General manager Doug Melvin headed into the Christmas holiday engaged in "one or two" serious negotiations with free-agent pitchers but said that talks with Looper had not risen to that level."It's been pretty quiet," Melvin said on Tuesday afternoon before his break. "I've been in the office the last few days, and the phone probably hasn't rung more than twice."
Melvin shut the door on any thought of using Carlos Villanueva as a starter in 2009, unless in an emergency situation. Villanueva began last year in the rotation but enjoyed great success in relief, posting a 2.12 ERA in 38 games. He, too, has been considered as an option to close.Also in the bullpen, the Brewers will count on continued contributions from Todd Coffey, who finished the year strong, and a bounce-back year from David Riske, who sustained an elbow injury late in the first season of his three-year contract. Barring a flurry of additions, such younger players as Mitch Stetter and Tim Dillard, who got some big league exposure last season, will have to step up, and Melvin said that such rookies as Omar Aguilar or Luis Pena could be called on to contribute. "We have a lot of young, power arms," Melvin said. "We just don't have the experience factor like we had last year. And right now we don't have the depth." While the Brewers worried about depth, the Yankees continued to snatch up every big-name free agent in sight. First it was Sabathia and fellow ace A.J. Burnett, and on Tuesday they added first baseman Mark Teixeira to the mix. The Brewers were hoping that another team landed Teixeira. Because his ranking as a Type A free agent was slightly higher than Sabathia's, the Brewers will get the Yankees' second-round Draft pick in June instead of their first-round selection. Milwaukee also gets a supplementary Draft pick between the first and second rounds. But Brewers officials were not exactly shocked to see New York swoop in at the last moment for Teixeira. "I think it's quite clearly a product of moving into a new ballpark with tremendous revenue streams and a new person in charge who wants nothing less than a championship," said assistant GM Gord Ash. "This is very reminiscent of what they have tried before. It didn't work then, and I'm not sure it's going to work now. "The silver lining is that we're not in the [American League] East," added Ash, the former GM of the Blue Jays. "Having been in that situation before, it can get depressing. But you just have to remember that while spending can help ensure you compete, overspending does not guarantee you a championship."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.