If the Brewers are not considering a multi-year deal with Rickie Weeks anymore, should we assume that this would be his last year in a Brewers uniform? It seems that our team might look very different in 2012 than 2011.
-- Terry L., Chicago
To borrow one of general manager Doug Melvin's favorite phrases, the Brewers are not talking about a multi-year deal with Weeks, "at this time." As assistant GM Gord Ash said last week, Weeks' agent, Greg Genske, suggested that those talks be temporarily tabled so the sides could focus on avoiding arbitration with a one-year deal. Ash agreed.
It was a public acknowledgment of how far apart the sides found themselves, both in terms of the length of a deal and in dollars, but both sides agreed to revisit the idea of a multi-year extension after they get a one-year contract in place. The Brewers very much want to get a longer-term deal done with Weeks, who, as Terry suggested, would be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. But as Gord told me last week, if the Weeks camp (led by Genske) wants Dan Uggla money, then they have a problem.
When I last spoke with Gord on Friday, there was no progress to report on the one-year discussion. That can change quickly, so stay tuned.
As for the last part of Terry's e-mail, I'd say the Brewers actually could look quite similar in 2012 even if Weeks and Prince Fielder are gone. All five starters -- Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson -- are either already signed or under team control for the next two seasons. That's big if Melvin is in a position where he has to replace two key hitters. The other big hitters are locked up -- Ryan Braun and Corey Hart have multi-year contracts through at least 2013, and Casey McGehee will just be entering his arbitration years after 2011.
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Do you see the Brewers making any more moves before Spring Training?
-- Tim M., Milwaukee
If they do, I'm guessing they will be along the lines of Jeremy Reed, who signed a Minor League contract last week that included an invitation to big league camp. The budget appears maxed out for Major League additions, and considering club officials have said they're committed to Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop and Carlos Gomez in center field, I'm not sure where they would look to add.
Are fans allowed to watch the workouts by pitchers and catchers after they report to Maryvale on Feb. 16? I will be in the area at the time, but unfortunately before Spring Training games begin.
-- Ryan H., Milwaukee
Note that pitchers and catchers will work out for the first time on Feb. 17, though I'm sure there will be plenty of guys already on-site on the 16th. And yes, those workouts typically take place on a clover-shaped quartet of fields open to the public. I know that some fans actually prefer visiting Spring Training during those first two weeks because of the great access to players. I'm not exactly sure how manager Ron Roenicke will run his camp, but in the past, players have taken the field at about 9 a.m.
With Greinke more than likely getting the Opening Day nod, will Gallardo or Marcum care if they slide into the No. 4 slot not only to be the home opener starting pitcher, but to break up the two lefties?
-- David D., Edgerton, Wis.
Already trying to line up the starting rotation -- right up my alley. That's an interesting idea by David, but if you take a closer look, the schedule actually breaks up the left-handers for you.
If I'm counting correctly, you could keep the top four pitchers on an every-five-day schedule in April and only need a fifth starter (Narveson) once in the first 14 games, only three times all month and never next to the other left-hander (Wolf). I have Wolf as the Brewers' starter for the April 4 home opener.
The interesting question becomes Gallardo vs. Marcum for the 2-3 slots. If you pitch Gallardo in Game 2 against the Reds, you get him in the finale against the Braves (he's 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in four career starts against Atlanta). If you pitch Marcum in Game 2 and hold Gallardo for Game 3, you get him in the opener against the Cubs (Gallardo is 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven career starts against Chicago). Either way, it's a good matchup.
Nobody is asking, but I like the idea of holding Gallardo for the Cubs. He'd still get the same number of April starts.
So, I would do it like this for the first four weeks:
March 31 at Reds: Greinke
April 1: off
April 2 at Reds: Marcum
April 3 at Reds: Gallardo
April 4 vs. Braves: Wolf (L)
April 5 vs. Braves: Greinke
April 6 vs. Braves: Narveson (L)
April 7 vs. Braves: Marcum
April 8: vs. Cubs: Gallardo
April 9 vs. Cubs: Wolf (L)
April 10 vs. Cubs: Greinke
April 11: off
April 12 at Pirates: Marcum
April 13 at Pirates: Gallardo
April 14 at Pirates: Wolf (L)
April 15 at Nationals: Greinke
April 16 at Nationals: Narveson (L)
April 17 at Nationals: Marcum
April 18 at Phillies: Gallardo
April 19 at Phillies: Wolf (L)
April 20 at Phillies: Greinke
April 21: off
April 22 vs. Astros: Marcum
April 23 vs. Astros: Gallardo
April 24 vs. Astros: Wolf (L)
April 25 vs. Reds: Greinke
April 26 vs. Reds: Narveson (L)
April 27 vs. Reds: Marcum
April 28: off
Back to the important stuff:
I haven't heard anything about Miller Park's new scoreboard lately. What's its status?
-- Brett F., Janesville, Wis.
Thanks to fans on Twitter, I've seen photos of the huge new video board in place. The Brewers and their construction partners are hoping to hang a new Miller Park sign on Tuesday, and I'll stop by to take some photos.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.