins Seth McClung and Mike Burns fared poorly in the first and fourth games, which the Brewers lost, 9-5 and 8-2, respectively. Afterward, Braun said it was important to acquire pitching help, "the sooner, the better."


"To show everybody we're for real, we can go out there and make a move and improve our ballclub," Braun said. "We want to head in the right direction, not the wrong direction."


Melvin, who made the blockbuster trade for pitcher CC Sabathia at midseason in 2008 that propelled the Brewers to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, took offense to the suggestion that he isn't looking under every rock for pitching help.


"We all work every day from 9 a.m. to midnight, and basically 12 months a year," said Melvin, referring to his baseball staff. "I'll be glad to have Ryan help if he wants to. I'll give him a badge and he can be my deputy.


"I don't know his motivation for saying it. It demoralizes the people in the organization at a time when we should be pulling together. It puts a bad taste in our mouths. That's a pretty strong statement.


"I understand that maybe he thinks it's taking a leadership role. I don't know if he's trying to tell me I'm not doing my job. We need to stick together as an organization. We're all trying to win."


Melvin said it wasn't appropriate for Braun to make unflattering comparisons between the Brewers' starting rotation and Chicago's, even with two spots in flux since the losses of Bush and Parra.


"I think he made a fundamental mistake," Melvin said. "I didn't hear our pitchers complaining when we lost a 1-0 game (to New York last week) or the 2-1 game in 10 innings in Chicago.


"They didn't say the hitters weren't doing their job. He's hitting in front of one of the best hitters (Prince Fielder) in the game."


Melvin said he already was upset about comments from Braun about the hitting conditions at Miller Park during day games, where shadows make it tough. Braun said players "hope for rain and clouds" so the retractable roof will be closed during day games, and those comments got national play.


Melvin also mentioned comments he read from Braun about hitters not having scouting reports last week on San Francisco newcomer Ryan Sadowski, who shut them out for six innings in a 7-0 Giants victory. Melvin said the team had scouting reports on Sadowski, who pitched seven shutout innings against Houston in his next outing.


"I don't like criticizing players; it's out of character for me," Melvin said. "But I'm tired of it, and I need to protect the people under us. Everybody's working as hard as they can to make this a winning organization.


"He's too talented a player to be doing this so early in his career. He just has to be careful about what he says."


-- Nothing with Vazquez: Melvin denied an Internet report that he has talked to the Atlanta Braves about right-hander Javier Vazquez. That report said the sides didn't have a match unless Melvin deals one of his "untouchables," Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar, the organization's top prospects.


The Braves had shown some interest in the past in rightfielder Corey Hart but Melvin said he had not had discussions with Braves general manager Frank Wren about Vazquez.



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