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Melvin keeps options open

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McClatchy Tribune
July 24, 2009
— The Milwaukee Brewers need a fifth starting pitcher again Tuesday, three days before the trading deadline.

As of Thursday, general manager Doug Melvin said an internal candidate looked more likely to make that start than a trade acquisition.


“There’s not much pitching out there that’s available,” said Melvin. “We go over the list every day. It doesn’t change.”


The Brewers have shown interest in the top pitcher available on the market, Toronto ace Roy Halladay. On Sunday, Melvin said he had not made an offer for Halladay and didn’t know if he would.


But Melvin declined Wednesday to specify his current interest in Halladay, who has a no-trade clause and would require an extensive package of prospects to acquire.


“I don’t want to get into who I’ve talked to,” said Melvin. “If you say which teams you’re talking to, it helps other teams know what you’re doing. It makes other teams less or more motivated.


“We keep working the phones. We monitor teams that are in the (playoff) race and out of it.”


Melvin’s top scouting assistant, Dick Groch, watched Halladay pitch in Toronto on Sunday, then stayed to watch Cleveland’s Cliff Lee throw a complete-game seven-hitter against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.


The Indians have not said if they would part with Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner who has a club option for 2010 at $8 million.


“I talked to (Cleveland general manager) Mark Shapiro (Tuesday) and Cliff Lee’s name never came up,” said Melvin. “Dick was there but he’s just trying to stay on top of those two clubs.”


Perhaps, but if the Brewers are going to try to make a bold move a la CC Sabathia last season, Halladay and Lee would be the top names to pursue. The Brewers have been monitoring other pitchers as well, such as Kansas City’s Brian Bannister (6-7, 3.66), who has pitched better than his record indicates.


Barring a trade in the next couple of days, however, that spot in the rotation Tuesday will be filled from within the organization. The Brewers could decide to pass on right-hander Mike Burns (2-3, 6.21 ERA), who was tagged for six runs in three innings Monday night in Pittsburgh and has been too unpredictable.


Should the Brewers reach down to Nashville for a spot starter, right-hander Tim Dillard and left-hander Chris Cody would be under consideration.


“There’s (eight) days until the (trade) deadline. Doug is trying to improve our club like he did with the (Felipe) Lopez deal, but starting pitching is expensive right now.” Macha said.


Make that very expensive. Melvin stopped trying to expand the deal with Arizona to include left-hander Doug Davis because the asking price was too high, and settled for acquiring Lopez to fill the leadoff spot in the lineup.


Acquiring a pitcher no better than what he has makes no sense, said Melvin, “not if it costs money (in acquired salary), and you have to give up prospects.”


The uncertain status of right-hander Dave Bush means the


Brewers will continue to pursue a starting pitcher, while also monitoring the market for relievers.


Bush’s return from the disabled list was delayed by a tired arm, and Melvin said it probably would be at least two weeks before Bush could rejoin the rotation.



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