Brewers brass chat up 2008 with fans
Attanasio, Melvin and Yost field questions online about season
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ned Yost talked about the team's new additions and improved roster for the 2008 season during an online chat Tuesday as part of the Brewers Winter Warm-Up.
Moderator: Hello and welcome to today's chat. All the participants are here, so we are going to get started.
brewers__1: Ned, what do you envision your starting rotation being as of right now? Thanks and good luck this season!
Ned Yost: I have eight quality, Major League starters. Spring Training will iron that all out. For the first time we have quality depth in our starting rotation and all championship teams need that. We will see where they stack up beginning on Feb. 17.
K-Man: Are there any other moves to be done before the season starts?
Doug Melvin: I don't anticipate any major moves at this time, but there might be a few non-roster players invited to Spring Training.
djoctagone: Mark, I've been an avid listener of the Brewers Radio Network for decades and I've always loved hearing the highlights played postgame. However, they tend to focus only on hitting feats and therefore de-emphasize the importance of pitching and defense. Would you consider replaying the calls of Bob Uecker and Jim Powell that pertain to key pitches and key defensive plays?
Mark Attanasio: As you can see from the moves we have made this offseason, we have a focus on pitching and defense for 2008. Bob Uecker and Jim Powell are here tonight and I will pass this suggestion on to them.
gobrewers9: How do you feel about the current bullpen situation?
Ned: Like our starting rotation, I feel like we have great depth and durability and experience. We have five strong-armed right-handers to begin with, along with other guys that will be battling for jobs. With Brian Shouse on the left side, we have a number of strong candidates working for that final spot.
boofer35: Is there any thought into putting Mike Cameron in left field instead of moving everybody around and disrupting the teams chemistry?
Doug: There has been no thought of that. We obtained a three-time Gold Glove center fielder (and three-time runner-up) with 13 years of experience playing center field. We feel very confident that he will bring a dramatic change to our defense.
Ben_Wahrle_2: Mark, What is your favorite ballpark now and all time?
Mark: I saw my first baseball game in Yankee Stadium on Opening Day in 1966, so I still have a fondness for that old ballpark, now in its final year.
pilgrim08: How is Yovani Gallardo looking in his first full season in the Majors? Will he be on a pitch limit or count the longer the season goes on?
Ned: He will not be on any type of pitch count or inning count to start the year off. We like to up our starting pitchers workload 40 innings per year. Yovani last year got his quota of innings to 180 so he is on schedule to pitch 200-plus innings in 2008.
pilgrim08: Who's going to be the closer for the Brew Crew?
Doug: Eric Gagne is going to be the closer, but we have guys who have had closing experience in our bullpen.
Dustin: Mr. Attanasio, with gas prices as high as they are, will it be worth my money to make the six-hour round trip from LaCrosse to Milwaukee several times this season? Figured as an investor, you would know.
Mark: We might have to ask Ben Bernanke about that one! We have invested a lot of money in the team this offseason in order to have exciting baseball played throughout the summer and into the fall at Miller Park. I will be making the four-hour plane trip from California a lot of times!
mulhall: Will Jason Kendall get most of the action behind plate this year, or will Eric Munson get some playing time as well?
Ned: Yes, Jason will get most of the playing time. We have quality guys who will be competing for that second spot. Eric Munson, Mike Rivera and Vinny Rottino all will be fighting to see who backs up Kendall.
bballatc: Other than Matt LaPorta, who would you say are your top two prospects in the Minors?
Doug: Fans will get a chance to see Alcides Escobar, a young shortstop, this spring. We also hope to see Manny Parra a lot more.
TrueBrwCrw: Mark, are there any plans to bring back the old ball and glove logo as the official logo of the Milwaukee Brewers?
Mark: We all love the old ball and glove logo and that is a big part of why we have incorporated that into our alternative uniform. That said, the players are interested in developing their own tradition and legacy and I think the new "M" better represents that.
crewerfan6: What attracted the Brewers organization to Mike Cameron?
