Melvin hints that Brewers rebuild could be coming
General manager tells local radio station 'There's a point where you may have to reset, retool'
MILWAUKEE -- General manager Doug Melvin weighed in this week on the Brewers' difficult start, echoing others' frustration about underperforming players and using for the first time in years a word that has been taboo at Miller Park: "Rebuild."
"There's a point where you may have to reset, retool," Melvin said during a Thursday morning interview on 620-AM WTMJ, "and those discussions take place a lot in the offseason, and currently, too."
A day earlier, Melvin told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, "It's good we have 140 some games left. But we've got to see change here. We've got to see the arrow pointing in the other direction pretty soon. Maybe there's a point you have to say, 'You have to reset, retool.'"
That idea has not been uttered publicly by a Brewers official in years, since well before Mark Attanasio was formally approved as principal owner in 2005. But Melvin's tenure began with a total tear-down and rebuild beginning in late 2002 under previous ownership, leading to a .500 finish in 2005 (the franchise's first non-losing season in 12 years), a National League Wild Card berth in 2008 (the franchise's first postseason appearance in 26 years) and a NL Central Division title in 2011 (the franchise's first crown in 29 years).
And while the Brewers have not made the postseason since, they have perennially been at least on the fringes of the race. They had a home attendance of 2.5 million or better every season since 2007, and a steadily-growing payroll which has topped $100 million in each of the past two years.
This season, the investment produced two victories in the first 15 games, with an offense that entered Thursday last in the Majors with a .566 OPS, a pitching staff that ranked last with a 5.08 ERA, and three starting position players (Scooter Gennett, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy) on the disabled list.
"Right now we want to win as many games as we can because there are a lot of games left," Melvin told WTMJ. "But there will be some decisions that we have to make over the long haul that will be the best for the organization."
The Brewers' contract-year players include starter Kyle Lohse, reliever Jonathan Broxton, outfielder Gerardo Parra, first baseman Adam Lind and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Their most valuable trade commodity could be center fielder Gomez, who has finished among the top 20 in NL MVP balloting the past two seasons and has a club-friendly contract through the end of next year. It pays $8 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016.
If it becomes a full-blown selloff and rebuild, the Brewers could also consider trading Lucroy, though it would take a haul of prospects to make sense. Lucroy has one of baseball's club-friendliest contracts, calling for salaries of $3 million this season, $4 million next season and a $5.25 million club option for 2017.
"We need to see improvement. We can't be stale, stagnant," Melvin said. "I feel responsible, too. Managers don't pick the talent. We all have responsibility for what's happening."