My Inbox runneth empty, so it's time to get the conversation going again. Let's begin with everybody's favorite topic:What's going on with the Prince Fielder negotiations? -- Ricky P., West Allis, Wis.
There are probably five men who really know the answer to that question: Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash, principal owner Mark Attanasio, Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, and Fielder himself. Melvin has done his absolute best to ensure that these talks happen behind closed doors and stay there.
"It doesn't do anyone any good to do this out in the open," Melvin said at the start of Spring Training camp. "If we have something to tell you, then we will tell you. I am not going to be able to answer questions about it every day."
So instead of asking him those questions again on Tuesday while rain delayed the Brewers-Cubs game, I asked Melvin about his philosophy in these negotiations. How are the current talks with Boras on Fielder, for example, different from Melvin's talks with Boras on Alex Rodriguez 10 years ago, when Melvin was the Rangers' GM and Rodriguez was the game's most eligible free agent?
"The big difference is that you're talking about a free agent versus a player on your roster," said Melvin. "It's very sensitive when you are talking about a player already under contract.
"For example, would you be happy if you read that MLB.com was talking to one of your colleagues about a bigger salary? No. It's the same with other players on our roster; if they see us talking about Prince they may say, 'What about me?' And we may be doing that, we may be talking with other players. So that's why we won't talk about it.
"The other thing is that this is something I get up every morning and talk about. We can go days or weeks without bringing it up. There's no timetable. And we also have a lot of other things going on right now because we're getting ready for the season. We're getting ready for the Draft and setting up our scouts and making Minor League assignments and figuring out the Major League roster. There are a lot of other day-to-day activities to think about.
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"With [Fielder], you may do it or you may not. There's no sense of urgency because he's not going anywhere. So we will do things in our own time."
To review, Fielder is entering the second season of a two-year contract and is arbitration-eligible for 2011 before reaching free agency. Melvin and Ash met with Boras on March 3 to begin talks, and they are interested in gauging Fielder's openness to an extension so the club can plan in the event that he tests the free-agent waters.
You can read my first in-depth look at the Fielder situation here, Fielder's first in-depth comments on the subject here, and Attanasio's take here.
When reading a past article on Alcides Escobar, I saw that during an interview he was speaking through a translator. How will infield meetings in the middle of innings work if he isn't fluent in English? -- Marcus W., Hartford, Wis.
Escobar speaks English and has worked hard at it over the few years I have known him. Since this story was our first opportunity to learn a bit about Escobar's background, I asked whether he would mind doing it through a translator so we could go a bit more in-depth. Thanks to Alex Sanchez -- no relation to the former Brewer -- for the help with that story. I think you'll see him soon on FS Wisconsin for a similar piece.
I have not heard any recent news on Geoff Jenkins. After having a paid year off from the Phillies, it seems he fell off the Earth. Is he pursuing a return to the bigs? He is still young enough to have some more good years in him. If he doesn't return as a player, do you see the Brewers giving him a job if he so desires? -- Kevin P., Galesburg, Ill.
Jenkins, 35, lives in the Phoenix area, and I heard that he dropped by Maryvale Baseball Park during the team's fantasy camp last month. He told people then that he was still looking for an invitation to a big league camp and a chance to make a team, but apparently that chance never came. As for a coaching career, I'm sure Jenkins would want to exhaust every playing opportunity before moving in that direction.
Could you give me an update on Jeremy Jeffress? How many games remain on his suspension from last year? Is he still any part of the Brewers' future at all? What are the plans for him when he is eligible to pitch again? Also, I cannot quite remember, were the failed tests for recreational drugs or performance-enhancing drugs? -- Matt D., Richfield, Minn.
Jeffress, a right-handed pitching prospect and Milwaukee's first pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, has actually failed three tests under the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, all for a "drug of abuse." He was issued a warning for the first positive test, a 50-game suspension for the second and a 100-game suspension for the third. If I counted correctly last year when the ban was handed down, Jeffress will miss his affiliate's first 34 games in 2010.
Whether he is a part of the Brewers' long-term plans will become much clearer in the coming months. On one hand, he is only 22 years old and has a very live arm. On the other hand, he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after the season or be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. The Brewers are not going to spend the roster spot unless they are convinced that Jeffress is committed to baseball.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.