Doug: Mike mentioned at the press conference last night, with the club being so competitive with young players, that was the number one reason he chose us. He got caught up in the energy of our fans during the last week of the season. Another reason he spoke about was how he enjoys playing at Miller Park and his history of performance shows that.
brewhaaas: Ned, are you happy with the team that Melvin has put together?
Ned: I am extremely happy. I think that the depth of our starting rotation, the depth, experience and durability of our bullpen and the additions we have made to our ballclub without losing young prospects was something special. I think Doug had a great winter.
Dustin: Any new upgrades to Miller Park this season?
Mark: There will be several upgrades at Miller Park. We are renovating the former .300 Club and renaming it the Metavante Club. We are upgrading the Associated Bank Kids Zone and we are putting in a new retail store at the Home Plate Gate to mention a few. All projects are scheduled to open in time for Opening Day.
bballatc: Have there been a lot of teams interested in Tony Gwynn Jr. with trade talks?
Doug: We have not had any talks with other clubs about Tony. We still feel that he will contribute to this ballclub and organization.
trublubru: Who ultimately makes the decision for players to change positions? With the struggles that Bill Hall had offensively last year with his defensive transition, why are both he and Ryan Braun changing positions this year?
Ned: Through many hours of deliberation, discussion and then the eventual signing of Mike Cameron, we felt that with Billy's athletic ability and his experience in the infield, with Ryan Braun's athleticism, it will make us a better club if we moved them to their new positions. We understand, especially, for Billy Hall, how difficult it is to change positions from year-to-year, we have tremendous faith in Billy's ability as a baseball player and feel that he can handle it and we have the same feelings for Ryan Braun. Defense is such an important part of winning a championship that we felt that we had to do whatever it took to put the best defensive team on the field every single night.
adam1983: What are the plans for the 25 games during Cameron's suspension? Do you go ahead and still move Braun to left field and Hall to third base?
Doug: Billy and Ryan's moves will start immediately. Billy will not be asked to play center field during Cameron's suspension. It provides the opportunity for Gabe Gross, Gabe Kapler and Tony Gwynn to play. Occasionally, Corey Hart may be asked to play center field.
nick2k8: What does it say for this organization that the main competition to signing Mike Cameron were the Yankees and he chose to sign with Milwaukee?
Mark: One of the key goals of our ownership is to make Milwaukee an attractive destination for free agents who were looking for an alternative to New York/Boston/Los Angeles/Chicago. It is hard to know how serious the Yankees were about signing Mike, but we were delighted at his willingness to negotiate seriously with us and continue those negotiations even after the Yankees showed interest. Likewise with Jeff Suppan last offseason, it was our understanding that the Mets showed some interest in him. The ability to attract free agents the caliber of Jeff Suppan and Mike Cameron will be one of the keys to our success.
pilgrim08: Is Jason Kendall the starter? He's not much of a defensive catcher. Can you speak about this?
Ned: I have a totally different opinion of Jason Kendall. I think he is a very good defensive catcher. He does his homework every single day, his focus every time he steps on the field is the starting pitcher. He blocks the ball as well as anybody, he blocks the plate as good as anybody, his only drawback is said to be his throwing. Pitchers' release time plays a big part in if that catcher throws that basestealer out. I think that he is going to help our pitching staff as much as our new and improved defense. Jeff Suppan and Salomon Torres have a history with him and speak in glowing terms of his ability to work with a pitching staff.
TrueBrwCrw: Doug, are you excited about having seven of the first 90 picks in this upcoming MLB draft?
Doug: It is the first year the Brewers have had extra picks. With the confidence we have in Jack Zduriencik and his staff, it will be a very exciting Draft year for the Brewers to restock what we consider an already strong Brewers farm system.
millerdrinker: Doug, why didn't we bring in a left-handed bat?
