-- Danielle K., Madison
-- Ben W., Janesville, Wis.
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That's easy to say and very difficult to pull off. Just for argument's sake, let's suppose that the Brewers are willing to break the bank for Lee, who, by the way, is 32 now and would be 37 by the end of a five-year contract, the shortest term offered by baseball executives who were asked by ESPN.com to predict Lee's future. He would be 39 at the end of a seven-year contract like the one CC Sabathia scored a couple of years ago.The bigger hurdle is that Lee might not (probably wouldn't?) even listen to an offer from the Brewers in the first place. This is the hurdle that bothers Melvin the most -- that even if you're willing to pay the going rate of a free agent, he almost always has a short list of teams he would consider, and that list almost never includes Milwaukee. That bias also comes into play in trades, as Melvin found out last winter when he made a strong offer for then-Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and was turned down. Melvin says his offer was better than the Phillies', but Halladay wouldn't approve a trade to Milwaukee. So Melvin usually has to operate in the second tier of free agents. Even that can be difficult. Do you think the Brewers should go after Jorge De La Rosa of Colorado?
-- Kevin R., Janesville, Wis. I'd be very surprised if they did. Melvin has been talking a lot this year about how the free-agent market for pitchers is a minefield, and it seems to me that the Brewers know first-hand that De La Rosa could blow up. I would expect the Brewers to check in on De La Rosa, but I don't think they will get into a bidding war for him. Will we see Brett Lawrie in the bigs next year? Seems to be on the Braun/Rickie Weeks/Fielder track, but he's blocked by Weeks at second base.
-- Mark, Madison, Wis. Lawrie is tough to figure out. He can hit, but word is that he still has some things to learn about professionalism and being a good teammate. In a perfect world, I think the Brewers would like him to play a full season at Triple-A before they consider him as a September callup. What happens with Weeks -- who, like Fielder, has one arbitration season remaining before he hits free agency -- will determine what happens with Lawrie. Here's another scenario we shouldn't forget: If the Brewers are unhappy with their offers for Fielder, perhaps they would consider fielding interest in Lawrie. I could see him landing a pitching prospect in return. Have you heard any comments from any players about Roenicke?
-- Ben W., Janesville, Wis. Yes, all positive, which is to be expected in this honeymoon phase. I will write about some players' reactions to the new skipper later this offseason, once Roenicke has called around. He's planning to introduce himself to players after setting his coaching staff. The Milwaukee Brewers have entered a lame duck season in Maryvale as their spring home, and Arizona recently stated that tax monies won't be used in anymore Spring Training complexes in the state anymore after the backlash over the Cubs' new facility. With City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla., being rumored as a possible destination for the Brewers in the future, the Fort Myers officials have stated they plan on making a move on Milwaukee. Is Fort Myers a realistic destination or the officials in Fort Myers just dreaming big?
-- Elcie W., Nashville Check your timeline: My understanding is that the Brewers' lease at Maryvale Baseball Park runs through the end of 2012 Spring Training. But, the point remains, that the team's long-term future there is in limbo. I've learned that it's next to impossible to know what is really going on in these discussions, because it is all politicking -- both sides trying to pressure the other into concessions. All I do know is that the Brewers have had discussions with the City of Phoenix about what the club views as necessary improvements at Maryvale Baseball Park, but that those talks are in the very early stages. If they do not progress, then I'm sure we'll hear more rumors about a move to Florida. Personally, I sure hope they stay. The Arizona fan experience is excellent, and will get better with all 15 Cactus League teams in the metro Phoenix area beginning in 2011. I drove past the progress at the Rockies' and D-backs' new facility last month, and it looks top-notch.