Mailbag: Support for Sveum

Mailbag: Support for Sveum

I was upset to see Dale Sveum not on the candidate list for manager. After all, he was put in a very tough position and succeeded. He shook up the lineup and saved the 2008 season from becoming another 2007.

I do not understand GM Doug Melvin's want for a successful manager because Sveum had a winning [regular season] record, got us to the postseason and even won a game in the playoffs. Success in the past has not worked for certain teams -- Lou Piniella couldn't do anything with the Rays, who Joe Maddon got to the World Series, and Piniella is 0-6 in the playoffs for the Cubs. What other "traits" is Melvin looking for in the Brewers' 2009 manager?
-- Darin S., Milwaukee

The day after the Brewers announced that Sveum would not be the choice, Melvin said he wanted a manager with experience -- presumably more than Sveum's 12 regular season games and four postseason games -- who had enjoyed some Major League success. But Melvin has declined to expound on other traits he is looking for, saying it would become clear once he made his choice. So we will know a whole lot more about the process this week, when either Bob Brenly, Ken Macha or Willie Randolph is named Milwaukee's new skipper.

A number of fans were upset to see Sveum passed by. After all, what more could he have done? He was asked to take over a team in turmoil, and he helped deliver them to the playoffs, though I am not sure that hitting Mike Cameron in the leadoff hole -- Sveum's major change offensively -- did anything to help them get there. He was forced to make some difficult pitching decisions, and his first team address, in which Sveum reminded players that he was not too far removed from his own playing career to forget how difficult this game is, sure had an impact. How many times did we all hear players reference that speech over the final three weeks of the season? I can remember a handful.

The new manager will feel some degree of pressure from above to retain Sveum as third-base coach or bench coach, as well as pitching coach Mike Maddux, bullpen coach Bill Castro and first-base coach Ed Sedar. The new skipper will make his own choices, but if he listens to any of his new players' wishes, I'm guessing Sveum will be back at third base.

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I'm sure you have gotten this question about 100 times by now, but do you believe the Brewers will make a serious play for Jake Peavy? If they can pull the trigger on that trade, we have a bona fide ace through at least 2012, and his salary is reasonable for a player of his caliber. What are your thoughts?
-- Shaun S., Milwaukee

On paper, it does make sense that the Brewers would be among the 14 or so teams reportedly showing some degree of interest in Peavy. If they cannot re-sign CC Sabathia and do not pursue Ben Sheets, the Brewers would most certainly be in the market for a top-flight pitcher to sit atop the starting rotation alongside Yovani Gallardo, and Peavy fits the bill in a number of ways, including his relative affordability, considering you are talking about a Cy Young Award winner. (He is owed $8 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. There is also a $22 million club option for 2013.)

The Brewers are in position to make a deal because they still have talent in the farm system, and they have some Major League players that could make sense in a trade. I would be absolutely shocked if any offseason trade this winter between the Padres and Brewers did not include outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who has obvious ties to San Diego and appears completely blocked from the big leagues in Milwaukee. But there are serious questions about whether Peavy, who has a no-trade clause, would approve a move to Milwaukee and concurrent questions about whether the Brewers would be willing to part with another bounty of prospects to get him. There are no serious talks between the two teams yet, but Peavy is definitely a player to keep an eye on if the Brewers strike out with Sabathia.

I'm curious to know whether Ned Yost's name has come up as a candidate to fill any of the other managerial vacancies around the league. Also, has he himself at all commented on the possibility of managing and/or coaching elsewhere?
-- Zach K., Mequon, Wis.

New Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik -- the former Brewers scouting director -- has already named Yost as one of his managerial candidates.

The obvious question is whether Yost will return in some capacity to the Braves, where he could be an heir apparent to Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. It's clear that Cox, who was furious when Milwaukee dismissed Yost with only two weeks left in the season, would endorse Yost, but word from Atlanta is that not too many other Braves officials would be interested. Eddie Perez or Terry Pendleton may be viewed as better in-house candidates.

Yost has remained out of reach since participating in a conference call with reporters the day after his dismissal. I tried several times after the Brewers clinched their postseason berth to get in contact with Yost, whose name came up often and glowingly during the team's celebration at Miller Park on the final Sunday of the regular season. No luck.

This is more of a general baseball question than anything. Can you explain the free agent process? For example, do the Brewers have rights to offer Sabathia a contract before other teams, and if so, when does it open to all teams?
-- Ryan M., Beaver Dam, Wis.

My understanding is that teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for the 10 days following the end of the World Series.

We had a discussion a few weeks ago about why hitters do not get credit for an RBI when a run scores on their double-play grounder. Bob gets the last word on that topic:

I took the question about the no RBI to the SABR (Society of American Baseball Researchers) and here is the best answer we came up with: The defense makes that value judgment, not the rulesmakers. The theory is that the defense, having time for a double play, could have retired the runner at home if they chose to, but decided that getting the extra out was a wiser play. Thus, the batter isn't rewarded for doing something the opponents strategically allowed him to do -- sort of like defensive indifference.

Pete Palmer's run-expectation tables bear out the wisdom of this defensive practice. With the bases loaded and none out, a team's expected runs for the inning are 2.254. If the next batter hits a ground ball, and the infield goes home for the force (leaving the bases loaded and one out), the run expectation drops to 1.546. But if they get the DP and let the run score, leaving a runner on third with two out, the run expectation sinks to .382, plus the run that scored, making 1.382.
-- Bob T., Fond du Lac, Wis.

Here's another numbers question:

If someone started a "Keep CC in Milwaukee" fan fund, we'd line up to pledge. Even with the economy in the dumps, it would give us an opportunity to support something that gave us a lot of enjoyment in '08. Sabathia's performance and his presence in Milwaukee as a symbol of the team's commitment to win really lit up Miller Park. What do you say? Want to lead the charge?
-- Gary & Karen B., Stoughton, Wis.

There are about 5.6 million residents in Wisconsin, so you would need every man, woman and child to contribute $25 to surpass Johan Santana's contract with the Mets.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.