Doug: We could not find a left-handed bat that brought the skill sets that Mike Cameron brought to our team -- Gold Glove defense, outstanding baserunning, clubhouse leadership and a high batting average with runners in scoring position.
TrueBrwCrw: Ned, will the Brewers be more aggressive on the basepaths and steal more bases this year?
Ned: Yes, we hope to. We feel that we have four guys that can steal 20 bases this year -- Rickie Weeks, Cameron, Braun and Hart. We have to probably move Braun behind Prince Fielder so we can allow him to run more, but I like to run against anybody when it makes sense. We have more baserunners than we did last year, plus we have Cameron who went from first to third more than anyone in the Major Leagues the last two years.
massbrewer: Ned, are you going to try and poke one over the Green Monster in Fenway for old times' sake during batting practice in May?
Ned: If you have ever been to Fenway and seen the Green Monster, it is marked with hundreds of dents of balls that were rifled off of it. My goal was to create my own dent. As it worked out, the only three hits I got were home runs at Fenway. I never got to create my own dent, but now I am far too old even to reach the Green Monster.
rbraun8: Doug, of all the player transactions that you've done since your arrival in Milwaukee, which one was the hardest move to make?
Doug: The Lyle Overbay trade was tough. He is such a good person and performed at a high level. We were also taking a calculated risk that Prince Fielder would be ready.
bus13579: Mark, are you a Packers fan?
Mark: I am a Packers fan and a Brett Favre fan.
millerdrinker: Ned, is Carlos Villanueva going to be a starter or a reliever?
Doug: Based off his performance last year and his career 12 starts, he will be given serious consideration as a starter.
bomber225: Ned, from a managerial standpoint, are you going to try anything new this year that you haven't regularly done in years past?
Ned: All winter long, I sit and evaluate what we did the past summer. Sure, you can look at things that you probably wished you could have done differently, but they are mostly spur of the moment decisions. In terms of fundamental differences in managerial style, our players are at a stage of their careers where they are no longer rookies and you tend to stick with them a little bit longer during their struggles. People talked a lot about changing the lineup, but if you looked at our lineups, we were middle of the pack in Major League Baseball. Now, with an improved roster, we have more tools to work with. The answer to your questions is, we find out on March 31 -- Opening Day.
tippee: Doug, you've been very busy this offseason. Any chance Mark will let you take a vacation?
Mark: Doug is always welcome to take an unpaid vacation! Seriously, baseball general managers have a 365-day-a-year job. Last year, Doug lost his Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to player trades and signings. Judging from his sun tan, he was able to escape to Hawaii this holiday season, but was very productive nevertheless.
50for28: Here's a tough one for you guys -- how can you get this team to win on the road?
Doug: We have looked at trying to find the reasons. We have examined the history of teams' won-loss records. We are hoping that the experienced players that have been added to the roster will help us get through some of the long road trips this season.
jrizzal: Mr. Yost, what is the best part of being the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers?
Ned: Working with great people that have the same passion and the same focus and the same goals I have, from the players to the front office to the ownership. I love my job and during the season, I just cannot get enough of it.
jrizzal: Coach, with LaPorta being primed for a great career, why move Braun to left?
Doug: Matt has taken fly balls and will take them in right field and left field in preparation for coming to the Major Leagues.
brem11: Mark, what is the best perk when it comes to being an owner?
Mark: The best perk is being able to walk on to a Major League field in the ballparks we are playing in and interact with the players, manager and coaches.
Ben_Wahrle: Will more games be on TV this year?
Mark: This year, we have 150 games scheduled on FSN Wisconsin (up from 115 in 2005). In addition, now that we are a contending team, we anticipate being televised nationally on ESPN and FOX. And, as Ned just said in the room right here, that doesn't include postseason and World Series games!
Mark, Doug and Ned: We had over 400 questions tonight, thank you for your interest! Be sure to tune in tonight to the rest of the Winter Warm-Up activities on FSN Wisconsin, WTMJ-AM 620 and here on brewers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.