CINCINNATI -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin joined the Brewers on Monday for the start of a seven-day, eight-game road trip. But while the pennant race was beginning to heat up, the trade front remained ice cold. Melvin has said he would like to bolster the bullpen, and manager Ned Yost said Sunday any team could always improve its bench. But there is not much out there, the GM said. "I made some calls today, and if a player is available they have to get a lot back for them," Melvin said. "They have to have Major League-ready players. And some of the names that are out there on the rumor mill are not even available."
If players are available, Melvin said, teams typically are asking for young, Major League-ready position players. Because the Brewers have so many of those types already in the big leagues, they are not in a great position to deal. Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio reiterated over the weekend at Miller Park that he is willing to add payroll if the right trade presents itself. But that has yet to happen, he said. "One team actually called and said, 'We like [Yovani] Gallardo and [Ryan] Braun,'" Attanasio said with a laugh. "Well, we like them too. Last year we had a GM call Doug and, in return for one of their Triple-A players, they asked for Prince [Fielder]. I mean, we're just not going to do that." Last year Melvin made a major splash at the trade deadline, acquiring closer Francisco Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix for outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. At the time, Cruz was considered Milwaukee's top outfield prospect but Lee was an impending free agent and had made it clear he would test the market. Melvin made two smaller deals the same week, acquiring infielder Tony Graffanino from the Royals and David Bell from the Phillies. A blockbuster like the Lee deal seems much less likely this season. "We don't have any glaring black holes on our team, period," manager Ned Yost said. "You sit back and look at the players that are available, and there's a guy or two that can help us. But to fill a glaring hole or a glaring need? We don't have it. "You can always tweak a bullpen. You can always tweak your bench a little bit. But, again, we're happy with our starters and we're happy with our bench. Maybe we add a veteran guy with a little more veteran presence. But I don't see the guy out there who is going to make any type of impact on our club in terms of that." The Brewers entered Monday's game with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central. Remembering Coolbaugh: A number of Brewers players and coaches expressed sadness about the death of former Brewer Mike Coolbaugh, who was coaching first base in a Minor League game Sunday and died after being struck in the head by a line drive. Coolbaugh, 35, made his Major League debut with the Brewers on July 16, 2001, after playing parts of 12 seasons in the Minor Leagues. "I remember that being a really big deal," said Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets, a rookie in 2001. "I think we were all excited for him." Outfielder Geoff Jenkins is the only other current Brewer who was with the team in 2001. Former teammate Brooks Kieschnick called Sunday night to pass the news to Jenkins, who had similarly fond memories of Coolbaugh. "I remember him as a guy who played 10-plus years to get to the Major Leagues, and that takes some perseverance," Jenkins said. "You always hear people make the statement that 'He died doing what he loved.' But to die coaching first base? Just doesn't seem right. I don't even have any words for it. I can't believe it happened." Coolbaugh played in 39 games for the Brewers, batting .200 (14-for-70) with two home runs while manning shortstop and third base. He played in five more games with the Cardinals in 2002. "What a hard worker," said Brewers hitting coach Jim Skaalen, who was Milwaukee's roving hitting coach in 2001 and got to know Coolbaugh. Skaalen managed Coolbaugh's brother, Scott, in the Rangers' Minor League system. "I always admired Mike's work ethic and that he was always a consistently upbeat guy," Skaalen said. "He was labeled one of those 'Four-A' players but he was never bitter about it. Some of those up and down players have a lot of bitterness, but it was nothing but positive energy every day from him. It brought a tear to my eye when I saw the news this morning." In the Minors: In the first game of what likely will be a two-game rehabilitation assignment, center fielder Bill Hall went 0-for-2 with a walk for the Rookie league Arizona Brewers. The team was blanked by an Angels affiliate, 16-0, and out-hit, 18-2. Hall batted in the No. 2 hole. Barring a setback, he was scheduled to play again in Arizona on Tuesday, then could board a Wednesday morning flight to Cincinnati to play in the Brewers-Reds game that night. On Sunday night, right-hander Elmer Dessens (shoulder) made his second rehab start for Triple-A Nashville and retired the first 10 Iowa Cubs he faced. In four-plus innings, Dessens was charged with one run on two hits with four strikeouts. Last call: Eight days after suffering his sprained right middle finger, Sheets said he has yet to try throwing. "Maybe an extra four or five days now will be better than coming back [early] and re-injuring it," Sheets said. "It seems like coming back from it once would be the ideal thing." He said there is no timetable to begin rehab. ... Special assistant Dan O'Brien, the former Reds GM who still lives in Cincinnati, joined Melvin at Great American Ball Park and will stay for the rest of the series. ... At 54-43, the Brewers entered play Monday tied with the Mets for the best record in the NL. On deck: Gallardo, who has exited with the lead in all four of his starts, will take the ball Tuesday night against the Reds and right-hander Matt Belisle.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.