MILWAUKEE -- For veteran Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Sept. 1 is the anti-Christmas -- his least favorite day of the year. Melvin has long argued against the current system of September callups, which he says creates imbalance during the most important stretch of the season. After playing most of the season with a limit of 25 active players, teams are free beginning Sept. 1 to promote any member of the 40-man roster to the Majors. Why does it make sense, Melvin has argued for years, to play five months of games under one set of rules, then change them when the games count most in September? Beyond that, callups can disrupt clubhouse chemistry and create the potential for parades of relievers extending long games.
"It bothers me," Melvin said. In deference to Triple-A Nashville, which plays through Monday, the Brewers will wait until Tuesday to make their callups. So they had 25 players in uniform on Saturday against a 30-man Pirates squad. Melvin has tried to convince fellow general managers to pursue changes to the rules, and said he has gained traction in recent years. Melvin's best proposal calls for allowing teams as many callups as they wish, but requiring them to designate a certain number of active players each day. Changes to the September callup procedure were discussed briefly during negotiation of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, said Craig Counsell, who played a key role in those talks as a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association's executive board. "I remember that it was discussed, but then it went away," said Counsell, who took a job in the Brewers' front office last winter. "It was just not an issue they wanted to spend time on because there was not a lot of common ground." Counsell declined to take a stance on the matter.